Actionable Threat Intelligence: Everything you need to know!

actionable threats intelligence

The rise of digital technology is so eminent that the world is rapidly moving into a constrained environment where everything is interconnected. The connectedness has revolutionized the globe’s cultural and economic establishments.

We are globally evolving with time, and despite trying our best, we have not been able to fill the gaps in the interconnectivity. Those gaps are the weaknesses of internet technology. Cyber attackers exploit those loopholes to assail and destroy organizations’ crucial digital assets.

This creates a relevant need for Actionable Threat Intelligence.

What is Actionable threat Intelligence?

Actionable Threat Intelligence is the knowledge that permits [ables] you to contain or mitigate the cyber-attacks. It is a process where security teams continuously monitor and identify potential threats to obtain raw data.

Those raw data are then analyzed and contextualized by powerful AIs to create relevant information. Finally, the human [security team] re-analyzes and curates the information that is infamously called Actionable Threat Intelligence.

Turning the threat data into actionable threat intelligence merely depends upon the capability of the information security teams. Threat intelligence provides information [facts] on the attacker, their motivation, abilities, and information on sectors of compromise on your system. It assists you to reconfigure your system and fix the loopholes.

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Why Is Actionable Threat Intelligence Important?

Threat actors exploit the loopholes in the systems [organizations] to flood false alarms, harmful files, viruses, and other extraneous information. These are not only challenges but also unconnected security systems and a shortage of skilled professionals.

Most organizations are unaware of the cyber-attacks until it is too late, and others try to incorporate threat data feeds into their network. Those organizations will no clue how to use the data obtained from the feeds.

Actionable threat intelligence comes into the equation in these kinds of situations.

The best solution is to incorporate machine learning AIs to automate data collection and processing. Threat Intelligence will take care of the processed information to connect the dots to uncover various information like indicators of compromise [IoCs], tactics, techniques, and procedures [TTPs] of threat actors.

The next step is for the security team to work on those contexts to fix and upgrade the system.

Life Cycle of Actionable Threat Intelligence.

Let us dive into the process of how threat intelligence comes to life. Raw data is the base of an Actionable Threat Intelligence. The cycle of data collection, processing, and analysis generates intelligence from raw data.

It is a cycle as an effective intelligence process is iterative and goes through new collection requirements and gets more refined over time.

Following are the stages of a life cycle of actionable threat intelligence:

  1. Planning and Direction
  2. Collection
  3. Processing
  4. Analysis
  5. Dissemination
  6. Feedback

1. Planning and Direction

Asking a relevant question is the first step in producing intelligence. Focus on a single event, fact, or activity. Avoid broad and open-ended questions.

The intelligence’s objective should prioritize the core value of your organization and the impacts it will produce.

You should decide whether the finished product [intelligence] goes to a team of analysts with technical expertise or an executive who overviews trends.

2. Collection

The second step is to collect the raw data that fulfills the requirements of the first stage. Collect data from a wide range of sources. The list of threat data includes lists of IoCs, such as hostile IPs, domains, and file hashes. It also consists of vulnerability information such as raw code from paste sites, texts from social media, etc.

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3. Processing

After the collection, all raw data need sorting, organizing, and filtering redundant information. Automated data collection and processing saves time and money.

Using solutions like SIEMs for structured data and Recorded Future for unstructured data can help you process the collected data effortlessly and conveniently.

4. Analysis

The goal of the [analysis] is to figure out the potential security case and inform the related teams to fix it. Intelligence will take various shapes depending upon the initial objective and planning.

A quality analysis depends upon the security team and expertise, and experience. Proficient analysts can develop security cases and surface threat actors’ patterns fast and efficiently. The swift and adequate analysis leads to abrupt dissemination.

5. Dissemination

The distribution of the final product [intelligence] falls in this stage. You deliver the product to the customers in time so that they can deal with their problems in time.

Dissemination of the threat intelligence doesn’t have to be a physical delivery. These days customers can log into vendors’ sites and get the products within a few clicks.

