Cyber Threat Intelligence: Defined, Explained, and Explored

An introduction to Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is the first step before exploring the concept. Threat Intelligence also known as cybersecurity intelligence, is information based on evidence of criminal activity targeting the networks, tools, applications, and data of an organization. It is the collection and use of data by an organization to better understand the threats in the past, present, and future as well. The collected information provides visibility about the happenings in an organization’s network, thus helps in identifying potential threats, taking proactive actions for mitigating and securing against future attacks.

What Should Threat Intelligence Provide?

Cyber threat intelligence is designed to enhance the ability of an organization to reduce cyber risk, control cyber threats, and improve feedback intelligence on every product that protects against any attacking surfaces. A threat intelligence platform is expected to provide certain functions to support the cybersecurity strategy of an organization effectively. Let us discuss some of such functions:

  • Multi-source data correlation – Different perspectives create varied data and insights. An intelligence platform must combine the internal and external data sources to give a comprehensive visualization of potential cyber threats it may face.
  • Automated Analysis and Triage – The Data collected can overrun the security team of an organization, making it unusable for the Threat Intelligence platform. The threat intelligence analysts should perform automated analysis, triage, and intelligence preference to ensure that the most significant data is seen first.
  • Data Sharing – The presence of threat intelligence data in a single, centralized system (and depending on analysts to voluntarily deliver it to their defense solutions) restricts its fruitfulness. A threat intelligence platform must consist of integrations for the automatic transmission of data across the security deployment of an organization.
  • Automation – Cyber threat landscape is rapidly unfolding, and threat intelligence data is becoming obsolete day by day as cyber threat actors launch fresh campaigns and terminate others. Automation is needed to speed up analysis and cyber threat intelligence is used to give value to the user.
  • Functional Insights – Proficiency about an existing threat is not the same as the expertise to respond to it. A threat intelligence platform is expected to give functional advice and information to organizations about ways to protect themselves from threats that intelligence brings to their notice.

Top 5 Threat Intelligence Use cases

Though there are many use cases, below discussed are the top 5 use cases of Cyber Threat Intelligence:

  1. Enhance traditional security technologies – Integration of existing security programs and threat intelligence solutions enhances event response by improving knowledge about the threat. This not only increases the ability of the security team to recognize threats but also expands the course of legacy solutions, thus allowing organizations to maximize Return on Investment (ROI) on security investments. Another important part is choosing the right tools before selecting a particular threat intelligence solution because the solutions are designed to integrate with the established system.
  2. Threat prioritization – With threat intelligence, organizations can create scales that assess the intensity of a threat or any vulnerability in their network. By assessing a vulnerability in relation to the solutions available to you to deal with threats, threat intelligence facilitates risk prioritization. Security teams can allot time and resources when dealing with new threats, using an established vulnerability ranking system.
  3. Limiting internal threats – Tracking and validating serious internal threats is resource-intensive. Internal threat activity is often considered a normal characteristic of users, making it difficult to determine the extent of an attack. With the integration of threat intelligence and security tools, organizations can give supplementary context for IT to internal threat alerts. This accelerates the identification of internal threats and limits the damage they can cause.
  4. Fraud prevention – it is very important to work rigorously to stop the use of employee and customer data for fraudulent purposes in order to guard the brand image and organization. Threat intelligence opens a window to the strategies used by threat actors to extract and exploit serious data. This gives real-time alerts for the security teams on new attack vectors formulated by, thus helps them to stop adversaries from deceiving unsuspected customers.
  5. Security leadership – Chief Information Security Officers and other security leaders have a responsibility to minimize the exploitable weaknesses beyond their available resources and budget. It will be very difficult if there is no proper visibility of the threat landscape. Threat Intelligence enables CISOs to map threat landscapes, allowing them to measure the risk appropriately and give security officers the intelligence needed to make better decisions.

How to build an effective cyber threat intelligence program

If incidents continue to occur despite great efforts to collect large amounts of threat data, the efficacy of the Cyber Threat Intelligence Program will also be questioned. Let’s see how organizations can set up an effective cyber threat intelligence program:

Forming an intelligence team – Highly skilled analysts with proper technologies and collection methods are essential for a successful threat intelligence program. Targeted efforts should be taken to form an intelligence team with myriad skills and analytical proficiency. Analysts can be specialists in various areas because of their experiences, educational qualification, or their positions, and with the best mix of interests and skills. Intelligence training should be provided to all those working inside the Intelligence Unit, including senior management, to provide clear standards and knowledge across the department.

Setting standard – The analyst team must follow an established methodology of direction, collection, processing, evaluation, and dissemination, which is called the intelligence cycle. The Intelligence Cycle is an experimented methodology used in organizing and decision-making by various military forces across the world. Due to the availability of a large amount of data, the intelligence cycle places an order for the data collection process. It tells you exactly what to collect, and when to collect according to priority. Implementing the intelligence cycle facilitates a high level of structure and consistency throughout the team. Most importantly, it allows analysts to focus on their collection efforts to meet the requirements of their clients and the people they are protecting.

Creating the source list – The most time-consuming component of a cycle is the collection, especially when you are dealing with multiple clients with multiple needs. Building a source list that gives you appropriate and up-to-date information saves time and money. It also allows you a short amount of time when it comes to client requests and last-minute travel arrangements.

Data management – From comprehending the historical topography of an area to accurate geolocation events, building a library of trusted open-source tools and technologies can help the threat intelligence team eliminate online clutter and effectively manage data collection efforts. As the source list and database of events expands, historical intelligence can be quickly accessed and time can be saved on future assignments.

What are the benefits of threat intelligence?

Some of the main benefits of Cyber Threat Intelligence includes:

Cost-effective – Cyber Threat Intelligence responds rapidly to any kind of data breach as they are equipped with defensive strategies. Since it mitigates data breaches and deals with lawsuit fees, fines, and restoration costs, CTI thus helps in reducing the overall expense.

Enhances security team efficiency – CTI allows the security team to identify new security threats as the team is required to check for false and real threats. Cyber threat intelligence also helps the team in understanding the threats they need to address and this can increase the response rate. This not only eliminates the workload of the team but also improves the efficiency of the team.

Reducing risks – Cyber threat intelligence protects your organization from cyber attackers. Hackers are continuously looking for new risks to infiltrate enterprise networks. CTI provides you proper visibility by allowing you to identify new risks. Therefore, it eliminates the risk of data loss. It will prevent or reduce interruption in your daily activities.

Avoids data breach – as mentioned CTI prevents data breaches as it evaluates all the Ip addresses and domains trying to interact with your system. Any suspicious IP address or domain will be blocked immediately at the moment, thus restricts the hackers from accessing your system.

Collaborative knowledge – CTI shares critical cyber security practices and information with each enterprise. It is not easy to maintain zero-day threats and to balance threats. Thus, organizations share their flaws and strategies with other companies and help each other defend themselves against cyber-attacks.

In-depth threat analysis – Cyberthreat Intelligence gives an in-depth analysis of each cyber threat to the users. Therefore, a CTI system allows your organization to analyze the different technologies that cyber threat actors can employ. It also helps guard your system from new threats.

Wrap Up

In the context of our globally emerging threat landscape, cyber threats can have critical aftermaths. Organizations can increase their resistance, eliminate risks that can cause damage to the reputation and financial strength, and move a few steps further than intelligent cyber threat actors but only with accurate, targeted, and contextual threat intelligence. This is the era of proactive threat intelligence because the time for reactive security is almost over.

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