Walls Can Talk: An Introduction to Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence

Table of Contents

What is Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence and Why is it Important?

Sources of Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence

Why do Security Teams Fail to Harness Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence?

How can Cyware Help You Harness Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence?

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Walls Can Talk: An Introduction to Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence

  • Cyber Threat Intelligence

Posted on: September 08, 2022

Walls Can Talk: An Introduction to Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence
Don't fall for the trap of thinking you don’t need threat intelligence because you aren't a target. You're an enterprise, full of people and valuable data — that makes you a target.

When it comes to leveraging cyber threat intelligence, organizations often overlook the hidden gems of threat intelligence—internal data! Instead, they only make use of the intelligence collected from external sources. They don’t realize how valuable their organization's historical data, such as network logs, incident reports, historical incident data, and suspicious emails, is for threat intelligence. When did incidents happen, where did they originate in an organization’s network, who reported them, and what was done about them? All of this data captured over time uncovers patterns and insights that are unique to an organization. Internal threat intelligence is valuable but neglected by most enterprise security teams. 

In this guide, let’s learn how organizations can gain actionable insights from their internal threat intelligence.

What is Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence and Why is it Important?

Internal cyber threat intelligence is focused on the environment that an organization operates in; it gives the bigger picture of what’s happening inside an organization. It includes discoveries about an incident, malware samples, or other suspicious activities happening in the internal network. Internal cyber threat intelligence helps in detecting the cyber risks including cybercriminals, vulnerabilities, and events that may lurk in an organization’s network and lead to major cyber incidents.

Using internal threat intelligence from tools such as SIEMs, Endpoint and Network Detection platforms (EDR/NDR), Asset Management tools, UEBA, etc., security teams can gain better contextual understanding of the threat landscape affecting their organizations. Internal threat intelligence requires security teams to monitor their systems for cyber threats, fraud, performance issues, and security breaches. This can help them identify problems early on and prevent illicit activity. In a nutshell, it helps security teams identify who to alert and what to look for.

Sources of Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence

System Logs

Security teams can generate system logs and security events to gather threat intelligence from their organization’s central logging system like a security incident and event management (SIEM) tool.

Network Equipment

Network devices, such as firewalls, routers, and switches, send event messages in near real-time to a central server for processing. These event messages provide valuable information from a threat intelligence perspective such as login events occurring, connections requested, etc. These show network utilization and also indicate abnormal behavior, such as suspicious or excessive traffic from a client or between clients. 

Boundary Security Devices

Alerts and events can be collected from boundary security devices, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and firewalls. These alerts and security events are also fed to a SIEM. 

Antivirus Systems

Antivirus systems in an enterprise report malware events, which is internal threat intelligence and can also be used for analyzing threat activity. 

Humanly Observed Anomalies

Sometimes, even employees recognize security events and report it to other team members and higher authorities. This includes mostly phishing emails, ransomware attacks, adware infection, etc.

Artifacts Collected After an Event

This kind of internal threat intelligence includes artifacts collected from the investigation after a security incident and can be utilized to strengthen security defenses. The analysis of log files and compromised systems can provide insights into the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by the attacker.

Why do Security Teams Fail to Harness Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence?

Too often, security teams miss the value of their own internal cyber threat intelligence data. That’s because most of the existing threat intelligence solutions focus on the collection of external threat intelligence which is valuable but shouldn’t be the only source for real-time actionable intelligence to improve a company’s security posture.

In today's digital landscape, the number of threats faced by an organization can be staggering. With robust in-depth threat intelligence capabilities, enterprises can take an active role in the defense against these threats by looking at their IT infrastructure and their security teams to better understand how they are connected. Good internal threat intelligence allows security teams to quickly spot indicators of compromise (IOCs) that may be indicative of a larger attack within an organization’s network. And with that knowledge, they needn't wait for the threat to scale before taking action.

Moreover, the deployment of security controls, firewalls, IDS, IPS, etc. are of no use if the threat intelligence generated by them is ignored. Organizations, both large and small, are under constant attack because they make the same mistake. They try to protect themselves with the tools they have at their disposal, but what is often missing from that toolbox is their own historical data.

Internal threat intelligence is becoming a critical component of modern security operations. The challenge lies in harnessing this intelligence to assess the threat landscape, enable incident response, and formulate effective countermeasures. There are several reasons that contribute to the ignorance of threat intelligence inside an organization, including:

Lack of Resources

Many companies have limited resources and manpower. Some of them have only a small number of employees who are trained in threat intelligence analysis and who have sufficient levels of knowledge about what types of threats might be occurring within their environment. This lack of capability often results in missed opportunities for potential attacks on an organization's network infrastructure or other assets.

Moreover, security tools in use today aren’t designed to ingest threat intelligence generated by internal sources and provide context surrounding this intelligence. SecOps teams, therefore, continue to rely on legacy security tools that lack the ability to extract intelligence from various internal sources.

Legacy tools need to be replaced by more effective ones like a connected threat intelligence platform (TIP) that can help SecOps teams to gain access to all the available threat intelligence across their organization and make it available to decision-makers, security teams, and key stakeholders. 

Lack of Understanding about Internal Threat Intelligence

The majority of organizations have a very limited understanding of their own threat landscape, which makes it difficult for them to identify and prioritize threats. The difficulty in identifying and prioritizing threats is exacerbated by the fact that most organizations aren't gathering enough data about their environment. This lack of information has far-reaching consequences for an organization's ability to protect itself from external threats.

The lack of understanding of internal threat intelligence could be due to several reasons. First, is the absence of a dedicated team that is responsible for gathering, analyzing, and sharing internal threat intelligence with the right people at the right time. Second, is the lack of access to relevant data sources and tools that can help with the analysis process, including those that are available externally.

Failure to Connect the Dots

Another challenge is how to connect disparate pieces of information within an organization. It’s no secret that data generated from the internal network is one of the most valuable sources of threat intelligence. However, in many cases, the security teams don’t have tools that have the capabilities to connect the dots and interpret this data. There are some processes security teams use to pull threat intel from their network which can be used during incident response, but unless they can create relations between them, there will always be missing key pieces of information about threats that are targeting their environment.

How can Cyware Help You Harness Internal Cyber Threat Intelligence?

Cyware Threat Intelligence eXchange (CTIX) is a next-generation connected threat intelligence platform that automates the ingestion, enrichment, analysis, and dissemination of threat data to internal security tools, teams, and stakeholders, and a trusted external network. 

CTIX follows the hub-and-spoke model for bidirectional threat data exchange, with a central server or a central organization or team disseminating relevant intel to all connected tools or entities while also ingesting data from these systems. By integrating with security tools across an organization’s internal network, the platform enables threat intelligence delivery to detection sensors in real time, significantly improving the speed of detection and response. It allows security teams to make use of the threat intel collected from their internally deployed tools. This data can be used to provide context and answer questions like “who”, “what”, and “when” about the cyber threats.

Want to keep an eye on your internal threat intelligence? Schedule a free demo today!

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