A Guide on User Behavior Analytics (UBA)

UBA is a cyber security process that involves the collection, tracking, and analysis of data from users gathered over a period. The data is used to understand user behavior that could lead to the prevention of targeted cyber attacks, financial fraud, and other hacking attempts.

UBA is carried out with the help of specialized data and network analysis tools that work on historical logs stored in databases. UBA works by actively looking at what different users on a system are doing and removes threats by updating the software and network system.

Why Businesses Need User Behavior Analytics

Most businesses these days are connected online to offer better products and services to their customers. Most hackers and cyber attackers can also access these networks. They enter a database system by breaching the target network’s security protocol. In the simplest terms, this involves guessing some kind of password or security code of the target system to gain access.

Once the hacker is in, they can copy the data, modify files or even leave malware that silently tracks and stores information, sending it back to the hacker periodically. The malware also slows down and weakens the existing security software making it easier for the hacker to gain access to the system in the future.

A system security administrator who is simply tracking the network will not see the hacker as anyone different from a regular user who isn’t doing anything wrong. Only with the help of a UBA tool can security admins examine the behavior of the user closely and understand what’s going on to put a stop to the activity.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

Most cyber attacks do not involve active or real-time attacks from the hacker but depend on leaving malware or Trojans on the targeted computer that do the hacking for the attacker. When hackers gain access to a system, they perform very basic administrative tasks such as copying documents, searching directories or downloading files on the target system.

One of the tools that they leave behind is called a remote administrative tool or (RAT). These RATs are stored in the Windows essential logic code and get executed while the system is running. They give the hacker command and control access over the target system from their own computer.

The RATs can also be programmed to track the user activity on the system and stay hidden for months. These programs can also connect with fake DNS servers that are expecting RAT commands

The User Entity Behavior Analytics (EUBA)

Analysts from Gartner published a comprehensive market guide about user behavior analytics (UBA) in 2015. They coined a new model the User EntityBehavior Analytics (UEBA) that track not just the user behavior but also track the behavior of entities, including installed software. The UEBA is designed to implement machine learning tools to help improve the data tracking and analysis process.

Gartner researchers believe that traditional behavior analytical tools are rigid and fail to learn and adapt to changes in malware behavior. Advanced, dynamic UBA engine can analyze abnormal activities on the system and writes its own internal rules.

The traditional UBA software requires IT administrators with good instincts who can assess what the hackers are up to and take preventive measures against it. Most IT admins are not specialized security experts and they fail to take notice of anomalies in the system.

This is where dynamic UBA system can make a difference as it can take proactive steps immediately when the hacker attempts to make a move for searching or copying sensitive data.

What to Look for in a UBA Software

There are dozens of UBA software in the market that can do a good job of detecting irregular user activity. When looking to implement a behavior analysis tool, make sure that it has the essential features that you need for your business. Some of the important features to look out for include the following.

  • The software is capable of processing a large volume of data for a user’s file and email activity. You will generally only ever need to use a program when dozens or hundreds of users access the system on a daily basis.
  • The UBA is capable of determining “Normal” user access and file activity for the system. You do not want the program to block and disrupt normal user activity. Distinguishing between normal users and hackers is a fundamental requirement of the software.
  • The UBA software must track the user activity in real-time and generate alerts on the spot instead of creating reports at the end of the day.

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