Cyber threat intelligence is the key to predicting and preempting potential cyber-attacks.
Cyber threat intelligence refers to the process of identifying and analyzing cyber threats to understand your cyberthreat posture. As digital technologies become ever more imbedded in our work and lives, our cyber risk has only increased. Cyberattacks such as data theft, security breaches, malware, and ransomware can wreak havoc on a business and lead to serious loss of revenue, productivity, and reputation. In order to prevent these attacks and secure vulnerabilities, you need to understand what’s happening across your network. This is cyber threat intelligence.
The term “cyber threat intelligence” refers to the process of gathering, formatting, and analyzing data collected from across your digital network, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the threats your organization faces. An important part of threat intelligence is sifting through data and examining it contextually. This ensures that any issues or anomalies can be spotted and assessed, thereby allowing you to address and resolve the issue.
Cyber threat intelligence allows you to gain access to critical information that helps you to address and thwart potential attacks and threats.
The Threat Intelligence Lifecycle
You might have heard the term “threat intelligence lifecycle” being used to describe the process of gathering data and putting that information to use. The process is cyclical in nature as it is only through running continuously and repetitively that you can catch new and emerging threats.
This is partly down to the sheer volume of new threats and attacks surfacing daily, meaning a threat intelligence team’s job is continuously ongoing. But it’s also because, as you go through the process of collecting and producing threat intelligence, new questions naturally arise, prompting new requirements to be established and a new cycle to begin.
This creates a systematic, continuous feedback loop that consistently builds upon itself and addresses new questions and requirements as you security infrastructure evolves.
This continuous loop happens in six key stages:
- Planning and direction
There are many cyber threat intelligence solutions on the market that are designed to carry out and manage the key stages of this cycle. They will connect with your endpoints to gather data, then analyse it contextually to provide relevant cyber threat intelligence. Security decision makers are now estimated to subscribe to 7.5 commercial external threat intelligence services on average, according to a report by research company Forrester—a surge of 75% since their previous report. This suggests that not only are organizations realizing the value of cyber threat intelligence, but they’re also subscribing to multiple solutions to gain a comprehensive overview of threat landscape.
For more information on intelligent solutions that can monitor and address network issues, we’ve put together comprehensive lists of the top threat intelligence, network intelligence, and network sandboxing solutions:
Why Is Cyber Threat Intelligence Important?
The core purpose of cyber threat intelligence is to provide you with the knowledge that allows you to preempt future attacks and thwart them before they can strike—to shift your security practices from reactive to proactive. As ThreatQuotient’s Chris Jacob told Expert Insights in our interview with him.
“Threat intelligence allows you to be predictive in your incident prevention and response. The whole idea is that you’re identifying the malware before you’re infected; you know enough about it from your own research and intelligence feeds to be able to recognize it and know how it’s going to move.”
Having access to the accurate intelligence at the right time enables you to predict emerging threats and proactively implement the right protection to safeguard your organization.
How Does Cyber Threat Intelligence Work?
Cyber threat intelligence can be optimized to focus on a range of areas, depending on the soluton and the type of data you are interested in. Some of the areas that you can investigate include:
- Incident Response. With relevant intelligence more easily accessible, IT teams are better able to understand their environment and risks. This allows them to respond to threat actors and security events. This understanding also makes it identify false alarms accurately, and focus on genuine threats.
- Risk Analysis. Cyber threat intelligence can enhance risk analysis processes by identifying threat groups and vulnerabilities. You can understand what industries, users, and locations are targeted most frequently. Information on attack frequency, methodologies, and outcomes of historic attacks can help to develop incident response plans.
- Focused Penetration Testing. Organizations will often take a compliance-focused approach to penetration testing and treat it like a tick-box exercise. This reduces value of it as organizations don’t fully utilize the intelligence gained. Testing for resilience against real-world threats is a great way to identify vulnerabilities and identify your networks’ weak points. Cyber threat intelligence helps inform your penetration testing program for more focused testing and more useful insight.
- Better Detection Of Fraudulent Activity. In addition to helping you detect fraud attacks (such as business email compromise (BEC) attacks), cyber threat intelligence solutions can continually monitor for impersonation attempts. By monitoring sources like the deep and dark web, you can gather intelligence on compromised or shared data, then take actions to prevent those details from being used maliciously.
- Maintain Compliance. Many regulators require you to follow a risk-based approach to security. You need to be proactive in identifying and responding to vulnerabilities. Cyber threat intelligence is so effective that many regulatory frameworks will expect you to use it. Some of these regulatory frameworks are GDPR, NIS Directive, HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, and more.
- More Informed Security Awareness. You can incorporate relevant intelligence into your security awareness training program to educate users on how to detect and respond to the specific threats your organization is likely to face. This means that, should a genuine threat slip past the security controls and technologies, your users know what to look for and how to respond.
What Features Should You Look For In A Cyber Threat Intelligence Solution?
Cyber threat intelligence solutions help organizations to improve their security posture by providing them with actionable insights into their threat landscape. Some important features to look for in a cyber threat intelligence solution include:
Cyber threats are constantly evolving, becoming increasingly intelligent, and capable of bombarding organizations with hundreds or even thousands of attacks at once. It is virtually impossible for human SOC teams to respond to all these threats. Given the immense scale of the issue, strong automation is an absolute must for cyber threat intelligent solutions.
The ability to automatically collect, analyze, and share threat data at scale is vital for keeping on top of an ever evolving threat landscape. It is also important to automatically prioritize patching, thereby closing loopholes without an engineer’s intervention. Patching is a relatively simple job that can improve your security standing markedly.
While security teams are the ones most in need of insight into the state of an organization’s overall security posture, they are not the only relevant party. Stakeholders, like developers, business managers, and C-level executives should be informed of posture and response plans. Your threat intelligence solutions should provide reporting capabilities to ensure that this information can be shared seamlessly. Historical threat intelligence data is also very useful as it can reveal patterns stemming from ongoing vulnerabilities.
Real-Time Information And Alerts
Considering the core function of threat intelligence solutions is to provide a way for security teams to respond proactively to threats, there should be an effective way of alerting relevant users. Some users will need to be updated on real-time threat information to respond appropriately. This information should be contextualized, with suggestions of what remediation action should be taken.
Detailed Threat Actor Profiles
To be in the best position to respond to attacks, it is essential to know as much information as possible. By building threat profiles of common threats, historical events, and emerging attack trends globally, organizations can respond swiftly.
Detailed And Contextualized Threat Intelligence
Your threat intelligence needs to be detailed, accurate, and contextualized. It is only when you have the full picture that you can respond precisely and effectively. Actionable insights and recommendations are a Great benefit when it comes to deciding how best to respond.
A robust cyber threat intelligence solution can take much of the strain out of your security professionals’ everyday lives, enable them to more easily identify threats, and improve your security practices. Ultimately, a cyber threat intelligence solution empowers you to improve your security infrastructure and better secure your organization.
Cyber threat intelligence is a valuable resource in helping your security analysts and teams to preempt attacks, strengthen your defenses, and inform security processes.
The high volume of cyber threat intelligence solutions currently on the market can make choosing the right solution an overwhelming task—so let us help you out. Check out our buyers’ guide to the top 10 cyber threat intelligence solutions to help you make an informed decision.