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Derek Ditch
Developer and Threat researcher for Critical Stack
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Stewart, The Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) is the US-CERT standard for information labelling used by the ISACs and others. It isn't a classification, but rather a dissemination control. Organizations would use TLP:RED, for instance when an existing NDA-style agreement is in place to prevent disclosure of the information outside of the specified recipients. And it reduces from there. Here are the detailed descriptions: https://www.us-cert.gov/tlp As to that specific source, packetmail.net, the network in question is a honeynet and *shouldn't* receive any legitimate traffic. The possibility, is that one could spoof a source IP address specifically to deny someone service to a resource that uses this as an automatic block. Other than that, there's likely a low probability of the IPs being not malicious. (raw data: https://www.packetmail.net/iprep.txt). Additionally, I would argue that an IP address should not be considered "personal information". In practice, the owner of an IP address may not be the party that controls it (for instance, Virtual Private Servers, loved by cyber actors). The location could also vary daily. It sounds like we probably have similar concerns here, but with language like this being proposed for law, it should really be defined up front by informed lawmakers and members of the cybersecurity community.
Stewart, I have to overall agree with you that this bill isn't doing anything productive. Full disclosure, I'm an employee of Critical Stack, but my opinions are my own and not directly related to the threat intelligence feed you mention. Before coming to Critical Stack, I was a threat intelligence analyst (among other things) at NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center. I'd first like to refute your point on automated data being "imperfect". While some of our current feeds provider more reliable data than others, typically automated data like this is produced based upon an observed behavior. The important facet is that this data has a shelf-life. If you're not regularly updating your intelligence feeds, it becomes much less effective. Areas where automated analysis can be very high confidence include C&C domains and IPs, botnet control nodes, and open mail relays used for spam. Registered domains typically have a much longer shelf life than an IP address, but even then expires at a minimum upon expiration of the domain name. Botnets also typically overturn their bot herds very quickly to circumvent detection, so the information should expire much more quickly. When I have deployed fingerprints for things such as malware protocols or botnet activity, the results are very high confidence because the detection has low noise ratio. Getting back to the bill, one of the primary reasons I left the Intelligence Community (IC) is part of the problem this bill is purporting to solve. However, there is no legal reason why the IC cannot share this information today, it's merely a policy decision - and this law doesn't fix that. In fact, this bill has explicit exceptions to prevent the DoD from receiving any threat information, which is obviously a political bow to the anti-NSA lobby. And again, there's no real reason why clearing houses such as the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) cannot share information with the Federal Government. The TLP sanitization procedures already used today are already quite effective. The IC has comparable policies. Here's are the pieces that are currently missing: liability protection, source sanitization, and definition of vague terms such as "personal information". The bill tries to address the first item. Source sanitization is necessary to get the IC and other Federal Government (and I'm sure private companies) to share more information. If you get a domain through an intelligence sharing clearing house, you should not be able to distinguish if the NSA picked that up from the foreign adversaries networks, the FBI picked it up from an investigation, or a DIB partner was victim of malware using it. Lastly, as you allude to, the restrictions on "private information" are going to kill much of what is already good in the private sector. If a signature or analyst that identified an email address as malicious because it sent malicious links or attachments, that email address should be shared, even if it was hijacked. Perhaps, if there is reason to believe the email account was highjacked, we can set an expiration on that intelligence of one week. If it is not highjacked, maybe that intelligence expires after 6 months or a year. Also, a side note, the CTIC is another political ploy. "not more than 50 permanent positions" is not enough manpower to effectively perform the mission with all the liaison positions that are required for this to occur. I really value your legal opinions on these cyber issues that confront us. I think the more *informed* legal opinions we get in the mix, the sooner we'll get back on the right track.
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Mar 31, 2015