Scenario: you are the king in charge of a vast empire. Naturally, you have enemies who are after your kingdom and everything that comes with it. So, you need intel on your adversaries, their strengths and weaknesses, and their attack tactics. At that age, you’d usually find that out from previous encounters and experiences that either you or your peer kingdoms faced.
Now, let’s jump to the modern world. You have an organization and you still need threat intelligence because no organization is spared from the wrath of cybercriminals. There are four types of threat intelligence - strategic, tactical, technical, and operational. This educational guide will talk about the significance of tactical threat intelligence for organizations.
Tactical Threat Intelligence
Tactical threat intelligence is defined as information regarding the Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) and Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) used by threat actors. It examines happenings around the network, focusing on the strengths, vulnerabilities, and defenses of the network. Because of this characteristic, tactical threat intelligence is considered to be one of the most useful forms of intelligence when it comes to protecting an organization.
Tactical threat intelligence aims to understand how an attacker plans on attacking an organization and map it to detection and mitigation strategies. It is consumed by security specialists, administrators, and security architects, security operations managers, and network operations center staff, who are responsible for incident response measures. Examples of this type of threat intelligence include malware signatures, IP and URL blacklists, traffic patterns, log files, and account credentials found in APT, ransomware, and phishing campaigns.
Sources of Tactical Threat Intelligence
Typically, tactical threat intelligence is collected from campaign reports, malware samples, attack group reports, incident reports, and human intelligence. This intelligence is obtained from OSINT sources, purchasing intelligence from third parties, and sharing it with peer organizations. However, although these reports can be valuable, they cater to a wide audience and hence, not relevant entirely to a specific organization. Hence, industry reports are not incomplete sources of tactical threat intelligence.
There is a need for a reliable and thorough source for tactical threat intelligence that enables an active collection process. These sources are honeypots, darknets, open-source, telemetry data, and scanning and crawling.
Significance of Tactical Threat Intelligence
Providing relevance and context to a massive amount of data
Large organizations usually have access to humongous amounts of data, however, they lack the capability to comprehend, filter, and use it. Tactical threat intelligence comes with methodical processes that manage diverse datasets, turning them into actionable threat intelligence that fulfills an organization’s threat information needs.
Driving a proactive cybersecurity posture
Cyber intelligence at the tactical phase must be precise enough to support an organization’s ability to minimize risk. By identifying vulnerabilities in networks and organizations, along with adversarial attack patterns, tactical threat intelligence can provide insights about the highest risk areas. It can, furthermore, detect business, mission, or technical weaknesses and help define and address the organization’s risk.
Aiding incident response
Tactical threat intelligence is consumed by incident responders to guarantee that their investigation and defenses are strong enough to withstand current tactics employed by adversaries. A proper comprehension of the TTPs that are in use at any given time massively improves the incident responders’ capability to detect, prioritize, and rectify serious security incidents.
The most common use case for tactical threat intelligence is triage. Regardless of the size of an organization, this type of intelligence can promptly identify if there is a cause for concern. With an indicator of compromise (IOC) match, the security team moves forward with the incident handling process. With no match, they move on to the next alert.
Effective tactical threat intelligence solutions accumulate intelligence from disparate sources and internally deployed security tools. They enable security teams to identify trends from the cyber kill chain in the post-exploitation stage and associate them with reported intel.
Moreover, an attacker’s modus operandi can be properly comprehended through effective tactical intelligence, thus, enabling responders to validate their observations. If responders find it difficult to follow an attack through the network, tactical intelligence helps them to indicate the adversarial activities, therefore, aiding in incident response.
We began this guide by introducing the premise of tactical threat intelligence that helps security teams make better decisions on how to reduce risks, analyze threats, and proactively respond to threats. The goal of threat intelligence is to effectively reduce risks. As organizations shift to advanced models of information security, tactical threat intelligence is one of the most effective tools for decision-makers. Inward-focused cybersecurity approaches are no more independently adequate against today’s threat landscape. Just as physical security requires locks and alarms, cybersecurity requires a thorough understanding of crime trends and events. With tactical threat intelligence, organizations know what they have, where the risks are, and how to fortify and mature their security architecture.