What is threat detection

Every day, people and organizations face threats of cyberattacks, organized by bad actors seeking to access sensitive information. Many of these threats are highly evolved, often going undetected while they exploit system vulnerabilities. With threat detection software and tools, you can protect yourself and your business against common cyberthreats that may target your data.

This guide to threat detection will help define what threat detection is, types of common threats, and different approaches that threat detection tools use to identify and prevent cyberattacks. We’ll also cover what makes Box’s approach to threat detection a reliable solution for data privacy and protection.

Accurate threat detection diagnoses the exact target of the potential threat, including which networks and data may be compromised

What is threat detection?

Threat detection alerts individuals and businesses to potential or current cybersecurity intruders or malicious entities. Without the ability to detect threats in advance, your data, sensitive information, and other assets are at risk of exposure to nefarious people and groups. By recognizing threats in time, you can respond to them appropriately and mitigate the damage.

Threat detection is not merely about finding threats themselves. Robust threat detection infrastructure also identifies the type of threat accurately, as well as its source. Accurate threat detection diagnoses the exact target of a potential threat, including which networks and data may be compromised. Knowing the type of threat, where it comes from, and what it’s targeting are all critical data points that inform the appropriate response.

For effective threat detection, you need a plan prescribing what actions to take and when. With cybersecurity breaches and threats continuing to plague the IT environment, there is an immediate need for ways to detect and assess incoming threats accurately.

Thankfully, threat detection software solutions are designed to help individuals and businesses defend against malicious attacks with the right strategies and automated responses.

The different types of threats - viruses, worms, ransomware, cryptomining malware, DOS and DDOS attacks

What are the different types of threats?

Protecting yourself from cybersecurity threats may seem onerous, given how many different types of threats there are to defend against. By understanding some of the most common threats, how they work, and how to defend against them, individuals and businesses can equip themselves with the right solutions.

Here are five types of threats to be aware of.

1. Viruses

Viruses are among the most well-known types of cybersecurity threats. Most people have heard of viruses or may have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with one. Like a real virus, a computer virus infects the system using the host computer to replicate itself and insert its own code into the host’s programs. Viruses then attach themselves to files or other programs that get shared with other people, infecting their computers when opened.

One of the most insidious traits of a computer virus is that it remains dormant until the file it’s attached to gets opened or the program is executed. Computer viruses have a range of impacts, with the most common one being the infamous pop-up windows. However, viruses can also cause an entire network to crash. Certain viruses are designed to hijack your email contacts, sending them spam from your address. Other viruses steal your passwords and login information.

2. Worms

Worms are similar to viruses, with the ability to replicate themselves once they’ve infected a computer. However, unlike viruses, worms are their own programs and don’t need to attach themselves to a file to be activated and transmit themselves to other computers. Worms are a bit more sophisticated than viruses in that they customize themselves to the computer they’ve infected. Whatever the infected system’s vulnerabilities are, worms identify these and exploit them to compromise networks and infect connected systems.

Worms transmit themselves through software weaknesses. When the infected software gets opened and used, the worm begins to infect the host system slowly and silently. Worms often inject malicious software into a computer or delete files arbitrarily. Depending on the worm's goal, it may also replicate itself repeatedly to deplete the host computer’s resources, including taking up hardware space and bandwidth or overloading a shared network.

In serious cases, worms may inject software programs that intentionally open up vulnerabilities that make the system accessible to future hackers.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that targets users with sensitive data and information, holding it hostage through encryption and threatening to publish, destroy, or compromise it in some way until the owner pays a ransom. Ransomware cybercriminals often give the data owner a 24- to 48-hour window to meet their demands. Typically, ransomware targets are organizations responsible for user data and personally identifiable information (PII). If the target complies with the crook’s demands, they may find themselves in the same position again, as compliance often encourages attackers to repeat their strategies.

In some cases, attackers merely use ransomware as a distraction. Once a network is infected with ransomware, cybersecurity analysts get to work identifying the threat and its potential infections, buying hackers time and distance to seek out their true target. Once hackers get ahold of sensitive information, it can cause a significant impact on businesses and individuals.

4. Cryptomining malware

Cryptomining malware, also known as cryptojacking, is a parasitic cybersecurity threat that hijacks a computer and uses its processing power to mine for cryptocurrency more efficiently. By exploiting computer processing power, cryptojackers can mine more transactions in less time, yielding greater profit. The result is that the hijacked system slows down or crashes altogether.

Because cryptominers need substantial processing power to mine efficiently, they typically target complex computer networks run by large organizations with multiple computers and servers. The larger the system, the more power they can leech. Because these malware programs run in the background, they can be difficult for IT analysts to detect right away.

How cryptomining software makes its way into computer systems can vary. One common way is through email phishing attacks that send malware links to users within the system. Once a user clicks on the link, the malware installs itself and gets to work.

5. DOS and DDOS attacks

DOS and DDOS attacks are a type of targeted cyber threat that prevents users from accessing network servers or causes the server to go down so it cannot be accessed. Typically, the attackers flood the server with traffic, overloading it and preventing normal traffic from accessing the resource.

