Companies Are Failing at Incident Response: Here Are The Top Reasons Why

Discussions about security breaches often focus on the planning elements, but simply talking about planning is not enough. Comprehensive plans need to be drawn up, fully executed and regularly reviewed in order to be successful. This is the only way to potentially contain the breach and limit the impact it could have on the organization. Properly planning and implementing is the difference between success and failure for companies when it comes to security and incident response.

As the ever-evolving cyber security landscape poses new challenges, companies are pushed even more to fight back the growing number and even more sophisticated levels of cyber attacks. Organizations across all sectors and industries are potential targets and could become victims at any time. With attacks escalating in all areas, whether via phishing or malware, for example, security operations teams need to be prepared to respond to existing and new types and strains of threats, in order to fully defend and protect their company assets and networks.

Along with prevention becoming increasingly difficult for security teams, some organizations also tend to have a weakness when it comes to incident response. Below outlines some of the main reasons why this failure is happening today and if this a true representation of your organization, it is important for action to be taken in order to improve it.

Inadequate Resources

With the number of sophisticated cyber threats in the past several years growing at a phenomenal rate, the security industry has been facing an explosion of security tools available in the market. Many of these though have adversely resulted in creating more tasks for security teams and analysts in terms of monitoring, correlating, and responding to alerts. Analysts are pushed to work on multiple platforms and generate data from every single source manually, while afterwards then needing to enrich and correlate that data which can take many hours or even days.

Security budgets are often limited, and while it is often easier to gain support and approval for additional security apps and tools than it is for additional staff members, this means that many security teams often are forced to search innovative ways to perform many different tasks with extremely limited personnel resources.

Another important point to note is that with increased market competition for experienced and skilled analysts, companies are often forced to choose between hiring one highly skilled staff member versus a couple of less experienced, junior level ones.

Task Overload

Over the years, organizations have witnessed an increasing number of security tools to fight back the growing number of security threats. But even though these tools manage alerts and correlate through security information and management system, security teams are still overwhelmed by the volume of alerts being generated and in many instances are not physically able to respond to them all.

Every single alert must be verified manually and triaged by an analyst. Then, if the alert is determined to be valid, additional manual research and enrichment must take place before any other action to address the threat. While all of these processes take place, other potential alerts wait unresolved in a queue, while new alerts keep being added. The problem is, any one of these alerts may be an opportunity window for an attacker while they wait to be addressed.

Risk of Losing Skilled Analysts

Security processes are performed manually and are quite complex in nature, therefore training new staff members takes time. Organizations still rely on the most experienced analysts when it comes to decision making, based on their knowledge and work experience in the company, even with documented procedures in place. This is commonly referred to as tribal knowledge, and the more manual the processes are, the longer the knowledge transfer takes. Moreover, highly qualified analysts are considered a real treasure for the company, and every time a company loses such staff member, part of the tribal knowledge is also lost, and the entire incident response process suffers a tremendous loss. Even though companies make efforts to keep at least one skilled analyst who is able to teach other staff members the skills they have, they aren’t always successful in that.

Failure to Manage Phases

Security teams work with metrics that could be highly subjective and abstract, compared to other departments which often work with proven processes for measuring the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a program. This is largely due to the fact that conservative approaches and methods for measuring ROI aren’t applicable, nor appropriate when it comes to security projects, and might give misleading results. Proper measurement techniques are of utmost importance when it comes to measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of a security program, therefore it is necessary to come up with a measurement process customized according to the needs of the company.

Another important issue that should be mentioned here is the one concerning the management of different steps of the incident response process. Security incidents are very dynamic processes that involve different phases, and the inability to manage these steps could result in great losses and damages to the company. For the best results, companies should focus on implementing documented and repeatable processes that have been tested and well understood.

In order to resolve these issues, organizations should consider the following best practices.

Orchestration

The coordination of security data sources and security tools in a single seamless process is referred to as orchestration. Technology integrations are most often used to support the orchestration process. APIs, software development kits, or direct database connections are just a few of the numerous methods that can be used to integrate technologies such as endpoint detection and response, threat intelligence, network detection, and infrastructure, IT service and account management.

Automation

Orchestration and automation might be related, but their end goals are completely different. Orchestration aims to improve efficiency by increased coordination and decreased context switch among tools for a faster and better-informed decision-making, while automation aims to reduce the time these processes take and make them repeatable by applying machine learning to respective tasks. Ideally, automation increases the efficiency of orchestrated processes.

Strategic and Tactical Measurement

Information in favor of tactical decisions usually consists of incident data for analysts and managers, which might consist of indicators of compromise assets, process status, and threat intelligence. This information improves decision-making from incident triage and investigation, through containment and eradication.

