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How National CSIRTs Leverage Public Data, OSINT and Free Tools in Operational Practices: An Empirical Study

Mohd Kassim, Sharifah Roziah Binti, Li, Shujun, Arief, Budi (2022) How National CSIRTs Leverage Public Data, OSINT and Free Tools in Operational Practices: An Empirical Study. Cyber Security: A Peer-Reviewed Journal, 5 (3). pp. 251-276. ISSN 2398-5100. (KAR id:93768)

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Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) have been established at national and organisational levels to coordinate responses to computer security incidents. It is known that many CSIRTs, including national CSIRTs, routinely use public data, open-source intelligence (OSINT) and free tools in their work. However, the current literature lacks research on how such data and tools are used and perceived by the staff of national CSIRTs in their operational practices. To fill such a research gap, an online survey and twelve follow-up semi-structured interviews with staff of thirteen national CSIRTs from Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and North America were carried out. The aim was to gain detailed insights into how such data and tools are used and perceived by staff in national CSIRTs. The study was conducted in two stages: first with MyCERT (Malaysia’s national CSIRT) to get some initial results, and then with twelve other national CSIRTs to enlarge the results from the first stage. Thirteen participants from MyCERT completed the survey and seven of them took part in a semi-structured interview; twelve participants from eleven other national CSIRTs took the survey and five participants from five national CSIRTs took an interview. Results from the survey and the interviews led to three main findings. First, the active use of public data, OSINT and free tools by national CSIRT staff was confirmed, e.g., all 25 participants had used public data for incident investigation. Second, all except two (i.e., 23 out of 25, 92%) participants perceived public data, OSINT and free tools to be useful in their operational practices. Third, there is a number of operational challenges regarding the use of public data, OSINT and free tools. In particular, there is a lack of standard and systematic approaches on how such data and tools are used across different national CSIRTs. There is also a lack of standard and systematic processes for validating such dataand tools. These findings call for further research and development of guidelines to help CSIRTs to use such data and tools more effectively and more efficiently.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: CSIRT, computer security incident response team, national CSIRT, CERT, computer emergency response team, staff, perception, cyber incident, public data, OSINT, open source intelligence, free tool
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD61 Risk Management
Q Science > QA Mathematics (inc Computing science) > QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics. Nuclear engineering > TK5101 Telecommunications > TK5105 Data transmission systems > TK5105.5 Computer networks > TK5105.875.I57 Internet
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Computing
University-wide institutes > Institute of Cyber Security for Society
Depositing User: Sharifah Roziah Binti Mohd-Kassim
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2022 12:45 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2022 08:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Li, Shujun:
Arief, Budi:
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