The complexity of the terms used in this blog title may seem alarming, but hold in there tight and let it not scare you. In this blog, we are taking you in for a deep dive to help you understand Cyber Threat Intelligence, the need for it and the means to effectively use a Threat Intelligence Platform.
Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI)
Let us begin by understanding what Cyber Threat Intelligence does and what it is commonly used for.
In order to better understand this topic, you will be exposed to a few terms in the length of the blog.
Cyber Threat Intelligence, or CTI as we call it in short, is the data that is collected, processed, analyzed, and examined to find the person involved in the act of exploiting a vulnerability and committing a cybercrime. These infiltrators are referred to as threat actors. The data collected with the help of Threat Intelligence Platforms enable us to not only detect the threat but also help understand the actor’s behaviour and the motive behind the act. Threat intelligence enables organizations to make faster and more informed decisions to secure data worth millions from being breached and exploited.
Why is Cyber Threat Intelligence essential?
- It helps in proactively setting up a defense shield in place to be prepared in the case of future cyber-attacks.
- It helps the security teams to make more informed decisions.
- It helps the security team not just focus on shielding but also helps in understanding the attack actor’s motives, their victims, and the industries they target by observing their behaviour and movements.
- It helps in understanding the mind of the attack actor better.
- Like dominos, figuring out the attack actors can help understand their strategic plans and help in identifying a lot more of their company.
- It helps cybersecurity service providers reveal their adversarial motives and the TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures).
- It helps organizations to invest wisely in risk mitigation.
Threat Intelligence Lifecycle
The raw data collected to track the attack actors should be first processed to become a finished Threat Intelligence lifecycle. The intelligence cycle enables teams to be optimized and ready to respond effectively to sophisticated threats in the cyber landscape. This threat intelligence lifecycle involves a 6-step process.
Step 1 – Requirements
It is a crucial stage since it sets a roadmap for the threat intelligence operation and enables the team to have a planned strategy when needed. The team works as a single unit to come out with the goals and methodology to be used for the intelligence program, which is based on the needs of the stakeholders. They first set out to identify:
- Who are the attackers & what are their motives
- What is the attack surface
- What are the specific measures to be taken to strengthen the defence against future attacks?
Step 2 – Collection
After the team is done with setting the requirements, they then collect the information that is required to meet the objectives set in the requirements stage. The data that is collected is the one that is available publicly on social media platforms and that is relevant to the subject that is being dealt with at that moment.
Step 3 – Processing
The collected data is processed in this stage. This involves a sequence of steps that helps organize the collected data in a friendly format to analyze. Ordinarily, the data is categorized on spreadsheets as decrypted, translated from foreign languages, and evaluated for relevance and reliability.
Step 4 – Analysis
The processed data is now analyzed in order to answer the requirements questions. In this phase, the team works to decipher the data obtained into action items to provide valuable recommendations to the stakeholders.
Step 5 – Dissemination
In this stage, the threat intelligence team works on translating the analysis into a more fundamental form that is easy to understand. It is important to present the most complex topics with less technical jargon and in layman’s terms.
Step 6 – Feedback
This is the final stage of the threat intelligence lifecycle that helps with getting feedback on the report that is presented. The report is further scrutinized to determine if it requires adjustments to meet the threat intelligence operations in the future.
Approaches to Cyber Threat Intelligence
There are three ways in which cyber threats can be approached.
This helps to understand the attack actor through their behavior, activities, victims, and which industry they target. This is crucial because these aspects help us to understand the actor and allow us to use the advantage to know his associates and the surface attacks that they involve themselves in.
By using MITRE and ATT&CK matrix, one can learn the techniques used by the attack actor. But, TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) are no longer enough to understand the techniques the attackers use; it is essential to grasp a clear idea of the sub-techniques used in these vicious threats. Cyber Threat intelligence helps with this.
This is the technical aspect that helps with IoC (Indicators of Compromise). IoC helps to identify the presence of an invasion and helps in identifying a potential technical element that has surfaced.
What are Threat Intelligence Platforms?
To put it simply, a Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) is a tool that is used to collect intelligence on a threat. A TIP is a very active defence mechanism that is used by businesses these days to protect themselves from future cyber threats.
Role of a TIP
The role of a Threat Intelligence Platform is:
- To collect data from several sources
- To compile the data that is collected from various places and make it relevant to the requirements of the stakeholders.
- To be able to correlate with other detection tools
A TIP is therefore supposed to be able to normalize, ingest, prioritize, correlate, translate and recalculate the data each time new data is collected, with the aim to anticipate future threats.
In conclusion, it is understood that CTI plays a vital role in not only identifying threats but also in identifying the attack actors. One might ask if it is essential to find the attack actors when the priority is to set things straight and ensure the damage is fixed. But, in truth, as much as the threats are detected and fixed, it is of high importance, if not more, to identify the attack actors behind the cyberattacks to make sure and understand why attack actors focus on a certain industry, their behaviours and how to exploit their association with the other attackers. This will enable any organization to be one step ahead and keep security intact.