CyberSecurity

What Is Threat Intelligence

Nowadays, digital transformation is imperative for businesses belonging to any industry vertical. Where the digital revolution has created a myriad of promising opportunities for increased ROI, enhanced productivity, improved efficiency, and so much more, it has also made businesses vulnerable to security threats and cyberattacks.

We are undoubtedly connected more than ever today, but we are also exposed to breaches, data theft, and various malware attacks. Therefore, it is essential to have the know-how in cyber threat intelligence.

Threat Intelligence – An Overview

Before we dig deeper into the topic, let us clarify that threat data and threat intelligence are not to be confused with each other. Threat data refers to a possible list of threats. At the same time, threat intelligence demonstrates something bigger than this. It means you have the tools to analyze the data so that you can have a concrete hypothesis that can result in informed decision-making.

With threat intelligence, an organization can make valuable, informed decisions. This enables organizations to react proactively to a security incident rather than reactively.

The Significance Of Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is an important component of any cybersecurity ecosystem. A cyber threat intelligence (CTI) program can help organizations in the following ways:

Prevention Of Data Loss

A well-curated cyber threat intelligence strategy helps organizations by preventing data breaches and detecting cyber threats, resultantly keeping critical information safe.

Guidance Regarding Security Measures

Through cyber threat analysis and identification, CTI identifies patterns used by hackers and assists organizations in putting security measures in place to protect against future attacks.

Spread Knowledge

With time, hackers are becoming creative in their ways. To tackle this issue, cybersecurity professionals should share the strategies and all the necessary tactics with the community as well so that everyone is prepared.

The Types Of Threat Intelligence

After discussing cyber threat intelligence, let us explore its types. Broadly, there are four types of threat intelligence, which include:

Technical Threat Intelligence

This type of cyber threat intelligence emphasizes particular indicators or proof of an attack and builds a foundation for analyzing such attacks. An analyst from Threat Intelligence searches for indicators of compromise (IOC), which include IP addresses that are being reported, fake URLs, phishing emails, and malware samples. The timing of releasing technical data is essential since IOCs like rogue IP addresses or fake URLs become outdated in a matter of days.

Operational Threat Intelligence

Operational threat intelligence is a particular knowledge about events, campaigns, and attacks. It offers insights that help the response team understand the attacks’ true nature. Because operational intelligence typically contains technical information, which consists of the attack vectors being used, vulnerabilities being exploited, and command and control domains being used. Threat data feeds mostly focus on a specific signal, such as malware hashes or suspicious URLs, which are a frequent source of technical information.

However, if technical threat intelligence is properly defined as information derived from technological sources such as threat data feeds, then operational intelligence and technical threat intelligence are not synonymous. They are more like a Venn diagram with significant overlaps. Other closed sources of knowledge on specific cyber attacks include intercepting threat group communications by infiltration or breaking into those lines of communication.

Tactical Threat Intelligence

This type of cyber threat intelligence contains more insights into the tactics and procedures of the attackers or actors. The safety management team mostly uses it to comprehend attack pathways. Tactical intelligence provides them with information on ways to develop a defensive approach to diminish those threats.

The study describes the weaknesses in IT security procedures that hackers may exploit and how to detect such assaults. The discovery is utilized to enhance the existing defense tools and security framework and aids in the removal of network vulnerabilities.

Strategic Threat Intelligence

Strategic threat intelligence gives a snapshot of the company’s threat prospects. This type of threat intelligence is based on fewer technicalities and is primarily aimed at executive-level experts who will use the reports for high-level company objectives. Furthermore, in theory, this threat intelligence offers insights such as vulnerabilities and hazards regarding the company’s risk environment, as well as information on precautionary activities, plans, threat actors, and the intensity of upcoming cyber-attacks.

