Cyber Threat Intelligence: Make your Cyber defenses more effective with Threat Intelligence

Cyber Threat Intelligence
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Effective Cybersecurity with Threat Intelligence: Cybercriminals are threatening organizations. Data breaches and cyber attacks have been a regular occurrence in the media.

Organizations of all sizes and industries have fallen prey to ransomware and phishing attacks, data breaches, and other cyber threats. Organizations must have a robust cybersecurity strategy.

As criminals become more sophisticated and creative in their attacks, it is essential that they also have a solid approach to information security.

Understanding malicious actors’ tactics, strategies, and procedures are vital to a robust cyber defense.

This is where threat intelligence comes in. But, what is threat intelligence, why is it important, and who benefits?

What is Cyber Threat Intelligence?

Our digital world has enabled organizations to improve their operations rapidly. Digital technologies have made many aspects of an organization’s operation more efficient and effective.

However, this has also increased the risk of being hacked. Organizations can fight against these looming cyber threats by using threat intelligence.

Cyber threat intelligence the process of gathering, processing, and analyzing data to understand a threat actor’s motives, targets, and attack behavior.

Threat Intelligence is a tool that helps organizations to improve their cybersecurity strategies.

RELATED: Why establishing an Information Security Strategy is crucial for your business

Why Cyber Threat Intelligence crucial for your Cyberdefense posture

Threat Intelligence is essential in today’s cybersecurity landscape because it allows organizations to take a proactive approach rather than relying on reactive measures. Cybersecurity professionals and advanced persistent threats (APTs) always try to outmaneuver one another.

Data collected during threat intelligence exercises can give defenders an advantage, enabling them to preempt attacks and customize an organization’s defenses to defeat them.

Given the speed at which the cyber landscape changes, it is crucial to have insight into the next attack source to improve information security. It’s actionable because it is timely and provides context.

Also, it can be understood by those in charge of making decisions. This makes threat intelligence an integral part of a company’s cybersecurity strategy.

Every organization should have threat intelligence as part of its cybersecurity strategy. Here are six reasons organizations should use threat intelligence.

Increase the Effectiveness of your Cybersecurity Operations Team

Threat Intelligence is a tool that can help an organization’s security operations staff identify and prioritize threats based on risk. Security teams without threat intelligence may struggle to determine which threats are more dangerous for their organization.

They may also waste time dealing with threats that pose little or no risk to the organization. Security teams can reduce the time it takes to respond to threats with a greater risk.

This will increase their security operations’ efficiency.

Help your Business fight back against Cyberattacks

The chances of being attacked have drastically increased as digital technologies have transformed many aspects of an organization’s operations.

Organizations can use threat intelligence to counter looming cyber threats. It is the process of gathering, processing, and analyzing data to understand the motives, targets, and attack behavior of threat actors.

Minimize Reputational and Financial Consequences

Participating in threat intelligence exercises can help protect your organization against cyberattacks.

Your organization can avoid being reactive by gathering threat intelligence to help you stay one step ahead.

Data breaches can cause significant reputation and brand damage and financial losses. If a data breach occurs and customers learn about it, they will not trust your company to protect their data.

Security is a matter of spending wisely

Threat Intelligence allows your company to combine internal intelligence, such as vulnerability management and patch management, with external intelligence about attacker tactics and techniques.

This improves resource allocation and allows companies to make smarter investment decisions. For example, if a threat intelligence team determines that an attacker is likely to target a particular department within your company, you can decide to invest in that department instead of blindly spending resources.

Who is the beneficiary of Threat Intelligence?

The simple answer is that everyone! Hackers aren’t selective in picking their targets. Therefore, threat intelligence is essential to enhancing cybersecurity, regardless of the size of your organization, its type, or industry.

It adds value across all security functions of organizations. Below are some examples of how threat intelligence can be used to benefit certain roles:

  • Security/IT Analyst: To improve defenses, security analysts must improve detection and prevention technology. New vulnerabilities emerge frequently. Patching all vulnerabilities may be burdensome for larger enterprises with more devices and data.

Threat intelligence helps security analysts prioritize which vulnerabilities to patch based on current threat activity and the possibility of exploiting a new vulnerability.

