SentinelOne Review

Does what a first-level SOC analyst would do, notifying us of, and remediating, issues at that level

What is our primary use case?

In general, we replaced our entire antivirus and anti-spyware with SentinelOne. We use it across all platforms, from servers to workstations, to Macs, to Windows, to Linux, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and embedded systems - on-premise and in the cloud. We also use their console and their threat-hunting. We needed a solution that was simple and intuitive, without having multiple agents.

We have also started evaluating their IoT, for the discovery of all IoT devices. This is 

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved our operational efficiencies. It saves us time because it does that first level of EDR automatically and that allows us to focus on certain things that it tells us about.

And we have better confidence because of all the threats that have been remediated. In fact, the moment we started deploying, we started picking up stuff that was in a dormant state on machines.

SentinelOne has absolutely reduced the number of threats. We get thousands of hits around the world. I'm looking in the console right now and there are 14,639 suspicious detections in the last few days. Of those, it has blocked 87. Another 30 were mitigated right away, and 24 active threats are being investigated now. Remediation of those threats could not be automated because it needs a response to do certain things right.

What is most valuable?

The strength of SentinelOne is that it has an automated, active EDR. It does that first level of what a SOC analyst would do, automatically, using artificial intelligence, so we can focus on other things. Active EDR not only notifies you, but it actually fixes that first level. That is unheard of. Very few, if any, companies do that.

The reason we went into this whole selection process and selected SentinelOne is that their strategy is "defense-in-depth." They do not only do what the traditional AV endpoint security solutions used to do, but they go further by looking at behaviors and patterns. Additionally, their big differentiators are in the dept of behavior analysis. There are other companies that claim this - albeit in a lighter flavor. 

The whole behavioral analysis helps us get to the root causes. We can understand and pictorially see the "patient zero" of any threat. It shows the first one who got whatever that threat is. When you look at their console and you see a threat, you can not only pick up the raw data to do forensics on it, but it can actually tell you a storyline: who patient zero was and how this whole threat has spread through your environment or on that machine itself; how it happened. Then, you can check on these things yourself. That's crazy good.

In addition, there is no dependency on the cloud to fully protect. Many products you see today, especially those called next-generation, depend on getting some information from the cloud. With this solution, you don't need to connect. It has the intelligence on the endpoint itself. That's useful because you're not always connected to the cloud. You could be in a lab. We've got laboratories where they aren't necessarily connected to the internet, but you want to have the latest intelligence of machine learning to see that you're doing the right thing. SentinelOne doesn't have to be connected. It's already got that behavioral stuff built-in.

They have a rollback and remediation facility as well. If you've got a virus or some malware on a machine, it's going to detect it and it can actually just clean up that part of that malware. You don't have to do anything else. And if you have ransomware, for example, it will pick it up before it causes a problem. And if it didn't, you can actually roll back and get it to the previous good version.

It integrates well with other products. We've got other cloud services that we use for security, and the intelligence is shared between SentinelOne and the CASB that we have.

And with the threat-hunting, you can validate what it's telling you: Is it a real threat or is it just something that is suspicious?

It can tell you everything that's running on an endpoint: What applications are running there and which of those applications are weak and that you have to watch out for. That's one of their free add-ons. You can do queries, you analyze, you can see who touched what and when. You can check the activities, settings, and policies.

Another advantage is that you can break up consoles. You can have them all in the cloud, or you can have some available physically. You may want to keep certain logs local and not share them because of GDPR. You can do those kinds of things. It's very adaptable and malleable.

If you have an agent on your machine, it will find out what things are neighbors to your machine. You can control machines at different levels. You can even control a device on your machine. If there is, for example, a USB device on your machine, I can control it and not let you use that USB device. I can actually get into your console and do stuff.

The other strength of SentinelOne is that you get almost all these features out-of-the-box. They add many features as a default, you don't pay extra, unlike many other companies. There are services you do pay extra for. I mentioned that SentinelOne handles that first level SOC security analyst-type work. But if you need a deeper understanding, with research, they've got a service for that and it's one that we're using. I was convinced that our current team wasn't good enough, so we had to get that service. It's actually very cost-effective, even cheaper than other ways of getting that level of understanding.

They are already reporting on application vulnerabilities in the landscape and working on providing remediation - another big win. 

Regarding the IoT feature, it's on the fence whether they're going to charge for it but that's an add-on module. However, it's not like you have to do anything to install it. You just have to click something in the solution.

What needs improvement?

