Why do I need cybersecurity?
In today’s world of the internet, threats to your business are no longer coming mostly from physical threats to your offices. Instead of thieves breaking into your storage rooms and main offices to steal products and business plans, they are beginning to take a more digital approach. Hackers can get into unprotected websites easily and steal information and data from your business without you even knowing.
You do need to still have physical security of course. Old-school thieves can still steal documents and products from your offices. Many cybersecurity threats can come from a flash drive pulling data or placing malware in a system, or often both.
In order to combat online thieves, you need online defenses. Cybersecurity is any type of defense you have in place to protect your systems from cyber threats.
There are several different types of cyber threats you need to watch out for:
Spam is any message or email that was unsolicited and unwanted. They flood your inbox and bombard you with information.
Phishing is similar to spam in that it is also unsolicited, but phishing is done with the intent to get intelligence from you. Phishing is often in the form of emails and usually looks like it's from a reputable source. Be careful of emails from sources that look reputable but you don’t recognize, especially if they are asking for data, credit card info, logins and passwords, or other information.
Malware, or malicious codes and software, is any program inserted into your system to corrupt your data. Malware can attack the accessibility of your data by locking it up, even from you, or it can attack the confidentiality of data by releasing it to the public. It can also corrupt the data itself, rendering it unusable. Spyware is malware that is specially designed to violate your privacy, either for blackmail and ransom or to release information to the public.
Malware cyber threats can get to your computer in a number of ways. A person can physically download it to your computer via a flash drive, it could come as a link you click in an email or message, or if sensitive information like logins and passwords have been stolen, either from a physical device being stolen or lost or previous phishing attempts and cyber threats. The program could even employ machine learning to move on its own and destroy data without being expressly programmed to.
Ransomware is similar to malware, except that you can get your system back by paying a ransom. Using malware programming, they can lock up your website, restricting or denying you access until you pay them.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) is when attackers overwhelm your site with tons of fake traffic which slows the site down. DDoS is often used as a distraction while other malware is planted in your system.
Corporate Account Takeover is when an attacker poses as your business to send unauthorized money transactions.
As you can see, there are several different cyber threats that attackers can use against you to steal or destroy your data. A cybersecurity system would put in defenses that can block many of these attacks and educate you and your employees on how to recognize and avoid these cyber threats.
What is threat intelligence?
To understand what cyber threat intelligence is, you need to understand what is meant by intelligence. Intelligence is information that is gathered and able to be organized into usable threat data to show your threat landscape. Traditional intelligence can be separated into 2 groups: strategic intelligence and tactical intelligence. Strategic intelligence includes short or long publications that are produced to help policymakers in making decisions. Tactical (or operational) intelligence includes collecting information that can then be used to answer questions from the intelligence community.
Cyber threat intelligence is sorted into 3 categories: strategic, tactical, and operational. Strategic threat intelligence puts known threats into the context of your business and threat landscape and determines how they could potentially affect you so that you can begin to organize risk management. Tactical threat intelligence is just the technical processes and indicators that inform network action. And operational intelligence is what incident response workers and threat hunters do to catalog cyber threats and advise on cyber threat response.
Telemetry, or the gathering of information to make decisions, is key to cyber threat intelligence. Good telemetry allows you to collect threat data up to the minute.
Cyber threat intelligence has 4 main components: completeness, accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. A cyber threat analyst needs to provide a complete idea of the threat: doing research and gathering and including all relevant information on the cyber threat so you can detect and prevent it. Obviously, the information should be accurate so you don’t make uninformed decisions that could go wrong. The threats you are being warned about and preparing for should be relevant to your business, otherwise, your time and resources are wasted on something you don’t need to worry about. And for the timeliness of cyber threat intelligence, you want to be informed of potential threats with enough time to actually take action to prevent them.
Why is cyber threat intelligence important?
So, a good threat intelligence program should give you a full, accurate picture of a real threat you could face, with enough time to deal with the threat so it can be prevented. Why is it something you need? Cyber threats are a very real problem businesses face today. Everything important, logins, passcodes, data, and other information, is kept on the cloud. Cyber threats are getting more and more complicated and are better than ever at hacking into your system to steal, release, or corrupt data from your cloud.
