Hello everyone. I’m new to the group. I thought I would chime in to introduce myself and hopefully add to the discussion without asking too many dumb questions.
I also wanted to comment on the statement, “operators and analysts should not be seeing "note", or "opinion", or any other names of objects in most software that deals with STIX, it should be totally abstracted away. The analysts should not know or care about this.” I also disagree with that statement. The classes that we create in code should represent ideas and concepts of the system and user. I would totally expect to see users create new campaigns, threat actors, etc. The GUI should be the glue to translate the low-level details of the class into a human understandable format (i.e. Boolean should be True/False or Yes/No, DateTime property is converted to and from a String).
> “If we have two different objects, then you can immediately see how this presents a problem for the software creators”
I’m not sure that I follow this. Especially in the next paragraph where you state, “Consider the producer software When someone wants to simply enter text - which object do I encode it as in STIX?” Can I ask how you are getting to this point? I am picturing a user looking at some piece of information on the screen and the user then decides he wants to add a note or opinion. He would do that by clicking a button to add a note or opinion, whichever he feels is the most appropriate, and then he would enter the details for the note or opinion. How does the user get to a point where they simply want to enter text? Can you provide more context as to how I get into that state?
I’ll vote even if my vote doesn’t count : ) I vote for option 1. They seem to represent different concepts to me.
From: <firstname.lastname@example.org> on behalf of Sarah Kelley <Sarah.Kelley@cisecurity.org>
Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 8:37 AM
To: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [cti] Intel note and opinion
I vote 1 then 2.
I strongly disagree with merging these two objects. I think they are distinct enough that most people creating this human generated information would understand the difference, and I believe they serve very different purposes.
If this is true: “operators and analysts should not be seeing "note", or "opinion", or any other names of objects in most software that deals with STIX, it should be totally abstracted away. The analysts should not know or care about this.”
Then I can see where the problem is coming from. What I don’t understand is why would you ever want to abstract this away from the analyst using the tool? At that point, you would be tying their hands and limited what they can use. If you present the analyst with both a note and an opinion, they would choose what they felt was appropriate. The whole point of creating a standard with all these various objects, fields and properties is so that an end user can actually use these fields in a tool to create this data. If you don’t reveal all the features we’re putting into the language to the end user, then what is the point of putting them in the spec in the first place?
I also don’t understand the chronology problem. To add one more likely scenario into the mix, I create a threat actor. Then I revise the threat actor 5 times. Which creates 5 different versions, with five different description fields containing different analysis. You have to merge this in with any intel notes and with opinions (even if you merge this into one object). So, you’re already going to have to figure out a way to make a ‘timeline’ by looking at multiple objects. What’s the difference?
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From: <email@example.com> on behalf of Jason Keirstead <Jason.Keirstead@ca.ibm.com>
Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 7:38 AM
To: "Wunder, John A." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [cti] Intel note and opinion
I have a very strong opinion either #2 or #3 must be done, and that #1 is not workable.
In order to fully understand why, you have to consider the entire life-cycle of the objects - from production in one piece of software, to consumption and storage/display in another. You also have to understand that, at their core, both of these objects are objects are things that originate from humans, and carry human-entered facts about an object (either as human-entered text, or as "opinion", or other). Finally, you have to understand that the folks writing STIX software do not normally expose the data model to the operators/analysts.... operators and analysts should not be seeing "note", or "opinion", or any other names of objects in most software that deals with STIX, it should be totally abstracted away. The analysts should not know or care about this.
