Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cloppert on Defining APT Campains

Michael Cloppert has posted another installment in his long running series on security intelligence. In his latest, Defining APT Campaigns, he discusses the how and why behind a threat focussed approach to categorizing attack activity. More importantly than the how, when combined with his previous articles in this series, he gives a clear explanation of the why.

If you are somehow responsible for responding to targeted attackers you should understand why security intelligence or a threat focussed response is so critical. This is how you consistently stop and analyze attacks before compromises occur. This is how build resilient defenses that transcend the vulnerability du jour. This is how you get a leg up on the attackers and make repeated attacks harder for them.

I have to say, when I was first exposed to security intelligence, I was a little skeptical. My thought was "that's cool we can understand so much about the attacker, but what's the point?". Well, the point is, the more visibility you have into an attack sequence, the more an attacker has to change to make the next attack successful. You can also stop attacks sooner, saving time on damage assessment and cleanup which allows you to spend more time preparing for the next attack. After seeing how effective this approach is against APT, I'm a believer. I can't count the number attacks, including 0-day exploits, that I have seen effectively mitigated because of common indicators or techniques used between attacks in the same campaign.

Lastly, he touches on the criticality of developing tools for threat focussed incident response and detection. Clearly this warms my heart.

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