The ultimate guide to cyber deception technology

11 July 2022 | by Hannah Brice

In most industries, security needs to be a deterrent first and foremost. The same is true for cybersecurity.  But while prevention is the first line of defense, it’s only as good as the threat intelligence supporting it. That’s why deception technology could become perhaps the most valuable asset in your security network.

Digital transformation is an ever-growing part of many organizations. With better technology available, there’s a clear incentive to integrate the best software. This does create a new risk, though.

A survey in the Journal of Information Security notes that rapid integration creates network vulnerabilities that we need to account for. Namely:

“…the number of threats faced in cloud computing is rising exponentially mainly due to its widespread adoption, rapid expansion, and a vast attack surface.”

So what makes cyber deception technologies such a key part of protecting that attack surface from malicious activity? To understand that, we only need to look at its core principles.

What is cyber deception?

Cyber deception technology is a type of security measure that is designed to nullify cybersecurity threats or data breaches by enabling teams to detect and respond to malicious activity on a computer or a network.

Deception techniques are more subtle than traditional security measures and lockout measures, but they do support each other. They typically involve decoys or honeypots that replicate your network or network services and populate them with fake data.

Cyber deception is multi-functional. On one hand, it draws attackers away from your legitimate data. On the other, it creates confusion in your adversaries’ mind, undermining their efforts and slowing down attacks. The result: a complex web that forces threat actors to waste resources on useless services or data.

By creating false targets, or decoys, as well as luring attackers away from critical data and systems, you can also monitor attacker behavior. This can help security teams to better understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures that are being used against their organization.

As a form of threat detection and threat intelligence, cyber deception technology most effective for how it uncovers the psychology of your attackers, as well as gather real time threat intelligence from adversaries’ activity. There’s a bit of poetry to the technology: it uses many of the deception techniques hackers use to infiltrate a network against them.

Why should security teams use deception technology?

The key thing about cyber deception technology is that it turns the tables on attackers, making their attacks more resource-intensive. Forcing threat actors to waste time and energy is, in its own, a form of prevention. It makes you a less appealing target while making legitimate data harder to find, let alone steal.

Crucially, your security team can set up decoys at entry points, adding protection to the attack surface. It becomes a defensive asset for your other front-line tools. If the attack surface is breached, then it also works as a counter-security measure, harrying intruders at every point in the organization network.

As mentioned above, deception technologies provides unparalleled detection capabilities in cybersecurity. Not only can it provide you with valuable insight on your attacker, but another quick win is that it only reacts to genuine malicious activity. This means it reduces the alert fatigue security teams can suffer from as a result of receiving high volumes of false positive alerts from vulnerability scans and other monitoring tools.

For a full low-down on why you should use cyber deception as part of your security efforts, read our guide.

Types of deception techniques

Deception techniques work best when you use several types at once. Variety adds complexity to your security network, even for adversaries aware of the deception. It creates more variables, all while tracking their information as they engage with the decoys.

These are the security tools leading the charge in cyber deception today:

Honeypots

honeypot is a trap set to detect, deflect, or in some way counteract attempts at your data or unauthorized use of information systems. Generally, a honeypot consists of data that appears to be of value to attackers but is actually isolated and monitored, and which may alert defenders to an attacker. For example, a cyber deception honeypot might appear to be a vulnerable server, when in fact it is a decoy that has been set up by defenders. By luring attackers into interacting with the honeypot, defenders can gain insights into their tactics and techniques, and may be able to thwart attacks before they happen.

Honeynets

honeynet is a collection of honeypots that are used to lure attackers away from critical data and systems.

Masking

Masking works by hiding the legitimate assets or data you want to protect. By making real data undetectable, this technique removes it from the visible network without raising suspicion. Removing the real assets is the first step to effective deception.

Mimicking

Mimicking replaces these hidden assets with decoys that, to the attacker, look real. This form of deception keeps the attack surface attractive to intruders you want to run countersurveillance on. The key to mimicking is making the false assets look like a real part of the network.

Inventing

Inventing, on the other hand, is a type of deception that creates entirely new assets that don’t even exist. They just need to look like they could. For example, a set of new services. They also need to be attractive enough to divert attention from actual entry points.

Repacking

While mimicking and inventing create attractive decoys, repackaging makes real assets look as irrelevant as possible. Assets that can’t be masked as well can be repackaged to hide their true value, making them easy to gloss over.

Dazzling

Dazzling is the least subtle deception technique, but it can still be effective against less powerful threats. Like an inverted brute force attack, it floods attackers with so much information that they can’t work out real from fake.

Choosing a deception provider

These deception solutions work best in a cohesive system that makes the most of their uses. As such, you want to choose a provider that can optimize deception techniques for your needs. Beyond that, here’s what your enterprise should consider in a deception provider.

Coverage

An expanding attack surface needs extensive coverage if you want to secure it. Cyber threats don’t just cover the width of your network. Coverage needs to protect different stages of it too, securing key points across the entire kill–chain.

A deception provider with good coverage will offer everything from the recon to the exploitation stage and creating fake data at relevant points.

Scalability

As your network grows, so do the number of vulnerabilities. New servers and multi-location clouds, all introduce entry points that add to the complexity of cybersecurity. The best platforms know how to cover multi-geography environments.

Deception services should scale with you without losing efficiency.

Decoy design quality

With deception technology, the techniques are only as good as the decoys. Vendors need to create high-end decoys that work on both human and malware. If the decoys can’t convince your own IT team, they won’t be effective against specialized attackers.

Experience

Cyber threats evolve quickly in the digital age. The best deception providers have the knowledge and skills to tailor their solutions to threats that may not have existed when they launched. Adaptability is crucial to deception platforms that have to fool experienced intruders.

How often should you use cyber deception?

Provided you hire the right vendor, your cyber deception will be effective for as long as you run it. It’s best to run the technology continually and indefinitely. Cyber threats can appear at any time; you want your environment protected at al time.

Getting started with cyber deception

Deception as a service is what we do best. Whether you’re protecting your network from outside attackers or rogue employees, or need threat intelligence you can rely on 24/7. Request a demo and try our industry-leading solutions today.

11 July 2022 | by Hannah Brice

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