The spread of information needs to be fast and effective. Every customer should be aware of your product and be on the line to get them as soon as it goes live.

Delayed distribution of the final product doesn’t hold meaningful dissemination. You should be quick to reach out to your customers, so they get the most out of your product.

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6. Feedback

The final stage is the result time where your customers use the product and give their honest feedback. You can then analyze if your product met the initial plans and objectives.

It doesn’t end here. It is just the beginning of an iterative process. New requirements from the users will be very crucial in the planning and direction stage of the next update.

Types of Actionable Threat Intelligence

Actionable Threat Intelligence, the final product will have various shapes and look depending upon the initial planning and requirements. Experts break down threat intelligence into three subcategories.

  1. Strategic [encapsulates trends meant for the non-technical audience]
  2. Tactical [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) of actors for the technical audience]
  3. Operational [Specialized details on precise campaigns and attacks]

1. Strategic Threat Intelligence

It provides a broad overview of an organizations’ threat structure. It intends to inform high-level decisions made by executives and other decision-makers. The content is less technical and easy to understand.

Strategic intelligence is presented through briefings and reports. It should deliver insights on risks associated with a certain line of action, geopolitical events, and trends, patterns of threat actor tactics, and targets.

Analysts with expertise in sociopolitical and business concepts can contribute to the creation of strategic threat intelligence. Tremendous research on the huge volumes of data across multiple languages is needed to produce strategic threat intelligence.

Integrating machine AIs to collect and process data will produce effective and reliable intelligence.

2. Tactical Threat Intelligence

It sketches the tactics, techniques, and procedures of the threat actor. It assists security teams to understand the nature of attacks, how their organization will be targeted, and the best possible way to prevent or mitigate those attacks. System architects, administrators, and security staffs utilize this intelligence.

Security vendor reports are the most straightforward and practical way to get tactical threat intelligence. Analysts need to look for details like attack vectors, attacker’s infrastructures, and vulnerable points in the system.

Other data like leveraging points in the system, implemented tools, and strategies by the attacker to avoid or delay detection are impeccable sources of information for tactical threat intelligence.

Security teams can use tactical threat intelligence to prepare and execute improvements to an existing system. It is widely used in speeding up the incident response.

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3. Operational Threat Intelligence

It is knowledge about cyberattacks, possibilities, actors, and events. It provides specific insights to help incident response teams to understand the purpose, essence, and timing of those attacks.

Operational Threat Intelligence includes information like attacker’s vectors used, exploited vulnerabilities in the system, and deployed control domains. It overlaps with technical threat intelligence as most of these elements also fall under [technical threat intelligence].

A common source of [technical threat intelligence] is menace data feeds. It usually concentrates on a single class of indicators like malware hashes and doubtful domains.

Data collection for operational threat intelligence is quite a challenging task. All the threat groups communicate via encrypted channels, and strangers cannot barge inside those groups. Threat groups are wise enough to use codenames, and obfuscation to avoid detection.

 Who can benefit from the Actionable Threat Intelligence?

Everyone on the internet. We are interrelated to each other in some way or the other. So, ones’ benefit can be the butterfly effect on everyone. Actionable Threat Intelligence is the vocation of elite security teams, but in reality, it benefits every security function of organizations of all sizes.

This threat intelligence is easily integrable with the existing security systems. It automatically prioritizes and filters the alerts and threats received by the security operation teams. It helps your team identify the loopholes in the organization and rectify them based on context and insights provided by the threat intelligence.

Some critical analysis and actions like risk analysis, fraud prevention, and high-level security processes are possible with an understanding of the current threat landscape.


We are in a digital world full of possibilities along with threats equally. No one is safe from possible threat actors. Malicious activities and cyber-attacks are on growth along with time. Making optimal use of actionable threat intelligence is paramount.

Fighting against the threat actors [cyber attackers] is possible with a maintained and updated threat intelligence is possible. Organizations should be timely updated and hire experts to analyze the information generated by the AIs.

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