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What is a Cyber Fusion Center and how is it different from Security Operations Center (SOC)?

Posted on: August 22, 2018

Keeping pace with today’s complex cybersecurity domain, security teams leverage different tools and technologies to build a dynamic security posture and gain deeper visibility into the threat landscape. While some organizations rely on security operations centers (SOCs), others build cyber fusion centers, taking a strategic approach to integrating teams, technologies, and processes.

The Rise of Cyber Fusion


Even though organizations today leverage several innovative technologies to safeguard their networks and systems, many still struggle to get a hold of the security-related information within their own four walls. About 30 years ago, military intelligence agencies came up with the concept of cyber fusion. They built physical cyber fusion centers to collaborate with different intelligence communities and gain a deeper understanding of the threat ecosystem. Now, cyber fusion has started gaining momentum in the cybersecurity domain and modern-day organizations have started embracing this concept.

What is a Cyber Fusion Center?


In the cybersecurity landscape, cyber fusion centers have evolved to be a next-generation approach that combines all security functions such as threat intelligence, security orchestration, security automation, incident response, threat response, and others into a single unit in a collaborative manner. This proactive approach bridges the gap between discrete teams through intelligence synthesis and inter-team collaboration.
 
Certainly, the concept of cyber fusion is not new. But what’s new is the approach to building a cyber fusion center (vCFC) and it all depends on how effectively organizations can integrate their technologies, processes, and people to defend their applications and systems against threats. 

Why is Cyber Fusion Necessary?


For faster incident and threat response, organizations today strive for real-time threat intelligence sharing and robust communication with different security teams. All this can be achieved by cyber fusion-driven security that automatically ingests machine and human-readable threat intelligence from multiple sources and brings discrete security teams together to rapidly detect, prioritize, and respond to threats. As a result, security teams can make informed decisions and take appropriate actions such as automating actioning about a sudden incident in real-time. 

Cyber fusion has the ability to combine threat intelligence with other security functions such as threat hunting, vulnerability management, and incident response to detect, manage, and respond to threats. This allows incessant sharing and exchange of threat intelligence among different teams and strengthens several security processes, creating collaboration and visibility across security teams. 

Several aspects make cyber fusion necessary in today’s complex threat scenario. One of them is its capability to leverage avant-garde technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to function on the threat data collected from internal and external sources. While internal sources include SIEMs, UEBA, Antivirus, IDS/IPS, EDR tools, and others, external sources comprise RSS feeds, threat intel reports, research reports, regulatory advisories, etc. Powered by state-of-the-art security orchestration and automation (SOAR) capabilities, cyber fusion helps security teams in threat intelligence automation, incident response management, vulnerability management, triage and case management, and malware management. Overall, SOAR capabilities enhance the operational efficiency and effectiveness of security teams, keeping them ahead of the threat actors.

How can a Cyber Fusion Center be Helpful within your Organization?


On a single day, security teams collect heaps of threat data from disparate sources that need to be correlated in order to make strategic decisions. Cyber fusion makes this correlation possible. The unique capability of a cyber fusion center is to connect the dots between the threat information gathered from multiple sources and gain insights into threat actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). By connecting the dots, security teams can proactively examine threats, develop contextual links, and comprehend adversary behavior. Thus, organizations need to move beyond their theoretical knowledge and build cyber fusion centers to understand and respond to the prevailing threat landscape in real time.

Once an organization builds a cyber fusion center, it allows its security teams to collaborate remotely and take a collective defense approach to tackle common threats. The collective defense approach enables all the security teams to collaborate on a single integrated and modular platform-based system and drive improved decision-making in incident response. Cyber fusion’s collective defense approach also enables security teams from different organizations to collaborate with each other through automated threat intelligence sharing. Unlike traditional, big-budget SOCs that are capable of staggering in unforeseeable black-swan events like the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber fusion centers are not only cost-effective but efficient in addressing the complex cybersecurity landscape. In a nutshell, if you upgrade your security operations center to a cyber fusion center, you can significantly enhance your organization’s security posture and quicken the response to threats.


What are the main goals of the Cyber Fusion Center?


Eliminate Silos

In an organization, each security team employs different tools and processes, which leads to siloization of the security operations. The goal of a cyber fusion center is to eliminate the siloization of independently working teams and bring them together to work under one roof. Cyber fusion breaks down the silos with the execution of an automatic, organized, and real-time information sharing process among teams in a collaborative manner. 

Collective Defense 

The purpose of a cyber fusion center is to allow organizations to collaborate through strategic and technical threat intelligence sharing in real-time and render a collective defense approach to threat response. This strengthens the collaboration between large enterprises, government agencies, CERTs, MSSPs, information sharing communities such as ISACs/ISAOs, and other stakeholders. 

Contextual Intelligence

Cyber fusion centers aim to gather contextual intelligence on complex threat campaigns, identify potential attackers’ trajectories, and determine latent threat patterns by connecting the dots between isolated threats, incidents, vulnerabilities, malware, and other historical threat information. A cyber fusion center helps security teams generate relevant, consistent, and actionable threat intelligence that helps in accelerating the threat response process and break the cyber kill chain in a timely manner.


