Below is a list of 6 facts (and counting) you should know before whining and complaining around the infamous false-positive (FP) topic. If you’ve been there, feel free to comment and share your pain or your own facts.
As you know, the FPs are everywhere and multiplying just like Gremlins after a shower! [Misled Millennials, click here] In fact, that seems to be part of 12 in every 10 Security Monitoring projects out there, including those heavily relying on SIEM technology.
So here’s the list of facts and some quick directions:
#1 Canned content sucks
Bad news. Out-of-the-box things don’t go well with Security Monitoring, my friend. Your adversaries are quite creative and you need to catch up.
But before bashing vendors, think about it from their perspective. Would you release a product without any content? They are there for providing an idea of its usage, they are meant for general cases. You need to RTFM and spend a great deal of time evaluating and testing the product features to enable customization.
If you are into #photography, let me ask you: are you still shooting on automatic, generating JPEGs, with lower resolution (more shots!) out of your fully customizable camera? If you want to boost your chances of having that perfect shot, you need to go manual and experiment with all possible settings.
The technology is just another tool. Regardless of the feature set, you should be able to get the best out of it by translating your knowledge into a tailor-made rule set.
#2 You don’t have a scope
Since it’s pretty much utopia consuming a risk analysis result as an input for your Security Monitoring program, you need to find a way to define an initial scope. This will drive the custom rules development cycle and define the monitoring coverage (detective controls).
We tend to go with low hanging fruits or quick wins, but even then, you still need to spend some time defining your goals. And here the “Use Cases” conversation starts, perhaps one of the most important from the program!
Actually, it deserves a full article on its own, but I will leave you with a simple, yet interesting approach delivered by Augusto Barros (Gartner). I liked it when he pretty much defines the scope as the interception between Importance (value) and Feasibility (effort).
#3 People > Technology
No matter how cool and easy to use the technology is, if you don’t have a skilled team to work on #1 (RTFM and experiment) and #2 (define goals), you will likely end up with a bunch of unattended alerts.
Therefore, don’t hire deployers, hire Security Content Designers, Security Content Engineers, enable them to extract the value of your security arsenal (investment).
#4 Exception handling is not optional
When I say tailor-made, that means your rule should already address exceptions to a certain extent, that’s also called whitelisting.
If during development you realize a rule is generating too many alerts, try to anticipate the analysts call, and filter out scenarios that are not worth investigating.
The technology MUST provide easy ways to quickly add/modify/remove exceptions. Bonus for those products providing auditing (who, when, why).
#5 Aggregation is key
Have you noticed how many alerts are related to the very same case or target?
Some technologies (and security engineers), especially applicable to SIEMs, dare generating the very same alert – multiple times – simply because the time range considered for processing the events is overlapping, longer than the rule’s execution interval itself. “Run every hour, checking the last 5 days”. WTH?
What about aggregating on the target (or victim, if you will)? Not all products provide such functionality, but most SIEMs do. So instead of generating multiple alerts for every single hit on your data stream, why not consolidating those events on a single alert? Experiment aggregating on unique targets to start with.
#6 Threat Intel data != IDS signature
Here, there’s not much to say, with all that Threat Intel
porn hype nowadays, just go ahead and read Alex Sieira’s nice blog post: Threat Intelligence Indicators are not Signatures.
Help spread the love for FPs and share your thoughts!