Difference Between Physical and Virtual Fusion Center
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Difference Between Physical and Virtual Fusion Center

  • Cyber Fusion

Posted on: October 11, 2021

Difference Between Physical and Virtual Fusion Center
Cyber fusion centers play an important role in bringing together different teams, tools, and processes within an organization, improving threat intelligence, speeding up incident response, and reducing organizational costs and risks. By adopting the concept of cyber fusion, security teams can leverage the tools and technologies driving threat response, threat intelligence, automation, and advanced orchestration, building a robust security posture and gaining greater visibility into the threat environment. 

Organizations that leveraged virtual cyber fusion centers (vCFCs) during the pandemic could successfully demonstrate their effectiveness and collective defense to threats and attacks. Labeled as a “Black Swan” event, COVID-19 pushed people to work from their remote locations. In such a crisis, virtual fusion centers proved practical and efficient as they enabled teams to collaborate from their remote locations and distributed time zones. While some organizations are still embracing physical cyber fusion centers, the ones keeping pace with today’s rapidly changing threat landscape are taking a virtual approach to integrating people, processes, and technologies.

Physical Cyber Fusion Centers

Making the threat landscape all the more complex, cybercriminals today are leveraging new and innovative techniques to exploit organizations. To tackle the evolving threats, many companies are adopting a strategic approach and moving beyond their traditional security operations centers (SOCs) to build physical cyber fusion centers. With multi-disciplined staff, a physical cyber fusion center has several security teams working out of the facility. Such teams focus on threat intelligence, incident detection and response, monitoring the status of security operations, vulnerability management, threat hunting, and handling tactical and operational analysis of possible threats.

Physical cyber fusion centers enable security teams to detect, identify, examine, and respond to incidents that could affect an organization’s services, infrastructure, and customers. They can quickly detect and contain incidents or intrusions and minimize the damage, effect, and recovery costs of the incident. In physical cyber fusion centers, a combination of streamlined processes and technologies is employed for real-time monitoring and analysis of malicious behavior across systems and networks that indicate an incident or compromise.

Virtual Cyber Fusion Centers

A virtual cyber fusion center (vCFC) allows different teams to work together and is not restricted to any location; teams can either be remotely located or present at any geography. These teams proactively collaborate for information sharing and analysis of threats in a timely manner. With the ability to steer enterprise-wide decision-making for cybersecurity operations, preventive and anticipatory actions driven by a proactive threat analysis, and organizational interests based on strategic analysis, virtual fusion centers engage an entire organization, including peers beyond its organizational boundaries.

In today’s continuously changing threat environment, organizations need real-time threat intelligence sharing and communication among different teams for quick incident response. Driven by human intelligence, virtual cyber fusion centers make this possible by automatically ingesting threat intelligence from both internal and external sources to rapidly detect, prioritize, and respond to threats. They allow security teams to take swift actions or alert them about an immediate crisis in real-time.

A virtual cyber fusion center leverages advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to take action on the threat data collected from multiple sources. Equipped with security orchestration and automation capabilities, a virtual cyber fusion center helps in improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of security teams. Some of its use cases include incident response management, triage management, malware management, vulnerability management, and case management, which aid security teams in staying ahead of the cyber adversaries.

The differentiating factor of a virtual cyber fusion center is its competence to provide collaboration and coordination across all the security teams—no matter where they are located—that manage security operations within an organization. Virtual cyber fusion centers allow them to work as one team during threat response, ensuring lesser response times, improved productivity, high confidence and actionable threat intelligence, and reduced operational costs. By offering a broad range of benefits, virtual cyber fusion centers empower security teams to stay ahead of the threat actors.

Physical vs Virtual—Which One is Better?

Both physical and virtual cyber fusion centers (vCFCs) are connected units of the incident response chain that assist security teams in gaining in-depth visibility into its systems and networks. While both the physical and virtual models render incident detection and response capabilities, the latter connects multiple teams and facilitates quick threat detection, analysis, and incident response. 

Physical cyber fusion centers enable security teams to detect, examine, and respond to incidents that can affect an organization. They aim to identify and respond to an incident, curtailing the impact, harm, and operational costs. Usually, physical cyber fusion centers allow security teams to collaborate with only an enterprise’s incident response team, assuring speedy redressal. Whether located remotely or at different positions, security teams can access a vCFC in real-time to orchestrate and automate ingestion, analysis, and sharing of contextualized threat intelligence with internal security teams and external community partners. 

The monitoring capabilities of teams in a physical cyber fusion center reduce mean time to response (MTTR), giving organizations the power to safeguard against incidents and helping them stay on top of threats targeting their networks. Virtual cyber fusion centers (vCFCs) deliver a collective defense approach to tackle the potential threats by bringing together multiple teams via inter-team collaboration and intelligence synthesis. Moreover, they support the fusion of strategic, tactical, and operational threat intelligence for quick threat prediction, detection, analysis, and response.

Unlike physical cyber fusion centers, the virtual model brings together disparate teams to collaborate as a single unit with common goals and information on malware, vulnerabilities, and threat actors in real-time. In addition to supporting all the functions of a physical cyber fusion center, the virtual cyber fusion centers are more cost-effective and proficient in addressing today’s complex security operations.

Given today’s complex job market, it is difficult to hire and retain skilled cyber intelligence professionals. A virtual fusion center can not only aid in attracting talent but also provide the required flexibility in candidate retention. When virtual fusion centers enable employees to work from anywhere in the world, they also provide organizations the feasibility to hire from any location and time zone across the globe. This allows team members to stay wherever they want and work from their location at their convenience. Last but not the least, the unique aspect of virtual fusion centers is that they foster proactive communication and collaboration with a wide range of tools and team members.

The Bottom Line

To address the evolving cybersecurity landscape and build a dynamic security posture, different teams leverage disparate tools and technologies. Taking a proactive approach to bringing disparate teams, tools, and processes together, organizations are moving toward virtual cyber fusion centers. Irrespective of their locations, security teams can keep ahead of threats by sharing threat intelligence, collaborating on incident response, and delivering security automation and orchestration (SOAR) capabilities with virtual cyber fusion centers.