To make one point clear, indicators of compromise (IOCs) are not threat intelligence.
IOCs are a valuable source of data, but threat intelligence is the tangible information that forms the basis for your actions, based on the context in which the data originates.
IOCs on their own are just one facet of what makes up threat intelligence.
Basically, threat intelligence is the entire data set that’s collected, assessed and applied.
Why is Threat Intelligence so Important?
The authors of malware are using more convoluted techniques and methods to penetrate a network, meaning traditional defence mechanisms such as anti-virus tools etc will not address the modern threats your organisation is facing.
The ultimate goal of a data breach is to get past the first line of defence, lie undetected for long periods of time whilst it navigates your network and extracts data, and essentially not be faced with the last line of defence: your incident response.
If your incident response is based on just the data from IOCs, your organisation will never know the true totality of a data breach as this approach is purely reactive.
How does Threat Intelligence Help?
Companies that are using threat intelligence techniques are both proactive and reactive; understanding that attackers are always evolving they keep a strong ear to the ground at all times.
This is why it needs to become standard practice to garner threat intelligence from a plethora of sources, namely which the three most common types of data breach – user based, application based and infrastructure based.
You need the intelligence there in order to manage these attacks.
The difference between relying on IOCs to respond to an incident is that the process of translating the data and understanding exactly what it means is time consuming and manually laborious.
Once you implement threat intelligence into your data security strategy you’ll be able to prioritise your responses.
Let’s say you identify an IOC as your IP address.
This only tells you that your network has been intruded.
Threat intelligence could tell you that your IT systems went down some weeks ago, or your internet security hasn’t been updated, meaning you can tackle the data breach with more understanding around the cause or time of possible intrusion.
Integrating Threat Intelligence into Operations
From an operations perspective, threat intelligence is crucial.
If you put threat intelligence at the epicentre of your organisation, ensuring all employees provide intel to help support the incident response, you’ll be able to protect your data more securely.
This could be anything from reporting phishing emails, noting the time of day, type of file attachment and sender email, to reporting a suspicious authorisation failure.
The more intel your organisation can garner on an ongoing basis, puts you in a better position to ultimately respond to an attack but also improve your time-to-detection.
You need to know the types of attacks that are inevitably going to threaten your business and compromise your data.
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