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Dynamic Profiling
End to End Coverage through Innovation

One of the key barriers to deploying web application and database security is defining security policies that include application structure, expected user behavior, and acceptable SQL queries. The sheer number of elements to protect and the dynamic nature of applications and databases have made it difficult for even the most sophisticated organizations to manage data center security. Through Imperva's innovative Dynamic Profiling, you can automatically create security policies based on actual application and database behavior.

Dynamic Profiling augments other layers of security by detecting abnormal behavior outside expected usage—activity that could indicate attack. By correlating Dynamic Profiling violations with other indicators of attack, like SQL injection or XSS keywords or HTTP protocol violations, SecureSphere can correctly identify advanced attacks.

Simplifying Policy Configuration

Imperva’s Dynamic Profiling technology simplifies policy creation and management. Dynamic Profiling automatically examines live application and database traffic to learn the structure and dynamics of the application and database. This profile can be viewed by the application development or database security teams and may be manually modified to bridge any differences between actual usage and corporate security policies.

Dynamic Profiling overcomes the biggest drawback of implementing data security solutions – manually creating and maintaining an overwhelming number of security policies. Data security requires an understanding of hundreds of thousands of constantly changing variables including URLs, parameters, cookies, queries, commands, and stored procedures. Dynamic Profiling automatically profiles all of these application and database elements and builds a baseline of acceptable user behavior. By building an accurate profile or “white list” of application and database usage, Dynamic Profiling streamlines monitoring and security configuration with no need for manual configuration or tuning. Dynamic Profiling enables SecureSphere to begin protecting your business data immediately.

Increasing Security Effectiveness

Because Web applications and databases are dynamic in nature, a data center security solution must continually keep up with all of these changes. Dynamic Profiling not only builds a profile of legitimate user behavior, but it also automatically recognizes valid application and database changes over time. SecureSphere automatically updates the profile according to these application and database changes, ensuring that security policies are up to date.

Dynamic Profiling completely automates security configuration, not just during the initial setup, but continuously over time.

Enabling Custom Policy Definition

While Dynamic Profiling automatically builds the profile of protected Web and database resources and detects changes over time, it is still possible for organizations to manually adjust the behavioral profile. All aspects of SecureSphere's profile are customizable. If desired, customers can even manually define the complete profile through the SecureSphere management interface.

Besides streamlining policy configuration, SecureSphere allows security administrators to define custom security policies about specific attributes of application or database traffic. Granular custom rules can evaluate multiple attributes of Web or database traffic to provide greater control and extensibility than just profile rules alone. For example, a custom Web application rule can look for a profile violation, a specific HTTP header option, an IP source address, the requested URL, and a specific attack signature. With over two dozen match criteria, security administrators can build powerful and precise security policies.

SecureSphere's Dynamic Profiling technology allows for ease of policy configuration, detection of behavioral changes, and flexible custom policy definition for automated and accurate data center security.

Automated Application Learning

Dynamic Profiling is the cornerstone of lmperva's automated approach to Web application security. SecureSphere's Dynamic Profiling automatically models an application's structure and elements to learn legitimate user behavior such as acceptable form field values and protected cookies. Valid application changes are automatically detected and incorporated into the profile over time. By comparing profiled elements to actual traffic, SecureSphere can detect unacceptable behavior and prevent malicious activity with pinpoint precision.

Dynamic Profiling automatically builds a profile of application elements, structure and usage, including URLs, form fields, parameters, cookies and expected user input. Dynamic Profiling automatically builds a profile of application elements, structure and usage,
including URLs, form fields, parameters, cookies and expected user input.

Dynamic Profiling overcomes the biggest drawback of other application firewall solutions- manual rule creation and maintenance. Unlike network firewall solutions where policy may be limited to a few dozen static rules, application firewall policy requires hundreds or thousands of rules governing thousands of constantly changing variables including URLs, parameters, cookies, XML elements and form fields.

