DFLabs is excited to announce two new technology partnerships with recognized industry leaders: Recorded Future and Tufin. Both Recorded Future and Tufin recently launched formal technology partnership programs and DFLabs is honored to be among the first technology partners to join. Each of these integrations adds significant value to the security programs of our joint customers, allowing them to more efficiently and effectively respond to computer security incidents and reduce risk across the organization.
DFLabs’ new integration with Recorded Future allows joint customers to automate the retrieval of contextualized threat intelligence from Recorded Future, orchestrating these data enrichment actions into the overall incident response workflow. This enriched information can be used within the R3 Rapid Response Runbooks of IncMan SOAR to inform further automated decisions or can be reviewed by analysts as part of the response process.
DFLabs’ integration with Recorded Future includes five enrichment actions: Domain, File, IP and URL reputation queries, as well as a threat intelligence search action. Each of these enrichment actions will return all relevant intelligence on the queried entity, as well as a direct link to the Recorded Future Info Card.
DFLabs’ new integration with Tufin allows joint customers to automate the retrieval of actionable network intelligence from Tufin’s rich sources of network data, providing further context surrounding the organization’s network, allowing for more informed automated and manual decisions. This network intelligence can be used within the R3 Rapid Response Runbooks of IncMan SOAR to make decisions based on numerous factors, such as network device information, simulated path information or network policy rules, or can also be reviewed by analysts as part of the response process.
DFLabs’ integration with Tufin includes five enrichment actions: Get Devices (get network device information based on the supplied parameters), Get Path and Get Path Image (simulate the path which would be taken based on source and destination IP and port information), Get Policies by Device (get network policies for the given device ID), Get Rule Count (get the number of rules which match the specified parameters), and Get Rules by Device (get network rules for the given device ID).
See the DFLabs IncMan SOAR Platform Integrations in Action
Each of these new partnerships extends DFLabs automation and orchestration capabilities into new product spaces with some of the best solutions in their respective classes.
If you are attending the RSA Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and would like to see DFLabs’ new integration with Tufin in action, I will be at the Tufin booth (#929) in the South Expo Hall on Wednesday, April 18th from 3:00 to 4:00 PM PST to provide a live demo and answer any questions.
Otherwise, for more information regarding our new Recorded Future and Tufin partnerships, please contact us to schedule a demo to see IncMan SOAR Platform in action here.
Within any organization’s security operations center (SOC), regardless of the level of role undertaken (security analyst, engineer or manager), when it comes to the security program at hand, the overall high level goal is to ensure that potential security risks from the alerts generated are dealt with in the most efficient and effective way possible, keeping the threat and potential incident under control, resulting in minimal impact to the day to day operations of the business.
As more and more security alerts are being triggered, potentially with increasing veracity as hackers get more sophisticated, the mean time to detection and mean time to resolution (MTTR) is vital. This is when it becomes critical to make sure your security operation center and incident response teams are fully utilizing the tools and resources they have available to them, to detect, orchestrate, automate and measure their security operations and incident response processes and tasks.
With security incidents becoming more costly, organizations must find new ways to further reduce the mean time to detection and the mean time to resolution. At the same time, they face pressure from being heavily monitored based on a number of security program KPIs to accurately measure (and improve) performance, which will inevitably be reported back to varying levels of stakeholders, including security management, c-level executives, and even board level. (For more information about KPIs for security operations and incident response, download our recent whitepaper here). While some members of the SOC team such as the analysts will solely be focused on the incidents at hand, KPIs and questions surrounding service level agreements (SLAs), mean time to resolution (MTTR) and the overall return on investment (ROI) of security tools and technologies are bound to be at the forefront of the agenda of perhaps the SOC manager, but in particularly the CISO.
In this blog we will briefly discuss how a SOC can enhance its security operations program SLAs, MTTR and ROI, by investing in a Security Orchestration, Automation and Response tool, such as the IncMan SOAR platform from DFLabs and we will run through a basic scenario of what happens when a security alert is detected and triggered using IncMan SOAR.
Many large organizations already use a number of third-party solutions, including security information and event management (SIEM) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools, but the question is…is all of the information being generated by these tools and technologies being utilized and fused together providing meaningful aggregated, correlated and analyzed security intelligence? The answer is most probably no and the likelihood is the SOC team is being overwhelmed with the number of alerts and information that it is receiving, therefore not easily being able to identify which is a high level vs. low level threat, or know exactly which process should initially be taken to start putting a playbook or runbook into action to contain the specific threat alert they are dealing with.
How IncMan Tackles an Alert with Security Orchestration and Automation
An incident was automatically triggered in IncMan SOAR when the organization’s vulnerability management systems found that one of the critical servers reported non-compliance due to missing patches. The security analyst on duty assessed that the problem needed an immediate remediation. An incident management record was created to assign the correction of the problem to the system administrator in charge of the server. Automated actions triggered email notifications to the system administrator and to the security architecture and governance team, who manage the organization’s compliance.
