According to Gartner when it comes to context security awareness, the most commonly cited context types are location and time. However, there are multiple types of context that can be used to glean information about your network. If you are a security professional who feels that they are losing visibility with Netflow, there are ways to add insightful context aware security information such as device names, FQDNs, URLs, application names, countries and even authenticated usernames.

Visibility Is Getting Lost

While we can learn a great deal about our network traffic with flow data we are not seeing everything. Sure we can see when and where a network issue may arise but there is a great deal of information missing that can help make security decisions easier to make. Initially, Netflow was being used to trouble shoot network issues such as excessive bandwidth consumption.  Today, Netflow can also be used to turn your network devices into sensors which add to your cyber defense tool chest. By using the granular flow data from your network, you are able to not only see the where and the when but also who, what URLs they visited, who they may have communicated with, and what fully qualified domain name (E.g. netflix.com) they are reaching out to. This is especially helpful as more and more traffic is leaving the network as encrypted traffic.

How Can Scrutinizer Help?

This is where Scrutinizer comes in. With our system, we are able to drill into network traffic and view the context aware security information needed. First, we are able to view the countries that user names on the network are reaching out to. And, by running a pairs report we can choose to view the host username, the source country, and the destination. While communicating with foreign countries is not always a bad thing, this context may be an important clue while investigating malicious behavior.

Context Security Awareness, viewing countries

Scrutinizer can also view traffic on applications, their users, and their destination. Insert a FlowPro Defender and get the actual web sites the users are reaching out to even if SSL is involved.  FQDNs are especially important when so much traffic today is headed to Akamai and Amazon AWS.

If a particular host is seen moving lots of data from a web site that holds important personal information, this could be a red flag. I recently worked with a customer who was able to drill in and stop a data leak before any damage was done. By using Scrutinizer, they were able to see a particular host and their username generating a lot of traffic from an application which was sending data out to the internet. After taking the machine offline, we were able to find the malicious link the user had clicked on.  From there we were able to quickly and easily make network security decisions.

Context Security Awareness, viewing applications

How Can the FlowPro Defender Help?

The FlowPro Defender itself comes with a plethora of amazing reports but the one I’d like to touch on right now is the ability to view FQDNs. While it’s useful to be able to see that a host is using Port 80 or 443 the ability to view the FQDN helps us paint a picture of an end systems traffic patterns. Using the FlowPro Defender’s FQDN report we are able to see the website visited.  This reports also display the source that’s generating the traffic as well as the username that authenticated the device onto the network.

Context Security Awareness, flowpro defender FQDNs

How Can I Protect My Network?

Using context security awareness you will not only be able to generate a baseline of your network behavior but be able to verify any malicious activity with ease. If you would like to learn more about the FlowPro Defender or try out Scrutinizer do not hesitate to reach out to us! You can also download the free trial of Scrutinizer and see for yourself how we can help improve your context security awareness.

Joanna Buckley

Joanna Buckley

Joanna is a technical support specialist here at Plixer. During the work day, Joanna works with customers from all over the world to resolve their tech issues to assure that they are working with the latest and greatest that Plixer has to offer. Joanna may have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in History from the University of Southern Maine but that hasn't slowed her passion for tech and working with it hands on. Outside of work she enjoys video games, living history, gardening, crafting and working with her second home The Brick Store Museum here in Kennebunk.

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