MITRE ATT&CK Framework

MITRE ATT&CK Framework

MITRE ATT&CK provides cybersecurity teams with an open framework that identifies attacker behavior to help strengthen their defenses, prioritizing gaps between security tools and processes and real-world threat intelligence for improvement.

The ATT&CK matrix serves as a language that red and blue teams, penetration testers, and security solutions vendors can use to discuss and understand attack behavior. It identifies tactics adversaries employ to gain entry to organizations and move laterally within them.

What Is the MITRE ATT&CK Framework?

The MITRE ATT&CK Framework (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques and Common Knowledge) is an open and freely-available knowledge repository which details adversary tactics and techniques used by attackers. Updates regularly track this behavior to provide intelligence that enables cybersecurity teams to detect and respond more quickly to threats.

The ATT&CK framework includes three matrices that focus on specific attack environments: Enterprise, Mobile and ICS (Industrial Control Systems). Each matrix features a collection of tactics used by attackers to breach security systems.

Integrating ATT&CK into your detection and response capabilities can help prioritize attacks based on risk, but keep in mind that no framework can capture every attack vector; new risks always appear.

Therefore, it’s essential that your team collaborate with a cybersecurity expert in order to make sure ATT&CK is being effectively used by your team and reaping all its benefits. Cortex XDR is an endpoint protection platform with superior prevention, detection, and response capabilities for unparalleled MITRE ATT&CK evaluation performance.

What is different about the MITRE ATT&CK?

The ATT&CK framework helps teams prioritize threat detections and understand how various elements of an attack work together, providing security professionals with a common taxonomy and language to facilitate improved communications among defenders, threat hunters, red teamers and others.

MITRE ATT&CK provides comprehensive documentation of adversary tactics, techniques and procedures based on real-world observations. MITRE ATT&CK records both known (observed) behaviors as well as unknown ones – ensuring it remains up-to-date as new threats emerge and evolve.

Every document related to a threat group provides details on its known attacks, as well as the techniques they employ in each type of attack. Furthermore, each document lists any software utilized by that threat group – be it malicious or simply tools attackers may possess on their systems.

Information like this can aid organizations in making informed decisions regarding where to allocate their resources for optimal risk reduction. It also serves to assess current tools and the depth of coverage for specific attack techniques; and help teams identify weaknesses in their defenses by simulating real-world attacks against simulations.

History of MITRE ATTACK Framework

Since 2013, when it first launched, the ATT&CK Framework has quickly become a go-to knowledge base for cybersecurity professionals worldwide. Utilizing its standard taxonomy, organizations can easily assess their current defenses against known adversary tactics and techniques and evaluate them against perceived risks. Security teams can then use this information to identify gaps in protection as well as prioritize improvements based on perceived risk – this also facilitates easier collaboration across departments; from technical staff members through to executives responsible for risk management decisions.

Mitre’s ATT&CK matrix currently comprises 185 techniques and 367 sub-techniques, with more being added regularly. It provides technical descriptions for every attack technique used against assets or systems targeted by it as well as detection approaches, mitigation methods, real world usage examples and real world useage examples – making it more suitable for threat hunters and defenders than more high-level models like Lockheed Martin Cyber Kill Chain which merely represent adversarial goals without providing insight into their accomplishment.

1. ATT&CK for Enterprise

ATT&CK provides cybersecurity professionals with an easy-to-use resource that serves as a reference point for adversary behavior. Security teams can use it to plan defenses against techniques known to be effective against their type of organization, and equip their security monitoring systems with detection capabilities for those specific techniques.

The ATT&CK Matrix describes each tactic used by attackers in terms of how they achieve it. Each tactic represents a technical goal — such as initial access or installing malware — as well as methods that attackers use to attempt achieving that goal, such as spearphishing attachments, brute force attacks or simply scanning public-facing servers. Techniques are further divided into sub-techniques which provide more detailed descriptions for how an attacker might achieve each tactic.

Grainy information enables security teams to prioritize their security controls based on real-world threats, but implementing this approach on an enterprise scale requires extensive resources and expertise, not to mention constantly updating the matrix with any new attack behaviors that emerge in the wild.

2. ATT&CK for Mobile

The MITRE ATT&CK framework also covers mobile devices, providing you with an opportunity to leverage its matrixes in identifying threats against your organization from iOS and Android devices as well as any platforms they run on such as CIoS/RTOS platforms.

The ATT&CK for Mobile matrix extends NIST’s Mobile Threat Catalogue by outlining tactics attackers employ when breaking into mobile devices. Furthermore, this matrix catalogs “network-based effects,” or attack methods which do not require direct access to an individual device.

Security teams can leverage ATT&CK to assess their organization’s defenses and prioritize improvements. By mapping adversary behaviors to vulnerabilities and controls, you can more accurately prioritize CVE remediation based on how likely it is that an attack would affect the organization. This allows resource allocation and productivity gains by aligning mitigation efforts with key threat vectors.

3. ATT&CK for ICS

The ATT&CK matrix structure facilitates cooperation among analysts and defenders by clearly outlining attacker behaviors that are easily recognisable. Katie Nickels, the ATT&CK Threat Intelligence Lead for MITRE notes in her blog that this framework helps analysts structure intelligence around adversary group behaviors while defenders prioritize detection and mitigation efforts against those threats which pose the highest risks.