Earlier in the year, the CISO mandated that changes within the large organization were monitored end to end through the system development lifecycle (SDLC). This would try to ensure that there were no security gaps in the infrastructure, as non-compliance within servers can create a security gap that can easily be exploited and misused by a hacker.
This is just one example of an alert that an organization could receive and in this case, it is quite a simple one. Imagine hundreds of alerts coming in per day related to suspected phishing attempts, malware injections, ransomware attacks and data breaches etc. to name a few, that are more complex. Analysts often get overwhelmed with the number of alerts they receive but need to be able to respond quickly to all of them, while also prioritizing them at the same time. The key is to transform the resource intensive and manual tasks into an effective and efficient automated and orchestrated process, where dual actions (automated and manual) can occur side by side as needed. Automating the process with the use of tools such as the IncMan SOAR platform will cut down the time to gather the data manually and the number of resources needed to complete the several stages of the process.
IncMan SOAR provided this customer with a real-time alert that was responded to and remediated almost immediately. Automated processes were followed, reducing the amount of human manual interaction required, including data collection, enrichment, containment and remediation, all in a more efficient, standardized and timely manner. IncMan SOAR facilitated the enrichment of information via the integration tools that the security team was already using and this helped to provide additional intelligence to the investigation, that triggered the original security alert, helping to validate its severity.
With a vast amount of information being generated, having the ability to provide this information in an easy to use and understand format, then facilitated the communication among different IT team members and departments, allowing them to share the visualized information via dashboards and detailed reports that standardize the information sharing process.
Utilizing Playbooks and Runbooks
So how does a SOAR solution like IncMan know which actions to automate when a security alert is triggered? A security operations center can maximize its incident response process by utilizing a range of already predefined automation and orchestration processes via playbooks and runbooks that expedite activities based on the type of security alert. You could have specific ones for ransomware or a phishing attack for example that have been written, trialed and tested a number of times, over and over again to ensure the correct actions are taken.
IncMan’s SOAR powerful engine provides an assortment of automation and actions that within second of being triggered can enrich, contain, remediate and notify stakeholders faster than a human being can react, to gather diverse information from different data sources. The process is flexible and can be used fully automated or in hybrid mode with human interaction to approve certain actions, for example, to block an IP-address or quarantine a compromised asset.
In summary, the above example would have been a mundane and manual process without the use of orchestration and automation, that would depend on human resources collecting information from different data sources, actioning a number of activities and writing a manual report.
The power of the correlation engine in IncMan SOAR cuts down the time by facilitating the collection of the threat information via the integrated third-party vendors’ data sources. With the help of playbooks and automated runbooks meaningful threat intelligence can be easily gathered enriched and correlated to produce a visualization of the incidents, that can be displayed in an automated standard report. The information is quickly available, easily shared to make available to all teams as necessary, without having to wait for dependencies to obtain additional information about the incident from the project teams.
IncMan SOAR maximizes the SLAs for security availability and MTTR, by delivering key details expeditiously via digital computation from multiple data sources of information and delivering it in a visual or readable detailed report format to multiple stakeholders, leadership team or anyone that needs them. The data can subsequently be kept, helping to build and identify historical trending, analysis, patterns, type of attacks to name a few, facilitating the automation actions of future alerts, creating a better security defense system.
Overall the benefits of using a Security Orchestration, Automation and Response platform outweigh the negatives and such a solution can increases the efficiency of your security operations center, enabling it to become more effective, focused on incident response management, proactively threat hunting while minimizing cybersecurity vulnerabilities, as opposed to carrying out the multitude of mundane, repetitive and time consuming basic tasks.
Automation and orchestration reduces the MTTR, as well as aiding the organization’s management team with standard visualization and focused detailed written reports, that helps to contribute to better meeting compliance such as breach notification requirements, while meeting the organization mission to operate in a secure infrastructure in an efficient manner, by increasing cybersecurity governance SLAs and ROI, ultimately maximizing the company resources by doing more with less.
Faced with a growing threat landscape, a shortage of skilled cyber security professionals, and non-technical employees who lack awareness of cyber security best practices, to name a few, CISOs are continuously confronted with a number of existing and new challenges. To mitigate some of these challenges by eliminating security threats and minimizing security gaps, they must make some critical strategic decisions within their organizations.
Even though we are only at the beginning of April, 2018 is already proving to be a year of increasing cyber incidents, with security threats spanning across a range of industry sectors, impacting both the private and public sectors alike. We have seen many data breaches including Uber, Facebook and Experian that have made it clear that no organization, not even the corporate giants, are safe from these cyber threats and attacks. We are now also seeing newly evolving threats affecting the popular and latest smart devices including products such as Alexa and Goоgle Home. New technology not fully tested, or security vulnerabilities from IoT devices being brought into the workplace, now bring additional concerns for CISOs and their security teams, as they try to proactively defend and protect their corporate networks.
