The information you gather about threats or menaces to computer systems and networks, which allows you to prevent or neutralize cyberattacks is called “threat intelligence.” It also includes knowledge about the weaknesses in your security systems that you need to address to sufficiently protect computing resources. A report listing the IP addresses of potential threats is an example of threat intelligence.
Let’s say you’ve been experiencing constant break-ins at home. You decide to investigate the incidents and discover that one of your ground-floor windows has a defective lock. So you have the lock replaced and the break-ins cease. The intelligence you gathered helped you pinpoint the exact problem and implement the precise solution.
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Amid today’s continually evolving threat landscape, threat intelligence gathering has become a vital part of any organization’s cybersecurity measures. By identifying common indicators of compromise (IoC), the data obtained helps manage security vulnerabilities.
Steps in the Threat Intelligence Gathering Process
Knowing how to collect and use threat intelligence properly is crucial. Here’s how to go about the process:
The first thing you need to do is identify what you want to find. You have to come up with the right questions to get a sense of direction. As much as possible, these issues must zero in on a particular event or activity. Then, you should decide who in your organization will use the data you uncover and for what purpose. Does your technical team need it for a new product your company is developing? Do your executives require the data to plan for security initiatives for the next fiscal year?
2. Data Collection
After carefully laying out the direction, you need to collect raw data that answer the questions you listed during the planning stage. To come up with the right pool of information, you need to use multiple sources, such as network logs and records of previous security incidents. It is also useful to obtain data from technical sources available on the Surface or even the Dark Web. Look for the most common IoCs, which include:
- Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), domain names, or IP addresses. If there are multiple IP addresses you need to check, you can use such tools as bulk IP lookups to automate the process;
- Email addresses tied to malicious activities;
- Malicious registry keys, filenames, and file hashes;
3. Data Processing
After gathering all the required data, you need to sort and organize it. This step involves filtering and removing repetitive data, including false positives that may affect the outcomes. Since processing can be time-consuming, some threat intelligence experts use readily available application programming interfaces (APIs) or databases that provide structured data to streamline tasks.
4. Data Analysis
You then need to make sense of the information you gathered. That should reveal security vulnerabilities. Afterward, you need to present your analysis in a format that users would understand. They should get relevant data for their specific tasks.
5. Data Dissemination
Processed threat intelligence must then be distributed to recipients promptly, particularly if the process reveals security loopholes that require immediate attention.
Threat intelligence can only be useful if it answers specific purposes. What’s clear, though, is that all organizations need it if they want to avoid becoming a cyberattack victim.