March 24, 2023

Visualization Improves Situational Awareness for Cyber Security

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“See the unseen: Visualize your cyber security landscape for total situational awareness.”

Visualization for Cyber Security

Effective visualization can significantly improve situational awareness and decision-making correctness in cyber security planning.  Visualizations present complex data and information in a clear and easy-to-understand, actionable format.  Cyber-security planning often involves understanding large volumes of data from multiple sources, including network traffic, logs, and threat intelligence feeds.  Potential threats and vulnerabilities can be identified and strategies to mitigate them can be developed if you have a clear picture of your security landscape.

Understanding risks to your enterprise from cyberattacks and protecting your critical systems and data from attack or other disruption is the focus of cyber survivability.  Effective visualization of infrastructure data, in an easily digested and interpreted way, can empower security professionals to quickly identify patterns, anomalies, and potential threats so that they can make informed decisions to protect your enterprise.

  • Simplifying Complex Information: Cybersecurity planning often involves analyzing complex data from multiple sources. By simplifying complex information, effective visualization can make it easy to understand and act on. Simple and clear visualizations can help cybersecurity professionals quickly identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. Key insights are easier to make; well-informed decisions come forth more quickly. For example, a visual representation of network traffic may reveal unusual patterns of activity that could indicate a potential attack. Similarly, visualizing system performance metrics may reveal areas of the network experiencing high traffic levels or other issues that could indicate a security threat. <Insert Attack_Graph_AdobeEpress.gif here>
  • Identifying Trends and Patterns with simplified information: Effective visualization can help security professionals identify trends and patterns that may not be immediately apparent from raw data. Cybersecurity professionals are often deluged with data from a vast array of sources, including network logs, threat intelligence feeds, and system performance metrics. This information can be difficult to interpret in its raw form. Any essential insights available in the data are all too often hard to spot. Effective visualization summarizes and simplifies the information in a way that makes understanding easier. For example, data can be presented in the form of charts, graphs, or other visual aids that highlight key trends and patterns. By visualizing data over time, it is easier to identify changes in activity levels, patterns of behavior, and other anomalies that may indicate a security issue. <Insert GIF here>
  • Highlighting Important Information: Effective visualization can help security professionals quickly identify important information within large datasets. In addition to simplifying complex information, effective visualization can also help to identify essential information. This can lead to quick identification of potential threats and appropriate action to mitigate risks. For example, by using color coding or other visual cues, can make it easier to spot anomalies, high-risk areas, or other areas of interest within a dataset. <Insert Document_Viewer_AdobeEpress.gif here >
  • Facilitating Collaboration: Effective visualization can facilitate collaboration between different teams and stakeholders involved in the planning of cyber survivability. By presenting data in a way that is easy to understand across multiple disciplines and areas of interest, it is easier for different teams to work together and make informed decisions. For example, a visual representation of network traffic may help network engineers and security professionals identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, while helping executive understand the relative importance of proposed mitigations.
  • Informed Decision-Making: Effective visualization can help cybersecurity professionals make informed decisions about responses to potential attacks or other disruptions. By presenting information in a clear and easy-to-understand format, visualization tools can help cybersecurity leadership quickly assess the severity of a threat and develop appropriate response strategies. For example, visualizing system performance metrics may help cybersecurity professionals identify critical systems that must be prioritized for protection or mitigation. <Insert RAM_Risk_Analysis_AdobeExpress.gif here>

All of this leads to numerous opportunities for improving situational awareness and decision-making for cyber survivability.

  • Improved Situational Awareness
  • Enhanced Decision-Making
  • Faster Response Times
  • Better Collaboration
  • Overall Reduce Risk

Security systems that offer a comprehensive collection of AI-enhanced interactive or mixed initiative visualizations empower users with an instant understanding of their system, its attack surface, the internal network structure, attack paths, risks, and more! Security-system visualizations should be generated automatically in a mixed-initiative user-in-the-loop fashion based on system and network data and tailored to the user’s preferences. The system should also provide both summarization and drill-down capabilities, which enable instant understanding, rapid interpretation, and informed decision-making.

In conclusion, effective visualization is a critical tool for improving situational awareness and decision-making in cyber survivability planning. By simplifying complex information, highlighting important insights, facilitating collaboration, and enabling informed decision-making with faster response times, visualization tools can help cybersecurity professionals identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, develop effective response strategies, and protect critical systems and data in the face of an attack or other disruption.


About the Author: Shawn Reynolds
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