Most remain dissatisfied with threat intelligence quality and accuracy

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While security professionals are increasingly recognizing the importance of threat intelligence, the majority remain dissatisfied with its accuracy and quality, according to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

threat intelligence quality

Meanwhile, because many security teams still execute threat investigations solo rather than pooling intelligence, their ability to quickly act on threats is limited. The report found that 67 percent of IT and security professionals spend more than 50 hours per week on threat investigations, instead of efficiently using security resources and sharing threat intelligence.

In a world where cybercriminals are becoming increasingly stealthy and sophisticated, it is ineffective and costly for companies to defend themselves against cybersecurity threats alone. According to the 1,200 IT security practitioners surveyed in the United States and EMEA, the consumption and exchange of threat intelligence has increased significantly since 2015.

Despite the increase in the exchange and use of threat intelligence, most respondents from the survey are not satisfied with the current quality of the data.

Top complaints about threat intelligence

Lack of accuracy and timeliness is among the top complaints about threat intelligence, which in turn hinders its effectiveness and security teams’ ability to quickly mitigate threats. In fact, only 31 percent of respondents cited threat intelligence as actionable. But exchanging threat intelligence amongst peers, industry groups, IT vendors and government bodies can result in more holistic, accurate and timely threat intelligence and a stronger security posture.

Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) reported that threat intelligence could have prevented or minimized the consequence of a data breach or cyber attack, indicating that more infosecurity professionals are realizing the importance of threat intelligence.

“Cybersecurity takes a village, and this survey spotlights a real need for the cybersecurity community – and public sector to better cooperate and communicate to share intel on security threats,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, Chairman of the Ponemon Institute. “More accurate and comprehensive exchange of threat intelligence will speed our ability to respond to attacks and will result in stronger defense against cyber threats – whether that’s amongst enterprises or our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Threat sharing

The vast majority of respondents are focused on threat sharing, with 84 percent of organizations fully participating or partially participating in an initiative or program for exchanging threat intelligence with peers and/or industry groups. But, most of these organizations are only participating in peer-to-peer exchange of threat intelligence (65 percent) instead of a more formal approach such as threat intelligence exchange services or consortium, which contributes to the dissatisfaction with the quality of the threat intelligence obtained.

“There’s a real need for actionable, timely and effective threat intelligence sharing,” said Jesper Andersen, CEO of Infoblox. “As industry players, we have a responsibility to our customers and consumers to make sure we’re doing everything to facilitate comprehensive threat intelligence within the ecosystem. This means establishing an exchange platform that enables sharing that is trusted, neutral and offers a 360-degree view of market threats.”

threat intelligence quality

Other key findings

  • Most respondents believe threat intelligence improves situational awareness, with an increase from 54 percent of respondents in 2014 to 61 percent of respondents in this year’s study.
  • Sixty-six percent of respondents say shared information is not timely, and 41 percent say it is too complicated.
  • Potential liability and lack of trust in intelligence providers prevent some organizations from fully participating in threat intelligence exchange programs, with 58 percent and 60 percent respectively citing these concerns.
  • While the value of threat intelligence declines within minutes, only 24 percent of respondents say they receive threat intelligence in real time (nine percent) or hourly (15 percent).
  • Seventy-three percent of respondents say they use threat indicators and the most valuable types of information are indicators of malicious IP addresses and malicious URLs.