What is User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)?

Published On - April 5, 2024

User Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) is a cybersecurity technology that monitors the behavior of users and entities within an organization's network to detect and mitigate potential security threats. UEBA solutions use machine learning algorithms and statistical models to analyze patterns of user behavior and identify anomalies that could indicate a security breach.

UEBA solutions can track various user activities such as login attempts, file access, and email usage to build a profile of each user's behavior. By analyzing these profiles, UEBA solutions can detect suspicious behavior that deviates from normal usage patterns. For example, UEBA may detect a user attempting to access files outside of their normal work hours or attempting to access sensitive files that are not relevant to their job role.

UEBA can also analyze entity behavior, which refers to the behavior of non-human entities such as servers, applications, and IoT devices. By monitoring entity behavior, UEBA can detect potential security breaches caused by compromised entities or suspicious activity from external entities.

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Due to the increasing size and complexity of corporate networks, it has become easier for hackers to infiltrate a corporate network disguised as an internal employee. If undetected, this can lead to repeated theft of sensitive data and financial loss. The goal of User Behavior Analytics (UBA) is to identify suspicious patterns of behavior in order to expose stealthy attacks and insider threats on a network.

The Three Pillars of UEBA

The three pillars of User Entity Behavior Analytics, as defined by Gartner, are:

  1. Use Cases: UEBA solutions should address a wide range of security needs, not just focus on specific areas like employee monitoring or fraud detection. This means they should be able to detect various threats and suspicious activities.
  2. Data Sources: UEBA systems can ingest data from a variety of sources, including security information and event management (SIEM) tools, data lakes, and data warehouses. This allows them to create a comprehensive picture of user and entity behavior across the network.
  3. Analytics: UEBA utilizes advanced analytics techniques, such as machine learning and statistical modeling, to analyze the collected data. This helps in establishing a baseline for normal behavior and identifying deviations that could indicate a potential security threat.

How UEBA Works

UEBA works by collecting and analyzing large amounts of data from various sources, including log files, network traffic, and user activity logs. The data is then fed into machine learning algorithms that analyze patterns and identify anomalous behavior. The system can then alert security teams to potential security incidents or threats.

One of the key features of User Entity Behavior Analytics is its ability to establish a baseline for normal user behavior. The system continuously monitors user activity and compares it to the established baseline. If the system detects behavior that deviates from the norm, it generates an alert for further investigation. This allows security teams to quickly identify potential threats and take appropriate action.

UEBA also uses advanced analytics to identify potential threats based on the behavior of entities or groups of users, rather than just individual users. For example, if a group of users with access to sensitive data suddenly starts accessing that data at odd hours or from unusual locations, the UEBA system may flag this as a potential security threat.

UEBA systems can also help detect insider threats, which are often difficult to identify using traditional security methods. By analyzing user behavior over time, UEBA can identify patterns of behavior that indicate an insider threat. This can include things like excessive data access, unusual logins, or attempts to bypass security measures.

Benefits of UEBA

UEBA offers several advantages for organizations looking to improve their cybersecurity posture. Here are three key benefits:

Enhanced Threat Detection

User Entity Behavior Analytics goes beyond traditional security tools by analyzing user and entity behavior. This allows it to detect anomalies that might not be flagged by signature-based detection, such as insider threats, compromised accounts, and even novel attack methods. UEBA can identify suspicious activities like unauthorized data access attempts or unusual login patterns.

Reduced Alert Fatigue

Security teams are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of alerts generated by security tools. UEBA helps them focus on what truly matters by using machine learning to prioritize threats. It automates the process of sifting through alerts and identifies the ones with the highest risk score, allowing security analysts to spend their time investigating genuine threats.

Improved Operational Efficiency

UEBA streamlines security operations by automating tasks and providing better context for investigations. By highlighting the most critical threats, UEBA helps security teams react faster and more effectively to potential security incidents. This frees them up from manual workload and allows them to focus on strategic security initiatives.

