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Establishing national cyber situational awareness through incident information clustering

The number and type of threats to modern information and communication networks has increased massively in the recent years. Furthermore, the system complexity and interconnectedness has reached a level which makes it impossible to adequately protect networked systems with standardsecurity solutions. There are simply too many unknown vulnerabilities, potential configuration mistakes and therefore enlarged attack surfaces and channels. A promising approach to better secure today’s networked systems is information sharing about threats, vulnerabilities and indicators of compromise across organizations; and, in case something went wrong, to report incidents to national cyber security centers. These measures enable early warning systems, support risk management processes, and increase the overall situational awareness of organizations.

Several cyber security directives around the world, such as the EU Network and Information Security Directive and the equivalent NIST Framework, demand specifically national cyber security centers and policies for organizations to report on incidents. However, effective tools to support the operation of such centers are rare. Typically, existing tools have been developed with the single organization as customer in mind. These tools are often not appropriate either for the large amounts of data or for the application use case at all. In this paper, we therefore introduce a novel incident clustering model and a system architecture along with a prototype implementation to establish situational awareness about the security of participating organizations. This is a vital prerequisite to plan further actions towards securing national infrastructure assets.

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