In 2020, organizations around the world had to contend with:

To stay ahead of threat actors and all the disruption they bring (as outlined above), organizations and their security teams must first understand their vulnerability to cyber threats and develop a risk management plan to mitigate that exposure.

They must also comprehend the risks facing them. That is, they need to understand the potential for cyberattacks to cause the loss, exposure, damage, or destruction of assets or data. This is where cyber threat intelligence helps.

What Is Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI)?

Cyber threat intelligence is actionable threat information that has been contextualized and analyzed to identify a threat actor’s attack behaviors, motives, and targets.

It can be tactical intelligence, focused on simple indicators of compromise (IOCs). It can also be operational intelligence, focused on adversaries and their various tactics, methodologies, and procedures. Or it could also be strategic intelligence that helps organizations to understand the risks of cyber threats.

Taken altogether, these three elements are collectively known as tradecraft.

A cyber risk intelligence team generates and uses this intelligence to help with threat identification, incident response, security decision making, and moving from reactive to proactive security. The team plays a critical role in helping to protect organizations from threats before those threats harm business operations.

The Benefits of a Cyber Risk Intelligence Team

Annual cybercrime costs are set to hit $6 trillion by 2021, and $10.5 trillion by 2025. Clearly, organizations everywhere — including yours — are increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches. Given that environment, businesses need to ask:

  • What kind of cyber attacks are you most vulnerable to?
  • What is the likelihood or probability of a data breach?
  • Where is the attack most likely to come from?
  • Who is the most dangerous adversary, and what tactics are they most likely to employ?

A threat intelligence team finds answers to those questions. These professionals can help organizations strengthen their security postures by:

  • Finding unknown risks and threats, including emergent threats, in a timely manner;
  • Revealing adversaries and their motives, tactics, and decision-making process;
  • Helping security operations teams and CISOs to prioritize risks, and to take better security-strengthening decisions;
  • Helping management to make wiser security investments.

A cyber threat intelligence team can benefit any business, regardless of the company’s size or industry. These specialists can also help the rest of the security team to:

  • Optimize threat prevention and detection capabilities;
  • Implement risk-based incident management and prioritization of high-risks;
  • Accelerate incident investigations;
  • Uncover and track threat actors;
  • Understand security risks and strengthen security defenses.

Four Core Functions of a Successful Cyber Risk Intelligence Team

To deliver all the benefits listed above, a strong cyber risk incident response team must fulfill four core functions.

  1. Preventative Threat Intelligence

    The team should monitor, generate, analyze, and triage risk management alerts before those alerts become incidents.

    The team also assists with vulnerability prioritization and supports the incident response function, so that the most critical threat use cases (malware, phishing, or ransomware, for example) can be addressed immediately.

  2. Incident Response

    This function is focused on the dissemination of intelligence about threat groups and risks, and coordinating mitigation efforts to address threats, and minimize their damaging impact.

  3. Strategic Support

    The team members in your security operations center should support leadership with strategic decision-making.

    They also help leaders understand the business-level effect of a potential threat (such as revenue losses), identify the resources necessary to address it, and plan security projects and investments.

  4. External Threat Intelligence Services Providers

    Even organizations with a dedicated cyber risk assessment team can benefit from an external threat intelligence service provider.

    Such a vendor can provide access to threat data and IOCs, and strategically support the leadership. The vendor can also assist with preventative threat intelligence and incident response.

Who Should Be On My Cyber Risk Intelligence Team?

A strong cyber risk intelligence team consists of various security professionals, each playing a specific role in information sharing, and gathering, analyzing, disseminating, and actioning threat intelligence.

Cyber Risk Intelligence Leader

For the intelligence team to have a tangible effect on the organization’s security posture, a strong team leader is vital.

This person should have excellent communication and strategizing skills, as well as knowledge about cybersecurity and experience in cyber intelligence.

He or she must be able to capture the organization’s intelligence requirements (tactical, operational, and strategic) and to set up an intelligence program to inform the organization’s security decisions and actions.

Cyber Risk Intelligence Team Members

The team leader should leverage the right talent and tools to provide security operations teams with timely, accurate, and contextual threat and risk intelligence.

Here, “talent” refers to a mix of professionals from various backgrounds, including cybersecurity, traditional intelligence, data science, and even law enforcement.

A diverse team of cyber risk intelligence analysts working together can expand the organization’s understanding of its risk profile. More importantly, they empower the enterprise to make the right decisions to strengthen its security.

Avoid Cyber Risks with ZenGRC

ZenGRC can enhance your awareness of potential cyber threats encountered on endpoints, and better track and manage cyber risks.

With ZenGRC, you can leverage a single platform to manage compliance and to uncover information security risks throughout the enterprise.

With easy access to cybersecurity templates and complete views of control environments, ZenGRC provides everything your organization needs to analyze and address the most relevant threats — before they cause damage and chaos.

Furthermore, ZenGRC’s automation capabilities help to streamline your risk management workflows so your cyber risk intelligence team members can focus on the most critical activities instead of tedious, repetitive tasks.

To learn more about ZenGRC, book a free demo today.