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An Insider Look at the Basics of Threat Intelligence

Posted on April 1, 2019
An Insider Look at the Basics of Threat Intelligence

We have often heard it name-dropped during security planning meetings. The term “threat intelligence” has an intriguing flair to it and is starting to get lots of attention. In fact, threat intelligence investments keep going up year after year. Let’s dig into the subject and find out why.

What Is Threat Intelligence and What Is It for?

Threat intelligence is the knowledge gained from collecting evidence-based data on security threats and the vulnerability points that increase the risk of them occurring, and it can be used to quickly decide on the necessary responses to counter these cyber dangers.

Sources of TI data include facts on websites, such as domain owners, IP addresses, visitors’ geolocation, the status of SSL certificates and more. Threat intelligence software promptly analyzes online assets and provides insights that users can act upon. An invalid SSL certificate, for example, makes website forgery far more likely and should trigger a preemptive defensive response.

What Are the Most Common Myths about Threat Intelligence?

Even though many organizations have already gravitated towards TI and the practice has become quite popular, it is still surrounded by myths and exaggerated expectations. Here are some of the most prevalent ones.

Myth 1 — TI does little for cybersecurity

Reality: Attackers don’t stop hatching and launching new threats. Malware is getting more vicious and harder to combat while ransomware damage costs are predicted to hit $11.5 billion in 2019. Investing in TI allows companies to be proactive in their cybersecurity efforts by detecting vulnerabilities in their own infrastructure and spotting risks outside their traditional security perimeters.

Myth 2 — Threat intelligence is all about data feeds

Reality: Even though feeds are at the core of threat intelligence, simply reviewing raw data is not enough. The practice is about making sense of this information, putting it into context and correlating this knowledge with where the company stands, what its most valuable assets are, and the vulnerabilities that attackers might exploit. What’s more, necessary actions must then be taken to fix the weak links and reinforce suboptimal practices, or the number of damaging cyber attacks will not go down.

Myth 3 — TI is a redundant practice, as cybersecurity efforts will do

Reality: As the bad actors’ level of sophistication keeps advancing, searching for threats has become more complicated. When sticking exclusively to traditional measures, cybersecurity departments may act reactively and overlook upcoming attacks. Teams equipped with TI insights, on the other hand, can quickly analyze their situation so threats can be identified and acted upon in a timely manner.

How Can Threat Intelligence Be Evaluated?

How Can Threat Intelligence Be Evaluated?

In order to evaluate what kind of TI your business needs, consider the three attributes that threat intelligence possesses.

First, its tactical characteristic. It should supply information specific to what your organization needs, and in a ready-to-use format.

Secondly, it should provide context relevant to your sector. For instance, if you are a payment processor, you won’t need information targeting the music industry.

Third, and most important, it should support the automatic sharing of data for quick collaboration and decision-making. In this regard, having an API is essential for effective communication.

Who Can Benefit from Threat Intelligence?

The first category of those who can benefit from TI is, of course, large corporations. Having too much to lose, these companies recognize the advantages of the practice. And as losses from global attacks on big businesses escalate each year, they will continue to rely heavily on TI insights.

Looking at a specific context, the financial industry is on the radar of cybercriminals and, therefore, can greatly benefit from TI. Since they process multiple transactions worth loads of money, financial businesses and departments are the frequent targets of ransomware and spoofing. For that reason, such companies and divisions are required to constantly stay posted on the movements of threat actors and their criminal networks, as well as to monitor their own perimeters for weaknesses.

However, TI can also help small businesses deal with cybercrime. Since these companies think they are not attractive for hackers and do not have enough resources to implement essential cybersecurity measures, they may become easy targets for perpetrators. Threat intelligence can greatly help these firms by warning them about imminent threats and identifying exploitable gaps.

Can Companies Survive Without Threat Intelligence?

Cyber-attacks have become a leading threat to businesses and brands. Organizations increasingly realize that leveraging real-time threat intelligence can strengthen their security posture. However, having TI only helps if we can understand the data. This requires investing in professionals who can quickly analyze the information and come up with actionable solutions.

So, can businesses afford not to have TI? Only if being proactive is not high on the list of the company’s cybersecurity strategy.

Many questions continue to be asked about threat intelligence, but one answer remains the same — it’s a vital resource required by the times. TI will continue to evolve to identify the continually changing threats that it was designed to warn us against.

Would you like more inside information about how TIP can help you block malware and other threats?
Contact us at support@threatintelligenceplatform.com or sign up for a free trial.

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