Today, cyberattacks are conducted by well-organized and state-sponsored threat actors whose objectives vary from political to financial gains. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, the need for robust security defenses has intensified. This has prompted the need for a real-time system for threat intelligence sharing. Advanced threat intelligence platforms (TIPs) are equipped with abilities to share and receive intelligence from several threat intelligence feeds, information sharing communities (ISACs/ISAOs), peers, affiliates, OSINT sources, dark web, etc. The interesting part is that there are different types of intelligence namely, strategic, tactical, technical, and operational. Let’s talk about technical threat intelligence in this blog.
What is Technical Threat Intelligence? technical threat intelligence
Technical threat intelligence is the information procured from a threat data feed. In simpler words, the information comprises technical details of a threat attacker’s assets, including the command and control (C&C) domains used, types of attack vectors employed, vulnerabilities abused, and more. Its ability to focus on specific indicators and faster dissemination and response makes its usable lifespan shorter than other types of threat intelligence. Basically, technical threat intelligence helps in monitoring or investigating security tools, such as endpoint security solutions and firewalls, as well as response and containment functions to tackle malicious traffic.
Where does Technical Threat Intelligence Come From?
The nature of attacks and adversaries are not the only things that concern security operations center (SOC) teams. They need to have knowledge about the data fundamentals pertaining to these attacks, which are nothing but indicators of compromise (IOCs). These IOCs are gathered from active campaigns, external sources (threat intelligence providers, affiliates, OSINT sources, peers, information sharing communities, and dark web), and attacks aimed at other organizations.
IOCs can be categorized as:
These types of IOCs can be found in URLs for C&C, domain names, and link-based malware delivery. They may consist of IP addresses employed to detect attacks from known infected systems and servers.
These kinds of IOCs are displayed in a detailed analysis of an infected computer. The most prevalent ones are SHA-1 or MD5 hashes of binaries. Other IOCs include registry keys or file artifacts as they are not frequently updated by threat actors.
These types of indicators are created when threat actors send socially-engineered, such as phishing or spearphishing emails to their targets.
Role of Sharing Standards
Sharing threat intelligence is important. It is a vital step for defending against attacks. For this exact purpose, TIPs exist. With the ability to collect and automate from a wide range of sources, a TIP offers flexible, extensible, human-readable, and machine-readable actionable threat intelligence. Several standards, such as STIX/TAXII, OpenIOC, CybOX, and MAEC, can be used for sharing threat information in a standard format. Also, MITRE ATT&CK Navigator can be employed by security teams to distinguish and categorize adversarial behaviors from real-world observations. MITRE ATT&CK is an organized list of known adversarial behaviors aggregated into TTPs and implemented in different matrices and STIX/TAXII.
Significance of Technical Threat Intelligence
With the massive amount of technical threat data, SOC teams often become overwhelmed. Among different types of threat intelligence, technical intelligence is more likely to be inadequately implemented. Therefore, the best way to optimize it for enterprises is by identifying artifacts from malware that are employed to target organizations across a particular industry.
Moreover, it is impossible to circulate manually disseminated technical indicators due to its short shelf life and vast quantity. Hence, formats, such as STIX/TAXII, OpenIOC, CybOX, and MAEC should be utilized to standardize the sharing of technical IOCs collected via as firewalls, email filters, intrusion detection systems, and blacklists. These indicators are also gathered from external sources, such as commercial threat intelligence feeds, OSINT, vendor blogs, and publicly available IOC blocklists.
As the threat landscape continues to evolve, new entry points are on the rise and IOCs tend to change. By leveraging technical threat intelligence, security teams can discover new malware and sophisticated cyberattacks, disseminating threat alerts and issuing early warnings. Technical threat intelligence helps security teams prevent attacks or minimize the time between compromise and detection. Leveraging technical threat intelligence in an automated fashion can ensure efficiency.