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Making CDM Work for You with Threat Hunting

The Homeland Security Department’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program can help ensure that your agency has the proper cybersecurity controls in place. The right CDM tools can also help you identify and eliminate threats in your network before they become breaches.

As an increasingly hostile threat landscape has made the limitations of perimeter-based IT defenses apparent, the federal government has shifted from a cybersecurity regime of periodic assessment of static controls to continuous monitoring of IT resources and activities. The goal is to ensure not only that regulatory requirements are being met, but that the enterprise is effectively defended.

The federal government has shifted from a cybersecurity regime of periodic assessment of static controls to continuous monitoring of IT resources and activities

The Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program supports this shift with a suite of off-the-shelf products giving better real-time visibility into government networks and systems. And the right CDM tools can also help agencies actively hunt and eliminate threats in the network before they become breaches.

Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation

CDM is a risk-based approach to government cybersecurity that “provides federal departments and agencies with capabilities and tools that identify cybersecurity risks on an ongoing basis, prioritizes these risks based upon potential impacts, and enables cybersecurity personnel to mitigate the most significant problems first.”

The first phase of CDM, which began in 2013, focused on endpoint security. Phase 2, Least Privilege and Infrastructure Integrity, focuses on identity and access management and concentrates on monitoring and responding to network activity. The final phase will cover boundary protection and event management. No single tool or service fulfills all of the program’s requirements, and a variety of products for phases 1 and 2 are available under a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) from the General Services Administration.

It is expected that new and increasingly robust solutions will continue to be developed and added to the BPA as the cyberthreat landscape evolves. But some solutions now in the catalog can help you move beyond risk mitigation to proactive identification and elimination of threats.

Threat hunting

Merely monitoring network status and activity is not enough to tell you if a threat has penetrated your network

Threats and attacks are becoming more complex, more sophisticated and stealthier, and merely monitoring network status and activity is not enough to tell you if a threat has penetrated your network. Intruders hide their tracks and quietly move from system to system, targeting sensitive information and resources while remaining below the horizon of traditional defenses. This sophistication, coupled with increasingly complex IT and security infrastructures, make it difficult for even skilled security staff to spot malicious activity.

The common wisdom today is that every enterprise is a target and the question is not if, but when, you will be breached. You need not only visibility but also the context that comes from combining data across platforms to reveal quiet but malicious behavior.

You need not only visibility but also the context that comes from combining data across platforms to reveal quiet but malicious behavior

Agencies waiting for a compromise to reveal itself will continuously be in a reactive mode, scrambling to isolate and repair damage after the fact rather than preventing it. Fortunately, you do not have to choose between the continuous monitoring required under CDM and comprehensive visibility with advanced analytics across multiple platforms. CDM solutions can provide both.

The tools you need now

Tenable’s threat hunting solution provides the real-time visibility and critical context needed to identify and eliminate threats, using the sensors of SecurityCenter Continuous View™ (SecurityCenter CV™).

SecurityCenter CV is available under the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation BPA. It scans the user environment to detect vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and malware, and also performs advanced analytics. The platform’s non-intrusive, low-overhead passive scanning provides comprehensive visibility across the network. The threat hunting solution uses this to create a baseline of normal activity that allows anomalies to be detected and flagged. By identifying chained events that might not appear suspicious by themselves, complex threats can be uncovered in real time.

Leveraging the full capabilities of CDM tools such as SecurityCenter CV helps you achieve not only compliance with cybersecurity regulations, but also real cybersecurity.