On the other hand, strategic information is aimed at executives and managers, and it’s used for high-level decision making. This information might comprise statistics and incident trends, threat intelligence and incident correlation. Advanced security programs might also use strategic information to enable proactive threat hunting.

If these challenges sound familiar within your security operations team, find out how DFLabs’ Security Orchestration, Automation and Response solution can help to address these to improve your overall incident response.

Key Elements of Every Successful Incident Response Program

Nowadays, businesses face the fact that cyber attacks are part of the overall picture, and will happen at any given moment. Nobody is in doubt about this, and the question has shifted from ‘if they happen’, to ‘when they happen’. Along with this, cybercriminals have become much more sophisticated, raising the costs of fighting back on all industry levels.

Managing cyber security issues can pose a real challenge within a company. The new and complex networks, business requirements for innovation and new ways of delivery of services require new methods and approaches to the way security is handled. Traditional security management methods no longer work. Today, cyber security management should aim towards efficiency when it comes to possible future threats.

Serious data breaches can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars. Often, what makes a breach serious is the effectiveness and speed of the incident response process.

This being said, creating an incident response program is of utmost importance. It has to excel in the following areas: visibility, incident management, workflows, threat intelligence, and collaboration/information-sharing. Below we’ll take a closer look at each of these areas and discover their importance from a systems level perspective.

Visibility

Having in mind the number of security products in an average company, visibility should be the core of any incident response system – this means aggregating data feeds from commercial and open-source products. When setting up an incident response system, specialists should consider platforms that offer support for security products out of the box. Although not all of them support everything by default, the one you choose should be flexible to add bi-directional integrations with security products not supported by default. But even though bi-directional integrations are important for the support of full automation and orchestration, these are not always necessary for each technology. For example, with simple detection and alerting technologies, unidirectional event forwarding integration will do the work. Just check that common methods of event forwarding and data transfer (such as syslog, database connections, APIs, email and online forms) are supported.

Incident Management

A well-structured incident response program should enable orchestration and automation of the security products that the organization uses. Above everything else, it should include the ability to manage the entire incident response process, starting from the basics, such as tracking cases, recording actions during the incident, as well as reporting on critical metrics and KPIs.

Furthermore, a more advanced incident response system should provide the following:

  • Phase and objective tracking
  • Detailed task tracking, including assignment, time spent and status
  • Asset management — tracking all physical and virtual assets involved in the incident
  • Evidence and chain of custody management
  • Indicator and sample tracking, correlation and sharing
  • Document and report management
  • Time and monetary effort tracking
Process Workflows

One of the key capabilities that should part of the incident response system is the automation and orchestration workflows. The result is more efficient processes and heavy reduction in repetitive tasks for analysts.

These are the core methods for a codification of process workflows: linear-style playbooks or flow-controlled workflows or runbooks.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, and as each is suitable for different use cases, they both should be supported by the incident response system. In both cases, workflows should be flexible and support almost any process, and should support the use of built-in and custom integrations, and creating manual tasks that should be completed by an analyst.

Threat Intelligence

The capability of incorporating threat intelligence feeds is one of the most basic requirements for an incident response system. Moreover, with the ability to correlate threat intelligence, it’s easier to discover attack patterns, vulnerabilities, and other current risks without manual analysis. Adding the automated correlation also helps identify whether an ongoing incident shares common factors with any previous incidents. But even though automated correlation is crucial for analysts to make decisions, visual correlation is also important. Visualizations of threat intelligence and correlated events are particularly useful for threat hunting and detecting attacks/patterns that could not have been detected using other methods.

Collaboration and Information-Sharing

Incident response is never a one-person show. Generally, it requires the participation of many people, and often of multiple teams. To be highly effective in such an environment, an incident response system should support seamless collaboration and information-sharing between all stakeholders and team members.

This means that authorized staff members should have access to the status of the incident and other generated information, including team members actions. Also, all staff members should communicate in a secure fashion, using out-of-band communications mechanism.

Furthermore, information-sharing and cooperation should be a regular practice with external entities, especially with law-enforcement agencies. Information-sharing, such as threat intelligence reports, is vital in the fight against cybercrime.

Conclusion

Most companies will experience data breach sooner or later, and how they respond will affect the future of the business. These essential components will help ensure that an organization’s incident response program can detect, contain and mitigate a breach before it can reach more serious status.

Orchestrate Advanced Forensics with DFLabs SOAR and OpenText EnCase

Forensic incidents can be complex and difficult to manage. Large-scale forensic investigations involve dozens or even hundreds of assets, and this information must be recorded, managed and correlated to be effective. DFLabs and OpenText are key partners in delivering these capabilities. This blog post will outline some of the key challenges that security operations are tackling when it comes to effective forensics management, how they can be resolved and briefly present a use case of the integration in action.