Phishing scams are getting harder to spot, distributed denial of service attacks bury your site and slow it down while their malware and ransomware attacks can corrupt, steal, or release your data. Corporate account takeover attacks drain your money accounts. Any one of these cyber attacks can be difficult to recover from for big corporations, and any small business hit hard might not be able to recover from a cyber attack.
With an effective cyber intelligence team, you can learn to recognize and prevent these cyber attacks before they happen, or at least minimize the damage done. On your own, you may be able to recognize phishing scams and with a good security team, you can prevent physical downloads of malware with flash drives. However, these cyber attacks are getting harder and harder to recognize. Cyber threat analysts can educate you on what to look out for, monitor your activity and be on the lookout for cyber threats, plan for incident response, and handle all the cyber threat intelligence programs for you so you can focus on running your business. Having threat intelligence analysts on your team will be so much more effective at preventing and dealing with cyber threats than trying to deal with them yourself.
What are some methods of threat detection?
So you’ve decided to up your cyber threat intelligence process: what does that look like? Cyber threats will be detected, assessed, and then a plan will be made on how to deal with them. There are several methods of cyber threat detection and incident response.
One is using an IDS, or, intrusion detection system. These systems monitor the activity and traffic on your network and search for suspicious behavior that can be flagged as a potential threat. There are 2 main types of intrusion detection systems: network intrusion detection systems (NIDS) and host intrusion detection systems (HIDS). NIDS is used to monitor the network for potential threats, while HIDS is used to look for cyber threats on a specific host, like a server. These 2 IDS programs are often used together.
Another common way to detect potential threats is a cyber threat hunt. A threat detection organization will actively go into your system and search for signs of cyber attacks. It is helpful to have someone who knows the server well and can participate. They can sort out any unusual activity that they don’t recognize on your servers. If a cyber threat is found, you need to have a plan in place to contain and eradicate the threat and recover anything that was lost. Having a plan in place will allow you to act much more quickly when needed.
You can also set up an automatic incident response. When the program detects a potential threat, it will automatically quarantine it off, block the address the malware is coming from, or delete the malware immediately. By having a fully automated cyber threat intelligence system, you can greatly minimize the damage done to your data because threats can be acted on much more quickly.
Another common cyber threat response is setting an intruder trap. Set up a section of the cloud in your system that appears to have loosely guarded, important information. When an intruder tries to get the information stored there, it tips off the cyber threat incident response system that comes to shut the threat down.
What are the types of threat intelligence data?
When it comes to cyber threat intelligence, there are several main types: strategic, tactical, technical, and operational.
Strategic cyber threat intelligence is a report on the company’s overall threat landscape. Strategic threat intelligence outlines your threat data for all the potential threats and weak spots in the company. The point of strategic intelligence is to provide all the information about where your business needs to be fortified and strengthened, and how it can minimize risk and cyber threats. Strategic intelligence is more pointed towards executives and higher-level security teams to address the big cybersecurity problems.
Tactical cyber threat intelligence includes more specific details about certain threat actors and their attack vectors. This more specified information allows the security team to build a detailed defense and incident response plan to counter these cyber attacks. These reports focus on potential threats and the weak spots in the company’s defense so the security team can create a better cyber response and prevention plan.
Technical cyber threat intelligence is analyzing past attacks to prevent the same threat actor from making through again. The cyber threat intelligence analyst will study how the threat actor got to the system (indicator of compromise, or IOC), which could be a phishing email, the IP address of the attacker, or the URL that downloaded the malware. While technical intelligence doesn’t do anything about the past attack, it can provide important information for preventing future attacks, either by educating you about what future attacks may look like, or by logging the URLs and IP addresses that contained malware and preventing access to them in the future so the same threat actor can’t use the same method.
Operational cyber threat intelligence is intelligence gathered about the specifics of an attack. This usually comes from online discussions that are infiltrated by the cybersecurity team. They can then use the information they gather about the hacker’s plans to prevent the threat from being able to make it to the system.
Can cyber threats be prevented?
