The MITRE ATT&CK framework is a crucial tool in the cybersecurity landscape that enables organizations to improve their security posture. It is a knowledge base of adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and a common language for discussing and understanding cyber threats. Security teams rely on the framework to identify potential weaknesses in their systems and prioritize and mitigate risks more effectively.
The framework’s true value lies in its constant maintenance and updating with new TTPs as they are discovered, ensuring organizations that use it are always up-to-date on emerging threats. Without regular updates, the ATT&CK framework would fail to reflect the threat landscape accurately.
To make the most of the framework, businesses must incorporate it into their SIEM optimization process. But, as the German proverb says, the devil is in the details. Improper configurations and a lack of proper optimization not only handicap the framework’s and SIEM’s power but also lead to a false sense of security, as pointed out in CardinalOps’ recently published Third Annual Report on the State of SIEM Detection Risk. However, when the optimization process is done correctly and continuously, it creates a powerful security solution that helps organizations stay ahead of threats.
Why organizations should implement the MITRE ATT&CK framework into their SIEM
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote, ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.’
The MITRE ATT&CK framework helps you know your enemy. It provides a detailed view of the actions threat actors use during various stages of an attack, along with the courses of action to prevent or remediate the attack. Implementing the framework into a SIEM bridges the gap between understanding threat actors’ behaviors and improving one’s security posture, but that isn’t the only advantage. Others include:
Standardized Terminology: The ATT&CK framework introduces a common lexicon to describe adversary behaviors, enabling security teams to communicate effectively and share insights across the organization. This shared language and understanding fosters collaboration and facilitates a more efficient response to threats since everyone is on the same page.
Prioritized Threat Mitigation: Organizations have different assets to protect and vulnerabilities to address. Since the framework categorizes tactics and techniques based on real-world threat actor behavior, businesses can prioritize their security efforts and focus on mitigating the most relevant and prevalent threats first, be that malware, insider threats, phishing attacks, or another type of threat.
Threat Intelligence Sharing: When the framework is integrated into a SIEM, security leaders can share and receive threat intelligence with other organizations, industry peers, and cybersecurity communities. This collaboration helps strengthen collective defenses and enables timely responses to emerging threats.
The benefits of enhancing a SIEM with MITRE ATT&CK
Integrating the framework into a centralized security system like a SIEM goes beyond just having a reference guide for adversary behaviors. It opens up a realm of possibilities for optimizing the entire cybersecurity infrastructure and response capabilities, empowering organizations to tackle the evolving threat landscape effectively and proactively. Let’s look at three of the main benefits.
Enhanced Threat Detection: Traditional rule-based detection mechanisms in SIEMs have limitations because they often rely on predefined signatures and known attack patterns, making them less effective against advanced and novel threats. By incorporating the framework and aligning detection rules and alerts with adversaries’ TTPs, organizations can identify suspicious activities that may not trigger conventional signatures. Teams can catch sophisticated attacks in the early stages, even when the attack methods may have never been seen before. Since the framework evolves as new threat intelligence materializes, the process ensures that the detection rules stay relevant and the SIEM is well-equipped to handle emerging threats.
Improved Incident Response: The ATT&CK framework’s standardized language streamlines the incident response process. By referencing the ATT&CK matrix, security teams can quickly identify the specific tactics and techniques used. This contextual information lets them prioritize their response efforts, enabling a more focused investigation and containment process that minimizes the impact of security incidents.
Contextualized Threat Intelligence: The ATT&CK framework brings structure to raw threat intelligence data by contextualizing it within the framework’s TTPs. With that integrated into a SIEM, security teams can enrich threat intelligence with behavioral context, map it to specific threat actor techniques, and gain insights into their tactics and objectives. This contextualization allows organizations to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant threat intelligence and make more informed decisions about how to respond.
The challenges of SIEM optimization
Fully leveraging the potential of the MITRE ATT&CK framework within a SIEM is a demanding task. Countless manual and automated actions must be performed to optimize and keep the SIEM current. Otherwise, the SIEM’s effectiveness is diluted. That is what the CardinalOps report makes clear. It found that enterprise SIEMs ingest sufficient data to cover 94% of all MITRE ATT&CK techniques but only cover 24% due to missing detection rules, with 12% of the SIEM rules broken.
That discrepancy is due to many issues: complex and constantly changing infrastructure and tools, extensive customizations due to each organization’s unique environment, and difficulty in scaling detections because of manual and error-prone processes requiring highly specialized knowledge. If enterprises can’t stay on top of the optimization process, how can an SMB be expected to? Fortunately, there is a simple solution: outsource cybersecurity to a trusted SOC provider with the time and expertise to handle the ongoing process effectively and efficiently.
We cannot speak to the value of other SOCs, but we can assure organizations that this is an area where CYREBRO shines. We constantly add, update, and build custom rules based on organizations’ operations and environment, the latest research, external data, and threat-hunting intelligence. We manage the entire optimization and fine-tuning process to ensure clients have the highest protection and peace of mind.
Shahar Laksman, Security Researcher at CYREBRO, explains;
‘Today, CYREBRO designs alerting in the form of a Storyline, enabling us to identify attack patterns according to a combination of several different rules, instead of relying on a single and isolated alert. Leveraging the MITRE ATT&CK framework enables us to tag and index our proprietary detection rules based on MITRE Tactics, which indicate the attack phase and how to react.’
Organizations need comprehensive security solutions
In today’s dynamic threat landscape, SIEMs alone are not enough; neither is simply integrating the MITRE ATT&CK framework into the SIEM environment. To reap the benefits and protect against known and emerging threats, organizations must commit to continuous SIEM optimization and vigilantly monitor and address configurations as attack surfaces and vulnerabilities grow and change.
However, SIEM optimization is only one of six SOC capabilities needed to stay ahead of threats. A complete security strategy that also includes threat hunting, threat intelligence, forensic investigation, incident response, and strategic monitoring is the only way to combat evolving cyber threats and safeguard critical assets.