For large organisations with mature Security Operations Centres (SOC), cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is often a staple in their cybersecurity playbooks. But while SOC analysts may already consider CTI to be a vital element, it’s just as important that CISOs and other senior leaders better understand and uncover its untapped potential.
Silobreaker explored the importance of threat intelligence to enterprise security in a recent webinar with Dark Reading, and in this blog, we will delve further into how CISOs and the C-suite can strategically leverage CTI to safeguard their enterprises.
Role of threat intelligence across the organisation
When it comes to how threat intelligence can benefit enterprises, it’s important to understand that CTI operates at three distinct levels within an organisation – tactical, operational and strategic.
At the tactical level, threat intelligence involves highly structured data, including IP addresses, hashes and Indicators of Compromise (IOCs). This level is deeply technical and predominantly used by SOC analysts, IT security system managers and Incident Response teams.
Operational CTI is comprised of some structured technical data from the tactical level, transitioning into more unstructured data. Technical team managers and some CISOs use operational threat intelligence to determine their security priorities for the week and allocate teams to defend against potential threats.
At the strategic level, CTI helps senior leadership meet company objectives by focusing on broader trends and threats, rather than specific technical details. Executives such as CISOs, CIOs, CTOs, CEOs, board members and major shareholders are interested in this level of information.
How CISOs and the C-suite can use CTI
There are countless ways that threat intelligence can help senior leadership in achieving their business objectives. However, two key examples of how the C-suite can leverage CTI are: 1. For strategic and operational planning and 2. To stay ahead in the information cycle.
Strategic and operational planning
Traditional intelligence is created in silos. Cyber threat intelligence and geopolitical risk intelligence are usually collected and processed separately from physical security intelligence. However, today’s threat actors often have means or motives that go beyond the cyber realm, so it’s crucial that your cyber threat intelligence can provide a holistic view of all these elements.
In the context of strategic and operational planning, exploring emerging trends and geopolitical issues is vital to understanding potential threats. Knowing why a threat actor might attack your organisation or supply chain and how they might do so enables CISOs to invest their time and resources more effectively.
For example, the intelligence might show that DDoS attacks are trending amongst emerging threats. However, this is a development you may already be aware of from mainstream national news. CTI enables you to take a closer look, and identify the specific groups making headlines, such as Anonymous Sudan, Clop, and Killnet. You can then drill down deeper to see if those groups are likely to impact your industry sector or organisation.
With regard to Anonymous Sudan, given its ties to Russia, it may be necessary to consider the geopolitical dimension of this threat, e.g. why is this Russian-backed hacking group performing denial of service attacks and who are their targets? If the CTI reveals that EU banks and NATO countries’ critical infrastructure are the primary targets, organisations in those sectors may need to prioritise DDoS threats and take swift action.
Even for organisations outside of those groups, it may be necessary to revisit business continuity plans and ensure measures are in place to ensure sufficient resilience against disruptions to their banking and critical service providers.
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) informs strategic and operational considerations like these, and by consistently monitoring and analysing potential threats throughout the year, senior leadership can better allocate resources for the greatest impact on cybersecurity and risk management.
Getting ahead of the informational cycle
For CISOs, few situations are as stress inducing as unexpectedly facing the CEO in a corridor to discuss a threat that hasn’t crossed your radar.
Oftentimes, the type of information that you may be behind on includes attacks on suppliers and critical vulnerabilities that could impact the organisation – or even worse, a combination of both. It’s crucial to know, in near real-time, whether any of your suppliers are affected by critical vulnerabilities or if they are under attack.
Navigating the vast sea of information to stay ahead of the curve and be the first to know is an uphill battle. But CTI can empower senior leaders to stay ahead of the information cycle and proactively address emerging threats.
Consider this scenario from June 2023. A critical vulnerability in MoveIT is discovered. A seemingly straightforward question arises – do we use MoveIT? While you may have a clear-cut answer to this question, there are broader implications and uncertainties, such as whether the MoveIT attack has impacted your suppliers.
With threat intelligence platforms such as Silobreaker, you have the capability to establish a dashboard tailored for general references to MoveIT. You can further refine the search criteria to exclusively retrieve data concerning your organisation’s vendors or suppliers. Given the dynamic nature of this threat, it is advisable to configure alerts for any changes in the situation. This proactive approach allows CISOs to concentrate on more strategic tasks, sparing them from the need to repeatedly review results to spot new developments.
CTI and the C-suite
Staying ahead of the information curve is a constant challenge, but doing so not only instils confidence, it also fosters trust in senior leadership’s ability to handle emerging threats. Actionable intelligence into the risks facing the organisation equips the C-suite with the key information they need for strategic decision-making and proactive defence postures.
And the impact of threat intelligence extends beyond mere threat awareness and response. Threat intelligence contributes to business objectives by minimising downtime, safeguarding sensitive data and protecting brand reputation.
Today’s cyber threats are relentless, and CTI can be a potent tool for CISOs and the C-suite to steer security strategies and ensure a proactive and robust defence against them.
To learn how to integrate threat intelligence into your overall cybersecurity strategy, the full webinar recording “Why Threat Intelligence Makes Sense for Your Enterprise Security Strategy” is available to watch here.