Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/4/2012
12:09 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Tech Insight: Five Steps To Implementing Security Intelligence

Building an initiative to collect and analyze threat and risk information takes some planning. Here's a look at the key steps toward making it happen

[Jason Sachowski is a security professional at ScotiaBank. His content is contributed through the auspices of the (ISC)2 Executive Writers Bureau.]

To understand security -- and the risks and threats that your organization faces -- you need information. This information, collectively known as "security intelligence," is becoming more critical to enterprises as attackers become more sophisticated in their exploits.

What is security intelligence? In a blog posted last year, security vendor Q1 Labs offered this definition:

"Security Intelligence is the real-time collection, normalization, and analysis of the data generated by users, applications and infrastructure that impacts the IT security and risk posture of an enterprise. The goal of security intelligence is to provide actionable and comprehensive insight that reduces risk and operational effort for any size organization."

The concept of security intelligence is evolving rapidly, but it seems likely to following much the same pattern as the evolution of criminal intelligence in law enforcement. The first approach was to remove the criminal entities (the tactical approach). Next, there was an effort to analyze how crime was being committed (the operational approach). Today, there is a focus on building effective defenses (the strategic approach).

Until recently, most organizations' efforts in security have been focused more on stopping the threat than on analyzing attacks and threats. To make the leap from tactical/operational approaches, enterprises need to take a more strategic approach to collecting and analyzing security intelligence. Here's a look at five of the key steps in this transition.

1. Planning
Perhaps the most important step of developing a security intelligence initiative is defining what information it will provide -- and how that information relates to the business. Before going out and identifying data sources for input, consider the multiple outputs that will come from building this service. Three of the most important outputs are threat intelligence, risk trending, and due diligence.

Threat intelligence is the first and foremost piece of information that will be obtained from your security intelligence initiative. Threat intelligence allows your enteprise to meet tactical and operational needs through the real-time alerting of threats. With good threat intelligence, organizations are also in a better position to recognize the most serious threats and build strategic defenses to address them.

Risk trending -- a key component of security planning and decision making -- becomes more effective as the amount of threat intelligence data increases. By capturing and storing data from internal and external sources, security intelligence can help identify threat and vulnerability trends that might impact the organization's specific business functions.

Due diligence is the the case-by-case evaluation of business partners -- such as contractors and vendors -- to determine the potential security risks associated with business relationships. Ultimately, threat intelligence data can help the business make good security choices when evaluating potential partners.

It's important that the planning process include not just short-term threats, but longer term trends. By placing greater emphasis on building long-term solution (strategic approach), organizations will be able deliver more consistent business defenses that distinguish strategic security intelligence gathering from tactical and operational practices.

2. Collection
IT security professionals spends much of their time reading security-related news, conducting independent research, and attending various training sessions. These efforts mostly provide information that's nice to know, but not always directly relevant to the security pro's specific organization.

Most security professionals need to re-direct their efforts toward more substantial and relevant data – including threat intelligence sources, open source information, industry contacts, and law enforcement. By focusing more closely on directly-relevant sources of information, organizations will collect less redundant information and keep interested parties more accurately informed.

Collecting security intelligence data is something like a loose thread on a sweater; the more you pull, the bigger it gets. But if you've defined specific goals during the Planning stage, you should be able to narrow down your list of data sources. Security information and event management [SIEM] tools, open source information (such as news feeds), industry sources (such as Gartner or Forrester), and professional peers at other organizations may all be useful sources in the information-gathering effort.

3. Analysis
Your security intelligence can be used to support further research, investigations, and defensive measures. It's not enough to aggregate, normalize, and present data -- you must analyze it to ensure its accuracy, reliability, and usefulness to the organization.

A security intelligence analyst should be able to apply critical thinking efforts to truly understand the collected data, perform comparisons against other known data, and format it into meaningful reports that support the business' needs.

4. Information Distribution
Communicating security intelligence data to non-technical people can be difficult, primarily because the data does not translate very easily to business operations. More often than not, intelligence data communicated in reports is viewed as a snapshot in time -- it becomes outdated quickly and no action is taken.

Intelligence reporting should be business-focused and targeted at primary stakeholders, including executives and non-technical decsion makers. It should include analytical data that can be easily understood and used to make informed business decisions. Those decisions will only be as good as the data you provide.

5. Prioritization
With the right data in hand, organizations can move on the the final step: determining the next set of priorities. While some intelligence is focused on a single security issue (start/middle/end), there are other times when intelligence becomes a cycle (wash/rinse/repeat) of collecting, analyzing, and reporting.

Security intelligence is a key source of information for making security decisions, but it is only one point of discussion. The data and analyses must be combined with other information, both on the IT and business sides, and considered in context.

The most effective security intelligence-gathering efforts are done on a strategic level, taking longer-term trends, risks, and business issues into account. This is not to say that tactical and operational intelligence are declining practices – they remain critical for understanding the organization's security and risk posture.

By placing greater emphasis on strategic, long-term threat intelligence, organizations will be able deliver more consistent security defenses that are flexible enough to deal with changing requirements and protect the business as threats evolve.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add a Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Jason is an Information Security professional with over 10 years of experience. He is currently the Director of Security Forensics & Civil Investigations within the Scotiabank group. Throughout his career at Scotiabank, he has been responsible for digital investigations, ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
USCyborgs
50%
50%
USCyborgs,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/6/2012 | 6:27:41 PM
re: Tech Insight: Five Steps To Implementing Security Intelligence
Nice work on this issue Jason.
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Why Cybersecurity's Silence Matters to Black Lives
Tiffany Ricks, CEO, HacWare,  7/8/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15105
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Django Two-Factor Authentication before 1.12, stores the user's password in clear text in the user session (base64-encoded). The password is stored in the session when the user submits their username and password, and is removed once they complete authentication by entering a two-factor authenticati...
CVE-2020-11061
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
In Bareos Director less than or equal to 16.2.10, 17.2.9, 18.2.8, and 19.2.7, a heap overflow allows a malicious client to corrupt the director's memory via oversized digest strings sent during initialization of a verify job. Disabling verify jobs mitigates the problem. This issue is also patched in...
CVE-2020-4042
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Bareos before version 19.2.8 and earlier allows a malicious client to communicate with the director without knowledge of the shared secret if the director allows client initiated connection and connects to the client itself. The malicious client can replay the Bareos director's cram-md5 challenge to...
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...