MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge) is a globally recognized framework that provides a comprehensive list of cyber adversary behaviors and techniques that can be used to help organizations better understand and defend against cyber threats. ATT&CK is designed to identify potential gaps in an organization’s security posture and provide a common language for security professionals to communicate about attacks and their mitigation.

The framework covers a wide range of attack techniques, from initial network infiltration to post-exploitation and exfiltration, and is regularly updated to reflect the latest threat intelligence. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the cybersecurity community, MITRE ATT&CK has become an invaluable resource for organizations of all sizes to improve their security and resilience against cyber threats.

What is MITRE?

MITRE is a not-for-profit organization that operates several federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) in the United States. MITRE provides technical and strategic guidance to a wide range of government agencies and organizations, including those involved in defense, intelligence, and cybersecurity. In the cybersecurity realm, MITRE is well-known for its creation and maintenance of the ATT&CK framework, which has become a widely adopted tool for understanding and responding to cyber threats.

Beyond ATT&CK, MITRE also conducts research and development in other areas of cybersecurity, such as threat intelligence, cyber operations, and secure software development. MITRE’s mission is to work in the public interest and to advance the state of the art in many technical fields, including cybersecurity. As a trusted partner to both government and industry, MITRE is a leader in developing innovative solutions to complex technical challenges.

Why was MITRE created?

MITRE was created in 1958 as a non-profit organization to address critical issues facing the United States government. Specifically, MITRE was established to provide technical assistance and support to the US Department of Defense in response to the country’s growing concerns about national defense and security. The organization’s mission was to provide innovative solutions to complex problems through advanced technology research and development.

Since then, MITRE has expanded its work to include a wide range of government agencies, as well as private industry and international organizations. Today, MITRE is recognized as a leader in systems engineering, cybersecurity, and advanced technology innovation, and continues to play a critical role in advancing the nation’s defense and security capabilities.

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What is the MITRE attack framework?

The MITRE ATT&CK framework is a comprehensive and globally recognized knowledge base of adversarial tactics and techniques used by cyber attackers. It is a tool designed to help security professionals understand and analyze cyber threats and incidents, allowing them to better protect their organizations from attack. The framework provides a detailed overview of the tactics and techniques used by adversaries at each stage of a cyber attack, from initial access to exfiltration of data.

It covers a wide range of attack techniques, including social engineering, malware, lateral movement, and data exfiltration. By using the MITRE ATT&CK framework, security teams can more effectively understand, detect, and respond to cyber threats, helping to ensure that their organizations stay protected against the latest attack methods.

MITRE attack matrix & techniques

The MITRE ATT&CK matrix is a visual representation of the tactics and techniques used by cyber attackers that is organized into a matrix. It is a tool that enables security professionals to easily identify the specific techniques that attackers are using and assess the effectiveness of their defenses against those techniques. The matrix is organized into categories of tactics, such as initial access, execution, persistence, and exfiltration. Under each tactic, there are multiple techniques that attackers use to accomplish their goals.

For example, under the “initial access” tactic, there are techniques such as phishing, brute force, and drive-by compromise. By understanding the specific techniques used by attackers, security teams can better protect their organization by implementing more targeted defenses. Additionally, the MITRE ATT&CK matrix provides a common language for the security community to discuss and share information about specific attack techniques, making it a valuable tool for collaboration and information sharing.

How to use the MITRE attack matrix

The Mitre Attack Framework can be used by organizations to understand the methods and techniques used by attackers, and to identify potential vulnerabilities in their own systems. It can also be used to evaluate and compare different security products and services, and to assess the effectiveness of security measures.

To use the MITRE ATT&CK matrix, start by identifying the stages of an attack, including the initial access, execution, persistence, and exfiltration. Then, consult the matrix to see the various TTPs used by attackers during each stage, and map these to your own security controls and processes. This will help you identify any gaps in your defenses and prioritize areas for improvement.

It’s also important to keep the MITRE ATT&CK matrix up to date and use it as a reference for ongoing threat intelligence and analysis, as attackers are constantly evolving their TTPs to evade detection. By using the MITRE ATT&CK matrix, you can improve your organization’s cyber resilience and be better prepared to detect and respond to cyber threats.

What are the 3 matrices?

The MITRE ATT&CK framework consists of 3 matrices:

  • Enterprise Matrix: is the most widely used and covers TTPs that are commonly used against traditional enterprise networks.
  • Mobile Matrix: focuses on mobile device attacks and is useful for organizations that rely heavily on mobile technology.
  • Pre-Attack Matrix: is designed to help organizations identify and mitigate potential attack paths before they are exploited by attackers. It focuses on identifying vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that could be leveraged by attackers.

Utilizing all three matrices, organizations can have a comprehensive understanding of potential attack vectors and have a better chance of preventing successful attacks.

MITRE use cases

The MITRE ATT&CK framework is an essential tool for organizations looking to enhance their cybersecurity posture. It has a wide range of use cases that can benefit organizations in several ways.

  • Threat intelligence: MITRE framework provides a structured approach to threat intelligence, making it easier to analyze and understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by attackers— mapping known TTPs to the framework, organizations can gain a better understanding of the types of attacks they are likely to face and improve their defenses accordingly.
  • Security awareness training: By providing real-world examples of TTPs and explaining how they are used in attacks, employees can better understand the importance of cybersecurity and how they can help protect their organization.
  • Incident response: During an incident, the framework can be used to quickly identify the stage of the attack, the TTPs being used, and the potential impact of the attack. This information can help incident responders make informed decisions about how to contain and remediate the incident.
  • Security testing: By simulating attacks and mapping the TTPs used to the framework, organizations can identify gaps in their defenses and prioritize areas for improvement. In addition, the framework can help enhance the effectiveness of a Security Operations Center (SOC) by allowing analysts to more easily identify and prioritize alerts.
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