Key Challenges

Acquiring forensic data from dozens, even hundreds of potentially impacted hosts across an enterprise can pose a real challenge. This is especially true when these hosts span across continents. Once this data is acquired, it must be organized, enriched and correlated before effective analysis can begin. This results in potentially hundreds of analyst hours lost performing these repetitive tasks before any actual investigative work can take place, during which time, potential attackers could be continuing to further compromise the network or exfiltrate data.

DFLabs integration with EnCase via its IncMan SOAR platform, allows users to more quickly gather critical asset data, manage this data and further enrich this data using IncMan’s orchestration and automation capabilities. It helps to solve these specific security operations challenges often faced by analysts on a daily basis:

  • How can I quickly gather host information from endpoints across my infrastructure?
  • How can I correlate and enrich data collected from across the different hosts in my infrastructure?
  • How can I track my evidence, including acquisition information, location and chain of custody?
  • How can I manage all the findings from my forensic examination in one location, correlate and enrich them?
Complete Forensic and Evidence Management

EnCase from OpenText is the premier digital investigation platform for both law enforcement and private industry. EnCase allows acquisition of data from the greatest variety of devices, including over 25 types of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and GPS devices.  EnCase enables a comprehensive, forensically sound investigation and produces extensive reports on findings while maintaining the evidence integrity. EnCase Enterprise, built specifically for large enterprise clients, allows forensic analysts to reach across the enterprise network, gathering critical forensic data from hosts across a campus or across the world.

By integrating with OpenText EnCase, DFLabs IncMan SOAR can harness the power of EnCase Enterprise Snapshots, making gathering critical forensic artifacts from hosts around the globe a seamless task. Once this information has been collected by EnCase, IncMan automatically organizes this data by host, performs correlation, and allows a user to harness the power of IncMan’s other integrations to further enrich this information.   

In addition to Snapshot information, IncMan is also able to ingest EnCase bookmarks, correlating forensic tools and findings between EnCase cases, as well as acquisition information, making the tracking of forensic clones easier than ever before.

Use Case in Action

An IDS alert for suspicious activity on a host has automatically generated an Incident within IncMan, triggering an investigation. Utilizing IncMan’s EnCase Snapshot EnScript, an analyst performs a snapshot of the host in question, gathering critical process, network and handle information.

Using IncMan’s enrichment capabilities on the newly acquired snapshot information, a suspicious process and several suspicious network connections have been identified, prompting the need for a more detailed forensic investigation.

Utilizing several of IncMan’s containment integrations, traffic from the suspicious IP addresses has been temporarily blocked and the process’s hash value has been banned from running across the environment.

A forensic clone of the host is created to permit a more detailed forensics and root cause analysis. Once the forensic clone is created, IncMan’s Bookmarks and Clones EnScript is used to transfer information regarding the clone from EnCase to IncMan, making tracking the clone’s location and verification simple and easy.

Based on the forensic analysis of the host, a suspicious executable and configuration files have been identified and bookmarked for further analysis. Utilizing IncMan’s Bookmarks and Clones EnScript, these EnCase bookmarks are imported in to IncMan to permit improved tracking and information sharing between analysis.

Making use of one of IncMan’s several integrations with various sandboxing technologies, the executable bookmarked in EnCase is identified as a variant of known malware. Further research on this known malware variant leads to a remediation strategy for the infection of this host.

If you currently use EnCase from OpenText and would like to learn more, request a bespoke one to one demonstration of the integration with DFLabs’ SOAR platform. See for yourself how we can help you to free up valuable analyst time and improve the overall performance of your security program by automating host data acquisitions, tracking and managing important information, while storing all forensic artifacts in a single location for easier use and correlation.

Also for further reading, check out our white paper titled “DFLabs IncMan SOAR: For Incident and Forensics Management”.

Why Measuring SOC-cess Matters – Using Metrics to Enhance Your Security Program

SANS recently released their 2018 SOC Survey and many of their findings were of no surprise to anyone who has been responsible for maintaining their organization’s security posture. Many respondents reported a continued breakdown in communication between NOC and SOC operations, lack of dynamic asset discovery procedures, and event correlation continues to be a manual process even though SOC staffing is being worn thin by the surmounting responsibilities they have to take on.

Why Measuring SOC-cess Matters?

Anyone who has been a part of a security team knows these issues are an everyday battle, but those “common” issues were not what caught me off guard. The most shocking statistic I gathered from this survey is that only 54% of respondents reported that they are actively using metrics to measure their SOC’s success! I was taken aback by this finding and couldn’t help but wonder if all the other reported SOC deficiencies could be directly related to this missing link?

