Companies today need to keep tabs on many evolving cyber threats, from sophisticated malware to stealthy phishing attacks. Complicating matters is that different threat actors with varying motivations target sectors with specific attacks and tactics.
Cyber threat intelligence helps you stay ahead of attackers by providing a deep understanding of potential cyber threats and their origins. Here’s why this understanding is so important in today’s threat landscape.
Serves a Wide Variety of Users
The three main types of cyber threat intelligence show how this data can serve a wide variety of needs and roles.
Provides proactive cyber defense
Threat intelligence isn’t just about understanding threats but predicting them. With a clearer picture of potential security risks, you can fortify your cyber defenses in advance and transition from reactive to proactive security measures. The essence of proactive cybersecurity lies in anticipating threats before they manifest, which allows organizations to act rather than react.
At a fundamental level, cyber threat intelligence collects and analyzes data from various sources, both open-source and proprietary. This data could include anything from chatter on dark web forums about a new exploit to analyzing the behavior of new malware strains in a sandboxed environment. The objective is to derive actionable insights from this data.
For example, suppose an indicator of compromise (IoC) points to a particular IP address as being associated with a known command-and-control server for a specific botnet. In that case, you can configure your firewall to block traffic to and from that IP address automatically. Similarly, more advanced forms of intel might analyze heuristics or behavior patterns like the rapid movement of data to an external server or unauthorized attempts to escalate privileges on a system. Using this insight, security tools can proactively detect and counteract malicious activities.
Tailored security insights
A core tenet of the value of cyber threat intelligence lies in its ability to cut through the noise and offer specificity. While generalized threats apply across industries, many are more relevant to specific sectors, company sizes or geographies. For example, the recently observed xenomorph banking trojan is highly relevant only for financial institutions.
Cyber threat intelligence categorizes and prioritizes threats based on their prevalence or potential impact within specific industries. By analyzing attacks that have targeted similar institutions or monitoring threat actors known to target specific sectors, threat intelligence offers a precise view of the risk landscape for any given industry.
The digital profile and size of a company can determine its threat landscape. Larger corporations might face advanced persistent threats (APTs) and well-coordinated espionage, while smaller businesses might be more susceptible to broad-spectrum phishing campaigns or ransomware. Threat intel also accounts for these differences.
Lastly, companies face unique cyber risks based on their mix of third-party vendors, partners and suppliers. Threat intelligence provides insights into risks associated with these external companies. If a primary vendor or partner has been compromised or is consistently targeted, that poses a direct risk to you.
A couple of statistics also point to the growing value of threat intelligence in cybersecurity:
One problem with threat intel is that building an in-house threat intelligence gathering capability calls for significant resources—skilled personnel, advanced tools, continuous training and often, a global perspective. Many organizations, especially SMEs, may find this overwhelming. Some good options worth considering include:
Providing decision-makers with evidence-based, contextually analyzed, and relevant info about cyber threats is what makes good threat intel so powerful. At Nuspire, our cybersecurity consulting services include threat modeling, with actionable insights into the tactics and techniques most likely to be used against your organization.