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Subject: Kill Chains in STIX

Hey everyone,


One of the topics that has come up in the TTP/Malware conversation is kill chains. As a reminder, cyber kill chains are a phase-based model for describing the stages of an attack. A good example is the Lockheed Martin kill chain.


In STIX 1.2, kill chains were represented as kind of a half-TLO: they were a part of TTP (defined either on a TTP object or in the TTPs list), but did have their own IDs and could be referenced from other places.


In STIX 2.0, we have a couple options:


1.       Kill chains and kill chain phases could become top-level objects. You would use relationships to relate analysis objects (indicators, malware, attack patterns, etc.) to the kill chain phase objects that they can be considered a part of. References to kill chains would require either either everyone knowing the IDs for the STIX objects or re-sharing kill chain definitions. In this option, STIX supports the structured representation of kill chains themselves.

2.       Kill chain phases are represented as a controlled vocabulary approach. Each object that needs to have kill chains just includes a field where you can list the kill chain phases that it’s a part of. References to kill chains wouldn’t use STIX IDs, they would use names, so we could use something like open vocabularies to make sure people use the same terms for common kill chains/phases. In this option, STIX only supports representing names for kill chains…not full structured representations of the kill chains themselves.

3.       We don’t do kill chains, either for MVP or at all.


My preference is for #2. It’s very easy to implement so will encourage people to use kill chains (when necessary), and via the use of open vocabularies and standardized terms we still enable pivoting and tracking across orgs/tools. It also seems like something that’s very useful for analysis and well-understood so we can be OK to add it for MVP.


I mocked up some examples for options #1 and #2 here: https://gist.github.com/johnwunder/80f66746cc42134e6a42c98df6cdf18f





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