A Simple, Free, and Fast Open Source Workflow For Processing Indicators

Open sources provide a wealth of valuable intelligence and, often times, network- and host-based indicators to enable detection and further investigation.

I’m interested in indicators from an investigative perspective. What overlaps or “centers of gravity” can we uncover? Do any of these provide other collection opportunities (e.g., tracking a particular domain registrant) or detection opportunities (e.g., a small netblock hosting dedicated C2 infrastructure)?

My investigative process around information culled from open sources used to be manual. Copying and pasting, one-by-one, indicators from blog posts into TXT and / or CSV documents. Querying indicators against various external or internal datasets. That process is neither efficient nor fun.

Fortunately, the availability and quality of open source threat intelligence tools have grown in-kind with the quality and quantity of the open source information. Exclusively using free tools, analysts can all but bypass manual processing and dive strait into their investigation within only or a minute or two.

Here’s one way to do that.

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Examining Recent Ransomware Infection Techniques (And Some Thoughts on Consuming Intelligence)

Even though ransomware is one of the threats du-jour, it’s not something I’ve closely studied. So I decided that this weekend was as good a time as any to conduct some research and develop a better understanding of this threat.

I wish I could say I identified novel features of what I discovered were large, multi-wave ransomware campaigns between May and August. But that didn’t happen. The reality is pretty mundane: I pulled together existing research and documented—in my own words—what others have already reported.

As an analyst, I’m okay with that. I’ve found this type of research to be typical. And it brings up thoughts (and tips!) I have on intelligence consumption. But more on those soon… First, let’s look at the recent ransomware activity.

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Intelligence Technology and Tradecraft in 2015

With 2015 wrapped up, I wanted to reflect on some of the changes I noticed in the cyber threat intelligence (CTI) field over the course of the year. I originally had (overly) ambitious plans for this post, hoping to offer a sweeping and comprehensive review on threat intelligence. But alas. Time has expired–it’s already 2016! Instead, I decided to focus on two aspects of CTI that I’m passionate about: technology and tradecraft.  Continue reading →

Write It, Or It Didn’t Happen

BLUF: As intelligence analysts, our customers demand that we know a lot about a lot. However, research from Chris Sanders shows that humans’ working memories are very limited; we can only juggles small volumes of information at once. Even long-term memory can be stressed by the volume of knowledge that analysts must maintain. These cognitive limitations highlight the fundamental importance of capturing knowledge in written reports. If no one writes it down, does the knowledge really exist? Playing on the expression “PCAP, or it didn’t happen,” I offer the expression “write it, or it didn’t happen.

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Using threat_note To Track Campaigns: Returning to PIVY and PlugX Infrastructure

BLUF: I’m starting to find the sweet spot for threat_note in my at-home research workflow. By taking advantage of threat_note’s VirusTotal integration, I was able to discover some new infrastructure associated with the the activity I documented in my August 8 post on Poison Ivy.

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Playing with ioc-parser (and practicing python and command line Kung-fu)

BLUF: The ioc-parser python utility is a must-have in your analytic workflow. It automates the parsing of IOC from public reports and neatly outputs the results to a CSV file. You can take these results to conduct further analysis and to provide as potential detection indicators (assuming you’ve done your validation due diligence). It’s a great time-saving tool.

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