This problem seems quite simple to identify in that corporate policies are not being updated fast enough to keep up with dynamic changes and advancements in technology, as well as to cope with the increasing sophistication of advancing threats, but managing this problem is seemingly more difficult. This generates an additional set of challenges for CISOs to enforce policies that still need to be written, while conquering internal corporate bureaucracy to get them created, modified or updated. This is just one challenge. Let’s now discuss a few more and some suggested actions to manage them.
How CISOs Can Overcome Their Challenges
CISOs in international corporations need to focus on global compliance and regulations to abide with a range of privacy laws, including the upcoming European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This new regulation due to come into force on May 25th, 2018 has set the stage for protection of consumer data privacy and in time we expect to see other regulations closely follow suite. International companies that hold EU personal identifiable information inside or outside of the EU will need to abide by the regulation and establish a formalized incident response procedure, implement an internal breach notification process, communicate the personal data breach to the data subject without delay, as well as notify the Supervisory Authority within 72 hours, regardless of where the breach occurred. Organizations need to report all breaches and inform their affected customers, or face fines of up to 20 million Euros or four percent of annual turnover (whichever is higher). A new law called the Data Security and Breach Notification Act is also being worked on presently by the U.S. Senate to promote this protection for customers affected. This new legislation will impose up to a five year prison sentence on any individual that conceals a new data breach, without notifying the customers that had been impacted.
So how can CISOs proactively stay ahead of the growing number of cyber security threats, notify affected customers as soon as possible and respond within 72 hrs of a breach? The key is to carry out security risk assessments, implement the necessary procedures, as well as utilize tools that can help facilitate Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR), such as the IncMan SOAR platform from DLFabs. IncMan has capabilities to automate and prioritize incident response and related enrichment and containment tasks, distribute appropriate notifications and implement an incident response plan in case of a potential data breach. IncMan handles different stages of the incident response and breach notification process including providing advanced reporting capabilities with appropriate metrics and the ability to gather or share intelligence with 3rd parties. This timely collection of enriched threat intelligence helps expedite the incident response time and contribute to better management of the corporate landscape.
The Need to Harden New Technology Policies
Endpoint protection has also become a heightened concern for security departments in recent months, with an increasing number of organizations facing multiple ransomware and zero days attacks. New technologies used by employees within the organization, not covered by corporate policies, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of things (IoT) have brought new challenges to the CISOs threat landscape. One example as we mentioned earlier are gadgets such as Alexa or Google Home, where users bring them into the office and connect them to the corporate WIFI or network without prior approval. When connected to the network, they can immediately introduce vulnerabilities and access gaps in the security network that can be easily exploited by hackers.
Devices that are not managed under corporate policies need to be restricted to a guest network that cannot exploit vulnerabilities and should not be allowed to use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). CISOs need to ensure that stricter corporate policies are implemented to restrict and manage new technologies, as well as utilizing tools such as an Endpoint Protection Product (EPP) or Next-Generation Anti Virus (NGAV) solution to help prevent malware from executing when found on a user machine. NAGV tools can learn the behaviors of the endpoint devices and query a signature database of vaccines for exploits and other malware on real time to help expedite containment and remediation to minimize threats.
Maximizing Resources With Technology as a Solution
With the significant increase in the number of and advancing sophistication of potential cyber security threats and security alerts, combined with a shortage of cyber security staff with the required skill set and knowledge, CISOs are under even more pressure to protect their organizations and ask themselves questions such as: How do I effectively investigate incidents coming in from so many data points? How can I quickly prioritize incidents that present the greatest threat to my organization? How can I reduce the amount of time necessary to resolve an incident and give staff more time hunting emerging threats?
They will need to assess their current organization security landscape and available resources, while assessing their skill level and maturity. Based on the company size it may even make business sense to outsource some aspects, for example by hiring a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) to manage alert monitoring, threat detection and incident response. CISOs should also evaluate the range of tools available to them and make the decision whether they can benefit from utilizing Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology to increase their security program efficiency and effectiveness within their current structure.
Security Infrastructure and Employee Training Are Paramount
In summary, CISOs will be faced with more advancing challenges and increasing threats and these are only set to continue over the coming months. They should ensure that their security infrastructures follow sufficient frameworks such as NIST, ISO, SANS, PCI/DSS, as well as best practices for application security, cloud computing and encryption.
They should prepare to resource their security teams with adequate technology and tools to respond to threats and alerts and to minimize the impact as much as feasibly possible, with set policies and procedures in place. To enforce security best practices across all departments of the company, it is important that security decisions are fully understood and supported by the leadership team as well as human resources, with a range of corporate policies to meet the challenges of ever changing technologies.
CISOs need to promote security best practices and corporate policies, industry laws regulations and compliance by educating and training relevant stakeholders, starting with employees. The use of workshops, seminars, websites, banners, posters and training in all areas of the company will heighten people’s awareness to threats and exploits, increasing their knowledge, while also teaching them the best way to respond or to raise the alarm if there is a potential threat. The initial investment in education and training may be a burden on time and resources but in the long run will prove beneficial and could potentially prevent the company from experiencing a serious threat or penalty from non-compliance.
