It is widely understood that cybersecurity is a catch-up game, and a constant battle between security practitioners who are trying to protect information, and the bad actors who would steal and exploit it.
And one of the greatest weapons in the cybersecurity professional’s arsenal, is threat intelligence. Gartner describes threat intelligence as “evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice, about an existing or emerging menace or hazard to assets that can be used to inform decisions regarding the subject’s response to that menace or hazard.”
This covers any information that enables a business or other entity to prevent or mitigate attacks. It comes in many forms, and is gathered from open sources, social media, underground forums and the dark web. It provides context, such as who is attacking your organisation, what their motives and capabilities are, and what indicators of compromise in your systems you should be looking for. Ultimately it helps organisations make better, more informed decisions about their security.
All good cybersecurity strategies need reliable threat intelligence, as this is a critical to enhancing security processes, updating playbooks, implementing tools, and making decisions about security resources and where they should be deployed.
And as with all tasks that are onerous and require sifting through mountains of data, automating threat intelligence is key to a solid security strategy. It leaves the mundane, time-consuming and repetitive tasks to the computers, which are configured to handle data and have the intelligence built in to identify trends and patterns.
Automation not only improves the accuracy of threat intelligence, and eliminates mistakes, it is far faster that any human intervention, ensuring the relevant information is sent to those who need to know as quickly as possible.
It also helps organisations identify their vulnerabilities. While many focus on the threats that lay beyond the company’s walls, internal threats can be even more damaging. Automated threat intelligence can find any weaknesses in the security chain, and alert the business to them before they become a serious problem.
For security operations centres (SOCs), threat intelligence enables the proactive mitigation of threats and it equips them with critical additional context around what they are seeing, which makes it easier for them to prioritise, facilitates and respond effectively. In a nutshell, it helps them grasp what they are looking at, and helps them to do this quickly, reducing risks before they endanger the company.
By enabling SOCs to see beyond their perimeters, automated threat intelligence makes them aware of the problem before it hits their systems, giving them the time they need to prepare and tweak their defences accordingly. And in the event of an incident, the additional context this intelligence provides, gives them an understanding of who might be behind the attack and what their motivations are, which makes it easier to prevent and respond to such events in the future.