There's a common misconception in cyber security that if you have threat data or threat information, you've checked the "threat intelligence” box. While utilizing threat data or threat information is better than nothing, it doesn’t provide you with the same level of operational capability as threat intelligence, and understanding the difference between the terms is important for any security practitioner. In this blog, we're going to discuss the difference between threat data, threat information, and threat intelligence and explain why having actual threat intelligence is the best solution for any organization.
Threat data is raw, unprocessed information about potential cyber threats that has been gathered from a range of sources, including security logs, network traffic, and system events. Threat data often includes indicators of compromise (IOCs) such as IP addresses, file hashes, and domain names. Threat data is typically unstructured and lacks context or analysis. It provides a basic understanding of potential risks but typically does not provide actionable insights.
Threat information is the next step up from threat data. It involves contextualizing the raw data and identifying patterns and trends that could indicate a potential cyber threat. Analyzing data from internal and external sources, including threat feeds, security research reports, and other pertinent information, is part of this process. Threat information gives us a better understanding of potential cyber threats, but it still doesn't provide us with any actionable insights or recommendations on how to detect or mitigate the risk.
Threat intelligence is the most advanced form of cyber threat analysis. It involves collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data from numerous sources to provide actionable recommendations on how to protect against potential cyber threats. Threat intelligence includes both technical and non-technical information, such as geopolitical events, cybercrime forums, and hacker groups. It provides a holistic view of the cyber threat landscape and helps organizations stay ahead of potential attacks by feeding information through a strategic, operational, and tactical lens depending on how that information will be used. Strategic information is best filtered to organizational decision-makers and utilized to steer conversations about what threats are most relevant to an organization and how best to defend against those threats. Operational information is best delivered to senior-level security practitioners, who are responsible for building alert concepts and playbooks to enable various security tools to ingest intelligence in an organized way. Tactical information is filtered down to SOC operators via indicator information and alert management. It also allows those operators access to an encyclopedia of organized threat information that can be used to assist in providing context to alerts and day-to-day triage. This three-pronged approach takes advantage of the full capabilities of threat intelligence.
Why Threat Intelligence is a Better Solution
Threat data and threat information are valuable for identifying potential risks, but they do not offer recommendations or practical insights into how to protect against these risks. Threat intelligence provides a complete understanding of the potential cyber threats and offers recommendations on how to mitigate the risks effectively. It helps organizations make informed decisions and prioritize their resources effectively.
Threat intelligence is a proactive approach to cybersecurity, as it helps organizations stay ahead of potential attacks. It enables organizations to detect and respond to potential threats before they can cause any significant damage. Threat intelligence also helps organizations understand the motivations and tactics of cybercriminals, which can help them develop effective defense strategies.
In conclusion, while threat data and threat information provide some value in identifying potential risks, threat intelligence offers a complete understanding of potential threats and actionable insights on how to mitigate risks effectively. It is a proactive approach to cybersecurity that helps organizations stay ahead of potential attacks and make informed decisions.