  • Security Operations Center: Prioritize incidents based on their risk and impact on the organization. SOC teams receive a high volume of daily alerts. Many notifications are unimportant, making it difficult to tell which ones need attention.

Threat intelligence helps analysts filter out false positives and irrelevant warnings, acquire and give stronger information more rapidly, and speed event analysis.

  • Incident Response Team: Accelerate incident investigation, management, and prioritization. Threat intelligence is helpful for incident response security analysts because many daily notifications are false positives.

Threat intelligence can assist in identifying false positives (and dismissing them to prevent distractions), making current warnings more actionable by adding context or risk scoring, and more.

  • Executive Management: Threat intelligence allows organizations to precisely assess risk, develop the right tactics to mitigate risk, effectively prioritize work, relieve analyst burden, and evaluate the risk to top management to justify future security and defense spending.

Types of Cyber Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is often divided into these three categories:

  • Tactical Intelligence (TI) – Tactical insight is designed to understand the future and identify simple indicators of compromise (IOCs). Some examples of IOCs include malicious URLs, IP addresses, and domain names.

Machines can read Tactical Intelligence, so security products can easily collect it through their feeds. Tactical intelligence is more accessible than other types of threat information. It can almost always be collected automatically.

Tactical Intelligence can be actionable only for a limited time and can become obsolete within a few hours or days. This is due to attackers’ tools changing rapidly.

  • Operational intelligence gathers information about cyber attacks, campaigns, and events. It assists incident response teams in understanding specific attacks’ nature, timing, and intent.

Machines cannot collect Tactical Intelligence. Operational Intelligence can only be collected by human personnel.

They must analyze the raw data and make it easy to understand and use.

  • Strategic Intelligence is a method that shows how long-term events, foreign policies, or other factors can impact cyber security.

Strategic intelligence is a way to see the threat landscape of an organization and inform executive decision-making.

The content is usually less technical and presented in reports or briefings.

When is Threat Intelligence Used?

Threat intelligence can be used for many different things and in many different ways. When decision-makers know what kind of opponent they face, they can use the right resources and set up the proper defenses.

Executives can make decisions that will affect the company long-term based on intelligence and reward/ROI.

To develop this long-term intelligence, you will need to ensure your organization, from the top management to the newest hires, has a strong cybersecurity culture and understands and can use threat intelligence before, during, and after an attack.

RELATED: Workplace Cybersecurity: How to ensure all employees take responsibility for Cyber Security in the workplace

Using Threat Intelligence before an Attack

As mentioned before, technological indications are utilized to prohibit malicious IPs, URLs, hashes, etc. By incorporating tactical threat intelligence into intrusion detection systems, firewalls, and SIEMs, enterprises may automatically protect against emerging and recognized threats.

Threat intelligence can be used proactively and reactively. Using contextualized knowledge about emerging and established dangers, you can get ahead of attackers. Intelligence regarding malware families and infrastructures used to attack insurance companies allows unbreached insurers to build defenses.

Threat actor analysis may reveal a vulnerable industry or organization, enabling security teams to act before it’s too late. You may patch the vulnerabilities proactively if you know the assault exploit kits.

A security team’s security posture improves with preparation. Threat intelligence helps teams prioritize their operations to address high-probability threats and defend high-risk assets.

Using Threat Intelligence during an Attack

Threat intelligence speeds up triage. Intelligence-driven incident detection speeds up detection and response in SIEMs and endpoint solutions. Too many notifications, false positives, and lack of information make it hard to prioritize problems (and after, spend too much time investigating them).

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Contextualizing data enables security teams to prioritize and streamline their workflow. Automatic correlation using Threat Context helps orchestration systems prioritize IOCs.

When an attack has already begun, threat intelligence might be used for threat hunting. This means checking for signals of an assault instead of waiting for alerts.

Operational intelligence allows security teams to seek subtle evidence, such as file removals, running process changes, and registry adjustments.

This intelligence helps security professionals restrict their search by understanding the attacker’s motivations. Intelligence speeds detection, prioritization, and hunting.

Using Threat Intelligence After an attack

Threat information can help with forensics, investigations, and reporting after an incident. It also allows us to do continual cyber-hygiene within a business to prevent future attacks.

