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Subject: Re: [cti] Re: [EXT] Re: [cti] Intel note and opinion

Bret & All:

One of the problems I'm running into as I delve into data on a TIP is wrapping the IOCs in some sort of context; that is, if the original Producer of the data did not add the background information that is associated with the IOCs.  As a analyst trying to work my way up the pyramid of pain by reverse engineering the malware, analyzing the (probably spoofed) geolocation information, looking for clues in the linkages within the malicious infrastructure, etc... I am often in the dark unless I have that richer context. 

Granted, this is only one of the Use Cases; the one where human analysts are looking at the data.  But in this instance, I find that contextual information is very helpful.  Furthermore, I am working within the context of several ISAOs and ISACs where the level of adoption and sharing-maturity varies all across the board.  It is my sense that the human impediments to the adoption of a "sharing" paradigm is the more difficult problem in this vision of a CTI community.  Therefore, there will be a period whereby a transition from human analyst Use Cases to a pure MRTI ecosystem will be long and painful.  This will be the case throughout the period when vendors are tooling up and products are rolling out.  Even after that, there will be a lag between the vision of those of us here and market adoption. This will be due, in part, to the need to build out the workforce for CTI. 

As such, I think we need to think of the Opinion and Intel Note objects as very important and SEPARATE objects that should be added as soon as possible to the STIX data model. It may be that, in the future, as the entire ecosystem transitions from Use Cases where human analysts are working the data to MRTI Use Cases, we can even depreciate one or the other object.  But, at this time, I strongly support the camp that is calling for two separate objects for Opinion and Intel Note. 

Option #2 is my choice.

Jane Ginn



Against 2 objects
Jason Keirstead - IBM
Bret Jordan - Symantec
Rich Shok - US Bank
Nicholas Hayden - Anomali
Pat Maroney - Wapack Labs
Stefan Hagen

In the Middle
Allan Thompson - Looking Class
Dave Cridland - Survive 

For 2 objects
John Wunder - MITRE
Sarah Kelley - CIS
Nathan Reller - JH APL
Terry MacDonald

If you have not spoken up, please do so.


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.

Jane Ginn, MSIA, MRP
CTI-TC Co-Secretary
Cyber Threat Intelligence Network, Inc.

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