How to Choose a File Integrity Monitoring Solution: Four Must-Haves
By: Brittany Demendi, Corporate Communications Manager
Knowing that the cybercriminal could’ve been in your IT environment for an average of 277 days or nine months can be unsettling for two reasons. One is that your environment was infiltrated, and two is that you don’t know what has been tampered with. To know if your critical assets have changed, it takes 24×7 monitoring. And when security teams are already stretched to their limits, it is best to seek tools that can do it for you, like file integrity monitoring (FIM).
This blog covers file integrity monitoring, how compliance can be solved, and how to find the right tool for your organization.
What is File Integrity Monitoring (FIM)?
File integrity monitoring is a simple and easy security process to monitor critical assets, registry paths, directories, and files. It analyzes the solidarity of the assets and operating systems to determine if anything has been tampered with or corrupted. Monitoring customer data, information, and health records are just a few examples.
Additionally, FIM validates and verifies if files have been tampered with by comparing them to the latest versions as a trusted baseline. If there are any signs of manipulation, file integrity monitoring generates alerts for Continuous Vulnerability Management teams to investigate and, if needed, remediate the intrusion.
When cybercriminals enter your organization’s network, they can wreak havoc on your files by changing everything from configuration files to application data. To make things worse, they can delete event logs to hide their tracks, so you never would know.
What does File Integrity Monitoring Detect?
FIM notifies security teams of unauthorized changes to all files within an environment, which speeds up threat detection, response, and remediation. This critical layer of security is required for many industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, financial institutions, education, and more. File integrity monitoring adds valuable security layers detecting the following:
- Infrastructure Weakness: File integrity monitoring can monitor if files have been patched with the latest version by continuously scanning all versions across multiple machines and locations.
- Cybercriminal Activity: If an intruder accessed your network, you must know if any files critical to your applications and operating systems have been tampered with. File integrity monitoring can detect changes to critical parts of your entire IT ecosystem, allowing you to monitor and protect the security of your data, operating system, and files.
- Accidental Employee Changes: Often, an employee or designated admin can make file changes inadvertently, and the ramifications of these changes can be overlooked. The worst case scenario is these changes can create backdoors resulting in potential exposure disruption to business operations.
- Unmet Compliance Regulations: File integrity monitoring is required within almost every industry dealing with sensitive data and files. Organizations are required to maintain compliance regulations and report on whether or not they are being met.
Solving Compliance Regulations with File Integrity Monitoring
File integrity monitoring is an essential part of security as it provides a layer of protection specific to devices, applications, and files by verifying the integrity of the files. Law and regulatory standards like PCI DSS, NERC CIP, FISMA, SOX, NIST, HIPPA, GDPR, and CIS controls require knowing who is accessing and modifying sensitive data files.
Fortunately, meeting those standards with a Security Operations Platform and Managed Detection and Response Services has become simple. FIM kick-starts your compliance efforts by offering detailed progress on compliance initiatives, which can provide a broad synopsis of your overall compliance. This allows you to create executive reports, analyze trends in events detected, look at graphical reports, and in-depth details about your network’s file integrity.
How to Find the Right File Integrity Monitoring Tool
Security solutions must include tracking activity and behaviors in addition to stopping incidents from happening. This gives complete visibility into your network, leaving no gaps in your security posture. When searching for the right file integrity monitoring tool to fit your organization’s industry, size, and compliance requirements, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Four File Integrity Monitoring Must-Haves:
- Customization: When evaluating FIM solutions, you must ensure they are compatible with the rest of your cybersecurity architecture and support your organization’s file integrity policies. For example, will the specific solution meet all your compliance requirements? Also, it is good to remember that all-in-one Security Operations Platforms paired with Managed Detection and Response Services help manage all the solutions needed to secure your organization and customers properly.
- User-Friendly Interface: FIM can be delivered with reporting capabilities, compliance regulation integration, and easy deployment, all within pre-defined dashboards for easy access. With a dashboard specific to file integrity monitoring and widgets the user might require.
- Centralized Location: FIM can be delivered from one platform, in one place, by the same Security Operations Platform where other activities are monitored. When there is one centralized location to view all events detected across all assets, it becomes easier to quickly find events matching specific criteria.
- Scalability: Find a solution to scale any size environment, even the largest, without purchasing additional storage, hardware, or software server. FIM should work when changes occur across your diverse on-premises and cloud environments, in addition to coverage of various Linux and Windows platforms.