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What is the Role of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) in a Security Operations Center (SOC)?
- Cyber Threat Intelligence
Posted on: August 16, 2021
Monitoring your network for malicious activities requires you to know what these cyber adversaries are doing, what the activities look like, and most importantly, how to find these activities on your networks and systems. All you have is a lot of bread crumbs and no definite trail.
It is the responsibility of a Security Operations Center (SOC) analyst to analyze these bread crumbs and attribute them to adversaries and understand their attack patterns. However, cyberattacks are constantly evolving and SOCs are struggling under the burden. With the humongous volumes of threat data created every day, new vulnerabilities and attack vectors keep piling up. Analysts fall prey to alert fatigue, which might lead to ineffectual triaging.
In order to be effective, SOCs must have access to the right threat data with the right context at the right time. This is where threat intelligence comes to play.
Threat Intelligence for Security Operations
A Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) lets SOC teams collect, collate, and parse threat data in real-time, enabling security teams to identify and prevent the attack even before it strikes the organization.
TIPs enable security teams to better comprehend the threat landscape as they accumulate and analyze information from a multitude of sources. Thus, TIPs enrich information for deciding the type and severity of threats.
TIP Use Cases in SOC
Threat Intelligence Lifecycle Automation
A security team is built to make informed decisions, analyze actionable threats, and respond to them. It is not meant to sift through heaps of data, perform repetitive tasks, and get alert fatigue. This is where threat intelligence lifecycle automation comes into play. It automates data collection, integrates it with your existing tools and solutions, extracts unstructured data from disparate sources, and then finds patterns by providing context on IOCs and TTPs of threat actors. The entire threat intelligence lifecycle allows security teams to analyze IOCs, helping them understand the attack and defend their network or systems from similar attacks in the future.
Vulnerability management is a consistent use case of good cybersecurity practice that proactively diminishes organizational risks. However, when faced with an ever-evolving critical mass of threats, vulnerability management can create substantial pressure on SOC teams. The challenge does not merely come from the need to detect the presence of vulnerabilities, but also the need to devise a scalable decision-making process that precisely emphasizes which vulnerability to patch first with finite resources. This capability is enabled by threat intelligence platforms. Security analysts use threat intelligence to identify critical vulnerabilities and establish optimal mitigation strategies.
Threat hunting is a significant pillar of a SOC. Today, it requires a modern-day TIP that can offer the automation and collaboration teams need to quickly handle the threat hunting process. A true TIP can automate the process of gathering intelligence and searching for IoCs such as malicious IP addresses, domains, and file hashes. While on a threat hunting process, SOC teams are challenged by heaps of logs generated by the IT and security tools they employ. This is where the right TIP benefits by enabling SOC teams to create a library of the collected intelligence, cataloging, curating, and automating everything to improve the effectiveness of SOC operations. Moreover, advanced TIPs support frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK that can help SOC teams track adversary TTPs and detect malicious activities, thereby improving the threat hunting process, reducing the MTTD, and the impact of a cyberattack.
A TIP provides searchability, along with enabling knowledge management through the retention of threat intelligence and incident-related data. An advanced TIP collects and normalizes both internal and external threat data to create contextualized and actionable threat intelligence. It can organize that actionable threat intelligence and connect the dots between indicators and pertinent threats, incidents, and adversaries to identify hidden threat patterns.
SOC teams can create rules or signatures for IOCs that design alerts in SIEMs, IDS/IPS, and endpoint protection products. While individual signatures are low in context, when contextually connected with threat indicators, intrusion phases, and other amplifying data, signatures enable detecting the true priority of an alert and assist in response actions. TIP puts signatures in context, hence, speeding responses and minimizing alert confusion.
IOC Enrichment and Incident Response
A TIP is capable of enriching indicators in a variety of ways, including in the form of domain, file, and IP reputation; geographic mapping; threat type, Whois information for domain indicators, and known past activities. A TIP also adds an organization’s own context to threat intelligence in the form of confidence scoring, recommended courses of action, and phases of intrusion, among other enrichments. Threat intelligence can assist SOC analysts in assessing alerts by reducing false positives, enriching alerts with context, and helping inform where to look for an ongoing intrusion and effectively prioritize a response. An advanced TIP when integrated with endpoint detection solutions can rapidly identify and scope an intrusion. It can display ROI on feeds, mitigations, and personnel activities.
Strategic Security Planning
A TIP allows for strategic security planning by serving as a knowledge repository. It helps in detecting centers of gravity for adversary activities to locate the most efficacious defenses. This knowledge can be consequently leveraged to direct security budgets, talent-resource requirements, and investments within a SOC team.
Bidirectional Sharing of Threat Intelligence
A superior TIP facilitates bidirectional sharing of technical and strategic intelligence, allowing security teams to share and receive threat intelligence with CERTs, ISACs/ISAOs, vendors, and clients, among others, in real-time. With bidirectional threat information sharing, stakeholders gain extensive insight into threat actors, TTPs, IOCs, and assets. In addition to this, security analysts gain contextual awareness of threats and make informed decisions on defense against those threats. Bidirectional threat intelligence sharing enables security teams to collaborate with each other and leverage threat intelligence.
Threat Data Dissemination and Actioning
A TIP enables the sharing of human-readable threat information from both internally and externally deployed security tools. A sophisticated TIP allows security teams to witness machine-to-machine dissemination and actioning. TIPs deliver enriched intelligence to SOCs, threat hunting, incident response, and red teams, thus, empowering quick actioning. Advanced TIPs are capable of automating intel actioning by automatically propagating analyzed and enriched threat data to security tools.
A successful SOC is made from three elements - people, process, and technology. People are needed for their skills and familiarity with several security-based alerts and scenarios. Processes ensure that organizations follow industry standards in managing threats. Technology is required for strong security infrastructure and that is where TIPs are required. They aggregate information from a myriad of sources and enrich the information to identify the type and severity of the threat; thus, allowing SOCs to understand the threat landscape and take appropriate measures.