In the brick-and-mortar world, our physical presence assumes our identity. But the virtual world disrupts this age-old presumption. From pseudonyms to shadow identities and avatars to digital twins, we have many ways to represent our identity online.
However, 80% of cyberattacks today leverage identity-based attacks, and the cloud-based landscape only makes verification more difficult and hackers more excited. That’s why ITDR has emerged as an indispensable approach to counter cybersecurity threats.
In this article, we will understand the concept of ITDR and delve into the security challenges addressed by it. We will also reveal seven key features and capabilities every ITDR platform should have.
What is ITDR?
Identity Threat Detection and Response (ITDR) is one of the approaches to cybersecurity risk mitigation. Before understanding the goal of ITDR, it’s essential to recognize the difference between these key terms:
- Credentials prove who you are.
- Privileges define what you can do.
- Access is the ability or permission to interact with resources.
- Identity providers validate and assert your identity.
- Cloud resources are the digital assets you might want to access in a cloud environment.
ITDR establishes processes to prevent, monitor, detect, and mitigate identity threats related to user and machine identities with access to the cloud infrastructure, IAM infrastructure (such as identity providers like Azure AD and Okta), and third-party SaaS applications.
The rise of cloud computing, remote working, digital transformation, and decentralized identities have made credentials and user or system identities a prime target for cybercriminals. Therefore, the process of verifying an identity (authentication), determining what that identity can do (authorization), and the actual identity data itself are all potential attack vectors.
For this reason, ITDR is focused on detecting and responding to malicious activities and threats associated with the access journey: authentication, authorization, and the management of actual identities. It uses capabilities like real-time monitoring, analytics, and AI-driven pattern analysis to pinpoint anomalies or suspicious activities and alert security teams to trigger fast incident response.
How is ITDR Different From EDR and XDR?
ITDR, EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response), and XDR (Extended Detection and Response) are all security frameworks or solutions designed to detect and respond to threats. However, their goals and scopes of protection differ. Here’s a breakdown of their differences:
- Focuses on the security of identities and their associated access.
- The access journey (including authentication, authorization, and actual identity management) forms the basis of ITDR’s threat detection.
- Ensures only legitimate users can access resources and quickly detects and responds when identities are misused or compromised.
- Focuses on endpoints, including desktops, mobile devices, and other connected hardware.
- Continuously monitors, detects, investigates, and remediates threats on endpoint devices.
- Provides tools for analysis and incident response.
- Takes a more comprehensive approach by looking beyond just endpoints.
- Combines data from endpoints, networks, servers, cloud resources, emails, and other environments.
- Provides a comprehensive view of your threat detection program.
Detects more sophisticated attacks by correlating data from various sources and extending the security perimeter.
Challenges of EDR and XDR
Both EDR and XDR are based on the principle of securing tangible assets of your organization’s network, such as workstations, servers, routers, and gateways. However, routine maintenance, upgrades, and network expansions make maintaining a consistent security posture and threat detection program challenging. Moreover, technological advancements add newer endpoints to the network, expanding the attack surface.
Why ITDR Provides a Solution
The ITDR approach to cybersecurity is unique in response to the changing threat detection landscape. It focuses on identity, which is not a tangible asset of the network – it is an intangible concept.
There’s been a huge increase in sophisticated identity-based attacks, such as privilege escalation, lateral movement techniques, or data exfiltration by malicious insiders and external threat actors that compromise the super admins who manage the IAM infrastructure. Given this surge, ITDR ensures that identity-related threats are rapidly detected and neutralized, safeguarding your critical assets and data.
Unlike EDR and XDR, ITDR is the only solution that provides comprehensive and real-time visibility over identities and their behavior across clouds, SaaS, and IdPs from end to end. ITDR enables you to be proactive and narrow down your window of exposure by finding human and machine root causes for your risky and compromised identities before attackers take advantage of them.
What Security Challenges Does ITDR Address?
Hackers are two things: intelligent and, well, pretty greedy. They’ll try to compromise identities in as many ways as possible, meaning ITDR platforms must monitor:
- Keys (e.g., cryptographic keys, tokens, or API keys) to protect services or data.
- Credentials (e.g., username-password combinations) to thwart unauthorized access attempts.
- Programmatic attacks that use automation to compromise identities on a large scale.
- Console attacks directed at management interfaces that give hackers high-level administrative privileges.
- Admins and super admins who have the keys to the kingdom – once they’re compromised, hackers have everything they need.
