Lu Knows Security

Belgian Mal <->Incident Response<->Chat Bot

My name is Lu. My breed is Belgian Malinois. if you have ever watched a law endorsement video where a suspect is being chased by a dog, or an Army Ranger kicking in a door with the dog going in first, or a Navy Seal jumping out of an airplane, there is a good chance that the dog was a Belgian Malinois.

I am a member of the Overvotch team. This post is about how my early training closely maps to the work flow of incident responders. and how chat bots are used to shorten dwell time for incident responders.

Two points. I had to post this image — one of my favorites. And none of the images are of me–purely a security thing.

I wanted to understand what ChatGPT thought about stealth before detection.

Detection in threat hunting refers to the initial identification of potential security threats or anomalies within a system or network. It involves using tools, techniques, and processes to discover indicators of compromise (IoCs), unusual patterns, or behaviors that suggest malicious activity. This stage relies on various methods such as:”Detection in threat hunting refers to the initial identification of potential security threats or anomalies within a system or network. It involves using tools, techniques, and processes to discover indicators of compromise (IoCs), unusual patterns, or behaviors that suggest malicious activity. This stage relies on various methods such as:

  • Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS): Monitors network traffic for suspicious activity.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Collects and analyzes log data from various sources.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Monitors and responds to threats on endpoint devices.
  • Anomaly Detection: Identifies deviations from normal behavior using machine learning and analytics.

Why Detection is Considered the First Stage

  1. Proactive Identification:
    • Detection serves as the first line of defense, allowing security teams to identify threats as early as possible. Early detection is crucial for minimizing the potential damage caused by an attack.
  2. Situational Awareness:
    • It provides situational awareness, giving security teams insight into the current state of the network and potential threats. This information is essential for forming a comprehensive response strategy.
  3. Foundation for Further Action:
    • Without detection, there can be no response. Detection lays the groundwork for all subsequent actions, such as containment, eradication, and recovery. It provides the necessary data to understand the nature and scope of the threat.

Why Not Stealth First?

  1. Unknown Threat Landscape:
    • Before any stealth actions can be taken, the threat landscape must be understood. Detection provides the initial understanding of where threats may lie. Without this, it’s challenging to know where to apply stealth measures effectively.
  2. Resource Allocation:
    • Stealth operations require significant resources and planning. Detection helps prioritize which areas need immediate attention and which can be monitored more passively. It ensures that resources are used efficiently.
  3. Avoiding Blind Spots:
    • Starting with stealth without detection might lead to missing critical threats. Detection ensures that all potential threats are identified first, creating a more comprehensive security posture.
  4. Response Preparation:
    • Detection allows for the preparation of an appropriate response plan. Knowing what and where the threats are enables the security team to plan their stealth operations more effectively, ensuring that actions taken are precise and minimize disruption.

Detection Summary

Detection is the first stage in threat hunting because it provides the necessary visibility and understanding of potential threats. It sets the stage for all subsequent actions, including the application of stealth. Starting with detection ensures that the environment is comprehensively assessed and that resources are allocated effectively, enabling a controlled and strategic approach to threat mitigation and response.”

Both my trainer and I did not agree. I posed the following question:

” I disagree. Before a threat launches an attack, stealth is applied by the attacker to hide its presence. assume three types of threat hunters. the first is a working dog, the second is an incident responder, and the third is a sniper operating from within a hide. If an attacker knows the presence of a threat hunter the attacker will adjust tactics. Again, why is there not value in hiding the presence of a threat hunter, the same tacit applied by an attacker?”

ChatGPT responded:

“Your perspective highlights an important aspect of threat hunting—stealth. It’s true that attackers often use stealth to avoid detection, and applying similar tactics by threat hunters can be beneficial. Let’s explore this concept more deeply.

