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The Truth About Threat Intelligence: How it Works and Why You Need It

Timely, high-quality data can transform the speed and effectiveness of your team’s detection and response capabilities.

In the 6th century, BC Chinese general Sun Tzu famously wrote that if you “know your enemy and know yourself, and you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” 

This maxim is just as relevant today as it was two and a half thousand years ago. Unlike the military generals of ages past, however, today’s information security professionals fight the equivalent of a hundred battles every day.

They constantly identify phishing attempts, investigate unusual network connections, and block lateral movement to keep users and their data safe. 

These threats – and the critical indicators that point to them – change rapidly. Sometimes these changes are driven by new technologies or the discovery of a vulnerability in existing technology. Sometimes they’re driven by changes in workplace culture, like the sudden pandemic-era transition to remote work. 

Cybersecurity vendors rely on threat intelligence data when deciding how to build and deploy their solutions. Analysts use that data to match suspicious activities with known threat signatures. In both cases, the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of threat intelligence data is important – and far from guaranteed. 


How Threat Intelligence Works

For threat intelligence to work, individual analysts around the world must actively collaborate, research, and validate threat indicators in real-time. Threat exchange frameworks allow security professionals to quickly report new attack signatures as they occur, quickly spreading vital information through global security networks. 

AT&T Cybersecurity’s Open Threat Exchange (OTX) is a popular and highly visible example of a collaborative threat intelligence framework. It empowers analysts to quickly distribute threat data to the wider security community. 

This means that any individual analyst, anywhere on the planet, can warn every other cybersecurity professional about new and upcoming threats the moment they surface. Enterprises, vendors, and detection teams can quickly update their security posture to meet these threats. They release security patches and workarounds based directly on the threat data they receive.


Not All Data is Equal: Curated Data Enables Rapid Insight 

Since threat intelligence data is available on open platforms, many IT leaders assume there’s no need to pay for premium data packages. However, there is a significant difference between generic packages and value-added ones generated by reputable providers. 

Most SIEM platforms include a threat intelligence data package that connects directly to a public data exchange. These open-source feeds can provide updated information on hundreds of individual threats, but rarely meet the volumes that premium providers offer. 

Even if a generic solution could achieve that volume, it would not be able to curate and prioritize the data effectively. Cybersecurity analysts are already completely overwhelmed with high-volume alerts – it’s hard to imagine them having enough time to analyze a new high-volume stream of incoming data. 

Curating threat intelligence data and categorizing it takes an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and expertise. It’s a demanding, highly specialized task that SIEM providers don’t offer for free.

Learn how Castra uses Anomali ThreatStream for our customers. ▶️


Premium Threat Intelligence is Worth the Cost

Premium threat intelligence vendors like Anomali generate value by providing timely, qualified data from a variety of sources. Instead of offering raw data on hundreds of generic threat indicators, it offers deep insight into tens of thousands. 

This insight includes purpose-built value metrics graded to meet the specific requirements of your IT environment. By increasing the width and depth of your visibility into cybersecurity threat sources, you equip analysts to make better-informed decisions about how to respond to suspicious behaviors and malicious activities. At the same time, you reduce false positives and gain critical contextual insight into your security posture. 

With Castra as your managed detection and response provider, you can integrate Anomali threat detection into your SIEM and gain on-demand insight into the cybersecurity landscape.


Find out more about how Anomali ThreatStream aggregates, processes, and distributes operational intelligence to help analysts identify and mitigate security risks in real-time.

Request your demo with Castra on Anomali Threat Stream today!