Cisco FMC Intelligence Feeds and Threat Intelligence Director

A common use-case I encounter is the ability to dynamically update object lists referenced in policies at security perimeters (Firepower, FTD or others). This can come in one of two flavors:

  1. Security threat intelligence (aka IOCs). These are usually used for blocking policies. A common use-case is leveraging external threat list provides such as feeds from Spamhaus or similar.
  2. System/vendor reference IP/URL objects. These typically specifies where certain vendors/services are located and are thus used for allowing traffic. One very common use-case is Office 365 IP addresses.

In the most basic form it is just URL pointing towards a list of object. One such could be the Talos IP black list. It could also be an list of known TOR exit nodes as provided here. Or something homegrown or aggregated through a purpose build tool. One thing to take special note about is the format the intelligence feed is provided in. More on this later on.

In FMC we have two tools we can utilize to harness external feeds.

  1. Security Intelligence. Has been around for quite a while. Can be used both for blocking and for allowing!
  2. Threat Intelligence Director (or TID). This has only been available from version 6.2.2 of the Cisco Firesight Management Center. Can only be used for block!

Security Intelligence

The first option has been the classical approch, where i.e. an external IP list can be referenced as an object in a policy. Be however aware that while a normal network object can contain the following (Freely pasted from the configuration guide):

A network object can be one of the following types:

Single Host (A single IP address.) 
i.e. or 2001:DB8::0DB8:800:200C:417A
Network (An address block, also known as a subnet)
i.e. or 2001:DB8:0:CD30::/60

Address Range (A range of IP addresses)
i.e. or 2001:db8:0:cd30::1-2001:db8:0:cd30::1000

Group (A group of network objects or other network object groups.) 
You can create nested groups by adding one network object group to another network object group. You can nest up to 10 levels of groups.

A Network object feed only support the two first options. This can become important as some feed do uses address ranges which are not supported.

Security Intelligence provides the capability to add external sources of IP/URL/DNS. Note that IP ranges are NOT supported as a valid value. This can be a particular problem if using an open source feed aggregator such as MineMeld, as this uses IP ranges exclusively. (edit) just found out that MineMeld can also provide in non-IP range format 🙂

If for some reason the threat intelligence feed is malformed or otherwise rejected the following error message is seen. It can also be seen by a lack of “last updated” in the Security Intelligence tab.

Error message showing that a feed is malformed. (Full text is: fmc01.demolab.local – O365 received code (File Integrity Error))

The Threat Intelligence Director (Cisco TID)

The second option also comes with a few caveats. Most notably is the fact that STIX sources cannot be used for blocking but only for incidents. A good place for starting out with TAXII/STIX sources is From here various open-source intelligence can be ingested into the FMC platform.

It is also possible to include a simple URL, which makes it very similar to the Security Intelligence Feed, and also has the possibility to to blocking.

Here the FMC Threat Intelligence Director is show. Note that only Monitor or Block is valid options and that STIX Sources are only supported for Monitor as action.

The Threat Intelligence Director is meant (I believe) as a method of discovery and enrichment of the FMC monitoring capabilities and in that respect it is very successful. Applying the feeds as direct enforcement are somewhat more coarse but can also be done.

Threat Intelligence Blocking is enabled with an “all or nothing” option in the access policy. This is perfectly fine as long as the TID contains malicious IOCs. If you need more fine grained control, it is more recommended to use the normal Security Intelligence (option 1). By default the TID is enabled.

A nice thing about the TID is that it is possible to see all the different Indicators from the enabled feeds. A feature that are not present in the Security Intelligence.

Office 365 Feeds

Microsoft have scattered the IP pools potentially allocated to O365 around and are constantly updating the list. This is a textbook example as to where it could be a good idea to employ a dynamic object list. This feed is maintained by Microsoft but is unfortunately in an XML format containing various other information as well. In order for it to be useful it needs to be put through a parser, script or similar. I have used MineMeld with great success before, but alas it uses IP ranges which is not supported in FMC. I will write up a small XML parser in the near future and make some proper lists of the feed. One guy here went with a powershell solution, while I probably will rely on some stripped down Linux an a few lines of code.

(edit) No need to reinvent the wheel.. MineMeld is already capable of providing the correct format. Just append the ?tr=1 output variable in the end of the URL.

For a full how-to on O365  feed in MineMeld follow this cookbook 🙂

Another great resource for using MineMeld as a Splunk tool can be viewed here.

2 Comments on "Cisco FMC Intelligence Feeds and Threat Intelligence Director"

  1. I have set this up using minemeld. One thing I noticed was that the url feed includes wildcards in the url list that is generated. eg:


    From what I have read this does not work with the firepower system. Wildcards are not supported.

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