Using Threat Intelligence Effectively in Security Automation and Orchestration with DFLabs and Cisco Security

When a security incident occurs, it is unlikely that the entire scope and chain of events will be obvious from the outset. More often, it is a single indicator or security alert which provides the first inkling that something is wrong. This is especially true for more advanced, complex, or targeted attacks. It is the security team’s responsibility to take that small, possibly benign event, and determine if it is indeed an incident (triage), and if so, the full scope and impact of the incident (investigation).

Security teams often rely on threat intelligence during both the triage and investigation stages of an event.  This information can be critical in determining the veracity of an alert and then pivoting from that first indicator to quickly determine the scope of the potential cyber security incident. For example, an endpoint alert for a suspicious file may provide a hash value, but little else. Manual analysis of the file will likely provide additional indicators, however, very few organizations have the time or resources to manually analyze each suspicious file they encounter. Threat intelligence can quickly add context to that first hash indicator; perhaps informing analysts that that file is a known dropper for another malicious file which may not have been detected by the endpoint solution, as well as providing IP addresses or domains to which the dropped file is known to have communicated with in the past. Online sandboxes can also be used to provide this kind of threat intelligence in near real-time, much faster and more cost-effectively than manual analysis.

How can threat intelligence be an effective tool?

For threat intelligence to be an effective tool, it must be both reliable and actionable.  In the case of threat intelligence, reliable means that we are able to rely on the accuracy and completeness of the intelligence with a high degree of confidence.  Actionable in this case means that the intelligence must be something that enables us to take some action, further investigation, containment etc., which we would not have been able to take without the threat intelligence.  By definition, threat intelligence cannot be actionable if it is not reliable. For example, a threat intelligence source that classifies 8.8.8.8 (Google’s DNS) as malicious because a malware sample made a DNS request to this IP should not be considered reliable, and therefore we would not want to take action on intelligence from this source.

Reliable, actionable threat intelligence is the backbone of successful security automation. Where human analysts can determine the reliability and actionability of threat intelligence for each query, automation can be much less forgiving.  For this reason, it is even more critical that there is a high degree of confidence in the source of threat intelligence when used in automation.

Still, when a high confidence threat intelligence source is combined with well-executed automation and orchestration processes, the result is a level of efficiency that simply cannot be achieved using strictly manual processes,  The “query, investigate, pivot, repeat” can take many minutes or even hours when performed manually, but is often a very predictable and repeatable process which can be automated and completed in significantly less time. This allows analysts to focus their limited time on the portions of an investigation which require human analysis instead of the arduous data gathering and enrichment processes.

DFLabs and Cisco Use Case

As an example, let’s examine a malware analysis automation use case using a Runbook from DFLabs IncMan SOAR and several Cisco security products.  This use case focuses strictly on the analysis of a malicious file, it is not dependent on the source of the file such as an attachment seen by Cisco Email Security.  This same Runbook could be used with other automated runbooks as part of the response to an endpoint alert, malicious email attachment or other security event.

The Runbook begins by using Cisco Threat Grid to perform advanced sandbox analysis of the file to gather intelligence which can be used to further enhance and pivot the investigation.  In this example use case, we will focus primarily on network indicators and threat intelligence to demonstrate the way in which automation can be used to pivot from indicator to indicator.

Follow the detonation and report from Cisco Threat Grid, this Runbook will perform basic enrichment actions on any IP addresses the malware sample was observed to be communicating with, such as WHOIS and geolocation queries.  Following these basic enrichment actions, the Runbook will query Cisco Threat Grid for IP reputation information for each of the IP addresses. If Cisco Threat Grid returns negative reputation results exceeding a user defined threshold, the IP address will be automatically blocked at the firewall.  The organization’s solution will then be queried to see if any hosts have been observed making connections to the malicious IP addresses. If the EDR solution returns results, the analyst will be presented with a User Choice decision, allowing the analyst to review the previously enriched information and make a manual decision as to whether to quarantine the host until further investigation can be completed.

