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Behavior Monitoring: Can It Predict Cyber Attacks?

Behavior Monitoring: Can It Predict Cyber Attacks?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on August 1st, 2023
This post was updated on November 25th, 2023

Behavior monitoring is the process of tracking, gathering, and assessing the activities of individual users and systems. It serves as a security measure to detect any unusual or suspicious activity, which could be a potential threat or security breach. It’s designed to immediately detect and combat any unusual behavior, maintaining the integrity and safety of the data and systems in use.

Behavior Monitoring Examples

#1. Unusual Access Hours

Suppose an organization’s standard work hours are from 9 am to 5 pm. Most employees will access company resources during this time period. Any access beyond these set hours is typically considered an exception. However, what happens when there’s an abrupt change in a user’s behavior?

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For example, one user who usually works during normal business hours suddenly starts logging in and accessing data late at night. This behavior may not necessarily indicate a threat, but it’s unexpected and out of character.

Behavior monitoring comes into play here. It detects this unusual pattern and flags it. This triggers an alert to the network administrators or the cybersecurity team, who then investigate the anomaly to ensure data integrity and system safety.

#2. Sudden Access of Sensitive Files

Imagine an employee within a company that typically handles routine, non-sensitive files as a part of their day-to-day work. This could involve anything from drafting newsletters to updating company announcements.

However, one day, this employee begins downloading or trying to access a large volume of sensitive files that they don’t typically work with. This access could involve confidential client information, employee data, or financial records of the company.

This is where behavior monitoring steps in. It notes the sudden change in the user’s behavior and flags it as suspicious. The security team gets alerted about this activity. They can then review the situation, investigate if required, and take action to prevent any potential data breach or information leak.

#3. Unexpected Web Browsing Patterns

Consider a scenario where a user spends the majority of their day working with a standard, approved set of websites for work. This could include project management platforms, team collaboration tools, or any other specific resources required for their job.

One day, this user’s behavior changes significantly. They start visiting websites that are not relevant to their work, or perhaps even inappropriate or risky. This might even include multiple failed login attempts, which can be a significant red flag.

With behavior monitoring in place, such changes in web browsing patterns would not go unnoticed. The system would recognize this as an anomaly, flagging the user’s account for further review. This allows the cybersecurity team to investigate and take the necessary steps to neutralize any potential threats or risks.


In essence, behavior monitoring serves as a key tool to identify and combat potential cybersecurity threats. By closely tracking and analyzing user behavior, it ensures that any unusual or suspicious activities are promptly flagged, thereby enhancing the overall security of the systems and protecting sensitive data from potential breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Behavior monitoring is a cybersecurity measure that tracks, gathers, and assesses user activities and system operations.
  • It’s essential in detecting unusual or suspicious activities, which could signal a potential security threat.
  • Any deviation from standard user behavior, such as unusual access hours, sudden access of sensitive files, or unexpected web browsing patterns, can be flagged by behavior monitoring.
  • Once an anomaly is detected, behavior monitoring alerts the network administrators or the cybersecurity team, enabling them to investigate and take appropriate action.
  • With efficient behavior monitoring, organizations can enhance their security, maintain data integrity, and prevent potential breaches.

Related Questions

1. What are some potential challenges of behavior monitoring?

Some challenges include dealing with false positives, managing the huge volume of data generated, and balancing privacy concerns with security needs.

2. What is the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in behavior monitoring?

AI can significantly enhance behavior monitoring by applying machine learning algorithms to learn normal behaviors and identify abnormal ones more quickly and accurately.

3. Is behavior monitoring a standalone solution for cybersecurity?

No, behavior monitoring is only one part of a holistic cybersecurity strategy. It should be complemented with other security measures like firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption.

4. Can behavior monitoring help in detecting insider threats?

Yes, behavior monitoring is very effective in identifying insider threats because it can detect changes in a user’s routine and flag any unusual or suspicious behavior.

5. What should be done after an anomaly is detected by behavior monitoring?

After an anomaly is detected, it should be thoroughly investigated by the cybersecurity team. Depending on the findings, alerts may be escalated and appropriate action, such as user verification or password reset, can be taken.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
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