IBM unbolts vast threat database to fight cybercrimes

IBM offers third-party threat data and real-time indicators of live attacks, which could combat cybercrimes.

IBM today took cybersecurity threat sharing to a new level it opened its vast library of security intelligence data to public or private entities building defenses against cybercrimes.

IBM's X-Force Exchange features 700 terabytes of raw aggregated data and offers cloud-based access to volumes of IBM and third-party threat data from across the globe, including real-time indicators of live attacks, which can be used to defend against cybercrimes, the company said.

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"The need for trusted threat intelligence is greater than ever, as 80% of cyber attacks are driven by highly organized crime rings in which data, tools and expertise are widely shared1. Though hackers have mobilized, their targets have not. A majority (65%) of in-house cybersecurity teams use multiple sources of trusted and untrusted external intelligence to fight attackers," IBM said.

The X-Force Exchange features:

  •  One of the largest and most complete catalogs of vulnerabilities in the world;
  •  Threat information based on monitoring of more than 15 billion monitored security events per day;
  •  Malware threat intelligence from a network of 270 million endpoints;
  •  Threat information based on over 25 billion web pages and images;
  •  Deep intelligence on more than 8 million spam and phishing attacks;
  •  Reputation data on nearly 1 million malicious IP addresses

IBM said it will provide future support for STIX and TAXII, the emerging standard for automated threat intelligence sharing, for easy extraction and sharing of information to and from the exchange, as well as seamless integration into existing security systems.

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Big Blue said organizations can directly interact with IBM's security analysts and researchers, as well as their industry peers via the platform to validate findings and expose them to other companies fighting cybercrime.

"For example, a security researcher might discover a new malware domain, noting it as malicious within the platform. From there, a security analyst at another company could find this domain from his or her network on the exchange and consult with other analysts and experts to validate its danger. The analyst would then apply blocking rules to his or her own company's digital presence, stopping malicious traffic, and via the platform - would rapidly alert the organization's Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) about the threat. The CISO would then add this malicious traffic source to a public collection on the platform, sharing with industry peers to quickly contain and stop the threat before it can infect other companies," IBM stated.

Sharing cyber threat information has been an industry hot potato issue for years. Most recently President Obama signed an executive order intended to encourage more cyber threat cooperation.

According to an IDG News Service story: Protecting against cyber attacks "has to be a shared mission," Obama said during a speech at Stanford University. "Government cannot do this alone, but the fact is, the private sector cannot do this alone either." Government agencies can help the private sector by coordinating efforts during cyber attacks and responding to them, but many private companies have "cutting-edge" tools to protect themselves, Obama noted.

"It's not appropriate, or even possible, for government to secure the computer networks of private businesses," he added. "We're going to have to be smart and efficient and focus on what each sector does best, and then do it together."

Obama's executive order encourages companies to form information-sharing and analysis organizations, through which they can share cyber threat information. It also directs the Department of Homeland Security to fund the creation of a nonprofit organization that will develop a common set of voluntary standards, including privacy protections, for these information-sharing cooperatives.

Cyber threat information-sharing bills introduced in Congress in recent years, including 2014's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and 2013's Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), failed to pass after questions about how much customer information they would allow companies to share with government agencies, including intelligence services.

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