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Cracking the Code: Decoding Dwell Time In Cybersecurity

By Tom Seest

What Is Dwell Time In Cybersecurity?

At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.

In cybersecurity, dwell time refers to the amount of time an attacker has undetected access to a system. It can be measured in days or months depending on how they gain entry and what they do once inside.
By decreasing cyber threat dwell times – also known as mean-time-to-detect (MTTD), mean-time-to-respond (MTTR), or both – we can help block hackers from achieving their goals.

Uncovering the Mystery Of Dwell Time In Cybersecurity

Uncovering the Mystery Of Dwell Time In Cybersecurity

Are Hackers Lurking in Your System? Uncovering the Meaning of Dwell Time

Dwell time refers to the period of time an attacker spends inside a network or system before detection by an organization. This means cybercriminals could remain undetected for weeks or months, wreaking havoc and stealing sensitive information from businesses.
A cybersecurity team must remain alert at all times in order to reduce dwell time of malicious actors before they cause harm. Nonetheless, even with the best-trained security personnel, even experienced personnel may come across hidden threats for extended periods of time.
Due to this, it is essential for MSPs to implement real-time monitoring, endpoint protection and managed detection and response (MDR) services in order to minimize dwell time. Doing so allows MSPs to keep an eye on clients’ networks and systems in real-time while taking proactive measures to eliminate or mitigate threats as they emerge.
Mandiant’s M-Trends 2022 report indicates that in 2021, the median number of days an attacker spends inside a network before being detected decreased significantly in the Asia Pacific region due to more mature cybersecurity awareness and appreciation within that region, as well as increased information sharing between organizations and vendors.
It appears that attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. For instance, pro-Ukrainian actors have launched DDoS attacks against Russian and Belarusian websites that target corporate transactions, exploiting ProxyShell vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange to gain access to networks and then selling those credentials on to other cybercriminals.
Another factor contributing to the decrease in dwell time is attackers‘ increasing ability to conceal their tracks. This means the first computer an attacker infects may not always provide them with all of the precise information necessary for their ultimate goal, necessitating them to move laterally in order to find what they desire.
Furthermore, attackers who can hide their tracks often possess greater sophistication, giving them more leverage in their attacks – particularly advanced persistent threats (APTs).

Are Hackers Lurking in Your System? Uncovering the Meaning of Dwell Time

Are Hackers Lurking in Your System? Uncovering the Meaning of Dwell Time

Is Your Network Safe? Exploring the Impact of Dwell Time in Cyber Attacks

Dwell time in cybersecurity refers to the amount of time a cyber attacker spends inside your network before being detected. This is essential for preventing damage as attacks typically need more time to formulate their plan, conduct enumeration and reconnaissance for powerful credentials, move laterally across your network, and execute an impressive attack.
According to a study released by cyber security firm Sophos last year, threat actors spent an average of 15 days inside victim networks – an increase of more than 36%. This means they were able to take advantage of permissions within the network and spread their malware onto as many endpoint devices as possible before being detected.
The report revealed that mid-level threat actors are targeting vulnerable workloads within minutes and only require 4 to 6 days to infiltrate a network, followed by less than 24 hours for exfiltrating data. Ultimately, they plan on selling this access point to other cybercriminals known as Initial Access Brokers (IABs).
Sophos reported that the mass exploitation of ProxyLogon and ProxyShell vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server by International Banking Centers (IABs) has resulted in an exponentially greater median dwell times. Small businesses, therefore, are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks since their perceived value is lower than larger organizations’ and they can afford to allow threat actors access their systems for extended periods.
Determining dwell times is, therefore, essential, as they provide insight into whether your content is engaging users and if changes need to be made. Dwell time can be measured using various web analytics tools like Google Analytics.
Optimizing your website for dwell time requires two key aspects: quality content and user experience (UX). Well-crafted, informative content will more likely hold visitors’ attention and lead to higher levels of engagement.
UX (user experience) is paramount when designing websites. To make the experience optimal, users should find it effortless to use and find valuable information quickly and efficiently. This can be achieved through design elements such as navigation paths and page structure, as well as by including links to other pages so users can further explore the site.

Is Your Network Safe? Exploring the Impact of Dwell Time in Cyber Attacks

Is Your Network Safe? Exploring the Impact of Dwell Time in Cyber Attacks

How Long Does an Attacker Stay in Your System?

Dwell time in cybersecurity refers to the amount of time a cyberattacker spends inside an system. This gives them time to plan their attack, move laterally throughout your network, and execute a formidable assault. Furthermore, it gives them time for enumeration, reconnaissance, as well as observing user and network behavior.
Dwell time is one of the key indicators of a malicious cyberattacker’s effectiveness and potential damage to your organization. Extended dwell times enable attackers to gather vital credentials, steal sensitive data, and plant malicious software that could prove detrimental to your business.
Business owners must prioritize dwell time as a top concern, as it can have an adverse effect on their brand image and lead to legal repercussions. That is why understanding dwell time and how to mitigate it before it causes significant harm is so important.
For a website to have high dwell time, it must offer high-quality content that engages users and answers their questions and worries. Furthermore, it should offer actionable solutions that answer their search query and meet their requirements.
When it comes to SEO, dwell time is an invaluable metric that search engines use to assess the quality and relevance of a web page. Pages with higher dwell times tend to rank higher in search results, driving organic traffic towards their site.
Contrastingly, pages with low dwell times tend to rank lower on search engine results pages (SERPs), leading to a loss in traffic. This occurs because search engines detect small dwell times and assume the content doesn’t meet the user’s search intent.
Optimizing dwell time is an essential strategy for businesses looking to enhance their online presence and reach their digital marketing objectives. A successful dwell time strategy can increase brand trust, boost conversions, and even improve search engine rankings.
Analytic tools such as Google Analytics make it possible to monitor dwell time on websites. These programs track the duration of each user’s visit and display how long they stay on each page. This metric can then be used to identify areas for improvement on your site.

How Long Does an Attacker Stay in Your System?

How Long Does an Attacker Stay in Your System?

Are Attackers Lurking in Your Network? Understanding Dwell Time in Cybersecurity

The amount of time an attacker remains undetected on a network is known as dwell time. It serves as an effective metric to gauge how well cyber security teams are detecting and preventing attacks.
The length of a cyberattacker’s stay on a network can indicate their level of planning, the credentials they use, and where they may be headed next. Furthermore, it may affect the severity of their impact on the target organization.
Cyberattackers with a long dwell time in a network could gain access to sensitive information, breach financial accounts, and install malware that causes significant destruction. Furthermore, they could use this time to move laterally across the network in search of additional targets or resources they can exploit.
However, hackers can reduce their dwell time and increase the likelihood of being detected. These strategies include:

Are Attackers Lurking in Your Network? Understanding Dwell Time in Cybersecurity

Are Attackers Lurking in Your Network? Understanding Dwell Time in Cybersecurity

Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.