What is Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) ?

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is the precise and contextualized information about emerging or existing cyber threats that have been refined and analyzed to provide actionable advice which allows the organizations to take informed decision to proactively defend or mitigate any cyber threats. Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) provides valuable knowledge with context about the adversaries and their motivations, capabilities, goals, including the tools and methods that adversaries use to conduct cyber-attacks.

In a nutshell, Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) is the information that is collected, relevant, fully contextualized, filtered and analyzed to answer core questions regarding any cyber threats that an organization can face, such as who is likely to attack what assets, where, when, how and why.
Note that just information is not intelligence! but the information is raw material to produce intelligence through extensive analysis. Producing Intelligence involves a comprehensive process of collecting, processing, and analyzing data. The main difference between information and true intelligence is the analysis.

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) Lifecycle Process:

1.Planning and Direction:

Planning and Direction involve management of the entire cyber threat intelligence operation. This phase defines the purposes and objectives of the cyber threat intelligence program. In this phase, the CTI team identifies what issues need to be addressed to protect the organization and what information must be gathered to produce threat intelligence products that satisfy the organization’s requirements.
The Planning and Direction phase determines the exact requirements of consumers (organization) through Intelligence Requirements (IRs) or Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIRs) and ensures that those requirements are met to deliver the cyber threat intelligence product to the organization as they needed. From these IRs and PIRs, the CTI team determines what data and information are required and how those should be collected.

The planning and direction phase establishes the question that cyber threat intelligence is meant to answer. These questions are given to the CTI team in the name of Intelligence Requirements (IRs) by the organization’s decision-makers or head of the cybersecurity program such as CISO (Chief Information Security Officer). Intelligence Requirements (IRs) is the request of what information an organization needs from a CTI team through cyber threat intelligence operation.
For example, an Intelligence Requirement (IR) could be “Which types of adversaries are deploying attacks in our organization, and what are their motivations?” This question will lead to further collections effort and help guide CTI analyst to the answers.

Three key fundamentals of Planning and Direction phase:

1. Intelligence Requirements.
2. Threat Modeling.
3. Collection Management Framework.