Keeping ahead of web-based threats requires a mechanism to continually search for new types of attacks while understanding existing ones. However, data fragmentation and threat complexity plagues efforts to keep track of all the data related to malware, phishing and other risks – differences in how threats are discussed, categorized or even named vary from platform to platform and vendor to vendor. Facebook is taking steps to solve the issue for itself with the release of ThreatData.
ThreatData is a framework for collating information on internet threats and making it accessible for both real-time defensive systems and long-term analysis. It’s a bespoke effort comprised of three high-level parts: feeds, data storage and real-time response.
“When we began sketching out a system to solve this problem, we encountered issues others have faced: every company or vendor uses their own data formats, a consistent vocabulary is rare and each threat type can look very different from the next,” said Facebook security staffer Mark Hammell, in a blog. “With that in mind, we set about building what we now call ThreatData.”
Feeds first of all collect data from various sources and are implemented via a light-weight interface. The data can be in nearly any format and is transformed by the feed into a simple schema that the company calls the ThreatDatum. To build the database, Facebook is using feeds from VirusTotal, malicious URLs from multiple open source blogs and malware tracking sites; vendor-generated threat intelligence we purchase; Facebook’s own internal sources of threat intelligence; and browser extensions for importing data as a Facebook security team member reads an article blog, or other content.
Once a feed has transformed the raw data, it is fed into two existing data repository technologies: Hive for long-term data analysis and Scuba short-term. Hive storage answers questions like, “Have we ever seen this threat before?” and “What type of threat is more prevalent from our perspective: malware or phishing?” Scuba meanwhile offers the opposite end of the analysis spectrum, answering questions like, “What new malware are we seeing today?” and “Where are most of the new phishing sites?”
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