Intro to Intelligence Sources

Updated 1 week ago by Elvis Hovor

This document explains how TruSTAR Station works to integrate intelligence sources from our technology partners.

Related Link: Normalized Scoring for IOCs explains how scores for IOCs across different intelligence sources are converted into a single TruSTAR IOC Scoring scale.


Intelligence source integrations provide additional data you can use when investigating incidents:

  • Correlation: Match partner data to observables or reports submitted into your private enclave.
  • Integration: Export information from your enclaves using API or separate security applications, such as Demisto, ServiceNow, or Splunk. 
  • Search: Look for specific data in your enclave as part of investigations. 

The information provided by an intelligence source depends on the technology partner's focus. Most intelligence sources' reporting include IP address and URL data, and some include malware-focused information, such as MD5, SHA1, SHA256. The Knowledgebase document for each intelligence source contains specific details on what information is provided by that partner to TruSTAR customers.

Types of Sources

TruSTAR integrates with two types of intelligences sources: Premium Intel and Open Source. Each intelligence source is stored in a separate enclave.

Premium Intel

Premium Intelligence sources are provided by third-party companies who have worked with TruSTAR to integrate their information into TruSTAR Station. A user must have a license or subscription to that company's product to activate the integration in the TruSTAR Station Marketplace.

For example, to use the VirusTotal premium intelligence source, you must have a license from VirusTotal to use their Threat Intelligence Platform product and be able to log into that product to obtain an API key. If you are a member of an ISAC/ISAO group, your membership provides access to the enclave for that group.

Open Source

Provided at no cost, open source (OSINT) enclaves do not require a license or registration for you to use in the TruSTAR web app. These enclaves contain data from open-source intelligence platforms. For example, the Department of Homeland Security provides data that is loaded by TruSTAR into the DHS-AIS enclave.

How Sources are Updated

Intelligence sources are updated one of two ways:

  • Feed-based: Automatic polling of the source provider for new updates
  • Query-based: Submitting a new report and triggering queries to the source provider.

Feed-based Sources

An intelligence source that is feed-based has its enclave automatically and regularly updated by TruSTAR. Think of a feed-based source as similar to a news feed; all the information is streamed from the source provider (for example, Alienvault OTX Pulse) into an enclave without any need for you to request updates.

Reports in a feed-based enclave can focus on a single observable but they usually include multiple observables, their relationships to each other, and their relationships to security events or malware or threat-actors.

How It Works

When you submit a new report to a private enclave, TruSTAR extracts all observables and checks all feed-based enclaves available to you. The information from those enclaves is shown as nodes within an event analysis so that you can easily explore correlations between your own data and the subscribed feeds. You can click on any data point to reveal additional context and links directly to the associated report in a specific enclave.

Updating the Enclave

TruSTAR queries the partner's data source on a regular basis and updates the enclave with that information. The update interval can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours to 24 hours, based on how often the partner updates the source data at their end.

Query-Based Sources

An intelligence source that is query-based is only updated when a new report is submitted to that enclave. TruSTAR extracts the observables from the report and then requests enrichment from the enclave's provider. Information from the source is then added to the enclave and to the report itself.

Query-based source reports usually focus on a single observable and that observable is usually included in the title of the report. A report may contain multiple observables in the report body, usually to provide context about the relationship of those observables to the title (or main) observable.

How It Works

When you submit a new report, TruSTAR extracts the observables in that report. Those observables are then sent as queries to the partner and the results stored in the enclaves for that intelligence source. For example, if you subscribe to both VirusTotal and AlienVault , then observables from a new report are sent to VirusTotal and Alienvault for enrichment. The information VirusTotal sends back is stored in your VirusTotal (premium source) enclave and the AlienVault information is stored in your AlienVault (premium source) enclave.

The process of extracting the observables from a new report and querying sources can take 15-20 minutes. It can take up to 70 additional minutes for that enrichment to be available to workflow application integrations such as TruSTAR's integrations with Splunk Enterprise Security, IBM Resilient, and ServiceNow. This is why those integrations' documentation will mention that best practice is to enrich a Splunk ES notable event 90 minutes after it was initially sent to the user's Splunk ES Notable Events enclave, or re-enrich a Jira / ServiceNow ticket 90 minutes after it was initially created.

Updating the Enclave

Query-based enclaves are not automatically updated with new information from sources. Data is only added to these enclaves when a new report is submitted to the private enclave, observables found by Station in that report, sources queried for enrichment, and the sources' responses stored in their enclaves in Station. Note: if a query-based source does not have any information about a particular observable, no report will be created about that observable in the source's enclave. This is sometimes interpreted by the user as Station failing to fetch (query) information from the source about the observable; however, reality is that the source didn't have any information about that data.

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