Search Closed Sources: Threat Intel Vendors
Before compromising a victim, adversaries may search private data from threat intelligence vendors for information that can be used during targeting. Threat intelligence vendors may offer paid feeds or portals that offer more data than what is publicly reported. Although sensitive details (such as customer names and other identifiers) may be redacted, this information may contain trends regarding breaches such as target industries, attribution claims, and successful TTPs/countermeasures.
Adversaries may search in private threat intelligence vendor data to gather actionable information. Threat actors may seek information/indicators gathered about their own campaigns, as well as those conducted by other adversaries that may align with their target industries, capabilities/objectives, or other operational concerns. Information reported by vendors may also reveal opportunities other forms of reconnaissance (ex: Search Open Websites/Domains), establishing operational resources (ex: Develop Capabilities or Obtain Capabilities), and/or initial access (ex: Exploit Public-Facing Application or External Remote Services).
This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls. Efforts should focus on minimizing the amount and sensitivity of data available to external parties.
Much of this activity may have a very high occurrence and associated false positive rate, as well as potentially taking place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection difficult for defenders.
Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access.