Dynamic Profiling Over Time

Any application security architecture that relies upon manual rule creation by a security administrator requires constant rule-base tuning to account for changes to the applications. For example, many web application firewalls require manually created rules to define expected behaviors for client-side scripts. These manual rules specify detailed application variables such as allowed URLs, parameters, parameter types, and parameter constraints. Maintenance of these rules can be a major source of operational overhead as many sites rely on hundreds of scripts. Any script change requires a parallel rule change to avoid false positives.

Considering that many security managers are not kept abreast of all application changes, manually maintaining a white list security model is untenable.

In contrast, Dynamic Profiling automatically recognizes and incorporates changes into the profile over time. Because web applications often change, SecureSphere's automatic learning capability ensures that the application profile is always up-to-date. While customers can lock sensitive URLs or directories to prevent them from being updated automatically, almost all customers rely on SecureSphere's Dynamic Profiling capability to detect and adapt to application changes. Dynamic Profiling delivers completely automated security without requiring manual configuration or tuning.

Customizing the Application Profile

While Dynamic Profiling automatically builds the profile of protected web applications and detects application changes over time, it is also possible for organizations to manually adjust the application profile. All aspects of SecureSphere's application profile are customizable – meaning that customers can modify the application profiles to bridge any differences between actual usage and corporate security policies. If desired, customers can even manually define the complete web application profile through the SecureSphere management interface.

Dynamic Profiling in Depth: Technical Specifications

Dynamic Profiling relies on a statistical analysis model to accurately build the web application profile. By analyzing web requests and responses to the production web applications, SecureSphere dynamically models the application structure, elements and expected application usage. It takes approximately 2-5 days of analyzing live traffic to build the application profile.

SecureSphere automatically profiles the following elements:

In addition, SecureSphere determines expected user behavior by analyzing many different web users and their usage patterns. Expected usage attributes include:

Differentiating Between Legitimate and Illegitimate Activity

Because SecureSphere automatically learns application elements, structure and usage based on real web traffic, it must differentiate between acceptable user requests and application attacks. Otherwise, it might be possible for SecureSphere to add illegitimate requests to the application profile. SecureSphere uses the following techniques to differentiate between acceptable and malicious activity:

SecureSphere automatically updates the profile over time.

Note: Requested URLs that are not available (that generate a 404: Not Found error) will not be included in the standard application profile, but SecureSphere will track these URLs as broken links.

All of the aspects of the profile can be edited through the web management interface. However, lmperva's Dynamic Profiling capability is usually more accurate than manual configuration because it detects hidden form fields, optional form fields that are generated by scripts, and web pages that are not linked to other parts of the web site. That is why most SecureSphere customers rarely modify the dynamic profile.

SecureSphere administrators can determine how the dynamic profile is built. Learning can be limited to a pre defined set of known, trusted users. Profile update settings (for example, a parameter 'read-only' status will be removed if at least 50 unique web users change the parameter over a 12 hour period) can also be adjusted.

Application User Tracking

SecureSphere's innovative Dynamic Profiling technology automatically discovers web-based login pages. When users login to corporate web applications, SecureSphere will associate the user name with the session ID. So, SecureSphere can track and enforce security policies by user.

Dynamic Profiling: A Security Model that Is Positive In Every Way

Imperva's Dynamic Profiling addresses the manageability issues that plagued first generation web application firewalls. Now, organizations can protect their sensitive web applications and back end data without introducing excessive IT overhead and without blocking legitimate web users. Dynamic Profiling is the cornerstone of SecureSphere's positive security model. Combined with SecureSphere's other security measures, including HTTP protocol validation, application, web server software and operating system attack signatures, web services security, web worm defense, custom correlation rules, and ThreatRadar Reputation Services, SecureSphere protects both custom and packaged applications accurately without false positives. Organizations can deploy SecureSphere in minutes with no changes to existing applications or infrastructure to lockdown critical web applications and to meet security and compliance requirements.