I have been in the security industry for close to ten years, most of which was spent as a SOC analyst and SIEM engineer for a large MSSP. It was my responsibility to be an extension of my client’s security arm and those clients ranged from large Fortune 500 companies to small family owned businesses. Each client was unique, what one found to be important, another thought of as noise. The diversity between each of these clients taught me early on how important it is to understand what their definition of success was so that I may help them to not only achieve their security goals but to assist them in staying ahead of today’s rapidly expanding threat landscape.

This diversity also taught me another valuable lesson: not all security programs are created equally. Naturally, my larger clients had a more mature security posture, they knew what they wanted and what it would take to get them there, and they had the funding to back it up. Unfortunately, some of my smaller clients were not as lucky. They were severely understaffed, their IT department was the Security department, they lacked adequate funding to stay ahead of the ever-growing security curve, and in many cases, the measurement of success resembled a game of whack a mole.

Does this sound familiar? If the answer is yes, you can rest assured that you are not alone. Even the most secure, highly funded organizations have struggled with these obstacles. However, I believe one of the biggest differences between these organizations and the organizations striving to be like them isn’t directly due to the lack of funds, but instead the metrics they are using to show value in what they are trying to accomplish.

Don’t get me wrong, funding is and always will be an obstacle that organizations, large or small, will have to overcome when trying to build and maintain a security program. But the larger and more dangerous obstacle is the one we are creating for ourselves by not measuring and monitoring our security strengths and weaknesses through a strong security metrics program.

This type of security program will be as different as the organization it aims to define. To truly understand what success looks like for you there are a few recommended tasks, that when completed, will give you a greater understanding of your environment and a strong foundation for your security metrics program.

How to enhance your security program
  • Conduct a risk assessment

A risk assessment is meant to help identify what an organization should be protecting and why. A successful assessment should highlight an organization’s valuable assets and showcase how they may be attacked and what would be at stake if an attack is successful. Armed with the results of this assessment, organizations can not only begin to address their deficiencies but now have a solid set of metrics that they can use to measure their success as they move forward.

  • Perform vulnerability assessments

Vulnerability assessments are another vital security tool which is designed to detect as many vulnerabilities as possible in an environment, and aid security teams in prioritizing and remediating the issues as they are uncovered. All organizations regardless of maturity will benefit from these types of assessments, but organizations with a low to medium security posture may benefit the most. The result of these assessments will help give greater definition to what an organization’s metrics should consist of and what steps are necessary for continued success.

  • Adopt a security framework

Even if you are not held to a compliance standard, adopt a security framework anyway. I understand that choosing a framework to model form does not guarantee an organization’s safety, but it is proven that those organizations who adopt a standard have a higher security maturity and are more likely to identify, contain, and recover from an incident faster than those who do not follow security program’s best practices. These frameworks, in conjunction with the security assessments mentioned above, were built to give organizations a blueprint of how to best protect their environment and measure their successes.

I sincerely believe in the value of a rich metrics program and have seen first hand what it can do for an organization. With the level of sophistication in today’s cyber attacks and the environments they target, we can no longer afford to leave our security up to chance. It is my hope that when SANS publish their SOC Survey for 2019, that we have taken the steps necessary to change this statistic because I know as an industry we can do better.

If you want to read more about KPIs and the metrics that we suggest should be set, monitored and measured for a more efficient and effective security program, read our white paper titled “Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Security Operations and Incident Response”

Sharing Critical Security Information Using DFLabs SOAR and McAfee OpenDXL

In security, information is power. Having actionable information available at the touch of a button can be the difference between stopping a threat in its tracks and becoming the victim of the next big breach. However, the many disparate security products deployed in most organizations make information sharing and integration difficult, if not impossible.

Lack of information sharing and integrations between security products leads to a time consuming and disjointed response to a security incident; an environment ripe for mistakes to be made.

Information sharing and security product integration and orchestration have always been at the core of the many values provided by DFLabs. By designing a solution that is OpenDXL compatible, DFLabs has provided joint DFLabs and McAfee customers with yet another way to streamline their security processes.

DFLabs IncMan SOAR and McAfee OpenDXL solve these specific challenges:
  • How can I share security information between my security products?
  • How can I quickly integrate my security products without the need for time-consuming custom integrations?

McAfee’s OpenDXL allows compatible security applications to seamlessly share security information without the need for complicated custom integrations. DFLabs IncMan OpenDXL implementation is now certified as McAfee compatible. All integrations between DFLabs IncMan platform and McAfee, including ePO, ATD and TIE, have been enhanced to include OpenDXL, significantly reducing the complexity gathering actionable enrichment information from these solutions.

OpenDXL lets developers join an adaptive system of interconnected services that communicate and share information to make real-time accurate security decisions. OpenDXL leverages the Data Exchange Layer (DXL), which many vendors and enterprises already utilize, and delivers a simple, open path for integrating security technologies regardless of vendor.

