What is Cyber Threat Intelligence Monitoring?

By Phoebe Fasulo

Posted on Dec 2, 2019

Cyber threats are constantly changing.

Take ransomware, for example. Ransomware attacks were at a high point back in 2017. WannaCrypt and Petya were widely reported on, and there was some concern that criminals would increase their use of ransomware. But, according to the latest volume of Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report, that’s not what happened.

Information security workers and technology got better at detecting ransomware attacks, and more organizations educated employees about how to respond to and avoid it. Between March of 2017 and December of 2018, ransomware attacks dropped by 60%.

Ransomware simply wasn’t easy money anymore for cybercriminals. So they turned to other ways of making money quickly — cryptocurrency mining and phishing quickly became their go-to attacks.

Bad actors will always reach for the low-hanging fruit, and thanks to improved security measures or changing technology, that fruit is always changing.

It’s important to stay on top of those changes, or it will cost you. According to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Study from IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.92 million. Losing track of how threats are likely to affect your business can be a big, and pricey, mistake.

That’s where cyber threat intelligence comes into play.

What is cyber threat intelligence?

Cyber threat intelligence is an area of information security focused on collecting and analyzing information about current and potential attacks.

It’s a lot like any sort of intelligence operation; you’re simply collecting data, identifying and evaluating threats that might impact your organization and assets. This might come from threats you’ve received, like a malicious file or a threat, or it could involve keeping an eye on the threat landscape and knowing how your organization is likely to be attacked.

This can help you paint a picture of the risks posed by specific threats, and might include detailed information, such as the trends, patterns, and tools attackers might use in an attack.

Such analysis has several security uses; it might be used to inform policy or design security procedures. It may also be used to provide warnings or to detect an attack.

Detecting an attack early is critical in limiting the damage to your organization. According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report, it often takes an average of 279 days for an organization to find and contain a breach. Breaches found early, ( in this case, “early” means in less than 200 days) however, tend to cost $1.2 million less.

Benefits of cyber threat intelligence

With cyber threat intelligence, organizations can reap these benefits:

Improve efficiency

Threat intelligence enables your security team to identify new risks and understand what threats and vulnerabilities they need to address. Since threat intelligence can help identify new threats, all your team needs to do is check if it’s a false positive or an actual threat and take action where necessary. Ultimately, this will improve response time and minimize manual workloads for your team so they can focus on real security threats.

Minimize vulnerabilities

Cybercriminals are continuously on the lookout for new vulnerabilities in your network, and cyber threat intelligence is an important tool that can be used to help you identify those gaps in security. Leveraging threat intelligence and working to install patches and security controls will reduce the risk of data loss and minimize disruption in your operations.

Prevent data breach

If a cyber threat intelligence system detects any suspicious domains or IP addresses, it will block them from your network to prevent data breaches. Without a cyber threat intelligence system, hackers can easily penetrate your network without detection. Once they’re in, they can carry out cybercrimes, like denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which can cause severe damage to your organization.

What is cyber threat intelligence monitoring and how is it used?

Cyber threat intelligence monitoring is a solution that leverages threat intelligence to continuously analyze, assess, and monitor an organization’s networks for potential security threats. Once a threat is identified, the intelligence monitoring software issues an alert and assists security incident and event management (SIEM) teams to eliminate the threat.

Threat intelligence monitoring incorporates knowledge of threats facing organizations into actionable insights to help improve your security posture. The key feature of cybersecurity monitoring is to assess if an attack is currently in progress and to determine the necessary steps to eliminate the attack. This enables incident response teams to mitigate information security risks before they become full-blown security incidents. In addition, threat intelligence monitoring can be used to guide operational decisions by identifying persistent threats that face your organization. With this information, your organization can easily strengthen any security vulnerabilities that may exist.

Why continuous cyber threat intelligence monitoring?

Collecting information about various cyber threats isn’t something you do once in a while, or even at regular intervals — that sort of threat intelligence monitoring doesn’t provide you with a complete picture of your risk. Instead, it provides snapshots of moments in time. Between those snapshots, anything could be happening.

Take a third-party risk. You might occasionally check to ensure your vendors and partners are compliant with the regulations governing your industry. Perhaps you have someone from your security organization look into their compliance, or perhaps your vendors submit a risk management questionnaire. That’s fine, but by relying on these methods, you won’t be notified the moment a vendor drops out of compliance and leaves you at risk.

The same goes for chatter on the dark web; you might have personnel search the online spaces frequented by criminals to see if your organization’s name or information has cropped up, but you’re not getting a notification as soon as that happens. Instead, you’re relying on chance — maybe someone from your organization will do a search and see the chatter in time to prevent a cybersecurity attack.

By using smart tools that constantly scan for risks and threats, you make sure you constantly have the best, most up-to-date security intelligence at all times.

How SecurityScorecard can help

Cybercriminals are constantly changing their approach, but their objective is always the same: stealing your information, usually for financial gain. Your information security platform should be able to keep you apprised of their tactics at all times.

SecurityScorecard’s cyber threat reconnaissance allows you and your organization’s business stakeholders to continuously monitor the most important cybersecurity KPIs for your organization. This tool delivers actionable security intelligence that enables security and risk management teams to find and reduce vulnerabilities before attackers can exploit them.

Using our proprietary information, commercial, and open-source threat intelligence feeds our platform identifies active threats and malicious activity targeting your organization and your third-party ecosystem. This will provide your organization with the cyber threat intelligence you need to make informed security decisions in the future.

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