In a denial-of-service (DOS) attack, a flood of traffic from a single source targets a network and causes it to slow down or crash. In a distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack, the influx of traffic comes from multiple different sources. While both approaches can be detrimental to businesses and difficult to respond to, a DDOS attack can be particularly calamitous since the multiple sources of traffic make it difficult to mitigate the damage and cut off the source of the attack. As a result, DDOS attacks take longer to control and cause more downtime and ultimately greater financial or other damage.

What are the benefits of threat detection?

Threat detection software provides individuals and businesses with the ability to prevent cyberattacks and mitigate their damage. With the right threat detection tools, you can protect yourself from threats, minimize financial damage, ensure you keep data protected, and meet important compliance standards.

These are the top benefits of threat detection.

With the right threat detection software and response approach, you can shut down threats such as viruses or worms before they spread

1. Prevent or deter attacks

The primary benefit of threat detection is that it can help you and your organization prevent attacks before they cause damage. With the right threat detection software and response approach, you can shut down threats such as viruses or worms before they spread.

Effective threat detection tools discover viruses, worms, and malware by identifying certain types of features or behavior. This activates an automated response that blocks the threat from being successful. Having threat detection software also deters cybercriminals from targeting you with threats.

2. Reduce financial impacts

As a result of your ability to prevent successful cyber threats, you can eliminate or significantly minimize the impact on your business or personal finances. For organizations, susceptibility to cyber threats can result in reputational damage and harm to customer relationships, leading to lost revenue sources.

For e-commerce platforms or other high-traffic networks, DOS and DDOS attacks, in particular, can impede your ability to make sales, having potentially devastating financial impacts with every minute your network is down.

All organizations that store personal and sensitive information are obligated to practice due diligence in keeping this data effectively protected

3. Protect sensitive information

All organizations that store personal and sensitive information are obligated to practice due diligence in keeping this data effectively protected. However, in certain fields, such as financial services and health care, it’s essential to keep data protected to a higher degree.

Some cyber threats specifically target organizations that store valuable data. By implementing threat detection, you can protect private information from falling into the wrong hands.

4. Ensure compliance standards

To meet regulatory compliance standards, organizations need to have threat detection software that can reduce the risk of data breaches and sensitive information being stolen, compromised, or exploited. To meet compliance standards like HIPAA, GLBA, or PCI DSS, you need specific safeguards that ensure data security.

Both threat detection and response are essential components of meeting these compliance requirements. With the right threat detection in place, your organization can automate the appropriate response that keeps sensitive information safe.

What type of threat detection do I need?

There are many different approaches to threat detection, and the type of threat detection you need depends on several factors. Some types of data and networks are prime targets for certain threats. Large organizations with multiple servers or businesses operating in the healthcare and financial services industries are most at risk.

Having a multi-pronged approach to threat detection ensures that you can defend against a multitude of malicious digital behavior. Knowing the four primary approaches to threat detection can help you choose the right threat detection software solution for you.

Four common methods of threat detection - threat intelligence, user attacker behavior analytics, intruder traps, threat hunts

Threat detection methods

Methods of threat detection can be defensive or offensive, and can be preventive or proactive. Additionally, different threat detection methods are better suited for either known or unknown threats. Using a combination of threat detection methods can help organizations cover all their bases and work most effectively at keeping data and systems safe.

Here are four common methods of threat detection.

1. Threat intelligence

To detect potential threats, you need to know what to look for. Using signature data from past threats, threat detection software solutions can piece together evidence or intelligence that identifies threats, often by comparing current data to historical data. Intelligent methods of threat detection are highly effective at identifying known threats that are well-understood.

However, as threats evolve and take on new capabilities and features, threat intelligence becomes less relevant. Because threat intelligence relies on data from past threats, it cannot help you identify new and unknown threats.

Because of its limited scope, threat intelligence approaches to threat detection are typically used in antivirus software, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), intrusion detection systems (IDS), and web proxy technologies.

2. User and attacker behavior analytics

Behavior analytics is a threat detection approach that relies on baseline information to identify deviations that could signal a potential cyber risk. By analyzing normal user behavior, threat detection programs can detect suspicious activity that could be from an attacker rather than the user.

The type of behavior that threat detection software monitors can include what type of data they normally access, when, and for how long. If the threat detection tool identifies a user accessing data outside the normal window of time and from an unusual location, it can trigger a security response.

Threat detectors can also analyze attacker behavior by piecing together clues called breadcrumbs to help organizations draw conclusions about attacker activity.

3. Intruder traps

In addition to preventive and defensive threat detection tactics, organizations can also implement offensive strategies to detect threats. One way to preemptively detect threats is to set up traps. By tempting attackers with a false target, also known as a honeypot, cybersecurity specialists can lure attackers in and wait for them to take the bait.

