Endpoint and Network Intrusion Detection Systems in FE Electrical

Endpoint security and network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) are crucial to infrastructure security. Intrusion Detection and Prevention in the FE Electrical exam is of utmost importance. The key learnings of this subject impact security in modern organization-grade IT systems due to the increased likelihood of cyberattacks. 

This study guide is the second part of our detailed study series on Intrusion Detection and Prevention in the FE Electrical exam that will showcase how endpoint systems work. It will also discuss the workings of NIDS systems. Let’s explore this in detail.

Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (EDR)

Endpoint Threat Detection and Response

Endpoint security is critical in cybersecurity, focusing on protecting an organization’s network by securing its endpoints. These endpoints include any device that connects to the network, such as computers, smartphones, and smartwatches.

The primary goal of endpoint security solutions is to safeguard these devices from various cyber threats like ransomware, malware, phishing, etc., which could compromise business systems, intellectual property, customer data, and the devices themselves.

Since endpoints are access points to an organization’s network, they are potential entry points for malicious actors. Endpoint security solutions ensure network protection against compromise and data theft, even when an employee’s device is lost or stolen.

Endpoint security encompasses a range of cybersecurity solutions, including.

  • Endpoint Protection (EPP),
  • Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (EDR),
  • Mobile Threat Defense (MTD),
  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA),
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM),
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR),
  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).

Additionally, it incorporates traditional security measures like antivirus and firewall services.

Functions of EDR in NIDP

EDR (Endpoint Threat Detection and Response) in NIDP (Network Intrusion Detection and Prevention) focuses on monitoring and responding to threats at the endpoint level.

It involves continuous data collection from endpoints to detect, investigate, and mitigate threats. EDR extends beyond traditional antivirus solutions by providing

  • Data loss prevention.
  • Real-time data analysis.
  • Advanced threat-hunting capabilities.
  • Incident response and remediation.

Types of Endpoint Security Solutions and Frameworks

  • Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP): Protects devices by detecting and preventing malware attacks.
  • Endpoint Threat Detection and Response (EDR): Provides continuous monitoring and data collection for real-time threat detection and response.
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR): Aggregates data from multiple sources for comprehensive threat detection and response.
  • Mobile Threat Defense (MTD): Offers mobile device security beyond traditional management solutions.
  • User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA): Analyzes behavior to establish a baseline and detect anomalies.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Manages resource access, ensuring only authorized entities have access.
  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA): Assumes no trust by default, requiring authentication for access.
  • Unified Endpoint Security (UES): Provides cross-platform visibility and threat identification with simplified administration.

How Endpoint Security Solution Works?

Endpoint Security involves several key actions. Endpoint Security solution provides a comprehensive approach to protecting organizations’ networks by integrating some critical frameworks.

It guards against known threats and adapts to new and emerging challenges, ensuring that endpoints remain secure against the evolving landscape of cyber threats.


Let’s uncover this sequence of actions and frameworks in further detail.

1. Preparation: Readiness for IT Outages and Business Disruptions

Risk Assessment and Planning: This involves identifying potential vulnerabilities within the endpoint infrastructure and assessing their risks. It includes analyzing potential attack vectors, understanding the impact of different threats, and preparing for scenarios like IT outages due to cyberattacks.

Backup and Recovery Procedures: Implementing robust backup solutions ensures data integrity and availability in case of an attack. This could involve regular, encrypted backups of critical data, ensuring that these backups are stored in a secure, off-site location, and regularly testing recovery procedures.

Patch Management: Keeping all endpoint devices and software up to date with the latest security patches is crucial. Automated patch management tools can help in deploying updates efficiently across all endpoints.

Training and Awareness Programs: Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices, potential threats, and the importance of security measures like using strong passwords and recognizing phishing emails.

2. Prevention: Managing Internal Threats and Data Security Risks

Antivirus and Anti-Malware Solutions: Continuously scanning endpoint devices for malicious software and providing real-time protection against virus and malware infections.

Application Whitelisting: Allowing only pre-approved software to run on endpoints, effectively blocking unauthorized applications that could be harmful.

Network Access Controls: Restricting endpoint access to the network based on predefined network security policies, ensuring that only authorized devices and users can connect.

Encryption: Encrypting data stored on endpoints and data in transit to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.

3. Detection: Identifying Security Breaches and Suspicious Behavior

Behavioural Analysis and Machine Learning: Employ advanced algorithms to detect unusual activities or deviations from standard behaviour patterns on endpoints, which could indicate a security breach.

Anomaly Detection: Monitor network traffic and endpoint activities to identify anomalies that could signal a cyber threat, such as unusual outbound traffic or unexpected changes in file systems.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Tools: Continuously collect and analyze endpoint data to detect threats and suspicious activities in real-time.

Log Management and Analysis: Gathering and analyzing logs from various endpoints to detect patterns indicative of a security incident.

4. Response: Rapid Mitigation of Risks

Automated Response Protocols: Implement automated processes that can isolate infected endpoints, block malicious traffic, or take other pre-defined actions immediately upon detection of a threat.

Incident Response Team and Playbooks: Having a dedicated team and set of procedures (playbooks) for responding to various cybersecurity incidents. This includes steps for containment, eradication, and recovery from an attack.

Forensic Analysis: Conduct a thorough investigation following an incident to determine the cause and extent of the breach, which involves analyzing affected systems, identifying the entry point of the attack, and assessing the impact.