Completing a full analysis of current resources, skill sets and security tools and platforms will all play a part when deciding whether in-house or outsourced security operations is the best approach, but the benefits of using SOAR technology to leverage existing security products to dramatically reduce the response and remediation gap caused by limited resources and the increasing volume of threats and incidents, as well as to assist with important breach notification requirements, should not be overlooked.
DFLabs is excited to announce the latest release of its industry-leading Security Orchestration, Automation and Response platform, IncMan version 4.3. Solving customer’s problems and adding value to our customer’s security programs is one of our core goals here at DFLabs and this is reflected in our 4.3 release with over 100 enhancements, additions, and fixes; many suggested by customers, all designed to make the complex task of responding to potential security incidents faster, easier and more efficient.
IncMan 4.3 includes many new bidirectional integrations from a variety of product categories including threat intelligence, malware analysis, ticket management and endpoint protection, chosen to broaden the orchestration and automation capabilities of our customers. These new bidirectional integrations include:
- Atlassian Jira
- BMC Remedy
- Carbon Black Defense
- Cuckoo Sandbox
- McAfee Advanced Threat Defense
- McAfee Threat Intelligence Exchange
- Recorded Future
With IncMan 4.3, we have also greatly enhanced the flexibility of our R3 Rapid Response Runbooks with the addition of two new decision nodes; Filter and User Choice. Filter nodes allow users to further filter and refine information returned by previously executed integrations; for example, filtering IT asset information to include only servers, focusing on key assets first. Unlike automated Enrichment actions, automated Containment actions could have serious unintended impacts on the organization. User Choice nodes allow users to minimize this risk by allowing them to define critical junctions in the workflow at which a human must intervene and make a decision. For example, human verification may be required before banning a hash value across the enterprise or quarantining a host pending further analysis.
Improvements to our patent-pending Automated Responder Knowledge (DF-ARK) module allow IncMan to make even more intelligent decisions when suggesting response actions, and enhancements to IncMan’s correlation engine allow users a more advanced view of the threat landscape over time and across the organization. IncMan’s report engine has been significantly bolstered, allowing users to create more flexible reports for a variety of purposes than ever before. Finally, numerous changes have been made to IncMan’s Dashboard and KPI features, allowing users to create more actionable KPIs and gather a complete picture of the organization’s current state of security at a moment’s glance.
These are just some of the highlights of our latest IncMan release; IncMan 4.3 includes many other enhancements designed to streamline your orchestration, automation and response process. If you would like a demo of our latest release, please go to our demo request site. Stay tuned to our website for additional updates, feature highlights, and demos of our latest release.
Not so long ago we used to hear about a cyber-attack or a new form of vulnerability in the news perhaps on a quarterly or monthly basis. Today, they are becoming increasingly more frequent and I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t read in the headlines about the consequences an organization is having to face, due to another attack. McAfee recently reported a staggering eight new cyber threats a second in Q4 2017.
With the sophistication of attacks also continuously evolving, the modern CISO is now facing up to the fact and preparing for a “when it will happen” scenario as opposed to “if it will happen”, as cyber incidents become more inevitable. Based on this, their cybersecurity strategy is being turned on its head and instead of focusing more on how to prevent an incident from occurring in the first place, they are now heavily investing in technologies and solutions to help identify, manage and contain an incident, in order to minimize the impact to the organization when it does occur.
In larger enterprises today, it is common to have a Security Operations Center (SOC) and/or a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) to monitor, manage and respond to incoming security alerts, but with this, there are numerous challenges that are continuously being faced. Our recent blog “How to Implement Incident Response Automation the Right Way” specifically addressed the challenge of increasing volumes of alerts, resulting in an exponential volume of mundane tasks and discussed how utilizing automation should be implemented to overcome this. In reality, the number of challenges is probably many more than what we will cover in this blog, but here are our top five, which we believe are currently having the biggest effect on SOCs and CSIRTs today.
Top 5 Challenges Faced by Security Operations Centers
1. Increasing Volumes of Security Alerts
With the snowballing number of security alerts being received, valuable analyst time is being consumed sorting through a plethora of security alerts. Most commonly, time is wasted performing a multitude of mundane tasks to triage and determine the veracity of the alerts, often resulting in alerts being missed or those of more damaging consequences slipping through the net as they are overlooked. As you can probably imagine, analysts time would be better spent working on the more sophisticated alerts that need human intervention, as well as proactively threat hunting, in order to minimize the time from breach discovery to resolution.
2. Management of Numerous Security Tools
As a wider range of security suites are being adopted by SOCs and CSIRTs, it is becoming ever more difficult to effectively monitor all of the data being generated from the multiplying number of data points and sources. A typical security operations center may use a combination of 20 or more technologies, which understandably can be difficult to monitor and manage individually. It is therefore important to be able to have a central source and single platform to summarize all of the information as it is being generated and to be able to have a helicopter view of your overall security environment to manage, monitor, and measure security operations and incident response processes effectively.
