Navigating the complex landscape of threat intelligence in cybersecurity

By Rajiv Warrier- Vice President sales, BD Software Distribution Pvt. Ltd

Bio – Rajiv Warrier an ISO 9001 lead auditor with an experience of more than 3 decades in the IT Industry, consulting companies with safe, secure and affordable digital software’s and solutions, that keep business cyber resilient and achieve compliance, ensuring business continuity and keeps their business growing.

Threat intelligence (TI) is acknowledged by security organisations as an essential tool for enhancing security measures, reducing alert fatigue, and speeding up incident response. The main challenge for security providers isn’t the necessity of TI but rather determining the specific type of TI needed and its source. The industry lacks a unified definition of TI and standardised formatting for raw threat data. This issue is compounded by the rapid expansion of the TI field, marked by a 17.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and the emergence of many new providers, leading to confusion about the types of TI that businesses require.

To clarify, it’s helpful to discuss the most prevalent types of threat intelligence. TI is categorized into three main types based on data enrichment and analysis: Reputation TI (Tactical TI), Operational TI, and Strategic TI. Reputation TI involves Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) like IP addresses and URLs, providing real-time protection for immediate threats. Operational TI offers enriched data on specific threats such as threat actors and malware, crucial for SOC analysts and security researchers. Strategic TI includes high-level reports analyzing cybersecurity trends by industry or geography, aiding management in aligning strategies with the evolving threat landscape. These comprehensive TI types help organisations enhance security measures and make informed decisions.

To effectively utilize TI, it’s crucial to understand its sources. TI can be obtained directly from reputable cybersecurity providers, offering large, detailed datasets and real-time updates. Third-party threat intelligence platforms provide a marketplace for TI from multiple vendors, delivering data through a unified model with periodic updates. Additionally, companies can license TI feeds and queries from their Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) or Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platforms, integrating both internal and external TI feeds to optimize security operations.

TI encompasses various data formats and delivery methods. There is no standardized way to process TI, with providers using different standards like STIX and MISP. STIX is a language and serialization format for sharing threat information, while MISP is an open- source project offering a platform and standards for TI sharing. Despite their usefulness, these formats have limitations, prompting many providers to develop their own. TI can be delivered via feeds or APIs. TI feeds are high-throughput data streams for real-time threat detection, providing information like malicious IPs and URLs for security hardening. TI APIs, on the other hand, allow partners to query large datasets for investigations and security research, offering more manual analysis capabilities. All types of TI—reputational, operational, and strategic—can be delivered in either feed or API format, catering to different use cases and operational needs.

In conclusion, navigating the complex landscape of threat intelligence requires understanding the diverse types, sources, and formats of TI. By identifying the right type of TI and leveraging appropriate sources and formats, organisations can significantly enhance their cybersecurity posture. As the TI field continues to expand, staying informed and adaptable will be key to effectively mitigating emerging threats and maintaining robust security measures.

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