What is Cyber Threat Intelligence?

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) refers to the collection, analysis, and circulation of knowledge about adversaries their motivations, intentions, and methods. It involves maintaining timely situational awareness of the threat landscape to make informed cybersecurity decisions. By understanding the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by adversaries, organisations can effectively defend against or remediate threats.

CTI goes beyond the traditional security measures by allowing organisations to anticipate and respond to threats proactively. The implementation of a comprehensive cyber threat intelligence program is crucial in structuring CTI efforts, ensuring tailored threat management, real solutions, access to investigations, and up-to-the-minute threat data feeds to mitigate the risks of cyber threats.

Cyber threat intelligence team

This proactive approach is significantly enhanced by a dedicated threat intelligence team, which specialises in analysing data about attackers, their capabilities, and motives, playing a pivotal role in preventing cyber attacks and bolstering the organisation’s information security posture.

Why is Cyber Threat Intelligence important?

The need for Cyber Threat Intelligence arises from the continuous evolution and sophistication of emerging cyber threats. Adversaries are continuously developing new techniques and exploiting new vulnerabilities in systems and networks. Without it, organisations may be caught off guard and suffer significant financial losses, reputational damage, and operational disruption.

By harnessing Cyber Threat Intelligence, organisations can:

·      Gain valuable insights into potential threats and vulnerabilities.

·      Understand the tactics employed by adversaries to breach systems.

·      Develop proactive strategies to detect, prevent, and mitigate attacks.

Additionally, CTI plays a crucial role in preparing organisations to defend against future attacks by offering predictive capabilities that allow them to proactively tailor their defences and preempt such threats.

·      Strengthen incident response capabilities.

·      Make informed decisions regarding resource allocation for cybersecurity measures.

·      Stay up to date with emerging trends and threat actors in the cyber landscape.

A shield protecting a computer from viruses

The Types of Cyber Threat Intelligence

Cyber Threat Intelligence can be categorised into the following four main types:

Strategic Threat Intelligence provides a high-level overview of the cyber threat landscape. It is designed for non-technical stakeholders, such as executive-level security professionals and company boards, offering insights into the broader threats an organisation faces. This type of intelligence helps in understanding the potential impact of cyber threats on the organisation’s business strategy, including identifying the threat actors’ goals and the severity of their potential attacks.

Tactical Threat Intelligence focuses on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by threat actors. It provides detailed information on how attackers operate and the methods they use, which is crucial for technical teams to develop effective defence strategies. Tactical intelligence is vital for understanding and mitigating specific threats, allowing organisations to adapt to changing behaviors and emerging threats.

Operational Threat Intelligence goes beyond tactical information by providing real-time insights and actionable recommendations for dealing with vulnerabilities, understanding specific threats and campaigns, and studying past cyber attacks to draw conclusions about threat actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). Operational threat intelligence focuses on the ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ of each cyber attack, offering a deeper understanding of the nature, motive, timing, and methods of attacks. This intelligence is essential for anticipating and mitigating attacks before they occur, requiring more resources than tactical intelligence due to its comprehensive analysis and longer lifespan.


Strategic Intelligence concentrates on providing high-level insights into a larger threat landscape. This typically includes information about emerging trends, threat actors, and geopolitical factors that may impact the cybersecurity strategy and decision-making at the organisational level.


Tactical Intelligence offers actionable information about specific threats, vulnerabilities and techniques which are relevant to an organisation’s operation or environment. This helps to prioritise security measures for security teams, allowing them to respond more effectively to imminent threats.


Technical Intelligence provides more detailed insights into the technical aspects of a threat. This includes malware analysis, network traffic patterns, and exploit capabilities. It helps security teams to understand the tools and techniques used by threat actors for the development of more effective countermeasures.


Operational Intelligence focusses on indicators of compromise and real time information. This enables organisations to identify and respond to incidents promptly, minimising the impact of an attack.

Each type plays a crucial role in strengthening an organisation’s cybersecurity posture by providing various levels of insights and actionable intelligence to support decision-making.

A depiction of the different areas of intelligence within the cyber sphere.

The Role of Cyber Threat Intelligence

Cyber Threat Intelligence plays a crucial role in bolstering security defences and influencing security decisions. By staying informed about emerging threats and vulnerabilities, organisations can enhance existing security capabilities, enabling proactive threat detection and response through increased awareness of the threat landscape. In addition to enhancing existing security systems, Cyber Threat Intelligence aids decision-making processes, allowing organisations to develop robust security policies and allocate resources more effectively going forward. The integration of actionable threat intelligence further empowers organisations by providing insights into the immediate threat landscape, enabling them to adapt to changing attacker behaviours and make informed cybersecurity decisions in real-time.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Lifecycle

Cyber Threat Intelligence operates within a structured lifecycle, guiding the process of converting raw data into actionable intelligence as part of a robust threat intelligence program. This program emphasises a structured lifecycle that includes understanding potential cyber threats, lessening the risk of cyber attacks, and strengthening the security stance through its iterative nature and continuous improvement. There are six key phases:

To support the CTI lifecycle, threat intelligence services play a crucial role by providing actionable insights into the immediate threat landscape, aiding in better preparations for specific threats, and transforming cybersecurity strategy with new and effective solutions.


The planning phase involves defining the scope and objectives of the program. This includes steps such as establishing intelligence requirements, identifying sources of threat data, and outlining the methods to be used to collect and analyse the data.


Once the planning phase has been completed, data is then gathered from a variety of sources such as Open-source intelligence, closed forums, industry reports and internal security tools. The collection phase focuses on obtaining a variety of in-depth information about the threat landscape.


When the raw data has been collected, it is processed into a format for further analysis. In this stage, false positives may be filtered out and intelligence frameworks such as MITRE ATT&CK may be applied to the data. Processing the data is a crucial step in the process and allows teams to obtain an increased amount of actionable intelligence from the data.


During the analysis stage, the processed data is transformed into actual intelligence. The data is scrutinised to identify patterns, trends, and insights which can be used to make informed decisions.


The dissemination phase translates the analysis into new insights and recommendations, which are then shared with the appropriate stakeholders. New actions may be implemented based on the gained insights and recommendations, such as new Intrusion Detection System (IDS) or Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) rules to block and detect newly identified threats.

Threat intelligence solutions integrate and exchange data with security tools to automate alerts for live attacks,


Feedback is used to reflect on the process to determine whether further adjustments need to be made in the next round of the lifecycle.

Cyber Threat Intelligence Platforms

Cyber Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs) is a solution which allows organisations to collect and organise threat intelligence information from a variety of sources and formats. A TIP provides an efficient solution to collecting and processing intelligence data, allowing security analysts to spend more time on analysing the data and extracting actionable intelligence. A TIP can also share the data with other security software to enhance the defences of existing security systems.

A man using a cyber threat intelligence platform

Why we need Cyber Threat Intelligence Platforms

Security and threat intelligence teams previously used a variety of tools to manually gather and process data from a variety of sources. Over time, this approach began to fail as data would be collected in different formats by different companies. This, as well as the increase in threats and threat sophistication made manual data gathering and processing difficult and inefficient.

Utilising a Threat Intelligence Platform allows security teams to gather and process data from a vast number of sources with a variety of different data formats. Through spending less time gathering and collecting data, teams can extract meaningful information quicker allowing them to react faster to the latest threats.

Despite this, it is important to filter out low-confidence and out-of-date data to prevent wasting resources. Additionally, reports, news articles, and white-papers can also provide valuable information on understanding the latest threats. With Threat Intelligence Platforms, it is also important to score data and ensure that data sources are providing useful information that align with security needs of the organisation.