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July 6, 2023
By: Inversion6

The Role of Deception-Based Security in Risk Mitigation

In a digital landscape that seems to evolve daily, safeguarding sensitive data and protecting critical infrastructure has never been more important. However, even with investments in robust cybersecurity solutions, it still is not possible to prevent all attacks. In fact, more than 80% of U.S. companies have reported a successful hacking of their systems for the purpose of stealing, altering, or exposing sensitive information. That’s where deception-based security comes into play as a viable strategy for further mitigating risk and improving threat detection and response. 

What is Deception-Based Security? 

Deception-based security is a proactive cyber-security approach that aims to misdirect attackers that successfully infiltrate an organization’s network. Through the use of deceptive elements like decoy assets, false information, and fabricated vulnerabilities, deception-based security strategies can successfully lure and trap attackers in order to: 

  • Gather valuable information on cybercriminal behavior 

  • Mitigate risk and impact of infiltration 

  • Enhance early detection methods 

  • Reduce swell times 

  • Improve threat response times 

Active vs. Passive Deception-Based Security 

Deception-based security utilizes a variety of techniques and methods that can be separated into two broad categories: 

Active Deception – Active deception-based security involves deploying decoys, deceptive information, and altering network configurations in real time in order to actively manipulate an attacker’s environment. It is a dynamic response tactic that keeps attackers engaged in time-wasting activities while enabling security teams to monitor them and gather information on their behavior and decision-making process. 

Passive Deception – On the other hand, passive deception relies on strategically placing pre-established deception elements across a network. While these elements remain static and do not respond to an attacker’s actions, they are a vital part of a robust deception-based defense system when it comes to diverting attention away from critical systems and information. 

Both active and passive deception strategies are vital for an effective deception-based strategy. They rely on a variety of sophisticated techniques such as decoy systems, endpoint deception, and honeytokens and honeypots. 

Decoy Systems 

Decoy systems are fundamental to deception-based security systems. Decoys simulate legitimate assets within the network that appear identical to critical infrastructure components, such as servers and workstations. They blend seamlessly with the real environment to divert attackers’ attention and lure them into interacting. 

Not only do decoys buy valuable time for security teams to detect, analyze, and respond to a threat, but they also enable the gathering of valuable information. This information can later be used by cybersecurity professionals to improve deception-based security measures and cybersecurity strategies as a whole. 

Endpoint Deception 

While decoys are normally part of a network-level deception system, which can also include virtual machines and other elements, endpoint deception involves deploying deceptive techniques on individual devices. Incorporating deception into endpoints such as workstations, servers, and mobile devices, allows organizations to further trap and misdirect attackers.  

Honeytokens and Honeypots 

Honeytokens and honeypots are extremely powerful tools within deception-based security that work to actively lure and trap attackers. 

Honeytokens are pieces of fabricated information that are designed to look legitimate to attackers. Honeytokens can include items such as false credentials, fabricated documents, or even fake data files. By deliberately scattering these elements throughout an organization’s network, security teams can lure cyberattackers into interacting with them. Once that happens, an alert is triggered that informs the security team of a breach. Honeytokens are extremely effective at slowing down cyber criminals, as they must carefully analyze every piece of information they come across. 

Honeypots, similarly, are isolated systems that are designed to appear active. They are simulated environments that include deliberate vulnerabilities and pieces of enticing (but false) information that are also exceptionally effective at luring and trapping attackers. Honeypots are an invaluable resource for gathering information on the behavior of attackers, enabling cybersecurity specialists to gain insight into their techniques and motivations. The data gathered from honeypots help cybersecurity teams remain vigilant against emerging threats so they can refine their defensive strategies accordingly. 

Implementing Deception-Based Security for Risk Mitigation 

The implementation of deception-based security measures within an existing security infrastructure is extraordinarily complex, but it can be broken down into three basic phases. It’s important to note that these phases make up an ongoing cycle that should be repeated on a regular basis for optimum cybersecurity. 

Phase One: Identification of Critical Assets and Organizational Needs – Identify the most critical assets and prioritize their protection. Factors such as the organization’s industry, network architecture, and threat landscape should also be taken into account. 

Phase Two: Designing Deception Environments – Carefully plan and create deception elements that are tailored to the network architecture. Proper design ensures that elements blend seamlessly into the infrastructure for maximum effectiveness.  

Phase Three: Monitoring and Analysis – Deception-based security relies on rigorous monitoring and analysis. Not only do security teams need to be on alert to any interaction with the deception elements, but they also need to leverage data gathered from these strategies to analyze behavior, generate actionable insights, and improve response and future risk mitigation. 

Empowering Security Teams with Information 

Deception-based security provides security teams with the insights they need to continue advancing their methods and strategies to stay ahead of cybercriminals. By luring attackers into interacting with deception networks and elements, security teams are able to better understand and respond to the attack vectors, tactics, and tools used by attackers.  

Stay Ahead of Evolving Cyber Threats with Inversion6 

Inversion6 has been a trusted provider of tailored cybersecurity solutions for decades. Our custom services include MSSP, fractional CISO, and a suite of cutting-edge security solutions leveraged by our expansive knowledge of advanced technology and our proven processes.  

With our focus on providing robust cybersecurity solutions enhanced with deception-based methods and our commitment to a relationship-first approach with our clients, we deliver a fully collaborative partnership that ensures your organization is always one step ahead. 

Connect with our team today to get started. 

Post Written By: Inversion6
Inversion6 and our team of CISOs are experts in information security, storage, and networking solutions. We work alongside your team to implement technology solutions that are smart, flexible, and customized to fit your needs.

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