Strategic threat intelligence refers to that which gives users a high-level view of their organization’s cybersecurity posture, threats and their effects, and attack trends concerning their business. Senior executives like chief information security officers (CISOs) often use it.
Strategic threat intelligence helps executives handle existing cyber risks and predict and mitigate currently unknown risks.
Read More about “Strategic Threat Intelligence”
Strategic threat intelligence is, based on its definition, not very detailed. It only provides a bird’s-eye view of an organization’s cyber risks enough for executives to make decisions.
Four types of threat intelligence exist, namely:
- Strategic: Tells who or what the risks are and why they are considered such.
- Tactical: Tells how the risks can affect an organization and where they may originate.
- Operational: Tells what the organization can do about the dangers.
- Technical: Tells the technical details (malware hashes, malicious URLs, etc.) related to particular threats.
What Is Strategic Threat Intelligence For?
Strategic threat intelligence identifies existing and still-unknown cyber risks and is used in a risk-based cybersecurity approach. As such, it focuses on the potential effects or and the possibility that particular risks will surface.
The information that strategic threat intelligence provides is designed for long-term use and helps executives make strategic business decisions. The data can, for instance, help CISOs decide on a budget for employees and products meant to protect critical assets.
Here are other use cases:
- Inform executives about high-risk threat actors and relevant risk scenarios. They can also identify the organization’s threat exposure stemming from their public-facing systems. Risks related to the cybercriminal underground (where attackers may sell the stolen data) can also come from strategic threat intelligence.
- Enable staff to perform thorough risk analyses and reviews of the entire technology supply chain.
- Allow executives to learn which commercial ventures, vendors, partner companies, and technology products can help the organization increase or decrease the risks to its network.
Strategic threat intelligence can also be helpful in various business processes, including:
- Incident response
- Security operations
- Vulnerability management
- Fraud prevention
- Brand protection
Where Does Strategic Threat Intelligence Originate?
Strategic threat intelligence can come from high-level sources, such as open-source intelligence (OSINT) databases, computer telephony integration (CTI) vendors, the ISAO, and information sharing and analysis centers (ISACs).
Other sources of strategic threat intelligence include:
- Policy documents from nation-states or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
- Local and national media news, industry- and subject-specific publications, or other subject matter experts
- White papers, research reports, and other content produced by security organizations
What Can You Get from Strategic Threat Intelligence?
Strategic threat intelligence can tell an organization:
- Who is responsible for intrusions and data breaches
- Trends regarding threat actors or groups
- Trends regarding who attackers are targeting (industries and geographies)
- Map specific cyber attacks to geopolitical conflicts and events
- How many breaches, malware attacks, and information theft incidents there have been so far
- How attacker tools, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) have changed over time
Who Can Benefit from Strategic Threat Intelligence?
Apart from CISOs, almost all C-level suites can benefit from strategic threat intelligence. What probably characterizes them is that they don’t necessarily have a technical background, but they do have to decide on personnel, technologies, cybersecurity requirements, and budgets. The data allows them to find threat patterns from a high level and devise possible solutions for them.
If staff, for instance, find several attempts to breach its customer database, the CISO can recommend that the budget to secure it be increased.
What Questions Can Strategic Threat Intelligence Answer?
Strategic threat intelligence can give answers to questions like:
- Who are your attackers? What do they want?
- What is the potential financial impact of cyber attacks?
- What are threat actors up to? What are the emerging attack trends?
- What does the data say about data breaches?
- What cyber attacks are your fellow companies in the same industry facing?
- Have we suffered from cyber attacks in the past? How did that affect us?
- What do we need to do to reduce our risks?
All organizations need strategic threat intelligence to foresee risks that can cripple their operations and ultimately adversely affect their bottom line. Without the data’s help, they will only continue reacting to threats instead of mitigating them.