Introduction

Let us start with the cyber threat intelligence definition. It is the data collected, analyzed and processed to understand a threat actor’s targets, motives and attack behaviour. Cybersecurity threat intelligence enables one to make informed, faster, data-backed security decisions putting one in a position to change reactive responses in cyber threat management to proactive behaviour in the fight against threat-actors.

  1. Benefits
  2. Threat-intelligent lifecycle
  3. Types of Threat Intelligence
  4. Tools of threat intelligence

1) Benefits

In cyber threat intelligence security, APTs (advanced persistent threats) and defenders are in a constant race to outmanoeuvre each other. Cyber threat intelligence is important because:

  • It sheds light on the unknown threats enabling security teams in the decision process.
  • It empowers the stakeholders by revealing the motives of adversarial TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures). 
  • Helps security professionals understand the threat actor’s decision-making process.
  • It empowers business stakeholders, to invest resources, mitigate risk and become more efficient through faster decisions.

2) Threat-intelligent lifecycle

The process of transforming raw data into decision-making finished intelligence is called the threat intelligence lifecycle, and its goal is to lead the cyber threat intelligence security team through the development to execution cycle of threat intelligence programs. The lifecycle of data has 6 stages. 

1. Requirements

The requirements stage undertaken by the team sets the roadmap for a specific threat intelligence operation. At this stage, the team will agree on the cyber threat intelligence framework, methodology, goals etc., of their intelligence program based on the stakeholder needs. 

2. Collection

Having defined the requirements of cyber threat intelligence, the team collects the required information. 

3. Processing

The raw data is then formatted in an analysis-suitable format for further processing. 

4. Analysis

Next, the team analyzes the data for probable answers and works to decipher the dataset into valuable recommendations and actionable items for use by the stakeholders.

5. Dissemination

This phase translates the analysis of cyber threat intelligence into data-based results and digestible format before being presented as recommendations to the stakeholders in a concise form. 

6. Feedback

The feedback loop on the report allows for adjustments being made for future threat intelligence operations and stakeholder changes in priorities.

Threat intelligence use cases:

Cyber threat intelligence has benefits across the organization, helping persons in various roles understand threat data better and thus respond faster proactively. Some use cases by the function are:

  • Sec/IT Analyst- Optimize threat detection, defences and prevention capabilities.
  • SOC- Prioritize high-risk incidents and assess the impact on the organization.
  • CSIRT- Accelerate prioritization, investigations and management of incidents.
  • Intel Analyst- Detect, track and uncover the actors behind the threat.
  • Executive Management – Understand risk, options, impact and responses to the threat.

3) Types of Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence on potential or existing threats needs an understanding of what is threat intelligence, its analysis and the context of CTI, which can be broadly grouped into 3 types catering to different needs, costs and depending on client needs.

Tactical Threat Intelligence

Tactical intelligence is advanced threat intelligence focusing on the technical and immediate future threats and IOCs (indicators of compromise) and can be URLs, bad IP addresses, file hashes, known malicious domain names etc. API integration and security products can find these threats as they are machine-readable. Tactical cyber threat intelligence is always automated, has a short lifecycle and is easy to generate. 

Operational Threat Intelligence

Cybersecurity professionals study their adversaries in operational cyber threat intelligence, figuring out the attribution (who), intent (why), threat actor TTPs (how) behind the attack. Data is used to provide the threat intelligence framework, context and arrive at insights in operational intelligence. It is more costly and has a longer lifecycle. 

Strategic Threat Intelligence

In strategic intelligence, foreign policies, global events, and local/international factors and movement are accounted for and gauge the impact on cybersecurity of an organization. Such reports are expensive and difficult to generate.

4) Tools of threat intelligence

Cyber threat intelligence tools help organizations ingest intelligence, plan and execute actions, which help justify the intelligence investment and maximize its impact. Some of the benefits of threat intelligence tools like the Falcon X, which is CrowdStrike’s intel solution, are

  • It provides tailor-made organizational and integrated intelligence. 
  • It automates the process of threat investigation. 
  • It saves time and helps prioritization of threats. 
  • It offers fully-automated investigations and seamless solutions.
  • The tool kit includes malware search, analysis and global IOC feed. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, threat intelligence tools help one reap the benefits of cyber threat intelligence. Threat intelligence definition and data on a threat actor’s next move is crucial to proactive behaviour and tailoring defences to preempt future attacks. Modern threat intelligence tools/solutions today operate in real-time and are highly automated, enabling all team members, team sizes etc. exploit cyber threat intelligence data better. SMBs especially use this threat intelligence data for a higher level of protection. At the same time, larger enterprises see benefits in leveraging data better across the entire board of roles and use cases of large teams.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.

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