The area where it could be improved is reporting. They have some online reporting, but it would be nice to be able to pick and choose. When I'm looking at the console, I would love to be able to pull certain things into a report, the things that are specific to me. They're very responsive. They regularly ask customers to provide feedback. They've been working on their reporting since the last feedback meetings. It's not only me but other customers as well who would like to see improvements in the reporting.

 File Integrity Monitoring is not a gap, but to do it you have to type several times. It's not the few-click intuitive situation.

It would be nice to have some data leakage included. Also, when it comes to data leakage, while you can get out everything that a person does on a machine, there needs to be a proper way of doing so, like other products that are just focused on data leakage.

I can't wait to see their advances in the cloud infrastructure (containers and serverless).

It would be nice (and is critical) to allow administrators to notate when they make changes to the console configurations - perhaps a tag for reporting. I might, for example, whitelist an application. If I did that today and I leave the company at some point, someone might wonder why I did this. There should be a place to easily notate everything.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started validating and testing the product back in the fall timeframe of 2017. By the time the proof of concept was done, we were signing the product by the end of 2017 or January of 2018.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In our company, if something happens with a solution, everybody will know, and it will be out of the environment in a jiffy.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

So far, the scalability is going really well. It's really lightweight. Using the console, you can break it up into regions. It's integrated with Active Directory and we have it set up as the "research lab" in Melville, New York and something else in China.

Right now, it's our product of choice for endpoint protection. I suspect our usage will grow a lot once they enable the IoT; what they call Ranger.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support started off mainly by email, but support is probably the single biggest improvement since we started with SentinelOne two years ago. They always had the intelligence, like any techie person, but techies are not necessarily good communicators. They always had answers, right up to the top. Their CEO is also a very technical person. But they have improved how tech support is delivered by 100-fold.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had McAfee, and we were using it for other things too.

I'd never heard of SentinelOne in 2017. I knew of the other big guns but I came across it just by chance by looking at studies that spoke about SentinelOne. I had their sales guys and engineers demonstrate but it didn't mean anything. I still thought it might be fluff. So we had to test it and go through that whole rigmarole.

For all intents and purposes, they delivered. You have to remember that they were fighting a battle against all the big guns in the industry, solutions that were already entrenched. When we did our test, we actually broke a couple of their competitors, not because we wanted to. We were just comparing and doing it as a proof of concept. SentinelOne kept catching everything that I thought the other guys should have caught.

Also, they were never defensive; they were straight-easy to work with. Their responsiveness was also very good. If we needed to get something — and this might be because of the size of their company — we could go right up the chain and something would happen right away. If changes were required they happened really fast.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. I co-authored a book on evaluating products and one of the things that you have to take into account is ease of use and how intuitive things are. Some people may not consider that important, but I consider it important.

In general, it was easy to set up. That was one of the reasons I was pleasantly surprised.

What can make it difficult is the environment you are in. For example, we have "freeze periods" during about half the year, where we cannot make any changes. So, during retail, during Christmas, Chinese New Year, Black Friday, etc., nothing can change in the environment and we cannot deploy anything.

Other things, outside of the environment, were that there are financial/fiscal periods, every quarter, where we cannot change certain things. And we have different silos: a server group, a Windows group, a Mac group, and a Linux group that didn't want to touch anything. Everyone had some bad taste left in their mouths at some point in time, not necessarily with SentinelOne, but in general. If everything is working, why change it? So there were some political things, internally. We have about 35 different companies around the world. Each has a variation of things and there is every version of every thing out there. And some have badly written code too that shows up as malware; it manifests just like malware.

For deployment and maintenance it was me. I did almost everything. There were only one or two people. Obviously, we have to follow the sun because we're global, so at times there might have been three or four people involved, but generally it was one or two who were coordinating it. They know the product and how to deploy it and what needed to be done, but I needed those guys around the globe. They had to coordinate with each of those groups I mentioned. But we owned it and we were accountable for it. We have segregated duties. Even though I'm in security, I don't have the rights to get onto our Windows Servers and make changes. I have to ask the server guys to do something and that's why things take time. That's why you need people to coordinate it.

But, once it was detecting those threats, I felt that even though we had an outsourced team, they were lacking in knowledge. If I told them, "Hey, this is malware," without the right experience, they wouldn't know what the heck to do with it. That was the challenge. That's why we went with SentinelOne's managed service. They have people who can deal with it and sort out the things that are real.