Together, this integration enables the ability to share information seamlessly between IncMan SOAR and McAfee products using OpenDXL, which leverages the power of OpenDXL for easy to use, feature rich integrations between products.

One of the most common and versatile use cases for OpenDXL within IncMan is integration with McAfee Threat Intelligence Exchange (TIE). McAfee TIE is a reputation broker which combines threat intelligence from imported global sources, such as McAfee Global Threat Intelligence (McAfee GTI) and third-party threat information (such as VirusTotal) with intelligence from local sources, including endpoints, gateways, and advanced analysis solutions. Using Data Exchange Layer (DXL), it instantly shares this collective intelligence across your security ecosystem, allowing security solutions to operate as one to enhance protection throughout the organization.

McAfee TIE makes it possible for administrators to easily tailor threat intelligence. Security administrators are empowered to assemble, override, augment, and tune the comprehensive intelligence information to customize protection for their environment and organization. This locally prioritized and tuned threat information provides instant response to any future encounters. Threat intelligence from McAfee TIE can be used to enrich indicators, such as file hashes, using IncMan’s R3 Rapid Response Runbooks to enable intelligent automated or manual decisions during the incident response process.

DFLabs IncMan also integrates with other McAfee tools. You can learn more about our integration with McAfee ATD and ePO in our previous blog posts.

Detect, Analyze and Respond to Advanced Malware with DFLabs SOAR Platform and McAfee ATD
Full Lifecycle Threat Management by Integrating DFLabs SOAR with McAfee ePO

Automate Actionable Network Intelligence with Tufin and DFLabs SOAR Platform

Enterprise networks are complex environments, with numerous components often under the control of teams outside the security team. During an incident, it is critical that respondents understand the network topology and have the most current network policy and device information available to them. Network documentation is often incomplete and out-of-date; security teams need a way to quickly and efficiently gather actionable network intelligence to effectively respond to a security incident.

This blog will cover some of the current challenges faced by security operations teams and how they can harness the vast amounts of network intelligence available, such as device, policy and path information, using Tufin as a case study. By integrating with Tufin Orchestration Suite, DFLab’s IncMan SOAR platform can utilize its R3 Rapid Response Runbooks to enable the collection of actionable network intelligence, along with its automation, orchestration, and measurement power to respond faster and more efficiently to security incidents.

The Challenges

There are three specific challenges that are common within any security operations center and analysts need to be able to find an effective and efficient way to solve them and obtain the information they need as quickly as possible.

  • How can I get a current list of network devices?
  • How can I get a current list of rules and policies?
  • How can I determine the network path from source to destination?
The DFLabs and Tufin Solution

Tufin Orchestration Suite takes a policy-centric approach to security to provide visibility across heterogeneous and hybrid IT environments, enable end-to-end change automation for network and application connectivity and orchestrate a unified policy baseline across the next generation network. The result is that organizations can make changes in minutes, reduce the attack surface and provide continuous compliance with internal and external/industry regulations. The ultimate effect is greater business continuity, improved agility and reduced exposure to cyber security risk and non-compliance.

Tufin Orchestration Suite together with DFLabs IncMan SOAR platform provides joint customers with an automated means to gather actionable network intelligence, a task which would otherwise need to be performed manually, taking up valuable analyst time when every minute counts. This results in an overall decrease in the mean time to respond (MTTR) to a computer security incident, saving the organization both time and potential financial and reputation loss.

It provides a list of current network devices based on any number of criteria, a list of current rules and policies for any number of devices and is able to simulate network traffic from source to destination, including path and associated rules. Here is a use case in action to see exactly how!

Use Case

Network traffic between a workstation and a domain controller has been identified as potentially malicious by the organization’s UBA platform. The UBA platform generated an alert which was forwarded to IncMan SOAR, causing an incident to be automatically generated. Based on the IncMan Incident Template, the following R3 Runbook was automatically assigned and executed to gather additional network intelligence.

network intelligence

 

The information gathering begins by simulating the network path between the source address and destination address of the potentially malicious network traffic. This information is gathered by two separate Enrichment actions, one which will display this information in a table format, and another which will display the same information in a graphic network path which can be exported and shared or added to reports.

network intelligence 2

 

As with information from any other IncMan Enrichment action, each network device on the path between the source address and the destination address is stored within an array which can be used by subsequent actions.

After the path information has been retrieved, an additional Enrichment action is used to retrieve information about each device along the path.  This includes information such as device vendor, model, name and IP addresses.

Following the acquisition of the device information, two additional Enrichment actions are utilized to gather additional network intelligence. The first action will retrieve all rules for each network device along the path. Detailed information on each matching rule will be displayed for the analyst, allowing the analyst to assess why the traffic was permitted or denied, what additional traffic may be permitted from the source to the destination, and what rule changes may be appropriate. The second action will retrieve all policies for each network device along the path. Similar to the previous rule information, this information will allow the analyst to assess the configured network policies and determine what, if any, policy changes should be made to contain the potential threat.

