New Research: Know Your Adversary

Rick Holland
Mandiant's APT1 report changed the threat intelligence marketing game, and you would be hard pressed to find a cybersecurity company that doesn't have a research/intelligence team that produces threat actor reports. The previous few weeks have seen a significant amount of threat intelligence marketing around threat actor groups. FireEye released "APT28: A Window into Russia’s Cyber Espionage Operations?" The analytics firm Novetta released "Operation SMN: Axiom Threat Actor Group Report."  
 
We have even seen law enforcement documents on threat actors. In August, Mr. Su Bin, a Chinese national, was indicted for the theft of Boeing’s trade secrets. The criminal complaint regarding Su Bin’s activities became public in June and offers a fascinating perspective into espionage as a service.  
 
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got STIX?

Rick Holland
The sharing of threat intelligence is a hot topic these days. When I do conference speeches, I typically ask how many organizations see value in sharing, and most in the room will raise their hand.  Next, I ask how many organizations are actually sharing threat intelligence, and roughly 25% to 30% in the room raises their hand. When our 2014 Security Survey data comes in, I will have some empirical data to quote, but anecdotally, there seems to be more interest than action when it comes to sharing. I wrote about some of the challenges around sharing in “Four Best Practices To Maximize The Value Of Using And Sharing Threat Intelligence.” Trust is at the epicenter of sharing and just like in "Meet the Parents," you have to be in the circle of trust. You can enable sharing, but automating trust does take time. 
 
 
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Choose Your Own Adventure With The 2014 Verizon DBIR

Rick Holland

In a world where every single security vendor has their own annual threat report, the Verizon Databreach Investigations Report (DBIR) is the gold standard, and this year is no different. Last year I began blogging my initial analysis (Observations on the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report), and I wanted to continue that again this year.  Here are some of the high-level details on this year's report: 

  • Fifty organizations representing 95 countries were included in the data set. This included 1,367 confirmed data breaches. By comparison, last year’s report included 19 organizations and 621 confirmed data breaches.
  • In a significant change, Verizon expanded the analysis beyond breaches to include security incidents. As a result, this year’s dataset has 63,437 incidents. This is a great change, recognizes that incidents are about more than just data exfiltration, and also allows for security incidents like DoS attacks to be included.
  • The structure of the report itself has also evolved; it is no longer threat overview, actors, actions and so on. One of the drivers for this format change was an astounding discovery. Verizon found that over the past 10 years, 92% of all incidents they analyzed could be described by just nine attack patterns. The 2014 report is structured around these nine attack patterns.  
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Target Breach: Vendors, You're Not Wrestlers, And This Isn't The WWE

Rick Holland

Yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story providing some alarming details on the Target breach.  The article, “Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It,” didn’t paint a pretty picture of Target’s response. 

Some of the highlights in case you haven't read it yet: 

  • Six months before the incident, Target invested $1.6 million in FireEye technology.
  • Target had a team of security specialists in Bangalore monitoring the environment.
  • On Saturday November 30, FireEye identified and alerted on the exfiltration malware. By all accounts this wasn't sophisticated malware; the article states that even Symantec Endpoint Protection detected it. 
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Actionable Intelligence, Meet Terry Tate, Office Linebacker

Rick Holland
sdfasdfaasdfThe #Forrester Security & Risk team is hiring. We are looking for consultants to join our team bit.ly/M9gWS5 #infosecasdfasdasdfasdddsadfas

We are now less than two weeks away from our annual sojourn to the RSA security conference. RSAC is a great time for learning, meeting and making friends. (Please hold cynical remarks; RSAC is what you make of it.)  As the date grows near and my excitement grows, I am preparing my mind and patience for the ubiquitous silver bullet marketing that is predestined to appear.  

One of these silver bullets will be the term "actionable intelligence." You will be surrounded by actionable intelligence. You will bask in the glory of actionable intelligence. In fact, the Moscone expo floor will have so much actionable intelligence per capita you will leave the conference feeling like the threat landscape challenge has been solved. Achievement unlocked, check that off the list. Woot!

Well not so fast. I frequently talk to vendors that espouse the greatness of their actionable intelligence. Whenever I hear the term actionable intelligence I want to introduce them to Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.  Terry Tate first appeared in a 2003 Reebok Super Bowl commercial. 

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Kicking Off Forrester's "Targeted Attack Hierarchy Of Needs" Research

Rick Holland

I am about to kick off my next Forrester research on targeted attacks.  Here is the short abstract: "The threat landscape has evolved but organizations haven't. Leveraging concepts of Zero Trust, this report will detail strategies for protecting against targeted attacks against your organization. We will focus on the pros and cons of various strategies and provide suggestions for maximizing your investments." If you'd like a preview to the tone of this research please see one of my previous blogs: "Kim Kardashian and APTs."

