Detection Time – Why Hundreds of Days to Detect?

The fact that cyber security threats often take hundreds of days to detect is a significant challenge for organizations worldwide. This delay, commonly referred to as “dwell time,” can have severe implications, including substantial financial losses, damage to reputation, and legal ramifications. Several factors contribute to this prolonged detection time:

1. Sophistication of Attacks

Modern cyber attacks are highly sophisticated, using advanced techniques to evade detection. Attackers often employ methods like encryption, polymorphism (where malware changes its code), and living off the land (using legitimate tools for malicious purposes), making their activities blend seamlessly with normal network behavior.

2. Large Attack Surface

With the expansion of digital infrastructures, cloud services, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), the attack surface of organizations has grown exponentially. Each new device, application, or service can introduce vulnerabilities, making it more challenging to monitor and secure all potential entry points.

3. Low and Slow Attacks

Attackers often conduct their operations in a “low and slow” manner, meaning they perform malicious activities gradually over time to avoid detection. These tactics can include slowly exfiltrating data or gradually escalating privileges within a network, making it harder for traditional security tools to identify the attack as anomalous.

4. Lack of Visibility and Complexity

Organizations may suffer from a lack of visibility into their own networks due to complex and siloed IT environments. When security tools and systems are not properly integrated or configured, it creates blind spots that attackers can exploit to remain undetected.

5. Resource Constraints

Many organizations face resource constraints, including limited budgets and a shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel. This makes it difficult to implement comprehensive security measures, conduct regular security assessments, and monitor systems effectively.

6. False Positives and Alert Fatigue

Security teams often deal with an overwhelming number of alerts, many of which are false positives. Sifting through these alerts to identify genuine threats can be time-consuming and lead to alert fatigue, where critical warnings may be overlooked or ignored.

7. Insider Threats

Detecting malicious activities by insiders (employees, contractors, or business partners) is particularly challenging because their actions may not trigger the same alarms as external attacks. Insider threats can go unnoticed for a long time as they exploit legitimate access to systems and data.

8. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

APTs involve prolonged and targeted cyberattacks in which an attacker gains access to a network and remains undetected for an extended period. The goal of these attacks is often to steal data or monitor activity without alerting the victim, requiring sophisticated and stealthy techniques that are hard to detect.

9. Evolving Threat Landscape

The cyber threat landscape is continuously evolving, with new vulnerabilities, malware strains, and attack methodologies emerging regularly. Keeping up with these developments and updating security measures accordingly is a constant challenge for organizations.


The reasons for the lengthy detection times of cyber security threats are multifaceted, highlighting the need for advanced detection technologies, skilled cybersecurity personnel, and comprehensive security strategies that include regular training, awareness, and continuous monitoring. Reducing dwell time is critical for minimizing the impact of cyber attacks and protecting sensitive information.

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