Guide Types of Attacks

MITRE ATT&CK model explained + 2023 updates

MITRE ATT&CK Framework

MITRE ATT&CK model explained + 2023 updates

In the never-ending cat-and-mouse game between cyber criminals and cyber security experts, the one who stays two steps ahead wins. The most notorious cyber criminals spend considerable time studying the defense measures deployed by large organizations. 

Once they have a complete view of the defenses, they orchestrate some of the most sophisticated attacks based on intel. 

Therefore, cybersecurity experts must also remain aware of the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures to prepare proactive measures that make defenses impenetrable by even the most dangerous criminals. 

MITRE ATT&CK exists to assist cybersecurity professionals with the information they need to stay ahead of adversaries. With our blog, we will be looking into what MITRE ATT&CK is and how it is still one of the most reliable and highly used frameworks used by cybersecurity professionals worldwide.

What should you know about the MITRE ATT&CK model?

MITRE, also known by the title ‘‘The most important company that you have never heard of” is a government-funded research organization based in the USA dedicated to tackling challenges in aviation, defense, healthcare, research and development, and the cybersecurity world. 

It acts as an independent advisor with a dedicated R&D center for cybersecurity. Since its inception, MITRE has effectively identified and addressed some of the most sophisticated nationwide cybersecurity challenges. 

Driven by expertise and quality academic research, it has become the backbone of some of the most critical cybersecurity initiatives worldwide.  They developed the ATT&CK framework in 2013 as a community project. 

ATT & CK is an abbreviation for Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge. The main motive behind designing this framework was to make it easy for cybersecurity professionals to communicate about the nature, techniques, mindset, and tools deployed by attackers. 

Apart from the ATT&CK framework, MITRE has also developed Structured Threat Information eXchange (STIX) Language and CVE (Common Vulnerability Exposure) database.

What is MITRE ATT&CK Framework? 

ATT&CK stands for Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge, a global database of all the information needed about threat actors and cyber attackers. It is created based on deep research on dangerous real-world cyber attackers and their TTPs. 

The main objective behind its development is to keep cybersecurity professionals, be it from government or private organizations, aware of the latest adversarial TTPs. It is used widely by red teams, pen-testers, threat intel teams, and cybersecurity experts worldwide.  

What makes the MITRE ATT&CK model highly effective is the fact that it mentions all the techniques, tactics, and procedures from the adversarial point of view, giving the defenders a broader idea of how to design defense systems.  

Cybercriminals treat every enterprise they target differently with distinct TTPs. For example, a cybercriminal will use a different TTP to orchestrate an attack against a government agency, compared to perpetrating an attack on a mobile phone company. 

The TTPs mentioned in the ATT&CK database is highly relevant in this regard. They provide cybersecurity professionals with specific information on the hows, whens, and wheres of an attack. It helps them plan their defense better and tailor their measures for effective security.

Wait..but what is a threat model?

Threat modeling is primarily about identifying, collecting, and analyzing all the information about threats, the environment they have affected, and mitigation strategies used in response to them. 

The main objective of threat modeling is to help experts understand threats better, identify patterns and strategize response. 

It is a beneficial activity since it provides a better view of the vulnerabilities and threats an organization is exposed to. It helps in designing strategies to mitigate those threats. 

What is in the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix?

1. Lateral Movement: It shows how an adversary moves across your IT environment by using authorized credentials from one system to another.

2. Reconnaissance: It is about all the information gathered by the adversary of the targeted organization to plan future attacks.

3. Resource Development: It is how and what resources an adversary gathers to aid his attack.

4. Initial Access: It describes how an adversary tries to penetrate your network.

5. Execution: MITRE explains in depth how an adversary tries to run a malicious program e.g.: using malicious tools.

6. Persistence: Describes how they maintain their foothold when faced with defense mechanisms.

7. Privilege Escalation: Shows how adversaries go in depth to bypass high-level permissions by exploiting vulnerabilities in access defenses

8. Defense Evasion: Tells us how adversaries avoid being detected using trusted processes to camouflage their malicious programs

9. Credential Access: Methods used by adversaries to gain access credentials like usernames, passwords, etc 

10. Discovery: Gives a closer view of how adversaries study the environment for vulnerabilities to exploit and make their way into the system. 

11. Collection: All the data of interest gathered by adversaries to serve their goals

12. Command and Control: How an adversary gains control of the system and communicates with it and its users.

13. Exfiltration: Describes how adversaries steal data for fulfilling their objectives

14. Impact: Explains how they gain control, manipulate, alter, or destroy systems and data

How is it any different from other models?

While there are other ways of approaching cyber attacks – malware signatures, indicators of compromise & indicators of attack focused more on the defender’s point of view and analyze the impact of post-attack results, the MITRE ATT&CK model is focused more towards the tactics deployed by attackers. 

It takes the point of view of attackers to assist defenders in understanding their psyche, the methods deployed, and serves as a reliable threat intel source to understand attackers. 

The model covers how attackers use the different TTPs depending on their target, giving a precise view of the adversarial mindset.

What is the MITRE ATT&CK model used for? 

The MITRE ATT&CK framework has numerous use cases. 

It empowers security teams to work on multiple cybersecurity use cases through one framework. 

The following are the different use cases of the MITRE ATT&CK model: 

Threat Intel gathering

This framework assists cybersecurity experts in gathering insightful information on all the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) deployed by adversaries according to different targets. 

Through actionable insights on some of the most commonly deployed adversarial techniques and behaviors, it helps experts stay ahead before the adversaries orchestrate an attack.  

