cyber threat intelligence

Cyber Threat Intelligence: Know How to Keep Yourself Safe Online

Publish date August 18, 2019 Views: 547 Comments: 0

What is Cyber Threat Intelligence?

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) or Threat Intelligence is information regarding current or potential cyber-attacks that threaten an organization. The information is then organized and analyzed. Think of it like a collation of specific information pointing to past, current and future cyber threats. As you can imagine, this information is invaluable to companies and should be a vital aspect of their cybersecurity systems.

We’ve always been aware of the speed in which technology grows, but several decades ago could we have predicted how vulnerable entire organizations have become?

When a company’s data is threatened, the entire empire can fall down. Take for example the recent banking scandal where a cyber attacker stole personal information from 100 million credit applications which was made to Capital One – which is one of the largest banks in the US. This should never have happened, but they slipped through the net and got through the system. Financial institutions are increasingly more at risk from cyber attacks seeking personal data and Europol claimed that the financial sector is actually one of the most vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. How safe is your business?

Worryingly, the Capitol One data breach comes only one week after a similar cyber attack on Equifax, a US credit monitoring agency. The company agreed to pay out $700 million for a data breach that shared personal information of more than 145 million customers.

Cyber threat intelligence can provide a business with support based on their analysis and offer strategies and tools for companies moving forward. Threat intelligence is a form of security intelligence that provides information that is highly relevant to protecting the company from both external and internal threats. They also put the right tools, processes, and policies in place within the organization to gather the data and analyze for potential threats. Some threat intelligence companies also provide consultation services.

The real power in cybersecurity is the ability to detect potential attacks and more importantly, the ability to predict future attacks even before they reach their target. This information can greatly assist companies to prioritize their response times and speed up the decision-making process in order for them to put a better security system in place.

In this article

What is the Main Purpose of Threat Intelligence?

It’s to help you understand the risks from the most common type of cyber threats so you can put a security system in place to prevent them. The main types of threats are advanced persistent threats (APTs), zero-day threats, and exploits. Threat actors also pose a significant threat to many companies as they are the “faces” behind the threats; the people that make it happen.

Cyber Threat Intelligence consultants will help you gather your threat data together to analyze it in detail so you can put the most effective system in place. You may have documents, listing all the data breaches that have occurred in your organization over a set period of time, this might even contain specific information on the malware that caused the breaches, but if you haven’t done anything with the information or haven’t changed your cybersecurity then nothing has changed; your organization is still at risk, perhaps even more so now.

When the data is analyzed, specific elements are looked at in fine detail: current threats, existing vulnerabilities, attack vectors, threat actors that target your industry, exploited vulnerabilities and more. The data is then analyzed with a fine-tooth comb in order for the organization’s infrastructure vulnerabilities to be discovered.

Cyber threat intelligence encourages a change in approach when it comes to security. The idea of this approach is that you are then able to put a security system in place that can protect against any cyber threats before they hit your organization.

There are several different types of threat intelligence that can roughly be divided into these categories:

Tactical 

This generally looks at delivering information on known attacks as a direct response to action caused by cybercriminals. This method looks at supporting daily operations and provides real-time solutions. It looks at the techniques tools and tactics of attackers. The problem is that this is seen as a short-term solution and this category of intelligence can generate false positives.

Operational

This provides intelligence on near to immediate threats with a focus on threat actors (hackers/attackers) and looking at their activities, motivations, and capabilities. This type of threat intelligence helps teams from organizations look at specific incidents relating to any relevant investigations and helps support them through the process. Key components of this type of threat also involve looking at TTP (tactics), techniques and how to catch attackers before they hit.

Strategic

This type of intelligence focuses on current and future threat trends on the landscape and informs users about high-level cyber-risk that is normally associated with global events, foreign policy and internet movements that could affect the safety of a business. It helps organizations allocate a cybersecurity budget. This is by far the most complicated form of intelligence and can be expensive due to its human resource requirements.

Technical

This intelligence focuses on technical indicators relating to threat actors’ tools such as malware and campaigns. One of the most common sources of technical threat intelligence is cyber threat feeds which are shared by communities to communicate their latest threat knowledge. This type of intelligence is prolific yet short-lived as malware and other threat actor methods are constantly evolving. This type of threat intelligence works best alongside the other three methods: Operational, Strategic and Tactical for the most comprehensive protection.

Why Threat Intelligence is an Important Part of Staying Secure and Safe Online.

There are many reasons why businesses should use threat intelligence. These solutions act by gathering raw data from existing or potential threats and threat actors. The data is then analyzed to produce threat intel feeds and reports that can be used by the organization’s automated security control systems. Cyber Threat Intelligence exists to keep organizations informed of the risks from threats and advises how they can then protect themselves.

There’s a very logical argument that suggests that you cannot defend your business if you can’t see what type of threats are coming your way; this is the logic behind cyber threat intelligence. This type of intelligence will highlight the current threats on the landscape and let you know how vulnerable you are to this type of threat. Ignorance is most definitely not bliss when it comes to cyber-attacks.

