Data Protection and Behavioral Analysis: Are They Linked to Each Other?

Our behaviors say a lot about us — even when it comes to the topic of data protection.

As the demand for better data protection and security increases, this means that cybersecurity strategists are turning to the field of behavioral analysis. This field allows experts to monitor abnormal behavior and subsequently detect breaches before or as soon as they happen.

Data Protection Experts: Modern-Day Detectives

Ten or twenty years ago, a data protection expert looked a lot like security specialist you might hire to protect your home. As a basic troubleshooter, they could help you bolster your business’s security with high effectiveness or shut out a hacker quickly if one was detected.

Concerned about losing your data? We’ll back it up for you.

Had your email hacked? Here’s an encryption fix that will prevent it from happening again.

Today, however, data protection experts are becoming increasingly like a combination of detective and war strategist.

That’s because currently, data protection is much more precarious. Cyber hackers who would love to breach your computer systems and obtain your data or hold it ransom are using advanced hacking methods to do so. Furthermore, they’re seeing a lot of success. Just look at the numbers of American cities that have been successfully targeted by ransomware. Many of these local municipalities have chosen to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom because the cybersecurity specialists they hire can’t figure out anything else to do.

On one hand, this is terrible news. How can businesses and city governments — let alone individuals — expect to protect their data if the specialists can’t even do it?

On the other hand, this predicament has forced many data specialists to take a new tack in preventing hacks. Perhaps the “new data protection specialist” is part-detective, part war-strategist, and part-behavioral scientist.

Detecting Anomalies in Behavior to Prevent Data Breaches

Behavior analysis in the world of data protection means monitoring network behaviors among management, employees, customers, clients, and overall data flow. Most companies have a “behavior fingerprint,” meaning a general pattern of how things run on a regular basis. Behavioral analysis targets anomalies in this fingerprint to subsequently catch breaches and cyberattacks.

Laith Pahlawan of Orange Crew in Anaheim, CA recommends that security specialists pay attention to the following three areas of behavior to detect anomalies and ensure legitimate communication and data flow.

  • Schedule: If someone receives a phone call outside of business hours from a partner company who never makes calls outside of business hours, this is an anomaly.
  • Style: If a supervisor sends an email that is stern, short, and dismissive when this supervisor is usually friendly and cordial, this is an anomaly.
  • Devices:If someone gets a solicitation from a so-called co-worker to download a program for a device the company does not use (e.g., a program for a PC when the company uses Mac), this is an anomaly.

Here are several other behavior-related factors to monitor:

  • Geography: Watch for employees logging into their accounts from odd IP addresses. If a network user’s IP seems to be coming from numerous locations at different times, a VPN could also be being used.
  • Data Flow:Ensure a model for how data is supposed to flow in a given company. Under normal conditions, try to establish a clear framework that should be consistently followed. When a flow that is outside of this framework is noted, that’s a red flag.

It’s also important to make employees and upper-level management aware of the behaviors they should monitor within emails, phone calls, instant messaging, and other communications.

What Should You Do if You Notice a Behavioral Anomaly?

You may notice that behavioral analysis appears quite suspicious on the surface. But don’t let that deter you from imparting this practice into how you conduct your data protection services. These are simply precautions for situations wherein precautions are extremely useful.

If you, a manager, individual employees, or anyone else in a given organization notice any of the behavioral anomalies listed above (style, geography, networks, etc.), it’s important that inquiries be made to ensure the legitimacy of the behavior. These inquiries should be made in person (or, in some cases, over the phone).

For example, if a bizarre email was sent to someone in accounting by someone in payroll, the individual in accounting should walk to payroll to see if the email was legitimately sent.

A More Sophisticated Method of Data Protection

Security experts who tout behavioral analysis as a solution for data protection remind business owners of one important thing: You may not see any big changes after investing in this security method.

But, experts say, that’s a good thing.

In other words, when cybersecurity is working, nothing should really be happening. Abnormal behavior should be able to be noticed at once. Thereafter, steps should be taken to verify if the behavior is linked with a real phishing campaign or other such breach and dealt with accordingly.

All of this will be going on in the background of your business where you won’t see it, and remember — that’s just where you want to keep it.

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