What is Threat Intelligence?

Estimated read time 7 min read
Estimated read time 7 min read

Threat intelligence is not merely an agglomeration of threat data. It’s threat information that has undergone a series of sophisticated processes—aggregation, transformation, analysis, interpretation, and enrichment—to provide a contextual backdrop essential for informed decision-making.

Threat Hunting & Incident Response for Hybrid Deployments

In the realm of hybrid deployments—where on-premises systems coexist with cloud services—threat intelligence is a linchpin.

It informs threat hunting activities, enabling cybersecurity professionals to proactively seek out signs of compromise. When an incident occurs, intelligence provides the actionable insights for effective response and mitigation.

Securing Your Environment With On-Prem Security

Threat intelligence is not only applicable in cloud-based environments but is also crucial for securing on-premises systems. With precise, contextual information, on-prem security solutions can better detect and respond to threats.

What are the Types of Threat Intelligence?

Threat intelligence is multifaceted, each type catering to different layers of an organization’s security posture:

Tactical Threat Intelligence

Focuses on immediate threats, often disseminated through indicators of compromise (IoCs). Highly actionable, but short-lived in relevance.

Operational Threat Intelligence

This type provides insights into the motives and capabilities of adversaries. It guides higher-level strategic decisions and is especially useful in understanding targeted attacks.

Industry-Specific Threat Intelligence

This form of intelligence is tailored to specific industries like healthcare, finance, or critical infrastructure. It considers the unique risks and regulatory frameworks associated with each sector.

What does Threat Intelligence do?

Threat intelligence informs. It’s the difference between knowing that a storm is coming and understanding when, where, and how it will affect you.

This intelligence feeds into security systems, providing the rules and signatures that help detect malicious activities.

Moreover, it informs incident response strategies, helping to prioritize events and guide forensic analysis.

Why is Threat Intelligence Important?

In an era where cyber threats are escalating in both volume and sophistication, intelligence is the radar system for cybersecurity.

It offers advanced warning, allows for proactive measures, and provides a contextual understanding of the threat landscape. Without it, organizations are essentially operating blind.

What are the Common Indicators of Compromise?

Indicators of compromise (IoCs) are key data points that suggest a potential security breach. These can include:

  • Suspicious IP addresses
  • Unusual network traffic
  • Unexpected data flows
  • Malware hashes
  • Email addresses linked to phishing schemes

Who Benefits from Threat Intelligence?

Everyone within an organization, from the C-suite to the frontline IT staff, gains from threat intelligence.

Executive leaders receive the information necessary for risk assessment and strategic planning.

Security analysts and incident responders get the actionable insights they need to quickly detect and remediate threats.

Threat Intelligence Lifecycle

Threat Intelligence Lifecycle
Threat Intelligence Lifecycle

Understanding threat intelligence is not complete without a look at its 6 steps lifecycle:

1. Requirements

Identify what you need to know. Are you concerned about Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), or is your focus more on insider threats?

2. Collection

Gather raw data from multiple sources, both internal and external.

3. Processing

Convert raw data into a format suitable for analysis. This often involves data normalization and enrichment.

4. Analysis

Examine the processed data to extract meaningful insights. This is where the ‘intelligence’ in ‘threat intelligence’ comes into play.

5. Dissemination

Share the intelligence with relevant stakeholders, from security analysts to top-level executives.

6. Feedback

Collect feedback on the utility of the intelligence, allowing for iterative improvements.

Threat Intelligence Use Cases

  • Risk Management
  • Incident Response
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) Enhancement
  • Executive Reporting

Function: Sec/IT Analyst


  • Optimize Prevention and Detection Capabilities: By leveraging actionable insights from threat intelligence, security and IT analysts can fine-tune the rules and signatures in their defensive systems.

Use Cases:

  1. Signature Updates: Using threat intelligence to keep intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDPS) up-to-date with the latest threat signatures.
  2. Endpoint Protection: Employing intelligence to improve endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions.

Function: Security Operations Center (SOC)


  • Prioritize Incidents Based on Risk and Impact: With a deluge of alerts, SOC teams need to know what to focus on. Threat intelligence helps prioritize incidents that pose the most risk to the organization.

Use Cases:

  1. Alert Triage: Using threat intelligence to categorize and prioritize alerts effectively.
  2. Threat Hunting: Proactive identification of indicators of compromise (IoCs) based on current threat intelligence.

Function: Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT)


  • Accelerate Incident Investigations, Management, and Prioritization: Threat intelligence provides the contextual information that speeds up the incident response process.

Use Cases:

  1. Forensic Analysis: Applying threat intelligence for quicker and more accurate root cause analysis.
  2. Incident Correlation: Utilizing intelligence to link related incidents and understand the broader attack campaign.

Function: Intelligence Analyst


  • Uncover and Track Threat Actors: Threat intelligence aids in the identification and tracking of threat actors targeting the organization.

Use Cases:

  1. Attribution: Using intelligence to attribute attacks to specific threat actors or groups.
  2. Adversary Profiling: Creating profiles of threat actors based on their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

Function: Executive Management


  • Understand Risks and Options: Threat intelligence provides the strategic insights executives need for informed decision-making concerning cybersecurity risk management.

Use Cases:

  1. Strategic Planning: Using threat intelligence in the formulation of cybersecurity strategy and policy.
  2. Investment Decisions: Leveraging intelligence to make informed decisions on cybersecurity investments.

What Should Threat Intelligence Provide?

To truly empower an organization’s cybersecurity posture, threat intelligence should deliver the following:

Beyond the functionalities discussed, an ideal threat intelligence platform should also offer:

  • Scalability: As your organization grows, the platform should scale with you, capable of handling increased data and analytic requirements.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Complexity should not be a barrier. The platform should be intuitive, allowing users to focus on interpreting the data rather than struggling with the system.
  • Compliance Management: Given that many industries are subject to regulatory requirements around data protection, the platform should aid in compliance management.
  • Community and Vendor Support: Strong community support and vendor responsiveness can be invaluable, especially when dealing with emerging threats.

How To Select a Threat Intelligence Platform

Choosing the right threat intelligence platform is pivotal. Key considerations include data source diversity, ease of integration with existing systems, automated analysis capabilities, and the provision of actionable insights.

Always opt for a solution that aligns with your specific cybersecurity goals and operational complexities.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Understand the return on investment (ROI) by weighing the costs against the benefits. A platform that significantly reduces the incident response time and prevents breaches can offer tremendous ROI.

Vendor Reputation

Research the reputation of the vendor. User reviews, case studies, and third-party evaluations can provide valuable insights into the platform’s reliability and performance.

Same popular vendors are:

  • Crowdstrike
  • Kaspersky
  • Group-IB

Customization and Flexibility

The platform should be customizable to meet your organization’s unique needs. Whether it’s specific alert settings, data feeds, or reporting formats, customization can make a significant difference.

Trial Period

If possible, opt for platforms that offer a trial period. This allows you to test the system’s capabilities and compatibility with your existing infrastructure.

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