In the dynamic realm of cybersecurity, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a pioneering stance with the introduction of the Financial Sector SAMA Cyber Threat Intelligence Principles. Recognizing the intricate web of challenges posed by cyber threats, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has been at the forefront of establishing robust cyber risk control mechanisms. The SAMA Cyber Security Framework, introduced earlier, laid the foundational groundwork for managing cyber risks across the nation’s financial institutions. However, with the evolving nature of cyber threats, there emerged a need for a more specialized approach, leading to the formulation of the Threat Intelligence Principles.
These Threat Intelligence Principles, which are now mandatory regulations for all financial entities operating within the Kingdom, signify a paradigm shift in how cyber threats are perceived and managed. They are not merely guidelines but a comprehensive strategy designed to equip financial institutions with the knowledge and tools to proactively identify and counteract potential cyber threats. Divided into distinct categories, these principles provide a roadmap for institutions to navigate the complex landscape of cyber threats, from understanding the core threats specific to their operations to implementing tactical measures for threat management.
The integration of the Financial Sector Cyber Threat Intelligence Principles into the broader Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) Cyber Security Framework underscores the Kingdom’s commitment to elevating its cyber risk control strategies. By making these principles mandatory regulations, SAMA has emphasized the non-negotiable importance of threat intelligence in safeguarding the financial sector’s threat management strategies.
Introduction to SAMA Cyber Threat Intelligence in KSA’s Financial Landscape
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) plays a pivotal role in ensuring the economic and financial stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Recognizing the increasing importance of cybersecurity in the financial sector, SAMA has established comprehensive guidelines and frameworks to safeguard the nation’s financial institutions.
Key Principles of SAMA Cyber Threat Intelligence 2023
The SAMA Cyber Threat Principles are categorized into four domains:
- Core Cyber Threat Intelligence
- Strategic Cyber Threat Intelligence
- Operational Cyber Threat Intelligence
- Technical & Tactical Cyber Threat Intelligence
SAMA CTI Principles
|SAMA CTI Principles||Principle Number||Description|
|Core Cyber Threat Intelligence Principles||Principle 1||Define roles and responsibilities|
|Principle 2||Define threat intelligence planning and collection requirements|
|Principle 3||Select and validate relevant sources|
|Principle 4||Collect data through intelligence sources|
|Principle 5||Define specific standard operating procedures (SOPs)|
|Principle 6||Process and classify information|
|Principle 7||Analyze information|
|Principle 8||Share intelligence|
|Principle 9||Deliver actionable threat intelligence|
|Principle 10||Continuously improve methods of intelligence|
|Principle 11||Integrate CTI|
|Strategic Cyber Threat Intelligence||Principle 12||Identify a cyber threat landscape|
|Principle 13||Identify strategic cyber-attack scenarios|
|Principle 14||Elaborate Requests for Information (RFIs) and Tailored Threat Assessments|
|Operational Cyber Threat Intelligence||Principle 15||Define the attack chain|
|Principle 16||Identify Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP)|
|Principle 17||Identify malware and tools|
|Technical And Tactical Cyber Threat Intelligence||Principle 18||Collect Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)|
|Principle 19||Monitor and report vulnerabilities|
SAMA 4 Core CTI Principles
The foundational principles that set the stage for a robust CTI program, ensuring that the basic mechanisms are in place for effective threat intelligence.
Roles and Responsibilities
The “Roles and Responsibilities” principle is foundational to any Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) program. It ensures that every member of the CTI team understands their specific duties, ensuring a streamlined and effective operation. Clearly delineated roles within the CTI team ensure streamlined operations. This encompasses intelligence collectors, analysts, and those disseminating the intelligence.
1. CTI Program Manager:
- Responsibilities: Oversee the entire CTI program, ensure alignment with organizational goals, manage resources, and liaise with other departments.
- Example: A CTI Program Manager might coordinate with the IT department to ensure that the latest threat intelligence is integrated into the organization’s security infrastructure.
2. Intelligence Gatherer/Collector:
- Responsibilities: Source and gather raw intelligence data from various sources, including open-source intelligence (OSINT), commercial threat feeds, and internal logs.
- Example: An Intelligence Gatherer might monitor dark web forums to gather information on potential threats targeting the financial sector.
3. CTI Analyst:
- Responsibilities: Process and analyze the raw intelligence data, identify patterns, and produce actionable insights for the organization.
- Example: A CTI Analyst might identify a recurring IP address in internal logs that matches a known malicious actor, leading to the discovery of a potential breach.
4. Threat Hunter:
- Responsibilities: Proactively search through networks and datasets to identify threats that may not be detected by traditional security tools.
- Example: A Threat Hunter might use the latest threat intelligence to search for signs of a zero-day exploit within the organization’s network.
5. Dissemination Officer:
- Responsibilities: Ensure that the analyzed threat intelligence is communicated effectively to relevant stakeholders, both internally and externally.
- Example: A Dissemination Officer might create a report detailing a new threat and share it with both the organization’s IT department and partner companies.
6. Feedback Coordinator:
- Responsibilities: Gather feedback on the provided intelligence from various departments, ensuring that the CTI program remains relevant and effective.
- Example: A Feedback Coordinator might organize regular meetings with the IT department to understand how the provided threat intelligence is being used and any challenges they face.
Threat Intelligence Planning and Collection
Establishing mechanisms for gathering threat intelligence, determining the type of data, its sources, and the frequency of collection.
Ensuring the credibility of intelligence by validating the sources of information.
Actively gathering intelligence from validated sources.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Guidelines that the CTI team adheres to, ensuring consistency in the intelligence process.
SAMA Strategic CTI Principles
Focusing on the broader cybersecurity landscape, these principles provide insights into the motivations and tactics of potential threat actors.
Cyber Threat Landscape Identification
Understanding the overall cyber environment, pinpointing potential threat actors, and discerning their motivations.
Strategic Cyber-Attack Scenarios
Based on the threat landscape, developing potential cyber-attack scenarios to prepare for and counteract threats.
Tailored Threat Assessments
Detailed analyses of specific threats, providing insights into their tactics, techniques, and procedures.
SAMA Operational CTI Principles
Centered on the daily activities and real-time threats, these principles guide the immediate actions and responses of the CTI team.
Attack Chain Definition
Understanding the sequence of steps a threat actor undertakes, from initial reconnaissance to the actual breach.
Recognizing the specific methods and strategies employed by threat actors, aiding in the development of countermeasures.
Malware and Tool Identification
Detecting the specific software and tools used by threat actors, facilitating better threat mitigation.
Technical & Tactical CTI Principles
These principles delve into the intricate technical details of potential threats and the tactical strategies to address them.
Indicator of Compromise (IoC) Collection
Gathering specific signs of potential breaches, such as suspicious IP addresses or malware signatures, for early threat detection.
Vulnerability Monitoring and Reporting
Continuously tracking potential system vulnerabilities, ensuring timely patching to prevent exploitation.