What are False Positives and True Positives in Cybersecurity?

You might encounter false positives and true positives while using antivirus software, anti-malware tools, or intrusion prevention systems.

What is a False Positive in Cybersecurity?

When a piece of security equipment warns you of a problem, this is known as a false positive. The problem is that the security device is malfunctioning. This is a positive. However, it's a false positive, meaning there was no issue.

These warnings are based on signatures if you receive a message from an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) or an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). A piece of information that gone through the IPS that matches a signature and informs you that there was a match to that. In most cases, we have to rely on these signatures, so make sure you're using the most updated signatures to avoid false positives.

A false positive is an incident that triggers an alert when no threat has occurred. You look into another one of these brute-force alarms and discover that it was just a user who repeatedly mistyped their password, not a severe attack.

  • A false positive is a defect when a legal operation is mistakenly labeled as an attack by the scanning and security software. A false positive is when an alert wrongly detects a specific activity, for example, a signature was configured to catch a particular type of malware and an alert was raised for an instance when the malware was not present.

  • A false positive almost always results in the neutering, restricting, or deletion of a webpage, data, or object.

  • The most typical source of false positives would be when a software mistakes a file's signature or behavior for that of danger, such as malware.

  • These false positives can also occur with antivirus or anti-malware software. For instance, in April 2010, a McAfee Virus scan thought that the Windows system program svchost.exe was a virus, but it is an integral part of the Windows XP Operating System. Similarly, in 2011, Microsoft Security Essentials thought that the Chrome browser was a malware called Zbot, and it deleted the entire browser.

You can provide file samples to the solution provider to prevent false positives, add the documents to a safe list or whitelist, or look into additional options.

Web application vulnerabilities are the focus of a high percentage of data breaches. While the widely used Web App Firewall can help prevent these occurrences, it can hog network resources when used to identify false negatives and positives. The resulting slowdown may decrease the firewall's ability to promptly notify workers of genuine threats or cause network traffic to become unacceptably slow.

What is a True Positive in Cybersecurity?

When the IDS classifies an action as a threat and the action is indeed an attack, this is referred to as a true positive condition. Successful detection of an attack is referred to as a true positive.

  • A true positive is a warning that has detected a specific activity accurately.

  • With every deployed signature, we strive for a signature created to detect a particular type of malware, and an alarm is generated when that virus is launched on a machine.

  • A true positive is a valid attack that causes an alarm to be triggered. You get a brute-force alarm that goes off. When you look into the warning, you discover that someone was attempting to break into one of your systems using brute-force methods.

  • A security solution must acquire and evaluate individual pieces of information, interpret them, and obtain the required supporting data to generate a true positive alert verifying an infection. It must construct a substantial proof case for a virus and present the user with a comprehensive claim, including all evidence.

Updated on: 14-Jun-2022

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