Harnessing the power of Tufin Orchestration Suite, along with the additional orchestration, automation and response features of DFLab’s IncMan SOAR platform, organizations can elevate their incident response process, leading to faster and more effective response and reduced risk across the entire organization.  

To see the integration in action, request a demo of our IncMan SOAR platform today.

Five Critical Components of SOAR Technology

In our previous two blogs, we looked at some of the most common problems a Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) Technology is designed to solve and the three pillars of a SOAR solution. We will round out this three-part series by taking a more detailed look at some of the most critical SOAR Technology components any SOAR solution should possess. While some of these components may be more critical than others to individual organizations, each plays an important role in the overall function of a SOAR solution and should be considered when evaluating different platforms.

1. Customizability and Flexibility

No two security programs will be alike; this is especially true when you cross vertical lines. For a SOAR solution to be effective, it should be capable of being the single tool on top of the security stack. A SOAR solution should be able to be implemented in a manner that is optimized for CSIRT teams, as well as SOCs, MSSPs and security teams. Data input from a multitude of sources, including machine to machine, email, user submissions and manual input should be supported. The importance of security metrics means that customers should be able to customize not only the values available in the solution but also what attributes are tracked as well.

The number of security solutions, commercial, open source, and developed in-house means that any viable SOAR solution must be flexible enough to support a multitude of security products. Any SOAR solution will support many security products out of the box, however, the likelihood that all the organization’s security products will be supported by default is low. For that reason, it is crucial that a SOAR solution has a flexible option in place that allows customers to easily create bi-directional integrations with security products which are not supported by default.  

2. Process Workflows

One of the key benefits of a SOAR solution is being able to automate and orchestrate process workflows to achieve force multiplication and reduce the burden of repetitive tasks on analysts. To achieve these benefits, a SOAR solution must be able to support flexible methods for implementing process workflows. The implementation of these workflows must be flexible enough to support almost any process which may need to be codified within the solution. Workflows should support the use of both built-in and custom integrations, as well as the creation of manual tasks to be completed by an analyst. Flow controlled workflows should support multiple types of flow control mechanisms, including those which allow for an analyst to make a manual decision before the workflow continues.  

3. Incident Management

Incident response is a complex process. Orchestration and automation of security products provide obvious value to any security program, but to maximize the time and monetary investment in a SOAR solution, a comprehensive SOAR solution should include additional features to manage the entire incident response lifecycle. This should include basic case management functionality, such as tracking cases, recording actions taken during the incident and providing reporting on critical metrics and KPIs. This should also include other ancillary functions such as detailed task tracking, evidence, and chain of custody management, asset management, and report management.  

4. Threat Intelligence

Actionable threat intelligence is a critical component in effective and efficient incident response. While simple threat intelligence feeds still provide some value and should be supported by a SOAR solution, to be truly effective in today’s threat landscape, threat intelligence must go above and beyond simple feeds. Because a SOAR solution has access to not only the indicators but also the rest of the incident information which can provide the additional context, it is in a unique position to gather actionable threat intelligence.

A proactive security program requires threat intelligence to be properly correlated to discover attack patterns, potential vulnerabilities and other ongoing risks to the organization. This correlation should be done automatically and it should be immediately clear if an ongoing incident may share common factors with any previous incidents. Because threat intelligence can consist of a vast amount of data, visual correlation is also an important factor when assessing threat intelligence capabilities.

5. Collaboration and Information Sharing

Incident response is not one player sport. Response to a security incident will likely include multiple individuals and potentially multiple teams and even organizations. To be effective in a team environment, a SOAR solution must support seamless collaboration and information sharing among team members in a controlled manner.  

Collaboration and information sharing must also be possible outside of the organization itself.  This is especially true in the context of threat intelligence. Open sharing of threat intelligence, when possible, it a critical tool in fighting cybercrime. There are numerous avenues available to share threat intelligence, open, closed and industry-specific. The majority of these threat intelligence sharing programs utilize one of the open standards for threat intelligence, such as STIX/TAXII, OpenIOC or MISP, and each of these standards should be supported by a SOAR solution.

For more information on any of these topics covered in this three-part series, please check out our whitepaper “Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) Technology” here.

Leveraging SOAR Technology to Facilitate Knowledge Transfer in Security Operations

Earlier this year I was talking to a colleague about the state of SOC operations and how I was looking forward to going to the SANS Security Operations Summit in New Orleans in July. The folks who attend SANS events are at the top of their game and let’s be honest, SANS provides some of the best training in our industry, so what’s not to love?