3. Competition for Skilled Analysts and Lack of Knowledge Transfer Between Analysts
With the global cybersecurity talent shortage to hit 1.2m by 2020 and to increase to 1.8m by 2022, the pool of suitable analysts will only continue to diminish over time, with the level of competition becoming more fierce for analysts that have the required skill set. As with most companies and industries, workforce comes and goes, but knowledge transfer is particularly important within a security operations center and incident response teams, in order to ensure the correct response and process takes place within the minimal amount of time, reducing the time to incident detection and time to incident resolution. This lack of knowledge transfer can inevitably lead to increased response times and wasted resources.
4. Budget Constraints with Security Incidents Becoming More Costly
As within most organizations large or small alike, budgets are always restricted in some way, shape or form. In order to authorize spending, a clear positive ROI usually needs to be forecast and/or proven. Security operations and incident response are notoriously difficult to measure, monitor and manage, (why not read our recent whitepaper entitled “KPIs for Security Operations and Incident Response” to learn more), so justifying spend is always difficult. With the increasing number of cyber-attacks, organizations are increasing the level of investment in cyber security tools, but what level of spending is necessary and what amount outweighs the benefits it will achieve? Can you put a price on the consequences of a potential incident such as a data breach, knowing you will likely face a hefty fine, as well as brand and reputation damage?
5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Meeting a growing number of legal and regulatory compliance such as NIST, PCI, GLBA, FISMA, HITECH (HIPPA) and GDPR to name a few, as well as industry best practices, will inherently have an impact on any organization, but can have a heavy bearing depending on the specific industry or geographical location. Using the example of the upcoming Global Data Protection Regulation, taking effect on May 25, 2018, it is even more important for security operations centers to have mandatory processes and procedures clearly in place which are conducted in a legally and policy-compliant manner. Providing sufficient incident reporting and breach notification within the required parameters (in the case of GDPR to notify the supervisory authority within 72 hrs of a breach) is going to be key, or the legal, financial and reputational impact and repercussions could be significant.
Based on these five challenges alone, enterprise SOCs and CSIRTs are struggling to remain efficient and effective and are increasingly being forced to do more with less, while striving to keep up with the current threat landscape and a plethora of security alerts.
With security incidents becoming more costly, enterprises need to find new ways to further reduce the mean time to detection and resolution. As a result, security and risk management leaders will see the business need to invest in Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology and tools, such as the IncMan SOAR platform from DFLabs, to help improve their security operations proficiency, efficacy, and quality, in order to keep their cyber incident under control.
If you are interested in reading more about how SOAR technology can help to address these challenges in more detail, look out for our future blog on the topic coming soon.
We have all heard about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and how critical they can be for your security program, but confusion remains surrounding what KPIs are important to track and how they can be used to measure and improve the organization’s security program. Tracking KPIs is great, but if those KPIs are not relevant and actionable; if you are tracking KPI’s just for the sake of tracking KPIs and they are not being used to inform your security program, your KPIs will become more of a detriment than an enabler for your security program.
At its core, a KPI is a way of measuring the success or failure of a business goal, function or objective, and a means of providing actionable information on which decisions can be based. Quality KPIs serve as a security program enabler and driver for continuous improvement. This is true of both the tactical functions of security operations – looking for attack patterns and trends of malicious activity, as well as the strategic functions of security operations – identifying program gaps and making long-term program decisions.
KPIs should focus on assessing a goal or function and providing actionable information on which decisions can be made. The most effective way to develop meaningful KPIs is to start by identifying which security operations goals or functions are the most critical to the security operations program, then developing KPIs to measure those critical goals or functions. KPIs which will not inform the decision-making process in some way are unnecessary and should be avoided, they will serve only to muddy the waters.
When choosing KPIs to measure, quality should be valued above quantity. Each KPI should have a meaning to the organization and add value to the security program. There are many different methods for evaluating the effectiveness of a KPI; here we will use the acronym SMART. Each KPI should be:
- Simple– KPIs should not be overly complicated to measure. It should be clear what the purpose of each KPI is and how it impacts the security program.
- Measurable– A KPI must be able to be measured in some way, quantitatively or qualitatively. The method by which each KPI is measured should be clearly defined and consistent.
- Actionable– KPIs should be used as a driver for decisions. The purpose of a KPI is to measure performance, and if necessary, take some action based on the results. A KPI which is not actionable serves little to no purpose.
- Relevant– Each KPI should be a measurement of the function being assessed; in this case, the security program. KPIs which are simple, measurable and actionable, but are not relevant to the function being assessed will be of little value.
- Time-Based– KPIs can and should be used to show changes over time. An effective KPI should be able to be collected and grouped by various time intervals to show variations and patterns.
