Blog :: NDR

Is NetFlow useful for security analysis?

Network flow data (NetFlow, IPFIX, sFlow, etc.) is telemetry data extracted from your network infrastructure. Network Operations teams frequently tap into this data set to monitor performance.  

But most people underestimate the impact flow data can have on threat detection, investigation, and response.  

While it’s true that NetFlow v5, first introduced in 2009, does not offer much insight for security analysis, the network flow data of today is exponentially more valuable.  

Let’s explore three reasons why network flow data is useful for security analysis.  

Wide data set 

Like a wide camera lens, network flow analysis can allow you to see and understand your network at a glance. Because network flow data can be extracted from your network infrastructure, it gives you unmatched visibility into your IT environment. Unlike point-specific views, like EDR or packet-based NDR solutions, flow data allows you to track everything from edge to core to cloud.  

And with a wide lens of your IT environment, NetFlow provides threat detections at multiple stages of the MITRE ATT&CK® framework—from reconnaissance to impact—giving you wide visibility and more time to eliminate a threat before it’s too late. 

Rich data set 

Most people still assume network flow data only offers you data on layers 3 and 4. This hasn’t been true, though, for many years. NetFlow v10 and IPFIX greatly expanded the ability to gain data from your infrastructure.  

Today’s network flow data gives you critical information from layers 2 to 7. With flow data, you can see important user and device info, application and DNS activity, and more. With a wide lens and a rich set of info, you can more quickly detect threats, investigate compromise, and respond to a threat before a damaging breach occurs. 

Highly scalable 

Perhaps the largest benefit of network flow data is that it’s readily available. You do not need additional infrastructure, resources, or skills to get the data. Most NDR solutions require a series of infrastructure and resources that need to be deployed, and this makes it difficult to scale those solutions. 

This is not the case with solutions that use flow data. To scale, you only need to point the analysis solution to new infrastructure. This allows you to start small, prove the value, expand, grow your IT environment, and not worry about the security implications of doing so. Flow data has you covered.  

By harnessing your existing infrastructure to analyze flow data, you can detect threats early and across the wide spectrum of your IT environment. When properly analyzed, NetFlow can help you detect threats that have bypassed other controls (like EDRs and NGFWs). Because network flow data is generated by your existing infrastructure, it creates a complete picture of all the traffic passing your IT environment.   

Don’t leave your enterprise exposed to threats, see how Plixer can help today.