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Building a Cyber Fusion Center
Posted on: November 24, 2020
The concept of cyber fusion centers isn’t new. Defense intelligence agencies have been leveraging fusion centers over decades as a way to gain insights into the threat landscape. Today, the cybersecurity domain is embracing the concept of cyber fusion centers, which integrate people, processes, and technologies to address the changing threat environment. Cyber fusion centers provide greater visibility into the threat landscape involving malware, vulnerabilities, threat actors, and threat intelligence to security teams. This allows them to leverage the tools and technologies responsible for threat response, threat intelligence, automation, and advanced orchestration to achieve faster, smarter, and more efficient security.
Why do Organizations need a Cyber Fusion Center?
A cyber fusion center combines threat intelligence with various security functions such as incident response, threat hunting, and vulnerability management among others into a single connected unit to comprehensively identify, manage, and respond to all security threats. This level of unprecedented visibility and collaboration across all security units for identifying, managing, and responding to threats provides security teams with an advanced level of resilience and control. The element responsible for this is the continuous flow of examined and updated threat intelligence which is automatically fed to all units to bolster visibility-driven security operations. Cyber fusion enhances an organization’s security posture and expedites response to cyber threats.
Cyber fusion centers establish collaboration across all the teams associated with cybersecurity and allows them to come together to respond to threats, resulting in faster response times, improved intelligence, increased productivity, and reduced costs. With the help of cyber fusion centers, security teams can connect the dots by aggregating and correlating threat information from a wide range of sources to gain insights into threat actors’ TTPs. In addition, security teams can proactively examine threats, develop contextual links, and comprehend adversary behavior by employing relevant intelligence.
In simpler words, a cyber fusion-based approach empowers organizations to better comprehend and examine the threat environment in real-time. This understanding of the threat landscape allows them to move from theoretical knowledge and towards an advanced level of development in a collaborative environment by providing greater visibility into adversaries’ behaviors and tactics.
Four Essential Components of a Cyber Fusion Center
Technical Threat Intelligence
The information generated from a threat data feed is referred to as technical threat intelligence. This type of intelligence includes information about the kind of attack vector utilized, command and control domains used, vulnerabilities abused, and so on. Typically, it focuses on a single type of indicator such as suspicious domains or malware hashes.
Strategic Threat Intelligence
This kind of threat intelligence provides relevant information in a clear and concise format, while delineating mitigation strategies that can drive an organization’s decision-making process. Strategic intelligence includes previous trends, motivations, or key characteristics of an attack that help organizations to look at the bigger picture and accordingly set their goals.
Threat response enables security teams to efficiently handle threats with automated data enrichment and orchestration to accelerate investigation, prioritize threats, and remediate incidents at a faster rate.
Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)
By actioning incidents with automated workflows, SOAR allows security teams to smoothly handle triage efforts, gain insights into threat campaigns, determine the trajectories of potential adversaries, and establish threat patterns.
The combination of the above-mentioned four components facilitates cyber fusion. A cyber fusion-led approach focuses on integrating threat intelligence across all the security elements of an organization to tackle cyber threats. This allows security teams to draw contextualized insights and orchestrate security operations across an organization’s network. Cyber fusion supports faster and improved threat response, focusing on different types of threats including malware and vulnerabilities. Lastly, SOAR is an integral part of cyber fusion that enables collaboration between different people, processes, and technologies.
Virtual Cyber Fusion Center vs Brick-and-Mortar Cyber Fusion Center
Brick-and-mortar cyber fusion centers, or the more commonly seen security operations centers (SOCs), help security teams to identify, investigate, and respond to incidents that can impact an organization. The goal is to detect and respond to the incident in a shortest time frame, reducing the impact, damage, and operational costs. Typically, the SOC team works closely with an organization’s incident response team, ensuring that the issues are timely addressed.
On the other hand, a security team, no matter remote or located at different geographies, can access a virtual cyber fusion center that orchestrates people, processes, and technologies to augment threat intelligence, speed up incident response, lower costs, and minimize risks. With the help of a virtual cyber fusion center, security teams can automate and streamline ingestion, analysis, and sharing of technical, tactical, strategic, and operational threat intelligence with in-house security teams and external sharing community partners in real-time.
Unlike conventional SOCs, cyber fusion centers bring together different teams to work under one umbrella and one solution creating shared goals and shared knowledge on security threats. This approach ensures collaboration, allowing teams to work as a single unit against the adversaries impacting the enterprise.
In a nutshell, virtual cyber fusion centers offer all the benefits of brick-and-mortar cyber fusion centers, but are more cost-effective and better positioned to handle the present-day security operations from a remote location.
How do Cyber Fusion Centers Work?
The threat response process is becoming complex and time-consuming as today’s security teams are equipped with a wide range of tools. Due to a complex security posture, useful threat information often gets locked within different tools as they do not talk with each other. Cyber fusion centers resolve this issue by employing orchestration capabilities to fuse together threat data from all existing security systems and provide a superior level of awareness and knowledge. Furthermore, orchestration allows organizations to communicate information and perform actions within and across different teams.
A cyber fusion center creates a single source of truth for information on varying threats. Furthermore, cyber fusion centers not only automate the union of threat information but the threat response actions. Security teams can define tailored playbooks to provide a faster and effective response to threats without any manual effort. Thus, a cyber fusion center unleashes the maximum potential of all the existing security tools and the information available to security teams for optimal threat response.
Points to consider when building a Cyber Fusion Center
Drive successful change initiatives
In simple words, a cyber fusion center is a change management program. Typically, existing systems are managed by different teams within an organization, which means competing priorities need to be met to attain successful cyber fusion. Every organization has a unique culture. Therefore, the key lies in understanding that culture and driving change in compliance with the distinctive environment.
Determine redundancies and streamline operations
Many existing systems perform similar functions. While integrating existing systems into cyber fusion centers, identifying and eliminating such redundancies help lower costs and improve efficiency by allowing organizations to make the most of their tools, processes, and people.
See the pattern for actionable intelligence
Before building a cyber fusion center, organizations must configure their systems to identify new patterns and behavior of adversaries and create actionable intelligence. Locating these functions together will enable security teams to see malicious behavior and patterns across several information domains. Security teams may not have observed such behaviors in the past or have needed out-of-band communications to detect. Modeling these intelligence processes beforehand will allow optimization and help find out ways to customize intelligence, making it actionable.
Technologies Underpinning Cyber Fusion Centers
In order to build a cyber fusion center, organizations need a real-time threat information sharing and communication platform that can allow their security teams to share relevant and strategic threat intelligence. Driven by human intelligence, such platforms automatically ingest threat intelligence from internal and external sources to quickly identify, prioritize, and respond to threats. These platforms can empower security teams to take action in real-time or alert employees about an immediate crisis.
A cyber fusion center has intelligent client-server exchange platforms that leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically ingest, analyze, coordinate, and take action on the threat data fed from multiple sources. Being truly format-agnostic, such threat intelligence platforms (TIPs) can convert, store, and organize actionable threat data from various structured and unstructured formats, supporting advanced data enrichment and analysis..
Powered by security automation, a cyber fusion center involves an orchestration gateway that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of security teams via faster and smarter actions. The security orchestration gateway executes on-demand or event-triggered tasks at machine speed across deployment environments.
Cyber Fusion with SOAR
Driven by cyber fusion, advanced orchestration, and automation, incident analysis and response platforms facilitate collaboration between different security teams against malware, vulnerabilities, and threat actors affecting an organization’s assets in real-time. Such platforms help in malware management, incident response management, triage management, vulnerability management, and case management, enabling security teams to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated threats.