There will never be a set of “correct” KPIs to measure; the goals and objectives for each organization will always be different, and the organization’s KPIs should reflect the individual priorities. The key to choosing KPIs which will have a real, actionable impact on the organization’s security program is to ensure that the KPIs are SMART, focus on the six most common components of a successful security operations program, and are used to further the security program.
For more detailed information on how your organization can use KPIs to enhance your security program, check out our whitepaper “ Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for Security Operations and Incident Response” here
Following on from my recent blog post entitled “Meltdown and Spectre – What They Mean to the Enterprise” published in January, I wanted to take a closer look at how these types of hardware vulnerabilities could (and should) easily be detected, managed and mitigated using Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology, for example with a platform such as IncMan from DFLabs.
Using Meltdown and Spectre as a use case, I wanted to enlighten you about the automated processes an organization can undertake. There are many pros and cons for using automation, but if used in the correct way it can significantly improve Security Operations Center (SOC) efficiencies, saving security analyst many man hours of mundane tasks. Alerts can also potentially be responded to and contained before an analyst has even been notified. Using IncMan’s integrations and R3 Rapid Response Runbooks, SOCs can quickly respond to such an alert when a vulnerability is detected. The overall goals would be as follows, in order to reduce the risk these vulnerabilities present to the organization.
1) Automatically receive alerts for the host which have been identified as being vulnerable to Meltdown or Spectre.
2) Create an Incident and perform automated Notification, Enrichment and Containment tasks.
Let’s move on to the implementation stages. Where should you start? For ease I will break it down into 3 simple sections, creating a runbook, utilizing the rebook and seeing the runbook in action. So, let’s begin…
Creating an R3 Rapid Response Runbook
The first step in reducing the risk from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities is to create a runbook to handle alerts for newly detected vulnerable hosts. In this use case, we will use integrations with Jira, McAfee ePO, McAfee Web Gateway, MSSQL Server and QRadar to perform Notification, Enrichment and Containment actions; however, this can easily be adapted to include any other technology integrations as well.
Using a Jira Notification action, a new Jira issue is created. This Notification action should notify the IT or Infrastructure teams and initiate the organizations’ normal vulnerability management process.
Next, an MSSQL Server Enrichment action is used to query an IT asset inventory for the host name of the vulnerable host, which is passed to the runbook automatically when the incident is created. This asset information is then available to the analyst for further review.
Once the IT asset information is retrieved, a decision point is reached. If the IT asset information indicates that the host is a server, one path (the top path) is taken. If the IT asset information indicates that the host is not a server, another path (the bottom path) is taken.
If the asset is determined to be a server the Jira Enrichment action is used to update the Jira issue, informing the appropriate parties that the host has been determined to be a server and should be treated as a higher priority. Next, two McAfee ePO Enrichment actions are performed. The first Enrichment action queries McAfee ePO for the system information of the given host name, providing the analyst with additional information. The second Enrichment action uses McAfee ePO to tag the host with the appropriate tag. Finally, a Task is added to IncMan reminding the analyst to follow up with the appropriate teams to ensure that the vulnerability has been appropriately mitigated.
If the asset is determined not to be a server, the two previously mentioned McAfee ePO Enrichment actions are immediately be run (System Info and TAG). Following these two Enrichment actions, a McAfee Web Gateway Containment action is used to block the host from communicating outside of the network. This Containment step is completely optional but is performed here on non-servers only to minimize the Containment action’s potential impact on critical systems.
Once the new runbook is created, IncMan must be told how and when to automate the use of this runbook. This is achieved by creating an Incident Template, which will be used any time an incident is generated for a Meltdown or Spectre vulnerability. Through this incident template, critical pieces of information such as Type, Summary, Category can be automatically applied to the newly created incident.
From the Runbook tab of the Incident Template wizard, the previously created Meltdown and Spectre runbook is selected and set to autorun. Each time this template is used to generate an incident, the appropriate information such as host name and host IP address will be used as inputs to the runbook and the runbook will be automatically executed.
In this use case, alerts from QRadar are utilized to initiate automatic incident creation within IncMan. However, another SIEM integration, syslog or email could also be utilized to achieve the same outcome. A new QRadar Incoming Event Automation rule is added and the defined action is to generate a new incident from the previously created Meltdown and Spectre Incident Template.
Solution in Action
When a QRadar Alert is generated matching the criteria defined for a Meltdown or Spectre vulnerability detection, IncMan will automatically generate a new incident based on the Meltdown and Spectre Incident Template.
Without requiring any action on the part of an analyst, the Meltdown and Spectre runbook is automatically initiated, performing the defined Notification, Enrichment and Containment actions.(In the example shown here, the ‘server’ path is taken).
How easy was that? The entire process has taken place in a matter of minutes, likely before anyone has even had time to acknowledge the alert. As an analyst begins to manually examine the alert, many of the mundane tasks have already been completed, allowing the analyst to focus on the tasks which require human intervention and reducing the time required to remediate this issue, ultimately reducing risk to the organization.
