Report on Critical Challenges to Threat Intelligent Sharing by McAfee Labs

McAfee Catalogs 176 New Cyber Threats Every Minute, Almost Three Every Second; Ransomware Grows 88%, Mobile Malware Grows 99% in 2016

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NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Threat intelligence sharing undermined by data volume, validation, quality, speed and correlation challenges
  • McAfee Labs detected 176 new cyber-threats every minute, almost three every second in Q4 2016
  • Ransomware grew 88% in 2016 despite Q4 decline in Locky and CryptoWall family activity
  • Mobile malware grew 99% in 2016; overall malware grew 24% in 2016 to 638 million samples
  • While still a minute fraction compared to Windows threats, new Mac OS malware samples grew 245% in Q4; total samples grew 744% in 2016
  • McAfee Labs estimates that five Internet of Things device IP addresses are infected by Mirai each minute

McAfee  released its McAfee Labs Threats Report: April 2017, which details the challenges facing threat intelligence sharing efforts, probes the architecture and inner workings of Mirai botnets, assesses reported attacks across industries, and reveals growth trends in malware, ransomware, mobile malware and other threats in Q4 2016.

“The security industry faces critical challenges in our efforts to share threat intelligence between entities, among vendor solutions, and even within vendor portfolios,” said Vincent Weafer, Vice President of McAfee Labs. “Working together is power. Addressing these challenges will determine the effectiveness of cybersecurity teams to automate detection and orchestrate responses, and ultimately tip the cybersecurity balance in favor of defenders.”

The report reviews the background and drivers of threat intelligence sharing; various threat intelligence components, sources, and sharing models; how mature security operations can use shared data; and critical sharing challenges that the industry must overcome. Those challenges include:

  • Volume. A massive signal-to-noise problem continues to plague defenders trying to triage, process, and act on the highest-priority security incidents.
  • Validation. Attackers may file false threat reports to mislead or overwhelm threat intelligence systems, and data from legitimate sources can be tampered with if poorly handled.
  • Quality. If vendors focus just on gathering and sharing more threat data, there is a risk that much of it will be duplicative, wasting valuable time and effort. Sensors must capture richer data to help identify key structural elements of persistent attacks.
  • Speed. Intelligence received too late to prevent an attack is still valuable, but only for the cleanup process. Security sensors and systems must share threat intelligence in near real time to match attack speeds.
  • Correlation. The failure to identify relevant patterns and key data points in threat data makes it impossible to turn data into intelligence and then into knowledge that can inform and direct security operations teams.

To move threat intelligence sharing to the next level of efficiency and effectiveness, McAfee Labs suggests focusing on three areas:

  • Triage and prioritization. Simplify event triage and provide a better environment for security practitioners to investigate high-priority threats.
  • Connecting the dots. Establish relationships between indicators of compromise so that threat hunters can understand their connections to attack campaigns.
  • Better sharing models. Improve ways to share threat intelligence between our own products and with other vendors.

“Increasingly sophisticated attackers are evading discrete defense systems, and siloed systems let in threats that have been stopped elsewhere because they do not share information,” Weafer continued. “Threat intelligence sharing enables us to learn from each other’s experiences, gaining insight based on multiple attributes that build a more complete picture of the context of cyber events.”

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