What is cyber defense?

As cyber attacks continue to rise in size, frequency, and complexity, cyber defense is one of the most integral and difficult pieces of any organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Cyber defense is a coordinated act of resistance that guards information, systems, and networks from cyber attacks by implementing protective procedures such as firewalls, network detection and response (NDR), endpoint detection and response (EDR) to identify, analyze, and report incidents that occur within a network. Still, cyber defense teams are faced with a near impossible task of securing all an organization’s vulnerabilities, and a big part of that means being able to deeply understand the tactics, capabilities, and motives of attackers.

How has cyber
defense evolved?
Cyber defense
vs. cybersecurity?
What is active
cyber defense?
What is a cyber
defense matrix?
How can IronNet
strengthen your cyber
defense strategy?
What are defensive
cyber operations?

How has cyber defense evolved?

The beginning of cyber attacks can be traced back to the early 1970s when the first computer worm, CREEPER, was released on the ARPANET. It was quickly followed by REAPER, the first antivirus software, paving the way for the much more sophisticated cyber defense we know today. 

As the internet became a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, cyber defense has needed to move at breakneck speed just to keep up. But with each new defense, the enemy created a way around it.  

Take, for example, antivirus software. After CREEPER, hackers moved beyond simple worms to more advanced, more sinister malware such as polymorphic viruses, phishing schemes, ransomware, and zero-day attacks. And with each followed more effective cyber defenses such as commercial antivirus software, firewall technology, and, more recently, end-point detection and network detection and response. 

But we can’t keep playing catch up. We need to take a proactive and united approach to cyber defense solutions. The natural next step is Collective Defense. 


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IronNet-Scaling cyber defense capabilities

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“IronNet is the only cybersecurity company with the vision — and the technology — to make this Collective Defense approach possible.”
 — Tessa Pereira, 
CISO C5 Capital 

Cyber Defense vs. cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and cyber defense often get used synonymously. While they are related, there are distinct, important differences.

Cybersecurity is a set of solutions or strategies an organization employs to avoid danger and threats in cyberspace. 

Cyber threat defense is a key component of any cybersecurity strategy, which should incorporate cyber offense, compliance, and more. Cyber defense solutions focus on actively resisting an attack. 

Here are some common cyber defense activities: 

  • Installing and maintaining the hardware and software for your security infrastructure 
  • Analyzing, identifying, and patching system vulnerabilities within your network
  • Implementing real-time solutions to diffuse zero-day attacks 
  • Recovering from partially or fully successful attack campaigns
Read more about developing a holistic cybersecurity strategy

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IronNet-To transform cybersecurity


— Bill Welch, IronNet Co-CEO

“Where IronNet is really transforming cybersecurity is through our Collective Defense capabilities. This metamorphic approach allows companies and organizations to defend against threats together, and in real time, without the need for known indicators of behavior. No one else in the market is orchestrating this collaborative take on enterprise security.”
IronNet-Cyber Defense SEO-Active Cyber Defense

What is active cyber defense?

As it sounds, active cyber defense is using offensive strategies to hinder attack advances. Initially conceived as a component of the Department of Defenses (DoD) approach to cybersecurity operations, active cyber defense was designed to shift the balance of power away from attackers to give defenders a home field advantage during an attack. 

The goal is to obfuscate the attacker’s plan, making it harder for them to infiltrate your organization’s applications, networks, and systems and quickly neutralize the threat.

Additionally, active cyber defense helps organizations glean crucial threat intelligence data to help them understand and prevent similar attacks in the future by using the information to improve defense strategies and strengthen their incident response. 



What is a cyber defense matrix?

The cyber defense matrix was created by Sounil Yu to help organizations deftly navigate the cyber defense security landscape. The Cyber Defense Matrix helps cyber defense teams understand a wide range of cybersecurity practices by following a clearly defined structure to discern multiple cybersecurity tools to meet their security needs. 

The matrix has two main components aligned vertically and horizontally on a 5-by-5 grid. The first is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework’s five operational functions: identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover. The second component centers on the assets cyber defense teams need to secure: devices, apps, networks, data, and users. The bottom of the grid is a dependency continuum focused on people, process and technology and how each relates to the NIST operational functions. 

The Cyber Defense Matrixis a tool to help CISOs and security leaders make informed, strategic decisions. First determine your organization’s security needs and then map vendors and solutions to the matrix to find the right fit for your team. 

IronNet-Cyber Defense SEO-Cyber Defense Matrix-full

How can IronNet strengthen your cyber defense strategy?

Collective Defense
The future of cyber defense, and cybersecurity as a whole, requires organizations to be proactive, collaborative, and united by operationalizing  Collective Defense.  IronNet's Collective Defense platform draws on behavioral analytics and orchestrates threat information sharing in real time to generate a dynamic relationship among SIEM, EDR, and NDR tools. Drawing on IronDefense behavioral analytics, Collective Defense gives your cyber defense teams broader visibility into the threat landscape, shares attack intelligence at network speed, and fosters real-time collaboration to more effectively locate suspicious activity and mitigate threats before damage occurs by limiting an attacker’s dwell time. 
Broader visibility of the threat landscape
Threat actors are more sophisticated and organized than ever before, innovating faster than defenders can respond by implementing and varying a wide range of techniques. IronNet uses behavioral analytics based on machine learning and other techniques designed to keep up with the rapid change, giving your SOC team broader visibility of incoming attacks. IronNet’s IronDefense Network Detection and Response draws on behavioral analytics and human insights to detect unknown threats faster for faster response.
Collective threat intelligence sharing at network speed
The key to minimizing negative impacts of a cyber attack is speed. In reality, during attacks there is little to no time to assess and respond to the situation at your organization, so  trying to share it with others is nearly impossible. That’s why automated information sharing is essential. 
By reporting aggregated threat intelligence from individual organizations, critical infrastructures, cities and government entities, organizations can act against a cyber attack at a community level simply and efficiently.  IronNet’s IronDome facilitates collaboration across the sector to create a unified front for cyber defense to stay ahead of evolving threats. 

Featured resource

IronNet-Collective Defense eBook Cover-1
Check out our Collective Defense eBook and learn how you can get a radar-like view of your cyber threat landscape.

The U.S. government and industry … must arrive at a new social contract of shared responsibility to secure the nation in cyberspace. This ‘collective defense’ in cyberspace requires that the public and private sectors work from a place of truly shared situational awareness and that each leverages its unique comparative advantages for the common defense.”

 — U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission

IronNet’s IronDome facilitates collaboration across the sector to create a unified front for cyber defense to stay ahead of evolving threats.

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IronNet-2021 Cybersecurity Impact Report

Deep dive into the 2021
cybersecurity landscape with IronNet’s
2021 Cybersecurity Impact Report