Business leaders across industries are likely familiar with the statistics that recognize the consistent increase in cyberattacks that target all sizes and types of organizations each year. Technological advances like increased use of the IoT, advanced supply chains, and remote devices offer attackers a larger threat surface to work with. The worldwide pandemic fueled remote work and health-related panic to create an explosion of new cyberattacks. Organizations scrambling to keep up with incoming threats are spending hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on cybersecurity efforts each year. Yet, many companies are still vulnerable to attacks.
Businesses rely on modern technology to keep up with increasing consumer demand and today's speed of business. Yet, it's the same technology that leaves them vulnerable to advanced cyberattacks. Does this mean that businesses should forego the benefits of technology to avoid attacks? Almost certainly not. Failure to keep up with your competition could only be described as business suicide. Although cybercriminals are highly intelligent, modern technology isn't doomed to be insecure. When properly implemented, modern cybersecurity efforts are extremely effective.
For organizations unsure of their current security posture and vulnerability to new risks, the looming question becomes how to use highly technical cybersecurity tools to avoid evolving attacks. The answer to that question comes with a more advanced understanding of your unique risk potential and how your cybersecurity technology stack works together to close security gaps and recognize attacks when they occur. All too often, business leaders are unaware that without proper optimization, most cybersecurity tools will provide minimal protection. Yet, with the lingering effects of pandemic budget cuts, an ongoing talent shortage in the cybersecurity industry, and increasing threats on the horizon, it seems impossible for most businesses to take on the cost of a fully operational security operations center (SOC). For this reason, many companies turn to a managed security services provider (MSSP) to meet their cybersecurity needs.
The right MSSP can provide your business with 24/7 protection against known and evolving cyberattacks. Yet, cybersecurity providers don't all provide the same services, use the same technology, and provide the same benefits. This means companies still need the education that will provide them with an understanding of the technology and services that will best protect their network. To make an educated decision, company leaders need more than promises about the effectiveness of software offerings. You need an inside look at how the technology provided by your MSSP works together to recognize and eliminate today's sophisticated cyberattacks.
Here at BitLyft, our security experts are aware of the critical importance of a layered approach to cybersecurity. That's why we use the MITRE ATT&CK framework in conjunction with Securonix SIEM for aligned threat hunting and investigation procedures. This guide explains how the MITRE ATT&CK framework works to identify sophisticated threats and why Securonix SIEM offers the best companion for a more effective threat intelligence strategy.
What is the MITRE ATT&CK Framework?
MITRE ATT&CK is a globally accessible knowledge base of cybersecurity adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations. Essentially, it's a constantly evolving collection of attacker tips, tactics, and techniques used by IT teams and cybersecurity experts to pinpoint network risks and focus cybersecurity efforts on recognizable threatening behavior. It's important to realize that the MITRE ATT&CK framework is a tool to be used in conjunction with the methods and technologies used in your complete cybersecurity solution. As such, it works as a blueprint or database of information to map various stages of potential attacks to give insight into the way an attack plays out within an organization's network.
ATT&CK stands for Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge. The framework was developed in 2013 by MITRE as part of a research project designed to improve the detection of threat actors operating within a compromised network. By focusing on the actions of a threat actor post-compromise, security analysts are more likely to detect discreet lateral movement before the attacker reaches their final objective. The approach resulted in a rapid improvement in detection capability in a way that was measured and repeatable. Since the development and use of the ATT&CK framework proved to provide a useful process for MITRE's research program, the company released the framework to the public in May 2015. Since then, the framework has expanded significantly to include techniques used against a variety of platforms and mobile devices.
Why the MITRE ATT&CK Framework Improves Cybersecurity Efforts
In the past, the investigation of cyberattacks focused largely on the tools and malware used by attackers. ATT&CK works differently by focusing on how these tools and methods interact with a system's operation. Instead of focusing on the "what" of an attack, it uses the "why" and "how" to detect an attacker's movements within a network. When we go back to the ATT in the acronym, adversarial tactics become the why, and techniques become the how.
At this point, you may be thinking that the reason for cyberattacks is universally for profit gains. While this is most often the case, the sheer volume of attack types and tactics used to generate financial gain can't easily be condensed into digestible information. Consider the difference between a breach that targets the theft of customer information versus a ransomware attack that will eventually shut down, part of, or a complete organizational network. The actions taken during various attacks will appear radically different within a catalog of network actions. The ATT&CK framework organizes the techniques used in known attacks into a set of tactics that represents a clear visualization of the ways hackers work within a network. By providing analysts ways to identify malicious behavior instead of depending solely on the recognition of tools, it becomes easier to identify the suspicious actions that indicate unknown attacks.
