Understanding Threat Intelligence and Its Role in Cyber Security

Threat Intelligence
Undoubtedly, the internet has changed how people do just about everything from business to communication to learning. Nonetheless, it has not come without its downsides. Sometimes, people are overwhelmed with all the things the web has made possible and forget the ramifications. Compromised privacy for one cannot be ignored when talking about the internet. Hackers have become the modern-day criminals, and they are everywhere. Organizations and individuals alike have to deal with a variety of security threats when using online platforms.

Threats are not only from errant online users but competitors and governments as well. A lot of businesses handle data that is highly valuable to other entities. It is not uncommon for organizations to spy on their rivals or leak their information to hurt their reputation. It is why VPN services have become so popular. Masking internet activities is one of the protection measures that different entities employ. However, before you can get to instituting policies, you must know where the risks lie, and this is where threat intelligence comes in. Threat intelligence is a hot trend in cyber security at the moment. What is it and which roles does it play in keeping your online platforms protected?

What is Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is the gathering of evidence-based information utilized in identifying possible risks to facilitate informed decisions. Some of the metrics that characterize TI include threat actors, security threats, compromise indicators, malware, and vulnerabilities. Over the years, many companies have fallen victim to different privacy valuations, some accidental and others not so much. Some experts refer to TI as the compilation of technical indicators of compromise. These are data points within an organization that signify possible threats. Some of these IOCs include; malicious URLs, virus signatures, MD5 hashes, attachments, links, registry keys, dynamic link libraries, and domain names.

Organizations lose billions in these menaces, which is why people are investing in protection measures. Some of the threats such as hacking are easy to anticipate, but others are specific to business and the online platforms in use. It is difficult to know the level of firewall protection necessary when you are not sure how vulnerable your system is. For this reason, getting actionable intelligence is more than a simple investment; it is a core business function.

Why Do You Need It

Wondering what TI adds to your company is a valid concern, considering it costs money to get it. Threat intelligence categorizes IOCs. The risks your company is exposed to are not just general. For instance, phishing attempts are specifics to email platforms. With TI, you get your vulnerabilities in classes. It makes it less challenging to create security protocols for specific threats. Threat intelligence gathers indicators of compromise that correspond to a particular system. A government agency faces risks that are quite different from what a retail chain store has to deal with. It is a waste of money to protect your enterprise from threats that may not even be possible because of the nature of the business. Using threat intelligence reduces such errors in judgment.

The methods that attackers use when getting into online systems evolve by the day. You may have implemented protection against a particular type of hacking and then find out that hackers have moved on to something you didn’t prepare for. The role of threat intelligence is to look at all the possible scenarios that attackers may contemplate. Data from TI doesn’t just look at the immediate threats but future ones as well. Threat intelligence also looks at risks in the advanced and basic levels. Of course, these will differ from one organization to another.

By utilizing threat intelligence, companies can simplify the process of budgeting for cyber security. Some entities spend more than they should on protecting their systems while others don’t spend enough. Data from threat intelligence can paint a picture of the degree of resources required. You can facilely identify the threats that stand out and budget accordingly.

Threat Intelligence Best Practices

It is not enough to just have threat intelligence data, it must be usable. A survey by Anomali consisting of over 1,000 security professionals recently established that over 73% of subjects don’t use their TI data effectively. Leveraging this data is understandably hard for some organizations, especially when the collection techniques are wanting. Without certain elements, the data collected on IOCs is just that, data. Turning it into intelligence means it has to be accurate, relevant, and timely.

One of the biggest issues cited when handling threat intelligence is the copious data that companies have to deal with. The different information feeds generated from TI can be hard to analyze, especially for SMEs. A majority of entities don’t have the resources to dedicate to such large amounts of work. Too much data with poor delivery can be just as useless as not having any at all. The best practice is to streamline models to provide actionable information for companies.

Accuracy is another factor that characterizes good threat intelligence. False positives or negatives can be detrimental to your cyber security efforts. It is common for companies to waste resources on privacy protection protocols that are not effective at all. Accurate data allows an organization to dedicate the greatest efforts to the highest risks. Before you can get VPNs for your employees, you should know who are the most vulnerable.

Relevance is another best practice for threat intelligence gathering and presentation. For example, if it’s network-based IOCs, having elements such as port number, URLs, and domain names will provide more insights than just an IP. The minutiae are what matter when collecting data. Besides enhancing relevance, it contributes to the fidelity of the information. Knowing how one IOC ties to the bigger picture enables security professionals to grasp the gravity of the threat and develop viable solutions.

Risk management is one of the crucial parts of any business operations. A company, regardless of size, must identify risks, assess them and ultimately implement measures to curb them. Risk management involves a myriad of components, and cyber security is one of them. Threat intelligence can provide the necessary information when doing risk management for your organization.

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