What is Identity Threat Detection and Response?

What is Identity Threat Detection and Response?

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Identity threat detection and response (ITDR) is a cybersecurity discipline that includes tools and best practices to protect identity management infrastructure from identity-based threats. ITDR can block and detect threats, verify administrator credentials, respond to attacks, and restore normal operations.

    Why do organizations need ITDR?

    In today's threat landscape, attackers increasingly target identity to access systems and data. ITDR can help organizations to protect their identities and prevent attackers from gaining access.

    How are Organizations Approaching Identity Threats Currently? 

    Organizations today are using a variety of approaches to solve the problem of identity-related risk. Some of the most common approaches include:

    • Implementing strong identity and access management (IAM) controls: This includes things like using strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and least privilege access.
    • Deploying identity threat detection and response (ITDR) solutions: ITDR solutions can help organizations identify and respond to threats to their identities.
    • Educating employees about security best practices: This includes things like teaching employees about phishing scams and how to create strong passwords.

    Where does ITDR Fit with other Cybersecurity Solutions?

    ITDR is relatively new, but it is quickly gaining traction. ITDR is similar to other cybersecurity disciplines, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM), using various tools and techniques to detect and respond to threats. However, ITDR focuses on monitoring attack surfaces to protect against identity-based attacks, while EDR and SIEM are more general-purpose security solutions focused on cyber threats.

    How does ITDR Work?

    An ITDR typically collects data from various sources, such as identity logs, network traffic, and security alerts. This data is then analyzed using multiple techniques to identify suspicious activity and threats. Once a threat is identified, ITDR can take steps to mitigate the threat, such as blocking malicious traffic, disabling access to applications, or isolating the affected user account.

    Where does Privileged Access Management (PAM) fit in?

    Privileged access management (PAM) is focused on managing access to privileged accounts. PAM can be used to complement ITDR by helping organizations identify and control privileged accounts that are at risk of being compromised.

    What are some Must-Haves for an ITDR Solution?

    There are several must-haves for an ITDR solution. These include:

    • Continuous visibility: An ITDR solution should provide continuous visibility into all aspects of the identity infrastructure. This includes user accounts, passwords, access control lists, and single sign-on solutions.
    • Proactive control: An ITDR solution should be able to proactively identify and respond to identity threats. This includes using machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect anomalies and suspicious activity.
    • Risk-based control: An ITDR solution should be able to apply controls based on the risk of each identity. This helps organizations to focus their resources on the most critical threats.

    What are Some Specific Identity Threats? 

    Today's attackers frequently target identities as an initial point of compromise. ITDR is critical for detecting potential threats like compromised credentials, malicious insiders, privilege escalation, account takeover, credential misuse, and more. Some of the most common identity-related threats include:

    • Phishing: Phishing is a social engineering attack used to trick users into clicking on malicious links or opening infected attachments.
    • Credential stuffing: Credential stuffing is a technique that is used to attack multiple accounts with the same username and password combination.
    • Password spraying: Password spraying is a technique used to attack multiple accounts with a small number of passwords.
    • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks: MITM attacks are used to intercept communications between two parties.
    • Data breaches: Data breaches can occur when sensitive data is stolen from an organization.


    How does Gartner define Identity Threat Detection and Response?

    Gartner introduced the term “identity threat detection and response” (ITDR) to describe the collection of tools and best practices to defend identity-based systems against malicious actors. According to Gartner, ITDR platforms provide:

    - Continuous monitoring of identity and access management systems
    - Risk-based identity analytics to detect anomalous and potentially malicious activity
    - Capabilities to investigate, scope, and orchestrate responses to incidents
    - Integration with other security tools for broader visibility and control

    ITDR complements other security approaches by focusing specifically on identity vulnerabilities.

    Key Benefits of ITDR

    Gartner highlights several benefits of implementing a dedicated ITDR solution:

    - Faster detection of identity-based attacks and breaches
    - Reduced surface area for attackers due to better visibility of identity risks
    - Quicker investigation and response via automated workflows
    - Proactive protection against growing insider and compromised account threats

    Best Practices for ITDR

    Gartner recommends several best practices for organizations adopting ITDR:

    - Establish an identity-centric security strategy and roadmap
    - Integrate ITDR data and workflows with SOC and IR teams
    - Combine analytics on both user identities and service accounts
    - Implement risk scoring to prioritize monitoring and access controls
    - Leverage automation for threat blocking, investigation and neutralization
    - Continually tune analytical models to improve detection accuracy


    What are Some of the Leading Identity and Access Management Solutions?

    • Okta - Cloud-based IAM with single sign-on, adaptive multi-factor authentication, lifecycle management, and more.
    • Microsoft Azure Active Directory - Microsoft's cloud-based identity and access management solution tightly integrated with Office 365 and other Microsoft services.
    • Ping Identity - Provides identity management, single sign-on, and access security across cloud and hybrid environments.
    • ForgeRock - Offers a comprehensive identity platform for workforce, consumer, and IoT use cases.
    • IBM Security Verify - Leverages AI and automation for adaptive access management.
    • RSA SecurID Access - Long-time IAM solution providing authentication management and single sign-on.
    • SailPoint IdentityNow - Cloud identity governance platform with controls over user access and entitlements.
    • CyberArk Identity - Focuses on privileged account security and identity lifecycle management.
    • Auth0 - Cloud-native identity platform optimized for modern applications and APIs.
    • Saviynt - Unified identity governance solution for managing internal and external user identities.

    Key capabilities of IAM solutions include single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, user provisioning, access reviews, governance, and more. Leading options are increasingly cloud-based to support digital transformation.

    Where do IAMs like OKTA fall into identity threat detection and response, and why are they insufficient?

    Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions like Okta play an essential role in identity security but have some limitations when it comes to full-fledged Identity Threat Detection and Response (ITDR):

    • IAM solutions focus primarily on access control and provisioning rather than detection and response. Okta excels at securely managing user identities and level of access across applications and systems.
    • However, IAM tools have limited visibility into detailed user activity logs and security events needed for robust behavioral monitoring and threat hunting.
    • Okta provides basic reporting on user access and offers multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access. However, it lacks the risk scoring, behavioral analytics, and automated response capabilities of a dedicated ITDR platform.
    • IAM systems provide identity and access visibility for on-premises and cloud applications integrated with the IAM. However, organizations often have identity infrastructure and a combination of security tools not connected to Okta, which can limit visibility.
    • ITDR solutions ingest a broader set of identity signals from various sources, including IAM, directories, VPNs, cloud platforms, and more, to get comprehensive coverage across all identity layers and systems.

    IAM is a critical foundation of identity security by managing core access control and entitlements. But ITDR is still needed on top of IAM to provide the full context, advanced analytics, and automated response required to uncover advanced identity attacks across the entire organization. ITDR and IAM work hand-in-hand to deliver end-to-end identity threat protection.

    With a robust ITDR solution following these best practices, organizations can transform their ability to uncover and stop identity attacks.


    How does MixMode Help with ITDR? 

    MixMode's Identity Threat Detection and Response Solution provides real-time monitoring of your identity infrastructure, capable of ingesting and analyzing large volumes of diverse data from multiple systems.

    MixMode ITDR continuously monitors your environment and correlates behavioral, access, and log data to proactively identify threats targeting credentials, privileges, cloud entitlements, and the systems that manage them.

    Click here to learn more.

    Ready to join the next wave of Cybersecurity?

    Stop wasting time and money with outdated threat detection solutions, get a demo of MixMode today and learn how you can improve your security capabilities.