The MITRE ATT&CK framework categorizes these adversary tactics:
- Reconnaissance: The act of gathering information to plan future attacks
- Resource Development: Establishment of resources to support operations for an effective attack
- Initial Access: Attempt to access the network
- Execution: Attempt to run malicious code
- Persistence: Efforts to maintain a foothold within a network
- Privilege Escalation: Attempt to gain higher-level permissions
- Defense Evasion: Attempt to avoid detection
- Credential Access: Efforts to steal account names and passwords
- Discovery: Efforts to figure out your environment
- Lateral Movement: Attempts to move undetected through your environment
- Collection: Gathering of data to reach an objective
- Command and Control: The attempt to communicate with compromised systems to gain control
- Exfiltration: Attempts to steal data
- Impact: Attempts to manipulate, interrupt, or destroy your systems and data
Within these tactics, there are categories of techniques that describe the actual activity carried out by the attacker. Examples of these techniques may include active scanning within the reconnaissance tactic or the creation of an account within the persistence tactic.
The capabilities of the MITRE ATT&CK framework make it useful in addressing security gaps to strengthen security posture as well as the detection of active threats within a network. While these abilities provide extensive advances in the implementation and success of cybersecurity solutions, the framework must be accompanied by tools and professional methods of detection and response for an efficient cybersecurity solution.
What is SIEM?
SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. Generally, the term is used to describe the software an organization uses to collect and organize log data used to help identify and track breaches. SIEM is actually a combination of two existing software types, SIM (Security Information Management) and SEM (Security Event Management). SIM is used to analyze past security events while SEM is used to identify real-time events that are relevant to security professionals. Both parts of SIEM are important for different reasons. SIM is crucial for investigating attacks in progress or those that have already occurred, while SEM provides real-time alerts of security events for immediate response actions.
A SIEM system works by exporting data from your network to your security system for analysis and investigation. Since log data includes every action taken by every user on your network, the amount of information collected is huge. Instead of sending this deluge of information directly to security analysts, the system automatically categorizes and normalizes the data to make it easier to digest. After the information is sorted, the SIEM system sends useful information (actions that may signal an attack) to the security operations center (SOC) for further analysis or immediate response.
SIEM as a Service
Large companies with an on-site SOC may have an on-premise SIEM system that is implemented on specific devices within a network. However, organizations without a complete cybersecurity staff will struggle to properly optimize and leverage SIEM software effectively. For companies in this position, SIEM-As-A-Service (SIEMaaS) is likely a better solution. SIEMaaS puts the tasks of installation, configuration, tuning, and review into the hands of the security vendor, offering an increased likelihood of success.
Today's cloud-based activities require most organizations to include cloud-based SIEM software as part of their complete security solution. As many organizations depend on an MSSP for some or all of their cybersecurity needs, next-generation SIEM is often the best choice. Next-Gen SIEM is a cloud-native SIEM system that is provided as a service. The benefits include low startup costs, unlimited scalability, open-source data storage, and infrastructure managed by the security provider. Next-Gen SIEM also includes extensive log management capabilities, advanced threat detection enhanced with machine learning, incident response features, and security orchestration capabilities.
How Securonix SIEM Works in Tandem With MITRE ATT&CK for Superior Results
Securonix Next-Gen SIEM is an industry-leading cloud-native platform that uses machine learning, context enrichment, and user risk scoring to uncover complex threats with minimal noise. It is the only SIEM solution that addresses incident response using a combination of built-in response and detection as well as integration partnerships. Alongside industry-leading analytics, Securonix has the distinct advantage of being the only SIEM platform that is fully aligned with the MITRE framework.
In the same way, the ATT&CK framework was created to address attacks from a unique perspective, Securonix built a SIEM platform that focused on security analytics and the use of machine learning for threat detection. While most SIEM systems focus on alerts and anomalies, the Securonix platform was built to work with threats. The similarity of the goals of Securonix SIEM and the MITRE ATT&CK put them in a natural position to align. Recognizing the value of this alignment, Securonix updates mapped use cases to MITRE ATT&CK and PRE ATT&CK tactics and techniques, creating the only SIEM that is fully aligned with the MITRE framework.
While every security vendor would benefit from alignment with the MITRE framework, the building blocks for most traditional SIEM systems are based on anomalies and alerts. In contrast, the ATT&CK framework uses a multi-level threat chain that links alerts by the stage of an attack. As a result, other SIEM systems don't have the capability to align alerts and responses to the framework.
Securonix Tools and Processes that Work With MITRE
Securonix proved to be an innovator in 2008 when the company focused on the yet-to-be-defined security analytics space. In 2019, Securonix introduced an update that integrated the MITRE ATT&CK framework into analytics and threat hunting. The integration of MITRE tactics, techniques, and procedures into Securonix threat chains and threat hunting query workflows allows the SIEM system to automate the prioritization of the highest risk threats, eliminating significant manual work by security analysts.
Securonix SIEM includes these unique features that work in tandem with the MITRE ATT&CK framework.
Securonix Threat Library
The threat library is a constantly evolving hub that bundles policies, behavior profiles, and reports for multiple data sources. The library maps 80% of the 364 use cases defined within MITRE. By mapping SIEM alerts and response actions to the ATT&CK framework, the system can detect previously unknown complex attacks before damage occurs.
Threat Chain-Based Model Alerting
MITRE-based content within the SIEM system includes indicators of compromise and threat chains that are aligned to specific tactics and techniques within each stage of the threat chain. This relationship allows the Securonix SIEM platform to automate alerts and responses based on the MITRE kill chain to detect advanced persistent threats (APTs) and also predict future attacks based on leading indicators and patterns. The prediction of future attacks based on behavior is crucial in the detection of zero-day threats and other unknown vulnerabilities.