The Importance of Stealth in Threat Hunting

  1. Stealth as a Defensive Measure:
    • Just as attackers use stealth to hide their activities, threat hunters can use stealth to observe and analyze threats without tipping off the attackers. This allows for a more controlled and strategic response.
  2. Preventing Adversary Adaptation:
    • If attackers are unaware of the presence of threat hunters, they are less likely to change their tactics. This enables the threat hunter to gather more accurate information and develop effective countermeasures.

Comparing Three Types of Threat Hunters

  1. The Working Dog (Detection-Focused):
    • Role: Actively patrols and detects threats.
    • Stealth Use: Limited; focuses on immediate detection.
    • Advantage: Quick identification of threats, but can alert attackers, leading to changes in their tactics.
  2. The Incident Responder (Balanced Approach):
    • Role: Detects and responds to threats using a combination of automated tools and manual analysis.
    • Stealth Use: Moderate; employs some stealth techniques to observe and understand threats before responding.
    • Advantage: Balanced approach allows for both detection and controlled response, but may still reveal presence to attackers.
  3. The Sniper (Stealth-Focused):
    • Role: Observes threats from a hidden position, gathering detailed intelligence before taking action.
    • Stealth Use: High; prioritizes remaining undetected to maintain the element of surprise.
    • Advantage: Maximizes stealth to prevent attackers from adapting, allowing for a precise and effective response.

Stealth as the First Stage

Stealth as Initial Strategy:

  • Observation: By remaining hidden, threat hunters can observe the full scope of the attacker’s activities, gaining comprehensive intelligence.
  • Intelligence Gathering: Allows for detailed mapping of the attacker’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
  • Strategic Response: Enables planning of a more effective and targeted response, minimizing disruption and damage.

Why Stealth First?

  1. Early Intelligence:
    • Gathering intelligence without alerting attackers provides a clearer picture of their methods and goals. This can lead to more effective defenses and countermeasures.
  2. Minimizing Disruption:
    • Stealth reduces the risk of attackers changing their behavior, ensuring that threat hunters can operate in a more predictable environment.
  3. Enhanced Response Planning:
    • With better intelligence, threat hunters can plan and execute more precise interventions, reducing the impact on normal operations and increasing the likelihood of neutralizing the threat effectively.

Stealth First Summary

While detection is crucial, incorporating stealth as an initial stage in threat hunting can provide significant advantages. It aligns with the tactics used by attackers, allowing threat hunters to gather intelligence and plan responses more effectively without alerting adversaries. In a layered defense strategy, combining stealth and detection maximizes the chances of identifying and neutralizing threats while maintaining a controlled and strategic approach.”

There is the term cyber warfare – used to describe the ebb and flow of interactions between attackers and threat hunters. Lately, I have seen posts describing the training and implementation of cyber security controls as inadequate. There is some truth to the posts. Without understanding people, cultures and adapting to differences, it is very difficult to implement an effective incident response.

Principles of War and Their Relevance to Cyber Incident Response

“Understanding the principles of war can significantly enhance the effectiveness of incident responders in detecting and remediating cyber threats. Cyber warfare involves complex and dynamic interactions between attackers and defenders, akin to traditional warfare. Here’s why understanding these principles is crucial:

