Operationalizing Threat Intelligence.

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1 Operationalizing Threat Intelligence.

2 Key Takeaways Time is becoming more and more compressed when it comes to protecting the enterprise Security teams must be able to rapidly and effectively translate large volumes of threat information into intelligence to help detect threats and protect the business. Threat intelligence is a key process To achieve highly effective operational security, an organization must accept that deriving organizational specific threat intelligence is a key process that needs to be managed instead of a product that can be purchased. Operationalized threat intelligence will benefit a broad set of internal consumers Operationalized threat intelligence intelligence that can be readily actioned will enable a diverse set of consumers to seamlessly access and benefit from intelligence. It must be applied in different forms and with different use cases for each set of consumers of the intelligence. Security teams need a solution that operationalizes threat intelligence To truly achieve operationalized threat intelligence and proactively protect the business from advanced threats, organizations need to establish an underlying threat intelligence platform that will enable them to harness the power of threat intelligence and translate threat intelligence into action. 2

3 BAE Systems Applied Intelligence One of the most significant challenges in leveraging threat intelligence is operationalizing it. Rick Holland Forrester Research, Inc. Background As the seemingly endless flow of negative headlines regarding compromises and data breaches continues, it should be apparent that every organization today is exposed to significant threats and is the next potential victim; in fact, organizations are better off if they assume that they are already the victims of an attack. Malicious cyber criminals continue their relentless attack campaigns utilizing ever-changing techniques to compromise victims and wreak havoc in one form or another. Recent attacks are highly targeted and are designed to maximize the criminals business goals which are increasingly focused on highly damaging financial attacks and sabotage. And recent announcements have shown that even the biggest companies with significant security budgets have been compromised and suffered significant financial losses. Cyber criminals have formed far-reaching underground networks where they share information on successful attacks, new vulnerabilities and tactics to improve success in their efforts to compromise an organization. Numerous efforts are underway by government and commercial organizations to facilitate the threat information and intelligence sharing, but unfortunately the good guys are not yet as organized, and the information sharing networks are not as advanced as those of the criminals. So if an organization wants to proactively understand the latest threats, it must implement a threat intelligence and management effort to acquire threat information from various sources, determine the relevance of that information and take action to thwart future attacks. The need for a sophisticated security program like this illustrates that enterprise security has matured into a core operational discipline, where integrated and automated capabilities are needed to effectively protect the business. Central to this recognition is the requirement for security solutions that are focused on the operational needs of modern security teams. Operational support systems for enterprise security are paramount to an organization s ability to overcome operational challenges and achieve security objectives. As threat intelligence continues to play a pivotal role in today s security efforts, the need for operationalizing threat intelligence capabilities has become vital to business and operational success. Organizations need solutions that enable them to harness the power of their threat intelligence to gain maximum benefit by fully leveraging that intelligence to effect rapid detection and prevention of emerging threats against the business. What is Threat Intelligence? The need to operationalize threat intelligence would not exist if not for the importance of the threat intelligence itself. But what exactly is threat intelligence? Many vendors offer a wide range of threat intelligence products or services but in reality much of what is offered by vendors and other channels is largely threat indicator data, not true threat intelligence. Threat intelligence is more accurately defined as the output of a process that combines threat data with additional context that is relevant to the target. Certain aspects of the threat intelligence creation process can be automated, but inevitably requires business specific situational knowledge and human involvement to produce high quality results. An abstract view of threat intelligence creation process is shown below. Some vendors do indeed provide context along with the threat data and produce more complete threat intelligence that usually tends to apply to an industry sector, geographical region or similar. But it is difficult to purchase true threat intelligence that is specific to a given business. This gap illustrates the need for organizations to apply a robust and operationalized threat intelligence process to all threat data and intelligence that has been acquired. As such, an underlying threat intelligence platform is required to derive truly effective threat intelligence. DIVERSE THREAT DATA AND INFORMATION PROCESS, CONTEXT AND SITUATIONAL KNOWLEDGE HUMAN INPUT QUALITY THREAT INTELLIGENCE 3

