The cloud market today is full of references to the API economy. This is certainly with merit since the capabilities of an application programming interface (API) open the doors to a world of new applications, services and products.

APIs exist for cloud platforms in every major industry, and security is no exception. The tight integration between security solutions that APIs can make possible helps to close intelligence gaps that attackers might otherwise slip through. APIs also commonly provide threat intelligence for security infrastructure that enhances efficacy, provides valuable context and reduces your time-to-know and time-to-act on current and emerging threats.

The API of the IBM X-Force Exchange platform has provided threat intelligence integration capabilities to other applications since its inception. During the platform’s relatively short history, the platform and its API have continued to evolve, with improvements evident in the depth and breadth of the original X-Force threat intelligence available. Within the collaboration portal and the API, X-Force Exchange now provides granular intelligence like Threat Indicators and Observables, to higher order content like Campaigns and Tools, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs). X-Force Exchange can deliver this range of threat intelligence via the API, using two major specifications that allow users to use the method that best suits their needs.

RESTful API Support

Probably the most common method for accessing an API today is through a RESTful architectural interface that provides access to data in a reliable, scalable and simple manner. X-Force Exchange does this while providing threat intelligence information in JSON notation.

Users who are already familiar with this technology or have proprietary systems that can easily leverage a RESTful API would benefit quickly from this method. In addition, IBM has made the X-Force Exchange Node SDK available to help users get started with their integrations.


X-Force Exchange also supports STIX and TAXII standards to allow for interoperability and automated machine-to-machine (M2M) exchange of threat intelligence. The adoption of these standards is where the true value of threat intelligence sharing really shines: It provides the ability for users to share information across different tools while abstracting away all the details of how threat intelligence information is captured, processed and exchanged across different platforms. These standards are gaining popularity across the spectrum of users and companies. Check Point Software Technologies, Soltra, Verisign, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) and many more organizations are actively involved in the evolution and promotion of STIX and TAXII via the OASIS IT standards consortium as the de facto standard for automated M2M threat intelligence exchange.

Threat Intelligence Use Cases

Over the last year, we’ve seen the X-Force Exchange API gain significant traction across a number of different use cases. The use cases commonly represent users interested in programmatically obtaining X-Force data to provide a new source of threat intelligence to their security infrastructure and/or operations.

Where the use cases differ is across different user types and their goals for threat intelligence integration:

  • The security analyst aims to implement an additional source of threat intelligence for their security infrastructure. This infrastructure may contain threat detection devices, a SIEM or a data analytics platform.
  • The managed security services provider, operating a security operations center (SOC), wants to help analysts speed their investigations and prioritize threats so that responders address the most severe issues first, increasing the provider’s overall efficiency.
  • The software provider looks to integrate threat intelligence into their product in a way that provides additional value in their offerings to their clients. From reputation to risk analysis, there are many IBM business partners that create and offer applications that integrate X-Force threat intelligence.

Sign up for a free trial of the IBM X-Force Exchange

With the value of threat intelligence and APIs well established, X-Force is introducing a new offering: IBM X-Force Exchange Commercial API. This will allow users to access the same X-Force threat intelligence available on the platform using a commercially-licensed API option which enjoys increased quota, enhanced query options, full support and the ability to integrate and resell products containing IBM X-Force content. The X-Force threat intelligence commercial API satisfies all the use cases for enhancing a security product or platform, a team’s efficacy and efficiency in a SOC, or a third-party security offering.

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