Behavioral Analytics Development

Another critical use case that the MITRE ATT&CK model serves is that it renders relevant Behavior Analytics by providing precise information about threat actors. 

Behavioral analytics is actionable insights into the behavioral patterns of cyber attackers to predict what they are up to and what they will do next. 

Security testing 

The model serves as a critical component of vulnerability assessment and pen testing by providing all the relevant information to create adversary attack simulations and emulate adversary behavior and methods with more precision. 

It assists in strengthening security through more effective real-world techniques put to application for testing. 

Red Teaming

Red teaming is a method to identify all the existing vulnerabilities and security loopholes in an organization’s IT infrastructure. 

In red teaming, cybersecurity experts act as perpetrators and simulate an attack using offensive techniques to measure the effectiveness of the organization’s defense team and the existing security measures during an attack. 

MITRE ATT&CK model provides in-depth information on the latest TTPs.  It helps security teams perform red teaming better and gain more insights. 

Maturity Assessment of SOC

Through this framework, SOC teams can measure where they stand in terms of security maturity and their capabilities. 

It offers them a broad framework to measure their security maturity, assisting them improve their ability to recognize threats better and address cyber incidents along with the latest TTPs.

Gap assessment 

Another use case is security gap assessment. The framework assists in testing the effectiveness of all the existing security solutions, including some of security controls and procedures implemented to combat the most immediate and sophisticated threats.  

Gap assessment is one of the fundamental pillars of cybersecurity posture augmentation. 

Security experts use it to identify areas that need attention in terms of security.

Benefits of MITRE ATT&CK Framework

There is a reason why cybersecurity experts worldwide prefer this framework. It provides a range of benefits to cybersecurity teams.  

Let us take a look at some of the benefits of the MITRE ATT&CK framework:

Saves time and money spent on intel gathering

An organization can suffer from severe consequences of a cyberattack if it fails to prepare its defenses as per the latest techniques and tactics. 

On top of this, cybersecurity is an expensive ballgame with a lot of time and money spent on the process if done from scratch.  

It provides well-organized information on the TTPs of adversaries as per the various platforms, like MAC, Windows, and Android. 

It saves the time and money otherwise spent on intel gathering by cybersecurity professionals. 

Assists in staying two steps ahead of adversaries

In the world of cybersecurity, a proactive approach is critical because not being able to know what is going to happen next or not being able to understand the existing vulnerabilities can put an organization in a tough spot.  

It has a huge library of techniques and information relating to the various adversaries as per the platforms. With this experts can plan out their defenses more effectively, helping them to stay ahead of the attackers. 

Detection of adversaries

Modern-day cyber criminals have evolved their techniques and tactics. They spend more time studying their targets and exploit the most undetected weaknesses by their security teams. It is the main reason behind many advanced persistent attacks based on the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities. 

Many times, attackers may remain undetected within the network to take further advantage of their attack. This framework provides a means to detect them and stop them from perpetrating an attack, rendering additional security to organizations. 

Assists in planning

Incident Response Planning forms a critical part of regulatory and global compliance.  It is the process of identifying the technologies, processes, responsibilities, and procedures implemented in the event of a cyber attack. It protects an organization against the dreadful consequences of a cyber attack and ensures damage control, especially of all of its critical assets. The framework assists in planning proactively for cyber incidents by assisting incident responders and cybersecurity experts gain a comprehensive understanding of the techniques, tactics, methods, and technologies deployed by adversaries. 

Helps in closing the skills gap 

There is a widespread skills gap in cybersecurity, disabling organizations to fully leverage their cybersecurity teams. More often than not, cyberattackers take benefit of this and exploit human error to perpetrate breaches. The framework helps in closing that gap by providing junior-level cybersecurity experts with much-needed knowledge and actionable insights on adversaries.

2023: WHAT’S NEW? 

To ensure that defenders from around the world make the most of this framework, MITRE keeps updating the framework with updates periodically. 

MITRE released a roadmap on the ATT&CK framework this February. They have updated the framework to be more stable and flexible in its content and structure, increasing the scope to platforms like Linux and covering TTPs deployed by adversaries on ICS (industrial control systems). 

This makes sense, given most cyber attacks were targeted toward the manufacturing sector in 2022. They plan on extending the matrix with cross-domain mappings for ICS and enterprises. They have introduced Campaigns in ATT&CK which is a grouping of intrusion activities within a specific period with common techniques, objectives, and targets. 

Additionally, they will validate user contributions on their online open community, provide a glimpse of challenges that defenders on cloud platforms will face, and update their definitions making them more sensitive to non-experts.


The MITRE ATT&CK framework has proven to be the most reliable model for cybersecurity experts. Through our blog, we have seen what the framework is about, its use cases, and the benefits it offers to organizations. 

We have also taken a look at some of the recent updates that MITRE is planning to release. 

As a cybersecurity company with SOCs across the globe, we ensure that we use some of the best practices in cybersecurity to keep our clients safe at all times from the most dangerous cyber attackers. 

All of our cybersecurity solutions are based on the MITRE ATT&CK model using data sets and algorithms to deploy a defense that is impenetrable to cybercriminals. 

If you are a business owner wanting to experience enterprise-level security without having to make huge investments in security solutions then we are just the company that you are looking for. Through our cybersecurity as a service, we will help you augment your security posture through a team that is working 24×7 to ensure round-the-clock security for your most sensitive information and your IT infrastructure.

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