As our dependency on technology increases, the rates of cyber threats are rising as well. A proactive approach to security for asset protection is the need of the hour. Cyber threat intelligence can play a crucial role in helping organizations manage threats actively.
What is Cyber Threat Intelligence?
The process of collecting data and using it for comprehending past, present, and future threats in a better manner is known as cyber threat intelligence. It is used to provide visibility across the organization’s network to identify potential threats and take action beforehand.
It approaches cyber security proactively instead of being reactive. So, it makes security teams quicker and more efficient by enabling them to make timely and more informed decisions.
The importance of cyber threat intelligence is critical today because of the rapidly increasing complexity of the threat landscape. Basic security measures are no longer enough to empower your IT teams strongly for protection against cyber threats. Cyber threat intelligence helps security professionals catch onto attackers’ motives and behaviors and learn tactics, techniques, and procedures for being prepared before the attack actually takes place.
Types of Cyber Threat Intelligence
Cyber threat intelligence is divided into four types based on the sources of data collection, analysis of knowledge, and consumption of intelligence:
- Strategic Threat Intelligence
Strategic threat intelligence provides information consumed by high-level executives and the organizational management. It helps the executives understand the current cyber risks, attribution of threats, and potential future risks. Its primary focus is on long-term problems. So, it provides high-level analysis to superior executives & management who may be non-technical.
Its primary goal is to understand the broader trends that affect the threat landscape so that leaders can understand their impact on business activities and take decisions accordingly. The majority of data for strategic threat intelligence comes from open sources. This characteristic is what mainly differentiates it from other types of threat intelligence.
Strategic threat intelligence may include information like:
- Attribution of breaches and intrusions
- The monetary impact of cyber threats
- Cyber threat trends
- Statistical information about data theft, malware, and knowledge breaches
- The threat landscape for various industries, etc.
- Tactical Threat Intelligence
With a focus on the immediate future, tactical threat intelligence helps security teams to determine if the existing security systems will be able to detect and manage risk successfully. Hence, it plays a critical role in the protection of organizational resources. It’s mainly consumed by an organization’s cybersecurity professionals such as architects, administrators, network operations employees, IT service managers, and security operations managers.
Data for tactical threat intelligence may be collected from sources like malware reports, campaign reports, attach group reports, incident reports, human intelligence, technical papers, information from third parties, etc. Analysis of this data helps tactical threat intelligence to generate the indicators of compromise (IOCs) that further help teams to identify and eliminate threats in the network. Indicators of compromise (IOCs) may include:
- Red log-in flags.
- Unusual traffic.
- Suddenly increased download requests or anything that security teams must be aware of.
It is typically automated and short-lived as IOCs keep changing every few hours. It helps professionals to develop and implement threat detection and mitigation solutions beforehand.
- Operational Threat Intelligence
With a focus on providing contextual information, operational threat intelligence offers insights about specific threats against an organization. This information helps security teams identify potential risks, gain better insights into attack methodologies, understand the procedures of past malicious activities, and economically investigate threats.
Data for operational threat intelligence is collected chiefly from real-world activities that lead to cyberattacks, events, social media, chat rooms, and analysis of human behavior. So, the primary consumers of operational threat intelligence tend to be security managers, network defenders, incident response heads, fraud detection teams, and security forensics.
Operational threat intelligence helps teams understand the information in the context of factors like timing, intent, and sophistication surrounding certain cyberattacks. It also unveils the vulnerable IT assets of the organization and how specific attacks will impact these assets. Consequently, it enables security teams to identify and stop potential attacks, deploy effective solutions to increase the organizational capability of identifying attacks quickly and reduce the vulnerability of crucial assets.
- Technical Threat Intelligence
With a focus on specific attack clues/evidence, technical threat intelligence provides teams with information about the resources used to perform an attack so that a base to analyze the attack can be created. These resources may include commands, tools, control channels, etc. Compared to tactical threat intelligence, technical threat intelligence has an even shorter lifespan as it focuses on one specific IOC to provide rapid responses to threats.
Examples of technical threat intelligence include domains utilized by malicious endpoints, IP addresses, the hash checksum of malware, fraudulent URLs, phishing email headers, etc. Hence, its primary consumers are incident response (IR) and security operations centers (SOC) teams.
Data for technical threat intelligence is collected mainly from active campaigns, data provided by third parties, or attacks performed on other organizations. This information enables security professionals to improve defensive systems by adding identified indicators. The addition of endpoint security systems, firewalls, IPS, etc., can help organizations to strengthen their detection mechanisms to identify attacks at early stages.
Cybersecurity threats are rapidly increasing over time. Even with essential security systems in place, organizations are not able to protect themselves and their crucial assets from malicious attacks. As a result, they bear significant losses and damages.
Cyber Threat Intelligence is critical for every organization today. With multiple types that cater to different needs, it can help organizations effectively combat cyberattacks and maintain top-notch cyber security for their data and assets.