How advanced sandboxing can help your SOC team - VMRay

Advanced Sandboxing

to solve SOC challenges

Learn how advanced sandboxing can help your SOC team solve their most important and urgent challenges.

Table of Contents

Relieving analyst burnout:
Tackling the challenge of alert fatigue

Alert fatigue poses a significant challenge in today’s Security Operations Centers (SOCs). It’s not just a buzzword or a vendor hype; it’s a genuine concern affecting SOC teams across various industries, including cybersecurity, construction, mining, and healthcare. Every alert demands thorough investigation, but the reality is that many alerts go unaddressed, leaving potential threats unnoticed.

These alerts can take various forms, triggered by suspicious activities such as network anomalies, failed login attempts, malware detections, and phishing attempts. While some alerts can be swiftly dismissed, malware and phishing alerts require extensive investigation, often consuming hours or even days when relying on disjointed tools and manual analysis.

Impact of Alert Fatigue on SOC Effectiveness:

The consequence of an oversensitive or poorly defined security monitoring system is progressive alert fatigue, which compromises the effectiveness of SOC protocols. As the volume of alerts increases, overwhelmed analysts struggle to keep up, leading to the oversight of critical threats. SOC analysts are under immense pressure to identify and neutralize cyberattacks before they escalate into breaches. Missing an alert can have severe consequences, with stories abound of analysts losing their jobs due to overlooked alerts resulting in data breaches

  • Overwhelmed analysts struggle to manage an increasing number of alerts, compromising their ability to effectively respond to threats.
  • Serious threats often go unnoticed and unaddressed, exposing organizations to potential breaches.
  • Analysts’ fear of missing critical alerts adds to the already high stress levels.
  • Frequent notifications and overwhelming workload diminish the efficacy of SOC protocols, putting organizations at risk.
Alarming numbers on alert fatigue

A recent survey conducted by Magnet Forensics revealed alarming statistics. Out of over 400 surveyed analysts, a staggering 54% reported feeling burned out in their roles. Alert fatigue and the associated investigation process were identified as key contributors to this burnout, impacting job satisfaction and overall performance. Additionally, 37% of respondents highlighted how repetitive tasks and non-interoperable tools slow down investigative workflows, while 46% expressed concerns about increased regulatory risks due to workload pressures.

  • On average, security operations teams receive a staggering 11,000 alerts per day, leading to information overload.
  • Approximately 67% of these alerts are considered low priority and often ignored due to limited resources and time.
  • False positives are a persistent challenge, accounting for over 25% of security alerts and even higher percentages in enterprise and managed security service provider (MSSP) environments.
  • Security analysts spend up to 10 hours per week investigating and responding to false positives, diverting valuable time and resources.
  • Pursuing false positives costs organizations nearly $26,000 per analyst annually, making it a significant financial burden.

Unveiling the root causes of alert fatigue and analyst burnout

Overwhelming EDR, SIEM, and SOAR Alerts

The abundance of alerts generated by Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) solutions can be both a blessing and a curse. While these tools excel at detecting new threats, the sheer volume of alerts they produce can overwhelm SOC teams.

Ignoring or struggling to keep up with the flood of suspicious alerts not only prolongs the attacker’s dwell time on the network but also increases the risk of widespread malware outbreaks.

Manual Malware and Phishing Triage

The manual triage of malware and phishing alerts adds another layer of complexity to the SOC workflow. Investigating these types of threats requires careful analysis and in-depth understanding, often taking significant amounts of time. SOC analysts must manually analyze suspicious files, URLs, and email attachments, making it a labor-intensive process. The reliance on manual triage further exacerbates the challenges of alert fatigue, stretching already overwhelmed analysts and diverting their attention from critical tasks.

Automating and streamlining the triage process is crucial to alleviate the burden and enable analysts to focus on higher-value activities, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the SOC.

Self-Curated Threat Intelligence

Certain organizations, particularly those with high-profile targets or valuable assets to protect, take the initiative to curate their own threat intelligence. This proactive approach is understandable, given the unique risks they face and the likelihood of custom-crafted attacks tailored specifically to their environment. However, relying solely on subscribing to multiple commercial threat feeds is insufficient. In fact, in the surveyed professionals, only a small percentage (57%) subscribed to up to ten feeds, and even fewer (26%) subscribed to eleven to fifty feeds.

Effectively curating and leveraging this intelligence requires substantial effort and resources.

Reliance on In-House Malware Analysis

To enhance their defenses, many organizations choose to build their threat intelligence from in-house malware analysis. This approach allows them to gain valuable insights into the specific threats targeting their environment. However, it also places a heavy burden on skilled resources. Hiring cybersecurity professionals with expertise in malware analysis is challenging, especially given the existing deficit of approximately 2 million cybersecurity jobs worldwide.

