U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Toward a Visualization-Supported Workflow for Cyber Alert Management using Threat Models and Human-Centered Design

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Cyber network analysts follow complex processes in their investigations of potential threats to their network. Much research is dedicated to providing automated tool support in the effort to make their tasks more efficient, accurate, and timely. This tool support comes in a variety of implementations from machine learning algorithms that monitor streams of data to visual analytic environments for exploring rich and noisy data sets. Cyber analysts, however, often speak of a need for tools which help them merge the data they already have and help them establish appropriate baselines against which to compare potential anomalies. Furthermore, existing threat models that cyber analysts regularly use to structure their investigation are not often leveraged in support tools. We report on our work with cyber analysts to understand they analytic process and how one such model, the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix [32], is used to structure their analytic thinking. We present our efforts to map specific data needed by analysts into the threat model to inform our eventual visualization designs. We examine data mapping for gaps where the threat model is under-supported by either data or tools. We discuss these gaps as potential design spaces for future research efforts. We also discuss the design of a prototype tool that combines machine-learning and visualization components to support cyber analysts working with this threat model.
Franklin L., M.A. Pirrung, L.M. Blaha, M.V. Dowling, and M. Feng. 2017. "Toward a Visualization-Supported Workflow for Cyber Alert Management using Threat Models and Human-Centered Design." In IEEE Symposium on Visualization for Cyber Security (VizSec 2017), October 2, 2017, Phoenix, Arizona. Piscataway, New Jersey:IEEE. PNNL-SA-127976. doi:10.1109/VIZSEC.2017.8062200
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