Moving Target Defense - The Future of Cybersecurity

In the constantly evolving landscape of cyber security, attackers are always finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in systems. This is why traditional security measures such as firewalls and antivirus software are no longer enough to protect against sophisticated attacks. As a result, a new approach called "moving target defense" (MTD) has emerged as a promising solution to enhance the security of computer systems.

What is Moving Target Defense?

MTD is a proactive security technique that involves dynamically changing the attack surface of a system. Instead of relying on a static set of defenses, MTD techniques aim to make it more difficult for attackers to locate and exploit vulnerabilities by constantly shifting the system's configuration, network topology, or code. This makes it more challenging for attackers to launch successful attacks and allows defenders to quickly detect and respond to new threats.

One of the key benefits of MTD is that it can help to mitigate zero-day exploits, which are attacks that target previously unknown vulnerabilities. Because MTD systems are constantly changing, it becomes much harder for attackers to identify and exploit these unknown weaknesses.This can be accomplished through a variety of methods, such as changing the network topology or using randomisation techniques to make it difficult for attackers to predict the behavior of the system.

One popular technique for implementing Moving Target Defense is called "moving target network defense" (MTND). MTND involves randomly changing the configuration of a network, such as the IP addresses and ports of network devices. This makes it more difficult for attackers to conduct reconnaissance and map outthe network, which is often the first step in launching an attack. MTND can also include measures such as traffic diversion, where traffic is redirected to different servers or endpoints to prevent attackers from targeting a single point of failure.

How to effectively implement Moving Target Defense?

Red Piranha runs CTEM programs with our clients to track threat exposure and allow virtual patching to be carried out in Crystal Eye based on new threats that may evolve. This technique allows a moving target defence strategy to be implemented to mitigate new risks that may arise, with traditional patching not being available in a timely manner, it can assist in the overall security posture of an organisation.

Crystal Eye also includes AAI, or Automated Actionable Intelligence, an up to the minute threat feed update by the Red Piranha SecOps Team that changes network access and alerting in Crystal Eye based on the most recent threats seen in the wild. This allows protection profiles to be automatic updated based on the ever-changing threat landscape, giving customers assurance from new risks not yet known about or zero days.

Moving Target Defense has its own challenges. However, one of the main obstacles to implementing MTD is the potential for increased complexity and overhead. Constantly changing system configurations and software can make it more difficult to manage and maintain, and may require additional resources and expertise. Additionally, there is a risk that the system may become too complex to effectively defend, leading to unintended vulnerabilities.

Despite these challenges, Moving Target Defense is an important tool for improving the security of computer systems. As attackers become more sophisticated and new threats emerge, it is essential that we continue to develop and implement innovative security measures like MTD to stay ahead of the curve. By constantly changing the attack surface of a system, we can make it more difficult for attackers to penetrate our defenses and protect critical assets from cyber threats.

Date Published
March 14, 2023