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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.  

Black Hat USA returns to the fabulous Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-27, 2017. Click for information on the conference schedule and to register.

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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: Ninja
6/26/2017 | 2:39:55 PM
Re: Comment:
"a corporation doesn't want to share intimate details of attacks and vectors"

That makes sense, it is going to be hard to share the threats that the company encountered and  what they did about it. 
User Rank: Ninja
6/26/2017 | 2:38:02 PM
Threat Intelligence Sharing: The New Normal
I would like it not to be a new normal but given the situation, threat intelligence sharing would be quite helpful for the communities.
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2017 | 6:20:43 PM
Re: Comment:
I have to agree.  Coming from the healthcare industry (currently) we see great value in partnerships with other medical organizations, from pharmacy to radiology to hospitals.  By setting up "health information exchanges" (HIE) with vetted partners, we feel confident the data we exchange is mostly clean, true and of interest.  This is key for me especially since the data I share and receive is tech-related.

A similar model for threat intelligence is really crucial.  Where HIEs are trying to save lives by increasing access to health data, corporations could be saving millions/billions/trillions of dollars for their customers by keeping major corps up-to-date with exploits as they are discovered - immediate and before any other groups outside the initial penetrator(s) are aware.     
User Rank: Strategist
6/23/2017 | 11:38:43 AM
The hardship in "crowdsourcing" threat intelligence is this.  On one hand, a corporation doesn't want to share intimate details of attacks and vectors it has seen (and perhaps suffered from).  It's not something you advertise.  On the other hand, it's natural to want similar data from other companies to use to advantage. 

Until a dedicated exchange or forum exists (besides the existing tools that mesh subscriber detections today) that anonymizes the reporting entity sources, we won't see any real open collaboration.  The fundamental problem in this interchange model is that the closer you get to anonymity the farther you get from assurance and authenticity.  Meaning, the reliability of threat articulation from an anonymous source is less than a vetted representative from "MegaCorp, LLC" proper.  This could be overcome by a intermediate, sanctioned broker to ensure the reporting entity is genuine.

Until the exchange mechanism is sexy and "now" it won't work either.  The threat intelligence collaboration and sharing service needs to solidly be edgy social media.  Think "HackedIn" and not some cold, corporate or government offering that reads like RFC's and NIST documentation.

Until the threat intelligence interchange is highly automated, it won't be accepted.  MegaCorp is not going to dedicate service agents or ongoing labor to the contributions nor consuming content.  If the end-all solution doesn't facilitate fast-flux transactions in both directions and provide actionable output that itself can be automated, it won't be widely adopted.
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