The ever-changing world of cybersecurity has challenged businesses and organizations of all sizes to adapt and improve defenses to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and the exploitation of network vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity professionals use threat intelligence to gain valuable knowledge about what is happening outside their business environment and to protect against cybercrime.
Understanding cyber threat intelligence (CTI)
Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) refers to all the information that can be gathered about potential cyberattacks. CTI is gathered by scouring hacking forums and the dark web, deploying honeypots and web crawlers, collecting data from real-life sensors and other means.
Access to a wealth of information and data helps security analysts gain extended visibility and establish their attack surface. The attack surface relates to the number of vulnerabilities on a network that a cybercriminal can exploit to gain access to sensitive information. Familiarity with the attack surface of a network lets you build better defenses and mitigate risk.
What is tactical and operational cyber threat intelligence?
The four main types of cyber threat intelligence are: Strategic, Tactical, Operational and Technical. In this article we dive deeper into tactical and operational cyber threat intelligence.
Tactical and operational cyber threat intelligence is the collection of information to determine how attacks are executed, what the attack footprints are, and what part of the attack surface is affected as well as all details around the threat actor attributed to the attack. This approach to cybersecurity is proactive, ensuring all relevant parties are fully briefed on any developments or trends.
Tactical CTI refers to “tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs),” focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of an organization’s network and its ability to prevent cyberattacks. The individuals who act upon this intelligence will be the SOC managers and IT service administrators.
Examples of tactical and operational CTI include:
- Threat actor and family information at the threat level
- MITRE ATT&CK mapping and TTPs at the indicator level
- Severity and confidence scoring at the threat level with values between 1-100
- Geo, industry and penetration media (workstations, servers, mobile, IoT) at the indicator level
How is tactical and operational Threat Intelligence used?
Tactical and operational CTI is predominantly used by security analysts who thoroughly understand how the organization’s network may be infiltrated using modern and advanced techniques. As mentioned, security professionals may include security operations center managers, IT managers, network operations center managers, and any senior employees related to these areas.
Tactical and operational cyber threat intelligence can help answer many questions, such as what tactics, techniques, and procedures the attacker may have access to and how they can be countered.
How does tactical and operational CTI benefit a business?
Tactical and operational cyber threat intelligence is highly important to businesses and organizations and can be broken down into four key benefits, which we discuss below.
1. Creates a Structured and Proactive Cybersecurity System
Creating a proactive cybersecurity system can sharply reduce risks and vulnerabilities. Threat Intelligence can provide insight into how a threat actor may try to attack a network, help identify potential access points, and measure a system’s overall attack surface.
If an attack succeeds, threat intelligence can also help stop attackers in their tracks, preventing them from reaching their goals and mitigating the overall impact of the intrusion.
2. Helps to Make Complex Data More Digestible
Your cybersecurity intelligence will likely come as large, unorganized data sheets. Tactical and Operational threat intelligence can help make sense of this data in a structured way so action can be taken to better protect the business’ environment.
This amount of data will likely be too extensive to sort manually, so machine learning technology is often used to extract actionable intelligence.
3. Improved Responsiveness to Attacks
Your security team uses cyber threat intelligence to identify attacks as quickly as possible and to launch an immediate, effective response. Threat intelligence allows them to determine if the current defenses are fit for purpose and ensure that their investigative procedures can spot the latest and most advanced attacks.
Possessing the latest intelligence regarding TTPs can significantly improve detection methods, and the team can prioritize efforts to monitor the most vulnerable areas on a network. Attackers are constantly looking at new ways of targeting victims, from trying to extract business sensitive data to the personally identifiable information of your clients.
4. Future-Proofing Procedures and Defenses
Security systems can no longer be reactive. They must be positioned to detect any threats in real time and be capable of launching the necessary defenses to minimize the impact of the attack. This requires an adaptable framework designed to withstand a range of cybersecurity attacks.
Actively gathering the most up-to-date threat intelligence is vital if an organization is to be prepared for the latest and most sophisticated exploits. Implementing zero trust and advanced verification systems is one of the best ways of securing networks.
Identifying good Threat Intelligence
When discussing the intelligence with your potential provider, ask them for as many details about the data as possible.
Indicators of high quality in threat intelligence:
- The data has broad coverage, including geographical locations, industries, and penetration media.
- All data comes with context so it can be applied to different systems and scenarios. Context includes Threat Actor Attribution and Mitre Steps Mapping.
- Besides context, the intelligence is scored so security analysts can determine the threat severity level.
- The intelligence includes a Popularity Index. This index helps analysts understand how prevalent certain attacks are at specific moments
Tactical and Operational CTI focuses on gathering as much data as possible related to the latest cybersecurity threats. This information can be gathered from various sources, including real-life sensors, incident reports, and verified human intelligence.
Using this data, security managers can identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s network, then implement processes and defenses to identify attacks quickly and mitigate damage.
When choosing your CTI provider, it is important to understand the quality of the intelligence as well as its relevance to your business. It should be gathered from a large number of sources and be accompanied by context and analysis so threat levels can be determined, and necessary measures can be taken. In addition to this, your chosen provider should use a range of processes to help process, measure and integrate the data.
The newly updated Bitdefender Advanced Threat Intelligence solution provides information centered on threats, with extended context such as Threat Actor Attribution, MITRE Steps mapping, behavioral detection details, geographic coverage and preferred platform typology of the victims. The solution provides scoring, confidence and popularity index to help security analysts understand the severity, certainty and prevalence of threats as they are occurring around the globe.
First-hand, contextual, and up-to-date insights from Bitdefender Advanced Threat Intelligence help organizations detect abnormal activity in their environments while providing actionable insights to help accelerate and guide response actions.
Learn more about Advanced Threat Intelligence.