What is User Activity Monitoring for Rapid Threat Detection?

Installing a user activity monitoring system is becoming increasingly important for organizations in today’s digital landscape. With the amount of sensitive data stored in corporate networks, it’s essential for you to have measures in place that can detect malicious threats quickly and efficiently.  

User activity monitoring (UAM) is a powerful tool that helps organizations detect threats in real time. It does this by monitoring the behavior and actions of employees in an IT environment and analyzing them to identify threats. It can detect the following activities on servers, endpoints, and similar network devices: 

  • Account compromises 
  • Data breaches 
  • Insider threats 

UAM is an essential security measure, as the IMB 2022 report showed that ransomware breaches increased by 41% from 2021-2022, with an average of 49 days taken to identify and contain This article will we’ll explore the implementation, benefits, and best practices for rapid threat detection with user activity tracking. 

What Is User Activity Monitoring? 

UAM solutions leverage software tools to monitor and keep tabs on end-user behavior on networks, and devices, among other IT resources of an organization. These are implemented primarily to assist in detecting and stopping insider threats. The number of methods used depends on a company’s objectives. 

The User Activity Monitoring System Implementation Process 

The process of implementing a user activity monitoring system differs depending on the needs of a business. Additionally, it may also require several different kinds of technologies. Most commonly, network monitoring is carried out by installing monitoring software on all network devices. 

The collected data is then centralized in a security information and event management (SIEM) system, which analyzes it to identify anomalies like unusual file transfers, data access, and login patterns. 

The Numerous Benefits of UAM 

User activity monitoring can be a powerful tool for organizations to protect their data and systems. With the right implementation, user activity monitoring can help organizations detect threats effectively, allowing them to respond quickly and mitigate any potential damage. Here are some of the key benefits of user activity monitoring: 

  • Prevents data loss: Monitoring user activity allows you to prevent intentional or accidental data loss and access data accordingly. 
  • Detects insider threats: Insider threat user activity monitoring identifies user behavior that is anomalous, for example, unauthorized data access. This allows you to take action immediately. 
  • Increases visibility: User activity monitoring provides organizations with greater visibility into their systems and networks, allowing them to detect and respond to any malicious activity more easily. 
  • Respond to threats quickly: With user activity monitoring, organizations can detect threats in real time, rather than waiting for an alert or other indication that something is wrong. This allows them to respond quickly and mitigate damage more effectively. 
  • Improves security: By monitoring user activity, organizations can ensure that their data and systems are secure. This helps to protect data from malicious actors, as well as from accidental or intentional misuse. 
  • Saves money: By detecting threats quickly and effectively, user activity monitoring can help organizations save money in the long run. By responding quickly and mitigating damage, companies can avoid costly repairs and other associated costs. 
  • Ensures compliance: For organizations that are subject to compliance regulations, user activity monitoring ensures that their systems and networks are in compliance with regulatory requirements. 

Actionable UAM Best Practices  

Once user activity monitoring has been implemented, organizations should ensure that they are following best practices for rapid threat detection. Some of these include:  

  • Set regulations and protocols: Organizations should create laws and standards for UAM, including what activities are monitored, the information that is collected, and the duration of time the data is stored.  
  • Secure user permission: Companies should make users aware that their activities will be supervised and get their permission before deploying UAM.  
  • Utilize data encryption: The data garnered from UAM should be encrypted to avert unapproved access and guarantee the secrecy of user activity records.  
  • Restrict access to UAM data: Access to UAM data should be restricted to authorized personnel only, and the data should be kept in a secure area.  
  • Evaluate UAM efficiency: Organizations should periodically analyze UAM data to guarantee that it is useful in recognizing risks and determining areas for improvement. 
  • Use Automation: Utilizing automation can identify potential threats more quickly, such as automated alerts when unusual user activity is detected. 
  • Train Employees: Businesses should also train their employees on security best practices, for example, how to recognize and respond to potential threats. 

Monitoring User Activity– A Case Study 

As per a Security Boulevard blog, a software vendor operating in Silicon Valley was concerned regarding the risks posed via unmanaged File Transfer Protocol (FTP) traffic. Since they were a big organization with several hundred developers, FTP was used often, which made spotting anomalous user behavior difficult.  

Moreover, due to each developer having different usage patterns and needs, it was challenging to determine what kind of user behavior can be deemed as ‘normal.’ With the use of AI tools, the company established accurate baseline behaviors for every user. 

They also cross-checked this data, using information from unusual accesses on other applications and login failures. After each employee’s baseline was accurately established, work assignments and staff were changed frequently to all for machine learning. Using this dynamic and granular knowledge, anomalies were easily spotted. 

Now, the vendor can quickly detect anomalous behaviors on individual levels, correlating each unusual user action with attack indicators. Through user activity tracking hundreds of hours were saved.  

In Conclusion  

User activity monitoring is a powerful tool for organizations to protect their data and systems from malicious actors. With the right implementation, user activity monitoring can help organizations detect and respond to threats more quickly and effectively, as well as protect their data from accidental or intentional misuse. If you’re looking for reliable user activity monitoring solutions, look no further than CXI Solutions, the one-stop shop for all your cybersecurity needs.