Malicious individuals are constantly testing new ways to target organizational infrastructure. Thus, static security systems are a surefire way to get compromised.

Threat context and attribution accelerate investigations. Incident response teams can swiftly secure assets and evaluate the incident’s extent across the enterprise. Intelligence ‘connects the dots’ — signals that seemed disconnected may indicate a more advanced threat than expected.

Your SIEM detects a bad IP, but your contextualized intelligence informs you it’s part of a campaign by a threat actor that previously targeted banks but has widened its scope. You feed your systems other IOCs relating to this attacker to prevent further intrusions.

Red-teaming uses threat intelligence. Red teams are tactical experts who challenge a company’s security protocols. Identify weaknesses before evil guys do.

RELATED: Threat Detection and Response: Best Practices

Effective hackers must act autonomously, questioning your security team’s assumptions and exploring different attack techniques without notifying personnel.

Routine yet irregular ‘surprise’ assaults can expose security faults and weaknesses in organizations. Red teaming is a fantastic way to boost your organization’s security, but it requires threat intelligence.

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) vs. Cyber Risk

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) and Cyber Risk are related but distinct concepts in cyber security.

CTI refers to the information an organization collects and analyzes about current or potential cyber threats, including the actors behind those threats, their motivations and tactics, and the technical details of their methods.

RELATED: Benefits of Cyber Risk Management: What are the Advantages?

The goal of CTI is to provide organizations with the information they need to make decisions about how to defend against cyber threats.

Cyber Risk, on the other hand, refers to the potential impact of cyber threats on an organization and its assets. This includes the likelihood of an attack occurring, the potential consequences of that attack, and the cost of mitigating or recovering from it.

Cyber risk assessments help organizations understand the risks they face, prioritize their security efforts based on the level of risk, and make informed decisions about managing that risk.

Related: How to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment

In short, CTI provides organizations with information about the threats they face. At the same time, cyber risk assessments help them understand those threats’ potential impact and how to manage that risk best.

CTI and cyber risk assessments are essential components of a comprehensive cyber security strategy.

Next Steps: Incorporating Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) into your Business

In order to estimate the risk to your own business, you must also evaluate the security of your partners, vendors, and other third parties.

Unfortunately, many of the most prevalent third-party risk management strategies today fall behind security standards.

Risk assessments that lack context and are not always timely, such as financial audits and security certificate verifications, are still vital. A system that provides real-time context on the actual threat landscape is required.

Threat intelligence is one technique to achieve this objective. It can provide visibility into the dangerous environments of the third parties with which you collaborate, provide real-time notifications on threats and changes to their risks, and provide the context for evaluating your interactions.

Incorporating Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) into a business requires a structured approach that involves the following steps:

  • Develop a CTI strategy: The first step is to develop a clear and comprehensive CTI strategy that outlines the goals, objectives, and priorities of the organization’s CTI program. This strategy should consider the organization’s overall security posture, the types of assets and data it needs to protect, and the threat landscape it faces.
  • Establish a CTI team: A dedicated CTI team is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating CTI information to the appropriate stakeholders. This team should include individuals with technical expertise in security and individuals with knowledge of the organization’s specific business needs and operations.
  • Gather and analyze CTI: Organizations can gather CTI from a variety of sources, including open-source information, commercial threat intelligence feeds, and internal sources such as network logs and security alerts. The CTI team is responsible for analyzing this information, prioritizing threats based on the organization’s risk profile, and providing actionable recommendations to the rest of the organization.
  • Disseminate CTI: CTI must be disseminated to the right stakeholders in a timely manner so they can take appropriate action. This could include security teams, incident response teams, business unit managers, and senior executives.
  • Incorporate CTI into security operations: The organization should integrate CTI into its overall security operations, such as incident response, vulnerability management, and threat detection and response. This will ensure that the organization is better prepared to respond to threats and minimize their impact.
  • Continuously review and improve the CTI program: Finally, the organization should continuously review and improve its CTI program to ensure it remains effective and relevant. This could involve regular assessments of the program’s success, regular updates to the CTI strategy, and the integration of new sources of CTI as they become available.

By incorporating CTI into their overall security strategies, organizations can better understand and respond to the cyber threats they face, protect their critical assets, and minimize the impact of security incidents.

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