Don’t Let Cyber-attacks Wreak Havoc on Your Network

Jason Baudreau
By Jason Baudreau May 26, 2017 3 minute read
Jason Baudreau has a passion for enterprise networking, writing and geeking out with Smart Home technology. With 8 years' experience in Systems and Network engineering, Jason now specializes in network automation technologies at NetBrain.

Organizations across the globe, whether government, public or private, are often challenged by the increasing pace, complexity and sophistication of cyber-attacks. Recently, the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack that paralyzed thousands of companies proved that many networks remain susceptible and are unprepared for the devastating effects of a massive security breach.

However, your company’s network is not helpless against such network vulnerabilities. In fact, cyber-defense can be improved by understanding what systems and networks are critical to the business’ complete infrastructure visibility (i.e. network, end points, events and secure configuration of the network infrastructure).

To help frame the problem, both NIST and SANS endorse the Cyber Defense Workflow, which includes several steps to ensure your company is prepared for a cyber-attack: Identify & protect, detect & respond and recover.

Identifying an attack before it happens

The first step to protecting your network from attacks is to identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.  Thus, network engineers must document existing network infrastructure, including inventory and network maps, ensuring they’re able to pinpoint any issues that may arise. An engineer’s limited understanding of application requirements and traffic flows could be the downfall of a team’s ability to protect its network. A lack of understanding of existing design (security, routing, layer-2, etc.) will put teams a step behind a hacker during an attack.

Unfortunately, most teams live without accurate network diagrams because it can take months to document a large network and, once the project is complete, the maps are already out of date. NetBrain creates network mapping automatically and keeps them up-to-date.

How to respond to an attack

Network security is a cat and mouse game and it’s virtually impossible to prevent every attack. When your network does fall victim, it’s important that Network and Security teams are able to identify and a respond in a timely manner. It is very challenging to detect, analyze, isolate and remediate a cyber event. While network and security teams don’t typically collaborate, when a network is under attack, collaboration is instrumental to stopping the threat at hand.

It is difficult to understand the live performance of the network (traffic flows, bandwidth utilization, interface errors, etc.). Teams need to ensure that all ingress/egress points from the internal networks to external networks are continuously monitored. NetBrain’s platform allows engineers to apply automation to every phase of network troubleshooting and acts as a single pane of glass – from ticket creation, to data collection, and for sharing knowledge of best practices.

NetBrain can provide meaningful data around a potential cyber incident via the API and a diagnosis can be triggered that would create both a Dynamic Map and Runbook Automation.  Further, NetBrain stores historical data that can be visualized to support Forensic Analysis as the analysis of a cyber event can often occur after the fact.

Recovery

Once a cyberattack has been mitigated, it’s imperative that network teams update existing playbooks, incident response plans and network infrastructure immediately.

Network and security teams can update the Runbook Automation that verifies and validates that the network is configured per industry standard compliance (e.g. NITS, PCI, HIPAA) and internal security requirements.

Regarding Cyber Defense and Incident Response plans, it is best practice to use playbooks and rehearse on a regular basis.  With NetBrain those can be automated, edited and kept up to date via our Runbook Automation.  NetBrain can provide the Adaptive Network Automation solution, which can help in mitigating ever-changing cyber threats.

Combat Cyberattacks with Automation

Whether your team is prepared for a cyberattack or not, NetBrain’s dynamic mapping and visual troubleshooting can help your network team uncover many network vulnerabilities. Collaboration between network and security teams prior to an attack, documenting your network’s infrastructure and ensuring your team has a set plan in place will help your network become less susceptible to cyber threats.