Threat intelligence, or cyber threat intelligence, is information every organization can use to understand threats targeting them.

The need for threat intelligence

Organizations can use cyber intelligence to analyze threat data, gain valuable information of potential adversaries, and use it to prevent or mitigate attacks. This information can help understand attacker motives and capabilities, enabling you to prepare, prevent, and identify cyber threats lurking around and looking for an opportunity to breach.

Threat intelligence prepares organizations to be proactive with predictive capabilities and take on any cyber-attack. Without clarity on existing security vulnerabilities, threat indicators, and attack approaches, it is impossible to combat cyber-attacks effectively. Using cyber threat intelligence, security professionals can prevent and contain attacks faster, saving cost & reputation in the event of an attack. Threat intelligence can elevate enterprise security capabilities at every level, including network and cloud security.

When implemented in the right way, threat intelligence can achieve the following objectives:

  • Ensure you stay up to date on the volume of threats, including methods, vulnerabilities, targets, and bad actors.
  • Help you become more proactive about cybersecurity threats.
  • Keep leaders, stakeholders, and users informed about the latest threats and its repercussions on business.

Key trends and players in the threat intelligence space

Experts forecast the threat intelligent market to grow double-fold within the next five years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a considerable rise in the number of targeted attacks and APTs. BFSI and healthcare sectors have shown a drastic surge in demand for threat intelligence.

Moreover, companies are now adopting IoT technologies to reduce costs and improve employee productivity to embrace the digital era. However, these revolutionary internet-connected devices have security vulnerabilities. Threat intelligence vendors incorporate AI-ML-driven solutions to address the critical threats of a sophisticated inter-connected workspace. Some of the leading threat intelligence solutions include Symantec’s DeepSight and IBM’s X-Force Exchange. Other leading providers include FireEye, Check Point, Trend Micro, McAfee, Kaspersky, etc.

Types of Threat Intelligence

Strategic Threat Intelligence
Strategic threat intelligence is for non-technical audiences (high-level executives, management teams, etc.). The goal is to make them understand the broader threat trends and their impact on the organization’s technical and threat landscape.

Tactical Threat Intelligence
Tactical threat intelligence focuses on detailed descriptions of threat actors by providing TTP (tactics, techniques, and procedures) information. IT service managers, security operations managers, NOC, admins, etc., can use this information to look for Indicators of Compromise (IoC) evidence like IP addresses, URLs, and domains to detect future attack attempts.

Technical Threat Intelligence
Technical threat intelligence provides technical details on specific cybersecurity threats, such as attackers’ resources, tools, traffic channels, or subject tags of phishing or fraudulent emails. Security operation teams can use this information to gain insights and formulate actions while responding to any attack. However, this type of intelligence has shorter life spans as attackers can change the TTPs rapidly.

Operational Threat Intelligence
Operational threat intelligence helps security incident response managers, network defenders, and forensics teams understand the nature of specific breaches or attacks by analyzing attack factors like intent, timing, and sophistication. This form of intelligence can enable security teams to address future attack occurrences more effectively.

Threat Intelligence Use Cases

Threat intelligence can help an organization stay proactive and prevent any upcoming threats and threat actors. Here are a few use cases on threat intelligence that is of immense value.

Vulnerability remediation prioritization
It is common in organizations to use vulnerability scanning tools to perform network scanning or misconfiguration scanning to detect critical, high, and medium vulnerabilities. After detection, most organizations find it challenging to find a solution to mitigate the vulnerability. Threat intelligence can provide clarity by finding the right solution based on threat feeds, threat vectors, attack techniques, urgency, and the impact of those threat feeds. By considering the impact and urgency of threats, organizations can prioritize these vulnerabilities and remediate them.

Enrich existing security technologies
Organizations can integrate threat intelligence with existing security technologies and security processes to improvise decision making and enable incident response and enforcement of security policies.

Indicators of compromise (IoC) investigation and response
Threat intelligence enables threat hunting to search for new Indicators of Compromise, including domains, IP addresses, URL patterns, compromised websites, email addresses, malware hashes, file path, hashes, etc. Newly identified threat intel can enrich the speed and accuracy of the organization’s incident response and overall security posture. It also provides information and intelligence from internal/external sources and experiences that could effectively enhance cyber defenses.

Threat intelligence provides the much needed context to enable better, informed decisions. Knowing the threat actor’s next move is only possible by leveraging threat intel, as it proactively helps in customizing your defenses and prevent any future attacks. Threat intel can provide decisive insights to security stakeholders, empowering them to take on any unknown threat. Be it any organization of size and scale, threat intelligence can provide higher protection levels, reduce costs, and strengthen security teams with actionable data to stay ahead of attackers.

Credits to Subject Matter Experts:

Rakesh Sardesai - SOC Manager, Sandeep Sharma - Senior Delivery Manager, Anton Ignatius - Lead Consultant.


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