Threat Intelligence Tools: Types, Benefits & Best Practices
What Are Threat Intelligence Tools?
Threat intelligence technology provides organizations with data about the latest cyber threats, including zero-day attacks, new forms of malware, and exploits. Threat intelligence tools can improve security performance by providing intelligence about specific threats affecting networks, infrastructure, and endpoint devices.
Threat intelligence provides detailed information about threats, including the threat actors behind them, the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) involved, and known methods to prevent, protect against, and remediate the threats. IT administrators and security professionals use this data to better protect systems from new threats and plan for possible breaches.
Many security tools, such as security information and event management (SIEM), security testing tools, and vulnerability management software, integrate with threat intelligence feeds or provide similar information to threat intelligence products.
However, to be considered a full threat intelligence product, a solution must provide information on new threats and vulnerabilities, provide detailed remediation instructions for common threats, and support analysis of specific threats discovered on networks, endpoint devices, or other IT systems.
Types of Threat Intelligence
Threat intelligence can generally be divided into three categories:
Strategic threat intelligence offers an overview of the organization's threat landscape. It is designed to inform decision-making by key stakeholders and executives. Its content is non-technical and presented through reports and briefings.
Effective strategic intelligence provides insight into the major risks associated with a particular course of action, overall attack patterns, and environmental or political trends affecting the organization.
Tactical threat intelligence describes a threat actor’s tactics and techniques. This helps defenders understand how their organization is being attacked and how best to prevent or mitigate these attacks. This typically includes the technology environment and serves the people directly involved in an organization's defenses, such as security analysts, system architects, and network administrators.
Effective tactical intelligence provides information about the tools and infrastructure used by attackers in relevant threat vectors. This includes details about the targeted vulnerabilities and exploits used by attackers, and the tactics and tools that attackers can use to evade detection.
Operational threat intelligence encompasses knowledge of a cyberattack, incident, or activity, with insights that can assist incident response teams in understanding the nature, timing, and intent of a specific attack. This type of intelligence often includes technical information such as the attack vector in use, the vulnerability being exploited, and the command and control (C&C) servers in use.
Threat intelligence feeds are a major source of operational threat information, which often focuses on a specific threat indicator, such as a malware hash or a suspicious domain. Threat intelligence platforms provide access to a large number of curated threat intelligence feeds.
What Is a Threat Intelligence Platform?
A Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) is a software solution that provides organizations the data they need to detect, block, and eliminate security threats. It combines multiple threat intelligence feeds, compares them to previous incidents, and generates prioritized alerts for security teams.
TIP integrates with SIEM solutions to prioritize alerts and help define the level of urgency. They can assist triage and investigation by enriching existing alerts with detailed threat information.
One of the benefits of this platform is that it allows security teams to share threat intelligence with other relevant departments and external security experts. The system collects and analyzes threat data and coordinates policies and activities among stakeholders.
When a major security incident occurs, multiple relevant departments are involved in the investigation. Because many people are involved in carrying out the incident response plan, it is critical to have a shared language about the threats discovered in the environment. A TIP is useful to enable collaboration and information sharing at those critical moments.
Related content: Read our guide to threat intelligence platform (coming soon)
Best Practices for Integrating Threat Intelligence Tools
Here are best practices that can help you make effective threat intelligence use.
Use Intelligence Proactively
Threat intelligence should be used as a guide to identify vulnerabilities and threats before an attack. You can leverage threat intelligence data for guidance on:
Deployment of security tools that can address important threat vectors
How to restrict permissions or access controls to prevent known attacks
Identify patches or updates that need to be applied to vulnerable systems
Threat intelligence helps classify risky activities and incidents and guide early detection and more effective response. It is especially useful when integrated into automated response processes, as it helps predict the flow of attacks and prescribe the most effective counteractions. Automated response is another way to ensure you detect and respond to attacks as early as possible.
Integrate With Existing Security Tools
Threat intelligence is not so effective as a standalone tool, but highly useful when integrated to other security technologies. Build threat intelligence into automated security systems and use it to make your tools better able to detect suspicious events and patterns of behavior.
Threat Intelligence is commonly integrated with SIEM, enabling proactive alerting, prioritization, and adding contextual data for alerts to ease investigation. Many other security systems can also benefit from threat intelligence data; these include endpoint security solutions, next generation firewalls (NGFW), and web application firewalls (WAF).
Improve Alert Quality
Alert fatigue is a widespread problem among security teams. It happens when security teams are not able to review and respond to all the alerts they receive, due to the sheer volume or low quality of alerts. When too many alerts are false positives or require in-depth investigation to decipher, security analysts often end up ignoring them.
Threat intelligence helps categorize and prioritize alerts, and remove false positives, by correlating data in the alert with threat intelligence feeds and databases. This can ensure that higher-priority issues are dealt with first, overcoming alert fatigue, and ensuring security teams never miss important notifications.