Cisco Malware Analysis

 

Simultaneously, the Runbook queries Cisco Umbrella Investigate for domains associated with the IP addresses found during the executable analysis by Cisco Threat Grid.  If any domains are found, a similar process to that performed on the IP addresses is performed; basic enrichment followed by a threat intelligence query and a domain detonation using Cisco Threat Grid.  If Cisco Threat Grid returns negative reputation results exceeding a user defined threshold, the domain will automatically be blocked using Cisco Umbrella. As with the IP addresses, the EDR solution is then queried and any results will cause a User Choice decision to be presented to the user to consider quarantining the host until further investigation can be completed.

The final simultaneous action is a query of the EDR solution for evidence of execution of the executable’s hash value returned by Cisco Threat Grid.  Any results will cause a User Choice decision to be presented to the user to consider quarantining the host until further investigation can be completed.

In this use case, User Choice decisions were used before quarantining hosts was performed to show how manual decision points can be used to enhance the confidence in Runbooks which may perform tasks which could have a negative impact on the environment, such as quarantining a host.  These User Choice decisions could easily be automated decisions, depending on the preference of the organization. Conversely, the automated decisions made to block the IP addresses and domains could easily be made User Choice decisions.

This example use case shows how a time consuming manual process like pivoting from malware analysis to indicators across the network can be easily automated, saving analyst time while not compromising the final outcome of the process, by utilizing reliable and actionable threat intelligence.  

By combining the vast capabilities of Cisco’s suite of security products, with the orchestration and automation power of DFLabs’ IncMan SOAR platform, organizations can respond to potential security incidents, with unmatched speed and accuracy.

To learn more about using threat intelligence effectively in Security Automation and Orchestration with Cisco Security, register now for our upcoming webinar on Tuesday October 30, at 11am EST / 4pm CET hosted by myself with guests Jessica Bair, Senior Manager, Advanced Threat Solutions, Cisco Security and Michael Auger, Senior Security Solutions Architect, Cisco Security.

Automate Evidence Gathering and Threat Containment by Orchestrating Response Efforts with Carbon Black Defense

The integration between DFLabs’ IncMan R3 Rapid Response Runbooks and Carbon Black Defense’s next-generation antivirus and EDR solution allows companies to automate evidence gathering and threat containment efforts, and cut dwell times down to a manageable level.

Equipped with strong evidence data gathered from Carbon Black Defense, analysts and security teams can quickly disposition and act to remediate an incident. Carbon Black Defense uses their award-winning Streaming Prevention technology to take a holistic approach to an organization’s critical infrastructure.

The Problem

Sophisticated attacks that organizations have been experiencing cause traditional antivirus to become ineffective. Signature-based detection mechanisms can still detect known threats, but the new generation of non-malware attacks are going undetected in our networks and lying dormant for extended periods of time, enabling attackers to use our environments as their own personal playground.

To manage these deficiencies, Security Operation Centers are employing a wider range of tools to close the gap created by their antivirus solution. Evidence gathering across these tools have added to an analyst’s investigational times, which are allowing our adversaries ample time to secure their foothold in our networks.

Three common problems include:

  1. Attack vectors have morphed from file to file-less tactics which have caused traditional, signature-based antivirus to no longer be an effective detection mechanism
  2. Dwell time is being measured in days which have exceeded triple-digit figures
  3. Manual evidence gathering costs Security Operations teams valuable time when investigating possible incidents
DFLabs and Carbon Black Solution

An incident can turn into a breach in a few minutes, and this makes early detection and remediation a crucial aspect of an organization’s security program. Utilizing IncMan’s integration with Carbon Black Defense allows organizations to automate evidence gathering at their endpoints and present their analysts with critical information such as running processes, system information, and historical event detail to accelerate their decision-making ability to quickly remediate an issue.

These remediation tasks range from terminating processes on a victim machine to completely removing it from the network to allow for hands-on investigation and recovery.

