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What is the Threat Intelligence Lifecycle?
Posted on: June 07, 2021
The threat intelligence lifecycle serves as a framework for threat intelligence teams to outline and implement security measures more efficiently and effectively. It is a continuous process of producing intelligence from raw data that allows organizations to build defensive mechanisms to avert emerging risks and threats. The threat intelligence lifecycle assists and guides intelligence teams in building an efficient threat intelligence platform (TIP).
An automated TIP scans for threats and alerts security teams about the weaknesses in your IT infrastructure. Moreover, by automating threat intelligence, you can reduce human errors in analyzing threat intelligence.
Threat Intelligence Automation
In cybersecurity, threat intelligence automation refers to automating evidence-based information or knowledge of the techniques, capabilities, infrastructure, goals, motives, and resources of an existing or emerging threat. Automated threat intelligence provides context to better understand and identify adversaries. However, gathering and handling this information can be time-consuming, slowing down security teams and leaving little-to-no time for critical decision making. This is where threat intelligence automation helps.
You didn’t form a security team to sift through heaps of data and perform repetitive tasks; you hired them to make informed decisions, analyze actionable threats, and respond accordingly to those threats. That’s because humans are good at creativity and adaptability but not at performing repetitive tasks such as filtering data. On the other hand, automated processes prove useful when it comes to finding patterns in huge volumes of data. By automating threat intelligence, you can free up your security team to examine the information your automated solution provides and make decisions on what’s relevant to your organization.
Threat intelligence automation leverages machine learning to automate data collection, integrate it with your existing tools and solutions, extract unstructured data from disparate sources, and then find patterns by providing context on IOCs and TTPs of threat actors. The entire threat intelligence lifecycle allows security teams to analyze IOCs, helping them understand the attack and defend their network or systems from similar attacks in the future.
The idea is to collect IOCs from diverse sources, correlate them, and feed it to systems such as SIEMs or firewalls while providing real-time analysis of security alerts, enabling security teams to take appropriate remediation measures. This allows organizations to make monetary investments in threat data for improving the threat intelligence lifecycle.
Phases of Threat Intelligence Lifecycle
The threat intelligence lifecycle comprises six phases, namely, direction, collection, processing, analysis, dissemination, and feedback.
The direction phase of the threat intelligence lifecycle refers to the goals set for the threat intelligence program, which involves understanding and asserting the business assets and processes that need to be protected. In addition, the other objectives include studying the impacts of asset loss or process interruption and the kind of threat intelligence that an organization needs. Once the intelligence needs are identified, an organization can articulate questions, driving the need for information as per requirement.
Collection is the process of accumulating information to address significant intelligence requirements. Information gathering can take place in several ways such as by extracting logs and metadata from security devices and internal networks, subscribing to varied threat data feeds, or communicating with knowledgeable sources. Typically, the data collected is an amalgamation of finished information and raw data.
The transformation of gathered information into a format consumable by organizations is called processing. All the raw data collected needs to be processed either by humans or machines. Organizations embrace different means of processing for different collection methods.
Analysis refers to the process that converts processed information into intelligence for decision making. The process of decision-making might involve investigating a potential threat, actions that need to be taken to thwart an attack, enriching threat intelligence to find meaningful and relevant data, reinforcing security controls, and much more. To present information, the format is important. Delivering information in a form that can’t be understood by the decision-maker is pointless. Some threat intelligence reports may need to be presented in diverse formats for different audiences.
Every cybersecurity organization has different teams that can benefit from threat intelligence. Delivering the finished intelligence output to such organizations that need it is called dissemination.
It is important to understand the intelligence priorities and requirements of the teams that will consume the threat intelligence. In the threat intelligence lifecycle, getting constant feedback is necessary to understand the requirements of the security teams. Receiving feedback helps in producing accurate intelligence through timely assessments.
Threat intelligence lifecycle is an ongoing process and forms the basis for security teams to strategize and implement their threat intelligence programs more efficiently and effectively. With cyber threats evolving at breakneck speeds, security teams must focus on refining their processes and learn to respond quickly and proactively to any threat in order to stay ahead of them.