If you're terrified your company might be hit by a malware or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, then you should consider purchasing a threat intelligence system. Sure, you might already have a solid endpoint protection package in place, but defending yourself against an attack requires more than a set-it-and-forget-it mentality.
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With threat intelligence, not only will your company be able to repel attacks, but you'll also gain valuable insights into your operation's main vulnerabilities. You'll be able to identify where attacks are originating, you'll be able to prepare for and prevent against likely attack scenarios, and you'll have the knowledge to investigate successful attacks to determine what went wrong.
I know what you're thinking: You spend enough money on software and you don't want to add another expense. I get it. But not protecting your company's data can be more costly than your threat intelligence system's per-month subscription package. The average global cost per stolen confidential record in 2016 was $154. Last year there were 38 percent more attacks on companies than there were in the previous year, and most attacks stay dormant within your system for about 200 days before you even realize you've been infiltrated. This means attacks are happening more often, they're more sophisticated, and they're becoming more and more expensive for businesses. If that's not enough to convince you to beef up your security, then consider this: 24 percent of companies increased their information security budgets last year. You're not alone in this battle.
In this article, I'll break down the eight most important threat intelligence capabilities and how they might one day help to save your business.
1. Monitor by Geography and Industry
As your company grows, so will the frequency and intensity of attacks against which you'll need to defend. Multiple offices spread across different regions means multiple IT teams looking at different sets of data, often while not communicating with each other. With threat intelligence in place, you'll be able to monitor your entire organization and its threats by region. This will help you to determine where you're most vulnerable and where the highest frequency of incoming threats is originating. You'll also be able to determine whether your particular industry is the target of consistent attacks or if you're in one of the lucky industries that hackers tend to avoid. This information will help you to more efficiently deploy resources and to barricade your network at its most vulnerable geographic and virtual entry points.
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2. Assess Overall Safety
Think of this as your threat intelligence report card. Your new vendor will install your threat intelligence package and it will run a scan to determine how vulnerable your company is overall. Armed with this information, you'll be able to decide how much to invest in security systems and how best to deploy those resources on the outset. Without this comprehensive data, you won't know if you've been safe all along or if your network is just begging to be infiltrated.
3. Threat Preparation
The best tools and vendors will help you build a threat prevention strategy. This includes more than the software and data you'll need to maintain your company's safety. For example, are your employees aware of the potential for human error that can lead to data breaches? Are your IT teams communicating with teams from other companies? Is everyone on your IT team aware of the open-source threat feeds that collect suspicious IP addresses and domains, and the industry-leading blogs that provide consistent threat intelligence education? A threat intelligence vendor will point you in the right direction for all of this useful information so that your team is prepared technologically and intellectually if and when an attack occurs.
4. Proactive Prevention
Threat intelligence tools will poke, prod, and infiltrate your network on a daily basis to find holes in your security. You'll then be able to take this data to not only plug the holes that the tool found, but you'll also be able to plug similar holes elsewhere in your network. This kind of assessment won't be able to protect you from the most innovative attacks, but you can rest assured that known threats and techniques won't be successful against your security protocol.
5. Gameplay Scenarios
In addition to poking and prodding your network, your threat intelligence service can launch staged attacks to help your security team practice their response procedure. Think of this as an elaborate fire drill that helps you determine how your team will respond to a disaster scenario if and when it occurs.
Once the practice run is over, your vendor will offer recommendations for improved responses. You'll also receive a report tracking the events and your team's activities during the run-through.
6. Education Services/Reporting
Your threat intelligence partner keeps a running list of new known vulnerabilities that have impacted other companies around the world. This data will then be fed to you so that you know what to look out for and how you can use your system to avoid becoming subject to these new attacks. Most vendors create monthly or quarterly reports that are widely distributed to the media. However, you'll gain access to this data as the techniques are exposed, long before they're made available to the public.
7. Instant Response
No matter how much work you put in, mistakes still happen. Your threat intelligence tool is set up to help you fight attacks the second they appear within your network. Yes, antivirus programs offer the same level of awareness, but threat intelligence systems typically offer action plans that script out what you should do for each specific kind of attack that you're likely to encounter. With so much templated incident detection and response at your fingertips, you won't have to scramble to eject threats from your system when they appear. You'll be able to remediate instantly without having to design, initiate, and follow through on an entirely new game plan.
8. Digital Forensics
If you fall victim to an attack, then you'll be able to trace every stage of the incident to determine how it occurred, who or what is at fault, and what data was impacted. This won't help you undo what's already been done, but it will help you seal off the opening that the attacker used to penetrate your system so you'll be ready in the event of a repeat attack.