The story behind Barracuda Active Threat Intelligence

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A while ago at one of our brainstorming sessions, as teams discussed the next level of evolution for our products, it became evident that detection and protection against new and emerging threats required intensive data analysis at scale. The analysis would need to predict clients’ risk and do that efficiently and quickly if we wanted to prevent hostile action from taking place.

As we analyzed the requirements, we realized that to protect against advanced attackers like bots, we needed to build a platform that could analyze traffic for web sessions, correlate it with data across sessions, and for many things, across the entire customer base. We also figured out that many parts of the system needed to be real-time, some near real-time, and others could have a much longer analysis phase.

A few years ago we introduced Barracuda Advanced Threat Protection (BATP) for zero-day malware attack protection across the Barracuda product line. This capability—analyzing files to detect malware using multiple engines in addition to sandboxing—was introduced in Barracuda’s application security products to secure applications like order processing systems where files were uploaded by third parties. This was the first attempt to use a cloud-based layer for advanced analysis that would have been difficult to build into web application firewall appliances.

While the BATP cloud layer could handle millions of file scans, we needed a system that could store large amounts of meta information so it could be analyzed to figure out new and evolving threats. This started us on the journey toward the next threat intelligence platform.

How Active Threat Intelligence works

The Barracuda Active Threat Intelligence platform is our answer. The platform is built on a massive data lake,  which can handle stream processing as well as batch processing of data. It processes millions of events per minute, across geographies, and provides intelligence that is used for detecting bots and client-side attacks, as well as providing information to protect against those threat vectors. Barracuda Active Threat Intelligence is built with an open architecture to be able to evolve rapidly to address newer threats.

Today, Barracuda Active Threat Intelligence platform receives data from the security engines in the Barracuda Web Application Firewall and WAF-as-a-Service, as well as other sources. As the events are received, they are augmented using crowd-sourced threat feeds and other intelligence databases. Detailed analysis of these events, both individually and as a part of a user session, is used to categorize the clients as humans or bots.

The data analysis pipelines use various engines and machine learning models to analyze multiple aspects of the traffic and reach their recommendations, which are finally reconciled to produce the final verdict.

Ways Active Threat Intelligence helps protect your apps

In addition to supporting all the analysis required for Advanced Bot Protection, the Active Threat Intelligence platform is being used for our latest offerings: Client-Side Protection and the Automated Configuration Engine.

Active Threat Intelligence tracks any external resources that may be used by the app, such as an external JavaScript or a stylesheet. Keeping track of external resources ensures that we are aware of the threat surface, and we can protect against attacks such as MageCart and more.

Because the meta data that is collected is extremely rich, we are able to derive additional information from it to assist administrators by providing configuration recommendations based on the real traffic coming to their apps.

This platform has been instrumental in helping us build the next generation of protection capabilities that our customers require. We continue to leverage this scalable platform to gather deep insights into traffic patterns, application consumption, and more. Stay tuned for blogs from our engineering teams that will talk about how we built Barracuda Advanced Threat Intelligence.

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