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Unlocking the Secrets Of Lateral Movement: Why Cybersecurity Matters to You

By Tom Seest

What Is Lateral Movement In Cybersecurity – and Why Should You Care?

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Lateral movement is a cyber attack technique employed by hackers to gain deeper access into an organization’s network. These actions may be difficult to detect due to their similarity to legitimate user activity and the use of in-built system tools.
It is essential to have a robust cybersecurity strategy that prevents lateral movement. This involves implementing effective network segmentation, endpoint visibility and network intrusion detection/prevention systems.

What Is Lateral Movement In Cybersecurity - and Why Should You Care?

What Does Lateral Movement Mean for Cybersecurity?

What is lateral movement in cybersecurity?

Lateral movement is an attack strategy where hackers traverse your network freely and break into endpoints like servers or PCs, often after gaining initial access to your organization. It’s commonly used by malicious actors after they gain control of a network segment.
According to the National Cyber Security Centre, lateral movement attacks are designed to exploit vulnerabilities and other weaknesses within your IT systems. They’re also often used as reconnaissance tactics for larger-scale attacks.
To prevent lateral movement attacks, you should implement an effective IT hygiene strategy and ensure your users understand how to keep their devices secure. Furthermore, use strong passwords and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments.
Another step is to use a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platform that can identify lateral movement threats and quickly address them. This will reduce incident response times while decreasing the chances of an attack escalating further.
Additionally, penetration testing can be done to check the security of your network and systems. This exercise is beneficial as it identifies potential threats and provides the knowledge necessary to take preventative measures.
A lateral movement attack can be executed in several ways, such as using a compromised credential, vulnerability, or malware infection. The attacker will use this to gain access to their target system and move laterally across devices, apps, and servers until they achieve their objective.
Attackers typically begin by gathering credentials and escalating privileges. With this information, they can begin exfiltrating data and running malicious code.
Lateral movement tactics pose a significant danger for organizations with distributed workforces that rely on IoT or legacy computing devices. If your business isn’t safeguarded against them, your business could sustain severe damage and lose vital data.
If you’re uncertain if your organization is vulnerable to this kind of attack, a reliable cybersecurity firm can provide an assessment that will give you insight into the scope and severity of the potential threats. Furthermore, having access to comprehensive monitoring solutions that detect threats at their earliest stages can prevent massive destruction and data loss for your business.

What Does Lateral Movement Mean for Cybersecurity?

What is the Impact of Lateral Movement on Cybersecurity?

Lateral movement in cybersecurity refers to a method hackers use to penetrate deeper into an enterprise by exploiting vulnerabilities and gaining unauthorized access. This type of attack aims to obtain elevated privileges, control critical systems, and access sensitive data.
This tactic is an integral element of cyberattackers’ arsenal, and it can be challenging to detect or contain. But if you know what to look for and how to stop lateral movement, you can strengthen your security posture and safeguard your organization.
Combatting lateral movement necessitates a comprehensive strategy, which should include security controls that safeguard data and prevent attacks from spreading within your network. Furthermore, teams must monitor and respond to incidents of lateral movement in real time.
Early detection is key when a compromised device can remain active on the network for weeks or months. This phenomenon, known as an Advance Persistence Threat (APT), presents security teams with an enormous challenge today.
Traditional solutions such as firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) can help with lateral movement prevention, but they are not sufficient to fully safeguard your network and its assets.
Modern security technologies can detect and prevent lateral movement by enforcing true least privilege. This is a critical step in stopping hackers from carrying out their malicious actions by restricting their access to the networks and devices they target.
Zero Trust technology can also help prevent lateral movement by identifying techniques hackers often use to circumvent security controls. With this knowledge, policymakers can create strategies and take proactive measures to proactively prevent such activity.
Additionally, teams can conduct threat hunting to detect and monitor potential lateral movement paths. Doing this gives them a comprehensive view of any threats lurking within their network, which is useful when conducting post-incident investigations.
Security teams should map potential LMPs to identify which connections are most vulnerable and where they can be strengthened, isolated, and secured. Doing this will give them a better defense against lateral movement attacks that may not have been detected using traditional firewalls or EDR solutions.

What is the Impact of Lateral Movement in Cybersecurity?

What Does ‘Lateral Movement’ Mean for Cybersecurity?

Lateral movement is a security method hackers use to gain access to networks and search for high-value information to steal. It’s similar to running or dancing, with each step leading to more privileged access and the capacity to steal valuable data.
As the threat landscape evolves and adversaries become more sophisticated, it is increasingly essential to detect lateral movement attacks quickly. If not, they could continue finding ways into your system and cause significant harm.
To detect and respond to lateral movement attacks, you need a combination of advanced detection capabilities, network monitoring, and the use of a zero-trust security framework. This ensures resources are not trusted based on their current position within a network unless there is an external approval and authorization process in place.
After an initial breach, malicious actors will traverse your network to collect privileged credentials and map critical systems, setting the stage for subsequent breaches.
Cybercriminals use a range of tactics to gain lateral access. This may include malware infection, phishing attacks, credential dumping, vulnerability exploits and more.
Many of these methods are intended to go undetected by traditional cybersecurity software tools, and it’s often the case that successful attacks go undetected for months after they begin. The longer an attacker remains inside your network, the more familiar they become with it and can adapt their tactics in response to new security countermeasures.
Latitudinarian movement is an effective technique for hackers to gain access to desired information, but it also raises a number of other issues. According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, this practice allows criminals to increase their level of control over systems and privileges, leading to the exfiltration of more valuable data or even system takeover.
Traditional solutions like firewalls, IDPS, and SIEM can detect lateral movement; however, these tools lack the network-level visibility a defender needs to prevent or quickly respond. That is why you should invest in a more comprehensive solution that has the capacity to detect, protect, and eliminate this type of attack.

What Does 'Lateral Movement' Mean for Cybersecurity?

How Does ‘Lateral Movement’ Impact Cybersecurity?

A lateral movement is an approach used by attackers to explore networks and obtain additional resources. It may involve various attack methods, such as gaining access to a server through open ports or malware, stealing user credentials, and exploiting device vulnerabilities.
While some lateral movement attacks are automated, others necessitate human intervention by an attacker or group of hackers. This hands-on approach allows them to tailor their tactics according to the network in question and countermeasures implemented by security teams.
It’s essential to be aware that lateral movement can be subtle and often goes undetected, as it appears as “normal” network activity. This is especially true when a computer that doesn’t regularly communicate with certain machines begins scanning the network for open ports and credential services it doesn’t typically use.
Another reason lateral movement can be difficult to detect is that it often goes undetected for months or even years. This is because many traditional network security tools do not detect this type of malicious activity.
Ultimately, the only way to detect lateral movement is by monitoring the entire network – including users and their devices. Fortunately, this can be achieved with an easy-to-use solution that combines log aggregation with visualization.
Organizations can detect lateral movement that may be indicative of multiple login attempts or from devices not typically belonging to an account. They also gain insight into when a specific user or device uses different passwords than what was used previously for login.
Once a threat actor has gained entry to your network, they will likely attempt to move laterally through it in order to acquire more privileges and avoid detection. This strategy usually involves long-term planning, allowing the threat actor to wait until they have gained control over everything and can cause extensive harm or steal valuable information.
Determining malicious lateral movement is an integral component of any cybersecurity program. It sets the stage for successful data breaches or ransomware attacks and helps organizations avoid “alert fatigue,” where they miss breaches until it’s too late.

How Does 'Lateral Movement' Impact Cybersecurity?

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