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Role of SOAR and TIP in Cyber Fusion

Posted on: May 05, 2021

Just as solving complex crimes in the real world requires coordination between different authorities, addressing advanced cyber threats also requires a holistic approach. This has given birth to the cyber fusion model for security operations wherein different functions such as threat intelligence, incident response, vulnerability management, threat hunting, and others are integrated under one platform.

Among the different integral elements that make up a cyber fusion center, two of the most important ones are a cyber fusion-enabled Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) and a Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platform. Let us understand the part played by these platforms and how they fit into the larger picture of a cyber fusion center.

What is a Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)?

A Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) is a technology solution that collects, processes, enriches, and organizes threat intelligence data from multiple sources and formats. A TIP provides security teams with information on known malware and other threats, powering efficient and accurate threat identification, investigation, and response.

The Upside of Intelligence-driven Cybersecurity

A cyber fusion center derives multiple benefits from the deployment of a TIP including:

  • Structured and Unstructured Information: Since a cyber fusion center features the integration of different security functions, the collation of information from diverse teams and technologies used by them also becomes a part of the process. A TIP plays a key part in this by adding information about potential threats by collecting threat data from a variety of internal and external sources in both structured and unstructured formats, including threat intel feeds, emails, research reports, blogs, intel packages, and more. Moreover, it can collect information from the existing tools and applications used by security teams like firewall, antivirus, SIEM, EDR, IDS/IPS, secure email gateway, and more.
  • Prioritization of Relevant Threats: Beyond just collecting threat information from varied sources, a TIP enables security teams to use this data to filter out the irrelevant or noisy information and then rank the remaining threat information based on contextual parameters like severity, location, assets affected, and much more.
  • Intel Correlation and Enrichment: By analyzing a threat indicator in isolation, security teams cannot fully understand its relevance and severity. In the context of a cyber fusion center, the TIP enables analysts to correlate all the relevant information and enrich it with other parameters based on historical incidents, contextual factors, and more, from various trusted databases, and perform other advanced functions like deduplication and automated analysis.
  • Intelligence Sharing: The integration of different security functions through cyber fusion further benefits from the sharing of threat intelligence collected through a TIP. The collected intelligence can not only be shared with internal teams, but also external partners, industry peers, information sharing communities, government agencies, and so on. Thus, every team can leverage the appropriate type of intelligence they need to act on their security priorities.
  • Intel-based Actioning: The connected security stack in a cyber fusion center helps security teams leverage the threat intelligence from the TIP to drive various security processes and workflows. By using threat intelligence, security teams can identify the most frequently exploited vulnerabilities, threat groups targeting their industry, prominent attack tactics & techniques, emerging threats, and much more. This enables more precise and effective mitigation actions and improves efficiency. Furthermore, based on advanced algorithms such as IOC scoring, a TIP can automatically block malicious indicators in Firewalls deployed in an organization.

What is SOAR?

SOAR stands for Security Orchestration, Automation & Response. A SOAR platform transforms incident response and security operations management with the power of security automation and orchestration. It enables the creation of automated workflows for all kinds of security actions, thereby making security teams more productive.

Significance of SOAR in security operations
  • Automated Incident Response: A SOAR platform, as part of the cyber fusion center, plays an integral role by allowing security teams to not just respond to reported incidents but proactively squashing threats at an early stage using threat intelligence inputs from the TIP. It leverages advanced automation playbooks for end-to-end incident investigation, analysis, and response functions. 
  • Machine-to-Machine Orchestration: Since the security stack consists of numerous tools which are not designed to communicate with each other, the SOAR platform acts as the glue to bind them together to orchestrate different security actions. This helps achieve the true goal of cyber fusion wherein different elements of security operations are integrated.
  • Human-to-Machine Orchestration: At each stage of the attack cycle, different types of actions are needed to stop the threat actors. A SOAR platform streamlines the workflows for security teams by providing them with the right information in the right context so as to orchestrate the appropriate responsive actions across their security infrastructure. In a cyber fusion center, this capability helps people in different security roles to leverage the information and actioning capabilities of the entire stack.
  • Standardized Security Processes: The key to effectively combating frequently occurring threats is to develop and implement the necessary processes for detection, response, and management. Through its automation and orchestration capabilities, a SOAR platform can enable this while learning from past incidents and current threat intelligence. The knowledge base of response actions can be codified in the form of automated workflows that can be tweaked over time to defend against evolving threats. This helps in streamlining the operations of the cyber fusion center.
  • Connecting the Dots: A SOAR platform acts as the central nervous system of the cyber fusion center of an organization. This helps security teams connect the dots between disparate security events to analyze the broader picture of the threat environment and the tactics and techniques used by threat actors. 
  • Collaboration between Security Teams: A SOAR platform not only connects different tools but also brings different security teams under the same roof to provide a holistic threat response. It improves the collaboration across different roles in line with the objectives of cyber fusion.
  • Threat Intelligence Automation: To fully leverage threat intelligence in their security operations, organizations can use the automation capabilities of a SOAR platform to put threat intelligence into action by orchestrating the necessary actions across different tools deployed on cloud and on-premise environments. 
  • Incident Investigation: By using the TIP for intel enrichment and connecting the dots for incident correlation using SOAR, security teams can collect the different pieces of information that can help them get to the root cause of an incident rapidly. Since time is of the essence in incident response, a SOAR platform improves the overall efficiency of the cyber fusion center.
  • Incident Cost Metrics: In order to efficiently allocate resources to counter different threats, security managers need the right metrics to understand the gaps and bottlenecks in their processes. By integrating different functions, a SOAR platform gives them the bird’s eye view of all the operations to prioritize the incidents that imply the highest cost to the organization.
  • Orchestrating Cloud and On-premise Tools: Today, organizations cannot rely on the conventional model of network perimeter security. Since the modern technology infrastructure involves on-premises, cloud, and hybrid systems, the SOAR platform plays the crucial role of providing visibility and the ability to respond to threats that span different environments. Thus, it extends the reach of the cyber fusion center to all assets, including servers, applications, workstations, endpoints, connected devices, and more.

Conclusion

A cyber fusion center aims to assemble the powers of all different security functions under one roof to form the dream team that can fight off all threats. To make it happen, a SOAR platform forms the backbone of threat response and management processes and a TIP provides the threat information that guides the strategy and actions that need to be taken against critical threats. Thus, these are two inevitable organs of the cyber fusion body.

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