Organizations struggle to maximize the value of threat intelligence

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Amidst growing concerns of large-scale cyber attacks, 84 percent of organizations participating in a Ponemon Institute survey indicated threat intelligence is “essential to a strong security posture.” However, many organizations struggle with an overwhelming amount of threat data and lack of staff expertise, which diminish the effectiveness of their threat intelligence programs.

Who are the primary and secondary users of threat intelligence?

value threat intelligence

Threat sharing remains a key priority for organizations, half of which report participating in sharing communities, but a majority of these organizations (60 percent) only receive community intelligence and do not contribute.

Key findings

  • 80 percent of North American organizations are currently using threat intelligence as a part of their cybersecurity program, up from 65 percent in 2016
  • 86 percent of respondents indicate threat intelligence is valuable to their security mission, up from 77 percent the previous year
  • 83 percent of North American respondents indicate a Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) is necessary to maximize the value of intelligence data.

“It’s abundantly clear that organizations now understand the benefits provided by threat intelligence, but the overwhelming volume of threat data continues to pose a hurdle to truly effective adoption,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “Threat intelligence programs are often challenging to implement, but when done right, they are a critical element in an organization’s security program. The significant growth in adoption over the past year is encouraging as it indicates widespread recognition of the value threat intelligence provides.”

Value of threat intelligence

The Ponemon report revealed that despite overall improvement in threat intelligence usage, threat data overload continues to plague organizations.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents indicated that threat intelligence is too voluminous and complex to provide actionable intelligence. Other respondents cited difficulty in the integration of threat intelligence platforms with other security technologies and tools (64 percent), and a lack of alignment between analyst activities and operational security events (52 percent).

Additionally, 71 percent of organizations fail to keep more than three months of historical event logs online, posing a significant challenge in identifying existing threats within the organization.

Other top reasons for threat intelligence ineffectiveness include:

  • Lack of staff expertise (71 percent of respondents)
  • Lack of ownership (52 percent of respondents)
  • Lack of suitable technologies (48 percent of respondents).

“We all see the growing cybersecurity threats, with attacks routinely making the front page. Every day cyber researchers discover thousands of new threats. Organizations need rapid access to the latest threat intelligence to detect any malicious activity in their networks,” said Hugh Njemanze, CEO of Anomali. “In the face of unprecedented volumes of cyber threats, organizations must be able to quickly pinpoint active threats and mitigate them before material damage occurs. This requires a system that is able to prioritize threat data and turn it into actionable insights.”

Why organizations believe they are ineffective in utilizing threat data

value threat intelligence

External threat sharing also remains limited. Only 50 percent of respondents currently participate in industry-centric sharing initiatives such as Information Sharing & Analysis Centers (ISACs), which provide industry-relevant intelligence, collaboration with peers and networking with other security teams. Of those organizations, the majority (60 percent) only receive threat intelligence through ISACs but do not contribute intelligence.

The biggest hurdles to outbound intelligence sharing include a lack of expertise (54 percent) followed by fear of revealing a breach (45 percent).

Make threat intelligence meaningful

In response to these challenges, many organizations have successfully identified a variety of resources and techniques to help maximize the effectiveness of their threat intelligence, including:

  • Deploying a threat intelligence platform (80 percent of respondents)
  • Integrating SIEM with a threat intelligence platform (65 percent of respondents)
  • Having a qualified threat analyst on staff (54 percent of respondents).