Revealing the Power of Cyber Threat Intelligence

July 26, 2017 | Irfan Shakeel
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In today’s cyber world, decision makers continuously question the value of their security investments, asking whether each dollar is serving to secure the business. In the meantime, cyber attackers are continually growing smarter and more proficient. Today’s security teams frequently find themselves falling behind and left to analyze artifacts from the past and try to decide on future actions. As organizations work to bridge this gap, cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is growing in popularity, effectiveness and applicability.

Technically, threat intelligence is the process of understanding the threats to an organization based on available information. It combines various data and information in order to determine relevant threats to the organization. To address the security concerns that easily bypass our traditional cyber security solutions, security professionals have to be ever-attentive and observant. That’s where threat intelligence comes into action.

Cyber threat intelligence helps you identify security threats and make informed decisions. Threat intelligence can help you solve the following problems:

  • How do I keep up to date on the overwhelming amount of information on security threats, including bad actors, methods, vulnerabilities, targets, and so on.
  • How do I get more proactive about future security threats?
  • How do I inform my business leaders about the dangers and repercussions of specific security threats?

Sources of Threat Intelligence:

Threats to organizations come from internal as well as external sources. Due to this, organizations are under terrific pressure to control threats. Although information in the form of raw data is available in abundance, it is difficult and time-consuming to get actionable information. The first step for an organization to improve its information security capabilities with threat intelligence is to choose appropriate sources of the intelligence. Sources are:

  • Internal Threat Intelligence: Information that is gathered from within the organization itself is considered as internal threat intelligence.
  • External Threat Intelligence: Information that is gathered from outside the organization - from the internet, newspapers, books and other external sources, such as Open Threat Exchange (OTX), are considered external threat intelligence.

Threat Intelligence Capabilities:

Cyber threats to organizations generally include SQL injection, DDoS, web application attacks and phishing. It is essential to have an IT security solution that offers threat intelligence capabilities to manage these attacks by being both proactive and responsive.

Here are some examples that show how cyber threat intelligence is being used to address different threats:

  • Improved Patch Management Process: True CTI can help governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) teams with patch management. Using actionable weakness and exploitation data, these teams can prioritize when to patch which vulnerability.
  • More Effective “Attack Surface” Protection Systems: CTI plays a significant role in enhancing the effectiveness of security tools. Many security protection tools are sightless to today’s threats. Additionally, even when tools can be configured to automatically block on the basis of data in raw threat feeds, network operations don't turn this feature ON in fear of false blockage impacting business operations.
  • Situational Awareness & Event Prioritization: High fidelity CTI lets SOC teams to prioritize which events are most important by delivering more power to Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems.
  • Find & Fix Everything: True CTI assists forensic teams to determine incident attribution and make sure they discover and fix everything impacted. Figuring out who is attacking you is not possible without focused threat intelligence.
  • Incident Response (IR) Attribution & Messaging: CTI can help incident responders recognize who is targeting their organization. This enhances communications across the business, resulting in more timely response.

One of the most consistent places to begin working on threat intelligence is with the organization’s security plan. Security planning often starts with determining what the business needs to protect it from harm, and employing policies and procedures to do so. Threat intelligence can help the organization comprehend which areas of the business attackers are most likely to target and use those insights to effectively protect valuable assets. Moreover, an organization might also use threat intelligence to recognize potentially critical assets that have not been internally treated as vulnerable in the past.

Of course, organizations are still required to identify their assets and valuable information for which security is essential and employ threat intelligence for those valuables to prevent loss. Organizations should consider gathering cyber threat intelligence to make their defense program more effective and ready, as prevention and quick detection are the keys to survival in this world of growing cyber threats.

Irfan Shakeel

About the Author: Irfan Shakeel, EH Academy
Irfan Shakeel is the founder of ehacking.net and creates future cyber security professionals by offering quality cyber security education at EH Academy. You can connect with him on Twitter (@irfaanshakeel) and LinkedIn.
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