About Carbon Black Defense

Carbon Black Defense is a next-generation antivirus and endpoint detection and remediation solution which utilizes Carbon Black’s proprietary Streaming Prevention technology to protect organizations from the full spectrum of malware and non-malware attacks.

By leveraging event stream processing, Streaming Prevention in Carbon Black Defense continuously updates risk profiles made from endpoint activity and when multiple potentially malicious events are observed, Carbon Black Defense will take action to block the would-be attack. This next-generation antivirus solution is proving why Carbon Black Defense will be the industry’s de facto standard in the following years.

Use Case

An IDS alert is received and triggers an incident in IncMan. Through an R3 Rapid Response Runbook, enrichment actions are initiated by first querying IP reputation services for the source of the suspicious activity. A second IP reputation service is then queried to verify the results of the first query. Once the reputation checks have been completed, the priority of the incident is set according to the results of the reputation checks and a ticket is opened in the organization’s ticket management system.

IncMan continues to process the runbook by gathering additional enrichment data for the incident handler. User account information is pulled from Active Directory and Carbon Black Defense is queried to collect system information, including all running processes on the victim machine. In addition to system information, IncMan also queries Carbon Black Defense events from the victim machine observed in the last 30 days.

Once the enrichment information is gathered, the incident handler will receive notification of the incident. The incident handler will be prompted with a User Choice decision to determine if containment actions may be appropriate. The incident handler can review the information gathered up to this point to determine if automated containment actions should be performed at this point. If the incident handler determines the activity is malicious and automated containment actions are appropriate, the machine will be quarantined from the network and the source address will be blocked at the firewall.

Carbon Black Defense Actions

Enrichment:

  • Directory Listing
  • Download File
  • Event Details
  • List Processes
  • Memory Dump
  • Policies List
  • Search Into Events
  • Search Process
  • System Info

Containment:

  • Change Device Status
  • Delete File
  • Terminate Process
Summary

Carbon Black Defense is an extremely powerful endpoint solution, capable of detecting advanced threats, supporting detail data enrichment, and enabling rapid incident response. Orchestrating actions between Carbon Black Defense and other third-party solutions through IncMan integrations allows organizations to harness the power of Carbon Black Defense at any stage of the incident response process, providing a more efficient and effective response process.

How Security Orchestration and Automation Helps You Work Smarter and Improve Incident Response

We’ve been witnessing the continual transformation of the cyber security ecosystem in the past few years. With cyber attacks becoming ever-more sophisticated, organizations have been forced to spend huge amounts of their budgets on improving their security programs in an attempt to protect their infrastructure, corporate assets, and their brand reputation from potential hackers.

Recent research, however, still shows that a large number of organizations are experiencing an alarming shortage of the cyber security skills and tools required to adequately detect and prevent the variety of attacks being faced by organizations. Protecting your organization today is a never-ending and complex process. I am sure, like me, you are regularly reading many cyber security articles and statistics detailing these alarming figures, which are becoming more of a daily reality.

Many organizations are now transitioning the majority of their efforts on implementing comprehensive incident response plans, processes and workflows to respond to potential incidents in the quickest and most efficient ways possible. But even with this new approach, many experts and organizations alike express concerns that we will still be faced with a shortage of skilled labor able to deal with these security incidents, with security teams struggling to fight back thousands of potential threats generated from incoming security alerts on a daily basis.

With so many mundane and repetitive tasks to complete, there’s little time for new strategies, planning, training, and knowledge transfer. To make things worse, security teams are spending far too much of their valuable time reacting to the increasing numbers of false positives, to threats that aren’t real. This results in spending hours, even days on analyzing and investigating false positives, which leaves little time for the team to focus on mitigating real, legitimate cyber threats, which could result in a serious and potentially damaging security incident. Essentially, we need to enable security operations teams to work smarter, not harder; but is this easier said than done?

How does security orchestration and automation help security teams?

