STIX/TAXII is a joint global initiative to drive threat intelligence sharing and collaboration among organizations.

Learning Objectives

After reading this article you will be able to:

  • Define STIX/TAXII
  • Explain common use cases for STIX/TAXII
  • Learn how STIX/TAXII improves the mitigation and prevention of cyber threats

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STIX/TAXII is a global initiative designed to improve the mitigation and prevention of cyber threats. Originally launched in December 2016 by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it is now managed under OASIS, a nonprofit organization that advances the development, adoption, and convergence of open standards for the Internet.

Structured Threat Information eXpression (STIX) is a standardized language that uses a JSON-based lexicon to express and share threat intelligence information in a machine-readable, consistent format. It functions similar to how a common language can help people from different parts of the world communicate. Only instead of conversation between people, STIX enables the exchange of cyber threat information between systems. STIX provides a common syntax so users can consistently describe threats by its motivations, abilities, capabilities, and responses.

Trusted Automated eXchange of Intelligence Information (TAXII) is the format through which threat intelligence data is relayed. TAXII is a transport protocol that supports transferring STIX insights over Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

STIX and TAXII are independent standards. STIX does not rely on a specific transport method, and TAXII can be used to transport non-STIX information and data.

When used together, STIX/TAXII forms a comprehensive framework for sharing and using cyber threat intelligence, creating an open-source platform that allows users to search through billions of records containing details on attack vectors such as malicious IP addresses, malware signatures, cyber threat actors, and weaponized files.

How does STIX work?

STIX works by providing a common syntax for describing threat indicators, incidents, and data breaches.

STIX can be used manually or programmatically through XML editor, Python and Java bindings, and Python APIs and utilities. The data is organized into STIX packages, which can be shared through various methods, including file exchange, APIs, or publishing to a threat intelligence platform.

STIX also includes a set of recommended vocabularies and data models, making it easier for organizations to describe common threat types and structures.

How does TAXII work?

TAXII defines a set of services and protocols for exchanging STIX data, including message formats, communication protocols, and security requirements.

Two key concepts in TAXII are the collection and the channel. A collection is a set of STIX packages organized and managed by a single entity, such as a security vendor or a government agency. A channel allows organizations to access a specific collection, such as through an API, file exchange, or threat intelligence platform. A channel allows users to push data to multiple consumers.

Why is STIX/TAXII important?

STIX/TAXII enhances organizations’ overall security posture by improving their ability to detect, respond to, and prevent cyber threats.

STIX/TAXII is important because it enables the following:

  1. Improved threat intelligence sharing: STIX/TAXII provides a common language and framework for sharing and exchanging threat intelligence, making it easier for organizations to share and use intelligence data to enhance their overall security posture.
  2. Enhanced threat detection and response: By providing a standard way to represent threat data, STIX/TAXII makes it easier for organizations to automate the process of threat detection, analysis, and response.
  3. Increased intelligence accuracy and completeness: STIX/TAXII helps ensure that threat intelligence data is accurate, consistent, and complete, improving the overall quality and usefulness of the data.
  4. Encouraged collaboration: By enabling organizations to share threat intelligence data in a secure and scalable manner, STIX/TAXII promotes collaboration and information sharing among organizations, allowing them to benefit from a collective pool of threat intelligence data.
  5. Automation support: The use of common language and standards in STIX/TAXII makes it easier for organizations to automate threat detection, analysis, and response processes, improving efficiency and reducing the risk of human error.

What are the different ways to use STIX/TAXII?

Since its launch, STIX/TAXII has been used by law enforcement agencies worldwide to improve their understanding of online threats. There are several ways to use the STIX/TAXII framework for exchanging threat intelligence data:

  1. Threat intelligence platforms: Organizations can publish and access STIX data through a threat intelligence platform, which acts as a central repository for sharing and exchanging threat intelligence data.
  2. API Integrations: Organizations can use APIs to exchange STIX data with other security tools and systems, enabling automation and integration with existing workflows.
  3. File exchanges: Organizations can exchange STIX packages as files, allowing for simple data exchange between systems.
  4. Real-time data feeds: Organizations can use TAXII to subscribe to real-time data feeds from threat intelligence providers, enabling them to receive up-to-date information on the latest threats.
  5. Threat hunting: Security analysts can use STIX/TAXII to organize and search threat intelligence data, making identifying threats and supporting investigations easier.
  6. Automated threat detection: Organizations can use STIX/TAXII to automate the threat detection process, enabling them to quickly identify and respond to new threats.

Cloudforce One

Cloudforce One is a threat operations and research team created to track and disrupt threat actors. The team’s advanced threat intelligence capabilities allow a comprehensive coverage of all entities in the threat landscape and help organizations stay ahead of the curve and take action before any threats can cause damage.