Lifecycle Of Threat Intelligence

The threat intelligence lifecycle transforms raw data into final intelligence that can be used for decision-making and proactive action. When looking at the cycle, you might come across several slightly different variations, but the rationale behind it is the same. The cyber threat intelligence lifecycle covers all the points, from the requirement to the feedback. Let’s go over the six steps of the threat intelligence lifecycle:

Requirements

This cyber threat intelligence lifecycle stage is highly sensitive as it establishes the roadmap for a specific threat intelligence operation. The team shares a consensus on the goals and approach of their intelligence program at this planning stage, depending on the demands of the stakeholders involved. The group can look for:

      • The cyber attackers and the intentions behind the attack
      • Identification of the attack surface
      • Specific actions that must be taken to improve security
      • Future strategy for potential attacks

Gathering

After defining the criteria, the team goes out to gather the information needed to meet those objectives. The team would often search for the related forum, SMEs, social media platforms, data available to the public, and traffic logs, all according to the primary goal.

Preparation

After gathering the raw data, it must be converted into a format appropriate for analysis. This usually requires the decryption of files, arranging data points in spreadsheets, analyzing the data for relevance and dependability, and translating information from different sources.

Evaluation

After the processing or preparation step, your team must do a comprehensive analysis to discover answers to the requirements phase questions. Moreover, your team can translate the dataset into action items and useful suggestions for stakeholders.

Dissemination

The threat intelligence team must transform their findings into a consumable style and deliver the results to the stakeholders during the dissemination phase. The audience determines the way forward in the analysis. Most suggestions should be delivered succinctly, without confusing technical jargon, in a one-page report or a brief slide deck.

Feedback

The threat intelligence lifecycle concludes with gathering feedback on the delivered report to determine whether any changes are needed for the coming cyber threat intelligence-related tasks. It also consists of priorities set by the stakeholders, which consist of how often they want to be notified of threat intelligence reports and how the data should be shared.

Use Cases Of Threat Intelligence

With numerous use cases under the belt, threat intelligence is crucial in preventing cyber attacks. The following ways can help you strengthen your security infrastructure as well:

Security Analysis

Security analyst professionals are in charge of reporting incidents. Over the last couple of decades, there has been a significant rise in cyber-attacks, some of which are false positives. Sifting through amounts of data to assess the problem carefully is crucial. This is where threat intelligence comes in, allowing you to detect and dismiss false positives. You can also add real-time custom risk scores to the alerts. Lastly, you can compare internal and external sources with cyber threat intelligence.

Vulnerability Management

Effective vulnerability management requires moving away from the “patch everything all the time” strategy, which no one can realistically achieve.

Although the number of vulnerabilities and threats grows yearly, research shows that most threats target the same small percentage of risks. Threat actors are also faster — it now takes only 15 days on average between the announcement of a new vulnerability and the appearance of an exploit targeting it.

This generally has two consequences:

  • You must mitigate against a new exploit for at least two weeks. If you cannot patch within that time, you must have a strategy to limit the damage.
  • Otherwise, the new vulnerability is unlikely to be exploited, so patching it may be a lower priority.

Cyber threat intelligence goes beyond CVE scoring to identify vulnerabilities that pose an actual risk to your organization by combining internal vulnerability scanning data, external data, and additional context about threat actors’ TTP.

Fraud Protection

It is not enough to only detect and respond to cyber threats damaging your systems to keep your organization safe. You must also opt for guarding against unauthorized use of your critical information.

The threat information obtained from criminal communities gives insight into threat actors’ motivations, methods, and tactics, especially when combined with information from the surface web, such as technical feeds and indicators.

You can leverage the capabilities of threat intelligence to prevent any fraud related to payment, compromised data, and typosquatting.

Risk Analysis

Risk modeling can help organizations prioritize their investments. However, many risk models produce vague, non-quantified output that is compiled based on incomplete information, false assumptions or is challenging to take forward.

Threat intelligence adds context to risk models, allowing them to be more defined. It can help you identify which vulnerabilities are under your target and what degree of damage they might cause or have already caused.

Promising Benefits Of Threat Intelligence

With a carefully mapped out threat intelligence management, you can reap some of the following benefits:

Save Some Costs

The longer you wait to respond to a cyber threat, the more your company might lose money. Furthermore, you can achieve significant cost savings by implementing a unified threat intelligence management process. With a proactive strategy and plan of action in place, threat intelligence enables you to get rid of the need to purchase numerous integration resources and platforms.

