Frequently asked questions

Who is X-Force®?

X-Force is a threat-centric team of hackers, responders, researchers and analysts with decades of experience. Our portfolio includes offensive and defensive products and services, fueled by a 360-degree view of threats. With a deep understanding of how threat actors think, strategize and strike, our team knows how to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from incidents so that you can focus on business priorities. 

  • IBM® X-Force expert services are backed by more than 1,000 world-class hackers, responders, researchers and analysts that are renowned industry thought leaders and security influencers.
  • Our threat intelligence is gleaned from IBM incident response client engagements, combined with all-source threat actor analysis, and infused in all IBM Security® products and services to help clients stay ahead of attacks.
  • X-Force threat hunters use IBM’s proprietary TTP threat hunt library and the MITRE ATT&CK framework to provide proactive threat detection

What is threat intelligence?

Threat intelligence is a compilation of threat information that is gathered across external sources and used to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks. Threat data is organized, refined and augmented to make it actionable and to allow your cybersecurity team to understand threats and the actors behind them.
The X-Force® Threat Intelligence team delivers global threat intel applied to your security operations with detection and response content. We help streamline workflow, orchestration and applications that drive enrichment, collaboration, visualization and advanced analytics, providing:

  • Direct access to the latest threat intel from our engagements
  • High quality, prioritized, actionable intelligence for detection and response

Why is threat intelligence important?

Threat intelligence empowers cybersecurity teams to proactively defend against and rapidly respond to threats attacking their organization by helping them identify and understand their adversary, create a response plan and allocate resources strategically. Cybersecurity teams can use threat intelligence to block attacks in real time and mitigate the risk of attackers affecting their brand and reputation.

How does X-Force gather threat intelligence?

Threat intelligence is purposely built by industry experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including former government intelligence analysts, SOC analysts and private industry consultants. The team’s founding principles include strict analytic rigor, correct analysis and reproducible assessments. 

X-Force Threat Intelligence uses industry best practice frameworks such as:

  • Diamond Model Intrusion Analysis 
  • Lockheed Martin Cyber Kill Chain

Who is threat intelligence for?

Threat intelligence is valuable to different members across the security operations center (SOC), from real-time blocking for tier 1 analysts, aiding investigation and threat hunting for more experienced analysts, to helping SOC leaders make strategic decisions.

What is X-Force Premier Threat Intel (PTI) reports?

There are 5 types of premium reports published as premium content in the X-Force® Exchange platform:

  • Threat Activity reports provide real-time updates about discovered activity, whether from incident response investigation, IBM telemetry, open sources or other forms of collection. Security analysts can gain an immediate understanding of what X-Force knows about the attack lifecycle while executives get a quick understanding of the latest threats in their industry.
  • Early Warning Research reports provide a security analyst with early warning on malicious domains that are surfaced through X-Force's partnership with Quad9. The research provides access to threats, malicious domains, DNS activity and volumetrics to identify abnormal spikes in activity. 
  • Malware Analysis reports provide a security analyst with an in-depth description of how the malware functions, indicators of compromise, payloads, mutexes and processes. The analyst can use the information to hunt on their network or pivot to other relevant information about the threat groups who use the malware, other similar tools, and behaviors to detect on their networks.
  • Threat Group profiles provide a security analyst with the latest information about cyber threat groups, including their typical targets, history, TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures), common attack vectors, top malware and where the threat group might be targeting next.
  • An Industry Analysis report provides executives with a baseline of threats to their industry and the future landscape so they can assess risks and assign resources based on what’s being observed, including relevant malware, threat groups and threat activity. 

What is the domain name system (DNS)?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the protocol that translates user-friendly domain names that people can remember to computer-friendly IP addresses.

What is Quad9?

Quad9, a partnership between IBM, Packet Clearing House and Global Cyber Alliance, is a recursive DNS platform that blocks against malicious domains to prevent your computers and IoT devices from connecting to malware or phishing sites.

What is X-Force Threat Intelligence?

IBM Security® X-Force® Research is a group of experts with the skills, expertise and insight to help your company transform your incident response and intelligence capabilities. We look across cybersecurity threat research on vulnerabilities, threat actors, malware and more, including data from recent industry reports and intel from the experts at IBM Security X-Force.