The conversation quickly turned to how to provide better scalability within SOC operations. Given that our teams are confronted with an increased number of alerts coming from more sophisticated actors on a daily basis, how do we keep up? We spoke about the need for better security automation to enrich the information available at the onset of an incident and how malware has been automating since the Morris worm 30 years ago.

At one point she asked me how best we can handle the transfer of incident handling “tribal knowledge” from the senior Incident Response personnel to the junior members, given the daily workload they carry. I thought about it for a moment and threw out that perhaps increased spending for machine learning or AI could help bridge the knowledge gap. She then asked, “Couldn’t we take that money and invest in knowledge transfer within the team instead?”. That simple and simultaneously complex question got me to thinking about how we can better utilize existing resources to provide that knowledge transfer in an environment as dynamic and rapidly changing as an Incident Response organization.

I thought this topic was interesting enough to make it my focus for my upcoming speaking engagement at SANS.

As we already know an increased workload coupled with an industry-wide shortage of skilled responders is heavily impacting operational performance in Security Operations Centers (SOC) globally and an integral part of the solution is formulating a methodology to ensure that crucial knowledge is retained and transferred between incident responders. By utilizing Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology, security teams can combine traditional methods of knowledge transfer with more modern techniques and technologies.

Join me at the SANS Security Operations Summit on July 30, 2018 at Noon for an informal “Lunch and Learn” session to discuss how we ensure that the Incident Response knowledge possessed by our senior responders can be consistently and accurately passed along to the more junior team members while simultaneously contributing to the Incident Response process. I look forward to meeting you there.

If you are not attending the summit, don’t worry, you can visit our website to find out more information about the benefits of utilizing a SOAR solution with DFLabs’ IncMan SOAR platform.  Alternatively, if you would like to have a more in-depth discussion, you can arrange a demo to see IncMan live in action.

SOAR Technology – What Problems Are We Trying To Solve?


Increasing Adoption of SOAR Solutions

Over the past several years, Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) has gone from being viewed as a niche product to one gaining traction across almost all industry verticals. Today, more and more private organizations, MSSPs and governments are turning to SOAR Technology to address previously unsolved problems in their security programs. SOAR is about taking action: “Automate. Orchestrate. Measure”. Organizations are implementing a SOAR solution to improve their incident response efficiency and effectiveness by orchestrating and automating their security operations processes. Gartner estimates that by 2019, 30% of mid to large-sized enterprises will leverage a SOAR technology, up from an estimated 5% in 2015.

In this three-part blog, we will discuss the key drivers for SOAR adoption and what problems a SOAR solution can help solve.  In the next blog, the second part of this three-part blog, we will discuss the three pillars of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR). Finally, we will round out the series by discussing the critical components and functionality that a SOAR solution should contain.

Five Key Problems SOAR Technology Helps to Solve

Like many new product categories, Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology was born from problems without solutions (or perhaps more accurately, problems which had grown beyond the point that they could be adequately solved with existing solutions). To define the product category more accurately, it is crucial to first understand what problems drove its creation. There are five key problems the SOAR market space has evolved to address.

  • Increased workload combined with budget constraints and competition for skilled analysts means that organizations are being forced to do more with less

As the number and sophistication of threats has grown over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the number of security applications in the enterprise. Security analysts are being forced to work within multiple platforms, manually gathering desperate data from each source, then manually enriching and correlating that data. Although it may not be as difficult to find security analysts as it once was, a truly skilled security analyst is still somewhat of a rare breed.  Intense competition for these skill analysts means that organizations must often choose between hiring one highly skilled analyst, or several more junior analysts.

  • Valuable analyst time is being consumed sorting through a plethora of alerts and performing mundane tasks to triage and determine the veracity of the alerts

Even when alerts are centrally managed and correlated through a SIEM, the number of alerts is often overwhelming for security teams.  Each one of these alerts must be manually verified and triaged by an analyst.  Alerts which are determined to be valid then require additional manual research and enrichment before any real action can be taken to address the potential threat. While these manual processes are taking place, other alerts sit unresolved in the queue and additional alerts continue to roll in.

  • Security incidents are becoming more costly, meaning that organizations must find new ways to further reduce the mean time to detection and the mean time to resolution

The cost of the average incident has increased steadily year on year. The immediate cost of an incident due to lost sales, employee time spent, consulting hours, legal fees and lawsuits is relatively easy to quantify. The financial loss due to reputational damage, however, can be much more difficult to accurately measure. Reducing the time to detect and resolve potential security incidents must be an absolute priority. Each hour that a security incident persists is effectively money out of the door.

