Importance of Cyber Threat Intelligence in the Organizational Security Framework

Copyright : [Threat Intelligence] Sapienza Blacklists — Francesco Ficarola

Globalization and the integration of financial firms with technology has resulted in the assimilation of most businesses and companies with the digital world. The count of active internet users reached almost 4.57 billion people in July 2020, comprising 59 percent of the global population . With ever- increasing userbase, the frequency and severity of threats is escalating on the internet. Hence to deal with these advanced and sophisticated cyber-attacks, organizations as well as individuals need to upgrade their cyber-security architecture. Global platforms and intelligence exchanges of threat information are necessary so that cybersecurity professionals become more aware of the existing risks and vulnerabilities to the security of the firm. Also, organizations need to take productive and more informed security decisions for making efficient use of the security capital. Here comes the role of Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI).

In May 2013, Rob McMillan, a Gartner analyst, put forward an exquisite description of threat intelligence as “evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice, about an existing or emerging menace or hazard to assets that can be used to inform decisions regarding the subject’s response to that menace or hazard ”. The fundamental objective of security by the means of CTI is to provide an organization-focused outlook to the security team by informing them about the advanced threats and exploits like the zero-day attacks to which they are quite vulnerable in the current security scenario. It gives a detailed analysis of the nature of threats and adversaries and thus facilitates effective intelligence exchange and threat analysis. So the organizations can thereby outwit the attackers by keeping a track of their behavior and predict the future attacks by resorting to defensive measures to mitigate them.

NECESSITY OF CTI IN THE SECURITY POSTURE

Most of the organizations now appoint Complex Information Systems (IS) to conduct financial transactions, maintain the company records and information infrastructure to conduct daily operations. With the increasing cyber-attacks on these systems, the cybersecurity team needs to gather more relevant, timely and accurate intelligence about the new vulnerabilities, risks and threats and execute prompt security measures. Henceforth, CTI is an optimal and necessary component of mitigation strategies for all the organizations that function in this evolving technical environment and more significantly the changing threat landscape.

Threat intelligence should not just be confined to established and well-financed businesses. A recent report on data breach investigations states that 43 % of the cyber-attacks are aimed at small businesses . So, even the small organizations can gain access to the legitimate sources of cyber threat intelligence that are focused on the profile and supply chain of that specific company. In order to develop an efficient cybersecurity framework, an enterprise needs to be aware of the potential cyber threats and understand how these threats can impact the organization and the employees.

Building an efficient CTI program results in a positive impact on the organization in the following ways :

Data is the most valuable asset as well as a liability. Protecting and maintaining the confidentiality of data is the utmost priority of a company. So when malicious domains and IP addresses attempt to gain unauthorized access by trying to connect with their network to gather critical information, a CTI system safeguards the data. It prohibits such domains and addresses from penetrating the network and stealing confidential data by blocking such activities.

A recent data breach report by IBM stated that the average total cost of a data breach was USD 3.86 million and the average time to identify and contain a breach was 280 days . This implies that after a data breach, an organization not only encounters data loss but also a lot of the company’s capital is spent on post-incident recovery and restoration, investigation costs and legal expenditures which in turn has a direct impact on the firm’s market image and brand. Cyber threat intelligence plays a vital role in security infrastructure by making well relevant and timely decisions, thereby mitigating the company’s risks of sensitive data theft, device downtime and hence the firm’s reputation is not held at stake.

Adversaries and cyber-criminals are outsmarting the organization’s security teams by discovering new and more sophisticated techniques to break into networks and systems to gain unauthorized access and cause further harm to the firm. So organizations certainly need CTI for minimizing the risks, preventing data losses and maintaining the confidentiality of the data by blocking such intrusions and safeguarding the environment for the efficient functioning of the company.

When a data breach or a cyber-attack occurs it adversely affects the functioning and productivity of the staff. The incorporation of CTI framework increases the productivity of an organization’s cybersecurity team via combining threat intelligence with the vulnerabilities detected on the network. This can prevent the security team from facing both psychological as well as technical fatigue.

A very crucial advantage of CTI is that it gives focus and direction to the security department by revealing the essential adversary details like the loopholes in the security posture that they target, the attacker’s behavior, their geographical location etc. which would require more time and investment without threat intelligence. Hence the company can wisely invest its capital as well as its efforts and time looking after threats focused on the specific areas and the correlated details about the adversaries.

The cyber threat intelligence program integrates loads of threat intelligence feeds into a single feed to allow coherent analysis and classification of cyber threat incidents, and to detect patterns or developments in adversary’s behavior. Various threat intelligence platforms equip the organization with critical information regarding recent security breaches and cyber-attacks, how the adversaries plan to do so, and which set of businesses a specific hacker group targets. If other organizations get relevant information regarding a recent security attack on a specific organization, they can mitigate it by taking the required security measures thereby demotivating the hackers to perpetrate such harmful attacks.

FUTURE PROSPECTS AND CONCLUSION

Cyber attacks are now becoming widespread and have been described as being one of the world’s most tactically critical threats today. Since COVID-19, the US FBI reported that cybercrimes increased by 300%, as the offices moved to personal homes and operations were conducted by the employees virtually . CTI will be an indispensable element for the organizational security framework in the coming future. It results in productive capital investment in the firm’s security.

But threat intelligence should be integrated with the latest technologies and evolve accordingly . It needs to evolve with the changing nature of threats and must be integrated with technologies like AI and quantum computing for efficient and accurate working. Hence, CTI framework needs to evolve with the changing nature and sophistication of threats to become one of the most efficient mechanisms to be adopted by companies in their security infrastructure.

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