Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)

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Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM)

Understanding Attackers: The MITRE ATT&CK Framework

Keeping watch on cybercriminals is essential for robust cybersecurity. The MITRE ATT&CK Framework, launched in 2013, is a one-stop shop for this purpose. It’s a continuously updated database that tracks real-world attacker methods. This knowledge base is a goldmine for organizations aiming to strengthen their defenses.

Why It Matters

To effectively safeguard a system, you need to understand how attackers operate. By documenting their tactics (approaches) and techniques (specific tools), defenders can adapt and significantly improve their ability to shield critical assets. Collaboration is key here – the more we share attacker knowledge, the stronger our defenses become.

The MITRE ATT&CK Framework in Action

This is the core idea behind the MITRE ATT&CK Framework (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge). It offers security professionals a central location to share threat intel, use a common language, and make informed decisions on resource allocation, threat mitigation, and risk assessment.

Imagine a giant library of attack knowledge, constantly updated based on real-world attacks. The framework uses a matrix layout, similar to a periodic table. Columns list 11 tactics, with hundreds of techniques detailed below each.

Tactics address the “how” of attacks. Examples include how attackers escalate privileges or steal data. The 11 tactics covered are:

  • Initial Access
  • Execution
  • Persistence
  • Privilege Escalation
  • Defense Evasion
  • Credential Access
  • Discovery
  • Lateral Movement
  • Collection
  • Exfiltration
  • Impact

Each tactic has numerous real-world techniques listed. These techniques may include explanations of how they’re used and why defenders need to be aware, though they aren’t always prescriptive. Examples form the basis for techniques, and linked articles often describe how a technique was used in an attack. The framework also highlights mitigation and detection strategies for defenders.

Beyond Technique Tracking

The MITRE ATT&CK Framework offers more than just a threat technique encyclopedia. It provides defenders with a common vocabulary to discuss cyber threats. There are other ways to share threat intelligence, but the framework offers a standardized and globally accessible method.

Since it’s impossible to focus equally on every threat, the framework can also help prioritize detection efforts based on severity or likelihood. It also plays a role in risk assessment. MITRE ATT&CK simulations are often used to define red team exercises or penetration testing, and aid in post-test evaluation.

The framework’s ability to track attacker techniques specific to certain industries is another valuable feature. This helps organizations decide where to allocate resources and focus their attention.

Continuously Evolving

The MITRE ATT&CK Framework constantly incorporates new attacker intel and is regularly improved to make it easier for security professionals to access and use this knowledge base effectively.

In conclusion, the MITRE ATT&CK Framework is a vital tool for organizations aiming to stay ahead of attackers. By offering a central repository of tactics and techniques, the framework empowers defenders to identify threats, assess risks, and take steps to mitigate them.

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