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Grow Your Business Security

What Is Cyber Threat Intelligence, and Why Do You Need It?

What Is Cyber Threat Intelligence, and Why Do You Need It?
Credit: LeoWolfert/Shutterstock

The global cost of cybercrime is estimated to be $600 billion, or 0.8 percent of the global GDP, according to a report by CSIS. It has grown at an alarming rate from about $445 billion in 2014, suggesting that this problem is only going to get worse.

It is increasingly easy for nontechnical users to launch cyberattacks using premade toolkits that can be downloaded online for free or at a very small cost. Combine that with online resources like YouTube, and there are thousands of attacking options and millions of willing users. Keeping up with all of this is a full-time job, resulting in the expansion of a new area of cybersecurity known as cyber threat intelligence.

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is an area of cybersecurity that focuses on the collection and analysis of information about current and potential attacks that threaten the safety of an organization or its assets. The benefit of threat intelligence is that it's a proactive security measure, preventing data breaches and saving you the financial costs of cleaning up after an incident. Its purpose is to give companies an in-depth understanding of the threats that pose the greatest risk to their infrastructure and tell them what they can do to protect their business. All information should be actionable and provide support to the organization.

You can obtain threat intelligence by hiring a CTI service provider who will work with your security or IT team on a regular basis. They'll explain not only the threats but how to prevent them. Once your team has that information, you can make the adjustments to ensure your business won't fall victim to any threats.

Possibly the bigggest benefit of threat intelligence is that it provides you with a proactive defense, ensuring you are able to protect yourself before you incur any costs. It can also help you figure out if you've already been breached by using indicators of compromise (IOCs) that determine if your systems have been infected by malware. The longer a piece of malware remains undetected on a system, the more information it will steal and the more it will cost in the long run.

A common example of this is a type of malware called spyware, which can be installed on a computing device without your knowledge to obtain your internet usage data and other sensitive information. In a business setting, this could be credit card information, customers' and employees' personal information, and more.

The most expensive malware in history, Mydoom, caused an estimated $38.7 billion in damages and was the fastest-spreading virus ever. Several incidents could have been prevented if companies had known how it spread, which was mostly via email using eight main subject lines. Even the most basic threat intelligence service would have caught and stopped the virus in its tracks. Good threat intelligence will provide you with IOCs that help you detect malware like this before it costs you a ridiculous amount of money.

Here are some examples of threat intelligence companies:

This is one of the industry leaders in threat intelligence and cybersecurity in general. It targets large enterprises and provides nation-state-grade threat intelligence and cybersecurity consultation. Consider this company if you're in a business that deals with highly sensitive information, such as government secret services, financial institutions, healthcare companies and other businesses that are willing to pay out large sums of money for the absolute best in the industry.

Most people know IBM for its hardware products, but the company has also developed a strong threat intelligence program. IBM X-Force is the world-renowned threat intelligence program that allows users to research threats and collaborate with peers through a cloud-based threat intelligence sharing platform. Like FireEye, it is tailored to larger companies that need a comprehensive intelligence program.

ThreatTracer is a threat intelligence company tailored to small and midsize businesses. It provides cybersecurity solutions for companies that don't have large internal security teams. Firstly, ThreatTracer offers cybersecurity solutions that automate many of the manual security processes that IT teams execute. This helps smaller companies make up for the lack of dedicated manpower when it comes to cybersecurity. Secondly, through quality threat intelligence, ThreatTracer allows small and midsize companies to focus their limited resources on their most concerning issues.

Shimon Brathwaite

Shimon Brathwaite is an undergraduate co-op student from Ryerson University, graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. Shimon has worked in information technology and the water sports industry in between academic semesters. His hobbies include a wide variety of sports such as Soccer, Basketball, Muay Thai and keeping up with TV series like The 100 and Game of Thrones. Contact him at sbrathwaite@ryerson.ca and check out his website at cyberintel.ca.