How to Operationalize Vulnerability Threat Intelligence.

About The Guests

  • Patrick Garrity: Security Researcher and VP Marketing at Nucleus Security
  • Jared Semrau: Director, Vulnerability & Exploitation, Mandiant
  • Caleb Hoch: Manager, Global Cyber Defense, Mandiant


Jared Semrau and Caleb Hoch from Mandiant discuss vulnerability intelligence and how it can be operationalized with Patrick Garritty, VP Security Research at Nucleus Security.

They highlight the importance of vulnerability intelligence in prioritizing and managing vulnerabilities, especially in the face of increasing zero-day exploits.

They emphasize the need for an up-to-date asset inventory, an incident response plan, and access to threat intelligence to effectively respond to zero-day vulnerabilities.

They also demonstrate how to use Nucleus, a platform that integrates Mandiant’s threat intelligence, to automate and streamline vulnerability management processes.

Key Takeaways

The Value of Vulnerability Intelligence

Vulnerability intelligence is a specialized form of threat intelligence that focuses on vulnerabilities and their exploitation. It involves the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information about vulnerabilities, their associated risks, and the tactics used by threat actors to exploit them. The goal of vulnerability intelligence is to provide organizations with actionable insights that can help them prioritize and address vulnerabilities effectively.

According to Jared Semrau, Director of Vulnerability and Exploitation at Mandiant, vulnerability intelligence goes beyond simply identifying vulnerabilities. It aims to answer critical questions:

  • Which vulnerabilities are being actively exploited?
  • What impact does their exploitation have on an organization?
  • What actions can be taken to protect against them?

By providing a comprehensive understanding of the threat landscape, vulnerability intelligence enables organizations to make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively.

Operationalizing Vulnerability Intelligence

To operationalize vulnerability intelligence, organizations need to integrate it into their vulnerability management program.

This involves leveraging the insights provided by vulnerability intelligence to prioritize vulnerabilities, allocate resources, and develop mitigation strategies.

Caleb Hoch, Manager of Global Cyber Defense at Mandiant, emphasizes the importance of three key factors in operationalizing vulnerability intelligence:

  1. An up-to-date asset inventory
  2. An incident response plan
  3. Access to adequate threat intelligence

Up-to-Date Asset Inventory

Maintaining an accurate and up-to-date asset inventory is crucial for effective vulnerability management.

Organizations need to have a comprehensive understanding of their assets, including hardware, software, and network infrastructure.

This allows them to identify vulnerabilities that are present in their environment and prioritize their remediation efforts accordingly.

Without an accurate asset inventory, organizations risk overlooking critical vulnerabilities and leaving their systems exposed to potential threats.

Incident Response Plan

Incorporating vulnerability management into an organization’s incident response plan is essential for effectively addressing zero-day vulnerabilities.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are vulnerabilities that are unknown to the vendor and have not yet been patched.

When a zero-day vulnerability is discovered, organizations need to have a well-defined incident response plan in place to detect, analyze, and mitigate the potential impact.

This includes conducting thorough investigations, identifying signs of exploitation, and taking appropriate actions to protect the organization’s systems and data.

Adequate Threat Intelligence

Access to reliable and timely threat intelligence is a critical component of effective vulnerability management.

Threat intelligence provides organizations with valuable insights into the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by threat actors.

By leveraging threat intelligence, organizations can proactively identify vulnerabilities that are likely to be targeted and develop mitigation strategies to protect against potential threats.

It is important to ensure that the threat intelligence used is credible, up-to-date, and relevant to the organization’s specific needs.

The Power of Vulnerability Intelligence

By leveraging vulnerability intelligence, organizations can significantly enhance their vulnerability management program.

The use of risk-based prioritization, as demonstrated by Mandiant’s risk rating, allows organizations to focus their resources on the most critical vulnerabilities. This approach takes into account not only the severity of the vulnerability but also the likelihood of exploitation and the potential impact on the organization.

By prioritizing vulnerabilities based on their risk rating, organizations can effectively allocate their resources and address the most significant threats first.

Furthermore, vulnerability intelligence provides organizations with valuable context and analysis that goes beyond the traditional CVSS scores.

The analysis provided by Mandiant’s team allows organizations to understand the real-world implications of vulnerabilities and make informed decisions about their remediation efforts.

This level of analysis is particularly valuable when dealing with zero-day vulnerabilities, where traditional vulnerability scoring systems may not provide an accurate assessment of the risk.

Future Outlook

The integration of vulnerability intelligence into incident response plans and the use of risk-based prioritization can significantly enhance an organization’s ability to detect, analyze, and mitigate vulnerabilities.

Looking ahead, the field of vulnerability intelligence is expected to continue evolving as new vulnerabilities and exploitation techniques emerge.

Organizations will need to stay vigilant and adapt their vulnerability management strategies to address emerging threats effectively.

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, organizations must prioritize vulnerability management and leverage vulnerability intelligence to stay one step ahead of threat actors.

By adopting a risk-based approach, integrating vulnerability intelligence into incident response plans, and leveraging reliable threat intelligence sources, organizations can effectively address vulnerabilities and protect their systems and data from potential threats.

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