Commodities are always in demand. Just like oil, threat intelligence has become an essential commodity. Everyone wants to leverage threat intelligence but actionable threat intelligence is not easily available. With a gargantuan amount of threat intelligence available from a plethora of sources, making it actionable and operationalizing it poses a challenge for organizations. If manual processes are employed to analyze and enrich threat data, the outcome isn’t efficient. Moreover, there are different types of threat intelligence, including strategic, technical, tactical, and operational, which require security tools powered by advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms for end-to-end lifecycle management. The important aspect is that organizations need to focus on scaling their threat intelligence operations.
Operationalizing Threat Intelligence at Scale is Challenging
Every organization can benefit from accurate and actionable threat intelligence as it provides the capability to protect critical resources, data, services, and business assets. Anyone in an organization, based on their role, can consume threat intelligence, including security operations, threat management, incident response, threat hunting, IT teams, and senior executives. Moreover, these intelligence consumers can contribute threat information to further fine-tune existing intelligence, create new intelligence altogether, or securely make their day-to-day business actions.
There is a huge amount of threat intelligence that companies can access to strengthen their cyber defence. While cost can be an impediment for commercial threat feeds, organizations can also access budget-friendly threat feeds from open source, government, and several industry sources. However, the pertinent challenges that security teams face comes from the task of ingesting, enriching, analyzing, actioning, and sharing the voluminous threat intelligence, which essentially poses a challenge of scale.
The scale problem lies in maintaining, managing, and making effective use of threat intelligence. Some of these challenges include handling structured and unstructured threat feeds available in different formats, ensuring your threat feeds are always up to date, and homogenizing threat intelligence into your security operations.
Furthermore, the process of fusing threat intelligence into security operations requires removing barriers in dissemination of threat intelligence when sharing with your vendors, peers, or information sharing community members, whilst ensuring that threat intelligence is enriched and carries the much needed context for the nature of business operations and relevant security threats.
The need to scale up threat intelligence would not exist if not for the significance of threat intelligence itself. A huge amount of threat intelligence is available but in reality, it is often raw data containing IOCs, and not actionable and high-confidence threat intelligence. Some organizations provide context to such threat data to produce more comprehensive threat intelligence specific to an industry or geographical region. However, often it is difficult to deduce threat intelligence that is specific to the nature of business at a particular point in time. This gap elucidates the need for organizations to scale threat intelligence operations.
It’s Time You Scale Up!
Today, every organization has a different approach toward employing its people, processes, and tools for cybersecurity use cases. The collaboration and communication between these three entities are not often effortless. However, collaboration is an important aspect to scale up threat intelligence. To foster enhanced collaboration and communication between the people, processes, and tools, organizations need to adopt technologies such as cyber fusion. This next-gen technology helps security teams consume and produce threat intelligence on complex threat campaigns, determine attacker trajectories, and connect the dots between threats and incidents.
The only way to harness the true potential of threat intelligence is to gain maximum benefit by fully leveraging that intelligence to facilitate rapid detection of and response to emerging threats. The need of the hour is modern-day threat intelligence platform (TIP) capabilities that come integrated within a comprehensive cyber fusion center that can drive the entire threat intelligence lifecycle management from ingestion to actioning and response in a fully automated way.
Modern-day TIPs integrate frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK Navigator that enable you to gain insights into adversaries’ TTPs to identify trends across the kill chain and produce contextualized intelligence. Such TIPs have made operationalization of different types of threat intelligence—strategic, tactical, technical, and operational—possible for security teams.
As threat intelligence continues to be the central theme in today’s cybersecurity programs, the need to scale threat intelligence capabilities has become vital for business and operational success. Organizations need to scale their threat intelligence operations, helping adopt a more agile and threat visibility-driven cybersecurity approach to proactively address threats.
Where to Focus?
To scale up their threat intelligence operations, organizations must focus on leveraging capabilities of cyber fusion centers that provide centralized capabilities for unifying their security operations centers (SOCs), incident response, and vulnerability management, and strategic planning activities. Their SOC teams must operationalize threat intelligence for alerting, monitoring, and blocking threats. By using threat intelligence, SOC teams can better handle alert triage and amalgamate it with contextualized threat intelligence to interpret the relevance of threats.
Besides, threat intelligence can help incident response teams analyze alerts by minimizing false positives and adding context to enrich alerts. During an investigation, threat intelligence can prove valuable in triage and potential infrastructure at risk.
When it comes to vulnerability management, streamlined threat intelligence operations can allow security teams to conduct risk-based analysis of vulnerabilities. Advanced cyber fusion centers can allow organizations with integrated next-generation threat intelligence platform capabilities that can help their security teams gain key insights into the vulnerabilities and threat actor TTPs.
Last but not the least is strategic planning. By having solved the scale challenge of threat intelligence, CISOs and security professionals can easily make strategic decisions on the cybersecurity processes that are suited to their organizations.
Operationalized threat intelligence enables security teams to rapidly and effectively convert threat information into security actions for detection and fill the defensive gaps to protect critical assets. Accomplishing highly effective operational security requires that an organization comprehends threat intelligence as a robust and comprehensive process and not just a product or service that can be simply bought off the shelf. Operationalizing threat intelligence allows security teams to seamlessly access and benefit from contextualized information.
Threat intelligence must be applied in different forms and with different use cases, including incident response, alert correlation and enrichment, and vulnerability management for future detection and prevention. To effectively scale threat intelligence, an investment must be made in overhauling the entire SecOps through cyber fusion that will enable an organization to truly unleash the potential of threat intelligence, and put that threat intelligence into action.
The threat intelligence market is still mushrooming. According to a Threat Intelligence Market report by MarketsAndMarkets, by 2025, the global threat intelligence market will reach $16.1 billion. As the role of security teams is becoming more prominent, their approach toward incident response is witnessing a shift from reactive to proactive. Security teams will be required to collaborate and communicate at different levels and drive their security operations through actionable threat intelligence that determines risks and outlines business goals. As more and more threat data becomes available for security teams, solving the scale challenge of threat intelligence will allow them to constructively predict and prevent threats at the earliest and deliver proactive threat response.
Akshat Jain is the co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) at Cyware.