  • Tribal knowledge is inherently difficult to codify, and often leaves the organization with personnel changes

Employee retention is an issue faced by almost every security team. Highly skilled analysts are an extremely valuable resource for which competition is always high. Each time an organization loses a seasoned analyst, some tribal knowledge is lost with them and they are replaced with an analyst who, even if they possess the same technical skills, will lack this tribal knowledge for at least a period of time. Training new analysts takes time, especially when processes are manual and complex.  Documenting security processes is a complex, but critical task for all security teams.

  • Security operations are inherently difficult to measure and manage effectively

Unlike other business units which may have more concrete methods for measuring the success or failure of a program, security metrics are often much more abstract and subjective. Traditional approaches to measuring return on investment are often not appropriate for security projects and can lead to inaccurate or misleading results. Properly measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of a security product or program requires a measurement process specially designed to meet these unique requirements.

About DFLabs IncMan SOAR

DFLabs is an award-winning and recognized global leader in Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology. Its pioneering purpose-built platform, IncMan SOAR, enables SOCs, CSIRTs, and MSSPs to automate, orchestrate and measure security operations and incident response processes and tasks. IncMan SOAR drives intelligence-driven command and control of security operations, by orchestrating the full incident response and investigation lifecycle and empowers security analysts, forensic investigators and incident responders to respond to, track, predict and visualize cyber security incidents.  As its flagship product, IncMan SOAR has been adopted by Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations worldwide.

Schedule a live demo with one of our cyber security specialists here and see DFLabs IncMan SOAR platform in action. For more information on any of these topics, please check out our new whitepaper titled “Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) Technology” here.

Stay tuned for our next blog in this series, where we will discuss the three pillars of SOAR technology.  

Understanding the Noise Using Security Orchestration, Automation and Response

“Noise” is a prevalent term in the cyber security industry. Here at DFLabs – Security Orchestration, Automation and Response Platform, we consistently receive feedback from vendor partners and clients that one of the major issues they face on daily basis is the ability to sift through the noise in order to understand and differentiate an actual critical problem from a lost cause.

What is “noise”?

Noise is a vast amount of information passed from security products that can have little or no meaning to the person receiving the information. Typically, lots of products are not tuned or adapted for certain environments and therefore would present more information than needed or required.

Noise is a problem to all of us in the cyber security industry, as there are meanings within these messages that are on many occasions simply ignored or passed over for higher priorities. For example, having policies and procedures that are incorrectly identified or adapted, or a product is not properly aligned within the network topology.

There is not one security product that can deal with every attack vector that organizations experience today. What’s more disturbing about this paradigm is that most of the tools and technologies within the security infrastructure do not talk to each other natively, yet all them have intelligence data that can overlay to enrich security operations and incident response teams.

Understanding the Noise Using Security Orchestration, Automation and Response

Cyber incident investigative teams spend a vast number of hours carrying out simple administrative tasks that could easily be relieved by introducing an effective security orchestration, automation and response  (SOAR) solution. Given the sheer volume of alerts, we can see from SIEM products on a day to day basis, a Security Orchestration Automation and Response SOAR tool can be used in conjunction to execute most, if not all of the human to machine actions, following best practice per type of incident and company guidelines, all through automated playbooks.

Re-thinking what information is being presented and how we deal with it is the biggest question. There are several ways to manage this:

  • Fully automating the noise worthy tasks.
    If these are consistently coming into your Security Operations Center (SOC) causing you to spend more time on administration than investigation, it may be prudent to schedule the tasks in this manner.
  • Semi-automation of tasks can give your SOC teams more control over how to deal with huge numbers.
    Automating 95% of these tasks and then having an analyst to provide the last sign off via manual look over, can heavily reduce time if your organization is against fully automating the process.
  • Leverage all of your existing products to provide better insight into the incident.
    For example, leverage an existing Active Directory to lock out or suspend a user account if they log in outside of normal business hours. Additionally, it’s possible to sandbox and snapshot that machine to understand what is happening. A key consideration here is to make sure not to disrupt work at every opportunity. It really is a balancing act, however, depending on their privilege you may want to act faster for some users compared to others depending on their role and responsibilities.

During the second half of 2018, the readiness and capability to respond to a variety of cyber incidents will continue to be at the top of every C-level agenda. By leveraging the security orchestration automation and response capabilities offered by DFLabs’ IncMan SOAR platform, stakeholders can provide 360-degree visibility during each stage of the incident response lifecycle. This provides not only consistency across investigations for personnel but encourages the implementation of Supervised Active Intelligence across the entire incident response spectrum.

At DFLabs we showcase our capacity to reduce the investigative time and incident dwell time, all while increasing incident handling consistency and reducing liability. Arming your SOC teams with information prior to the start of their incident investigation will help to drive focus purely on the incidents that need attention rather than the noise.

Please contact us to discuss how we can work together to grow your incident response capabilities or schedule a demonstration of how we can utilize what you already have and make it more effective and efficient.