Operational Efficiency Achieved

On average, an enterprise receives over 11,000 security alerts in a day and usually lacks sufficient personnel to act on them. Instead of chasing false positives, postponing fire drills, and touching base with a swarm of alerts and alarms, your security professionals and analysts can leverage threat data aggregated from multiple sources in a single, unified system.

Risk Reduction

An effective threat intelligence strategy will help you detect attacks faster and reduce the amount of time an attacker spends in your organization. This, in turn, lowers the cost and impact of an attack or a breach. Your organization can decrease the likelihood of data deficit and improve its security posture by increasing visibility and identifying vulnerabilities.

What Are Some Common Sources Of Cyber Attacks?

When trying to understand the attacker, it is also important to get a sense of the TTP, which includes tactics and techniques along with the procedures used by the attackers. Here, we will discuss some of the most occurring types of cyber threats:

Industrial Attack

In an industrial attack, financials are the motive. The attackers or industrial spies are responsible for financial theft and industrial surveillance.

Terrorist

In this type of attack, the target is mostly military or government agencies. However, these attackers may also harm the websites used by civilians and cause damage to their data.

Hacktivist

With political agenda as a reason behind the attack, these hackers and attackers aim to disrupt the system.

Someone From The Inside

Insiders pose a serious threat because they already have access to corporate systems and possess insights regarding the systems that need to be targeted, even of your company’s crucial data. Attacks of such nature can be lethal and difficult to detect.

Hackers

Here, the range is broad; a hacker can rely on a ready-made tool kit or use advanced operators or systems. These types of attackers can easily pass through simple defense strategies.

State-Funded Attackers

Cyberattacks that include any country’s involvement significantly impact that state’s well-being as they can easily sabotage services that are under the use of citizens and military actions.

How To Define An Analyst Of Threat Intelligence?

A cybersecurity or intelligence expert who observes and interprets external cyber threat data to give actionable insight is known as a cyber intelligence analyst. These professionals evaluate data from many threat intelligence sources to investigate the attacks’ pattern, methodology, intensity, threat landscape, and purpose.

The data obtained is then processed and filtered to provide threat intelligence feeds and reports that assist management (security officers) in making organizational security choices. These security professionals are frequently referred to as Certified Threat Intelligence Analysts, who have both the knowledge and abilities required for the position.

Cyber Threat Intelligence Management For Your Company

As discussed above, the rising need for digital transformation calls for an immediate cyber threat intelligence program. Threat management demands a complete view of your assets to protect your organization. It is an efficient program that meticulously monitors ongoing activities, identifies problems, and provides the data necessary to take the next essential step.

Cyberattacks can have a strong impact on your organization. However, with robust and advanced threat intelligence, you can take care of the risk, do damage control regarding your finances, and keep cyber threats and cyber incidents out of your organization.

Now that you know what threat intelligence is, get your company a threat intelligence portal or platform. Such a platform will offer you complete threat intelligence management, access to ongoing investigations and data feeds regarding threats, and provide real security solutions offering security to your company.

So, do not wait any longer, and build effective defense mechanisms for your organization. Because with the right threat intelligence tools at your disposal, you can prepare for future cyber attacks and emerging threats.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

Subscribe

Want to stay informed on Augmentt’s progress? Please sign up for our regular updates. We won’t spam you, we promise!

[contact-form-7 id=”2641″ title=”Newsletter footer form”]
Contact:

Telephone: 888-670-8444
Fax: 647-372-0393

450 March Rd – Unit 102
Kanata, Ontario, Canada
K2K 3K2

Contact:

888-670-8444
450 March Rd.
Unit 102
Kanata, Ontario
K2K 3K2
(fax) 647-372-0393

Subscribe

If you wish to receive our latest news in your email box, just subscribe to our newsletter. We won’t spam you, we promise!

[contact-form-7 id=”2639″ title=”Newsletter footer form”]

Copyright 2022. Augmentt Technology Inc.  All rights reserved.