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5 Steps to Effective Cyber Threat Intelligence Program

Posted on: June 07, 2021

Several organizations take a rudimentary approach to cyber threat intelligence. For instance, they depend on their endpoint or network security vendors who monitor the attack patterns, develop countermeasures, and share them with their customers. This is nothing but a baby step toward defense. Secondly, they equate threat intelligence with indicators of compromise (IOCs). Threat intelligence researchers report the malicious things as IOCs and block them, which is useful, but very basic.

Another issue is organizations’ modest use of threat intelligence feeds. Often, they use in-house tools for threat intelligence management or ingest IOCs into their SIEM platforms and conduct inadequate analysis. All these approaches are not beneficial in the long run. Organizations need to extract more from threat intelligence in order to stay ahead of their cyber adversaries. To begin with, they need to commit to a cyber threat intelligence program and also strategize it.

The Need for Threat Intelligence Programs 

Cyber threat intelligence programs become tactical in nature when organizations limit themselves to IP and file watchlists. However, cyber threat intelligence programs have a significant role to play, from combating non-commodity attacks to comprehending the impact of established ransomware or other threat campaigns. Moreover, the effectiveness of a cyber threat intelligence program is measured in terms of how well security teams are taking advantage of every aspect. Only if security teams fully leverage the cyber threat intelligence programs in place can they respond faster, reduce risk, and strengthen an organization’s overall cybersecurity posture.

From gaining a deeper understanding of potential threats to creating mitigation controls, security teams reap plenty of benefits from threat intelligence programs. If you have a threat intelligence program in place, you can improve situational awareness, identify threats and attackers’ TTPs, effectively mitigate threats, and gain actionable intelligence specific to your organization.

Tips to Execute Threat Intelligence Programs

Putting a cyber threat intelligence program in place and communicating it to other team members can be tricky. If an organization has a cyber threat intelligence program but isn’t encountering many attacks, there are chances that the program is not adding any value. The effectiveness of a cyber threat intelligence program also becomes questionable if incidents keep occurring despite tremendous efforts to gather massive volumes of threat data. Here’s how organizations can build an effective cyber threat intelligence program:

Step 1: Automate threat intelligence lifecycle

Remember that the threat intelligence lifecycle is an ongoing process that involves different stages—collection, normalization, correlation, enrichment, analysis, and dissemination. The first step to building your threat intelligence program is to understand your intelligence requirements. Once you know your requirements, it’s important to collect the information needed to fulfill those requirements. This involves the use of a threat intelligence platform (TIP) to collect intel from multiple internal and external sources. After collecting the data, normalizing, correlating, and enriching it enables you to create meaningful intel.

You need to include the use of TIPs in your threat intelligence programs. Leveraging a TIP will let you deliver enriched intelligence through automated intel dissemination to different internal teams for quick analysis. Moreover, you can share this enriched intel with external entities, such as third-party vendors, ISACs/ISAOs, peers, and subsidiaries, building a secure and collaborative ecosystem.  

Step 2: Add context to your data

With new vulnerabilities, exploits, and malicious IP addresses being regularly identified, your threat intelligence must include new and updated information. Only good threat intelligence can provide relevant context, and a true TIP helps you with that. Making advanced TIPs part of your threat intelligence programs will allow you to automate monotonous tasks, eliminate false positives, and lower overall triage time for alerts. This will help you channelize relevant and context-driven threat intelligence in real-time. 
 

Step 3: Ensure collaboration

Collaboration plays an important role in a successful threat intelligence program. It’s imperative to share threat intelligence between your teams, sharing communities, vendors, customers, and other stakeholders. To make this a reality, collaboration between all these entities is a must. Adoption of technologies such as cyber fusion promotes inter-team collaboration and makes threat intelligence sharing easier. 

By bringing together people, processes, and technologies under one roof, cyber fusion enables automation and orchestration of security workflows. The inclusion of cyber fusion in a threat intelligence program provides a proactive and unified approach to incident response and helps eradicate the silos present in response operations.
 

Step 4: Integrate with other tools

The ability to integrate your TIPs into other platforms can prove effective in building successful threat intelligence programs. Look for a TIP that has the capability to integrate with other solutions, ensuring meaningful threat intelligence for your team.

Moreover, integration of your threat intelligence solution should not mean disposing of threat intelligence into one place but it should be added into disparate parts of an organization to enhance its overall security. The generated threat intelligence should be the best of all the collected sources and disseminated to other teams, sharing communities, and all the stakeholders. Your threat intelligence program will be a success if your threat intelligence solution offers the capability to integrate.

Step 5: Identify the weaknesses

Vulnerability management teams find hundreds of bugs every day. However, they don’t manage the systems that need to be patched. Threat intelligence plays a great role in prioritizing such vulnerabilities.

Intelligence related to vulnerabilities is important but is often overlooked. Identifying and patching vulnerabilities must be a critical aspect of any threat intelligence program. In order to make your threat intelligence program a success, you need to focus on identifying the weaknesses that matter most to your organization. 

Conclusion

Don’t forget about your goals and relevant use cases as you embark on your threat intelligence journey. You can only execute an effective cyber threat intelligence program, if you understand the meaning of threat intelligence. Once you understand what threat intelligence is, you need to know that the threat intelligence lifecycle is an ongoing process and is critical to developing an effective cyber threat intelligence program.

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