Connection to MITRE Chains to Prioritize Risk
In its singular form, the MITRE ATT&CK framework acts as an information base that provides security analysts with vital information useful in manual threat hunting tactics. Securonix incorporates this information into real-time security event management tools to automatically prioritize risks in a way that cuts through the noise in the environment to identify actionable threats.
References for Incident Investigation
ATT&CK documents adversary group behavior profiles to show which groups use specific techniques. Typically, analysts use this capability during an incident investigation to focus on techniques used across groups of activity. Securonix SIEM automatically references the related attack groups when alerts occur, eliminating the manual search phase of the investigation.
Miter-based Remediation Steps
Securonix SIEM includes prepackaged content aligning to MITRE techniques including reports, use cases, and dashboards. This integrated user interface allows the system to include automatic remediation suggestions based on MITRE tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Securonix SIEM is the only SIEM platform designed to work in direct conjunction with the MITRE ATT&CK framework. While security providers using other SIEM systems are also likely to depend on MITRE, the system cannot generate automated actions based on threat chain tactics and techniques. Basically, the framework can be used to gather information to assist in the manual optimization of traditional SIEM systems, but the two tools work independently. Since Securonix SIEM is designed with prepackaged MITRE-based hunting queries, it eliminates much of the manual tasks associated with threat detection and investigation, making it possible for organizations to recognize discreet attacks before network damage occurs.
BitLyft Leverages MITRE ATT&CK With Securonix SIEM and our SOC for Effective Cybersecurity
Both MITRE ATT&CK and Securonix SIEM address critical issues overlooked by the cybersecurity efforts before them to develop a more effective way to detect and remediate cyber threats. In the past, cybersecurity efforts were mainly focused on recognizing attacks by the presence of known tools and malware used by threat actors. By focusing on the actions that occur within a network while an attack is in progress, cybersecurity tools provide greater visibility into the storyline of advanced persistent threats. When suspicious actions are recognized within a network, analysts can pinpoint and halt previously unknown attacks before they progress. The result is better detection, increased threat knowledge, and the ability to halt APTs before they achieve their objective.
Many security vendors use the ATT&CK framework as a blueprint for developing alerts and incident response protocols, but Securonix is the only platform to integrate directly with the framework. The seamless integration creates unparalleled visibility for security analysts to observe and protect the networks of organizations of all sizes. This is why BitLyft leverages Securonix SIEM as a Service alongside the use of the MITRE framework.
As the IT landscape continues to grow rapidly, the amount of infrastructure, Cloud, applications, and complexity is consistently increasing. While this rapid evolution provides opportunities to increase the speed of business, it also rapidly increases the cyber threat landscape and brings about more vulnerabilities for threat actors to exploit. During this exciting and turbulent time, it's essential to have a security vendor that utilizes cutting-edge technology alongside professional cybersecurity experience. The MITRE ATT&CK framework identifies the most effective methods for detecting and remediating sophisticated cyberattacks. Securonix is the only SIEM platform designed to seamlessly implement this technology in the automated actions surrounding real-time threats.
However, even the most advanced technology doesn't provide a comprehensive security solution on its own. For most companies without a dedicated SOC, even the most capable SIEM software is doomed to fail. Although Securonix SIEM includes out-of-the-box features that align with MITRE framework objectives, the software is a tool designed to be used by experienced cybersecurity analysts. All SIEM systems must be optimized to work properly in an organizational network. While the system is designed to ingest data, recognize threats, and send out alerts, cybersecurity professionals are the ones who define the data to be collected, outline normal behavior, and determine who should be alerted to suspicious behavior. After optimization, the system becomes more nuanced with feedback provided by cybersecurity professionals to help eliminate false alerts and create custom responses to your unique network.
At BitLyft, it's our goal to provide all businesses with the most powerful form of protection against cyber threats. This is why we provide customers with cloud-native next-gen Securonix SIEM in the form of software as a service. With the power of unlimited scalability, industry-leading analytics, and seamless integration with the MITRE ATT&CK framework, businesses gain the benefits of the most advanced cybersecurity technology available. By providing Securonix as a service, we add the power of an experienced SOC, including security analysts and engineers, to your cybersecurity efforts. The BitLyft SOC installs and deploys Next-Gen SIEM technology on your network, consistently tunes and refines your SIEM, and manages the SIEM with level-4 security engineers. The result is 27/7 protection provided with the most effective technology and a highly trained team.
When you're faced with a consistent barrage of information surrounding the dangers of cyberattacks and seemingly endless options for preventing them, cybersecurity can be confusing. Underdeveloped SIEM systems face the same problem when overwhelmed with a deluge of log entries with no categorization. We're here to cut through the noise to inform businesses about the protection they really need and provide relevant services to meet those needs. If you have questions about how an effective SIEM system can improve your cybersecurity efforts or you're unsure of your current cybersecurity posture, contact the BitLyft security experts to learn more about the benefits of Next-Gen Securonix SIEM aligned with the MITRE ATT&CK framework and backed by our experienced SOC.