Abstract: This blog post is an excerpt from the recently published Tag report “Revolutionizing Cyber Defense: An Integrated Approach with Cymulate MITRE Frameworks on Transforming Organization Defenses.” Click here for the full report (link to Tag site)
Senior Security Analyst
This joint technical report from TAG and Cymulate explores the benefits of integrating MITRE frameworks and the Cymulate platform for more effective cyber defense and organizational resilience.
In cyber defense, it is essential to continually adapt and refine strategies to address the ever-evolving threat landscape. With over 38 years on the frontline of cybersecurity, I’ve observed the transformation from basic network defense to advanced threat hunting. The inception of MITRE ATT&CK and the recently introduced MITRE Engage framework have further expanded the horizon of defense strategies.
The ATT&CK framework, with its adversary-centric approach, has offered unparalleled insights into potential threats. However, with the introduction of Engage, focusing on the defender’s perspective, a novel dimension has been added to cyber defense. While some critics argue that the additional layer Engage introduces might complicate cyber defense operations, if employed in the proper context, Engage can be a game-changer. The amalgamation of Engage, ATT&CK, and Attack Surface Management (ASM) ensures an enterprise is hardened, resilient, agile, and primed to counter sophisticated threats.
There are several beneficial outcomes of a unified approach:
Defining Success in Cyber Defense Operations: Success in cyber defense is no longer just about preventing breaches; it’s about how quickly and efficiently we can detect, contain, and mitigate them. With its defender-centric approach, Engage provides a robust framework for achieving these goals, enhancing our success metrics.
Focus on TTP Countermeasure Development: Adversaries are ever-evolving, and so should our countermeasures. By integrating insights from both ATT&CK and Engage, defenders can develop proactive strategies against specific TTPs, making our defense mechanisms more targeted and effective.
Continuous Training for Defenders: With the complex landscape of tactics and techniques outlined in Engage and ATT&CK, defenders are equipped with a vast knowledge base. It is paramount to invest in continuous training, ensuring they are always at the forefront of understanding and countering threats.
Deep Integration of Engage, ATT&CK, and ASM: These frameworks, when isolated, offer valuable insights. But when integrated, they provide a holistic view of the cyber defense domain. ASM focuses on reducing vulnerabilities by identifying potential threat vectors, ATT&CK offers insights into adversary behaviors, and Engage provides strategies for active defense. The confluence of these three ensures a layered, in-depth defense strategy.
This report will explore a comprehensive cyber defense strategy with the following objectives:
- Understanding the characteristics of MITRE Engage and ATT&CK and the integration with ASM.
- Challenges and opportunities of using MITRE’s Engage.
- When and how Engage can be used in conjunction with an ASM platform.
- Final considerations on how to best defend your enterprise.
Understanding the characteristics of Engage, ATT&CK, and the integration with ASM
In the ever-evolving cybersecurity domain, three primary approaches consistently stand out as cornerstones: MITRE ATT&CK, MITRE Engage, and ASM. To harness the unparalleled potential of their synergy, it’s crucial to navigate the intricacies of each.
MITRE’s ATT&CK framework operates as a groundbreaking shift in cybersecurity. It functions as a near-exhaustive database, precisely cataloging the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) cyber adversaries employ. At its core, ATT&CK provides a technical roadmap for analysts, illuminating every stage of a cyber-attack from inception to culmination. It equips the industry with a systematic lens to anticipate and comprehend threat behaviors.
Parallel to this adversary-centric model, MITRE Engage emerges. Engage, in its essence, represents the next phase, pivoting from merely understanding threats to actively countering them. While ATT&CK deciphers the “how” of cyber-attacks, Engage addresses the “how to counter.” It outfits defense teams with diverse strategies, allowing them to interact with, redirect, and even confront threats in real time. Through Engage, the traditional defense paradigm transforms, incorporating a layer of active defense.