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Considerations for Choosing the Right Threat Intelligence Platform

Posted on: June 07, 2021

Just imagine yourself looking for a home. You want your dream house to have a front porch and you start thinking about the number of rooms you want, the colors of your walls, and the flowers and veggies you’ll grow in your kitchen garden. The realtor shows you a condo and a bungalow. Which one would you choose? There’s more to a home purchase than just choosing the decor elements for your dwelling. You need to check on the roof condition, signs of any foundational damage, and most importantly the upfront down payments, interest rates, and other hidden costs when buying a house. Same goes for choosing a threat intelligence platform (TIP).

The first step to selecting a TIP—no matter open source or commercial—should not be about picking out the salient features, but understanding the job of a TIP.

What’s the Job of a TIP and Why do We Need it?

Every organization wants something unique from its TIP. However, for most of them, the main purpose of a TIP involves aggregation, analysis, and action. The job of advanced TIPs is to collect threat information from various internal and external sources and offer the capabilities to share and receive intelligence from multiple TI providers, ISAC members, peers, partners, and subsidiary organizations. TIPs have become the need of the hour as they can automate the aggregation, normalization, correlation, enrichment, analysis, and actioning of threat intelligence. This allows security teams to quickly identify, manage, and respond to threats. A TIP allows for sharing of intel in a bidirectional manner. Moreover, TIPs facilitate the management of threat intelligence and related aspects such as incidents, campaigns, threat actors, and their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). 

Choosing the Right TIP

Your first step toward choosing the right TIP should be determining the use cases that are driving your need for the platform. While choosing an appropriate TIP, organizations can look into the below-mentioned use cases or key considerations, and if the TIP is capable of performing the following functions, they must consider picking it for their security teams. 

Capability to automate threat intelligence lifecycle

If you are looking to manage disparate threat sources and collections in one place, you might have to deal with multiple threat feeds with different formats. Orchestrating all the threat data in a common and standard language requires a TIP that can acclimatize to a diverse range of formats. Such a feature can be found in today’s advanced, commercial TIPs that collect threat intel from various internal and external sources. These TIPs collect both structured and unstructured threat data and convert it to multiple formats, including STIX 1.x/2.0, MAEC, MISP, XML, YARA, CSV, OpenIOC, PDF, JSON, CybOX, Email, and others. They centralize all the sources and collections in one place, allowing organizations to collect, manage, and share threat intelligence with ISACs/ISAOs, partners, vendors,  regulatory bodies, clients, and others in a collaborative ecosystem. This is known as the hub and spoke sharing model.

Choose a modern-day TIP that can ingest and normalize threat data from both internal and external sources to create actionable intel. Such a TIP offers the ability to normalize structured as well as unstructured threat intelligence, which can be further converted into STIX format for easier threat data interoperability. If your TIP can normalize threat data, chances are it can correlate that data too. Pick a TIP that can organize the normalized data and filters out redundant information. Most importantly, it should be able to compare that data with curated information, determining correlations and connecting the dots to detect threat patterns.

Using a TIP to perform threat analysis and determine relevant threats can be tricky. The tremendous noise that comes with volumes of indicators feeding in everyday demands for a TIP that can identify relevant threats. Choose a TIP that can enrich heaps of IOCs from trusted internal and external intel sources and eliminate false positives to create contextualized threat data. With enriched intelligence in hand, incident response, security operations center (SOC), and red teams can drive faster analysis and action. You know you are on the right path to choosing your TIP if it can calculate the risk score of the IOCs and prioritize the actioning on relevant intel. Based on the confidence score, the TIP should be able to analyze threat intelligence, block IOCs, and add them to the SIEM watchlist. 

An ideal TIP has the capability to automate threat intel dissemination. It allows security teams to cross-share the enriched and analyzed threat intel among third-party vendors, ISACs/ISAOs, subsidiaries, peers, and others, enabling them all to engage in real-time, bidirectional threat intelligence sharing.