ATT&CK for ICS is the newest addition to our matrixes and addresses attacks against industrial control systems (ICS). It highlights specific tactics that can be employed against such environments such as inhibiting safety, protection, quality assurance and operator intervention functions or altering configuration parameters and firmware in order to compromise process control or cause physical damage.

As with other matrices, security teams must identify and map incident activity against the ATT&CK for ICS chart themselves. While some vendors offer support with this process by directly associating it with various matrices, this remains a manual task requiring resources. Nonetheless, doing so can enhance team members’ ability to quickly recognize adversary tactics while increasing awareness programs’ value.

What are MITRE ATT&CK tactics?

As threats continue to evolve, the ATT&CK framework enables teams to prioritize detection and protection efforts accordingly. Furthermore, this tool gives a holistic view of adversaries, including techniques they use against targets’ systems.

ATT&CK Matrixes provide actionable cyber threat intelligence (CTI). This actionable CTI includes information such as the tactics, techniques and procedures utilized by real-world hacker groups to penetrate modern day organizations. The matrixes include details regarding attack goals, methods and techniques adversaries are using against particular systems or platforms; what software these attacks utilize – both commercial closed source software as well as open-source alternatives; as well as detection techniques to effectively counter them.

ATT&CK matrices also feature a field called CAPEC ID (Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification), which helps identify specific attack patterns. If, for instance, process injection attacks are used, this would be marked as “Inclusion of Code into Existing Process,” providing another means of pinpointing specific methods that could be employed against targeted systems.

Cases of the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix

The ATT&CK Matrix is an invaluable tool for cybersecurity professionals. It enables teams to understand how hackers are attacking organizations, identify any gaps in security capabilities and formulate plans to counter and detect these techniques.

The matrix can be divided into two main categories: tactics and techniques. Tactics describe an adversary’s overall goals, while techniques are used to accomplish them; sub-techniques may even exist within techniques – for instance a threat actor might employ multiple techniques at their disposal to gain entry to a network, such as social media hacking and email phishing.

Each technique in the ATT&CK framework includes information such as platforms exploited, example procedures, mitigation strategies and detection methods. As hackers and security researchers discover new techniques in the wild, the framework will continue to grow with them – providing Red Teams an easy way to evaluate the performance of their defenses against specific attacks during Red Teaming exercises.

What is the Goal of MITRE ATT&CK?

MITRE ATT&CK provides organizations with a tool to assess their defenses against adversary attacks, identify gaps in security policies and mitigation controls, prioritize threats they face and identify attackers’ behaviors using matrixes that depict attack lifecycle from reconnaissance through exfiltration of data or ransomware attacks.

The framework also contains a list of common names for groups with similar behaviors (e.g., threat or activity groups) and links to software they have been reported using or may use in future. Furthermore, mitigation techniques for each technique used and advice regarding detection are included within its scope.

Security teams’ natural instinct is to develop some form of defense against each technique documented in ATT&CK, but it’s important to remember that each technique may be carried out via multiple avenues; blocking one way doesn’t guarantee coverage against all possible forms of attack.

How Does the MITRE ATT&CK Framework Help?

ATT&CK frameworks help enterprises understand what threats they’re up against and identify gaps in their detection capabilities. Matrixes offer a comprehensive knowledge base of known adversary tactics for use in developing distinct threat models; standard taxonomies facilitate communication among teams about detection and response efforts; threat hunters/red teamers can use ATT&CK frameworks as a way to prioritize detections/evaluate current coverage/assess depth telemetry that might be required in detecting certain attack behaviors.

Although initially developed to address threats against Windows enterprise systems, ATT&CK has since evolved to cover macOS, mobile, Linux, and industrial control system (ICS) environments. Now comprised of 33 data sources and 116 components, the framework is freely available to security teams of all sizes to help defend against emerging and existing threats. MITRE Corporation provides engineering and technical advice on advanced technology problems such as cybersecurity for a safer world.

What Is MITRE Engenuity?

MITRE is a non-profit organization focused on conducting research and creating solutions to public interest challenges such as cybersecurity, infrastructure resilience, healthcare effectiveness and next-generation communications. Furthermore, MITRE serves as a collaboration platform that brings government, private industry and academia together on various issues.

MITRE Engenuity conducts impartial ATT&CK Evaluations on cybersecurity tools to provide organizations with unbiased third-party assessments of their ability to detect and mitigate threats. These evaluations give organizations access to essential data in making better decisions when selecting or deploying security tools.

Mapping ATT&CK techniques to CVEs and security controls also helps prioritize remediation efforts so teams don’t spend their time fixing risks that aren’t critical. This approach helps organizations increase risk posture while decreasing defensive tasks to increase productivity. Furthermore, evaluation results are public so everyone can see how vendors perform against real world attacks.

Final Thoughts

The ATT&CK framework is global in scope and provides cybersecurity professionals with a common language to describe adversary behavior more precisely. By drawing upon this knowledge base, organizations can improve their security risk management strategies, detection capabilities, incident response processes and training initiatives.

Red teams can employ this framework in attack simulations to uncover vulnerabilities in defenses. It identifies 14 tactics which describe general processes attackers follow and includes sub-techniques that describe specific activities an adversary performs.

Use of this model ensures that any simulated attack closely mirrors real-life attacks. By including it into red team exercises, security professionals can test their defenses more efficiently than by testing against a static list of indicators of compromise (IoCs). This approach can accelerate threat hunting efforts while speeding response times by constantly assessing security posture.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.