Cyber Threat Intelligence: benefits and use cases
Cyber threat analysis and the breakthroughs it brings
The Cyber Security landscape is constantly evolving and Cyber Threat Intelligence plays a key role in helping companies understand the risks of different types of cyber attacks and how best to defend against them. It is also a valuable tool for reducing ongoing attacks.
Hackers and threat intelligence researchers are constantly playing cat and mouse. Researchers find and rectify threats, and attackers find new ways of getting around defences.
There are many definitions of threat intelligence and they are all united by the importance of information. Knowing the enemy’s intentions and means is a great advantage and allows you to guide the decision-making process of forecasting and mitigating possible threats in an optimal way.
Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is therefore an agglomeration of structured information with the aim of preventing or mitigating cyber attacks. Its aim is to identify threats and create a structure to support decision-making.
Cyber Threat Intelligence is evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and action-oriented advice on an existing or emerging threat or danger to assets. This intelligence can be used to influence decisions about the subject’s response to that threat or danger. — Gartner
Today, the cybersecurity sector faces many challenges: ever more persistent and devious cyber criminals, a daily flow of data full of extraneous information and false alarms on multiple unconnected security systems, and a severe shortage of qualified professionals.
Some organisations try to incorporate threat data feeds into their network, but don’t know what to do with all that extra data, increasing the burden on analysts who may not have the tools to decide what to prioritise and what to ignore. A Cyber Threat Intelligence solution can address each of these issues.
The best solutions use machine learning to automate data collection and processing, integrate with existing solutions, capture unstructured data from scattered sources and then connect the dots by providing context on cyber criminals’ indicators of compromise (IoC), tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP). Cyber Threat Intelligence is convenient, effective, timely: it provides context and can be understood by decision-makers.
Who can benefit from CTI?
Everyone! CTI is incorrectly seen by many as the domain of elite analysts. In reality, it adds great value to the security side for organisations of all sizes. When CTI is treated as a separate function within a broader security paradigm rather than as an essential component that enhances every other function, the result is that many of the people who would benefit most from it, do not have access to it when they need it.
Threat Intelligence Use Cases
The different use cases of Cyber Threat Intelligence make it an essential resource for cross-functional teams in any organisation. While arguably the most immediate value when helping to prevent an attack, Cyber Threat Intelligence is also a useful part of triage, risk analysis, vulnerability management and broad-based decision making.
Security analysts in charge of incident responses, report some of the highest levels of stress in the industry, and it is no wonder why: the rate of cyber incidents has steadily increased over the last two decades and a high percentage of daily alerts turn out to be false positives. When dealing with real incidents, analysts often have to spend time manually selecting data to assess the problem. Threat intelligence reduces pressure in several ways:
- automatic identification and rejection of false positives;
- enhancing alerts with real-time context, such as personalised risk scores;
- comparison of information from internal and external sources.
Security Operation Centre
Most security operations centre (SOC) teams have to manage huge volumes of alerts generated by the networks they monitor. The assessment of these alerts takes too long and many are never examined. Cyber Threat Intelligence addresses many of these issues, helping to gather threat intelligence more quickly and accurately, filter out false alarms, speed up triage and simplify incident analysis.
Effective vulnerability management means moving from adopting a “patch everything, always” approach, which no one can realistically ever achieve, to prioritising vulnerabilities based on actual risk.
Risk modelling can be a useful way for organisations to establish investment priorities. However, many risk models suffer from vague and unquantified outputs that are hastily compiled, based on partial information, unfounded assumptions or difficult to act upon. Cyber Threat Intelligence provides a framework to help risk models make defined risk measurements and be more transparent about assumptions, variables and outcomes. It can help answer questions such as:
- who are the threat actors using this attack and targeting our industry?
- how many times has this specific attack been detected recently by companies like ours?
- is the trend rising or falling?
- which vulnerabilities does this attack exploit, and do those vulnerabilities exist in our company?
- what kind of damage, both technical and financial, has this attack caused to companies like ours?
Leadership (in the field of security)
CISOs and other security executives need to manage the risk by offsetting the limited resources available with the need to protect their organisations from evolving threats. Cyber Threat Intelligence can help to map the threat landscape, calculate risk and provide security personnel with the intelligence and background to make better and faster decisions.
CTI therefore integrates people, processes and technologies to safeguard companies from cyber attacks that can cause significant damage, which is why it is important to adopt it in your security strategy.