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Threat Intelligence

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Danelle Au
Danelle Au
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Threat Intelligence Sharing: The New Normal?

The spirit of cooperation seems to be taking hold as demonstrated by the growing number of thriving services and organizations whose sole purpose is to analyze specific threats against specific communities.

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle" – Edmund Burke.

This quote from Edmund Burke in Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents, was meant to be a political statement in 18th century England, when the Whigs and Tories were dominant. But many centuries later, it’s an appropriate call-to-action for those of us in the cybersecurity industry to collaborate and share.

The kind of sharing I mean is when you give the IT security community information about the attacks you’re seeing against your own organization. When you do that, that data becomes useful to everyone as threat intelligence.

Gartner describes threat intelligence as "evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice, about an existing or emerging menace or hazard to assets that can be used to inform decisions regarding the subject's response to that menace or hazard." In other words, threat intelligence is the stuff that informs the good guys about how the bad guys operate. It helps the IT security community learn how the hackers operate, and how they might attack a given organization. 

If all an organization knows about their adversary is what it has learned from its own experience, the organization will remain on the defensive. But if attack data from the collective experience of thousands of companies, associations, industries and governments is collected and aggregated, that creates a far richer tapestry, and allows companies to prepare for attacks in such a way as to anticipate and prevent them, rather than discover and react.

When you get your hands on the opposition’s game plan — the hacker’s playbook — it gives you an advantage. You can test your defenses and shore up weaknesses and you can take steps to disrupt the kill chain the hacker must follow to get to his or her objective. Such capabilities are only possible when threats, attack methods and industry-specific targets most likely to put your organization at risk are known.

The spirit of cooperation and sharing is what makes that possible and the reason why threat intelligence services and threat sharing are becoming vital to IT security. Using threat intelligence feeds to constantly inform a dynamic data protection strategy continuously tests the strength of your cybersecurity and challenges convention. The result: your organization gets up on its toes and the hackers are put back on their heels. That is a big advantage.

Share and Share Alike
The spirit of cooperation seems to be taking hold. Not only are threat intelligence services thriving, but there are organizations now that exist for the sole purpose of analyzing threats specific to specific communities.

VirusTotal is one of the legacy collaborative platforms, enabling security users and vendors alike to upload files and determine if a specific malware has been detected. By changing its business model, VirusTotal now ensures that all security vendors that are taking advantage of its data are also contributing data.

At a national level, CyberUSA is a nonprofit aiming to foster American leadership in cybersecurity by shaping education, innovation and policy at both the state and federal levels. Launching with seven charter members from California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Texas, CyberUSA hopes to extend the value of shared intelligence to businesses that might not have resources on their own.

There’s also ample evidence of collaboration in the private sector. For example, the National Credit Union Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (NCU-ISAO) was recently founded to collect, analyze and disseminate threat intelligence targeting Credit Unions. NCU-ISAO is the first operational and threat intelligence sharing organization dedicated wholly to credit unions, NCU-ISAO executive director Gene Fredriksen told Credit Union Times, noting the group's support for "innovative, member-driven initiatives around benchmarking, process improvement, and regulatory strategies.” It’s the latest addition to the parent Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO), which tracks other organizations that have industry-focused threat intel sharing operations.

Each day millions of security events hammer away at the defenses of U.S. companies. Individual organizations in high-risk sectors such as financial services, high tech, or government may endure hundreds of thousands of attacks. While the volume and persistence may be frustrating, each attack results in a greater understanding of the adversary — but only when it is shared and added to threat intelligence feeds, hacker playbooks and breach simulations.

When bad men combine, the good must associate. Together, we’re moving in the right direction.  

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Danelle is vice president of strategy at SafeBreach. She has more than 15 years of experience bringing new technologies to market. Prior to SafeBreach, Danelle led strategy and marketing at Adallom, a cloud security company acquired by Microsoft. She was also responsible for ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2017 | 8:45:36 PM
Re: Nice piece, couple of remarks
Thank you for reading my article. I agree the Cyber Threat Alliance is doing great things and they do have a great set of participating security vendors. I should have included them in the article as well. 

Additionally, one of the interesting ways of operationalizing threat intelligence is via breach and attack simulations -- ie. by transforming indicators of compromise to breach methods to see how an attack might play out in an environment. I think this might address some of the issues you raised, which is how we can respond quicker to an attack. 
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2017 | 8:50:49 PM
Re: Comment:
Thank you for reading my article. 

Agree with the comments you made. Context is everything with threat intel, along with automation. 

I talk about the need for these three elements here-- sharing, processing and responding here:  https://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/hacking-forward-with-weaponized-intelligence-/a/d-id/1326955?
  1. Sharing: There must be a way for organizations to share meaningful threat intelligence using a common format that makes things easy to understand and correlate based on common factors such as industry, but that does not reveal the contributor's confidential information. If there is no trust within the system, it simply will not succeed.
  2. Processing: As inbound volumes of threat intelligence increase there's a real risk of being overwhelmed by big data, meaning users of threat intelligence will be right back where they started, ignoring signals because of an abundance of false positives. Making threat intelligence actionable means processing the data in more practical ways, including tracking indicators of compromise to see not just how they start, but to understand how they play out using new methods like breach simulations.
  3. Responding: The true value of actionable threat intelligence is not simply in distinguishing real threats from false positives, but in speeding incident response time. The longer a threat goes undisrupted, the greater the chance for damage; once a hacker reaches the target, the more damage they can do. Security teams must learn to act, but automation must be a part of the solution in order to cut response times from days and months down to minutes and seconds.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/8/2017 | 5:10:48 AM
Re: Comment: Social Media
I think the same, the intelligence sharing can really help some poor countries, so i support it.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/29/2017 | 6:44:53 AM
Re: Nice piece, couple of remarks to from Agate
You are right.

But whithout international cooperation, what about a worlwide attack ?

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