Threat Intelligence

No matter the size of your business, there are all kinds of cyber threats that target organizations everywhere. Even though businesses benefit from the digital age we live in where we are extensively connected, they also face greater risk at the hand of cybercriminals and cyberattacks. 

As organizations prioritize cybersecurity in an increasingly digital environment, a key aspect of that is understanding threat intelligence and how it affects data breaches and malware. This article will discuss threat intelligence in detail and help you discover the best solutions for your business.

What Is Threat Intelligence?

Threat intelligence is gathered data that is analyzed to record, understand, and mitigate the behaviors and motivations of cyber attackers. Instead of taking a reactive approach, threat intelligence empowers security teams to make faster, more accurate, and data-driven decisions while fighting against threats.

Just like businesses are using intelligence software and resources to optimize their operations, attackers are adapting to a more intelligent landscape, too. Consequently, modern security requires capabilities such as threat intelligence to understand and mitigate attacks. There are a number of security hazards that threaten your business, but when prepared with threat intelligence, your cyber security team can predict and lower the impact of those threats and add effective security measures.

Why Is Threat Intelligence Important?

There are several key advantages to implementing threat intelligence for your organization, but these are the three primary reasons you need it in your cybersecurity toolbelt.

  1. Prevent the loss of data. One of the biggest benefits that a dedicated threat intelligence program offers is anticipating and spotting threats before they hit to prevent unnecessary data breaches. Protecting sensitive information is a core function of threat intelligence, too.
  2. Provide safety measure direction. When threats are coming from every direction, it can be difficult to know where to allocate resources and what to defend. Threat intelligence shows you where the holes in your security are, the type of attackers your business faces, and where to safeguard against future attacks.
  3. Inform others. The pool of knowledge that security experts share is more important with every year that passes, especially since hackers are getting more advanced and more dangerous, too. As these professionals gain more insights and collect useful data, they can share their effective tactics with others and help bolster the communities that fight cybercrimes.

Threat intelligence comes with many other advantages, but these three benefits are the most notable business strategies that come with this kind of software.

What Are the Three Types of Threat Intelligence Data?

Threat intelligence covers a lot of ground in the security space, but there are three main data categories that professionals like to use: strategic, tactical, and operational. They are also sometimes referred to as a cyber threat intelligence programs, or CTIs. Here are the three core types of threat intelligence data and how they are used to protect organizations.

Strategic threat intelligence

This type of threat intelligence focuses on high-level analysis that is designed for non-technical users. For example, a security analyst is in the weeds when it comes to mitigating threats, but a board of the company needs to understand threats in layman’s terms.

Strategic threat intelligence discusses those cybersecurity topics that impact more business-related decisions and focuses on trends and motivations when it comes to attacks. These tend to be built using open-source content, such as media reports, white papers, and research.

Tactical threat intelligence

When it comes to tactical threat intelligence, the focus is more on strategizing for the immediate future and is discussed among technically-proficient audiences. It outlines tactics, techniques, and procedures of threat actors to stop incidents and make defensive adjustments.

This approach to threat intelligence also identifies simple indicators of compromise (IOCs) so that IT teams can search for and eliminate threats within a network or the cloud. This could be a bad IP address or malicious domain names, unusual traffic, red flags during logins, etc. This is the most straightforward type to generate and is often automated with the advanced software we work with today.

Operational threat intelligence

When it comes to the behaviors of cyberattacks and the hackers behind them, operational threat intelligence answers the questions of “who”, “why”, and “how”. These strategies use past cyber attacks to learn about the intent, timing, and level of sophistication of these threats.

These analyses are a lot more involved and long-term than tactical threat intelligence and also tend to require resources to gather all of the necessary contextual information. IT teams that are involved with operational threat intelligence analysis are looking at specific attacks and campaigns to draw conclusions about threats to the organization according to the attacker’s actors and TTPs.

Threat Intelligence Lifecycle

The threat intelligence lifecycle is a process that helps transform raw data into finalized intelligence so that you can act on the gathered data. Its purpose is to offer direction for cybersecurity teams as they initiate and manage a high-functioning threat intelligence program.

The lifecycle process is essential because threats do not remain the same—they evolve with new technologies, too. Businesses have to become quicker and more decisive if they want to stay ahead of cybercriminals. The threat intelligence lifecycle acts as a framework to help teams best allocate their resources and remain steady and adjustable in the current threat landscape.

Here are the 6 steps to transforming raw data into finished intelligence:

  1. Requirements. This step establishes a roadmap for the threat intelligence operation where the team agrees on the goals and methods of the intelligence program based on the needs of the organization.
  2. Collection. When the boundaries and directions are set, the team focuses on collecting the most relevant data to meet its objectives. This may require diving into traffic logs, forums, social media, and industry or subject matter experts.
  3. Processing. Once the raw data has been collected, it needs to be processed so that it can be analyzed; this is often done using spreadsheets, decrypting files, and translating and evaluating the data.
  4. Analysis. Now that the data is processed, it needs to be analyzed using specific questions formed during the requirements phase. Experts decipher the dataset into actions so that they can make recommendations for stakeholders.
  5. Dissemination. After a thorough analysis process, the findings need to be adjusted into a digestible format so that the action items and recommendations are consumable for stakeholders and other relevant business members. This is less about technicality and jargon and more about the direct results of putting certain practices in place.
  6. Feedback. Finally, the feedback stage is there to see how you can improve reporting in the future for threat intelligence operations. Stakeholders can provide feedback in order to shift priorities, adjust timelines, and even make recommendations on how the data is disseminated and presented.

Who Can Benefit from Threat Intelligence?

If you’re wondering if you and your company need threat intelligence, the easy answer is yes, you need some form of threat intelligence. It prevents you from becoming helpless against hackers and other cyber crimes where you can instead be proactive and fight against such threats.

Threat intelligence is essential for all security teams and leaders for any kind of enterprise that uses digital processes and data storage. It helps process threat data to be better acted upon and understand the attacker’s next move. The entire team, including IT analysts, SOC, CSIRT, intel analyst, and executive management, uses threat intelligence on some level.

IT analysts optimize prevention and detection while strengthening defenses. SOCs look at risk and impact using threat intelligence. CSIRTs understand which incidents to accelerate investigations and other prioritization. Intel analysts excel in uncovering and tracking actors going after the organization. Finally, the executive management can better understand the risks that the organization faces and what their options are to deal with the risk impacts.

How Ontinue Can Help

Without threat intelligence, organizations take the backseat when it comes to data safety, which is not a good strategy in the modern business world. But, threat intelligence software may feel like one more system you just don’t have the time or experience to dedicate to it. That’s where Ontinue enters the scene.

Ontinue is a threat intelligence expert and can help an organization with its security, no matter its current level of experience. For both web and email resources, our threat intelligence platform is designed to catch threats quickly and uses third-party databases to deliver malicious URLs, domains, IP addresses, and other threats in real-time.

It’s time to strengthen your cybersecurity and make the smart move with threat intelligence tools—all combined on one inclusive platform.  Learn what Ontinue’s security can do for your organization.

Request a demo today!