Sophos casts Sophos X-Ops to help better defend against cyberattacks

Joe Levy, Chief Technology and Product Officer at Sophos

Sophos, a next-gen cybersecurity firm, announced Sophos X-Ops, a cross-operational unit linking SophosLabs, Sophos SecOps and Sophos AI, three established teams of cybersecurity experts at Sophos, to help firms better defend against the increasingly complex cyberattacks.

What is the market offering of Sophos X-Ops?

Sophos X-Ops leverages real-time and deeply researched threat intelligence from each group, which collaborate to deliver more innovative protection and response capabilities. Sophos is also issuing “OODA: Sophos X-Ops Takes on Burgeoning SQL Server Attacks,” research about increased attacks against unpatched Microsoft SQL servers and how attackers used a fake downloading site and grey-market remote access tools to distribute ransomware families.

Sophos X-Ops thwarted the attacks because the Sophos X-Ops teams combined their respective knowledge, jointly analysed them, and took action to neutralise the adversaries

“Cybersecurity is becoming a highly interactive team sport as necessary analysis, engineering and investigative specialisations have emerged. Scalable end-to-end operations now include software developers, automation engineers, malware analysts, reverse engineers, cloud infrastructure engineers, incident responders, data engineers and scientists, etc. These need a structure that avoids silos,” said Joe Levy, chief technology and product officer, Sophos.

“We’ve unified three recognised and mature teams within Sophos to provide this breadth of critical, subject matter and process expertise. Joined together as Sophos X-Ops, they can leverage the strengths of each other, including analysis of worldwide telemetry from more than 500,000 clients, industry-leading threat hunting, response and remediation capabilities, and rigorous artificial intelligence to measurably improve threat detection and response.”

“Attackers are often too organised and too advanced to combat without the unique combined expertise and operational efficiency of a joint task force like Sophos X-Ops.”

Why is Sophos X-Ops a timely product?

Speaking in March 2022 to the Detroit Economic Club about the FBI partnering with the private sector to counter the cyber threat, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “What partnership lets us do is hit our adversaries at every point, from the victims’ networks back all the way to the hackers’ computers, because when it comes to the FBI’s cyber strategy, we know trying to stand in the goal and block shots isn’t going to get the job done.”

“We’re disrupting three things: threat actors, their infrastructure and their money. We have the most durable impact when we work with all of our partners to disrupt all three together.” 

Sophos X-Ops is taking a similar approach: gathering and operating on threat intelligence from its own multidisciplinary groups to help stop attackers earlier, preventing or minimising the harms of ransomware, espionage or other cybercrimes that can befall organisations of all types and sizes, and working with law enforcement to neutralise attacker infrastructure.

While Sophos’ internal teams already share information, the formal creation of Sophos X-Ops drives forward a more streamlined process necessary to counter fast-moving adversaries. 

What were the stakeholders’ thoughts on Sophos X-Ops?

Additionally, Sophos X-Ops also provides a stronger cross-operational foundation for innovation, an essential component of cybersecurity due to the aggressive advancements in organised cybercrime. By intertwining the expertise of each group, Sophos is pioneering the concept of an artificial intelligence (AI) assisted Security Operations Center (SOC), which anticipates the intentions of security analysts and provides relevant defensive actions

“Effective cybersecurity requires robust collaboration at all levels, internally and externally; it is the only way to discover, analyse and counter malicious cyber actors at speed at scale. Combining these separate teams into Sophos X-Ops shows that Sophos understands this principle and is acting on it,” said Michael Daniel, president and CEO, Cyber Threat Alliance.

In the SOC of the future, Sophos believes this approach will accelerate security workflows and the ability to quickly detect and respond to novel and priority indicators of compromise.

“The adversaries have figured out how to work together to commoditise certain parts of attacks while creating new ways to evade detection and taking advantage of weaknesses in any software to mass exploit it. The Sophos X-Ops umbrella is a noted example of stealing a page from the cyber miscreants’ tactics by allowing cross-collaboration amongst different internal threat intelligence groups,” said Craig Robinson, VP Security Services, IDC research.

“Combining the ability to cut across a wide breadth of threat intelligence expertise with AI assisted features in the SOC allows firms to better predict and prepare for imminent attacks.”

To learn more about Sophos X-Ops and its groundbreaking threat research, subscribe to the Sophos X-Ops blogs and follow Sophos X-Ops on Twitter