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Grow Your Business Security

What Is Cyberthreat Intelligence, and Why Do You Need It?

image for Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
  • The cost of an average cyberattack now exceeds $1 million, according to Radware.
  • Cyberthreat intelligence examines the trends of existing and potential cyberattacks to help prepare against them.
  • There are numerous threat intelligence providers that can help your business come up with a cybersecurity solution.

When Sun Tzu wrote, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles," the fifth-century Chinese philosopher couldn't have imagined his teachings would apply to cybersecurity in 2019.

Yet businesses around the world are working to shore up their defenses against high-tech enemies at the proverbial gate by hiring cybersecurity analysts to research hackers' methods through a process called cyberthreat intelligence.

The cost of cyberattacks around the world has risen from $445 billion in 2014 to $600 billion, or 0.8% of the global GDP, according to a 2018 study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

With all signs pointing to the problem only getting worse as free or cheap toolkits make cyberattacks easier to conduct, experts in the field are often tasked with creating risk assessments that help small businesses find any potential weaknesses.

Since the digital landscape is constantly shifting, cyberthreat intelligence requires highly skilled individuals who can keep up with the changes and alert clients of potential threats before they happen.

Cyberthreat intelligence 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.

By implementing this tactic, businesses can take proactive steps to ensure that their systems are secure. Through cyberthreat intelligence and analysis, data breaches can potentially be prevented altogether, saving you the financial costs of having to set any incident response plans in motion.

The purpose of cyberthreat intelligence is to give companies an in-depth understanding of the threats that pose the greatest risk to their infrastructure and devise a plan to protect their business. Analysts strive to give their clients as much actionable information as possible based on any existing threats they find.

Part of the understanding that comes from cyberthreat intelligence analysis is why a hacker would attack your systems to begin with. Knowing the opposition's motive can shed light onto what areas of your systems could be the most vulnerable.

With enough information and forethought, a business can then implement the right tools to monitor for certain behaviors and conduct a potent incident response as a result.

There are numerous service providers staffed with cyberthreat intelligence analysts who will work with your cybersecurity or IT team to hash out a plan for your small business. Once hired, the service will investigate and explain any potential threats your business faces and what you can do to keep those threats at bay.

Armed with that kind of information, whoever takes care of your network will make the appropriate adjustments.

Along with providing your company the proper tools to stymie any cyberattacks, cyberthreat intelligence can determine if you've already had a security issue. Through the use of indicators of compromise (IOCs), intelligence analysts can determine whether your systems have been hit with malware that, if left undetected, could spell trouble in the form of stolen sensitive data.

One type of malware that's commonly used is spyware, which can be installed on a system without your knowledge to obtain internet usage data and other sensitive information. In a business setting, this could be credit card information, customers' and employees' personal information, and other valuable data.

Malware can become a costly problem for any business. For example, one piece of malware named Ryuk caused major headaches for some organizations throughout the United States at the end of 2018 and early 2019.

As a piece of ransomware, which locks systems down before demanding payment for the user to gain access, Ryuk specifically targeted organizations that run on strict timetables like The Los Angeles Times and other daily newspapers, as well as utility companies on the Eastern seaboard. It also wreaked havoc on businesses over the holiday season.

Ransomware attacks are particularly costly; the average ransom payment jumped by 184% to $36,295 in Q2 2019, according to Coveware.

If your small business uses the internet to keep itself running, or if you store your sensitive data in a local network that's connected to the internet, a cyberthreat intelligence firm may be beneficial.

To help you select a potential vendor, here are some options:

  • FireEye Threat Intelligence targets large enterprises and provides nation-state-grade threat intelligence and cybersecurity consultation. More than 1,000 analysts and experts are on hand to provide information from various sources to their clients. Consider this company if your business deals with highly sensitive information, such as classified government, financial or healthcare data.
  • IBM X-Force is the major hardware company's cyberthreat intelligence solution. IBM X-Force researches threats and collaborates with peers through a cloud-based threat intelligence-sharing platform. Like FireEye, it is tailored to larger companies that need a comprehensive intelligence program.
  • Anomali ThreatStream is a threat-detection, investigation and response platform that helps companies understand their potential cyber adversaries by collecting intelligence from various premium feeds. Companies can purchase additional intel through the company's Anomali Preferred Partner (APP) Store. Anomali also uses machine learning to increase the efficacy of its threat intelligence platform and reduce the number of false positives.

Additional reporting by Shimon Brathwaite.

Andrew Martins

Andrew Martins is an award-winning journalist with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Before joining Business.com and Business News Daily, he wrote for a regional publication and served as the managing editor for six weekly papers that spanned four counties. Currently, he is responsible for reviewing tax software and online fax services. He is a New Jersey native and a first-generation Portuguese American, and he has a penchant for the nerdy.