Automated Security Operations 

Orchestrating and automating workflows across the security tools deployed in different environments—cloud or on-premise—becomes a daunting challenge for security teams. Modern-day SOAR platforms powered with cyber fusion capabilities support orchestration across different environments without having the security teams to expose their network to external traffic. Cyber fusion facilitates cross-functional and cross-environment orchestration, offering the scalability and flexibility required to connect all the security processes across an organization. This allows security teams to track and manage all their environments on a single platform. 

What is the Role of a SOC Team?


The present threat landscape is marked by a continually growing number of cybercriminals leveraging new and diverse techniques to exploit both organizations and individuals. Many companies adopt the monitor and response cybersecurity strategy to tackle these threats. The SOCs are primarily responsible for this strategy within an enterprise.

The SOC team’s role is to detect, identify, investigate, and respond to security incidents that could impact an organization’s infrastructure, services, and customers. Such teams detect and contain attacks or intrusions in the shortest time frame possible and reduce the impact, damage, and recovery costs of the incident. This is achieved by using a combination of technologies and streamlined processes for real-time monitoring and analysis of potentially suspicious behavior across networks and systems that could indicate a security incident or compromise. The SOC team generally works closely with an organization’s incident response team to address potential security risks or issues without delay. The remotely located multi-disciplined workforce focuses on incident detection and response and monitors security operations and handles the tactical and operational analysis of potential threats. 
 

How does a Cyber Fusion Center Work?

 
A cyber fusion center is an advanced version of a SOC model that embodies detection, response, threat hunting, threat intelligence sharing, and data sciences. This entity is built to unify disparate teams within an organization such as SecOps, IT operations, physical security, product development, fraud, and others to boost overall threat intelligence, accelerate incident response, and reduce organizational costs and risks.
 
Essentially, a cyber fusion center focuses on developing coordination between several different but related teams to increase operational effectiveness, readiness, and response to cyber threats. This is accomplished through the collaborative and streamlined communication of tactical cyber threat intelligence, relevant indicators of compromise (IOC), and analysis of potential threats/risks before they impact.
 
With teams working together, information and actions can be exchanged and shared among different teams in a multidirectional manner. As a result, an organization can witness better collaboration between teams and quickly identify and address pitfalls in the existing processes.

A cyber fusion model acts as a single source of truth for key decision-makers and stakeholders, enabling them to track all the vital metrics and build a shared goal concerning their security functions. With this model, organizations can leverage security orchestration and automation to support integrations between multiple tools. This aids security teams in eliminating the loopholes in their existing processes and quickly respond to threats. Furthermore, this approach combines and examines all the threat data generated from disparate security tools in one place to deduce high confidence actionable threat intelligence.  
 

Cyber Fusion Center vs. Security Operations Center 

 
Both SOC and cyber fusion center models are designed to effectively improve an organization’s security incident detection and response capabilities. The monitoring capabilities of a SOC team give organizations the ability to better defend against incidents and intrusions, reduce mean time to response (MTTR), and stay on top of threats that could target their environments.
 
However, the cyber fusion centers offer a more proactive and unified approach to dealing with potential threats by bridging the gap between multiple teams through intelligence synthesis and inter-team collaboration. Moreover, they facilitate the fusion of strategic, tactical, and operational threat intelligence for rapid threat prediction, detection, analysis, and incident response.
 
While both SOCs and cyber fusion centers provide incident detection and response capabilities, the latter connects disparate teams and renders faster threat detection, analysis, and incident response. Contrary to SOCs, cyber fusion centers bring together multiple teams to work as a single entity with shared goals and real-time information on vulnerabilities, malware, and threat actors. Apart from containing all of the same features of a SOC, the cyber fusion centers are more cost-effective and adept at addressing today’s cybersecurity landscape.

When dealing with evolving cybercriminals and security threats, pervasive visibility enables organizations to identify suspicious patterns, quickly respond to them, and mitigate them more effectively. In a nutshell, cyber fusion centers and SOCs are closely connected entities of the incident response chain vital for an organization to gain greater visibility into its networks, systems, and posture against threats.

How are Cyware’s Cyber Fusion Solutions Different from Others?


With evolving threats and attackers’ TTPs, organizations need to embrace a proactive cybersecurity approach to stay ahead of the cybercriminals. By leveraging cyber fusion capabilities, organizations can reinforce their security posture to address the rising threats. Unlike its competitors, Cyware equips its customers with virtual cyber fusion solutions that allow them to build a cyber fusion center without replacing their existing SOC infrastructure. Cyware’s cyber fusion suite consists of modular integrated platforms:

A mobile-enabled, automated threat alert aggregation and information sharing platform for real-time alert dissemination and improved situational awareness.

A threat response automation platform that amalgamates cyber fusion with advanced orchestration and automation capabilities to address evolving threats in real-time.

An innovative threat intelligence platform (TIP) that automatically aggregates, enriches and analyzes threat indicators.
 
A fully automated, lightweight TIP for small to mid-sized security teams.

A universal, security orchestration gateway that executes on-demand or event-triggered tasks across different environments at machine speed.

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