  • Vendors:  The focus of this research is on overall strategy and NOT on specific vendor capabilities. We look forward to detailed vendor conversations when we do follow on Waves or Market Overviews in the future. 
  • Enterprises:  If you would like to provide us feedback on your experience with defending against targeted attacks, we would love to hear from you.  If you purchased a magic anti-APT box and it is/isn't living up to your expectations, let us know.  We are currently scheduling research interviews.  Research interviews are open to more than just Forrester clients.  If you aren't a client and would like to participate, we will provide you a complimentary copy of the final research upon completion. 
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Point Solutions Must Die

Rick Holland

Last year I wrote a blog post titled, “Incident Response Isn’t About Point Solutions; It Is About An Ecosystem."  This concept naturally extends beyond incident response to broader enterprise defense.  An ecosystem approach provides us an alternative to the cobbling together of the Frankenstein’esque security infrastructure that is so ubiquitous today. 

Many of us in the information security space have a proud legacy of only purchasing best in breed point solutions. In my early days as an information security practitioner, I only wanted to deploy these types of standalone solutions. One of the problems with this approach is that it results in a bloated security portfolio with little integration between security controls. This bloat adds unneeded friction to the infosec team’s operational responsibilities.  We talk about adding friction to make the attacker’s job more difficult, what about this self-imposed friction?  S&R pros jobs are hard enough. I’m not suggesting that you eliminate best in breed solutions from consideration, I’m suggesting that any “point solution” that functions in isolation and adds unneeded operational friction shouldn’t be considered. 

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Startups That Were At BlackHat 2013

Heidi Shey

What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas. I was out at BlackHat with other members of the Forrester team over a week ago (seems like yesterday!). It was two jam packed days of popping into briefings, guzzling copious amounts of green tea, and meeting new people and learning new things. In general, I like to keep an eye and ear out for startups to see what’s bubbling up, and came across a few at BlackHat:

  • Co3 Systems. Co3 Systems* help to automate the four pillars of incident response (prepare, assess, manage, and report) and break down responsibilities and response to ensure best practices are followed along with compliance with regulatory requirements. They just updated their security module to include threat intelligence feeds from  iSIGHT PartnersAlienVault, Abuse.ch and SANS, and recently rolled out an EU data privacy and breach notification update to the product. I’m a numbers nerd, so when they let me play with the solution, I immediately started running simulations that estimated the cost of a breach.
  • FileTrek. FileTrek provides visibility and transparency into where data resides, how it’s being accessed, moved, used, changed, and shared between people, devices, and files. No, it’s not DLP. It’s more like the mother of all audit trails that takes context and sequence of events into account. That way, if someone who is supposed to have access to data starts to do things with it beyond what they normally do, FileTrek will flag it as suspicious activity.
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Counter-Strike?

Rick Holland

On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a story on hacking back titled, “Support Grows to Let Cybertheft Victims Hack Back.”  The article describes a growing desire to permit the private sector to retaliate against attackers. Being proactive is one thing, but the notion of enterprises retaliating against attackers is ludicrous. I honestly cannot understand why this topic is still in the public discourse. I thought debating this was so 2012.  Legality is an issue, but so is the ability of companies to successfully conduct these types of operations without blowback. 

The article explains, “… companies that experience cybertheft ought to be able to retrieve their electronic files or prevent the exploitation of their stolen information." I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for most organizations, once the data has left your environment the chances of you retrieving it are very slim. Your data has left the building and it isn’t going to “re-spawn.”  If you couldn’t prevent exfiltration of this data in the first place, what would make you think that you could prevent the subsequent exploitation of it?  

As I said back in January in my “Five Steps To Build An Effective Threat Intelligence Capability” report, “If you have a mature security program, you can consider counterintelligence operations, but leave the hacking back to governments and militaries.” 

There are many suggested strategies for dealing with the threat landscape. Hacking back should not be one. 

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Observations on the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report

Rick Holland

I was very excited to finally get a copy of the much-anticipated 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR.)  I have found the report to be valuable year after year.  This is the 6th iteration and this year’s report includes 621 confirmed data breaches, as well as over 47,000 reported security incidents.  18 organizations from across the globe contributed to the report this year.  The full report is 63 pages, and I have to say that Wade Baker and company did a great job making it an enjoyable read. I enjoyed the tone, and I found myself laughing several times as I read through it (Laughing and infosec aren't commonly said in the same breath.)  There are tons of great references as well, ranging from NASCAR, to Biggie Smalls, the Violent Femmes and more.  The mantra of this year’s report is “Understand Your Adversary’ is Critical to Effective Defense and Response.”   Here are a few observations: 

The focus on the adversary answers customer questions.  Who is the adversary? This is a frequent question from Forrester clients.  The Mandiant APT1 report stirred up much debate on state sponsored actors and Verizon's data and analysis gives us more perspective on this class of threat actor. The first table in the report profiles the threat actors that are targeting organizations.  It provides a high level view that I suggest you include in any type of executive engagement activity you participate in.  This 3rd party snapshot of the threat actors should resonate with a wide degree of audiences.

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