Everyone likes to hear a good hero story, like a serial killer being apprehended or a child being saved from a burning building. However, often, we don’t get the complete picture. How long did it take before the killer was finally caught? How about the child? Were they trapped long enough before smoke may have impacted their long-term health?
The time metric of often the most difficult to face, that’s why discussing dwell time is kind of like the elephant in the room that no one on within the security organization likes to acknowledge. If you’re not familiar with dwell time as a security professional, you certainly should be.
It’s the period that begins when an attacker first penetrates the perimeter of a network, until the moment they’re identified and removed. The stage in-between those two pivotal moments is where the damage can be done for an organization.
Depending on the skillset of the attack, this time can range drastically, says Brian Hussey, vice president of cyber threat detection and response at Trustwave.
“Advanced APT threat actors are very good at [laying low] and ‘living off the land’ by using system administration and Window tools, not a lot of [noticeable] malware,” Hussey says.
According to theTrustwave’s 2019 Global Security Report, in some cases, attackers have access to compromised environments for more than one year. While it may seem like an embarrassing metric to report on since it’s deemed unacceptable for an organization not to know about a malicious actor in their environment, this metric is an important benchmark for a security organization.
In the full discussion with Hussey featured below, he focuses on providing security leaders with advice on what they can do to reduce dwell time in their environment.