The increasingly mobile and cloud-based world offers immense benefits to organizations, but this interconnectedness also exposes them to risk. Online attack surfaces have increased exponentially with highly motivated threat actors bent on exploiting new and compounding vulnerabilities. Many organizations are ill-equipped to handle the volume and complexity of today’s cyberattacks alone. Enter risk and threat intelligence companies.
The Benefits of Partnering with Threat Intelligence Companies
In many ways, cybersecurity has become an arms race. Many cyberthreats now come from organized crime syndicates and rogue nation-states that have the resources to discover attack vectors and vulnerabilities every day. The proliferation of advanced persistent threats (APT) is constantly keeping defenders backpedaling on their heels. Strategic partnerships with threat intelligence companies help level the playing field against these sophisticated adversaries.
The top benefits organizations will reap by partnering with threat intelligence companies are:
- Reducing overall costs of cybersecurity implementation and successful cyberattacks
- Improving effectiveness and efficiency of incident response and incident management
- Fostering sharing and collaborative relationship with partners and peer organizations
- Maximizing overall security posture and meeting or exceeding all legal requirements
For these reasons, organizations across industries should work together with threat intelligence companies and other managed security service providers (MSSPs), such as RSI Security.
Threat Intelligence Management Can Reduce Security Costs
Cybersecurity isn’t cheap. Companies allocate significant resources to staffing their internal IT teams, especially recruiting and retaining top talent for executive security positions. Threat and vulnerability management is a major cost factor. However, neglecting cybersecurity threats can be more expensive. Per IBM, the estimated average cost of a data breach is now $4.24 million.
Businesses need to accumulate and act upon threat intelligence to minimize the likelihood and potential impact of breaches, hacks, and other incidents. One initial approach is utilizing open source threat intelligence, but this is often limited in scope and applicability. A much more apt solution, for most companies, is partnering with an MSSP to identify and address all threats.
A quality MSSP can provide actionable threat intelligence to streamline incident prevention.
Threat Intelligence and Threat and Vulnerability Management
Threat intelligence management is part of broader threat and vulnerability management, which comprises both passive and active monitoring capacities to identify, collect information on, and analyze all existing and potential risks. The tools that feed into vulnerability management vary widely, from patch availability monitoring to risk rating reporting to threat lifecycle management.
One particularly impactful threat intelligence service that optimizes ROI is penetration testing:
- External pen testing – A so-called “ethical hacker” simulates an attack from outside your systems, with little to no prior knowledge of your security measures. This kind of test generates unparalleled intelligence on initial points of entry and attack patterns.
- Internal pen testing – The pen-tester poses as an individual with some form of special knowledge about your systems or privileged access to them. Studying their behavior generates insights on how an insider threat may unfold in real time (and how to stop it).
Using either of these methods may involve relatively steep up-front costs, but these are offset by the powerful preventive insights that make future cyberattacks less likely to be successful.
Threat Intelligence Analysis Facilitates Incident Response
Building security systems around threat intelligence is one of the best ways to prevent attacks from happening. However, no organization can completely eliminate the possibility of a security event. Herein lies another major benefit of partnering with threat intelligence companies or other threat intelligence informed MSSPs: they can optimize incident response and management.
In particular, an effective incident management program should include all of the following:
- Incident identification – Your organization needs to identify incidents as soon as they occur, which becomes significantly easier with optimal threat monitoring and intelligence.
- Immediate inventory – Upon identification, an incident needs to be flagged and logged, with immediate cross-referencing against all internal and external threat intelligence.
- Diagnostic analysis – The primary threat inventory and analysis feeds into investigation and diagnosis, which in turn informs a mitigation strategy to be deployed immediately.
- Strategic mitigation – All roles and responsibilities defined in the strategy need to be assigned and personnel deployed, then adjusted accordingly as the situation unfolds.
- Closure and recovery – The mitigation plan must be deployed until the issue is completely resolved, at which point the team will begin recovering any lost data.
- Business continuity – In the aftermath of resolution, all the impacted parties’ needs should be attended to. That way organizations can ensure ongoing customer satisfaction and trust.
While these functions may be possible to execute without a dedicated risk management partner or program, they are significantly more effective when informed by threat intelligence analysis.
Threat Intelligence Fosters Relationships Among Peers
An underappreciated benefit of threat intelligence—and by extension, working with a threat intelligence company—is that it will help your organization work more symbiotically with its network of vendors, suppliers, and other strategic partners. Third party risk management is critical to cybersecurity program development, as all risks across your partners’ organizations can be just as damaging as your own internal risks—or more so, as they easily go unnoticed.
Threat intelligence allows you to account for and manage your partners’ potential risks, sharing information with them that is mutually beneficial for both parties. In the best cases, this culture of shared security can improve relationships with strategic partners, facilitating future negotiations.
Threat Intelligence Maximizes Overall Security Posture
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of partnering with a threat intelligence company or other MSSP who generates or acts upon threat intelligence is increased security posture. Companies in any industry and of any size can benefit from threat assessment and intelligence frameworks, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST SP 800-37. It advocates for a Risk Management Framework (RMF) to analyze and combat many of the most common online threats, such as supply chain attacks and risks posed to critical national infrastructure.
Whether your organization works with a threat intelligence company or not, threat intelligence needs to be a critical part of your architecture implementation. When designing controls, you need to consider the kinds of attacks most likely to target your business, based on its size, nature, location, customer base, personnel, IT infrastructure, and many other elements.
Knowing which attacks are most likely is not enough; you need to study all prior attacks or potential attacks on your organization and comparable peers to stay ahead of the next one.
Threat Intelligence Management and Regulatory Compliance
There are many ways in which regulatory and other cybersecurity frameworks require and intersect with threat intelligence. NIST is not an outlier in this regard—the SANS institute, for example, publishes SANS cyber threat intelligence surveys and hosts threat intelligence events dedicated to helping organizations across all industries learn from previous attacks and threats.
Also, depending on the industry you operate within, you may be required to implement threat intelligence for compliance. For example, consider these two widely applicable regulations:
- HIPAA – If your organization operates in or adjacent to healthcare, it’s likely a covered entity that needs to be HIPAA compliant. The HIPAA Security Rule requires regular risk assessments (based on NIST SP 800-37) to generate and act upon threat intelligence pertinent to the confidentiality, integrity, and security of protected health information.
- PCI DSS – If your organization processes payments via credit card, you likely need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) framework. Requirement 11 specifically requires vulnerability assessments, which ultimately amount to threat intelligence generation, overseen by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV).
Threat intelligence may not be an obvious, explicit requirement for either of these frameworks, but it’s necessary to fulfill the risk and vulnerability assessments for compliance.
Partnering with Threat Intelligence Companies
RSI Security offers protections far beyond the scope of most threat intelligence companies. We’re a full-service MSSP who will assist in all elements of threat intelligence generation, analysis, mobilization, and overall management. We’ve helped countless companies rethink their cybersecurity with practices informed by vulnerability, threat, and risk intelligence. To start reaping the benefits outlined above, contact us today!