4 Who Consumes Threat Intelligence? The entire organization benefits from timely and accurate threat intelligence as it will protect critical resources while enabling business. Realizing that kind of success however relies on the coordination and cooperation of a number of key roles or groups who consume threat intelligence and take action on it. The following diagram generally illustrates the core consumers of threat intelligence and how they make use of that information. Specific roles and usage will vary by organization. It must also be noted that any of these consumers can also contribute threat information that is used to further refine existing intelligence, or serve as the basis for new intelligence altogether. The key requirement is for an online threat intelligence repository and knowledge base, with seamless sharing of intelligence and related information between key parts of the organization and even externally, as required. In this case, the emphasis is on sharing human usable formats in addition to the requirement for sharing via system integration and machine format as described in the following section. It is important to note that varying degrees of access to the intelligence must exist to correspond with different roles of consumers. Role based discretionary access and use of methods, such as traffic light protocol (TLP) should be utilized to ensure that information sharing is restricted to the appropriate consumer permissions. SECURITY OPERATIONS INCIDENT RESPONSE THREAT MANAGEMENT THREAT INTELLIGENCE ANALYTICS/ HUNT TEAM EXECUTIVE/ OTHER Security Operations Utilize as part of alert triage and investigation Incident Response Utilize while responding to incidents and performing forensic investigations Threat Management Utilize to address vulnerabilities and provide threat prevention Analytics/Hunt Team Utilize to hunt for threats via exposure testing and discovery analytics Executive/Other Management Utilize rolled up information to understand threats and business risk 4

5 BAE Systems Applied Intelligence How to Apply Threat Intelligence? With the latest validated threat intelligence in hand, an obvious action is to create new detection and control rules and signatures based on that intelligence, apply those to the monitoring infrastructure, and feel confident that any new occurrences of the identified threat will be detected and prevented. But that approach is only one aspect of a more holistic application of threat intelligence. It is equally important to understand if a newly identified threat has impacted an organization up to this point in time. The figure below illustrates the application of threat intelligence across time to identify threats past, present and future. APPLICATION OF THREAT INTELLIGENCE PAST PRESENT FUTURE EXPOSURE TESTING Apply the threat details to historical log data, and even closed alerts and incidents to easily identify previous unknown exposure to the threat. CURRENT INVESTIGATIONS Apply the threat details to current alarms and incidents in the queue or under investigation to immediately alert operators and analysts to the active threat. SENSOR ENRICHMENT Apply the threat details to the monitoring infrastructure to begin monitoring for and preventing new instances of the identified threat activity. Past occurrences of a known threat are found through exposure testing. Here, the threat details are applied to historical information, primarily to archived log data, but also to previously closed alerts and investigations. While this approach seems straightforward, it is often a daunting task for the security team due to the lack of a threat intelligence platform that integrates into the broader security infrastructure, and automates complex tasks like exposure testing. The output of the exposure testing should be new alerts for any detection of past occurrences of a now known threat. Having visibility to new threat intelligence in the context of present alerts and investigations is extremely important to the security operations team. Quality threat intelligence can t be made useful to the organization s defenses if it can t automatically be applied to current alarms and investigations. The general lack of a threat intelligence platform that integrates into the security operations systems makes this concept challenging. As new threat intelligence becomes available, it must be applied to current alerts and investigations to notify security analysts as specific threats are detected. These analysts need automatic linkages and visual indicators to make it easy to understand the associated threat intelligence, and establish a relationship to any current alerts or investigations. Future occurrences of a known threat are found by applying the threat details to the monitoring infrastructure. Often referred to as sensor enrichment, this process involves the extraction of indicators from threat intelligence and the subsequent creation of rules and signatures specific to the monitoring systems. Here again is the perfect opportunity for integration and automation via a threat intelligence platform that does all of the heavy lifting while allowing human oversight. Through the process it is often desirable to combine indicators from multiple sources, and produce more complete rules and signatures derived through the combination of multiple sources of intelligence. This work is traditionally a very manual process and subject to human error. The role of a threat intelligence platform is to automate the extraction of indicators and rule/signature generation based on threat intelligence information, while providing an online workspace to simplify any intermediate steps requiring human involvement. The ultimate goal is to completely automate the effort through process and rule definition. As the monitoring infrastructure generates new alerts and investigations ensue, investigators are looking for the same automatic linkages and visual indicators described earlier, that make it easy to understand the connection between specific attacks and associated threat intelligence. 5

