What Is Threat Intelligence?

Threat Intelligence

The intensifying race between different businesses and organizations racing to have an online presence has increased the risk of cyberattacks by manifolds and the need to have a strong cybersecurity system has never been direr. In recent years, cyber-attacks have caused organizations hundreds of million dollars and this is precisely the reason why cybersecurity experts are in great demand across the world. Companies are hiring experts to ensure that there exist no loopholes in their security systems.

This is where threat intelligence steps in, threat intelligence deals with the know-how and understanding of the various steps and means to alleviate or block potential cyberattacks. Data forms the basis for performing effective threat intelligence, IT experts or an artificial intelligence system designed by them scans an extensive list of data and screen out the relevant information that may pose a risk to an organization’s data. Threat intelligence enables the experts to identify bugs and make an informed decision regarding the weak spots in their systems and act accordingly.

The increasing number of potential threats has made it impossible to manually look for discrepancies in the data, therefore machine learning and AI have now emerged as a way for efficiently collecting data and providing clues as to where a bug is hiding.  Threat intelligence is crucial in this age of cybercrimes and it provides the following benefits:

  • The nature of threats continues to evolve with every passing minute, it is only through threat intelligence that we can identify various forms of threats.
  • Threat intelligence enables cybersecurity experts to mend their defenses in sync with modern-day bugs and threats.
  • The importance of threat intelligence can be evaluated from the fact that global threat intelligence security services expenditure has risen to nearly $1.7B in 2019.
  • Since countering cyber-attacks costs a good amount of money, threat intelligence helps by reducing the total costs, which in turn benefits a company as a whole
  • The technique allows for an efficient decision-making process and helps in the speedy and safe delivery of goods and services.

How does Threat Intelligence work?

Threat Intelligence works by scanning and analyzing data and then indicating potential threats which allow IT experts to act accordingly. As mentioned above, an increasing amount of data and threat alarms have made it nearly impossible for a human to check long arrays of data. Therefore, experts have developed clever machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) systems that make the task of a person in charge much easier.

Threat intelligence evolves the reactionary process to the next level, it is a kind of a pre-emptive strike that disables the abilities of a threat actor from posing risks to the critical data of an organization or a government. Threat intelligence works just like a routine intelligence and process in a way that it informs an organization’s IT experts of an incoming attack, which empowers them to prepare for the worst and prevent millions of dollars worth of damage to the company.

Skills required for cyber threat intelligence:

The skills required to become a good analyst in the field of cyber threat intelligence are quite similar to becoming an intelligence officer in a security agency. Some of the important skills that you’ll need to master in the field of cyber threat intelligence are as follows:

  • Reverse engineering has found its use in the field of IT as well. In order to counter the threats from a criminal activity, you need to have the skills to reverse engineer the enemy’s attack. In this way, you’ll get to know the techniques a threat actor is using against you.
  • Red teaming is the practice of simulating an incoming cyber attack and testing a company’s network and security defenses against it. This is one of the most crucial skills that you’ll need to learn if you are planning to excel in the field of threat intelligence.
  • Incident response is a well mannered and calculated approach to any event where there has been a security breach or a cyberattack. The skill is important in minimalizing the damage done by a threat actor.
  • It may seem like a basic skill, but analysts in this field are required to write reports to their supervisors to report them about the actions they have taken and how they have done the task. Therefore, report writing is a skill that you need to learn to have great communication with your seniors.
  • There are several tools that are used to handle cyber threats. Hands on knowledge and expertise in working with these tools is a crucial skill that companies expect from you. Furthermore, learn how to practically apply the theoretical knowledge that you have learned.

Why do companies need threat Intelligence?

Cyber threat intelligence has now found its usage beyond the parameters of governments. Different organizations are now utilizing this tool for a variety of purposes. Some of its uses are mentioned below:

  • Threat intelligence connects several vague dots by examining the data and filtering out unnecessary information to convey the required useful data, which in turn helps IT experts.
  • Companies are always looking for ways to cut their costs, cyber threat intelligence can be of great help in this regard as this system automatically detects potential threat actors and does not require individuals to sift through every bit of data.
  • The system is essentially the embodiment of “Nipping the evil in the bud”, as the bug is identified in early stages and is then eliminated which provides peace of mind at a later stage.
  • No matter how strong your cyber defense system is, there always exists a weak spot. Threat intelligence pinpoints such weak spots and enables a company to further strengthen its defenses.
  • Compromise assessment can help in recovering already compromised data. It uses threat alerts fed by global networks in recognizing a threat actor and acting in order to timely recover compromised data.
  • It may be possible that you are aware of an existing malware, but other organizations aren’t aware of it. You can inform others of the impending danger using the information gathered with the help of CTI so that organizations can take effective action in time.

What tools do threat intelligence professionals use in their day to day activities:

The number of tools available for intelligence professionals have increased with the increase in cyber-attacks. These tools can be of great help to you when looking for kinds of malware from which you want your system to be protected. Depending upon your needs, you can either opt for commercial or open-source tools. Some of the most  well-known and proven tools are mentioned below:

  • Virustotal:

Virustotal is your best choice if your organization has to deal with cyber threats without spending any money. The tool is widely used by IT professionals across the world and can provide a quick reference regarding several kinds of indicators that can compromise your data.

  • RSA Security:

RSA is a leading player when it comes to computer and network security. Their Netwitness program covers a wide range of parameters when looking for malware in the data. A wide range of data widens the scope and allows the experts to act against some bugs they were previously unaware of.

  • Anomali:

Anomali is a free software that utilizes techniques based on machine learning to better counter the threats. The tool is capable of harnessing data that can be used at a later stage. The tool is a favorite among many organizations in part, because of its free availability.

  • IBM X-Force Exchange:

The IBM X-Force Exchange is a cloud-based threat intelligence tool developed by the all-time famous IT company IBM. The cloud-based system gives IT experts an access to the latest research available regarding potential threats. Furthermore, IT specialists can connect with experts at IBM to discuss further problems, if they have any.

  • AT&T Cybersecurity:

The US cellular giant AT&T also offers cybersecurity assistance, its cybersecurity subsidiary was founded in 2011 and the platform has since then grown rapidly. According to some reports, it had over 65,000 participants in 2017 who contributed approximately 15 million threat indicators on a daily basis.

What are professional threat intelligence certificates?

Threat intelligence analysts are in great demand across the world. Companies are looking for professionals who are qualified enough and have the required skills to counter day-to-day cyber threats. However, having a professional threat intelligence certificate can increase your chances of getting a job in this field by severalfold. These certifications are issued by various organizations and they act like a certification stamp on your threat intelligence skills and such certifications can open up new avenues for you to practice the skill.

Below are some of the well-known and accepted professional threat intelligence certificates:

  • C|TIA – Certified threat Intelligence analyst
  • RCIA – Rocheston Cyberthreat Intelligence analyst
  • GCTI – GIAC Cyber threat intelligence.
  • CTI (Center for TI) certificates.
  • The OSINT Pathfinder Program.