Cyber threats are a big deal, and a big enough one can ruin your business. Luckily, there are several cybersecurity solutions that can prevent and minimize the damage of cyber threats. The best way to prevent simple cyber threats is to educate yourself on the risks to your business and the threats you are vulnerable to. If you and your employees have a basic understanding of what these cyber threats look like, you can better recognize and avoid many of the potential threats you’ll face. For higher-level cyber threats, having a cyber threat analyst or team can help you prevent and minimize most of your cyber threats. A threat analyst will have a deeper understanding of the threats you are vulnerable to, what they will look like, and a plan of how to prevent them.
What can protect my data from threats?
What cybersecurity defenses can you put up? Cyber threat intelligence has several directions you can take. There are lots of things you can do in the way of cyber threat prevention. One is using an IDS, or an intrusion detection system. An IDS will monitor your network traffic looking for any suspicious movements. A NIDS, or network intrusion detection system will patrol your whole network for potential threats, while a HIDS, or host intrusion detection system, monitors one server for cyber threats.
Another cybersecurity defense tactic you can use is a cyber threat hunt, which is exactly what it sounds like. Your cyber threat intelligence analysts will go out on your network looking for suspicious activity, signs of a virus machine learning, and potential threats to your system. This is most effective if your cyber threat intelligence analysts know your network well and know what normal activity levels look like on the site. This will help them pinpoint strange activity going on. Before starting the threat hunt, it is important to have a plan in place for if and when a threat is found. Having a plan to contain and destroy the threat and recover any data that was damaged will allow you to act quickly and prevent further damage once the cyber threat is detected.
Another method is to set up an automatic incident response. This is similar to an IDS, except that when the threat intelligence program detects a cyber threat, it will automatically isolate the malware, destroy the threat, and then start recovering any data that may have been compromised. An automatic incident response will work the fastest as the program can shut down the threat. You won't have to waste time having to wait to be alerted by the program and then you going to look for it, or risk missing it and malware destroying your data while you are unaware. As soon as the program detects it, it can shut it down.
The only problem with an automatic incident response is it can only detect specific malware that it has been tuned to find. Machine learning is tricky and it may miss new threats that it doesn’t recognize. It is best to have a mix of defense methods you can use for different types of threats.
Another good defense is setting intruder traps. You can create a section of important-looking information in your system that alerts you when entered. Cybercriminals will be drawn to the easy data, and then will be caught in the trap as you are alerted and can shut them down.
What does a threat intelligence analyst do?
Threat intelligence analysts are internet security professionals who search for emerging threats to your network and deal with them when found. They will be familiar with the network of the business they work for in order to monitor for strange or suspicious activity. They will determine what types of cyber threats you are the most vulnerable to and draw up a defense plan of actionable threat intelligence to strengthen your system in those areas and monitor for cyber threats.
What steps do I need to take to handle a high-level cyber threat?
So, you’ve found a serious cyber threat has made its way into your cloud. How do you handle it? The first thing is to contain the cyber threat and therefore the damage it can do. Shut down anything you can to avoid further damage. You’ll want to find the IOC (indicator of compromise), which is how the threat made it into your server. Once you’ve identified the IOC, you can solve that problem to prevent future attacks from entering the same way.
Once you have eradicated the malware, you need to start the recovery process. This is where preparation is key. The faster you can detect, contain, and destroy threats, the less damage you will have. Cyber threats can do anything from releasing data to the public, to corrupting it in your server, to deleting it off the cloud completely.
Once you have recovered what you can, let your customers and clients know that you were attacked so they know what to expect to be dealing with until the issue is fixed.
What tools and software can help me?
There are many cybersecurity analytics programs and tools you can use for cyber threat intelligence and to strengthen your network security. Some of the best ones to use are IDS programs to monitor your network activity, encryption tools to code your data, penetration testing and vulnerability scanners to test your server's weak spots, and firewalls and anti-virus software to detect and block malware from entering your system.
You’ll want more than one of these threat intelligence tools for the best cyber defense and offense to protect yourself from cyber threats.
How can RiskRecon help me?
RiskRecon, a Mastercard Company, is one such tool that is available to you as a threat intelligence service. Started in 2011, RiskRecon started as a third-party evaluator of a company’s cybersecurity. Over the next 4 years, it grew from just assessments of security to providing solutions to the vulnerabilities they found.
You can take advantage of their assessments today and reach out for a consultation on your cybersecurity. You can get back not only a list of your risks and vulnerabilities but also a list of how to fix them and strengthen your business.