How Alert Monitoring Can Transform Your IT Security

Alert monitoring (1)

Imagine hackers inside your network for a week before you even notice. That is the reality for many organisations, but it does not have to be yours with your new secret weapon: 24/7 alert monitoring.

Silient Lurkings call for proactive alert monitoring

Organisations of all sizes rely on IT networks for daily operations, data storage, and communication. However, with this reliance comes an ever-present threat – the potential for network disruptions, intrusions, and cyberattacks. Recent data underscores the urgency of this issue. Recent research from the cyber security vendor Sophos (2023) found that the median attacker dwell time—the time from when an attack starts to when it is detected—shrank from 10 to eight days for all attacks, and to a mere five days for ransomware attacks. They also found that attackers reached Active Directory, a critical network asset, in an average of just 16 hours.

Importance of early warning systems: Real life examples in healthcare

The swiftness and sophistication of these attacks highlight the importance of robust alert monitoring systems and rapid incident response. Consider the devastating cyberattack on Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) in 2021. In this instance, the attackers first sent a malicious email to a single workstation on 16 March, with the email then being opened on 18 March. A malicious Microsoft Office Excel file was downloaded, which allowed the hackers into the HSE’s IT system. The hackers remained within the HSE IT system for eight weeks, gaining additional levels of access to the system and individual user accounts. However, decisive action was not taken until the HSE was officially alerted on 14 May, allowing the attackers ample time to infiltrate the network and cause widespread disruption.

More recently, in June 2024, a ransomware attack on the laboratory services, a third party provider, called Synnovis caused major disruptions across several London hospitals, including St. Thomas’ Hospital. The attack impacted critical services, forcing cancellations and delays in blood tests and transfusions. Both of these incidents serve as stark reminders that prompt investigation and response to alerts are crucial in mitigating the impact of cyberattacks. This is where alert monitoring emerges as a critical component of a comprehensive IT security strategy.

Alert Monitoring: Preventing small problems from becoming big disasters

The most fundamental value of alert monitoring lies in its role as an early warning system. Much like a smoke detector in a building, network alert monitoring systems constantly scan the IT environment for signs of trouble. These signs can manifest in various forms, such as unusual traffic patterns, unauthorised access attempts, or performance anomalies.
By detecting these issues at their inception, alert monitoring gives IT teams the opportunity to intervene before they escalate into full-blown incidents. This proactive approach can save organisations substantial time, money, and reputational damage.

24/7 Vigilance: Protecting your network around the clock

Network threats do not adhere to organisation hours. In fact, many cyberattacks are specifically timed to occur outside of regular working hours when IT teams are less likely to be monitoring systems. According to a report by cyber-security company FireEye, 76% of all ransomware infections in the enterprise sector occur outside working hours, with 49% taking place during nighttime over the weekdays, and 27% taking place over the weekend. This is where the 24/7 nature of alert monitoring proves invaluable.

Automated alert systems remain vigilant around the clock, tirelessly scanning for potential threats and triggering alerts when necessary. This ensures that even when IT staff are not actively monitoring the network, potential issues are promptly flagged for investigation.

The role of Security Operations Centres (SOCs) and Security Analysts

While automated alert systems are essential, they are most effective when coupled with the expertise of security professionals. Security Operations Centres (SOCs) and security analysts play a crucial role in triaging and investigating alerts generated by monitoring systems.

These professionals possess the knowledge and experience to interpret alerts, determine their severity, and initiate appropriate responses. By promptly investigating and addressing alerts, SOC teams and security analysts can intercept potential threats before they cause significant harm.

The cost of inaction: weighing the ROI of alert monitoring

Investing in alert monitoring is not merely an operational expense; it is a strategic investment in risk mitigation. The cost of a single successful cyberattack can be devastating for an organisation. It can lead to data breaches, operational disruptions, financial losses, and long-lasting reputational damage.

In comparison, the cost of implementing and maintaining an alert monitoring system is relatively modest. This investment can yield a substantial return by preventing costly incidents and safeguarding critical organisation assets.
The Importance of Customisation and Adaptation

Effective alert monitoring is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Every IT network is unique, with its own specific vulnerabilities and risk profile. Therefore, it is essential to customise alert monitoring systems to align with the specific needs of each organisation.

This customisation may involve setting thresholds for different types of alerts, configuring notification channels, and integrating alert monitoring with other security tools. By tailoring alert monitoring to their specific environment, organisations can maximise its effectiveness and ensure that it remains relevant in the face of evolving threats.

In conclusion

In conclusion, alert monitoring is not simply a feature, it is the cornerstone of a robust IT security strategy. The speed at which cyberattacks unfold, particularly during vulnerable off-hours, makes early detection the most potent weapon in a business’s defences. CommSec understands this critical need, and that is why our Managed SOC service provides 24/7 alert monitoring and expert incident response, acting as a vigilant guardian for your IT environment. Do not wait for disaster to strike. We can run a live demo or even set up a Proof of Concept (POC) tailored to your specific needs, helping you strengthen your IT security and ensuring peace of mind in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats.