Cyber Threat Intelligence: A proactive approach to information security

Enterprises must look at advanced cyber threat intelligence (CTI) solutions as an investment rather than cost. CTI is a vital component of an advanced cybersecurity program to monitor and identify threats, and act quickly to mitigate risks 

CISCO defines Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) as “a dynamic, adaptive technology that leverages large-scale threat history data to proactively block and remediate future malicious attacks on a network.” 

CTI can function as a vital component of an advanced cybersecurity program to monitor and identify threats and act quickly to mitigate risks. 

Threat intelligence draws from globally available cyber threat information databases of common vulnerabilities and exposures such as NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) or public information such as open-source databases, social media, or even the dark web. This intelligence data comprises threats, attack patterns, the family they belong to, impacts, and also remediation. This data is evaluated based on its context and source and analyzed using structured methods by experts to produce intelligence. The intelligence may be actionable, based on the present context. 

There are multiple cyber threat intelligence tools that analyze this data, to offer enterprises a range of services on advanced threat detection. Even as threat intelligence is at a nascent stage, it is moving from a reactive to a proactive approach. Globally, customers are now considering CTI to be an investment rather than a cost.

What is advanced threat intelligence?

In advanced threat intelligence, the threat can be analyzed and mitigated without human intervention. The threat is identified by the behavior patterns of the hacker, instead of the threat nature being compared with known virus signatures. The insights are brought to light by analyzing the tactics, techniques, and procedures of threat actors.  

Cyber threat intelligence

The current practice is to have an individual analyze threats, categorize them by severity, and then mitigate the threat. In this, there is a mixed or hybrid approach of manual interventions and the use of tools. An advanced threat intelligence system relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI / ML), so the tool takes decisions and eliminates the threat on its own. 

These systems help define the behavior of a threat using algorithms. A new threat or virus, whether it has a signature or not, can be easily analyzed based on behavior. For instance, whether the virus is repeatedly trying to grab data is one kind of behavior.

How does Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) work?

Sophisticated cyber threat intelligence (CTI) solutions generally have AI and ML-based patterns to identify, detect and prevent cyber-attacks, and alert the security team. By using these solutions, security teams can dedicate their efforts to other more critical areas that need their attention, rather than getting drawn into every security event. 

CTI solutions power strategic decisions for organizations by using intelligence surfaced from various sources to build out possible contexts, analyzing the actors, intent, and capability. Building on the behavior, motivation, and access of the bad actor, trends and patterns, current risks and threats, as well as potential targets, CTI can help information security teams and C-suites at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. 

As an example, a specific source IP is found to be a malicious attacker’s IP address. This information is already available over the internet. In this case, the threat intelligence solution can easily identify that this IP address is of malicious origin and has a bad reputation. It automatically ensures all requests coming from that particular IP address are rejected. 

CTI is a natural evolution of the data ecosystem that is growing rapidly around cyber-crime. Antivirus programs, firewalls, and monitoring tools have become a part of any organization. They act as complementary components, transferring all the information to the central intelligence tool. So, CTI isn’t just a tool that detects certain application-level threats. It is part of a comprehensive or holistic cyber threat framework that prevents any malicious activity. 

Why should enterprises adopt CTI – business impact and data protection

Cyber threat intelligence has a definite and high value in government, military, and law enforcement, and also for industries that are at high risk due to corporate espionage, regulatory compliance, or that work with sensitive information. Enterprises holding personally identifiable information (PII), medical and financial information are at the highest risk. They are prime targets for hackers or malicious users to grab data. The BFSI (Banking and Financial Services Industry) and healthcare sector are particularly vulnerable to these attacks. They harbour a vast resource of sensitive information for hackers to leverage. This is also applicable for government and military organizations as well as enterprises serving them due to the highly confidential nature of data 

Also, there are GDPR and country-specific compliance requirements to be considered. Regions such as the European Union (EU) lay down specific requirements governing PII. Any organization not following these practices is liable to pay hefty penalties. Even if an enterprise doesn’t hold any highly sensitive PII or business values in their applications, there is a chance they are holding EU-based customer information. Rather than paying penalties, it’s better for enterprises to opt for advanced CTI solutions. 

CTI and XDR – complementary systems

Companies cannot approach extended detection and response (XDR) systems or CTI as single components. Detection and response systems go hand-in-hand with threat intelligence. Cyber security information and incident databases form the foundation of better detection and response. Advanced CTI tools include endpoint detection response (EDR) and managed detection and response (MDR). Without CTI, there would be minimal pattern-based detections. Threat intelligence sources details and acts on them, based on AI and ML. These insights are then fed into the XDR systems to prevent and monitor.

Where are the cyber threat intelligence (CTI) experts?

There are a host of tools available in the market in terms of EDR, XDR, and advanced CTI solutions. However, there needs to be considerable training, expertise, and accessibility – similar to the cloud. For organizations whose core competency is in another domain, investing in tools, ensuring they are updated, subscriptions to the right databases, and hiring, training, and retention can be tedious. That’s why they outsource this to experts such as Entersoft Security, whose core expertise is implementing the entire range of cybersecurity solutions. 

Customers approach CTI from two angles:

– They want the entire cybersecurity function to be implemented and handed over such that they can hire the right people to manage it.  

– They outsource the cybersecurity to a managed security service provider (MSSP) who has some level of expertise to use these tools and manage ongoing activities round-the-clock.

Entersoft – An MSSP with white hat hackers and military grade security solutions 

As an MSSP, Entersoft implements and manages the CTI ecosystem for several customers around the world.

CTI is as yet a premium solution, until it is commoditized, just as has happened for vulnerability assessment and penetration test (VAPT). For an enterprise, investment in CTI either in-house or via a managed service provider is a necessity – due to compliance and regulatory requirements as well as branding with this tag. For SMEs that have a smaller number of clients and regional or local focus, CTI may not affect their ecosystem or change their business dynamics overnight. 

Entersoft provides a range of cybersecurity services, including cyber threat intelligence. This is done by our certified security professionals, providing customers with a simple, easy-to-understand report that outlines vulnerabilities, threats, and mitigations. Entersoft guarantees between 95-96% compliance with security standards, using state-of-the-art tools to run threat intelligence. 

Working with an MSSP such as Entersoft, companies get the reassurance of always having access to a team of experts and the latest in tools and technologies. They don’t have to bear the overhead cost burden while protecting the business and ensuring regulatory compliance.