How to Use UEBA to Prevent Insider Threats


Zac AmosFeatures Editor at ReHack

Friday, April 14, 2023

What is user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), and how can IT security teams use it to understand and identify potential insider threats?

Article 4 Minutes
How to Use UEBA to Prevent Insider Threats

Numerous cybersecurity solutions exist to streamline and guide analysts to success, including zero-trust frameworks and following as many compliance benchmarks as possible. User and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) is another perspective in the security world that could help analysts understand threats — especially internal ones.

What is UEBA?

UEBA helps analysts and IT teams understand staff trends. Cybersecurity discourse typically surrounds external threat actors, but internal risks should retain as much priority in prevention planning. UEBA leverages machine learning (ML) to scan usage behaviors from every surface area in an organization, including servers and employee PCs.

The number of threat vectors is increasing as workers need more tech items for current jobs, like webcams and work phones, despite phasing out old technologies like fax machines. Internal attacks are becoming more frequent, making these facts justify employing UEBA.

Ideally, UEBA notices changes in user patterns and notifies analysts for investigation. The ability of UEBA to combine machine awareness with pattern analysis provides insight for analysts that could stop countless insider attacks that might go undetected. The assumption is external threats are more overtly damaging, overshadowing internal risks to the point of analyst complacency. In reality, they are just as extreme.

Installing two-factor authentication on machines isn’t enough to validate employee trustworthiness. One-and-done solutions that insinuate a single fix is enough for prevention are flawed. UEBA is an asset for triage and provides invaluable analytics that improves strategy. Analysts can’t implement blanketed techniques and have certified success — they must personalize plans for each company, and nobody can know internal needs without data.

How can UEBA prevent insider threats?

Authentication and verification measures can assist in denying suspicious access requests to a server. Still, it may not be able to recognize how a large quantity of persistent threats relates to safety. UEBA would notify teams of the spike. Even if other prevention methods successfully ward off the onslaught, it’s critical to know the attempts are happening because that could signal an internal botnet attack.

One of the best ways businesses can use UEBA to prevent insider threats is by overcoming antiquated cybersecurity assumptions. Perimeter security isn’t relevant for internal actors and social engineering attacks are on the rise, taking advantage of people from within. Even small businesses with sparse cybersecurity budgets may want to take notice, as SMBs are 400% more likely to be victims of cybercrime than corporations with higher defenses.

Learn more: 4 Social Engineering Tactics Hackers Are Using to Fool Your Staff

It’s vital to embrace UEBA because it increases self-awareness and vigilance for a more comprehensive array of influences. Internal threat actors already have access to and knowledge of essential file locations. This is vital to remember when defenses are in limbo as companies migrate to the cloud or incorporate AI and other new technologies with potential vulnerabilities.

Additionally, UEBA doesn’t single-handedly solve the cybersecurity staffing shortage, but it helps. Automation is one of the most prominent and game-changing trends for a reason — it’s effective and inexpensive.

How should businesses implement UEBA?

Teams can install UEBA on anything, from personal machines to routers. Remote teams would also want this for home tech to create an exhaustive safety net. It works in the background continuously to become more adept at understanding the digital environment and detecting patterns.

An ideal UEBA solution would have compatibility and integration properties with other databases and software for seamless security stack navigation. Test the synergy between assets to clarify how well they sync and transmit information. Cross-referencing data for accuracy is crucial. Cybersecurity efforts will be compromised if teams don’t verify data collection is reflective of reality.

It’s vital to curate alerts for relevancy and transparency for UEBA to work. Teams must be clear on what kind of internal threat could be incoming because alert fatigue is a constant battle for analysts. UEBA won’t work if people are psychologically predisposed to ignoring alerts.

However, an alert doesn’t stop the act from happening. UEBA alerts must work cohesively with other policy enforcement methods, such as automatic access prevention or data encryption. The alerts may not be 100% accurate at contextualizing every potential phishing email or job performance anomaly, so resilient patience is necessary for long-term efficacy.

Safer cyber using UEBA

Businesses want robust firewalls and multiple authentication measures to prevent external threats, but they must take internal risks more seriously for a holistic cybersecurity strategy. UEBA is one of the best ways to automate this while gaining more insights into employee activity. Metrics like download speeds and access attempts are priceless information that IT departments wouldn’t know without incorporating UEBA. It makes teams more knowledgeable about operational trends for a more intuitive, prioritized cybersecurity strategy.

Zac Amos

Features Editor at ReHack

As the Features Editor at ReHack, Zac Amos writes about cybersecurity and the tech industry.


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