Selecting the Emulated Threat

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Time
8 hours 5 minutes
Difficulty
Intermediate
CEU/CPE
9
Video Transcription
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>> Hello. We are now on lesson 2.3,
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Selecting the Emulated Threat.
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Now we have one objective for this lesson.
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We are going to describe key factors
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that influence emulated threat selection.
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We're going to talk about what
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are those important details
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we should consider when selecting a threat to emulate?
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By this point in the adversary emulation framework,
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we know our engagement objectives.
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We also have a general understanding of
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cyber threats that are relevant to the organization.
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It's now time to put this information to use and
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select the adversary or threats that we will emulate.
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When we are selecting an emulated threat,
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there are a number of
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factors that influence our decision.
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We have to think about relevance, available CTI,
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TTP complexity, available resources, just to name a few.
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We call these our threat selection key factors.
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Really the point of these is to be aware of and consider
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those factors that can significantly impact
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the success of your adversary emulation project.
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Now as we go forward,
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we're going to step through each of
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these key factors one-by-one
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and discuss how they can influence
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your threat selection decisions.
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Our first key factor is relevance.
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When you're selecting an emulated threat,
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you want to pick the one that best aligns with
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your engagement objectives and more broadly,
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the organizations cyber-security goals.
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Here's some questions to consider.
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What organizations is the threat known to target?
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Does the threat have the means and
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motivation to harm your organization?
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If so, what is the likelihood and severity of compromise?
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To illustrate, suppose you're supporting
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a government organization that is
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concerned about cyber espionage.
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All things being equal,
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would it be better to emulate an actor like
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APT 29 who is known to target
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governments for intelligence gathering or
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would it be better to emulate an actor like Finn Seven,
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who historically is targeted
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hospitality sectors for financial theft?
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In this example, APT 29 would probably be more relevant.
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Summarizing this, you really
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want to select a threat that is
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relevant to the organization and
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aligned with your engagement objectives.
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Another threat selection factor is available CTI.
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You want to ask yourself,
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is there enough CTI to support
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a robust adversary emulation plan?
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Because the simple fact is,
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we cannot emulate TTPs we don't know about.
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In other words, we need some level of
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CTI to base our emulation on.
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You might find yourself asking,
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how do we know when there is enough CTI to work with?
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In general, I use ATT&CK as my baseline.
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On this slide, you can see
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the ATT&CK page for threat actor called Threap.
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They've been known to target satellite communications,
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telecoms and defense contractors.
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It's surface, this might be
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a very relevant threat for some organizations.
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But look at the number of references cited in ATT&CK.
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In this case, there's just one.
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Also there aren't a lot of TTP is referenced.
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In this example,
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there's a minimal amount of CTI to work with so this
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probably isn't a good actor for
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a robust adversary emulation plan.
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The next slide shows APT 29 for comparison.
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Note that in this example,
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there are 32 unique sources.
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While I'm only showing a sampling of TTP's,
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there are a lot.
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In this case, APT 29 has significantly more CTI to
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work with and this would lend itself well
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for a robust adversary emulation plan.
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The next threat selection factor is TTP Complexity.
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How complex are the TTP you would likely emulate?
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In general, emulation plans tend to take
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longer to create for complex adversaries.
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To illustrate, you'll find that
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many adversaries use
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common red team tools and frameworks.
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This could be Metasploit,
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Cobalt Strike or as shown on
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this slide, PowerShell empire.
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In those cases, complexity
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is lowered because you can just
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use off the shelf tools to
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emulate the same adversary behaviors.
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But often for sophisticated adversaries,
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there are no public tools
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available to emulate those behaviors.
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For example, there's
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a really great CTI article published by Kaspersky.
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This article talks about how Turla hijacks
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satellite communication links for
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covert command and control.
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Those are some really interesting TTPs
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and you might want to emulate them.
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But in this example,
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it would clearly exceed the complexity
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of simply downloading off the shelf tools.
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In this case, you'd likely need specialized expertise
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and resources in order to emulate those behaviors.
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Next, we need to consider our available resources.
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These include those finite resources
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like budget, time, and personnel.
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Now, none of this is unique to adversarial emulation.
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Typically all projects have to deal with these resources.
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But the fact is, if there's no funding,
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no time or personnel,
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your adversary emulation project is dead in the water.
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You need to be cognisant of these resources
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and try to balance them in a way
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that enables you to achieve
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your adversary emulation engagement objectives.
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Now that we've gone through
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these threats selection factors,
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I just want to share some key takeaways.
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First, we know that
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many factors drive emulated threat selection.
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All of these factors yield benefits and trade-offs.
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This means that it's
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unlikely you'll find a perfect solution.
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In reality, you just need to pick
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the best option with the information that you have.
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As you go forward, I encourage you to think
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critically about what adversary
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you're going to select for emulation.
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I also encourage you to get feedback.
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Talk to the network owners,
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talk to your colleagues,
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and propose which adversaries
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or threats you're considering.
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Usually through this dialogue,
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you'll talk about the various threat selection factors,
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benefits, and trade-offs.
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This often leads to an understanding
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about what threat you
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should select for emulation for your particular project.
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That was lesson 2.3.
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We talked about the threat selection
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key factors in detail.
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These included relevance, available CTI,
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TTP complexity, and available resources.
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In our next lesson,
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we're going to move on to the next step,
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which is selecting emulated TTPs.
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