The hype surrounding threat intelligence has continued to build since I wrote the blog "My Threat Intel Can Beat Up Your Threat Intel” in mid-2012. S&R pros are responding to both the hope and promise of threat intelligence. According to our Forrsights survey data, 75% of security decision-makers report that establishing or improving threat intelligence capabilities is a top priority for their organization.
One of the most significant challenges in leveraging threat intelligence is operationalizing it. Today, there are two broad categories of organizations that leverage threat intelligence. I’ll use an analogy to describe them. The US television show “Sons of Anarchy” follows the lives of an outlaw motorcycle club. The Sons of Anarchy refer to themselves as “1%ers”: They have the power, resources, and means to accomplish anything they desire. This is in contrast with the 99% who are merely motorcycle enthusiasts without these capabilities. Some of these early adopters include financial services, technology, and manufacturing companies.
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?
"My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!"
In the Pixar film Up, squirrels frequently distract Dug the talking dog. In our space, we are frequently distracted by technology. "I am a good and smart security professional; I must protect my enterprise so that we are secure. APT defense in a box!"
The expo floors at industry events such as the RSA Conference and Blackhat contribute to this. Signage touts the next great piece of technology that will solve all of our security problems. We allow Big Data, security analytics, threat intelligence, and APT defense in a box to distract us. It is easy to do; there is no shortage of challenges for today’s security and risk professional. The threat landscape is overwhelming. We have problems recruiting and retaining the right staff. Day-to-day operational duties take up too much time. Our environments are complex, and we struggle to get the appropriate budget.
These “security technology du jour” solutions are very appetizing. They compel us much like IDS, IPS, and SIM did in the past. We want and need the “easy” button. Sadly, there is no “easy” button and we must understand that threat protection doesn't equal a product or service; there is no single solution. Technology alone isn't the answer we are looking for.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 15th annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. I have attended DEFCON in the past, but never Black Hat. The conference has grown significantly each year, and judging by the size of the expo floor, the vendors understand its significance. I enjoyed the conference and had great conversations with practitioners and vendors alike. Here are some observations from two of the sessions that I attended: