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What is a Threat Intelligence Platform?

Posted on: May 10, 2021

Picture this: Mad-Eye Moody is on the patrol in the halls of Hogwarts. With one of his magical eyes, he sees Death Eaters and Dementors scouting Professor Dumbledore’s office. Thanks to the surprising range of capabilities of his Mad-Eye, he can scan through anything. He escalates this incident of intrusion to Professor Dumbledore for further action. Moody’s eye is akin to a threat intelligence platform (TIP) that helps detect threats before an environment is harmed. Unlike the magical eye, a TIP not only detects threats but can also be used to block them using security automation (SOAR) capabilities.

In today’s complex threat landscape, a TIP plays an imperative role in addressing undetected attackers, malicious insiders, and other risks. Though there is no “one-and-done” security solution, a TIP goes a long way when it comes to understanding the gravity of the threat.

What is a Threat Intelligence Platform?

Threat intelligence platforms, or TIPs, are a software solution that enables security teams to collect, organize, and manage threat data and intelligence. More advanced threat intelligence platforms provide the ability to share and receive intelligence from multiple peers, TI providers, ISAC members, regulators, partner organizations, and subsidiary companies. An advanced TIP like this can also automate the normalization, enrichment, and analysis of threat intelligence to help security teams more quickly identify, manage, and take action on cyber threats. When leveraged properly a smart, bi-directional threat intelligence platform provides security teams with the ability to more accurately predict and prevent attacks as well as mitigate and respond to threats with faster, smarter actions.

TIPs have the capability to coordinate with existing security information and event management (SIEM) tools and specify a value to the alerts while focusing on them as per their degree of priority. One benefit of the platform is that it allows security teams to securely share threat intelligence with other significant teams and external cybersecurity experts. It gathers and investigates threat information, coordinating the activities and tactics between the stakeholders. Every stakeholder in an organization has responsibilities in the execution of an incident response plan. When a security team recognizes a threat, it includes all other relevant teams in the investigation. In such situations, TIPs prove to be useful.
 

Why do Organizations Need a Threat Intelligence Platform?

The current cybersecurity ecosystem is set apart by stumbling blocks such as gigantic volumes of data, the absence of security analysts, and progressively complex ill-disposed attacks. Today’s modern-day security organizations offer numerous tools to deal with this data, however, there’s little or no integration between them. This means a baffling measure of manual efforts to manage systems and misuse of resources and time. To battle these issues, many organizations are embracing TIPs.

Deployed as a SaaS or on-premise solution, TIPs facilitate the management of threat intelligence and connected entities such as incidents, campaigns, actors, and their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). TIPs gather all the information from disparate sources and enrich it to determine the gravity of the threat, automatically screening the threat alerts. 

Who Uses a TIP?

A TIP is useful to several parties within an organization such as SOC, threat intelligence, and executive management teams. By automating regular activities such as ingestion, enrichment, analysis, and scoring, a TIP helps security teams focus on their daily operational tasks and threat response. It equips threat intelligence teams with a “library” of information that streamlines the prediction-making process based on connections between threat actors, campaigns, and more. To the management and executive teams, a TIP provides the ability to view and manage reports at technical and high levels on a single platform, enabling them to get a bird’s eye view of the security threat environment.

Capabilities of a TIP

TIPs are known for their capabilities to perform the key functions mentioned below:

Automated Threat Intel Collection

TIPs offer the capability to collect both tactical and technical intel from various external sources including commercial feed providers, threat intel providers, dark web, ISAC/ISAO hubs, peer organizations, and subsidiaries. Such threat intelligence comes in the form of micro feeds including threat actor TTPs, indicators of compromise (IOCs), exploit alerts, exploitability mapping, threat intel enrichment, ATT&CK mapping, and more.  In addition, a TIP also ingests threat intel from internally deployed security tools including SIEMs, Antivirus, IDS/IPS, and others. All these sources and collections can be regulated in one place, allowing organizations to collect, manage, and share threat intelligence with partners, clients, vendors, ISACs/ISAOs, regulatory bodies, and others in a highly collaborative ecosystem. 

Normalization

A true TIP ingests and normalizes threat data from internal and external sources to create meaningful intel. This is usually done for both the structured and unstructured threat intelligence that is converted into STIX format for streamlining analysis, enrichment, correlation, and dissemination/sharing activities of the threat intelligence lifecycle. 

Correlation, Enrichment, and Analysis

By using an advanced TIP, security teams can correlate and enrich hundreds of IOCs from several internal and external trusted intel sources. Subsequently, they can calculate the final risk score of the IOCs and prioritize the actioning on relevant intel. Based on a customizable confidence score and security automation mechanism, a TIP filters out threat intelligence, blocks indicators on Firewall, EDR, and other tools as a preventive measure, and adds them to the watchlist of a SIEM solution. Furthermore, threat intelligence validation is made easier with a TIP that allows cross-correlations with threat sightings by affiliates, peers, and subsidiaries in an automated manner. Last but not the least, a TIP automates mundane actions, speed up triage management, and enable analysts to focus on relevant tasks.

Intel Dissemination and Actioning

TIPs automate intel dissemination by delivering enriched intelligence to internal security operations center (SOC), incident response, threat hunting, and red teams for rapid analysis and actioning. Besides internal teams, organizations can build a cyber secure and collaborative ecosystem with external entities, such as peers, ISACs, third-party vendors, subsidiaries, and others by cross-sharing enriched intel. Based on IOC fidelity and customized rules, TIPs automate intel actioning by automatically blocking malicious indicators in firewalls deployed in an organization. Security teams are equipped with rule-based advanced alerting and real-time notifications that reduce mean time to detection and resolution.

Analyst Workbench Tools

Advanced TIP nowadays  support MITRE ATT&CK?? Navigator framework that help security teams visualize threat actor TTPs to identify trends across the cyber kill chain and relate them to reported intel. Some of the other features of a TIP include threat board, geo-tagging, analyst watchlist, and IP and domain lookup. A threat board allows security analysts to search object and indicator types and hidden connections between different attributes extricated from multiple threat intel feeds. The geo-tagging feature lets security teams map and examine the threat intel automatically ingested from various sources to determine the geographical trends for their discrete business units. Moreover, triggers can be set in intelligence feeds for a brand, an organization, or industry-related keywords to monitor the relevant threats and IP and domain-related information collected from premium sources can be easily accessed with a single click.

Centralized Governance and Management

By employing a best-of-breed TIP, security teams can govern intel-driven operations in their organizations. Modern-day TIPs provide a multi-level intel view with a centralized dashboard.

Conclusion

From identifying relevant IOCs and addressing them to responding to events and improving security operations, a TIP provides contextual data needed to quickly and effectively prevent and tackle threats. In a nutshell, it automates the process of combining and analyzing threat information in a way that delivers actionable threat intelligence, accelerating and streamlining the entire security lifecycle. 

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