Intelligence to leverage the MITRE ATT&CK framework

With cybercriminals constantly evolving their tricks and tactics to compromise an entity, security teams are always on the lookout for top-notch tools that can help them visualize threat actor TTPs and identify trends across the cyber kill chain. Nowadays, advanced TIPs that leverage the MITRE ATT&CK framework come to the rescue of security teams. The framework is an organized representation of known threat actors’ behaviors collated into tactics and techniques, and presented in different matrices and STIX/TAXII formats. TIPs supporting the MITRE ATT&CK framework help security teams keep pace with the attackers and identify their new techniques.

Ability to automate and orchestrate

If you are looking to automate tasks to obtain quick and more actionable insights, adopt a TIP  that offers security, orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) capabilities. SOAR will enable you to automate security workflows by bringing together people, processes, and technologies in one place. Integrated with SOAR technology, TIPs allow organizations to detect the incidents, delineate the solutions, and automate the response. A best-of-breed TIP is infused with SOAR that enables organizations to improve efficiency, building a robust security posture. 

Power to integrate with legacy systems

Every organization faces the challenge of handling legacy systems. If you are dealing with legacy feeds with different formats and protocols, it’s high time you consider an advanced TIP. While some TIPs involve several modification and maintenance costs to ingest those legacy feeds, others come with integration options and distinguished abilities to ingest different kinds of data presented in multiple formats. Select the later one.

Capacity to create centralized governance

If you are dealing with information overload then you should look for an effective TIP that offers a centralized data management structure. This kind of a TIP will help you manage synchronized activities and governance workflows through the streamlined distribution of actionable threat intelligence with SOC, incident response, threat hunting, and vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) teams.

Why not go for a TIP that would enable you to create a multi-level intel view and a centralized threat dashboard tailored for different roles within your organization—security analysts, SOC and incident response teams, CISO, and threat sharing communities—to align governance with security operations.  

Ability to facilitate collaboration

With all that data being aggregated and handled by disparate security teams, it’s difficult to figure out who’s managing what? Hence, authenticating the data and coordinating with your peers is critical. For instance, if an indicator is identified, security teams won’t know how to deal with it but with collaboration and threat intelligence sharing, they can understand what the indicator relates to. 

Opt for a TIP that will help you share enriched and anonymized threat intelligence, including TTPs and IOCs with your partners via a coherent hub and spoke model. Such a TIP will allow you to collaborate with your partners to calculate threat potency via real-time validation, scoring, and blocking of threats using machine-to-machine indicator correlation of a trusted threat data pool. In a nutshell, choose a TIP powered by cyber fusion that promotes collaboration between organizations via coordinated threat response and intelligence sharing.

Every team has a leader or external stakeholder (in the case of trusted information sharing communities) who needs to be updated and notified about the relevant security incidents or threats. If you are facing challenges in sharing threat information with your management, you need a robust TIP that can centralize data and provide an easy way to share it with others, saving valuable hours on gathering and collating threat information. 

Potential to customize

With time, the threats your organization faces will change and so will your information requirements. Though this is reality, replacing your TIP every time is not possible. However, you can choose a TIP that is customizable to your organization’s growing and changing needs. A customizable TIP will allow you to choose the elements you need and discard the rest. For instance, in a modern TIP, you can customize rules to automate response workflows such as blocking malicious indicators in your deployed security architecture. 

Conclusion

Whether it’s the costs involved, customization features, integration with legacy systems, or automation and orchestration capabilities, you can have a lot going on in your head while choosing the right TIP for your organization.  Don’t pin your hopes on a list of features, count on the job you want the TIP to do. Consider making a checklist of what you need the TIP to do and for each entry on the list, note how the job is done now. For every TIP you’re assessing, learn how that TIP fulfills the items on your checklist. 

Cyware offers TIPs for both large and mid-market organizations based on the size of their security teams and budgets. Schedule a free demo now to learn more. 

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