Incident Response: How to Manage Excessive Alerts

Blue Team

An incident response is how organizations protect themselves from cyberattacks. It’s the plan used to first identify the threats, then contain and eliminate them. 

The problem is that more and more organizations are finding themselves overwhelmed by an increasing amount of security alerts. Incident response teams are left reeling on the backfoot as they struggle to determine where to focus their efforts:  Which alerts are noise? Which are real cyberattacks? 

Lost in the noise of excessive alerts, the incidence response suffers. Incident response teams risk missing serious security incidents, with expensive consequences for the business. 

Kristian Jacobsen at Seculyze put it this way: 

“It might cost the company 3-4 weeks of downtime, and as much as 297 days to get fully up and running again. It costs on average $5.12 million dollars every time they get hit by an attack. An effective incident response is needed as it serves as an insurance protecting the company”. 

Yes, the stakes are high. You’ll want the insurance. So how can you optimize your incident response to protect your business? Optimizing an incident response is about cutting down on the number of alerts to make it easy to identify and detect an incident before it hits. Below we share our best tips as to how you can detect incidents early to reduce the likelihood of a cyberattack. 

Why is Early Incident Detection Important?

Incidents are the most critical alerts that an incident response team encounters; they are the alerts that are the most likely to inflict serious damage to the business. As the prevention of these alerts is of highest importance, action to stop the alerts should be taken as soon as possible. They require immediate detection. The earlier a threat can be detected, the more secure the system will be. 

Think of it this way. Governments protect their citizens by taking a preventive approach to terrorism; they use intelligence to unravel terrorist plots before they are carried out. The proactive approach means that governments are not left scrambling to contain the damage. Lives are saved.

The same approach should be taken in cybersecurity. An effective incident response is mostly about prevention – taking early and quick action to identify the incidents before they have the chance to seriously harm the business. 

Enrich Your Security Alerts

To make it easier to detect potential incidents and stop them in their tracks, analysts first need to know the context surrounding the alert. Often, analysts will attempt to gain this information from various data sources. Any analyst knows how pain-staking this process is. It takes time, effort, and resources to first collect the data, then to format it properly so that it can be analyzed. 

If alerts are automatically coupled with information such as threat intelligence and open source intelligence from the get-go, analysts can quickly decipher how threatening the alert is. 

For example, data-enriched alerts allow analysts to determine where the alert is from and the nature of its IP address (has the address been associated with malicious activity in the past?). Alerts can be enriched with the following types of information: 

  • Translated IP addresses 
  • Normalized and cleaned data, such as timestamps and usernames 
  • The context of email addresses and attachments

By building a context-rich picture of the alert, analysts can quickly detect threats and deliver a more effective incident response.

Tune Out the Non-threats

Having data-enriched alerts means that the most critical alerts can more easily be distinguished from the alerts that are not worth worrying about. Analysts can “tune out” the non-threats. Alerts are tuned out by comparing their data context with other alerts. 

Imagine the following scenario. An analyst spots an alert that initially seems threatening but on second glance turns out to be a false positive. Maybe someone logged into an account from a new device or they simply forgot their password. In any case, the analyst decides that the alert is not concerning. Yet, simultaneously, they are receiving a large amount of other alerts that may very well be real threats. How does the analyst efficiently look through all the alerts, while ensuring they do not miss a potential cyberattack? 

By comparing the identified false positive with the data of the other alerts, the analyst can decipher how much attention should be paid to them. If the alerts share similar data, such as similar timestamps or IP addresses, with the false positive alert, then it is indicative that they are most likely also false positives, and therefore are not worth worrying about and can be tuned out. On the other hand, if the context of the alerts are vastly different from each other, it may be worth spending extra time to analyze the alerts and determine their threat-level. By comparing the data, analysts can tune out the non-threatening alerts from the more critical alerts. 

Once the non-threatening alerts are tuned out, the incident response can be vastly more effective as it opens up resources – both in terms of personnel and time – to focus on the potentially-damaging incidents. Tuning out alerts allows analysts to better detect incidents and increase their incident response time. Optimize the incident response through early detection and limit the damage inflicted. 

If you need help implementing a more effective and efficient incident response, there are easy-to-reach experts ready to assist you.

The Benefits of Automated Technology

All incident response teams should make early detection a core part of their incident response plan. But, as you may have already caught on to, the analysis involved in early detection means that the process can be resource-intensive. Critical incidents are often missed, leading to excessive damage. That’s why many teams are leveraging automated technology to enable easier incident detection. Automated technology makes the entire incident response process less time-consuming and more effective. 

Cybersecurity software, like Seculyze, allows incident response teams to automatically enrich their alerts. Analysts gain much greater visibility over the nature of the threats and their severity. They can then tune out the alerts that are non-threatening. The results are minimized detection errors and a faster response time. Incidents are detected before they infiltrate the system.  

Seculyze, a SaaS, integrates into your SIEM environment. Using data from open source and threat intelligence, the software automatically enriches security alerts, so that your incident response team has all the information needed to identify incidents in one place. Seculyze automatically tunes out the unimportant alerts, allowing your incident response team to catch the threats that matter most. Make incident response effective, and greatly reduce the risk of a cybersecurity attack.

Try a free demo. 

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