What is our primary use case?
We have two use cases. The first is that Vectra's platform allows us to get visibility into anomalous behavior, which, previously, we never really had access to, for threat hunting and incident response. We use it in support of our incident response operations to help supplement our investigations on hosts. We use it to correlate any suspicious activities, which is something that Vectra has been extremely accurate in, when used the right way.
The second use case is that we've used the Vectra Cognito Recall and Cognito Stream devices. With these integrations, it's given us instant visibility into all the network data as well. That enables us to conduct our own hunts on our network data, data you'd see on a security information and event management (SIEM) solution. It also gives us the ability to correlate with our playbooks because it gives us access to the data itself in much more depth and detail.
How has it helped my organization?
The solution captures network metadata at scale and enriches it with security information. We store metadata for three months. Just to be able to scale the amount of information that we collect on the networks is a problem in itself. We have our SIEM solution that collects all of these logs. Making sure these logs are still sending, that these devices are still sending to our main SIEM, are issues. For Vectra AI, even with three months of retention, with the environment we have, we have never had issues accessing this network data. On top of that, if there are any issues, the support team is amazing in providing feedback and fixing them.
It has actually increased our security analyst workload, but in a good way. It has reduced the amount of stuff that we used to look at, and has allowed us to re-approach our C-CERT from signature-based detections to more behavioral-based detections. It has reduced the amount of boring work and work that is on the host, to more thought-provoking work based on behavioral data. We're now able to approach our C-CERT from a risk perspective and a numbers perspective.
It has reduced that boring work drastically and it reduces the time to investigate incidents in general. While it has definitely added a bunch of incidents for us to look at, it has reduced the workload of how we work those incidents. It makes them not only much easier to engage with and easier to visualize, but also enables us, as analysts, to work in a much more efficient and simple way.
Vectra has also helped move work from our Tier 2 to our Tier 1 analysts. Eighty percent of our Tier 1 analysts are doing Tier 2 work.
Finally, the solution has reduced the time it takes us to respond to attacks. It has gone from on the order of hours to less than 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features are Cognito Recall and Cognito Detect.
I didn't think Vectra AI actually provided this functionality, but essentially it gives you access, with Recall, to instant visibility into your network through something like a SIEM solution. For us, being able to correlate all of this network data without having to manage it, has provided immediate value. It gives us the ability to really work on the stuff where I and my team have expertise, instead of having to manage a SIEM solution, as that is a whole undertaking in itself. It has expedited all our investigations and hunting activities because it's all there and available, and they manage it.
We use their Privileged Account Analytics for detecting issues with privileged accounts. Given that we're a global company with over 35,000 machines, the machine learning-type of analysis or visibility into baselining behavior in privileged accounts in the environment is something Vectra does amazingly. It's amazing the visibility that I get. Not only is it providing a baseline to understand the behaviors of how IT, for example, is acting globally and in all these different regions, but it also gives me an ability to get much more granular and understand more of the high-risk behaviors, rather than the behaviors that we expect from IT. Usually, malware attackers and normal IT activities look the same. It's about discerning what's outside of baseline, and Vectra does this amazingly, incorporating not only the account privileges but the context of what these accounts are doing on hosts, on top of that.
The solution also provides visibility into behaviors across the full life cycle of an attack, visibility into the attacker kill-chain. I personally do red-team testing and threat hunting and, in addition to the detections which Vectra has already caught, it's been able to outline a full attack from an external red team that came in and tested with us. Not only did it show exactly what they did, but it was even able to provide a profile of the type of behavior that this exhibited, which was an external actor. In my own attacks that I've conducted on the network, it's been able to detect everything and properly align it in a kill-chain fashion. That is extremely helpful in investigations because it helps align the host data a little bit when you have visibility of the network in such a way.
Vectra also triages threats and correlates them with compromised host devices.
What needs improvement?
Some of the customization could be improved. Everything is provided for you as an easy solution to use, but working with it and doing specific development could be worked on a bit more in the scope of an incident response team. In my opinion, it's built as a solution for everything, instead of it being part of a bunch of other tools.
For example, we have a source solution which will orchestrate the ability for us to use a host EDR and the ability for us to use Vectra. We see Vectra from a purely network standpoint. Therefore, we don't want it to be the incident manager where we have to fill in specific things to be fixed. We think the integration with source solutions could be better. It tries to treat itself as an incident resolution platform.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Vectra AI for three to four years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It has never crashed. It's always working. And they always resolve any issue before you can act. They'll alert you of an issue and then they'll report that it's fixed. They're very proactive.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
In terms of instant access to the data and scalability, we've never seen issues with the platform at all. We use it everywhere, across all our regions across over 35,000 devices. We have plans to increase usage of the solution and the capacity.
We have less than 10 people working with the solution and they're all C-CERT incident responders and investigators. And we have one person, a C-CERT specialist, for maintenance of the solution but he is barely doing that anymore because they have a support team that helps alert us to any issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
I've found that Vectra in general, away from the platform, has been extremely helpful and given me any support that I need on investigations or in trying to reduce the amount of noise. They have allowed me to do this, but it requires a lot of work upfront.
How was the initial setup?
Looking back at the setup now, it was straightforward because of the support that they provided. I'm not sure how long the overall deployment took but it may have taken a couple of months.
We had to install specific brains in multiple regions. We were given instructions on where to install specific network nodes and sensors to be able to collect information where the brains were located. All of this configuration was provided directly from them. They sent the devices over to our data centers along with documentation to support the devices.
What was our ROI?
We have definitely seen return on our investment (ROI). While our analysts are working on "more" incidents, the efficiency of the way they're working, due to the way that Vectra has broken down its platform and its data, has exponentially decreased the response times to incidents. It has also trained them indirectly because with the story-lining, the way that it creates these detections, analysts receive them and pick them up much quicker than they would in a normal security class.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We evaluated other options. I wasn't the person who decided on Vectra AI at the time, but we were looking at Darktrace and other machine learning-type solutions.
Vectra fit the niche of what we needed, from the perspective of the former C-CERT manager. Also the feedback we got from their team and the support we've had with them really pushed us to work with them. They were very collaborative and we believed in what they were doing when they initially started working with us all those years ago.
What other advice do I have?
My advice would be to really utilize the support and collaborate with Vectra. The solution requires heavy usage and customization to your environment. They provide the guidelines and you just have to be able to fill in the specifics. If you don't do that, it's not an effective tool. It is a really hands-on tool.
Vectra has done a really good job of giving you visibility into the type of behavior into which you want visibility. But reducing the number of alerts really depends more on the analyst who is operating it and working with it.
As for its ability to reduce false positives and help us focus on the highest-risk threats, the term "false positive," especially in this scope of machine learning, doesn't seem to me to apply. Vectra gives you visibility into what you want to see. It gives us visibility into the exact behaviors which we sometimes have issues trying to create detections for on the host. And on the network it's collected and brought it all together. We get really good visibility into all of the risky behaviors. Vectra provides the whole context, on the network, of what it sees in terms of a risky behavior and provides a story with it.
In comparison to some of the other tools that I've come across in this category, I would definitely give it a 10 out of 10.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?