Humans are visual creatures, one reason we created the Arbiter Threat Matrix. Suppose you look at most threat Intel or incident response reports. In that case, they tend to be long technical dissertations that take more work for executives, auditors, cyber insurers, and other non-SOC personnel to absorb and comprehend. This is one of the reasons why we invented the Arbitr Threat Matrix. At the end of the day, having a great report that no one understands doesn't really matter whether you're doing a threat hunt, responding to an incident, or educating a new team member. A picture is worth the proverbial thousand words, and that's why we think the Threat Matrix will help improve the understanding and actionable intelligence that come from mapping a cyber attack kill chain. 

Mapping the Cyber Attack Kill Chain

The Cyber Attack Kill Chain is a model that represents the stages of a cyber attack from its inception to its execution. Understanding this chain is critical for several reasons:

  • Rapid Triage: It enables organizations to anticipate the steps attackers might take. This knowledge allows security teams to implement defenses proactively.
  • Incident Response & Threat Hunts: By recognizing which stage of the kill chain an attack is in, teams can respond more effectively, limiting potential damage.
  • Remediation Analysis: Mapping a cyber attack kill chain helps in retrospection, providing insights into how and why an attack occurred. This facilitates improved future defenses.

What the Kill Chain Teaches Us About Cyber Attacks

The Cyber Attack Kill Chain consists of various stages, from the initial reconnaissance phase, where attackers gather information, to weaponization, delivery, exploitation, installation, command & control, and finally, actions on objectives.


By studying these stages, organizations can:

  • Identify Vulnerabilities: Recognize weak spots in their systems or processes that might be exploited.
  • Understand Attacker Motives: Gain insights into the goals of attackers, whether they are after financial data, intellectual property, or simply aiming to disrupt.
  • Develop Effective Countermeasures: Create strategies to stop attackers in their tracks. For instance, email filters can be improved in the delivery stage to thwart phishing attempts.

Best Practices to Document a Cyber Kill Chain

Documentation is critical in ensuring that the insights gleaned from the kill chain are actionable. Here are some optimal methods to document a Cyber Kill Chain:

  • Utilize Threat Mapping: This visual representation helps teams understand the flow and connection between different stages of an attack. Visual aids can be more intuitive and can simplify complex incidents.
  • Operationalize Threat Intel: Leveraging threat intelligence platforms can provide real-time data and insights about emerging threats—this update and refining the kill chain documentation to match evolving threat landscapes.
  • Timeline-Driven Documentation: Ensure that each stage of the kill chain is documented chronologically. This will facilitate a clearer understanding of an attack's progression.
  • Artifact Details: For every stage, document specifics like tools used by attackers, IP addresses, timestamps, and affected systems. The more granular the data, the better-equipped teams will counter similar threats in the future.
  • Implement TTPs: The cyber landscape is not static, and we help you build TTPs versus IOCs so you can present entire families of threats. 

Threat Maps > Text Reports

Mapping a Cyber Attack Kill Chain is not just a strategic move; it's necessary in today's digital age. As cyber threats grow in complexity, the need for a structured approach to understanding and countering them becomes paramount. Threat Intel, incident response, and threat mapping are potent tools that empower organizations to protect their assets and maintain trust with stakeholders when combined with a well-documented kill chain. Ensuring that teams are well-versed in the kill chain concept and equipped with comprehensive documentation can distinguish between a minor security incident and a significant major breach. Knowledge truly is power in cybersecurity, and understanding the Cyber Attack Kill Chain is a potent weapon in any security professional's arsenal.