  1. Objective:
    • War Principle: Clear objectives guide military operations to ensure efforts are focused and effective.
    • Cyber Response: Incident responders must have clear objectives, such as protecting critical assets, minimizing damage, and restoring operations. Defining specific goals helps in prioritizing actions and resource allocation.
  2. Offensive Action:
    • War Principle: Offensive actions are often necessary to gain the initiative and disrupt the enemy.
    • Cyber Response: Proactive threat hunting and preemptive actions (e.g., penetration testing, red teaming) allow responders to identify vulnerabilities and potential threats before attackers exploit them. Offensive strategies can also include disinformation and honeypots to mislead attackers.
  3. Security:
    • War Principle: Measures must be taken to protect forces and resources from enemy actions.
    • Cyber Response: Ensuring the security of networks, systems, and data is paramount. This includes implementing robust access controls, encryption, and regular monitoring to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
  4. Surprise:
    • War Principle: Surprise can disrupt and demoralize the enemy, leading to significant advantages.
    • Cyber Response: Maintaining stealth in monitoring and responding to threats allows incident responders to observe and understand attacker tactics without revealing their presence. This helps in planning more effective countermeasures and minimizing the impact of attacks.
  5. Concentration of Force:
    • War Principle: Concentrating forces at decisive points maximizes their impact.
    • Cyber Response: Focusing efforts on critical systems and high-value assets ensures that defenses are strongest where they are needed most. Incident responders should prioritize resources and attention to areas that are most likely to be targeted.
  6. Economy of Force:
    • War Principle: Efficient use of resources ensures that no effort is wasted.
    • Cyber Response: Incident responders must balance the deployment of resources across various threats and vulnerabilities. Automation, prioritization, and efficient workflows help in managing limited resources effectively.
  7. Maneuver:
    • War Principle: Maneuvering forces to advantageous positions allows for more effective operations.
    • Cyber Response: Adapting defenses and response strategies based on the evolving threat landscape is crucial. Flexibility in tactics and the ability to quickly shift focus as new threats emerge enhance the resilience of cybersecurity efforts.
  8. Unity of Command:
    • War Principle: Unity of command ensures coordinated and cohesive actions.
    • Cyber Response: Clear leadership and communication channels within incident response teams are essential. Unified command helps in coordinating efforts, ensuring timely and effective responses to incidents.
  9. Morale:
    • War Principle: High morale is crucial for maintaining the fighting spirit and effectiveness of forces.
    • Cyber Response: Maintaining the morale and readiness of incident response teams is important. Continuous training, clear communication, and support from leadership contribute to a motivated and capable team.

Importance for Incident Responders

  1. Strategic Thinking:
    • Understanding war principles encourages incident responders to think strategically. They can anticipate attacker moves, plan defenses more effectively, and adapt to changing situations.
  2. Comprehensive Approach:
    • These principles provide a holistic framework for incident response, covering everything from proactive measures to reactive strategies and resource management.
  3. Enhanced Coordination:
    • Applying principles such as unity of command and economy of force improves coordination within incident response teams, ensuring that efforts are aligned and resources are used efficiently.
  4. Resilience and Adaptability:
    • Knowledge of war principles fosters resilience and adaptability, enabling incident responders to handle diverse and evolving threats more effectively.

Summary of Importance of Understanding Warfare

Incident responders who understand and apply the principles of war can better detect, analyze, and remediate cyber threats. These principles guide strategic thinking, improve coordination, and enhance the overall effectiveness of cybersecurity efforts. In the dynamic and adversarial realm of cyber warfare, such knowledge is invaluable for staying ahead of attackers and ensuring robust defense mechanisms.”

Time for an announcement. In an earlier post, we wrote about having a Chat Bot that could be used to query about all things Volatility, another step in shortening dwell time. Has worked well demonstrating very good coverage of Volatility and does well retrieving and explaining why the answer provided is relevant.

We have another chat bot that understands the translation of data within memory images into information. Using Volatility3 as the collector, a marked down document is built that reflects the information collected from multiple plugins. The marked down document is then used to build a vector store by using FAISS. The vector store is then used to create a chat bot that is aware of a scan of a memory image.

Multiple advantages:

  • The marked down document can be used as the basis of a report about the scan of the image
  • The marked down document provides the knowledge that is translated by FAISS into a vector store
  • The vector store is used as the base of a chat bot that understands the results of a scan of a memory image.
  • The chat bot can be queried and supply both text that describes how the data was collected and translated into knowledge and a table that illustrates what was found.
  • The chat bot is fast – about a second from query entry to answer.
  • The chat bot is accurate.
  • The chat box reduces dwell time and eases the understanding of why what is relevant.

Will post update about upgrades to both chat bots.

It is interesting understanding what the relationship between a Belgian Malinois and a group of humans can create.

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