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Cyber Threat Intelligence
The continued growth of cybercrime has disrupted businesses across industries globally. There are various types of attacks such as data theft, ransomware, server access, credential harvesting, misconfiguration, malicious insider, Business Email Compromise (BEC), to name a few. As technologies improve, hackers and cybercriminals have improvised their tactics to exploit vulnerabilities in enterprise systems and their security mechanisms with increasing sophistication. With remote working here to stay, and the extension of organizations beyond physical boundaries to the cloud and mobile devices, it is evident that a reactive approach will not suffice to combat cyberattacks. To take a proactive approach, organizations need a fair understanding of what threats are out there and have a picture of what has been done in-house for timely defense. This can be referred to as Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI).
Gartner defines threat intelligence as evidence-based knowledge on an existing or emerging attack on assets. The evidence can be in the form of context, indicators, mechanisms, implications, or actionable advice. This knowledge is helpful to make an informed decision against such attacks. CTI helps security and business staff at all levels protect the enterprise’s critical assets. CTI improves visibility into overall network threats, thus making it easier for decision-makers to prioritize security around potential targets and threats.
CTI provides information on malicious attackers, their tools, infrastructure, and methods. This information can be used to identify different types of attacks, understand various operational requirements based on priority, evaluate threat capabilities and techniques, implement detection systems, and develop defense strategies. According to IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022, ransomware has been the top attack type for more than three years. Typically, a cyber intelligence analyst monitors and analyzes external cyber threat data to provide actionable intelligence. These analysts are Certified Threat Intelligence Analysts as they have both the knowledge and skills needed for the job.
Types of Cyber Threat Intelligence
For CTI to be more effective, organizations must consider these five criteria — it needs to be timely, relevant, accurate, specific, and actionable. Broadly, there are four types of cyber threat intelligence:
- Strategic Threat Intelligence offers a bird’s eye view of the organization’s threat scope. It provides insights such as vulnerabilities and risks that help build a high-level organizational strategy around preventive actions.
- Tactical Threat Intelligence is for security teams as it gives them insights that help build defense strategies. The security team can use these insights to improve existing security controls and remove vulnerabilities within the network.
- Operational Threat Intelligence gives the company knowledge about the attack through other sources. The insight can be gathered by participating in hacker chat rooms or other forums.
Technical Threat Intelligence is time critical as it focuses on identifying and analyzing evidence, particularly Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) of an attack. The indicators can be anything from malware samples, reported IP addresses, phishing emails, or even malicious URLs.
Cyber Threat Intelligence Lifecycle
The CTI lifecycle can be divided into six phases — direction, collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and feedback.
Direction is the first step in the threat intelligence lifecycle. In this phase, goals for the threat program are set based on business assets and processes. These goals help prepare an intelligence plan by gathering the correct information.
In the second phase of cyber threat intelligence, the team starts the information collection process by extracting information from varied threat data feeds, collecting logs and metadata from security devices and internal networks, and interacting with knowledgeable sources.
Once the information is gathered, it is now time for processing. Since the data is available in various different forms, the data is now processed to make it more consumable. How the data is presented is critical to the success of the plan.
Analysis is a critical step in the cyber threat intelligence lifecycle. Here, the processed information is analyzed for potential threats, steps to fend off an attack, security controls to build for improved safety, and more.
Once the intelligence data is analyzed, the next step is disseminating the report information based on each team’s requirement, as each team benefits differently from threat intelligence.
The last phase in the CTI lifecycle is feedback. The security team must constantly seek and receive feedback and update their security mechanisms through timely assessment to ensure that the organization’s defenses are always relevant. Cyber threats must always remain a priority.
Benefits of Cyber Threat Intelligence
- Having a good CTI will provide better insights into cyber threats
- Security analysts can use CTI to boost cyber defense capabilities
- By gathering necessary data from various sources and analyzing them, security teams can take better action to neutralize threats
- CTI helps build incident response plans and respond in a timely manner to cyber attacks
- CTI tracks suspicious domains or IP addresses and helps avoid data breaches in the first place
GAVS offers end-to-end cybersecurity services to help businesses manage risk and build an effective cybersecurity program. Focused on people, processes, and platforms, our solutions cater to the full suite of organizational cybersecurity needs. To learn more, visit https://www.gavstech.com/service/security-services/.