Up your Cyber Security Game – Using Predictive Analytics to Create a Defense Plan

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Cybersecurity has become a frustrating game of whack-a-mole, with new threats constantly showing up in new and unexpected places every time you beat back the last one. At times it feels as if security vendors can’t keep up.


But giving up is not an option. Cybersecurity researchers and developers keep working on solutions to help protect organizations from the constant barrage of cyber threats. One area of this work that bears watching by MSPs and managed security providers is predictive analytics. It will help define the future of cybersecurity, potentially giving organizations more than a fighting chance against cybercriminals.

Unknown Vulnerabilities

The reason cybercrime is so hard to prevent is because malware authors have figured out a myriad of ways to exploit the so-called “Zero Day” vulnerabilities – those that are previously unknown – in systems that businesses and consumers use everyday.

Endpoint security engines typically rely on signatures of known malware to detect new viruses, worms, Trojans and other types of malware, but malware programmers constantly release new threats without those signatures. These programmers are especially adept at writing malicious code that eludes existing security solutions.

Making matters worse, malware authors have created an underground economy of malfeasance by selling exploit kits on the Dark Web for any would-be cybercriminal with moderate technical skills to launch an attack against a chosen target. Malware as a service is a real thing.

To combat these threats, security vendors have developed advanced behavior analysis solutions and threat intelligence feeds but the volume of new threats is so massive that some attacks are inevitable. Consider this: In 2015, security vendor Symantec calculated that 440 million malware variants were released, a 36 percent increase from the previous year.

 Forecast Models

Cybersecurity has traditionally relied on a defensive model, but predictive cybersecurity changes that. Now, you’re out in the wild looking for the trouble so you can stop it before it reaches you. Think of it as the scouting function of a military force. By collecting data about cyber attacks and threats, predictive cybersecurity analytics can produce forecasting models about the sources, potential victims and methods of future attacks.

Analytics tools are linked to sophisticated threat intelligence and monitoring systems that capture relevant data from endpoints, malware-detection engines and various other sources, including Internet and social media posts. These sophisticated tools look for code characteristics, patterns, behavior and anomalies that hint at the presence of malicious code for which signatures may not exist yet.

The tools allow cybersecurity professionals to track Internet chatter by groups and individuals suspected of cybercrimes. By employing these methods, cybersecurity professionals can identify new malware variants, cyber attack vectors, exploits of previously unknown vulnerabilities, and the websites that house and distribute malware.

Armed with these tools and intelligence, cybersecurity professionals can stop new threats and test corporate defenses regularly to prevent attacks.

Value Add

Predictive cybersecurity is expensive, but as tools for rapid analytics are introduced and methods refined, it will become more affordable. It won’t be long before MSPs will have an opportunity to offer this technology as another value-add for customers.

A sound cybersecurity plan should include a predictive analytics component. But it’s important to understand security forecasts alone cannot prevent cyber attacks. Customers will still need defensive tools such as firewalls, intrusion detection and endpoint security to effectively protect customers from cybercrime. The predictive component, however, will make them more likely to fend off attacks.

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