The X-Force Threat Intelligence portfolio supports 5 product offerings: 

  • IBM Security® QRadar® XDR Connect on Cloud Pak® for Security
  • X-Force Exchange (XFE): research portal
  • X-Force Exchange Commercial API (C-API): research portal API
  • Advanced Threat Protection Feed (ATPF): detection feed API
  • QRadar® Threat Intelligence app (TI app): QRadar add on

Each offering provides continuous threat intelligence in the form of machine generated or human generated intelligence and serves distinct use cases depending on customer needs.

How can I learn more about the latest cybersecurity attacks?

Each year, IBM Security X-Force—our in-house team of cybersecurity experts and remediators—mines billions of data points to expose today’s most urgent security statistics and trends.
IBM Security’s latest research is published in the annual X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, a comprehensive overview of the global threat landscape based on data collected throughout the previous year. 


Where can I find support information about the X-Force Exchange Commercial API?

You can find additional information and support documentation on the Swagger framework platform, which provides interactive documentation and evaluation of the RESTful API in the deployment environment.

How do I access the Early Warning Feed?

The Early Warning Feed is available through the Enterprise edition of the X-Force Exchange Commercial API. If you are interested in pricing information, you can contact one of our sales representatives through the “Let’s talk” chat or call us at 1 887-257-5227.

How do I access the X-Force Premium Threat Intelligence Reports?

The X-Force Premium Threat Intelligence Reports are available through the Enterprise edition of the X-Force Exchange Commercial API. If you are experiencing an incident, contact X-Force to help: US hotline 1-888-241-9812; Global hotline (+001) 312-212-8034.

Other common questions

What is the IBM X-Force Exchange?

IBM X-Force Exchange is a cloud-based threat intelligence platform that allows you to consume, share and act on threat intelligence. It enables you to rapidly research the latest global security threats, aggregate actionable intelligence, consult with experts and collaborate with peers. 

What content is available through the X-Force Exchange?

The X-Force Exchange provides a combination of observable indicators including vulnerabilities, malware, malware families, IP reputation, URL reputation, web applications, pDNS, WHOIS information, malicious domains, and higher-order intelligence such as actors, campaigns, incidents and TTPs. X-Force Threat Intelligence provides curated analysis of threats, groups, malware and industries.

Where does the X-Force Exchange source its information?

X-Force Threat Intelligence data is sourced from IBM-developed infrastructure and databases, open-source intelligence, commercial sources, the deep web, and partnerships with third-party sources. 

What is the X-Force Exchange Commercial API?

The IBM X-Force Exchange Commercial API provides programmatic access to external threat intelligence to help contextualize security events. As a companion offering to the IBM X-Force Exchange collaborative platform, this API uses open standards to help speed time to action.

How do I integrate the X-Force threat intelligence through open standards?

IBM X-Force threat intelligence can be integrated into existing security solutions by using a RESTful API, including STIX over TAXII protocols to incorporate structured and unstructured data.

What is the Early Warning Feed?

The Early Warning Feed is designed to help you stay ahead of threats with timely and actionable information on malicious domains, including deep-dive lifecycles on these domains and volumetric data on their activity.

Who is the Early Warning Feed for?

The Early Warning Feed is designed for security professionals looking to identify malicious domains as early as possible and to protect their organization from attacks that primarily exploit the domain name service (DNS), such as phishing, domain generation algorithms (DGA), tunneling and squatting.

What is the Advanced Threat Protection Feed?

The Advanced Threat Protection Feed is a machine-readable threat intelligence feed that integrates with security tools such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and SIEMs. It provides you with programmatic access to actionable indicators categorized by our X-Force team.

What type of content is included in the Advanced Threat Protection Feed?

The Advanced Threat Protection Feed includes actionable indicators from threat categories such as C2 servers, bots, malware sources, phishing domains, anonymization services, scanning IPs, cryptocurrency miners, X-Force curated indicators, and a block list of high frequency and benign endpoints.

How are indicators classified as actionable for the Advanced Threat Protection Feed?

An indicator is classified as actionable when it is associated with a specific threat category and an actionable score (>=5.0). X-Force’s actionable threat intelligence exhibits a 99.97% detection rate, accompanied by a 0.003% false positive rate (as tested by external parties).

How is the Advanced Threat Protection Feed different from the Commercial API?

The Advanced Threat Protection Feed delivers machine readable lists of actionable indicators that can be consumed directly by your security tools. The Commercial API provides a research platform for exploring all indicators, reports and advisories from the X-Force Exchange.