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What is the MITRE ATT&CK Framework?

Published on Jan 04 2023

The threat landscape of the 21st century has changed dramatically. New threats, vulnerabilities, and industry sectors are emerging every day. In this threat environment, the old way of fighting threats with individual organizations working in isolation has left us vulnerable to being attacked by sophisticated and persistent attackers. It's time for defenders to work together and share knowledge to achieve better visibility into the threat landscape.  

The MITRE ATT&CK framework is a way to understand the changing threats and the way they operate within a modern threat environment. This article explains the framework and provides advice on using it to its full potential. 

What is the MITRE ATT&CK Framework? 

The MITRE ATT&CK stands for the MITRE Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) framework. It is a comprehensive cyber threat framework designed to help organizations understand the most common methods adversaries use to undermine the security measures. It starts with a high-level view of the end-to-end process of breaching an organization and turns that into a series of steps an adversary takes toward achieving their goals. Businesses can model cyber adversary behaviour with the help of the MITRE ATT&CK framework. 

The model's abstraction of adversary tactics and strategies creates a taxonomy that is applicable for both the offensive and defensive sides of cybersecurity. It also classifies adversary behaviour at the proper level and outlines effective countermeasures. 

The MITRE ATT&CK Framework Matrix 

Attackers employ various methods for attacks and their goals, and MITRE's ATT&CK matrix catalogues them all. In the ATT&CK Matrix, certain goals are represented by specific techniques. The goals are laid out in sequential order, beginning with reconnaissance, and ending with exfiltration or "impact." The most thorough ATT&CK for Enterprise deployment are divided into the following categories: 

  • Reconnaissance: Obtaining intelligence on the target organization for use in future hostile operations. 
  • Resource Development: Establishing connections within the target organization to support future activities. 
  • Initial Access: Obtaining access to an organization's system or network. 
  • Execution: Performing malicious activity on an organization's system or network. 
  • Persistence: Maintaining access to the target system or network after initial access to the system or network. 
  • Escalation of Privileges: Obtaining and maintaining higher access levels to the system or network. 
  • Defense Evasion: Obstructing identification, analysis, and response to an attack. 
  • Credential Access: Obtaining credentials for later attacks using stolen or otherwise acquired credentials. 
  • Discovery: Obtaining information on the target organization. 
  • Lateral Movement: Navigating the surrounding space or switching between different platforms while maintaining the organization's identity and authorization credentials. 
  • Collection: Gaining intelligence on the target organization to assess its vulnerabilities and maintain persistent access. 
  • Command and Control: connecting with compromised systems to exert influence over them, i.e., using web traffic to imitate an attack against a victim network. 
  • Exfiltration: Extracting sensitive information from a victim network. 
  • Impact: Compromising the victim network's confidentiality, integrity, or availability. 

Full ATT&CK Matrix for Enterprise 

The figure below illustrates the Overall ATT&CK Matrix for Enterprise, methods which define the actual activity carried out by the adversary. A more in-depth look at how an opponent executes a given technique can be found in the "sub-techniques" associated with certain techniques. The following visual represents the MITRE ATT&CK navigator's complete ATT&CK Matrix for Enterprise. 


Fig 1.  The strategies and methods shown above represent the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix for Enterprise. The Matrix includes data from operating systems and cloud services such as Windows, macOS, Linux, PRE, Azure Active Directory, Office 365, Google Workspace, SaaS, IaaS, Networks, and Containers.  

How to Use the MITRE ATT&CK Matrix? 

The MITRE ATT&CK Matrix is a powerful resource with many use cases. Below are some examples of how organizations can use the framework to produce valuable insights: 

  • Adversary Emulation: Uses intelligence about an adversary and how they work to identify security weaknesses. ATT&CK can be used to create adversarial emulation scenarios to fix and assess security measures accordingly.  
  • Red Teaming: Using an actual network to assess the effectiveness of a security policy to detect and exploit flaws. Red Teaming is used primarily by penetration testers and privileged users who are given access only to specific information. 
  • Behavioural Analytics Development: Analysing a known malicious program's network traffic to find patterns that can be used to improve future malware defences. 
  • Defensive Gap Assessment: Identifying potential vulnerabilities in an organization's security posture and the populations they serve. 
  • SOC Maturity Assessment: To determine the organization SOC's ability to combat future attacks effectively or prove its effectiveness across other areas. 
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Enrichment: Creating a detailed overview of threats for industries or sectors to better understand the extent of cyberattacks. 


MITRE ATT&CK Framework is a comprehensive and reliable way to protect online privacy. It provides a framework for organizations to develop policies and practices and improve the security of the enterprise. The framework is designed to help organizations maintain secure communication channels, protect users' data, and prevent cyber-attacks. With the framework, Businesses can create a secure environment and keep their personal information away from cyber-criminals and other nefarious individuals. 



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