What are cyber threat intelligence solutions, and how to apply it?

Tracking threats is one of the critical processes in ensuring effective business protection. The need for intelligence did not arise immediately. For a long time, the information security industry has reacted proactively to the actions of hackers. But with modern technologies and the rapid speed of cyberattacks, there is an urgent need to anticipate attacks and recognize them by the earliest signs.

Cyber threat intelligence solutions
Cyber threat intelligence solutions | Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Threat Intelligence is one such technique that allows you to learn about threats before they materialize and cause damage.

What is threat intelligence?

There are many approaches to defining what threat intelligence is, and they change over time. Working on creating a threat intelligence platform, we have developed our understanding of this concept.

Threat Intelligence is the knowledge about threats gained from analyzing and interpreting data. Threat Intelligence combines three interrelated elements:

  • Context
  • Indicators of compromise
  • Interconnection and enrichment.

Each element does not carry value by itself, but they form this most valuable knowledge precisely in the aggregate.

The threat intelligence process begins with collecting raw data — the flow of information that needs to be normalized, enriched with context, and correlated. After that, we will receive a certain profile or “card” of the threat, with which the analyst will subsequently work and analyze in the context of a specific organization. After analyzing the attacker’s context and the company’s context, the analyst will develop a solution that can already be called “knowledge.”

The TI process is very similar to classic surveillance. The team receives a task, collects intelligence, outputs it to the commander, analyzes the risks associated with the current situation, makes a decision, and acts.

Cyber threat intelligence solutions:

Cyber ​​intelligence works similarly. Based on the context of a particular organization, it is necessary to collect data, analyze, process, enrich it. As a result, they are converted into knowledge, transferred to the Chief Information Officer (CISO) or the decision-maker. He analyzes the relevant risks and makes this decision.

Therefore, the quality of TI data directly affects the speed and quality of decision-making.

Cyber ​​intelligence data is usually divided into three levels:

Operational or technical level. This includes indicators of compromise, i.e., signs by which you can recognize a potential threat (for example, hashes of malicious files, IP addresses, domains associated with criminal activity, etc.) and take technical measures to block it.

Tactical level. This level analyzes the behavior of violators, drawing on information about the attacker’s technique, tactics, and procedures (TTP), and develops an understanding of who, what, and why they do this against the organization. As a result, she has the opportunity to anticipate attacks and predict her future activities.

Strategic level. This includes analytical data on threat trends in the world to develop a different strategy for developing an organization’s information security system. Based on information from previous levels, the presentation of current threats and necessary measures to the organization’s top management, planning of tasks and needs (in new people, processes, tools) is carried out.

Cyber threat intelligence solutions must operate at all three levels. If one of them is lost, the whole concept diminishes the tangible benefit to the organization.

What is the value of Threat Intelligence?

Threat Intelligence is closely interconnected with other information security processes – incident response, risk management, vulnerability management, fraud detection, and operational activities of the information security department. To increase the efficiency of these processes, quality, and speed of decision-making within these processes – this is, in fact, the main task of working with TI.

First of all, threat intelligence significantly increases the quality and speed of response to incidents.

When information about a new threat arrives, you can quickly put it under monitoring while simultaneously blocking some indicators of compromise. Knowing the context, understanding how the cyberattack will occur, all possible options for its development, and how this threat could get into the infrastructure, it is possible to identify it in time, process it within the framework of a specific incident, and build suitable response scenarios for it.

From a vulnerability management perspective, threat intelligence helps in prioritizing and determining the severity of vulnerabilities. Threat intelligence provides the necessary evidence for analyzing and assessing risks – information about current threats obtained at TI’s tactical and strategic level.

As a result, the risk management process becomes more practical and of better quality.

Threat intelligence allows you to build the operational activities of the information security department, act proactively, plan, implement and implement protective measures, focusing on the current threat landscape, and not blindly.

How do you make TI a truly working tool?

To begin with, it is necessary to define goals and tasks planned to be solved with the help of TI and how the results of the implementation of these tasks will be assessed. You should not start working with threat intelligence tools if you do not understand why you need them.

If the need to use threat intelligence is made, it makes sense to immediately use a specialized cyber intelligence data management platform for this. It can be open-source or a commercial solution that automates all routine operations. Suppose at least several feed sources are used without automation, in that case, it is impossible to work efficiently with them, carry out normalization and storage in a single database, and work with genuine threats.

It is important to regularly assess the quality and quantity of data sources (feeds), get rid of unreliable ones that give a large number of false positives, reduce the data flow, and increase its quality.

Cyber threat intelligence solutions summarize

Cyber threat intelligence solutions is an essential tool for making information security decisions. It provides an understanding of the threat landscape to predict possible attacks and implement adequate defenses; improves the quality and speed of response to incidents, thereby minimizing possible damage. Information about current threats helps in a more accurate assessment of information security risks and planning the necessary measures to handle them.

As practice shows, organizations usually become interested in working with cyber intelligence data when building their security operations center (SOC). And if you have already realized that you need cyber intelligence, you should immediately build this process based on an automated platform.

What is cyber threat intelligence solutions?

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