In a not-so-distant past, in a bustling command center, the air was thick with the hum of powerful servers and the chatter of security analysts. It was a typical day until an urgent alert disrupted the routine. 

A known threat actor had struck again, but this time, they were prepared. Armed with advanced cyber threat intelligence (CTI), the team was ready to engage in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. Sarah, the lead threat hunter, gathered her team for an emergency meeting. 

“Listen up, everyone,” she began, “our threat intelligence has picked up some chatter about a new exploit. It’s sophisticated, and it’s targeting financial institutions. We need to act fast before it’s too late.” 

The team dove into the CTI reports. The intelligence provided detailed insights into the Black Basta ransomware’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). They knew the threat actor favored spear-phishing to gain initial access and then moved laterally through the network using advanced evasion techniques. 

Armed with advanced cyber threat intelligence (CTI), they identified the hacker’s tactics and traced unusual login attempts on a high-value server. When the Black Basta used sophisticated obfuscation, updated CTI revealed his technique. Setting traps, they finally caught him, isolating the compromised server and blocking his access. 

Is Threat Intelligence Really That Valuable to Threat Hunting?

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is a crucial aspect of modern cybersecurity, providing organizations with the knowledge and insights needed to defend against current and emerging threats. In fact, according to SANS Institute, 63% of organizations reported increased accuracy in threat detection when leveraging threat intelligence. Additionally, Gartner’s 2022 Market Guide for Security Threat Intelligence Products and Services, states that 70% of organizations using CTI in their threat hunting reported a significant improvement in their ability to proactively defend against emerging threats. 

Therefore, it’s no surprise that CyberEdge Group’s industry survey found that 85% of organizations plan to increase their investment in threat intelligence over the next year. 

What is Cyber Threat Intelligence  

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) provides organizations with the knowledge and insights needed to defend against current and emerging threats. CTI involves the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information regarding potential or ongoing cyber threats. This intelligence is used to understand threat actors, their motives, and the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) they employ. 

It involves:  

  • Data Collection: Gathering data from a variety of sources, including open-source intelligence (OSINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), technical sources (e.g., malware analysis), and proprietary sources (e.g., private threat feeds). 
  • Analysis: Processing and analyzing raw data to identify patterns, correlations, and actionable insights. This step often involves the use of automated tools and human expertise to derive meaningful intelligence from large datasets. 
  • Dissemination: The analyzed intelligence is disseminated in various formats, including reports, alerts, advisories, and real-time feeds. The information is shared with relevant stakeholders within the organization, such as security operations teams, incident response teams, and senior management. 

How Cyber Threat Intelligence Can Guide Threat Hunting

Proactive threat hunting is all about seeking out threats before they strike. Cyber threat intelligence provides the contextual data needed to understand threat actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  

According to the SANS Institute, organizations with proactive threat hunting programs can reduce the time to detect threats by 63%. This knowledge allows your threat hunters to anticipate potential attacks and identify suspicious activity that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Streamlining the Threat Hunting Process 

  • Providing a Clear Starting Point for Investigations: The Ponemon Institute reports that organizations using threat intelligence effectively can improve their detection and containment of attacks by 37%. With CTI, threat hunters can prioritize their efforts, focusing on the most relevant and pressing threats. This targeted approach saves time and increases the efficiency and effectiveness of your threat hunting operations. 
  • Focusing on High-Risk Areas: Intelligence about potential threats can guide focus to areas most likely to be targeted. This focused approach ensures that your resources are used efficiently, addressing the most critical vulnerabilities and potential points of exploitation. 
  • Strengthening Overall Cybersecurity Posture: Ensure your security team is informed and prepared. By continuously updating your threat intelligence with the latest information on emerging threats, you can adapt your threat hunting strategies to stay ahead of cybercriminals. The Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS) highlights that 84% of organizations that use threat intelligence believe it has significantly improved their overall cybersecurity posture. 

Real-World Example: Black Basta Ransomware 

Consider the case of Black Basta ransomware, a sophisticated threat that has targeted numerous organizations. By leveraging threat intelligence, businesses can identify the specific indicators of compromise (IoCs) associated with Black Basta, such as known file hashes, IP addresses, and TTPs used by the attackers. 

When a company receives threat intelligence indicating an active threat from Black Basta ransomware, their threat hunters can immediately focus on searching for these IoCs within their network. This proactive approach enables them to detect and isolate the ransomware before it can encrypt critical data or disrupt operations. 

For instance, the Difenda’s security advisories provide detailed information on the threat, including its attack vectors and mitigation strategies. By integrating this intelligence into their threat hunting process, businesses can: 

  1. Identify Vulnerabilities: Recognize systems and applications that may be susceptible to similar attack methods. 
  1. Deploy Defensive Measures: Implement security controls to block known IoCs and monitor for suspicious activity. 
  1. Conduct Targeted Hunts: Focus threat-hunting efforts on areas most likely to be targeted. 

By acting on the intelligence provided, businesses can protect themselves from significant financial and reputational damage. 


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