Introduction to Cyberthreat Profiling
In today’s interconnected world, where digital systems play a vital role in our everyday lives, the threat landscape has expanded exponentially. Cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for individuals, organizations, and even nations. As a result, the need for advanced techniques to identify, understand, and mitigate cyber threats has become more crucial than ever. One such technique gaining significant attention is cyberthreat profiling.
Cyberthreat profiling is a proactive approach to cybersecurity that involves gathering and analyzing information about potential threats to identify their characteristics, motivations, and patterns of behavior. It goes beyond traditional reactive measures and aims to anticipate and understand the methods employed by adversaries to launch cyber attacks. By gaining insights into their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), organizations can better prepare themselves and develop effective countermeasures.
The process of cyberthreat profiling involves collecting data from various sources, such as threat intelligence feeds, open-source intelligence, dark web monitoring, and incident reports. This information is then analyzed to identify recurring patterns, trends, and indicators of compromise. By examining the tactics used by threat actors, profiling helps cybersecurity professionals gain a deep understanding of their motives, capabilities, and potential targets.
One of the primary objectives of cyberthreat profiling is to classify threats into distinct profiles. These profiles define different categories of attackers based on their attributes, including their skill levels, resources, affiliations, and objectives. Profiling helps organizations allocate their resources more effectively, focusing on the most significant threats that are likely to target their specific industry or sector.
Furthermore, cyberthreat profiling aids in developing proactive defense strategies. By understanding the motivations and techniques employed by threat actors, security teams can identify vulnerabilities in their systems, enhance their incident response capabilities, and implement preventive measures to mitigate potential risks. It enables organizations to prioritize security investments, allocate resources strategically, and stay one step ahead of evolving threats.
It is important to note that cyberthreat profiling is an ongoing and dynamic process. As threat actors constantly evolve their methods, it is crucial for organizations to continuously update their profiles and adapt their defenses accordingly. This requires a combination of human expertise and advanced technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to analyze vast amounts of data and identify emerging threats.
In conclusion, cyberthreat profiling plays a vital role in modern cybersecurity. By understanding the motivations, techniques, and patterns of behavior of threat actors, organizations can enhance their ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber attacks effectively. It empowers them to make informed decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and maintain a robust security posture in the face of an ever-evolving threat landscape.
WHY DOES THIS GUIDE EXIST?
Recent years have witnessed growing awareness of the benefits offered by a “threatinformed”
approach to defense. Most notably, orientation towards the relatively narrower range of possible adversary behaviors provides defenders far more focus than trying to “boil the ocean” of patching each newly reported vulnerability, for example.1 While growing awareness is an extremely welcome trend, defenders continue to face common practical obstacles to implementing threat-informed defense. Most prominently, too many threats exist in today’s landscape for any single team to reliably track and defend against every one.
The concept of threat profiling offers the potential for threat prioritization, but even when security leaders choose to pursue it, misconceptions over its validity and utility and the lack of a clear and repeatable approach to profiling – as it relates to organization-wide threats – have all hampered its adoption. Even when teams do take steps to prioritize threats, efforts often prolong (in many cases indefinitely) or are impeded by a need for deep intelligence subject matter expertise.
If you are entirely new to the threat profiling discipline and the value of threat prioritization,
start with the full introduction presented in Chapter 1. More background on the factors that
have traditionally hampered threat profiling’s adoption can be found in Chapter 2. Readers will
find the core content of this resource, Tidal’s recommended approach to threat profiling and
how this approach addresses existing profiling obstacles, in Chapter 3.
WHO IS THIS GUIDE FOR?
We believe the approach outlined in this guide is practical enough for a wide range of security
roles to implement. These include:
▶ Security Leadership
▶ Cyber Threat Intelligence Analysts
▶ Upper and Lower-Tier SOC Analysts/Operators
▶ Detection Engineers & Threat Hunters
▶ Red/Offensive Security Teamers – Adversary Simulation/Emulation Engineers
▶ Purple Teamers
▶ Governance, Risk, & Compliance (GRC) Analysts
We have observed cases where practitioners from each type of role had adopted elements (if not large portions) of the approach outlined here (or very similar ones).
WHAT WILL YOU GAIN FROM THIS GUIDE? HOW IS IT STRUCTURED?
Insights from this guide will help you answer the following important questions, which modern security practitioners increasingly face (many are increasingly found in team procedural documentation or “Priority Intelligence Requirements”). Many seem straightforward, but in our experience, analysts, operators, and even leaders often struggle to provide quick answers to them:
▶ Which threats matter to our organization?
▶ Which threats matter most? (How do I prioritize (rank-order) our list of threats?)
▶ How do I take action to address our top-priority threats?
Framed a different way, this guide provides the structure, resources, and tips that allow security practitioners to practically apply multiple threat-related frameworks and methodologies that they might know from academic settings but have struggled to apply effectively in operational settings, including the CIA Triad, the Diamond Model, MITRE ATT&CK®, the OODA Loop, and more.
The guide begins with a Glossary that defines common (and commonly confused) key terms. Next
are discussions on the value of threat profiling and challenges and misconceptions that have limited its
adoption to date. Chapter 3 forms the core of the guide, outlining Tidal’s profiling approach
while building a sample profile along the way, complete with immediately applicable resources, tips, and guidance. A large library of relevant resources can be found within the sibling GitHub repository launched alongside this guide: https://github.com/tidalcyber/cyberthreat-profiling
WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE OUR ADVICE?
Tidal’s team has decades’ worth of collective experience immersed in the threat-informed defense space. From founding the Center for Threat-Informed Defense2, to launching the MITRE Engenuity ATT&CK® Evaluations program3 and directly maintaining the ATT&CK knowledge base, to leading threat profiling at a Fortune 20 enterprise (and advising profiling efforts at many other Fortune 100s), our team holds a wealth and variety of insights on practical, effective approaches to threat profiling and threat-informed defense.
Most importantly, our perspectives are informed by countless conversations with defenders supporting organizations of all shapes, sizes, and maturity levels around the world, where we’ve consistently heard practitioners’ challenges with applying threat intelligence. A core Tidal belief is giving back to the community, and we are excited to share this resource in that spirit. A final up-front note: this resource builds upon a growing body of relevant resources graciously shared by many community members – we sincerely thank them for their public contributions and have taken every effort to fully credit and cite others where relevant throughout this guide.
Download & read the complete guide below 👇👇👇