Instead of a technical topic, this week I wanted to discuss an interaction I had with another Information Security professional recently because I believe it exemplifies how we as professionals can interact and share ideas in a way that furthers the security industry.
A couple of weeks ago, DFLabs released a whitepaper titled: “Increasing the Effectiveness of Incident Management“, which I authored discussing how the Incident Command System utilized for decades by emergency services in the US and across the world could be applied to streamline security incident management in the enterprise. Weeks later, Adam (whose last name I will not use since I did not ask his permission) reached out to me to express a problem with one of the premises of that whitepaper. What I want to highlight here is not that someone disagreed with me on a point (it happens often), or who is right (I don’t think there is any right or wrong in this case), but how the interaction itself occurred because I think it exemplifies how we can work together to further ideas in our industry.
First, I would like to thank Adam for reaching out at all. As an author of papers such as this, it lets me know that people are actually reading the content and taking the time to give it some thought. Many of us in the security industry (and I am guilty of this as well) are great consumers of information, but often do not take the time to contribute our own thoughts. You don’t need to write blogs, whitepapers or speak at conferences to contribute. Providing meaningful feedback and collaboration is what turns good ideas into great ideas that can revolutionize the security industry.
It is common to receive positive feedback regarding a certain point or the content as a whole. While positive feedback is beneficial in letting you know you are on the right track, I would argue that constructive criticism is equally, if not more important. Perhaps it is a resistance to what we might perceive as confrontation, or just not taking the time to put our thoughts to words to share with others, but I would also argue that constructive criticism is often even more beneficial than positive feedback.
Notice that I said constructive criticism and not negative feedback. I think there is an important differentiation here. If you have a Twitter account, you know what I mean by negative feedback. Negative feedback is very seldom the spark for new ideas and creates more divides than bridges. What I really appreciated about Adam’s feedback was the way in which he provided it. Adam was not negative, he was not attempting to poke holes in my premise or tell me why I was wrong. Instead, Adam provided an alternate view in a professional and constructive manner. This lead to additional dialogue which broadened my understanding of the topic and allowed me to consider a viewpoint that I had not previously considered.
Based on my conversation with Adam, I now have a better understanding of a different viewpoint, and the topic as a whole, which will help me continue to evolve my ideas and apply them to a wider array of situations. We are all very busy, but taking 10 minutes from your day to share your thoughts and constructive criticism with someone else is a tremendous way to contribute to the community. Please, be like Adam!
If you are interested in reading the whitepaper “Increasing the Effectiveness of Incident Management” is it still available to download.
For many of us around the world February 14th marks St. Valentine’s Day, but for those of us in Europe, this date also marks the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the upcoming enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
As most of us are already aware the EU GDPR was adopted in April 2016 and is due to be formally imposed on May 25th, 2018. In a nutshell for those who are not quite so GDPR savvy, the GDPR emphasizes transparency, security, and accountability by data controllers and introduced mandatory Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) for those organizations involved in high-risk processing. For example, where a new technology is being deployed, where a profiling operation is likely to significantly affect individuals or where there is large-scale monitoring of a publicly accessible area.
Breach Notification Requirements
A DPIA is the process of systematically considering the potential impact allowing organizations to identify potential privacy issues before they arise and come up with a way to mitigate them. In addition, and a highly important aspect for Security Operation Centers (SOCs) and Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) to be fully aware of and responsive to, data processors must implement an internal breach notification process and inform the supervisory authority of a breach within 72 hours. They must also communicate the breach to affected data subjects without due delay or consequently face a penalty of up to EUR 20,000.00 or 4% of worldwide annual turnover for the preceding financial year, whichever is greater.
Incident Response Processes and Best Practices
As the number of breaches has risen and cyber attacks have become more sophisticated, authorities have recognized a need for increased data protection regulation. The number of simultaneous processes required in a typical forensic or Incident Response Scenario has also grown. Processes need to cover a broad spectrum of technologies and use cases must be standardized, and must perform clearly defined, fully documented actions based upon regulatory requirements, international standards and established best practices.
Additionally, context enrichment and threat analysis capabilities must be integrated to facilitate and automate data breach reporting and notification within the timeframe specified by GDPR. Lastly, customized playbooks must be created to permit rapid response to specific incident types, aid in prioritizing tasks, assignment to individual stakeholders, and to formalize, enforce and measure specific workflows.
Incident Response Management with DFLabs IncMan
Having a platform in place to formalize and support these requirements is crucial. DFLabs IncMan provides all the necessary capabilities to facilitate this. Not only do organizations need an Incident Response plan, they must also have a repeatable and scalable process, as this is one of the steps towards compliance with the GDPR’s accountability principle, requiring that organizations demonstrate the ways in which they comply with data protection principles when transacting business. They must also be able to ensure that they will meet the 72-hour breach notification requirement or face a stiff penalty.
