At the heart of incident response, and by extension of Security Automation and Orchestration technologies, resides the Cyber Incident. A typical definition of a cyber security incident is “Any malicious act or suspicious event that compromises or attempts to compromise, or disrupts or tries to disrupt, a critical cyber asset”. Almost everything we do in a SOC or a CSIRT is based on incidents, and there are a variety of potential incident sources, for example:
- Alerts from cyber security detection technologies such as Endpoint Detection & Response or User Entity Behavior Analytics tools
- Alerts from Security Information & Event Management Systems (SIEM)
- Emails from ITSM or case management systems
- Website submissions from internal stakeholders and whistle-blowers
- Phone calls from internal users and external 3rd parties
This diversity of incident sources means that a solid SAO solution must offer a variety of different methods to create incidents. Regulatory frameworks also frequently mandate being able to originate incidents from different sources. DFLabs IncMan offers a rich set of incident creation options.
There are three primary ways to create incidents in IncMan, offering flexibility to accommodate a variety of incident response process requirements and approaches.
Option 1: Automated Incident Creation
We will feature automated incident creation in a more detail in a future post. In the meantime, I will show you the location of this feature.
Select settings menu, then head to the external sources:
You will see that under the external sources option there are 3 options available to use as sources to automate incident creation:
- Incoming events automation, for CEF/Syslog
- Incoming Mail automation, for a monitored email account
- Integrations, for all QIC integration components.
Automating incident creation supports a variety of filters to support a rules-based approach. In addition, it is also possible to create incidents using our SOAP API. Certified 3rd party applications use this mechanism to create incidents within IncMan, for example, Splunk.
Option 2: Manual Incident Creation
Click the incidents menu option, then click the + symbol selecting the incidents screen
Fill out all mandatory fields (these can be defined in the custom fields screen) then step through and complete the incident wizard to create the incident:
Once all relevant fields have been completed, click save and this incident will then appear in the incident view and apart of the queue you assigned in the details screen.
Option 3: Incident creation from source
Select an incident source for the incident you want to create, for example, a Syslog or CEF message, an Email, or a Threat intelligence source (STIX/TAXI, ThreatConnect):
In this screen, you can then convert this source item to an incident, or link the source to an existing incident.
I have often talked about the benefits of employing flexible playbooks to deal with evolving cyber incidents and unique threat scenarios, and in these series of blogs, I am going to explore some of the points of emphasis when creating a new playbook.
The advantage to Security Automation and Orchestration (SAO) platforms, and in particular our IncMan platform, is the ability it provides to tailor playbooks or runbooks to deal with all manner of cyber incidents. These Playbooks are defined by three key factors:
1.Phases: Determine the number of phases for the response process based on the incident scenario. The phases are really a placeholder for what you are trying to achieve in your response.
2.Automation: How much automation will benefit the given scenario without hindering or otherwise adversely impacting your business.
3.Actions: What actions apply to each phase and what is the benefit to each action.
Wash, Rinse, Re-playbook.
Play books, or runbooks, should never be static and hard-coded for a fixed set of events. Ultimately, incidents will differ and you should always remain in control, ready to adapt and adjust the response workflow. This flexibility is vital should a Plan B need to be executed. The approach of IncMan to security playbooks & runbooks support both mature and emerging SOC teams by providing multi-flow advanced runbooks to the former, and for the less mature, a simplified playbook containing a dual mode where automation and manual actions can co-exist.
In talking with CSIRT/SOC managers, I have learned that they have typically aligned themselves with a particular standard. Most organizations follow the likes of ISO for Incident Response, NIST
800-62 or alternatives along the lines of CREST or NISA. Structured incident handling processes based on these standards are a great baseline, but how about also having actions and reactions pre-prepared and ready to respond immediately according to the threat you face? Can you see the instant advantage in having smaller, simpler playbooks and runbooks specific to an adversary or threat scenario?
Dealing with incidents with tailored playbooks will ultimately provide better threat coverage as each has enrichment and containment actions that are concentrated on the tasks specific to a given scenario. Additionally, allowing your SAO product to tie the dots to bring enrichment to the observables and the indicators encountered in incidents will bring measurable value to the increased speed of the incident response process. Allowing analysts dynamic interaction at all phases of the workflow will help also help your reactions become more efficient. This mix of structured playbooks and dynamic response capability can also help push the CSIRT teams into a more pro-active mindset, allowing system and network-level security policy and infrastructure configuration changes to be handled on the fly while leveraging current and accurate information, and all from a single response console.
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) has announced that it will implement new cybersecurity notification guidelines, which are going to have a significant impact on how government agencies and organizations from the private sector deal with cyber incidents.
As the US-CERT states, the new guidelines will impose new requirements regarding notifications on cybersecurity incidents, that must be complied with by all Federal Departments and agencies; state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies; along with private-sector organizations, and Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations. The cybersecurity notification guidelines will include a specific procedure involving how, when, and who the covered entities will be required to notify after they detect an incident within their organizations.
Identifying Incidents Through a Seven-Step Process
According to the guidelines, in order for an agency to be able to notify the CERT of an incident properly, it will have to complete a process consisting of seven steps. For starters, the agency must identify the current level of impact an incident has on its services or functions. Then, identification of the type of information lost, compromised, or corrupted, is required. This step should be followed by an estimation of the scope of time and resources that an agency will have to spend in order to recover from the incident.
Next, agencies should identify when the activity was first detected, after which they will be required to identify how many systems, records, and users have been impacted. The final two steps are the identification of the location of the network the activity was observed in, and identification of the point of contact information for additional follow-up.
After completing the above-named steps, agencies will have to submit the notification to the US-CERT, with a specific set of information that is required to be included in the notification, such as:
- Information on the attack vector(s) that lead to the incident
- Indicators of compromise
- Information related to any mitigation activities that the agency has taken in response to the incident
Incident Response Platforms
In order to be able to comply with the new requirements regarding cybersecurity incident notifications, organizations are advised to employ a cybersecurity platform that provides a comprehensive and automated incident and forensic case management.
A platform that provides you with a set of playbooks specifically tailored to many potential cyber threats. Your organization can save a great deal of time and resources by using a tool that can create automated incident reports and send them to your cybersecurity team, a process which would be in compliance with the new US-CERT guidelines.
Considering that the cybersecurity incident notification process under the new cybersecurity notification guidelines is extensive and can be challenging for some organizations that do not have the resources or the knowledge necessary to complete it, acquiring a platform that can do all the required steps for you is the best solution for all entities covered by the guidelines. This is where a platform containing prioritized workflows designed to help your business respond to current threats and prepare your cyber defense systems for future threats, which are bound to occur eventually, can come in handy. Finally, considering the upcoming US-CERT guidelines, every private-sector organization and government agency could use a platform that can track digital evidence and entire investigative processes, as some of the key steps that should be performed when notifying authorities of an incident.