With this in mind, organizations need to find new ways combat these issues, while at the same time add value to their existing security program and tools and technologies being used, to improve their overall security operations performance. The answer is in the use of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response SOAR solutions focus on the following core functions of security operations and incident response and help security operations centers (SOCs), computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs) and managed security service providers (MSSPs) work smarter and act faster:

  • Orchestration – Enables security operations to connect and coordinate complex workflows, tools and technologies, with flexible SOAR solutions supporting a vast number of integrations and APIs.
  • Automation – Speeds up the entire workflow by executing actions across infrastructures in seconds, instead of hours if tasks are performed manually.
  • Collaboration – Promotes more efficient communication and knowledge transfer across security teams
  • Incident Management – Activities and information from a single incident are managed within a single, comprehensive platform, allowing tactical and strategic decision makers alike complete oversight of the incident management process.
  • Dashboards and Reporting: Combines of core information to provide a holistic view of the organization’s security infrastructure also providing detailed information for any incident, event or case when it is required by different levels of stakeholders.

Now let’s focus on the details of these core functions and see how they improve the overall performance.

Orchestration

Security Orchestration is the capacity to coordinate, formalize, and automate responsive actions upon measuring risk posture and the state of affairs in the environment; more precisely, it’s the fashion in which disparate security systems are connected together to deliver larger visibility and enable automated responses; it also coordinates volumes of alert data into workflows.

Automation

With automation, multiple tasks on partial or full elements of the security process can be executed without the need for human intervention. Security operations can create sophisticated processes with automation, which can improve accuracy. While the concepts behind both security orchestration and automation are somewhat related, their aims are quite different. Automation aims to reduce the time processes take, making them more effective and efficient by automating repeatable processes and tasks. Some SOAR solutions also applying machine learning to recommend actions based on the responses to previous incidents. Automation also aims to reduce the number of mundane actions that must be completed manually by security analysts, allowing them to focus on a high level and more important actions that require human intervention.

Incident Management and Collaboration

Incident management and collaboration consist of the following activities:

  • Alert processing and triage
  • Journaling and evidentiary support
  • Analytics and incident investigation
  • Threat intelligence management
  • Case and event management, and workflow

Security orchestration and automation tools are designed to facilitate all of these processes, while at the same making the process of threat identification, investigation and management significantly easier for the entire security operations team.

Dashboards and Reporting

SOAR tools generate reports and dashboards for a range of stakeholders from the day to day analysts, SOC managers, other organization departments and even C-level executives. These dashboards and reports are not only used to provide security intelligence, but they can also be used to develop analyst skills.

Human Factor Still Paramount

Security orchestration and automation solutions create a more focused and streamlined approach and methodology for detection and response to cyber threats by integrating the company’s security capacity and resources with existing experts and processes in order to automate manual tasks, orchestrate processes and workflows, and create an overall faster and more effective incident response.

Whichever security orchestration and automation solution a company chooses, it is important to remember that no one single miracle solution guarantees full protection. Human skills remain the core of every future security undertaking and the use of security orchestration and automation should not be viewed as a total replacement of a security team. Rather, it should be considered a supplement that enables the security team by easing the workload, alleviating the repetitive, time-consuming tasks, formalizing processes and workflows, while supporting and empowering the existing security team to turn into proactive threat hunters as opposed to reactive incident investigators.

Humans and machines combined can work wonders for the overall performance of an organization’s security program and in the long run allows the experts in the team to customize and tailor their actions to suit the specific business needs of the company.

Finally, by investing in a SOAR solution for threat detection and incident response, organizations can increase their capacity to detect, respond to and remediate all security incidents and alerts they are faced with in the quickest possible time frames.

Contain Threats and Stop Data Exfiltration with DFLabs and McAfee Web Gateway

Security teams are inundated with a constant barrage of alerts. Depending on the severity of each alert, it is often minutes to hours before an analyst can properly triage and investigate the alert. The manual triage and investigation process adds additional time, as analysts must determine the validity of the alert and gather additional information. While these manual processes are occurring, the potential attacker has been hard at work; likely using scripted or automated processes to probe the network, pivot to other hosts and potential begin exfiltrating data. By the time the security team has verified the threat and begun blocking the attacker, the damage is often already done.

