The Art of Keeping Threat Intelligence Feeds Clean

Estimated read time 4 min read

Threat Intelligence (T.I.) feeds are a rich source of data that helps organizations detect, prevent, and mitigate security threats. However, cluttered feeds filled with duplicates and false positives can dilute the value of this information. To make the most out of T.I. feeds, it’s crucial to establish effective processes for keeping them clean and efficient.

Handling Duplicate IOCs

Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) are crucial elements of T.I. feeds. However, duplicates can lead to redundancy and confusion. To avoid this, incorporate deduplication processes in your threat intelligence pipeline. When new IOCs are ingested, check them against the existing database to prevent duplications. Consider using IOC management tools that offer automatic deduplication features.

Tackling Duplicate Feeds

T.I. feeds can come from different sources, including plugins, crawlers, and security vendors. Some feeds may be repackaged versions of the same data under different names. Identify such feeds and prioritize unique ones to reduce redundancy.

Research the origin of each feed, understand the source of its data, and assess the overlap between different feeds. By doing this, you can ensure that each feed adds unique value to your threat intelligence.

Managing False Positives

False positives, or benign activities incorrectly flagged as threats, can become a significant distraction. To manage them, you’ll need a robust validation process. Whenever a new threat is detected, verify it with additional sources before escalating it. Use threat intelligence platforms that offer a threat scoring system, which helps assess the reliability and severity of the detected threat.

Establishing Regular Audits

To maintain the cleanliness of your T.I. feeds, schedule regular audits. Check for outdated or irrelevant IOCs and feeds, and remove or archive them. This will ensure your feeds remain current and actionable.

Implementing Feedback Loops

Feedback loops allow you to learn from past mistakes. When duplicates or false positives are identified, trace them back to their source and understand how they ended up in your feed. This will help you refine your validation and deduplication processes.

Prioritizing Quality over Quantity

It’s tempting to subscribe to as many feeds as possible in the hope of catching more threats. However, a smaller number of reliable, well-maintained feeds often provide more value than a large number of unvetted feeds.

Harnessing the Power of Your Own Feeds

Investing in your own threat intelligence feeds can be a powerful strategy to supplement external feeds. By leveraging tools like crawlers, sandboxes, and proxies, you gain control over the quality of intelligence and can tailor the feeds to your organization’s specific needs.

The Advantage of Ownership

Operating your own feeds has a significant advantage: control. With your own crawlers, you can dictate where and what data to gather, ensuring relevancy to your specific threat landscape. Sandboxes allow you to safely detonate and analyze suspicious files, adding rich, actionable data to your feeds.

Quality Control

Having control over your feeds means you can ensure high-quality data. By monitoring the generation and collection processes, you can minimize duplicates and false positives. This not only improves the cleanliness of your feeds but also boosts their reliability.


While setting up your own feeds requires initial investment, it can prove cost-effective in the long run. External feeds often come with hefty subscription costs and can still require significant cleaning and vetting. In contrast, your own feeds offer customized, high-quality intelligence at no additional cost once set up.

The Balance of Hybrid Approach

While having your own feeds has substantial benefits, it doesn’t mean you should completely forego external feeds. A balanced, hybrid approach usually works best. External feeds provide a broader view of the global threat landscape, while your own feeds offer customized intelligence pertinent to your organization.

Reza Rafati

Reza Rafati, based in the Netherlands, is the founder of An industry professional providing insightful commentary on infosec, cybercrime, cyberwar, and threat intelligence, Reza dedicates his work to bolster digital defenses and promote cyber awareness.

You May Also Like

More From Author