McAfee ATR Thinks in Graphs

McAfee ATR Thinks in Graphs


0. Introduction


John Lambert, a distinguished researcher specializing in threat intelligence at Microsoft, once said these words that changed perspectives: “Defenders think in lists. Attackers think in graphs.” This is true and, while it remains that way, attackers will win most of the time. However, the true power of graphs does not only reside in constructing them, but also in how we build them and what we do with them. For that, we need to reflect upon the nature of the data and how we can use graphs to make sense of it. I presented on this premise at the MITRE ATT&CKcon Power Hour held in January 2021.


At McAfee Advanced Threat Research (ATR), all threat intelligence relating to current campaigns, potential threats, and past and present attacks, is collated and normalized into a single truth, namely a highly redundant, scalable relational database instance, and disseminated into different categories, including but not limited to MITRE ATT&CK techniques involved, tools used, threat actor responsible, and countries and sectors targeted. This information is a subset of the data available in McAfee MVISION Insights. Much can be learned from looking at historical attack data, but how can we piece all this information together to identify new relationships between threats and attacks? We have been collecting and processing data for many years but identifying patt ..