Organizations must establish a framework for accountability, as well as a culture of monitoring, reviewing and assessing their data processing procedures to detect, report and investigate any personal data breach. IncMan implements granular and use-case specific incident response procedures with data segregation and critical security control requirements. To enable Incident Response and breach notification in complex organizations and working across different regions, IncMan can be deployed as a multi-tenant solution with granular role-based access.
Cutting Response Time and Accelerating Incident Containment
Automated responses can be executed to save invaluable time and resources and reduce the window from discovery to containment for an incident. Organizations can easily prepare advanced reports from an automatically collected incident and forensic data, and distribute notifications based on granular rules to report a breach and notify affected customers when required to comply with GDPR and avoid a financial penalty.
Finally, the ability to gather and share intelligence from various sources by anonymizing the data to share safely with 3rd party protect the data without inhibiting the investigation. IncMan contains a Knowledge Base module to document playbooks, threat assessment, situational awareness and best practices which could be shared and transferred across the organization.
IncMan and Fulfilling GDPR Requirements
In summary, DFLabs IncMan Security Automation and Orchestration platform fulfills the requirements of GDPR by providing capabilities to automate and prioritize Incident Response through a range of advanced playbooks and runbooks, with related enrichment, containment, and threat analysis tasks. It distributes appropriate notifications and implements an Incident Response plan (IRP) in case of a potential data breach, with formalized, repeatable and enforceable incident response workflows.
IncMan handles different stages of the Incident Response and Breach Notification Process, providing advanced intelligence reporting with appropriate metrics, with the ability to gather or share intelligence with 3rd parties as required.
So, this Valentine’s Day, we hope that you are enjoying a romantic dinner for two, knowing that your SOC and CSIRT, as well as the wider organization, has the necessary incident response and incident management best practices implemented to sufficiently meet the upcoming GDPR requirements in 100 days’ time. If not, speak to one of our representatives to find out more.
Best practices for communicating cybersecurity risks and efficiency
One of the most difficult challenges encountered within risk management in today’s ever-changing cybersecurity environment is the ability to communicate the risks posed to an organization effectively. Security executives expect communication to be in their own language, focusing on the financial implications regarding gain, loss, and risk, and the difficulty of translating traditional security terms and nomenclature into risk statements expected by business executives poses a serious challenge. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a cybersecurity professional to ensure that security risks are communicated to all levels of the organization using language that can be easily understood.
The communication of security metrics plays a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of a cybersecurity program. When disseminating information on cyber risks, several aspects of communication should be considered. For example, a security professional should be cognizant of the credibility of the information’s source, the targeted audience and how to place the risk into perspective. We firmly believe that the success of a business today is directly related to the success of its cybersecurity program. This is largely due to the fact that all organizations depend on technology. Specifically, the interconnectedness of digital technologies translates to a significant potential for damage to an organization’s operational integrity and brand credibility, if its digital assets are not meticulously safeguarded. We only need to look at the recent Equifax breach for an illustrative example of this. Considering the potential impact of cyber attacks and data breaches, organizations must improve how they communicate cybersecurity risk.
The first step to ensuring effective communication of cyber risks involves a comprehensive business impact assessment. This must consider the organization’s business goals and objectives. Business impact assessments focus on how the loss of critical data and operational integrity of core services and infrastructure will impact a business. Furthermore, it acts as a basis for evaluating business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.
The second step is the identification of key stakeholders and their responsibilities. According to experts, this step plays a significant role in being prepared to mitigate the impact of cyber risks. Stakeholders are directly affected by a breach and have the most skin in the game. Identifying stakeholders should not be a one-off exercise but must be conducted regularly. An important consideration is that the more stakeholders there are, the greater the scope for miscommunication. Failure to identify the responsible stakeholders will increase the probability that risk is miscommunicated. In the case of a breach, it means that the response will be ineffective.
The third and most critical step is the identification of Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) tied to your program’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Doing this correctly will mean communicating cyber risks to executives in a way that allows them to make informed decisions. As an example, the amount or the severity of vulnerabilities on a critical system is meaningless to non-technical executives. Stating that a critical system that processes credit card data is vulnerable to data loss is more meaningful. Once business impacts have been assessed, stakeholders have been identified, and meaningful security metrics have been determined, regular communication to various stakeholders can take place.
Different stakeholders have unique needs. This must be considered when communicating KRIs and KPIs. When delivering information, we must accommodate both the stakeholders that prefer summaries and those that prefer reviewing data to make their conclusions. DFLabs’ IncMan generates customizable KPI and incident reports designed to cater to both audiences. Cybersecurity program metrics1 must also focus on costs in time and money to fulfill business needs. The ability to track these metrics is a key differentiator for DFLabs IncMan.
DFLabs’ IncMan is designed to not only provide the best in class incident orchestration and response capabilities but also provides the ability to generate customizable KPI reports that accurately reflect up-to-the-minute metrics on the health of your cybersecurity infrastructure. If your organization needs to get a true, customizable view that incorporates all stakeholders please contact us at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation demonstration of how we can truly keep your cyber incidents under control.