As digital technologies continue to become central to every industry, they foster greater connectivity, automation and potential for advancement. But, they also increase the threat of cyber-attacks, forcing security experts to adapt.
This is where threat intelligence comes in. It enables security solutions vendors to upgrade their portfolio to better mitigate or prevent cyber-attacks with timely threat data— the bad actors, their capabilities, motivations, intentions, and what indicators to look for to help you make well-informed decisions regarding your customers’ security.
Recent years have seen a shift toward data-driven decision-making. Threat intelligence-fueled tools help organizations collect and analyze massive amounts of data to provide valuable insights about risks and how to mitigate them. We’ll take a look at what threat intelligence is, some best practices and some practical use cases for businesses looking to bolster their products and services.
What is tactical threat intelligence?
Threat vectors are ever expanding, placing a great burden on security teams handling the risks of both human error and technical malfunctions.
Further complicating matters, security team members at many small to mid-size businesses are relatively inexperienced. For example, recent studies show that 57% of developers have less than five years of working experience in their field. This lack of experience when it comes to security issues can prove a hindrance in identifying new threats, which are always evolving.
Cybersecurity must be a multi-layered strategy with efforts at both the technical and policy levels. Tactical threat intelligence aids in this pursuit by delivering real-time information about the latest threats. It aims to help defenders comprehend how their company is likely to be attacked so they can determine if the appropriate identification and mitigation mechanisms are in place to prevent a breach.
Unlike strategic threat intelligence, tactical threat intelligence is intended primarily for technical audiences. Specifically, tactical threat intelligence is useful to personnel explicitly involved in an organization's defense, such as system administrators and architects. It also plays a role in higher-level security decision making that is critical for both the security and resilience of business security systems and strategies.
Since threat actors vary their tactics and techniques often, tactical threat intelligence is typically collected during normal intelligence operations instead of on request. And while threat intelligence is central to monitoring solutions, the particular requirements for different uses vary in context, content, speed, quality and support.
Here are some use cases to better understand the most effective tactical threat intelligence solution for your business. These use cases can serve as a roadmap that helps you quickly achieve your goals while preventing common pitfalls.
Threat intelligence use cases
Extend next-gen firewalls
Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) identify and prevent sophisticated attacks by enforcing protection policies at the app, protocol and port levels. Providers incorporate web reputation and classification feeds to gain complete control and visibility over all the traffic at edge devices, which are at increased risk of compromise as they gain popularity.
NGFW vendors can offer clients improved safety, allowing them to control how their users access the web. This indicates unprecedented security against a broader spectrum of regulatory, legal, compliance and productivity issues.
Done right, the solution can augment resource utilization and productivity with instant time-to-value via easy integration. You can also provide this as an upsell security subscription service, which can lead to incremental revenue.
Expand the scope of intrusion prevention systems
An intrusion prevention system (IPS) actively analyzes and takes automated actions on the flow of traffic that enters the network to identify and block exploits. As a supplement to encryption protocols, IPS providers can incorporate actionable threat intelligence on phishing, spam, malicious websites, botnets and similar attacks to protect communications and differentiate their solutions.
IPS vendors can differentiate their solutions with comprehensive coverage and added protection against a range of productivity, regulatory, legal and resource utilization threats. When you choose the right threat intelligence solution, you can integrate new services, increasing customer satisfaction and, eventually, boosting revenue.
Boost web filtering gateways
Gateways combine various security services into a unified platform to provide security through outbound web filtering irrespective of business size. Timely and accurate IP reputation and web classification contribute to enlarged always-updated coverage for a variety of use-cases.
Continuously updated data delivers both timeliness and precision. Because gateways offer various security services, customers gain improved protection from gateway web filtering and enhanced IPS and firewall capabilities.
Improve ADC solutions
Application delivery controllers (ADCs) are designed to augment the security, performance and resilience of applications provided over the internet. ADC suppliers incorporate IP reputation services to detect and avoid malicious activities before they hit the network. Timeliness and accuracy are essential.
Selecting the appropriate tactical threat intelligence solution differentiates your company from your competition. When you give your clients optimized security against various malicious IP addresses based on real-time updates, your offering is more effective than simple ADC, which leverages static lists. Naturally, there are direct advantages to your customer base in the form of an extra defensive layer, enhanced application availability and performance, and augmented data center output.
Secure wireless access points
A wireless access point (WAP) enables Wi-Fi devices to link to wired networks. A WAP vendor incorporates web/IP reputation and web classification services for content filtering to identify and prevent malicious activities before they hit the network. Web reputation/classification can help suppliers differentiate their solutions in a crowded market while improving customer security.
Timely and accurate web reputation and classification enable protection from internet-related risks at speeds in real time, while smart caching prevents performance issues. In addition, extensive coverage of URLs and domains provides an easy fit with clients' unique requirements.
While every use case demands a particular mix of capabilities to meet different requirements, some common traits are included in the strongpoints list of any provider of tactical threat intelligence. Accuracy is of the utmost importance, and providers should offer broad coverage of infrequently and newly visited sites and popular sites so they don’t miss anything. Timeliness is also critical. You must service requests in real time, meaning the threat intelligence database should be updated constantly, with novelties permanently added and obsolete entries removed periodically according to included TTLs (time-to-live).
Tactical threat intelligence provides transparency and offers various benefits for both security decision-makers and frontline security personnel. For the maximum value, it should be incorporated into an extensive threat intelligence strategy as part of a larger, multi-faceted security strategy.