The Pillars of an Effective Threat Intelligence Strategy

It’s essential that your organization be informed about and guard against potential cyberthreats. This argues for developing your organization’s threat intelligence. Do you know the three pillars of an effective threat intelligence strategy? To fully protect your organization, it’s important that you build your threat intelligence on these three basic tenants.

Why is Threat Intelligence Important?

Threat intelligence is all the data you gather and analyze about potential threats and threat actors. Developing a threat intelligence strategy is how you understand the potential targets, behaviors, and motives of these malicious actors that seek to breach or attack your organization.

During just the first half of 2020, more than 36 billion records were exposed due to data breaches. Many of these breaches were the result of ransomware; cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike reports an 82% increase in ransomware-related data leaks in 2021.

Threat intelligence is important because it helps you recognize and prepare for incidents of these sorts. With the proper threat intelligence you can build stronger defenses and make more informed decisions about your organization’s cybersecurity. Without effective threat intelligence your organization will be less prepared for any breaches or attacks—and less capable of defending against and recovering from them.

What Are the Three Pillars of a Threat Intelligence Strategy?

An effective threat intelligence strategy is built on three pillars. The threat intelligence must be:

  • Strategic
  • Operational
  • Tactical

You need to consider all three pillars as part of your best practices when developing your organization’s threat intelligence strategy.

Strategic

Think of strategic intelligence as the top level of a pyramid, the big picture view of what’s happening in the wild.

Strategic intelligence provides upper management with the data and insight necessary to make informed decisions regarding your organization’s overall cybersecurity. It’s an overview of the entire threat environment with a focus on how those threats might affect your organization.

Strategic intelligence doesn’t deal with individual threats or how to respond to them. (That’s the province of operational and tactical intelligence.) Instead, it’s all about general cybersecurity trends and developments—threats both known and developing around the globe.

For example, strategic threat intelligence looks at the overall number of cyber incidents, whether they’re on the increase, what types of threats are most prominent, and what new types of threats are likely to develop over the next year or so. With this intelligence in hand, upper management can better assess the relative risk to your organization, set IT security budgets, hire the necessary personnel, and set the firm’s overall approach to cybersecurity.

Operational

Operational intelligence bridges the detailed view of tactical intelligence and the big picture view of strategic intelligence. It takes the tactical information and feeds it into the strategic intelligence that upper management uses to develop strategic initiatives.

Gathering operational threat intelligence is much like how a journalist builds a story, by asking the “who,” “why,” and “how” questions. In regards to operational intelligence, these three questions correspond to the following information:

  • Attribution (the “who”), the likely threat actors
  • Motivation (the “why”), the probable intent of the threat actors
  • Tactics, techniques, and procedures (the “how), the tools most frequently employed by the threat actors

Studying these factors provides context and insight into how threats might develop. The more you know about who the potential threat actors are, what motivates them, and what tactics they tend to use, the better you can prepare specific operational defenses against possible attacks.

Tactical

The final pillar of threat intelligence—the broad base of the pyramid, as it were—is tactical intelligence. This is the more detailed and most immediate form of threat intelligence, focusing on current threats and active attacks.

Tactical intelligence gathers information about likely attacks. It’s focused on identifying weak points in your cybersecurity as well as any signs of possible intrusion. These indicators of compromise (IOCs) include such red flags as bad IP address and URLs, malicious domain names, unusual network activity, and the like.

This type of intelligence is often automated, so that threats can be detected in real time. The goal is quick and accurate identification of any intrusion so that the proper reactive measures can be taken.

Tactical threat intelligence is not just reactive but also predictive. That is, the real-time data gathered is used to predict future threats. This enables the creation of more tactical cyber defenses that strengthen your firm’s overall security posture.

Building an Effective Threat Intelligence Strategy

Taken together, strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence provide the building blocks for an effective threat intelligence strategy. You get both immediate intelligence and a big picture analysis to help better protect your network, digital assets, and privileged communications.

Let Wickr Help You Develop an Effective Threat Intelligence Strategy

It’s important that your threat intelligence strategy evaluate not only the security of your firm’s data but also your communications. To fully secure your communications from breach or attack, turn to the experts at Wickr. Our secure communications and collaboration platform employs strong end-to-end encryption and other military-grade security to ensure that all of your text, voice, and video communications are fully secure. It’s just one way your organization can work to ensure an effective strategy against cyber threats.

Contact Wickr today to learn more about the role that secure communications plays in your threat intelligence strategy.

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