The way you do it is that you don't just McAfee take off a machine and put this one in. You run them simultaneously for some time, and then take one out. I wanted to see if something would happen, or it started messing things up, or if people would start calling saying, "Hey, there's something going on in my machine."

What about the implementation team?

We didn't work with any third-party. Over the years, I've seen that a lot of these guys tend to have biases.

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely seen a return on our investment because it has created that first-level SOC. Plus, it has all these other functions. It has replaced McAfee. We don't need a file integrity monitoring product. And we can see application vulnerabilities without using another product. And they keep adding features. Once they add this IoT feature, the ROI will be much more.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Initially, I was just researching solutions using independent reports and industry reviews. I don't necessarily agree with everything in industry reviews, but I used them to narrow down the field and to figure out which solutions I needed to look at. I also looked into whether there were any legal issues the companies were fighting. In that first phase, I got it down to about four or five that I would take to the next level and actually touch them with live malware. The reason the other ones fell off is either they were too focused on one thing or there were some legal things. The industry is small. You hear things, not necessarily officially, but unofficially you hear things.

I looked at McAfee, CrowdStrike, Carbon Black, Palo Alto Traps, Cylance, Endgame, Tanium.

In my evaluation, back in 2017, I wanted to see the features of each and match them up with our requirements. What were our influences? What was important to us? I tried to map that into what features were available at the time, or look at whether a product could consolidate another product that we had so that we would no longer need that other product. I also looked at operational efficiencies, security efficiency, and whether it meets all our compliance goals.

Then I went to the lab where I had real malware. There was a whole method to that madness of testing. 

McAfee failed miserably, even with their later product. It would have been easier for us to stick with the incumbent, but it couldn't pick up on malware. There was something it never detected. With that type of next-generation, machine-learning algorithm, it's not so much the algorithm as it is the intelligence, the data that they collect over time.

At the time, Palo Alto Traps was not ready for prime time - immature console, limited support across all our platforms and focus on exploits.

I broke Cylance, surprisingly. I didn't expect that. I'm not even a researcher, per se. I have other jobs in our company. When I managed to break them I was looking at how they responded. I'm not expecting everyone to be perfect, but I found them very defensive. They would say, "Oh, it's only one in 100 or 200 or 300 pieces of malware". But it was the way they responded to things. It took a while for them to get back to me, and they were more concerned about whether I was doing the same thing with the others.

The other weakness of Cylance was that, for anything else, like remediation and response to something, you had to buy another piece. It wasn't part of the product, whereas, with SentinelOne, it was part of the product, without paying anything more.

Some of our folks were convinced that CrowdStrike was the way to go but our tests proved otherwise. CrowdStrike has some good features, but it requires going to the cloud. And secondly, whenever you get events, you almost have to use their service, so you're paying them to help resolve something. It gets expensive.

Separately, I did a compatibility test where I checked our environment: I deployed it in a sampling of some of our machines to see if it run without creating another mess.

When you do a thorough proof of concept, you already have all the details, so nobody's going to mess with you. I compared everything. At the end of the day, I gave my boss a report and said, "This is it. You decide."

What other advice do I have?

Have a look at it. Compare it. It's a very good product to have.

It gives you a lot more insight. It has combined many products into one agent and it's expanding. There are a lot of things it can do now on the cloud, like containers. It gives you insight into a lot of the threats with the hunting ability. I have learned from the tool to see how our environment is. I've learned about certain behaviors of our applications, just by observing what pops up.

There is a console that is in the cloud and there are agents that are all over. You put these agents on Macs or Windows or Linux, or on whatever the cloud versions are of all these virtual devices. We are spread out across the globe. We've got nearly 50,000 endpoints in different parts of the world. We generally stay as close to the latest version of the agent as possible, but we go through change-control and it is very strict. We don't just put things on endpoints. We validate and test in our environment because we have nearly every type of operating system and variations of them in our environment. Therefore, sometimes we are something like .1 or .2 of a version behind. In terms of the console, we are at the latest version.

As a company, we use all variations of clouds, from Ali Cloud, which is China to Azure; we're predominantly Azure. We have AWS and GCP. SentinelOne manages that console and we have access to it. We own that part, our console. It's on AWS, I believe.

Overall, is there room for improvement? Absolutely. There are gaps in the reporting because we need to give reports to different levels. Ideally, we want to just drag and drop things to create reports. They have very nice reports but they're canned. We want to be able to choose what goes into a report. Otherwise, it's right up there and I would give it a nine out of 10.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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