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OpenC2: Standards for Faster Response to Security Incidents

Earlier this year, I came across a rather new and interesting standardization initiative, driven by the NSA (U.S. National Security Agency) and several industry organizations, both Cyber Defense software vendors and system integrators. OpenC2 names itself “a forum to promote global development and adoption of command and control” and has the following vision:

The OpenC2 Forum defines a language at a level of abstraction that will enable unambiguous command and control of cyber defense technologies. OpenC2 is broad enough to provide flexibility in the implementations of devices and accommodate future products and will have the precision necessary to achieve the desired effect.

The reasoning behind it is that an effective prevention, detection, and immediate response to cyber-attacks requires not only isolated systems, but a network of systems of various types. These functional blocks must be integrated and coordinated, to act in a synchronized manner, and in real-time, upon attacks. Communication between these systems requires standards – and that is what OpenC2 is working on.

This topic aligns well with the Real-Time Security Intelligence, an evolving area of software solutions and managed services KuppingerCole has been analyzing for a few years already. The main software and service offerings in that area are Security Intelligence Platforms (SIP) and Threat Intelligence Services. SIPs provide advanced analytical capabilities for identifying anomalies and attacks, while Threat Intelligence Services deliver information about newly detected incidents and attack vectors.

For moving from prevention (e.g. traditional firewalls) to detection (e.g. SIPs) to response, OpenC2 can play an important role, because it allows taking standardized actions based on a standardized language. This allows, for example, a SIP system to coordinate with firewalls for changing firewall rules, with SDNs (Software Defined Networks) for isolating systems targeted by the attacks, or with other analytical systems for a deeper level of analysis.

OpenC2 thus is a highly interesting initiative that can become an important building block in strengthening cyber defense. I strongly recommend looking at that initiative and, if your organization is among the players that might benefit from such language, actively engaging therein.

Martin Kuppinger is founder and principal analyst at KuppingerCole. Read more KuppingerCole blogs here.

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