The Difference Between UEBA and UBA

In October 2017, Gartner released a new market guide for UEBA, which includes the additional letter “E” to recognize the need for profiling entities besides users to more accurately pinpoint threats. UEBA software correlates user activity and other entities such as endpoints, applications, and networks to protect against both internal and external threats, whereas UBA solutions generally only focus on users and the data they interact with.


While both SIEM and UEBA play crucial roles in cybersecurity, they tackle security challenges from distinct angles. Choosing the right tool depends on your specific needs.

Imagine a vigilant traffic warden overseeing the flow of vehicles on a busy highway. That’s essentially what a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) system does. SIEM continuously collects logs and event data from various security sources like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and network devices. It then centralizes this information, allowing for real-time monitoring and analysis.

SIEM’s strength lies in its ability to correlate events and identify threats based on predefined rules and signatures. It excels at log management and keeping track of security compliance requirements. Think of it as raising an alert whenever a vehicle (log) violates traffic regulations (known threats).

SIEM focuses on the big picture, but what about the behavior of individual drivers on the highway? That’s where UEBA (User and Entity Behavior Analytics) comes in. UEBA acts like a detective, meticulously analyzing user and entity activity across the network. It leverages machine learning and statistical models to establish baselines for normal behavior. Any significant deviation from these baselines triggers an investigation.

UEBA’s power lies in proactive threat detection. It can uncover insider threats, compromised accounts, and even novel attack methods that might slip past SIEM’s predefined rules. Additionally, UEBA prioritizes alerts based on risk scores, helping security teams focus on the most critical issues and reducing alert fatigue.

While SIEM and UEBA have distinct approaches, they work best when used together. SIEM provides the foundation for security operations with its centralized log management and event correlation. UEBA builds upon this foundation by analyzing user behavior for a more comprehensive security posture.

UEBA Use Cases

Here are some common use cases for UEBA:

  • Detecting Insider Threats: UEBA can be especially helpful in catching malicious activity by employees who already have access to the system. By understanding a user’s typical behavior, UEBA can flag unusual activity, such as accessing unauthorized files or logging in from unexpected locations.
  • Detecting Account Compromise: Hackers often target employee accounts to gain access to a network. UEBA can help identify compromised accounts by looking for changes in behavior, such as logins from unusual locations or attempts to access unauthorized data.
  • Detecting Suspicious Activity: UEBA can spot a wider range of suspicious activity than just compromised accounts. For example, it can identify attempts to create new accounts outside of working hours or transfers of large amounts of data at unusual times.
  • Improving Incident Response: UEBA can help security teams investigate security incidents more quickly and efficiently. By providing insights into user and entity behavior, UEBA can help to narrow down the scope of an investigation and identify the root cause of the problem.
  • Monitoring User Activity: UEBA can be used to monitor user activity for compliance purposes. For example, it can be used to ensure that employees are only accessing the data that they are authorized to access.


Q: What are the benefits of using UEBA security?

A: UEBA security can detect insider threats, identify compromised credentials, and help prevent data breaches. It provides you with real-time alerts when abnormal behavior is detected, allowing you to respond and mitigate damage quickly.

Q: Do I need UEBA if I already have traditional security measures in place?

A: UEBA is not a replacement for traditional security measures such as firewalls, antivirus programs, and intrusion detection systems. Instead, it provides an additional layer of security by analyzing user and entity behavior, which can help detect and prevent attacks that may otherwise go undetected.

Q: Is UEBA difficult to implement?

A: UEBA can be difficult to implement, as it requires collecting and analyzing large amounts of data. However, most UEBA solutions come with pre-configured models and rules to make implementation easier. While implementing UEBA is arguably easier than implementing SIEM, it helps to have the right expertise and resources in place to ensure a successful deployment.

Q: Is UEBA only for large enterprises? A: While UEBA was initially designed for larger organizations with more complex IT environments, smaller businesses can also benefit from UEBA. There are UEBA solutions available that cater to organizations of all sizes, and can be tailored to meet their specific requirements.

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