The scarcity of skilled resources coupled with the demanding nature of in-house analysis significantly impacts the performance of analysts and the overall effectiveness of the SOC.

By understanding these root causes of alert fatigue and analyst burnout, organizations can take strategic steps to alleviate the burden on their SOC teams, improve efficiency, and enhance their overall security posture.

Unlocking the power of sandboxing:
Unveiling the true face of threats

When it comes to dealing with sophisticated threats, automation is key. That’s where sandboxing comes into play. Imagine harnessing the capabilities of a best-in-class sandboxing tool like VMRay to gain unparalleled visibility into the behavior of malicious samples in your environment. By placing VMRay in line with your existing security tools, you empower it to make informed decisions and provide you with the ultimate verdict.

But why is sandboxing so effective? Traditional methods like static signatures and heuristic algorithms fall short when it comes to zero-day threats. That’s where VMRay shines. It simply launches the sample and meticulously monitors every action it takes. While static signatures struggle with variations, such as different email addresses in a Word document, and heuristics can be evaded, payload detonation in a sandbox environment is the game-changer. It allows you to witness every move of the threat, unobtrusively capturing its true intentions.

In the sandbox environment, VMRay’s payload detonation capabilities enable you to identify evasive malware and advanced phishing attacks like never before. You gain a comprehensive view of the threat’s activities, uninterrupted and undetected. Whether it attempts to encrypt and upload files to a server or performs other malicious actions, VMRay provides you with invaluable intelligence to understand precisely what transpired. 

But don’t just take our word for it. We have real-world examples to back it up. Take a look at the live sample of Raccoon version two, a notorious malware family. Within the screenshot, you can see its “anti-analysis” behavior, actively trying to detect DLLs and identify different types of sandboxes. This level of sophistication underscores the necessity of leveraging advanced sandboxing capabilities like VMRay.

The evasion technique and behavior of Racoon malware

Don’t settle for partial visibility or rely on manual methods that can easily be detected. Embrace sandboxing and make sure that you leverage industry-leading technology to reveal the true face of threats, empowering you to defend against even the most elusive adversaries proactively.

5 reasons to have sandboxing as a critical part of your toolkit:
  • Sandboxing reveals true threat behavior: Sandbox analysis exposes the complete actions of threats, providing deep visibility.
  • Sandboxing is effective against zero-day threats: Sandboxing identifies and analyzes evolving threats that traditional methods struggle to detect.
  • Sandboxing can detect advanced attacks: Sandbox analysis uncovers evasive malware and sophisticated phishing techniques.
  • Sandboxing enhances threat intelligence: Sandboxing provides valuable insights into threat actors’ techniques and infrastructure.
  • Sandboxing enables proactive defense: Sandbox analysis enables proactive actions based on real-time threat behavior.

The crucial role of sandboxing for SOC teams:
5 reasons why do you need sandboxing now

SOC teams face numerous challenges in detecting and mitigating sophisticated cyber threats. Sandboxing technology has emerged as a critical tool for SOC teams, allowing them to analyze and understand the true nature of malicious samples. Let’s explore why sandboxing has become an essential requirement for SOC teams.

Ransomware as a Service:
The emergence of affordable ransomware-as-a-service models enables even non-technical criminals to launch sophisticated attacks, emphasizing the need for proactive defense measures.
Zero-Day Exploits for Sale:

Zero-day exploits are increasingly available for purchase on the Dark Web, allowing attackers with financial resources to conduct advanced and targeted attacks, highlighting the urgency for robust detection and analysis capabilities.

Open-Source Obfuscation Tools:

The prevalence of open-source obfuscation tools makes it easier for attackers to hide their malicious activities and evade traditional security measures. Sandboxing enables the detonation and analysis of suspicious files to uncover their true intentions.

Deep and Fast URL Generation: 

Cybercriminals can rapidly generate malicious URLs at scale, making it crucial for SOC teams to have the ability to inspect and analyze these URLs in real-time to identify potential threats and prevent their proliferation.

Remote Work:

The shift to remote work introduces new security challenges, including the loss of TLS decryption and increased reliance on trust for traffic inspection. Sandboxing helps SOC teams maintain visibility and analyze potentially malicious traffic, even in a distributed work environment.

By incorporating sandboxing into their toolset, SOC teams can effectively address these pressing challenges and enhance their ability to detect, analyze, and mitigate evolving threats in today’s dynamic cybersecurity landscape.

See VMRay in action.
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Further resources


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