In any piece of software dealing with creating CTI by humans, one can imagine you will have to have some UI where one would enter these "things", and in any piece of software dealing with displaying CTI to humans, one can imagine you will have to have some UI where one will display these "things". If we have two different objects, then you can immediately see how this presents a problem for the software creators
- Consider the producer software When someone wants to simply enter text - which object do I encode it as in STIX? Since both can convey the information, it is totally ambiguous which to use - out of the gate, we are now at "two ways to do one thing", something we said we are trying to get away from in STIX 2. What if they enter text, it gets encoded as a "note", and then later on the same user goes in and and add an "opinion" flag? Should I revoke the "note" object and add an "opinion" object? Leave it and issue an "opinion" and duplicate all the text? Again, totally ambiguous. This points to the fact that these two things are different ideas - voting and commenting - and should be kept fully separate (#2)
- Consider now the consumer software. Any piece of consumer software who is going to display notes and opinions to a user is going to want to have some kind of comment-trail.. some type of timeline. It will simply not be possible to construct this comment trail without unionizing these two objects and treating them as one... as viewing a timeline of "note" without including "opinion", or vice-versa, will have the potential to leave a large number of human-created comments dropped on the floor. I can't reasonably see any valid use case to have software where one shows a set of "opinion" without including "note", or vice-versa. This again points to the fact that you need a single source of truth for a comment timeline... either option #2, or option #3 alternatively.
STSM, Product Architect, Security Intelligence, IBM Security Systems
Without data, all you are is just another person with an opinion - Unknown
From: "Wunder, John A." <email@example.com>
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Date: 04/10/2017 05:30 PM
Subject: [cti] Intel note and opinion
Sent by: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After a lot of conversation on intel note and opinion, we’ve narrowed down a lot of the questions on these two objects but have one big one remaining. Specifically, with both intel note and opinion existing as separate objects a few people (notably Jason and Bret) have noted that there may be overlap and in fact the objects should be merged into one. The thinking is that giving an opinion is essentially the same as giving extra analysis about something (or is at least handled the same way most of the time) and having two separate objects will be confusing for people. So, here’s how I would outline the questions:
1. Should opinion and intel note remain separate objects?
a. Merging them would provide a single object to provide a simple opinion on a scale (agree/disagree), an opinion on a scale with a text explanation (agree and here’s why), and added analysis w/ no opinion scale (here’s extra info about this object).
b. Separating them would distinguish providing an opinion (agree/disagree) from providing extra analysis
2. If we go with option b and we have two separate objects, should opinion have an optional description field?
a. Having a description on opinion keeps all information about the opinion in a single object.
b. Not having a description on opinion would mean that opinions are just the agree/disagree statements. People would use the intel note object to capture their explanation and therefore all text commentary would be provided by intel note.
It seems like the key thing people are wrestling with is whether there’s a distinction between giving extra analysis or context to something and giving an opinion about something. I.e., when people are doing shared analysis is it important to distinguish me providing an opinion on your object (agree/disagree/neutral) from me adding extra context (human-readable notes) to your data?
So, combining those questions, we have three options:
1. Opinion and intel note are separate objects, and opinion has a description. To have a text explanation of an opinion, you would use the description field on the opinion object.
2. Opinion and intel note are separate objects, and opinion does not have a description. To have a text explanation of an opinion, you would use an intel note and link it to the opinion.
3. Opinion and intel note are merged (likely calling it intel note, since not all of them would be opinions) and you would use that object to describe opinions, opinions w/ descriptions, and added analysis
People can reply with their reasoning and pros/cons, but I’m particularly interested in hearing people who have not chimed in yet. What is your preferred option? Any thoughts on the reasoning?
FYI, here are the latest working versions of intel note and opinion, in Google Docs. These are roughly option #1, based on the recent working call and a poll in Slack.
- Intel note: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15qD9KBQcVcY4FlG9n_VGhqacaeiLlNcQ7zVEjc8I3b4/edit#heading=h.74spnst8naxc
- Opinion: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15qD9KBQcVcY4FlG9n_VGhqacaeiLlNcQ7zVEjc8I3b4/edit#heading=h.haeazu2sh3sq
My own opinion (sorry I know this pun is getting old) is that giving an opinion is distinct from adding analyst notes or extra context and therefore I prefer #1. My second choice would be #2, because I think #3 results in an ambiguous object that does too many things and can have completely orthogonal sets of fields, which to me is an indication that it really should be two objects.
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