The MITRE ATT&CK framework, a groundbreaking initiative introduced in 2015, has emerged as a linchpin in the field of cybersecurity. Computer Weekly hails it as “the free, globally accessible service that offers comprehensive and current cyber security threat information” to organizations, underscoring its pivotal role in navigating the intricate landscape of digital security. Simultaneously, TechTarget characterizes it as a “global knowledge base of threat activity, techniques, and models,” emphasizing its significance in empowering entities to combat evolving cyber threats effectively.
Endorsed and utilized by authoritative bodies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the ATT&CK framework stands as a cornerstone for cybersecurity practitioners. The release of Version 8.0 in 2020 represents a significant stride, manifesting MITRE’s commitment to continually enhance and evolve the framework to tackle emerging challenges.
A 2020 study jointly conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, and security software company McAfee provides insights into the pervasive adoption of the ATT&CK framework. The study reveals that an astounding 80 percent of companies rely on this framework to fortify their cybersecurity posture, highlighting its widespread integration and effectiveness in addressing diverse organizational needs amidst an increasingly sophisticated cyber threat landscape.
In tandem with the ATT&CK framework, MITRE has played a pivotal role in the development of the Structured Threat Information eXchange (STIX). Described as a “machine-to-machine cyber threat information-sharing language,” STIX serves as a crucial conduit for information exchange between industry players, critical infrastructure operators, and governmental entities. Developed in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, STIX aims to foster collaboration and information sharing to proactively mitigate cyber threats.
The functionality of STIX extends to the Trusted Automated eXchange of Indicator Information (TAXII), allowing participants to share vital data seamlessly. Program governance transitioned to the global nonprofit consortium OASIS in 2015, reflecting the commitment to open collaboration and industry-wide cooperation. The approval of STIX 2.0 in 2017 further solidified its status as a dynamic and evolving standard in the cyber threat intelligence domain.
In a testament to the broader impact of cybersecurity initiatives, the U.S. Air Force awarded a substantial $463 million contract in September 2020 to the National Security Engineering Center. This Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) supports the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, focusing on cybersecurity, electronics, information technology, sensors, and systems engineering services. The significance of this contract lies in its overarching mission to bolster the nation’s defense against cyber threats across various domains.
Collaborative efforts between Microsoft and MITRE resulted in the creation of the Adversarial Machine Learning Threat Matrix. Launched in October 2020, this open-source framework is designed to organize and catalogue known techniques for attacks against machine-learning systems. By bringing together industry giants like IBM and Nvidia along with academic institutions, the initiative aims to empower security analysts with strategies to detect, respond, and remediate threats in the ever-evolving landscape of machine learning security.
MITRE’s commitment to addressing contemporary challenges is further exemplified by the launch of SQUINT in February 2020. This free app serves as a valuable tool for election officials, enabling them to report and combat misinformation on social media platforms. By October 2020, eleven U.S. states were actively utilizing SQUINT, showcasing its practical impact in the critical realm of election security. Concurrently, MITRE established the National Election Security Lab, providing free risk assessments for voting systems, thereby contributing to the safeguarding of democratic processes.
Beyond these specific initiatives, MITRE has left an indelible mark on the cybersecurity landscape through projects like the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. This comprehensive repository systematically documents vulnerabilities and exposures related to information security, serving as a valuable resource for organizations seeking to fortify their [digital defenses](https://cve.mitre.org
In a complementary vein, MITRE’s Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) category system focuses on software weaknesses and vulnerabilities. By categorizing and cataloging these weaknesses, the CWE system becomes an indispensable reference for developers, security professionals, and organizations aiming to enhance the resilience of their software infrastructure.
As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, MITRE remains at the forefront, consistently innovating and collaborating with industry leaders, government agencies, and the broader cybersecurity community. The organization’s multifaceted approach, encompassing frameworks, collaborative initiatives, and practical tools, underscores its commitment to advancing cybersecurity practices and fortifying the collective defense against cyber threats. MITRE’s legacy extends far beyond individual projects, shaping the very fabric of how organizations perceive, prepare for, and respond to the dynamic challenges in the ever-expanding digital frontier.