“Dizzying” threat-analytics growth reflects demand for high-speed, hybrid security tools: Arbor exec

Recent rapid growth in the market for threat-analytics tools has been “a little bit dizzying” but new approaches to network security are compensating for limitations on “overwhelmed” security incident and event management (SIEM) tools, according to an Arbor Networks senior executive who has been pleasantly surprised with the strong response to the company's high-speed security technology.

Arbor Networks, which has built out a suite of products and services focused on detecting and blocking distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, joined Cisco a year ago to integrate its anti-DDoS technology with Cisco's modular Aggregation Services Router 9000 (ASR-9000) product.

While the ASR-9000 was originally targeted at telecommunications service providers needing the ability to filter traffic at tens of gigabits per second, demand from data centre hosting firms, large businesses and large government departments confirmed that DDoS attacks – and the business interruption they cause – had come onto the radar of security specialists at all levels.

This trend was tied to the need to ensure DDoS protections extended to all network perimeters even in highly fluid, fast-changing network environments, Arbor director of strategic alliances and vice president of business development Chris Stewart told CSO Australia.

“The high-end routing market is very competitive and the ability to instantiate something quickly – in a place where there used to be borders but ther are no longer borders – is really critical,” Stewart explained, highlighting the growing importance of software-defined networking (SDN) technologies in delivering flexible security capabilities. “If you can't do that,, you're going to go the way of the dinosaur.”

Wire-speed DDoS capabilities would dovetail with new capabilities such as Arbor's Spectrum threat-intelligence tool – yet to be launched in Australia but already delivering results in other geographies, according to Stewart.

Just as high-speed scanning had proved critical to businesses with high-volume networks, a recent flood of threat-analytics tools was overcoming scalability issues in the design of existing SIEM tools which, he said, “are really good technology but sometimes they get overwhelmed. When they were originally developed, they weren't really architected to analyse that level of detail.”

By pairing packet-analysis tools with DDoS detection, Spectrum is also tuned to pick up on increasingly-common combination attacks – where the DDoS is used as a diversionary tactic by hackers who then attack the target network through another channel such as planting an advanced persistent threat (APT).

“Generally a DDoS is an attack and is intended to bring down a network and that's bad,” says Stewart. “But often times there is more to it.”

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DDoS attacks have become an increasingly significant issue for Australian businesses in recent years as new attack techniques ramped up total volumes of attack traffic that made Australia the world's second most-attacked Web target. Content-distribution firm Akamai recently added a new scrubbing centre in Sydney to speed performance in the face of increasing attack volumes that jumped 40 percent over the previous quarter and 149 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Recent weeks have seen the launch of numerous new threat-intelligence tools but Stewart is confident that complementing such platforms with DDoS capabilities – and others to come as SDN delivers new degrees of flexibility for security tools – offers the kind of innovation that will become increasingly valuable to customers as various security capabilities are brought together in new ways.

“In Spectrum we've got a technology that looks at the packets, understands what's going on and can help stitch together very quickly and accurately, things that can be very nefarious in nature,” he said. “Ultimately we can avoid where you have to go into that full postmortem cleanup.”

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