Updated: Mar 27
What is Threat Intelligence?
Threat Definition: A threat is anything that has the potential to interfere with the normal operation of an information network process.
Threats include; APTs, Phishing, Malware, Botnets, DDOS, Ransomware.
Intelligence on the other hand is having knowledge of potential threats using human analysts or made know through events fed into a system. In today’s world, Intelligence has a broad meaning however, threat intelligence singles out some specific type of intelligence including the following:-
The attack vectors; these are the technical details about a particular attack.
Finished Intelligence; this is the results of human beings searching at every available data and arriving at a conclusion about a particular situation by predicting the likelihood of an outcome.
Human Intelligence; this includes any intelligence collected by humans. This includes information gathered from forums related to a particular suspicious activity.
Therefore, threat Intelligence is used mostly to describe the practice of gathering, standardizing and making sense of the data that is gathered from events of applications running on devices and general IT related infrastructure logs all around the world collected in real time. The information is harvested with the aim of assessing and improving the security posture of an organization.
Collection of security threat intelligence is a continual process that organizations undertake or ought to undertake over time. It combines a series of activities involving use of different technologies and tools working seamlessly together in order to achieve the required results.
The whole process of collecting security threat intelligence adds directly into other security operation processes eventually guarding the organization’s technological infrastructure from cyber-attacks.
Today’s threat analysts use industry leading technologies like machine learning coupled with big data in order to automate threat detection and inspection of security events as they filter out the threat intelligence from the innumerable collection of event logs that have been harvested from various networks.
Important elements of threat intelligence
An institution gathers a lot of information in their daily security operational tasks. However, for them to distinguish whether a particular event counts as a “security threat intelligence”, specific characteristics need to be checked to see if it qualifies to be categories as one. For us to fully understand the concept of Security Threat intelligence, the following are key elements of this discipline used to qualify security threat intelligence;-
Threat Intelligence Takes Place in Real Time: Monitoring of events in a network must be in real time. This is a very crucial aspect which is aided by advanced new technological innovations in organizations. In the old days, security analysts were tasked with manually sifting through lots of data for them to get a hint of a potential security risk. In today’s technology, we use advanced tools which have the ability to analyses and raise an offence immediately as intelligence is gathered.
Threat Intelligence Requires Data Collection, Standardization and Analysis: Aggregation of data from the network as events and application logs only is not enough. The use of advanced machine learning algorithms, pattern recognition and identification of threats in big data brings the best out of aggregated data adopting to a standardized way that is human friendly for human analysts to process.
Threat Intelligence Must Be Actionable: Real threat intelligence has to be actionable. The main aim of threat intelligence is not to gather and store data rather to produce actionable information that lead the way to an informed implementation of counter measures that affect the security posture of an organization.
Threat Intelligence Must Be Useful: IT organization have the ability to collect new threat intelligence. This is especially the case for new and advanced threats that have never appeared or seen before. In this case, this detection should be responded with a corresponding meaningful security policy that counters the particular vulnerability or etc.
Who Uses a Threat Intelligence?
Threat Intelligence is especially usefully to many players in the security landscape within organizations. The following are the teams directly interacting with the solution;
Security Operations Center (SOC) Teams: These are individuals who are tasked with continually overseeing and enhance the day-to-day security posture while monitoring, detecting, investigating and responding to threat reports and incidences. They are the central command point for an organization. They feed on telemetry gathered across organizations and interpret them with the aim to improve their environment.
Threat Intelligence Teams: This is a team that its primary objective is to analyze and make predictions concurrent to the contextual information observed between actors and campaigns carried out on networks. The Threat intelligence solutions come in handy to give a simplified library from which they can streamline their processes.
Management and Executive Teams: Threat Intelligence platforms provide the management with a single platform from which they can view security related reports. They mostly use the information gathered to better their decision making as they approach security matters.
Normalized data delivered to systems is used to automate and monitor security processes. The threat intelligence generate a "Cyber-no-fly list" of IoCs and other malicious details like IPs, domains etc. on which when added to other network systems help to effectively combat cyber attacks.
The following are possible security solutions that can be integrated with a threat intelligence solution:
What are the Benefits of Threat Intelligence?
Security Threat Intelligence has a number of advantages for the IT administrators and generally for the organizations that are directly impacted.
Improved Regulatory and Standards Standard Compliance: One of the reason a company would want to subscribe to threat intelligence is for compliance’s sake. There are some ISO standards that require this as one of the conditions for certification e.g. ISO 27001 standard. This is because, analyzed event logs that are compliant are indicative of a compliant organization with specific security standards.
Enhanced Threat Detection and Remediation: Threat intelligence feeds when integrated with other network security devices happens to be a full guard against cyber security threats. With this, the security administrators are in a position to detect and remediate any likelihood of an attack.
Simplified Security Operations: Automation of threat Intelligence significantly simplifies the threat lookup tasks, which are part of an important stage in hunting for malwares and other network related threats.
Timely Incident Response and Accurate Threat Detection: Threat Intelligence improves “Timely Incident Response” and “Accurate Threat Detection” security teams’ success in the following areas:
Minimizing unplanned work.
Managing top risks.
Avoiding major incidents.
Running cost effectively