Are You Affected by the Next Zero-Day?

One of the top data breach trends tracked by our IBM X-Force team in 2017 was trouble with patching. Despite this reoccurring headache in cybersecurity, enterprises around the world are falling victim to malware exploiting known vulnerabilities. Top of mind in 2017 were the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomwares, for which Microsoft had issued a patch nearly two months prior to the first attack.

Whether it’s a new vulnerability or the next big zero-day ransomware, the first thing you should ask as a security analyst, chief information security officer (CISO) or CEO is: “Am I affected?” The nature of this question often extends beyond cybersecurity — it could be a bad traffic report ahead of your commute or an incoming weather forecast. When it comes to major threats that lock down your infrastructure and demand payment, it’s important to know whether your enterprise is affected. The IBM X-Force Exchange (XFE), IBM’s threat intelligence sharing platform, is here to help.

Stay Current on Vulnerabilities With Watchlists

Whether you are a large or small enterprise, your environment has a lot of tools that need to be constantly updated and maintained. More than 15,000 vulnerabilities were reported in 2017, many of which require cross-referencing against internal infrastructure to mitigate the impact.

To provide some aid, the IBM X-Force Exchange watchlist feature provides early warning notifications regarding newly released vulnerabilities. Just plug in your software and receive alerts in real time.

Get the Latest Research From Collections

XFE collections are repositories of curated threat intelligence, drawing insights from a mix of human and machine-generated sources. When a new attack hits the wire, check X-Force Exchange to see what the experts are saying.

Our X-Force research team, in conjunction with managed services and incident response, provides higher-order intelligence on campaigns, actors, tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), and indicators of compromise (IoCs). You can act on this information by importing it programmatically into your security tools using the X-Force Exchange API or STIX/TAXII protocols.

Am I Affected by a Zero-Day Vulnerability?

New to X-Force Exchange is the Am I Affected button. In a single click, IBM QRadar users are quickly notified of any malicious indicators captured within X-Force Exchange collections. The architecture correlates QRadar log activities to determine whether any events and flows — and soon, vulnerabilities and offenses — are related to IoCs captured within public or private collections. The user can quickly assess the impact via graphical and tabular reporting with the option to pivot back to QRadar for a more thorough investigation. Best of all, it’s now free for all IBM QRadar users.

First, provide a QRadar console IP and token (QRadar Admin > Authorized Services) to set up the integration. Keys will be saved for future use in Settings > QRadar Integration, but no log activity will be stored on the XFE servers since the integration is solely browser-based.

Second, select a time limit from the default options to search against your QRadar activity. Clicking Custom enables a more tailored search by year, month, day and time. Once you select the time limit, the search will start and X-Force Exchange will query against IPs (source/destination), URLs (hostname) and malware hashes in your QRadar environment.

Third, view the report. While the results’ metadata will appear in the toaster window, opening the report will provide a tabular and graphical analysis of the impact. If the indicators from X-Force Exchange are captured in QRadar logs, an Am I Affected report will render. Select a category to inspect (e.g., host names) and choose from three interactive graphs to better understand the results of your investigation.

  • The percentage view shows the breakdown of the selected category in your QRadar logs — for example, the percentage of traffic that was occupied by connecting to or from the host names.
  • The timeline shows when logs are captured by category and can infer the strength of communication either to or from the specific indicator.
  • The quantity view shows the total count of logs by category. Hovering over and clicking on a specific bar in the chart will show the affiliated data in the table.

Indicators highlighted in blue reflect data captured within X-Force Exchange collections, thus depicting impact. You can hover over these indicators to see the risk score. At any point, you can pivot to QRadar and it will automatically filter to produce the same categorical view. For analysts who want to answer the what and the how, X-Force Exchange and QRadar provide this visibility.

If you notice some errors with the feature, don’t be alarmed. We have a detailed FAQ to support troubleshooting with Am I Affected and have been able to narrow some issues down to central causes.

Visit the IBM X-Force Exchange

Christian Falco

Strategy Associate, IBM

Christian Falco is a strategist with IBM Security, helping to build and articulate the business unit's strategy...