So, how can security operations temporarily contain a possible threat and/or permanently block a known threat? This blog will explain how by utilizing the IncMan SOAR technology from DFLabs with its integration with McAfee Web Gateway, including a use case example in action.

DFLabs and McAfee Web Gateway Integration

McAfee Web Gateway delivers comprehensive security for all aspects of web traffic in one high-performance appliance software architecture. For user-initiated web requests, McAfee Web Gateway first enforces an organization’s internet use policy. For all allowed traffic, it then uses local and global techniques to analyze the nature and intent of all content and active code, providing immediate protection. McAfee Web Gateway can examine the secure sockets layer (SSL) traffic to provide in-depth protection against malicious code or control applications.

Attackers are scripting and automating their attacks, meaning that additional infections and data exfiltration can occur in mere seconds. Security teams must find new ways to keep pace with attackers in order to minimize the impact from even a moderately skilled threat. Utilizing DFLabs IncMan’s integration with McAfee Web Gateway, IncMan’s R3 Rapid Response Runbooks automate and orchestrate the response to newly detected threats on the network, enabling organizations to immediately take containment actions on verified malicious IPs and ports, as well as temporarily preventing additional damage while further investigation is performed on suspicious IP addresses and ports.

Use Case in Action

McAfee Web Gateway has generated an alert based on potentially malicious traffic originating from a host inside the network to an unknown host on the Internet. Based on a predefined Incident Template, IncMan has automatically generated an Incident and notified the Security Operations Team. As part of the Incident Template, the following R3 Runbook has been automatically added to the Incident and executed.

 

Data exfiltration can occur in mere seconds. By the time a security team has validated the threat and blocked the malicious traffic, it is often too late.  DFLabs integration with McAfee Web Gateway allows organizations to automatically contain the threat and stop the bleeding until further action can be taken.

The Runbook begins by performing several basic Enrichment actions, such as gathering WHOIS and reverse DNS information on the destination IP address.  Following these basic Enrichment actions, the Runbook continues by querying two separate threat reputation services for the destination IP address. If either threat reputation service returns threat data above a certain user-defined threshold the Runbook will continue along a path which takes additional action. Otherwise, the Runbook will record all previously gathered data, then end.

If either threat reputation service has deemed the destination IP address to be potentially malicious, the Runbook will continue by using an additional Enrichment action to query the organization’s IT asset inventory.  Although this information will not be utilized by the automated Runbook, it will play an important role in the process shortly.

Next, the Runbook will query a database of known-good hosts for the destination IP address.  In this use case, it is assumed that this external database has been preconfigured by the organization and contains a list of all known-good, whitelisted, external hosts by IP address, hostname and domain. If the destination IP address does not exist in the known-good hosts’ database, the security analyst will be prompted with a User Choice decision. This optional special condition within IncMan will pause the automatic execution of the Runbook, allow the security analyst to review the previously gathered Enrichment information and allow the security analyst to make a conditional flow decision.  In this case, the User Choice decision asks the security analyst if they wish to block the destination IP address. If the analyst chooses to block the destination IP address, a Containment action will utilize McAfee Web Gateway to block the IP until further investigation and remediation can be conducted.

If you want to learn more about how to contain threats, block malicious traffic and halt data exfiltration utilizing Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) technology, get in touch with one of the team today to request your live one to one demo.

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”.

9 Key Components of Incident and Forensics Management

Incident and Forensics Investigations Management

Security incidents and digital forensics investigations are complex events with many facets, all of which must be managed in parallel to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. When investigations are not managed and documented properly, processes fail, critical items are overlooked, inefficiencies develop, and key indicators are missed, all leading to increased potential risk and losses.

Investigation management can be broken down into a number of key components and it is important that an organization is able to carry out all of these elements collectively and seamlessly in order to properly handle and manage any incident they may potentially face.

This blog will briefly cover 9 key areas that I believe are the most important when it comes to incident and forensics management. Ensuring these are firmly in place within your security operations or CSIRT team will ensure more efficient and effective incident management when an incident does occur.

