Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is like having a detailed map to help you navigate through the dangers of the online world. It allows businesses to understand and prepare for potential cyber threats before they happen.
This information is especially important for keeping digital information and systems safe from hackers and cyberattacks.
The Relationship Between CTI and Threat Hunting
CTI is the process and practice of collecting and analysing information about current and potential attacks that threaten the safety of an organisation’s digital assets. It involves understanding the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of adversaries, as well as their motivations and capabilities.
The intelligence gathered can be used for a variety of purposes. These may be informing security strategies, developing defensive measures, or providing organisations with an understanding of the cyber threat landscape.
Threat Hunting, on the other hand, is a proactive cybersecurity technique. It involves searching through networks, systems, and datasets to detect and isolate advanced threats that evade existing security solutions.
Traditional cybersecurity would involve waiting for security alerts and dealing with potential threats. Threat hunters, on the other hand, use CTI, along with their knowledge of adversaries and the IT environment. They proactively identify signs of compromise or suspicious activity that might indicate a breach or an imminent attack.
CTI provides the information that can guide threat-hunting activities. For example, if CTI indicates that a certain type of malware is being leveraged by cybercriminals targeting your industry, threat hunters can specifically look for indicators of this malware within organisational systems.
Interestingly, threat hunting can also generate new cyber threat intelligence. By uncovering new threats or attacker methodologies, threat hunters can enrich the organisation’s threat intelligence repository with fresh information about emerging risks and vulnerabilities.
However, although CTI may appear to be an ideal solution for protecting your company’s data, documents, and infrastructure, it is not a cure-all for your problems. It does come with certain challenges.
The Challenge of Too Much Information
Having lots of data can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Especially when it comes to cyber threat intelligence. Imagine trying to drink from a fire hose—you’re going to get more water than you can handle, and most of it will go to waste.
In the same way, security teams can get swamped with so much information that they can’t sort out what’s important.
Too much data can lead to ‘information overload’. This happens when there’s such a massive flow of data that it becomes tough to process it all effectively. Security teams may find themselves trying to keep up with new information. Instead of reinforcing their cyber defences, they spend time going through data.
Spotting the Real Threats
Within the ocean of data, not everything is a critical threat. Some are false alarms, while others are minor issues that don’t require immediate action. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Security teams need to be able to pick out the real dangers quickly, so they can focus on stopping them.
Keeping Up with the Relevant Data
Cyber threats are always evolving, and so is the information related to them. Data that was relevant yesterday might not be helpful today. Companies must stay up-to-date. But, with so much information coming in, it’s challenging to keep track of what is current and what’s outdated.
Understanding the Context
It’s not just about knowing the threats; it’s also about understanding them in context. For instance, a vulnerability in one type of software might be critical for one business but irrelevant for another.
Every company is unique, with its own vulnerabilities and security practices. Generic data can be helpful, but it won’t provide the tailored insights that a company needs to protect itself effectively. Security teams require information that aligns with their specific needs, risks, and security maturity level.
Companies need intelligence that is specific to their situation and helps them understand how a threat applies to them.
Simplifying Complex Data
The technical nature of cyber threat intelligence can also be a barrier. Not everyone is a cybersecurity expert. And, complex data needs to be broken down into simpler terms. That way everyone in the organisation, from IT to senior management, can understand the risks. That will allow them to contribute to the security posture cohesively.
To overcome these challenges, companies need smarter ways to handle cyber threat intelligence. This could involve better data management systems, more effective prioritisation techniques, or advanced analytics that can sift through the noise to find the signals.
AI to the Rescue: Why Quality Data Matters
In the thick forest of cyber data, artificial intelligence (AI) acts like a skilled guide. In essence, it helps chart a path through the underbrush and find the safest route. By processing vast amounts of information quickly, AI can uncover those hidden threats that might otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late.
The Role of AI in Managing Data
AI excels at managing the complexity of cyber threat intelligence. It can analyse data at incredible speed and recognise patterns that suggest a potential threat. This allows security teams to act swiftly, focusing on genuine risks rather than getting bogged down by irrelevant data.
However, the effectiveness of AI hinges heavily on the quality of the data it uses. If the data is outdated, inaccurate, or just plain wrong, then the conclusions AI draws will be flawed. It’s like giving poor instructions to that aforementioned skilled guide in the forest. They might be an expert navigator, but they’ll still get lost.
AI must be fed with credible, current, and relevant information to provide meaningful insights. This is crucial for businesses. They rely on these insights to make decisions that protect their digital assets from cyber threats.
Quality data fuels the efficacy of AI in cyber threat intelligence. A robust data repository should be vast. However, it should also be detailed and rapidly updated to reflect the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats.
Platforms that map the internet infrastructure, similar to what Censys offers, play a vital role in this regard. They provide a detailed view of the global internet. That’s how they contribute to the ‘good data’ necessary for AI algorithms to function optimally. By consistently tracking and analysing online assets and services, these platforms ensure that the intelligence gleaned is both accurate and actionable.
Wide-Ranging Sources Enhance AI
To ensure that the data is as accurate as possible, AI systems should pull from a broad spectrum of sources. This includes the open web, private databases, and harder-to-access areas like the deep and dark web. These sources offer unique information that can highlight emerging threats that haven’t yet surfaced in more public domains.
Combining AI with Cyber Expertise
While AI provides the muscle to crunch through data, cybersecurity experts provide the brain to make sense of the results. They’re the ones who can take AI’s findings and put them into context for their company. They consider specific business operations, digital infrastructures, and unique vulnerabilities to interpret the AI’s information correctly.
From Data to Action
When AI and cyber expertise work together, they turn raw data into actionable intelligence. This helps companies to not only understand the threats they face but also how to respond effectively. It enables them to be proactive, often stopping cyber threats before they can do any harm.
Ultimately, AI is a powerful tool in the fight to protect digital assets and infrastructure, but it must be underpinned by high-quality data to be truly effective. With the right data, AI can help businesses stay one step ahead of cybercriminals, safeguarding their digital future.
Making Sense of Cyber Threats
Some solutions mix AI with CTI. These should give clear and relevant answers to help businesses make smart decisions quickly. They should also keep private information safe and only use the necessary data.
Keeping digital information and systems safe is not a one-time thing. It’s about always being ready and able to stop threats before they become serious problems. With good cyber threat intelligence and AI, companies can be more proactive. That means they can stop attacks before they happen, not just react after the damage is done.
Using the right tools for cybersecurity means choosing those that are simple to use and provide the right answers quickly. With cyber threats constantly changing, it’s vital to have up-to-date and reliable information to stay safe.
In the end, it’s the smart use of CTI, along with the help of AI, that will keep digital assets and infrastructure secure. It’s this combination that will guide companies in protecting themselves against the vast and ever-changing threats of the cyber world.
Parul Mathur has been writing since 2009. That’s when she discovered her love for SEO and how it works. She developed an interest in learning HTML and CSS a couple of years later, and React in 2020. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, walking her dog, messing up her garden, or doodling.