Across the country and around the world, cyber attackers continue to discover new and improved ways of wreaking havoc with company's business operations. Their nefarious activities are responsible for billions of dollars' worth of damages in intellectual property theft. While cyber security teams attempt to circumvent these onslaughts, increased technological advancements continue to speed up the time between perceived threat and actual intrusion. How can a business entity keep up?
The Value of Threat Intelligence
Before any organization can foil a potential attack, it must obtain advance knowledge of its existence. Only by familiarizing itself with all potential cyber threats to its sensitive data can a company determine the type of attack against which it must protect itself.
That's where threat intelligence comes in. By employing optimal methods of collecting and analyzing all available information, threat intelligence experts seek to identify the basic patterns underlying the hackers' malicious activities. While such intelligence is often general in nature, the analysis will more often concern itself with information specifically related to the operations of a particular organization. This knowledge will aid the security team in making the necessary patches.
The Constantly Morphing Threat
An organization's cyber information is evanescent. The critical data changes constantly, and so do the methods the hackers invent to gain access. Keeping on top of the situation requires investigators to start with the basics. By identifying connections and associations around a single set of attributes, they can determine the infrastructure of the malware's origin, dynamically linking it to other domains and registrant data that may have been involved.
So Many Threats; So Little Time
Threat intelligence is by its very nature proactive. In the past, a security team would have a lead time of several months in which to patch a system in advance of a worm's expected release. Today, the Internet's powers to disseminate information combined with improvements in data transfer technology have compressed time to such an extent that a virus that once took days to spread now does the same in hours.
With just weeks to patch a system beforehand, a security team must make use of threat intelligence tactics to stay one step ahead of the hackers. This requires using every means possible to learn the specifics of each attack as soon as it appears. Information gleaned from the Internet will allow the team to:
- Stay alert to new vulnerabilities.
- Predict each threat before it emerges.
- Make immediate efforts at remediation.
Managing Vulnerabilities with Metrics
Every entity possesses a vulnerability of some sort. Tracking the risk across the enterprise will enable the information security team to keep tabs on its own progress, and a metrics-based approach can aid in remediation. By presenting a clear picture of the effort's ROI, the data provided by metrics permits justification of expenditures for security purposes.
A successful metrics approach will revolve around monitoring:
- The number of potential incidents.
- The expected severity of attacks.
- The estimated damage to the organization.
Careful measurement of these trends will allow the security professional to provide executives with data that tracks the program's effectiveness and quantifies its success.
The Necessity of Threat Prevention
Combining information collection and analysis with metrics measurements allows the threat intelligence analyst to aid the security team in proactively patching data vulnerabilities. This will protect the business' vital intelligence prior to any impending attack. For every entity that needs to safeguard vital data, threat intelligence can provide an indispensable means of protection.
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