A Strategic Approach to Identifying and Mitigating Cyber Threats


While “cyber threat intelligence” may sound like just another buzzword it represents a powerful weapon in the battle against cyber threats. Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is not just data; it is data that’s been meticulously refined, interpreted, and enriched through various strategic processes. In this article, our cyber security expert Harry Lewis answers in depth the question: what is cyber threat intelligence. He also reveals why a customised approach can better protect your organisation, and help you make the most of limited resources.


In today’s digital landscape, strategic threat intelligence serves as a powerful ally, helping organisations to transform their security posture from reactive to proactive, enabling them to stay one step ahead of cyber attacks, and emerging & potential threats. Gartner predicts that by 2026, organisations prioritising their security investments based on a Cyber Threat Exposure Management programme will suffer two-thirds fewer breaches*.


Cyber threat intelligence stands as a stark departure from the traditional approach, often tied to conventional antivirus solutions. In the past, you had to wait for a cyber attack to strike within an environment or on a global scale before springing into action—whether that meant updating signatures or bolstering defence mechanisms.


However, CTI revolutionises this approach by offering a proactive stance. It provides an ongoing, comprehensive view of the potential cyber threats targeting specific markets and the global landscape. Furthermore, it unveils the “who” and “why” behind cyber groups interested in your particular organisation.

Gathering Strategic Intelligence at Every Stage of the CTI Lifecycle

The stages of the cyber threat intelligence lifecycle are well-defined into six stages, from planning and definition to collection to processing to analysis, dissemination, and feedback. Each stage drives continuous improvement and readiness against evolving cyber threats and future attacks.


This not only enhances the security of your digital assets but also helps you gain the foresight needed to pre-emptively identify potential threats. This, in turn, fuels a strategic decision-making process that deeply influences your entire cyber security landscape and strategy.


Like any form of data gathering, cyber threat intelligence data is only as useful as the insights you derive from it and the actions you take. Cyber threat intelligence sources are diverse, including, general open-source, proprietary, and paid sources. In its rawest form this data, even to hardened IT professionals, can be overwhelming.


So, how do you apply logic, both human and machine, to draw out value, provide better insight, and better value for money to and drive cyber threat intelligence at an operational, tactical, and strategic level? The answer to developing an effective cyber threat intelligence programme lies in blending human expertise with machine-driven analysis. With this approach, you can prioritise threats effectively and customise insights for different organisational levels.

Cyber Threat Intelligence Data

At the tactical threat data level, dealing with specific, targeted data, such as malicious IP addresses, is a straightforward affair, and can be automated with the right threat intelligence tools. However, as we go beyond tactical threat intelligence and ascend to the operational and strategic domain of the C-Suite, the narrative transforms into a more complex tale.


Here, experience and expertise are paramount, and a deep understanding of the terminology is crucial.


Unravelling what holds value and relevance becomes challenging, especially when grappling with copious amounts of cyber threat intelligence data from expansive open-source repositories. This process needs a substantial investment of time, reliant on manual effort driven by human intellect to extract strategic intelligence insights.


This is precisely why CISOs and IT leaders, are seeing the economic sense of working with cyber security experts like Telefónica Tech, who live and breathe cyber threats, day in and day out. Our experts invest in the latest threat intelligence solutions and tools and are adept at managing these vast quantities of information to better effect and help organisations understand the threats and future attacks they face. Our service offers decision-makers a number of benefits, including:


• Attack Surface Management – provides full visibility of the external facing assets to identify potential attack vectors
• Digital Risk Protection – exposing targeted threats that take place beyond the internal perimeter
• Third-Party Risks – Measure and continuously monitor third party security controls to align to an organisations risk tolerance
• Counter-Intelligence – predefined campaigns that take a step forward with active defense with deception campaigns to detect attacks in their initial stages
• Threat Intelligence – gain insight into high-level threats your organisation faces at a tactical, operational or strategic level from Indicator of Compromise IOC feeds and strategic reports.

The Challenges to Effective Cyber Threat Intelligence



In the contemporary security landscape, organisations frequently rely on multiple vendors for different security components.


This results in a diverse cyber security tooling, presenting a significant challenge for security teams to seamlessly integrate threat intelligence. Each tool and vendor processes cyber threat data differently, demanding substantial effort to unify and orchestrate responses across platforms.


The sheer time and effort that’s needed from a security team’s standpoint to aggregate this cyber threat intelligence data into a useable and operationally aligned format is unachievable for even full-time security professionals by themselves.



Skills Gap:


Having the right cyber threat intelligence tools in place is one thing; interpreting the data and effectively sharing it across the organisation requires a specific level of expertise and knowledge, which is often beyond the level of knowledge of internal security teams.


This is where the value of partnering with managed security cyber specialists can be a more effective route to a robust cyber threat intelligence programme. These experts, through their work with various customers and vendors across different industries, maintain a current and nuanced understanding of emerging threats within the threat landscape.


Financial Limitations and Investment Decisions:


One of the least talked about limitations in terms of cyber security is budget. The reality is there is always more you do to protect your organisation and harden your defences against the latest security threats. Balancing the need for robust protection with financial considerations is a constant struggle for CIOs and CISOs.


Determining where to allocate resources for maximum return on investment in terms of protection can be hard to gauge. Especially with thought leaders in the security space recommending approaches and tooling that would eclipse the budgets of many small nations!


A holistic cyber security assessment, shaped by cyber threat intelligence, can provide the guidance needed. Experts, such as those at Telefónica Tech, can evaluate your cyber security maturity against recognised frameworks like NIST or ISO27001 and benchmark it against peers in your sector. This analysis helps determine the right level of protection and cyber investment needed.


When it comes to security investment, a pragmatic approach is essential.


We recommend that your security investment and posture surpass those of your peers as a minimum standard. Most hacking groups seek the path of least resistance, not only at the business level but also within industries, targeting the most vulnerable businesses.


As such, unless a specific threat actor is focused on your business for personal reasons, they are likely to focus on other organisations in your industry that have a weaker security posture.

As we know, the cyber security terrain shifts daily. Your organisation will not resemble its current state in just a year.  This means that even with the right cyber threat intelligence tools in place, you must continually nurture and optimise them to extract the information that holds the key to maximising value for your organisation. For organisations aiming to adopt a proactive security approach, leveraging strategic threat intelligence is a necessity. However, the hurdles of knowledge gaps, complexity, and investment often make it impractical to manage everything in-house.


This is where working with a trusted managed security services provider can be invaluable. By tapping into Telefónica Tech’s expertise during strategic planning phases, you can maximise your budget more effectively and ensure that your investment aligns seamlessly with your security needs. Through using our Cyber Threat Intelligence services you can overcome the complexity and constraints to get actionable intelligence on every facet of your organisation. Ultimately, it’s one of the smartest ways to stay ahead of the curve in this ever-evolving landscape.





*Source: Gartner Top Cyber Threats 23

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