As one of the largest global defense companies, L3Harris provides mission-critical solutions to connect and protect the world, serving customers in more than 130 countries. Given the nature of the company’s industry, L3Harris faces numerous facets of cybersecurity threats from advanced adversaries and nation states. The company’s 24×7 computer security incident response team (CSIRT) analysts operate in a highly advanced security atmosphere that is continually growing more complex.
Devin McLean, SOC Manager and IRT Engineer at L3Harris says the cybersecurity threat landscape has become notably more challenging in recent years. He attributes this to a variety of converging factors, including an
increase in the volume of security alerts his team receives each day and an increasing attack surface. The global cybersecurity resource shortage is another challenge, squeezing bandwidth and making it difficult for
organizations to staff their teams with additional support. The process of enriching indicators has also become more complicated. McLean points to a growing and varied matrix of data (e.g. DNS information, SSL data, surface evidence, etc.) that analysts must review to better understand their indicators. The ability to quickly investigate and pivot upon indicators is critical to effective incident response.
“Cyber espionage is one of the biggest threats our organization faces. Nation-State activity is on the rise for many industries, but is particularly aggressive in the defense industry. The more we understand about these highly sophisticated adversaries, the more effective our team is at reinforcing our protections against them. It also helps us draw possible connections between domains that we know are nefarious and new ones that show up in alerts.” — McLean
Focused on staying ahead of advanced persistent threats (APTs), the team utilizes insights provided by DomainTools to better understand the networks and infrastructure of state-sponsored actors and other parties looking to gain entry and/or spy on the organization. L3Harris initially implemented DomainTools to enable
brand monitoring alerts, so the team would know when a threat actor was staging a phishing campaign or attempting to register a domain associated with the company name. With the complementary capabilities
in Iris, the team has deepened its use of domain information to inform threat investigations.
McLean and the team of analysts at L3Harris use Iris to pivot on these data points and expand their list of domains associated with suspicious IP addresses and domain registrant information. That information is cross-referenced against other domains across the environment. This approach has uncovered connections between the registrations of numerous domains, providing the team with robust intelligence to further investigate networks of adversaries and block those that were previously known. In Iris, Domain Risk Scores that predict the likelihood that a domain is malicious, even before it is weaponized, and SSL Profile data panels that allow the analysts to examine certificates in detail, are key features for the L3Harris team. Using these tools, they can close
the window of vulnerability between when a malicious domain is registered and when it is observed causing
harm. They also help the team better understand the profile and screenshots of a website without navigating to it, and in some cases, uncover additional pivot points not otherwise available.
“Our team averages a 96 percent month-over-month increase in security alerts, and every day we process indicators from intelligence reports and more than 1,000 emails reported as suspicious by our users. Many of these include some level of domain information. The ability to automatically process those indicators and suspicious IP addresses quickly instead of manually significantly decreases the amount of time it takes to conduct the investigation, which is a major boost to our work.” — McLean
The domain insights and pivoting capabilities provided in Iris support McLean and his colleagues in successfully combating an increasingly challenging range of threats, maximizing the effectiveness of the available resources of security organizations. DomainTools is also helping L3Harris improve the quality of its investigations by giving the team a way to automatically enrich indicators quickly and spend less time manually gathering information. This, combined with a highly intuitive user interface, allows analysts to accelerate incident response and focus on threat hunting. With rich data at their fingertips, they can act more quickly, make accurate decisions about alerts and rapidly escalate them when needed.