Post-Incident Reviews and Adjustments: After an incident, review the effectiveness of the response and make necessary adjustments to network security policies, tools, and procedures to prevent future breaches.

Network-based Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS)

This is another aspect of network intrusion detection and prevention in FE Electrical. Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) are crucial for identifying potential threats within a network. They can be categorized into passive and active systems based on their response capabilities.

Passive vs. Active NIDS

1. Passive NIDS

These systems monitor and analyze network traffic to detect suspicious activities or policy violations. However, they do not take direct action against perceived threats. Instead, they log the activity, send alerts, or generate reports.

2. Active NIDS

In contrast, active NIDS detects threats and immediately mitigates them. These systems are more involved in actively managing the security of the network.

How Does Active NIDS Prevent Intrusions or Attacks?

The Active NIDS follows the following sequence of actions to trigger a robust response against intrusions and attacks on the network.

1. Ending a TCP Session

When a suspicious or malicious activity is detected, an active NIDS can intervene to terminate the TCP session. This is achieved by sending a TCP reset packet to both the source and destination IP addresses involved in the session. The TCP reset acts as a command to immediately stop and close the connection, thus preventing further potential damage or data leakage.

2. Activating an Inline Firewall

An active NIDS can trigger an inline firewall to block traffic from a suspicious source. The firewall acts as a barrier, inspecting and filtering packets based on predefined security rules. In response to a threat, the NIDS dynamically updates firewall rules to prevent specific traffic, effectively isolating the threat.

3. Throttling Bandwidth Usage

Active NIDS can throttle or limit the bandwidth usage of specific connections or IP addresses to manage a network under attack, particularly in DDoS scenarios. This helps mitigate the attack’s impact by preventing the malicious traffic from consuming excessive network resources, thus maintaining availability for legitimate users.

4. Altering or Removing Malicious Content

Active NIDS can be configured to modify or strip out malicious content from network traffic. For example, in the case of an email with a malicious attachment or link, the NIDS can remove the harmful content before it reaches the end user, neutralizing the threat.

5. Reconfiguring Network Security Devices

Active NIDS can reconfigure other network security devices, like routers or switches, to enhance defense mechanisms in response to detected threats. This might include changing access control lists (ACLs) or updating network security policies to reflect the newly identified threat landscape.

6. Activating a Third-Party Script or Program

Active NIDS can trigger external scripts or programs for more sophisticated responses. For instance, upon detecting an intrusion, the system might execute a script that collects additional information about the intrusion, initiates further defensive actions, or integrates with incident response systems for a coordinated response.

Types of NIDS Frameworks

1. Signature-Based Detection

Operation: Signature-based detection operates much like a virus scanner. It relies on a database of known threat signatures – unique data strings or characteristics of known malicious threats. This database must be regularly updated.

Detection Process: When monitoring network traffic, the system compares data packets against these signatures. An alert is generated if a match is found, indicating a potential security threat.

Limitations: Its major limitation is its inability to detect new, unknown threats (zero-day attacks) or sophisticated, customized attacks. It can only identify threats that have been previously identified and cataloged.

Maintenance: Requires constant updating of the signature database to remain effective against new threats.

2. Anomaly-Based Detection

Baseline Establishment: Anomaly-based detection systems first establish a baseline of normal network behavior. This baseline is developed by monitoring the network over time and understanding typical user behaviors and traffic patterns.

Monitoring and Alerting: Once the baseline is established, the system continuously monitors network traffic and compares it against this baseline. Any deviation from this norm is flagged as a potential threat.

Learning Curve and False Positives: The primary challenge is the time and data required to establish an accurate baseline. Initially, the system might generate false positives, alerting to normal activities that simply deviate from the usual patterns. Over time, as the system ‘learns’ what is normal, its accuracy improves.

Dynamic Nature: These systems are better suited to detect novel or previously unknown threats, as they do not rely on predefined threat patterns. However, their effectiveness is directly proportional to the quality and comprehensiveness of the baseline.

3. Stateful Protocol Analysis

Behavioral Profiles: Stateful protocol analysis relies not on known bad signatures but on understanding how particular network security protocols should behave. It uses vendor-developed profiles that define normal, expected behavior for various network security protocols (like HTTP, SMTP, etc.).

Detection Mechanism: The system examines network traffic to identify deviations from these expected protocol behaviors. This includes inspecting not just the payload but also the state and context of network communications.

Resource Intensity: This method can be more resource-intensive as it requires more processing power to analyze the state and context of communications continually.

Limitations: While it is often more effective at catching sophisticated attacks that other methods might miss, it can still be fooled by attackers who mask their activities within normally acceptable protocol behavior. This requires constant updating and fine-tuning of behavioral profiles.

Conclusion

The IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 reveals that the average global monetary burden of a data breach rose to $4.45 million in 2023. This gigantic number showcases that data breaches are becoming more common and costly. This is where end-point security and network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) come into the frame.

This is not only limited to the study of network intrusion detection and prevention in FE Electrical but is also reflected in the modern-day cybersecurity industry. This is an important exam topic that you must prepare to ensure a bright career in the cybersecurity industry.

Don’t forget to check out Study for FE for a more detailed FE Electrical exam preparation. We offer extensive resource libraries and tailored exam preparation courses to meet your needs.

wasim-smal

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.