1. What is meant by file integrity?
File integrity refers to the trustworthy state of files designed to ensure optimal configuration, contain key secrets, and other fundamental operating system components. A file’s integrity is preserved when changes are approved by the operations teams. But changes to a file’s content or access privileges could indicate a step in cyber attacks, which is why sensitive files need to be monitored and checked regularly.
2. What is file integrity monitoring?
File integrity monitoring (FIM) solutions track details about file updates, such as versions, modification dates, and content updates. Ideally, an FIM solution will compare detected changes against a model of expected behavior and against the company’s security policies to quickly highlight suspicious alterations.
In order to implement FIM, an organization first determines the assets which need to be monitored, establishes a baseline for all file attributes, and applies a cryptographic hash signature to each file. When changes to the baseline or the hash are detected, the system alerts the security team to follow up with investigation, remediation, and regulatory reporting as needed.
3. Why is file integrity important?
Cybercriminals can use malware or unauthorized access to change critical files, folders, registries, or data endpoints as part of their efforts to steal sensitive information or take control of business operations. For example, they could alter files needed by operating systems or applications. They can also change log files to cover their tracks.
FIM solutions can detect such actions quickly, which makes it easier for security teams to prevent breaches. FIM solutions also help identify file updates made by employees which could inadvertently expose a vulnerability, so security can address it before a hacker exploits it.