Cybersecurity alone cannot protect your business. In fact, when major organizations have been victims of a serious data breaches they were all found to have cybersecurity in place. The problem is that this wasn’t and isn’t enough. These companies not only lost millions of customers’ personal information but they lost their reputation too – which can cost a business millions of dollars. It is said that approximately 75% of cyber-attacks are undetected – that is a statistic that should make any business want to up their security levels immediately.

It’s not wise to label cybersecurity as solely a technical problem anymore. Cyber threats and cyber attacks make a huge and occasionally devastating effect on businesses and can lead to loss of customers, significant financial loss, lawsuits, expensive audits, fraud and loss of confidence in your company brand. Data breaches need to be taken seriously and cybersecurity should not be an afterthought. Cyber threat intelligence allows organizations to look at cyber threats from a business perspective, allowing them to put appropriate measures into place.

Using threat intelligence is a smart move for businesses. Not only will you be able to constantly monitor threats that are targeted to key areas of your business but you will be able to learn the attack methods used. By looking at the current trends in attacks and matches them to your business profile, you will be able to identify what is a potential threat. Intelligence can reveal plans for cyber attacks on your systems and plans to obtain sensitive data such as customer profiles. You will also be able to see if information that belongs to your organization is being sold on the Dark Web. Intelligence can highlight where you are vulnerable and this is beneficial because it gives you intel on where to focus your cybersecurity.

A well-implemented threat intelligence system can allow you to stay ahead of the game and be up-to-date on the latest security threats. It will also create a proactive environment where you put solid measures in place to prevent future attacks.

Top Cyber Threat Companies and How They Can Help

Here are just a handful of Threat Intelligence Organizations that are making a difference right now:

Anomali Threat Platform

This platform provides its users with a unified way to identify cyber threats. It does this by collecting intelligence from premium threat intel feeds and then gives its users the chance to evaluate and purchase the information via the APP store. The Anomali Threat Platform has been specially designed to give analysts a decision making advantage whilst improving their awareness.

Webroot BrightCloud Threat Intelligence Services

This organization uses near real-time intelligence to integrate the information into the company’s network protection. It protects companies against malicious URLs, IPs, mobile apps and files. The platform works by scanning billions of IP addresses and URLs across millions of domains and millions of mobile APPs and uses machine learning to categorize each individual IP address, APP and URL according to how much of a threat it could be to the business.

The platform then feeds data into the cloud where it is then analyzed and correlated with other data points to provide an overview of the threat landscape.

Cisco Talos

Cisco Talos protects its customers by defending against known and emerging threats. It also detects new vulnerabilities in popular software and can intercept threats before they reach their target. The focus of this company is to track and correlate threats so that they can provide actionable threat intelligence. Cisco Talos is known to identify threats and threat actors fast so they can protect their customers effectively.

BlueVoyant Threat Intelligence Services

This company works by assessing emerging risks, monitoring a business’ external attack surface and delivering (near) real-time actionable intelligence that has been tailored to the specific business. They can reduce the risk of malicious IP addresses and domain attacks. The company can also assess third party risk based on the external monitoring of attacks and vulnerabilities.

Other Ways to Stay Safe Online

The only real solution to staying safe and protected online is to utilize as many different cyber-safety measures possible. Cyber threat intelligence will only work if used alongside other popular methods to keep you safe and secure online.

Firstly, you will need solid antivirus protection in place for your company Antivirus software can significantly reduce your risk of catching nasty malware and viruses. Use it along with threat intelligence and you’re being doubly smart.

The second safety measure we would suggest is the use of a VPN. A VPN or Virtual Private Network protects your data by encrypting the information end to end. This means that the data is made unreadable by anyone who may find the information in their hands. The only person who will be able to read the data is the key holder. A VPN provides a secure tunnel between your device and the internet. This is an effective method of keeping data safe from hackers.

Finally, using a password manager will ensure that your company data is virtually locked up and safe. A password manager does its job by keeping your passwords in one place and encrypting the information so only you (or your employees) can read the data. This ensures that sensitive information does not reach the wrong hands – therefore causing a data breach.

Conclusion

Your company cannot afford to not to take its online security seriously. Plain talk – if you are planning on taking shortcuts then you are putting your organization and its customers at risk. Each and every day there are new forms of malware being created and threat actors happy to put them to work. If the big corporations (with the best security systems) have been caught out then you are also at risk.

Utilizing cyber threat intelligence is a bold and smart move. You will learn about the latest cyber threats and be able to have your data analyzed for current, potential and future threats. Businesses with large customer bases are targets as are small businesses. If a data breach occurs then you will lose money, customers and your reputation. Minimize risk for the safest system and use as many online security measures as possible. Not only will a cyber threat intelligence organization give you the best opportunity to keep your data safe and secure but couple that with a decent AV package, VPN and password manager and you have all bases covered. Technology is moving at a rapid pace, stay safe and stay ahead of the game.

Article comments