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NSS Labs Announces Analyst Coverage and New Group Test for Breach Detection Systems

NSS Labs Predicts the BDS Market to Reach $1 Billion by 2018

AUSTIN, TX -- (Marketwire) -- 11/08/12 -- NSS Labs today announced initiation of coverage and the launch of a new group test for breach detection systems (BDS). BDS is an emerging group of security solutions focused on detecting of intrusions caused by targeted persistent attacks (TPAs) and other particularly sophisticated threats designed to harvest information from compromised systems. Fueled by the frequency and severity of data breaches and their associated costs, the BDS market will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) greater than 25 percent, reaching $1 billion by 2018, according to NSS Labs' forecasts.

"Although you could think of this class of product as 'next-generation intrusion detection systems (NGIDS),' we at NSS Labs feel that the 'next generation' tag has been over-used by security vendors," says Bob Walder, Chief Research Officer at NSS Labs. "These products are designed to analyze complex attacks out-of-band, detecting, rather than preventing, network breaches. Because they are not expected to operate in-line at wire speeds, they can perform much more extensive analysis of inbound and outbound traffic to detect complex threats. This means they can only alert us to network breaches that have already occurred. For this reason, we coined the term 'breach detection systems (BDS).' Rather than use different vendors' lexicons based on preferred marketing descriptions, BDS precisely defines the role these solutions are meant to perform, apart from other technologies."

View the new NSS Labs Analysis Brief - Breach Detection: Don't Fall Prey to Targeted Attacks.

Will Breach Detection Systems become the latest security "silver bullet" -- or "white elephant?"
As the attack surface broadens and highly motivated cybercriminals use increasingly innovative and dynamic approaches to deploy sophisticated crimeware, enterprises must assume that they will be (or have already been) breached. Through constant analysis of suspicious code and identification of communications with malicious hosts, breach detection systems can provide enhanced detection of advanced malware, zero-day and targeted attacks, acting as an "early warning" system for exploits that have bypassed other network security defenses. Key trends driving the demand for breach detection systems include:

  • Attack frequency and sophistication at the device level: Client-side attacks represent the fastest growing and most serious group of threats today: These attacks often install malicious code "silently" and many users don't know that they've been infected until after the fact. Breach detection systems that constantly analyze suspicious code and identify communication back to malicious hosts can provide enhanced detection of advanced malware, zero-day and targeted attacks.

  • Browsers and endpoint security products struggle to block attacks: Many traditional endpoint security solutions and browsers lack adequate exploit and evasion protection: In recent NSS Labs tests, only 2 of 13 endpoint products tested blocked more than 80% of exploits and over 60% (8 of 13) failed to block attacks where obfuscation methods for compressing and packing payloads were used. In recent browser testing, only Microsoft Internet Explorer blocked 99% of malicious downloads -- Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox lagged behind blocking only 70%, 4.3% and 4.2% respectively.

  • Awareness and safe surfing are not enough: It's not necessary to visit the "dark corners" of the Internet to be at risk: Spear-phishing and drive-by exploits are served up in employee inboxes and often incorporate the legitimate web sites of trusted brand names in their attacks. Breach detection systems recognize that many responsible, well-meaning users will inevitably still be exploited and jeopardize enterprise systems.

  • Breach detection needs to take mobile devices, other shifts into account: The growth of BYOD opens otherwise secured networks up to significant risk: The increasing number of personal mobile devices and the virtualization of offices expose the corporate network to any number of malware variants from untrusted networks that may lack the protection and capabilities of the corporate infrastructure. These mobile devices also often bypass perimeter filtering and security appliances.

Commentary: NSS Labs Research Director Francisco Artes
"Breach detection systems claim to improve the recognition of the most severe types of intrusions -- such as those with the most severe consequences if electronic health records, intellectual property or other sensitive materials are stolen -- but it remains to be seen whether vendors in this emerging segment can provide value that is not offset by new products' overhead and complexity," said Francisco Artes, Research Director at NSS Labs. "Effective BDS tools need to complement existing security investments but risk being simply another console to watch; we look forward to ongoing research and testing as these solutions mature and face real-world threats."

The NSS Labs Live Testing™ harness for the BDS tests is designed to test the five main technologies that can be used as part of a BDS solution -- virtual machine (VM) sandboxes, browser emulation, domain reputation, AV signature, and traffic analysis. NSS Labs analysts will cover numerous vendors in the BDS market, including:

  • AhnLab
  • Damballa
  • FireEye
  • Lastline
  • McAfee
  • Palo Alto Networks
  • Symantec
  • Trend Micro

NSS Labs is currently in the process of confirming which vendors will be in the first Group Test for BDS and results will be available to NSS Labs' subscribers at once complete.

NSS Labs does not receive any compensation in return for vendor participation; all testing and research is conducted free of charge.

About NSS Labs, Inc.
NSS Labs, Inc. is the world's leading information security research and advisory company. We deliver a unique mix of test-based research and expert analysis to provide our clients with the information they need to make good security decisions. CIOs, CISOs, and information security professionals from many of the largest and most demanding enterprises rely on NSS Labs' insight, every day. Founded in 1991, the company is located in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit

© 2012 NSS Labs, Inc. All rights reserved. All brand, product and service names are the trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of their respective owners.

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