Threat intelligence is described at its core as the art and science of understanding, analyzing, and countering potential and present cyber threats. It entails the proactive collection and analysis of data and information pertaining to dangerous digital actions. This data is converted into meaningful insights, allowing organizations to improve their security posture
The need for threat intelligence has been on the rise as cyber adversaries are growing more sophisticated, and their strategies, techniques, and procedures are continually evolving. Without threat intelligence insights, organizations are subject to various dangers, from data breaches and financial losses to reputational damage. To illustrate, malware, phishing attacks, ransomware, and zero-day vulnerabilities are just a handful of the risks that businesses face on a regular basis. Hackers are targeting not only huge corporations but also small and medium-sized businesses and people. Based on the Ministry of Communications and Digital of Malaysia (2023), 0.84% of SMEs have faced cyberthreat incidents, and 0.76% of SMEs have faced more than one cyber security incident.
Formerly, cybersecurity has been reactive, with organizations focused primarily on guarding against known threats. This technique, however, is no longer adequate. Hackers are continually creating new strategies, necessitating the adoption of a proactive defence posture by organizations. To illustrate, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) collaborated with the National Security Agency and SMEs Corporation Malaysia to implement the Matrix cybersecurity for SMEs (Ministry of Communications and Digital, 2023).
Threat intelligence enables organizations to anticipate and prepare for future dangers rather than simply reacting when an incident occurs. Hence, this article aims to explore the types of threat intelligence, gathering threat intelligence, analyzing it, using it for security, sharing it, and the challenges that come with it.
Types of Threat Intelligence
When it comes to threat intelligence, there is no such thing as a solution that fits all needs. It is classified into several varieties, each of which serves a specific purpose in the field of cybersecurity. This section explores the three types of threat intelligence; strategic, tactical, and operational that is widely used (Kaspersky, 2023).
Strategic Threat Intelligence
Strategic threat intelligence provides a high-level overview of the threat context. It is concerned with long-term trends, developing threats, and prospective hazards that may have an impact on an organization’s entire strategy. This intelligence assists top management in making educated decisions about cybersecurity investments and resource allocation.
Tactical Threat Intelligence
Tactical threat intelligence focuses on the dangers that an organization may encounter in the near future. It provides precise threat information, indications of compromise (IOCs), and attack paths. This information is extremely useful to security teams in their day-to-day operations and incident response efforts.
Operational Threat Intelligence
Operational threat intelligence integrates the strategic and tactical layers of threat intelligence. It provides security teams with actionable insights, assisting them in understanding the dangers relevant to their organization and taking proactive measures to defend against them. Operational intelligence is critical for optimizing security procedures and staying ahead of new threats. Consequently, knowing these various types and sources is critical for organizations trying to develop a strong cybersecurity strategy.
Gathering Threat Intelligence
Gathering accurate and timely threat intelligence is a key step in bolstering an organization’s defences in the digital field of cybersecurity. This section goes into the process, tools, and best practices for successfully and safely gathering threat intelligence.
Monitoring Network Traffic
Monitoring network traffic is one of the most important approaches for gathering threat intelligence. This entails continuous examination of data streaming through a company’s network. Suspicious trends, anomalies, or known harmful signatures can be discovered, providing vital information about current attacks. This strategy relies heavily on intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS).
The logs created by numerous systems and apps within an organization are a goldmine of data. The examination of these logs can identify anomalous activity, failed login attempts, and other indicators of potential dangers. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions are commonly used for log analysis, allowing for the correlation of data and the identification of security issues.
Utilizing Threat Feeds
Open-source or commercial threat intelligence feeds are an excellent source of real-time threat information. These feeds deliver the most recent threats, indications of compromise (IOCs), and malware signatures. Subscribing to credible threat feeds ensures that organizations are kept up to date on emerging risks.
Challenges of Threat Intelligence
There are various common challenges and difficulties that organisations may face in the changing realm of threat intelligence, often impeding the successful implementation of this vital discipline.
False Positives and Negatives
The existence of false positives and negatives is one difficulty. False positives happen when security systems confuse acceptable actions for threats, possibly overloading security staff with unnecessary alarms. False negatives, on the other hand, occur when actual dangers go undiscovered, resulting in wasted opportunities for mitigation. However, continuous monitoring and analysis aid in reducing false negatives, while machine learning enhances threat detection accuracy.
Excess of Information
The volume of threat intelligence data can be overwhelming, making it difficult for security teams to filter through massive amounts of data and detect serious dangers in the noise. On the other hand, the use of intelligent filtering and automation tools helps streamline data analysis.
Absence of Context
Threat intelligence data is usually devoid of context, making determining the severity and relevance of a threat challenging. Security teams may struggle to prioritize and respond effectively if context is not provided. However, the combination of threat intelligence and the organization’s contextual information on assets and network topology is helpful.
In short, threat intelligence is a critical asset in the ever-changing ways cybersecurity threats present themselves. Ultimately, the types of Threat Intelligence, the process of gathering threat intelligence, and its challenges are all key takeaways. Organizations can use threat intelligence to predict, prepare for, and mitigate a wide range of cyber-attacks, eventually protecting their digital assets, reputation, and sensitive data.
Condition Zebra provides Cybersecurity Solutions and Cybersecurity Training for public and private SMEs in various industries, including Financial Services (Banks and insurance), Government Ministries and agencies, and Government-linked companies.
Our mission is to utilize a unique strategy of combining key technologies with expertise in Information Security and Risk Management so that clients are fully prepared to prevent and deal with cybersecurity incidents.
Condition Zebra MSP (Managed Service Provider) offer two solutions:
1) MDR, or Managed Detection and Response, is a comprehensive cybersecurity service that combines advanced threat detection, real-time incident response, and continuous monitoring to protect organisations from cyber threats.
2) Information Security Awareness Program, To implement this program successfully, it takes a team of skilled professionals who can manage and implement the Security Awareness Program. This is where the expertise of MSPs like Condition Zebra plays an important role in providing the resources and skilled professionals who can provide guidance and support throughout the program.
Kaspersky (2023). Retrieved from: https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/threat-intelligence
Ministry of Communications and Digital (2023). Protecting SMEs from Cyber Attacks. Retrieved from: https://www.kkd.gov.my/en/public/news/19611-protecting-sme-from-cyber-attacks