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There is no shortage of available information on security products. Fortunately, the forces of natural selection effectively rid the market of inferior and uneconomical offerings. Information security professionals are able to select from a pool of best-of-breed products with which they can feel reasonably confident and secure. But there is often an ironic consequence to this: the more fit a security product is perceived to be, the more likely it is to recklessly embolden those whom it is employed to protect, having the effect of instilling a deleterious illusion of security.

Still, this a small problem compared with the fact that attacks evolve according to the same forces driving the advancement of defensive countermeasures. The fittest attacks adapt to their adversaries, becoming increasingly stealthy and subtle, both in their delivery and the perceptibility of their payload.

Detection at the time of occurrence relies on intrusion detection/prevention systems that have ever-reduced visibility into increasingly covert attacks. Security Event/Information Management (SIEM) platforms can only report on and respond to the specific events for which they have been configured. Log aggregation, analysis, and correlation tools can only act on the specific meta-information about the set of events that they have been programmed to recognize. Application layer gateways, proxies, and their derivatives can only operate on the well-known protocols, procedures, and methods they were written to handle. Deterministic (pattern- or signature-based) methods of detection have mounting difficulty dealing not only with intentional obfuscations, but also with the inevitable window of exposure that exists between the introduction of an attack and the development and deployment of antidotal signatures.

In response, some defensive systems are moving toward a cocktail of deterministic and heuristic (behavioral/anomaly based) methods of detection. Unfortunately, the latter, because of its deficient certitude relative to the former, often cannot be employed with sufficient aggressiveness to achieve comparably material effectiveness, lest it introduce insufferable false-positives. But these technologies will mature. And naturally, once these hybrid systems become sufficiently pervasive, the survival of the attacks will come to depend on their fitness at simultaneously impersonating "normal" behavior while minimizing detectability. The arms race will continue.


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