Detecting and preventing digital threats continues to challenge organizations and individuals all over the world. Even the latest cybersecurity products struggle to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated attacks and a multitude of threats.
Common examples of today’s cyberattacks include malware, SQL injections, phishing and spear-phishing, zero-day exploits, DDOS attacks, and ransomware. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, global cyber crimes will cost $6 trillion a year by 2021.
Besides the cost of lost data and computer systems, many businesses suffer losses from regulatory fines and reputation damage. These days, companies can move past typical antivirus software to more comprehensive solutions, like threat intelligence platforms. Find out more about this advanced kind of computer security protection and which platforms to consider.
Definition of Threat Intelligence Platforms
How do threat intelligence platforms differ from standard antivirus software? Threat intelligence platforms, often called TIPs, rely on machine learning and various data sources to provide proactive alerts, reports, and analysis for all sorts of security threats. Many platforms also offer analysis from human security consultants as part of their services.
Typical antivirus software can only prevent the kinds of threats that it already has in its database. In contrast, TIPs can spot unusual behavior on networks, endpoints, and servers to find new and undefined security problems.
Who Needs Intelligent Cybersecurity Software?
All kinds of organizations should protect themselves against a growing and more diverse set of digital hazards. Some security experts cite healthcare, financial services, manufacturers, retail brands, and government departments as prime examples.
Some particular vulnerabilities in these industries include sensitive data, regulatory mandates, and potential damage to their reputations and finances. While many companies still rely on legacy systems and outdated security, others have made themselves more vulnerable because of increasing interconnectedness, as with the IoT.
For example, consider this analysis of vulnerable verticals from The University of San Diego:
- Finance: Overall, financial companies may face a 300-times more significant threat than average businesses. Besides a chance to steal money, information, and credentials, the public-facing portals financial services firms offer customers may attract hackers.
- Healthcare: Doctors, hospitals, and other providers keep lots of sensitive and valuable information. They also rapidly digitized in the past several years, possibly leaving security gaps.
- Government: Like healthcare, government departments also maintain private information. Rogue hackers and other governments may feel incentivized to target them too.
- Manufacturers: Some manufacturers still rely upon legacy systems that may lack high-tech security. On the other hand, new IoT installations can provide more endpoints for cybercriminals to exploit.
- Retailers: As more people shop online, they provide even more targets for hackers. In particular, hackers view such financial information as credit card numbers as a very lucrative prize.
Even smaller businesses and nonprofits should consider their risks. The NIST also reported on a recent SBA survey that found almost 90 percent of small business owners did not feel confident about their company’s cybersecurity.
In fact, some threats may put smaller businesses at risk as much as larger ones. For instance, NIST found 10 percent of small businesses that suffered a data breach had to close down in 2019. Some security professionals think smaller companies may start to experience more risks as hackers target them because they assume they lack the protection that larger enterprises put in place.
How Do Threat Intelligence Platforms Work?
Old-style antivirus platforms tend to rely upon databases of known threats. Even if their developers consistently update the databases, they can only add discovered exploits. Very often, it takes time for businesses to uncover threats in the first place. Of course, no company hopes to discover unknown problems after they have already damaged their computer systems. Also, organizations face security threats from more than just malware viruses.
In contrast, TIPs gather and organize information from many sources. These data sources can include internal logs and external datafeeds. They spend resources looking for known threats, like malware, unexpected registry changes, and suspicious IP addresses or domains. At the same time, they also scan for unusual activity that falls outside of expected, typical behavior. With AI and machine intelligence, TIPs get better at their jobs as they process more information.
Pros and Cons of Threat Intelligence Software
The number and variety of threats, massive amounts of data, and the always-on nature of most computer systems make the benefits of intelligent security platforms clear. For instance:
- Even if a larger company employs security employees, they surely lack time to manually sift through the activity of multiple computers, networks, and peripherals 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Unlike software, people may offer inconsistent responses and cannot work as fast or efficiently as the best AI.
- Combining computer power with machine intelligence can provide proactive alerts to new or different security issues that old-fashioned antivirus applications miss.
Even today, the best threat intelligence platforms suffer from limitations. For instance, social engineering and phishing attempt to trick authorized users into revealing credentials or private information. Also, while many attacks come from the outside, malicious or dishonest insiders account for a significant number of issues. While actions that lead to a breach may look apparent to a human observer, even today’s most innovative platform might not raise an alert.
Threat Intelligence Software Features to Consider
Organizations will find a variety of threat intelligence platforms to choose from. Some key features to compare include:
- Datafeeds: Learn about the sources and format of the data, plus the structure and timing of reports.
- Automation: Find out about automated processes used to contain threats and send alerts.
- Integration: See how the platform might integrate with other security and reporting tools.
- Customization: Determine if the platform offers any features that the business can customize for their unique use cases.
- Extras: Learn which tools come with the package and if the vendor includes training and updates.
Top Threat Intelligence Platforms to Consider
To save time, start by comparing these well-known platforms: