Browse Definitions:

adaptive security

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Adaptive security is an approach to safeguarding systems and data by recognizing threat-related behaviors rather than the files and code used by virus definitions. The essence of the approach is the ability to adapt and respond to a complex and constantly changing environment.

Adaptive security software uses heuristics to more proactively predict, recognize and deal with threats like malware and hackers autonomously, aside from logging and alerts. Using its heuristics, the software can track application and system behavior and recognize events that are out of the ordinary, tracking the behavior to its source. Tracking behaviors helps protect against advanced threats far better than traditional security products can.

Adaptive security provides finer-grained controls to adapt to changes in the network and computing environment, as well as dashboards for better monitoring. The software autonomously blocks behaviors but allows for human intervention. Notifications alert security staff to new behaviors, which they can selectively allow to enable continued functioning in the changing environment.

Developing trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) have increased the security burden significantly and necessitated a more sophisticated approach to deal with the multitude of devices and systems connected and communicating online. To compete with adaptive products, conventional security software requires extensive behavior whitelists for normal system and software actions or, conversely, blacklists defining them as out of the ordinary. According to some security experts, adaptive security products may make virus definitions obsolete.

This was last updated in January 2017

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