6 What is Operationalized Threat Intelligence? Time is becoming more and more compressed when it comes to protecting the enterprise and is a critical factor in the strategy that an enterprise uses to roll out their cyber defenses. Security teams must be able to rapidly and effectively translate threat information into intelligence and take action to detect threats and protect the business. By understanding what threat intelligence is, who consumes it and how it is applied within an organization, the need to operationalize threat intelligence becomes more apparent. At the most abstract level, threat intelligence operationalization can be viewed as a pipeline with four distinct stages as shown below. ACQUIRE PROCESS STORE ACTION Acquire The centralized collection of structured and unstructured intelligence documents from all relevant internal and external sources. The acquisition framework uses automation to reduce the time and effort expended in collecting threat intelligence. Process A rules driven extensible set of operations to normalize and enrich threat intelligence, automatically extract indicators of compromise (IOC) and fuse intelligence sources to create actionable intelligence. Store An aggregated and indexed centralized threat intelligence repository, including a knowledge base, raw threat intelligence reports, indicators of compromise, dossiers and finished intelligence. Action Intelligence put to use through system integration, operational workflows, analytical tools, user portals and automation that enable correlation, visualization and consumption of threat intelligence to derive maximum benefit to the business. The first three stages are primarily for the purpose of operationalizing the intelligence into a ready state so it can be actioned. The fourth stage is focused on the actual operational usage of the threat intelligence, indicators of compromise and derivative information, fully integrated into the security environment and processes. The following diagram outlines a common approach to a threat intelligence operational pipeline. A critical part of the Acquire process illustrated above involves data normalization. The Process stage should include both a manual path for human review and approval, and automated path for trusted and reputable sources. The Store stage includes a user portal that enables users to take action. The Action stage involves integration with the various threat intelligence consumers within the organization, as described earlier. Exporting and sharing information both internally and externally in industry accepted formats like STIX should be provided. At this stage, it is critical that consolidated insight from threat intelligence analysis is incorporated into the right analytics and investigation functions. Sensor enrichment and reporting make up a complete intelligence driven cyber defense. 6

7 BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Summary While the enterprise faces threats that are increasingly complex and effective, the time frames in which threat detection, analysis and mitigation are played out are increasingly compressed. Operationalized threat intelligence enables a security team to rapidly and effectively translate threat information into intelligence that can be actioned, to detect threats and protect the business. Achieving highly effective operational security requires that an organization understands threat intelligence as a robust and comprehensive process and not just a product or service that can be bought off the shelf. Operationalized threat intelligence will enable a diverse set of consumers to seamlessly access and benefit from specific and actionable information. Threat intelligence must be applied in different forms and with different use cases including exposure testing, alert and investigation correlation, and sensor enrichment for future detection and prevention. To truly achieve operationalized threat intelligence, an investment must be made in an underlying threat intelligence management platform that will enable an organization to truly harness the power of threat intelligence, and translate that threat intelligence into action. HARNESS THE POWER OF YOUR THREAT INTELLIGENCE Unified portal for management of threat intel and related activities Immediate access to threat intel both online and via local repository Browse, query, combine, and enrich intel to create derived intelligence Discover unknown relationships between intel/ indicators and resources Correlate, visualize and manipulate threat intel to realize true business risk TRANSLATE THREAT INTELLIGENCE INTO ACTION Define and manage intel workflow via groups, folders and watch lists Automatically ingest, normalize and extract content into multiple formats Export indicators and reports directly to database, sensors, STIX, etc Perform exposure testing of new intel against historical logs, alerts, incidents, etc Expose intel directly to investigation workflows yielding superior results 7

8 WHY BAE SYSTEMS APPLIED INTELLIGENCE The Applied Intelligence division of BAE Systems delivers solutions which help our clients to protect and enhance their critical assets in the intelligence age. Our solutions combine large scale data analysis, intelligence-grade security and complex services and solutions integration. We operate in four key domains of expertise: Cyber Security, Financial Crime, Communications Intelligence and Digital Transformation. Our skills in Cyber Security have been developed over 40 years of designing and building secure solutions for working for the most securityconscious government agencies and enterprises: Our consulting services help clients to prepare for cyber attacks by understanding and managing cyber exposure, enabling them to make informed investment decisions and to put pragmatic, cost effective protection in place. Our advanced monitoring solution CyberReveal provides a unified portal for management of threat intel and related activities: - Immediate access to threat intel both online and offline - Ability to browse, query, combine and enrich intel to create derived intelligence - Ability to discover unknown relationships between intel/indicators and resources - Correlate, visualize and manipulate threat intel to realize true business risk - Defined workflows for translating threat intelligence into action yielding superior investigation results - Export of threat intelligence directly into databases and sensors We also help clients to respond to cyber attacks quickly and effectively when these occur. Our specialist investigators have unparalleled experience in containing, investigating and responding to security incidents and helping our clients make the right decisions at the right time to minimize financial loss and reputational damage. BAE Systems Applied Intelligence - A trusted partner for governments and commercial sector clients globally. For more information contact: BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 265 Franklin Street Boston, MA USA T: +1 (617) E: W: Copyright BAE Systems plc All rights reserved. BAE SYSTEMS, the BAE SYSTEMS Logo and the product names referenced herein are trademarks of BAE Systems plc. BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Limited registered in England & Wales (No ) with its registered office at Surrey Research Park, Guildford, England, GU2 7YP. No part of this document may be copied, reproduced, adapted or redistributed in any form or by any means without the express prior written consent of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. CYVCIOTEN_INTE0214_operatthreatintel_v1

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