Use indicators of compromise (IOCs) - AWS Security Incident Response Guide

Use indicators of compromise (IOCs)

An indicator of compromise (IOC) is an artifact observed in or on a network, system, or environment that can (with a high level of confidence) identify malicious activity or a security incident. IOCs can exist in a variety of forms, including IP addresses, domains, network-level artifacts such as TCP flags or payloads, system or host-level artifacts such as executables, file names and hashes, log file entries, or registry entries, and more. They can also be a combination of items or activities, such as the existence of specific items or artifacts on a system (a certain file or set of files and registry items), actions performed in certain order (a login to a system from a certain IP followed by specific anomalous commands), or network activity (anomalous inbound or outbound traffic to or from certain domains) that can indicate a specific threat, attack, or attacker methodology.

As you work to iteratively improve your incident response program, you should implement a framework to collect, manage, and utilize IOCs as a mechanism to continuously build and improve detections and alerting and improve the speed and efficacy of investigations. You can start by incorporating the collection and management of IOCs into the analysis and investigation phases of your incident response processes. By proactively identifying, collecting, and storing IOCs as a standard part of your process, you can build a repository of data (as part of a more comprehensive threat intelligence program) that in turn can be used to improve existing detections and alerts, build additional detections and alerts, identify where and when an artifact was seen before, build and reference documentation of how investigations were previously done involving matching IOCs, and more.