Leveraging Sandbox and Threat Intelligence Feeds to Combat Cyber Threats

Combining a malware sandbox with threat intelligence feeds improves security detection, analysis, and response capabilities.

November 20, 2023

4 Min Read
Source: ANY.RUN

By Vlad Ananin, Cybersecurity Writer, ANY.RUN

A proactive approach to cybersecurity rests on having comprehensive and up-to-date information on the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Using a malware sandbox and threat intelligence feeds is an effective combination for improving security detection, analysis, and response capabilities.

What Is a Malware Sandbox?

Malware sandboxes provide isolated virtual environments for executing and analyzing malware without the risk of harming the user's system.

Sandboxes are a crucial tool for cybersecurity professionals that assist with:

  • Analyzing suspicious files and URLs: Sandboxes make it possible to examine different samples, including executables, scripts, and documents, to identify their behavior and potentially malicious activities.

  • Emulating real-world scenarios: Sandboxes can help analysts replicate real-world scenarios, such as opening attachments, clicking on links, or running downloaded programs, to observe how suspicious files interact with the operating system, applications, and network connections.

  • Collecting detailed information about threats: Sandboxes process logs and artifacts generated during malware execution and produce comprehensive analysis reports with indicators of compromise (IoCs) and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

What Are Threat Intelligence Feeds?

Threat intelligence feeds are a type of threat intelligence supplied by vendors in the form of real-time streams of information on active cyber threats. This information can include IoCs, malware signatures, threat actor TTPs, and vulnerability information.

Threat intelligence feeds contribute to organizations' security posture by:

  • Expanding threat coverage: Feeds can provide information about a wider range of threats, including those specific to the organization’s industry, emerging threats, and threats targeted at organizations of similar size.

  • Accelerating mitigation: Feeds can offer context for alerts generated by security systems to help security teams quickly determine whether an alarm or alert is a false positive or a real threat.

  • Improving strategic decision making: Feeds can inform security decisions about the types of threats targeting the organization, the effectiveness of security controls, and the impact of cyberattacks.

Advantages of a Combined Approach

Combining threat intelligence feeds with a malware sandbox provides a robust approach to threat detection, analysis, and response.

Increased Detection Rate

The tandem of threat intelligence feeds and malware sandboxes empowers organizations to proactively identify and mitigate emerging threats. Threat intelligence feeds provide real-time updates on known malware families, while sandboxes enable in-depth analysis of unknown files. This helps identify and block even the most sophisticated threats.

This comprehensive approach not only enhances detection capabilities but also bolsters overall cybersecurity posture.

Scenario: A company receives an email with an attachment disguised as a genuine invoice. The organization's threat intelligence feed identifies the attachment as suspicious due to its association with a recent malware campaign. The attachment is promptly submitted to the malware sandbox for further examination, revealing its malicious nature and allowing the company to swiftly block the attachment and prevent infection.

Reduced False Positives

By streamlining threat detection and minimizing false positives, the combination of threat intelligence feeds and malware sandboxes optimizes resource allocation and reduces security costs. Threat intelligence feeds provide context and reputation information, allowing more precise rule setting, while sandboxes offer in-depth analysis, distinguishing between harmless and malicious files.

This lets security teams remain focused on genuine threats, minimizing unnecessary disruptions and diverting resources towards more strategic tasks.

Scenario: A company's security system blocks traffic from an IP address mistakenly flagged as malicious. The company’s threat intelligence feed, enriched with recent updates, indicates that the IP address belongs to a trusted client. By cross-referencing the feed with sandbox analysis, the company confirms the IP address’s legitimacy and unblocks it, preventing unnecessary disruptions to its business operations.

Enhanced Incident Response

In the event of a malware attack, threat intelligence feeds provide immediate context and historical data about the specific malware family involved, while sandboxes enable rapid analysis of the threat’s impact on an infected system to identify the extent of the damage and potential remediation strategies.

Scenario: A company's network is infiltrated by an unfamiliar malware variant. The threat intelligence feeds promptly identify the malware family. The security team utilizes the malware sandbox to extract detailed information regarding its behavior and attack vectors. Equipped with this comprehensive intelligence, the company swiftly implements targeted containment measures, eradicates the malware from its systems, and strengthens its defenses to prevent future attacks.

Gather Intelligence and Analyze Attacks Swiftly

Maintaining comprehensive visibility into the evolving threat landscape, consistently updating security software to counter the latest malware, and swiftly responding to incidents hinges on timely intelligence gathering and in-depth attack analysis. This can be achieved through the integration of threat intelligence and sandbox solutions.

About the Author

Vlad Ananin

Vlad Ananin is a cybersecurity writer at ANY.RUN who enjoys providing practical guidance to help readers protect themselves.

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