If you would like to learn more about each of the components in more detail and how DFLabs has incorporated them into its comprehensive and complete Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) platform to enable organizations to improve their security program, you can download our in-depth white paper here.

Case Management

Every investigation must be organized into a logical container, commonly referred to as a case or incident. This is necessary for several reasons. Most obviously, this container is used to identify the investigation and contain information such as observables, tasks, evidence, notes and other information associated with the investigation, discussed in greater detail in the subsequent sections. Many investigations contain sensitive information which should only be accessible by those with a legitimate need to know. These containers also serve to enforce a level of access control.

Observables and Findings

Investigations generate a large volume of data, from simple observables such as IP addresses, domain names and hash values, to more complex observables such as malware and attacker TTPs, as well as findings such as those made from log analysis, forensic examination and malware analysis. All this information must be recorded and shared with all appropriate stakeholders to ensure the most effective response to a security incident.

Data gathered from previous incidents can be an invaluable tool in responding more effectively to future security incidents. As individual data points are associated with each other, this information is transformed from simple data into actionable threat intelligence which can inform future decisions and responses.

Phase, Expectation and Task Management

Investigations generally progress through a series of phases, each of which will contain a series of management expectations and a set of tasks required to meet those expectations. As the complexity of an investigation increases the tracking of these phases, expectations and tasks become both more critical and more difficult to manage. Failing to properly track and manage investigation phases, expectations and tasks can lead to duplicated efforts, overlooked items and other inefficiencies which lead to an increase in both cost and time to successfully complete an investigation.

Evidence and Chain of Custody

Documenting evidence and tracking chain of custody can be a complex process during an investigation of any size. Documentation using older paper-based or spreadsheet systems does not scale to larger investigations, is prone to error and is time-consuming. Failing to maintain a full list of evidence or maintain chain of custody can result in lost evidence, duplication of efforts and inability to use critical evidence during legal processes.

Forensic Tool Integration

Security operations use a multitude of tools and technologies on a daily basis with different ones being utilized for varying types of investigations. Logging into several platforms individually to collect data is often a manual process and can be tiresome and painful, as well as extremely time-consuming, and time is always of the essence. It is critical that security tools are connected and integrated to improve efficiencies and to fuse intelligence seamlessly together so that all data can be analyzed and documented in a single location and immediately shared with relevant stakeholders.

Reporting and Management

Reporting and the management of reports is a vital function during any investigation. Once information is documented, it must be able to be accessed easily and in multiple formats appropriate for a wide variety of audiences. As the scale of an investigation grows, so does the number of individual reports which will be generated. This can result in many complexities, including sharing logistics, proper access controls and managing different versions of reports. To reduce the impact of these complexities, a single report management platform should be used to act as the authoritative source for all reports.

Activity Tracking and Auditing

Tracking actions taken during an investigation is important to ensure a consistent response, identify areas where process improvements are needed, and to prove that the actions taken were appropriate. Not only must actions be documented, but it is also crucial to ensure that the integrity of this documentation cannot be called into question later. However, documenting activity during an investigation can be time-consuming, taking analysts attention away from the tasks at hand, and is often an afterthought.

Information Security

Investigative data can be extremely sensitive, and it is crucial that the confidentiality of such data be maintained at all times. Confidentiality must be maintained not only for those outside of the organization but also for those internal users who may not be authorized to access some or all of the incident information.

Asset Management

No matter the specific roles a team is tasked with, the team will require many different physical and logical internal assets to accomplish their tasks. This may include workstations, storage media, license dongles, software and other hardware. Regardless of the asset, an organization must be able to track that asset throughout its life, ensuring that they (and the money spent on them) do not go to waste.  As the team grows, managing the tracking of these assets, who they are issued, their expiration dates and more can become a full-time task.

Final Thoughts

These core components combined enable security teams to work more efficiently throughout the entire investigative lifecycle, reducing both cost and risk posed by the wide variety of events facing organizations today. Providing a holistic view of the security landscape and the organization’s broad infrastructure allows for better use of existing tools and technologies to minimize the time team members must spend on the administrative portions of investigations, allowing them to focus on the more important tasks that will ultimately impact the outcome of the response.

