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Sunday, June 7, 2020

MITRE ATT&CK - How to use Effectively for Threat Hunting & Detection in SOC Environment.

June 07, 2020 Posted by jaacostan ,

Why do we need to use MITRE ATT&CK?

David Bianco explained very well that not all indicators of compromise are created equal. The pyramid defines the pain it will cause the adversary when you are able to deny those indicators to them.

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Fig 1: Pyramid of Pain (Source:

Hash Value: Hash indicators are the most accurate type of indicator. On the other hand, any change to a malicious file results in a completely different and unrelated hash value. So, in that case it’s very easy to change the hash value and there are so many hashes around the globe in that cases it may not be quite worth monitoring all of them.

IP Address: If you deny the adversary IP then usually, they can come back quickly with different IP.

Domain Name: Tons of domain are registered using fake details and there are free DNS services available.
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Network/Host Artifacts: When you can detect and respond to indicators at this level, you cause the attacker to go back and reconfigure and/or recompile their tools.

Tools: So now we are good at detecting the artifacts of their tool in many ways that they gave up or either find a new way to create a tool for the similar purpose.

TTP: When you are able to detect and respond at this level, you are operating directly on adversary behaviors, not against their tools. Adversary are finally a human behavior by detecting at TTP it becomes difficult to operate anymore.

What happens when you detect adversary's different TTPs? They have two options either to give up or re-invent themselves with new behavior.

How to use MITRE ATT&CK effectively ?

Mitre att&ck framework consists of 12 tactics, from initial access, execution, lateral movement all the way through command and control, data ex filtration and Impact. Each phase of this attack life-cycle consists of a multitude of techniques that have been observed globally and used by various threat actor groups when compromising an organization’s network.

By adopting this framework, it can be extremely useful to determine an environment level of visibility against targeted attacks with the tools that have been deployed across your enterprise organization endpoints and perimeter.

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          Fig 2: Mitre att&ck

Now to start with threat hunting you should know few things about your organization like,

  •  Enterprise knowledge: contextual knowledge and awareness of your IT environment
  • Hypothetical thinking: the ability to hypothesize threat attacks, source vectors, and organizational impact
  • Statistics: the ability to interpret significance from statistical data
  • Forensics: the ability to investigate the root cause and develop an attack timeline of events through network and endpoint forensics.

All looks good…. But how can I start now…. With all these 100+ techniques?

Let’s start looking for detection with some post-exploitation and pre-exploitation activity across the whole adversary life-cycle. Assuming that adversary has already got access to the organization system/network or trying to enter organization system/network.

  • Keep tracking changes over time, Behavior analytic there are few rules where you can use.
  • Identify your enemy, what is there aim (PII, database, email leak...etc.) and threat to your organization, High value Assets they might target.
  • Create detection rules for those techniques map those rules to Mitre Att&ck navigator and keep tracking. - Cyber Analytics Repository - Threat Hunter Playbook - End Game Analytics library. - Sigma SIEM agnostic use case - Sentinel ATT&CK

  • Allocate severity to your detection like High, Medium and Low.
  • Provide detection rating to your rules (1-5) 100% rules coverage is difficult to achieve, so rate your detection rule accordingly.    
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    Fig3: Mitre att&ck Data Map(Source:         

Start with what data/log source you have, Map those data source with techniques.                                                               

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  Fig 4: Mitre att&ck (
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 Fig5: Mitre att&ck (

Now once you are ready with Heat Map in ATT&CK Matrix navigator. It’s time to assess your detection like what so far, we can detect and what we cannot.

  • Where are my gaps do, I need more logs/data sources ?
  • What tools should I need to deploy and detect those ?
  • Why can’t you detect maybe you need risk acceptance ?
  • Use the Mite Att&ck navigator to have understanding on all the area.                 
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       Fig 6 (Source:

Green: Able to detect threat successfully.

Yellow: Still need some more logs source/some fine tuning in infrastructure.

Red: Cannot detect those attack with current environment/scenario.

White: Grey area not sure, Blind Spot.

Hopefully with following all these steps you can start having meaning full threat detection in your SOC/Organization.

Author published the article intially in Linkedin. Republishing here with permission from the Author.