Blog Post June 9, 2022

Threat Intelligence: The Human Element of Cybersecurity

Threat Intelligence: The Human Element of Cybersecurity

In today’s cyber world, full of uncertainty and constantly evolving threats and data obligations, have you ever wondered, “how can my organization protect itself against the unknown?” The quick answer to that question is threat intelligence, the human element that leverages cyber intuition and honed investigation skills to pre-empt attacks. Threat intelligence is actionable, timely, and provides context to threats. Let’s delve into the details and better understand all that threat intelligence has to offer the industry.

What is Threat Intelligence?

Threat intelligence gathers multi-source, raw, curated data about existing threat actors and their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). This cyber modus operandi helps analysts understand the tactics used by adversaries and identify signs or signals of their unauthorized presence in a target environment. In fact, it helps cyber analysts identify likely future targets by understanding their motivation, transferrable phishing campaigns, and other tools that could be applied from one target to another. For example, a campaign that uses stolen lawsuit information to target law firms could be modified to target healthcare organizations by using stolen malpractice litigation documents.

This knowledge and understanding of the adversary can prevent future attacks by helping organizations to develop defenses based on likely attack scenarios. In essence, threat intelligence is a way to proactively defend your organization and remain a few steps ahead of cybercriminals. It’s not a crystal ball, but it could be a money ball approach to cybersecurity.

Threat intelligence professionals threat hunt by proactively searching for suspicious activity indicating malicious or network compromise. It is often a manual process backed by automated searches and existing collected network data correlation. Other prevention and detection methods can only detect known and categorized threats. Below are some requirements for a threat hunting tool:

Practical Threat Hunting Tool Requirements:

  • Data from multiple sources (endpoint logs, endpoint protection product logs, and firewall events).
  • Ability to tie attacker tools, techniques, and procedures to The Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) mappings and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE).
  • Ability to import data and intelligence from community sources.
  • Integration into an organization’s existing alerting environment.

Proactive threat hunting quickly establishes itself as a critical pillar in security strategies and ensures situational awareness that other methods do not offer. This approach requires the expertise of cybersecurity professionals who can draw from the knowledge of a system’s specific functionality and connectivity. In addition, they understand the attacker’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and capabilities to expose potential attacks and compromises. For additional context, below are a few threat intelligence challenges and benefits:

           Threat Intelligence Challenges

  1. Requires a high level of expertise
  2. Requires insights into network assets beyond endpoint or single source of data
  3. A birds-eye-view of operations is necessary to understand behavior

           Threat Intelligence Benefits 

  1. Reduces overall business risk
  2. It prevents future attacks and financial loss
  3. Ramps up your IT landscape
  4. Attracts more talent and customers
  5. Creates staff efficiency

Who Should Invest in Threat Intelligence?

Threat intelligence adds value across security functions for companies of all sizes. When threat intelligence is integrated into an organization’s IT team, it can assist with adequately prioritizing and helping with incoming threats. Threat intelligence provides external insights and context when accurately prioritizing essential vulnerabilities. It also provides context around threat actors’ TTPs. Fraud protection, risk analysis, and high-level security processes become enriched by understanding threat intelligence’s high-level security knowledge.

Proactive threat intelligence and hunting require 24/7 continuous scanning, which is typically a challenge for organizations that struggle to source the right talent or have a low budget. A standard cost-effective solution can be to outsource the skill and expertise needed.

Move Beyond Automation: Take Charge

In today’s world, adding threat intelligence to your cybersecurity strategy is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity. It’s said to be the way of the future for detecting and responding to advanced threats. Threat intelligence assists with lowering cybercrime and data breach costs. There is a significant cybersecurity transformation, and organizations can’t be waiting around to be attacked anymore. The key is adding elements that strengthen your organization for battle— the human element within threat intelligence. Taking charge is more than a suggestion; it’s a critical move that, if not made correctly, will result in irreversible damages to pay.