The full scope of ITDR also covers the following areas:
ITDR detects and responds to suspicious access attempts to critical systems by monitoring user activity. Sometimes, insiders and external threat actors carry out these unauthorized access attempts. Therefore, observing their behavior and alerting security teams about repeated suspicious behavior is also under the purview of ITDR.
Credentials are the secret information used to identify a user or a device, such as passwords and private keys. ITDR gathers intelligence related to using credentials to detect possible credential theft attempts.
ITDR also detects and responds to privilege escalation attempts by monitoring identity permissions. This process also ties back to compliance requirements for granting the least possible privileges for identity and access management.
7 Features to Look Out for in an ITDR Platform
An ITDR platform acts as an umbrella security cover over EDR and XDR. It performs real-time identity centric threat analysis, actively profiling and monitoring the identities and monitoring their usage, enabling continuous visibility of potential threat situations. ITDR supports a risk-based alerting mechanism and auto-remediation to manage all the stages of a threat lifecycle.
To augment the capabilities of an ITDR platform, here are the seven must-have features that can elevate its effectiveness to become an integral part of any organization’s arsenal to counter cybersecurity attacks.
1. Compatibility with Multiple Clouds, SaaS, and IdPs
An ITDR platform connects to cloud services, SaaS applications, and IAM infrastructure (like IdPs) to collect data on identities and access privileges. It analyzes authentication and authorization events to produce actionable insights on identity-related threats.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the ITDR platform you choose is compatible with native IAM services provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or other cloud providers. It should also integrate with the specific identity management solutions used by the organization, such as Okta or Azure Active Directory.
2. Room for Scalability and Elasticity
Cloud environments are known for their scalability and elasticity. The ITDR platform must be equally capable of scaling with the cloud infrastructure to handle increasing workloads and user accounts without performance degradation.
One important aspect of scalability is multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud deployment. If your organization uses multiple cloud providers or a hybrid cloud approach, an ITDR platform must also be able to monitor identities across different cloud providers.
3. Source of Identity Monitoring
Typically, an ITDR platform relies on several sources to monitor and analyze identity-related activities. These sources primarily include logs and event data generated by various IT systems, including network devices, application servers, and authentication systems.
To make the platform more effective, it must support additional sources that are indirectly accessed or fetched externally. ITDR platforms need to integrate with threat intelligence sources that have lists of leaked credentials and users, as well as third-party vendors that provide enrichment capabilities to the ITDR engine.
The dark web is yet another external source of data. ITDR platforms can leverage this data to monitor for stolen credentials to perceive early warnings of potential risks.
4. Integration with External Threat Intelligence Services and Vulnerability Feeds
ITDR platforms rely on third-party vulnerability feeds from credible sources for comprehensive coverage of the threat landscape. Advanced ITDR platforms also offer features associating identity risk factors with the MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge) framework for advanced protection.
5. Cloud Native Security Support
Modern cloud applications have foregone the traditional monolithic, long-running process architecture, favoring cloud-native deployment to achieve super scalability. This approach relies on short-lived, ephemeral processes for performing specific tasks, such as handling API requests or accessing a particular database table.
Tracing identities within a cloud-native environment requires additional integrations. As an advanced feature, ITDR platforms can support cloud-native deployments, such as the ability to monitor identities associated with API calls, serverless function execution, and container orchestration tasks.
6. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) Capabilities
AI and ML significantly enhance an ITDR platform’s capabilities. They provide more advanced and proactive methods for identifying and mitigating identity-related security threats. Some key areas where these technologies play a pivotal role include behavior baselining, user and entity profiling, threat profiling, and alert categorization.
Overall, AI and ML can help ITDR platforms learn and adapt over time based on feedback and new data, improving their accuracy in identifying threats.
7. Data Privacy and Compliance
Of course, the ITDR platform you choose must be verified for adherence to data privacy regulations and industry compliance standards applicable to your organization, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. Further, the platform must support reporting and auditing capabilities to demonstrate compliance.
Synergizing IAM and ITDR: A Resilient Future for Cybersecurity
ITDR is a relatively new method of countering cybersecurity risks. It takes a radically different approach by safeguarding the identities, which are the virtual assets of a cloud environment. Since IAM is responsible for generating and provisioning these identities, it is all the more logical to combine it with ITDR.
Rezonate offers the perfect synergy between ITDR and IAM to help security engineers and DevOps teams maintain the perfect sanity of their IAM configuration. With a few minutes of setup and an intuitive dashboard, Rezonate can connect to the most popular cloud providers and capture identity weak spots quickly.