Learn more about the topic by downloading our latest Whitepaper 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.

Integrating Lessons Learned into Incident Response

Let me start by saying that total prevention is not attainable with today’s technology. Whether through negligence or ignorance, any data stored on a network is subject to unauthorized access by 3rd parties. Instead, we must combine Prevention with Detect and Respond. We know we are going to get breached, so we must focus on the how we deal with that.

One significant activity that can improve cyber incident response and enable the timely mitigation of threats is the transfer of knowledge after an incident as part of a formalized “Lessons Learned” phase of the incident response life cycle. Integrating successful processes and procedures from previously successful incident response activities can play a critical role in determining whether a business will suffer in terms of operational integrity, reputation and legal liability. A publicized security breach will lower customer confidence in the services offered by an organization as well as call into question the safety of their sensitive 3rd party information. This impacts a business credibility and translates directly into lost revenue.

In regulated industries, increased regulatory scrutiny is an additional consequence of a breach. This involves evaluating if the tools and procedures used in responding to security threats were sufficient. Integrating lessons learned into existing and future incident response playbooks ensures that the proper technologies and processes are deployed, and avoids accusations of gross negligence, expensive and time-consuming investigations and regulatory demands.

Procedural improvements can be incorporated into incident workflows via incident playbooks and ensure that all stages of the incident response process have been acknowledged and addressed. It also ensures that required security measures and procedures are documented and relevant stakeholders informed of their roles in case of an incident.

This process can be augmented through machine learning. Applying machine learning to this problem requires that all relevant data associated with incidents are analyzed and automatically applied to future incidents. DFLabs recently released DF-ARK machine learning capability to do precisely this. Our patent-pending Automated Responder Knowledge (DF-ARK) module applies machine learning to historical responses to threats and recommends relevant runbooks and paths of action to manage and mitigate them. DF-ARK requires sufficient training data – it begins with no knowledge, but learns from the experience and actions of your security team, becoming more effective over time. DF-ARK implements supervised case-based reasoning machine learning.

Figure 1DFLabs IncMan Automated Responder Knowledge

It also involves combining automated workflows and manual procedures to keep a human in the loop. This can be constantly improved by applying new observations and data, to fine tune existing methods and procedures identified in the lessons learned phase.

IncMan offers the R3 Rapid Response Runbook engine and Dual Mode playbooks to facilitate this. R3 Runbooks are created using a visual editor and support granular, stateful and conditional workflows to orchestrate and automate incident response activities such as incident triage, stakeholder notification, data and context enrichment and threat containment. Dual Mode Playbooks support manual, semi-automated and automated actions, meaning that users can automate the action without automating the decision.

Adding all of this together, here are 5 best practices for increasing the effectiveness of incident response via lessons learned:

  1. Encourage feedback from responders at every level. First, second and third line SOC operators and incident handlers each have a unique perspective that must be incorporated into future response playbooks.
  2. Review all relevant documentation to ensure compliance. This includes organizational policies or regulatory mandates to ensure any disparities are addressed in future playbooks.
  3. Chronicle any unanticipated or unusual events to extend procedures to mitigate similar occurrences in the future
  4. Annotate enhancements to existing processes that were identified during the incident response cycle.
  5. Designate a business unit or individual to be responsible for making necessary changes to existing playbooks, processes or procedures and to distribute these to stakeholders.

Capitalizing on lessons learned during incident response provides immediate and long-term benefits that contribute crucial time savings necessary to successfully mitigate future threats. Deploying a platform designed to facilitate the rapid inclusion of identified improvements to the incident workflow, such as DFLabs’ IncMan, can not only reduce the time it takes to fully investigate an incident but also reduces the overheads required to do so. If you want more information please contact us at DFLabs for a no obligation demonstration of exactly how we can improve your response time, workflows and remediation activities.