One of the ways to set up an intruder trap is to use fake credentials that appear to the attacker as though they have user privileges needed to gain access to the type of data the attacker is seeking. Using these credentials triggers an automated threat detection response, launching an investigation into the suspicious activity.

4. Threat hunts

Another way to take direct action against attackers and threats is to hunt for them. Threat hunting allows security teams to actively seek out threats that may be looming but haven’t yet been detected. By searching through various points in the network, analysts can proactively seek out threats before they cause damage.

Threat hunts are an advanced threat detection method that require knowledgeable and skilled security specialists who can devise appropriate strategies. Threat hunting typically incorporates all of the above forms of threat detection, as well as ongoing monitoring of assets and user behavior.

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are an aggressive weaponized attack strategy used against a specific target

What are advanced persistent threats?

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are an aggressive weaponized attack strategy used against a specific target. It’s a surreptitious approach to data theft that uses multiple different hacking techniques in an orchestrated attack over a prolonged period. Because of their continuous and persistent nature, APTs can easily destroy an organization’s network.

The ultimate goal of the APT approach is to gain a foothold inside the network, where it can control parts of the system. Once inside, the threat can continue strengthening its capabilities by adapting to its target’s behavior. APTs follow a specific pattern of steps to conduct their nefarious activity:

  1. Gain network access through phishing, malware, or viral threats
  2. Secure access within the system by creating an undetectable clandestine network
  3. Obtain advanced administrative access by cracking passcodes and gaining control
  4. Advance access laterally by gaining entry into parallel servers and networks
  5. Gather intelligence, predict threat detection measures, and obtain target data

Attackers can follow these same steps repeatedly and with various techniques, gaining access to deeper and deeper levels of security. As a result, APTs can continue to obtain larger quantities of data, as they can keep coming back to the same system without detection.

Advanced threat detection tools flag suspicious files, identity new types of malware, and learn how APTs evolve their technique

What is advanced threat detection?

In many cases, it’s not enough to merely defend against and prevent threats. Once a breach has occurred, threats must also be actively sought out and detected. That’s where advanced threat detection comes in. Given how sophisticated APTs are, threat detection must be equal to the task. Advanced threat detection involves a collection of tools and strategies used to find leading-edge malware and APTs that have infected the system and alert the security team to them.

Effective advanced threat detection systems take a SWAT-team-like approach to threat detection, swiftly detecting infiltration and cutting off the cycle before it has a chance to advance into deeper layers of the IT infrastructure. By moving rapidly to disarm intruders, advanced threat detection programs can prevent and minimize damage and activate effective recovery plans.

Through continuous monitoring of traffic, advanced threat detection solutions can instantaneously identify malicious behavior and deploy a response without disrupting the operation. Advanced threat detection tools flag suspicious files, identify new types of malware, and learn how APTs evolve their techniques.

Advanced threat detection ultimately provides a dynamic and responsive approach to detecting, isolating, and restraining persistent threats, preventing their attacks from escalating to a more serious cyber breach.

Box's approach to threat detection - Box Shield, Box KeySafe, Box Governance, Box Trust

Box's approach to threat detection

Box takes security and compliance seriously, with a proactive, resilient, and responsive approach to threat detection and data protection. With intelligent threat detection capabilities, the Content Cloud provides the secure platform you need for safe and compliant workflows.

Industry leaders trust Box for powerful, frictionless security because we provide the following security solutions.

1. Box Shield

Box Shield is a product within the Box ecosystem that automatically identifies sensitive information and classifies it for advanced protection. Learn when sensitive information is uploaded, shared, edited, and generally active within your Box ecosystem. With Box Shield, you and your team can identify sensitive information or data that’s regulated, showing you any relevant or potentially problematic behavior associated with that particular file.

2. Box KeySafe

Keep all of your encryption keys safe with Box KeySafe. Know whenever your encryption data is being accessed. Box KeySafe keeps a detailed record of all usage history so you can be alerted to suspicious behavior.

With Box KeySafe, you and your team can understand potential threats and cut off access to prevent a data breach.

3. Box Governance

Manage your content workflow and maintain productivity without the risk of compliance and governance issues. Box Governance allows you to streamline document management and retention schedules so you can make compliance reporting and governance easier.

Remove and manage data safely while protecting information from unauthorized users with Box Governance.

4. Box Trust

Box Trust is our security network tasked with ensuring our integrated partners contribute measurable value to the Box ecosystem.

Each Box security and compliance partner has been carefully selected as a  technology innovator with a demonstrated commitment to compliance. This ensures your activity within the Content Cloud is protected, secure, and compliant.

See what Box has to offer

Learn more about Box 

Box is a secure cloud platform that allows your team to protect critical data and avoid cyber threats while streamlining workflow and collaboration. For a safe way to manage documents online, choose Box as your content management provider.

With unlimited cloud storage, Box makes it easy to collaborate on content and documents without worrying about malicious threats and attacks. See what Box has to offer by contacting us today. Discover all the features of the Content Cloud and learn about our plans for individuals and businesses.

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.