What is Threat Intelligence? All You Need to Know (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

What is Threat Intelligence? All You Need to Know (2023)<br />

What is Threat Intelligence?

In today’s digital world, organizations face an ever-growing number of cyber threats. To stay one step ahead of attackers, understanding threat intelligence is crucial. Dive into this comprehensive guide to explore the ins and outs of threat intelligence, its importance, types, and how it can help organizations proactively tailor their defenses to prevent potential attacks.


  • Threat intelligence involves collecting and analyzing information about potential or current threats to the cybersecurity of a computer system.

  • It guides defensive strategies, enabling quick response to emerging threats. Timely threat intelligence aids in understanding the attackers’ methods and improving security.

  • It leverages AI and Machine Learning to detect threats faster and more accurately, while providing a step-by-step process for transforming raw data into actionable intelligence.

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Understanding Threat Intelligence

Imagine navigating a complex maze without a map. That’s what it’s like for security teams trying to protect their organization from cyber threats without the help of threat intelligence. So, what exactly is threat intelligence? It’s the process of collecting, analyzing, and acting on data to protect an organization from external and internal threats. Think of it as the map guiding security teams through the maze of cyber threats.

Threat intelligence goes beyond just gathering raw data. It helps organizations understand potential risks, such as zero-day threats and advanced persistent threats (APTs), and provides insights into specific threats, like attack trends, targeted industries, and threat actors’ motivation. By having a clear understanding of the threat landscape, organizations can make informed decisions about how to best defend against damaging attacks.

With threat intelligence, security teams can quickly identify and respond to emerging threats, ultimately enhancing their organization’s security posture.

The Importance of Threat Intelligence

The importance of threat intelligence cannot be overstated. It plays a crucial role in helping organizations preemptively tailor their defenses to guard against potential attacks. By offering insights into the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) of threat actors, threat intelligence enables security teams to stay ahead of the curve and mitigate risks before they materialize.

Unfortunately, many organizations recognize the value of threat intelligence but fail to fully utilize the insights it offers. This is where tools like ThreatConnect, Cisco Umbrella, and Threat Intelligence Platforms come into play. By leveraging these tools and solutions, organizations can make quicker and more informed, data-driven security decisions, ultimately shifting from reactive to proactive in thwarting threat actors.

The importance of threat intelligence cannot be emphasized enough – it is a critical component in ensuring a robust security posture.

Diving into Types of Threat Intelligence

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the threat landscape, it’s essential to look at the four types of threat intelligence: strategic, tactical, technical, and operational. Each type serves a unique purpose, and together they offer a well-rounded view of the risks and challenges an organization may face.

Additionally, the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on threat intelligence services is significant, enabling faster and more accurate threat detection and prevention.

Strategic Threat Intelligence

Strategic threat intelligence is all about providing a comprehensive picture of an organization’s threat environment. It helps decision-makers identify long-term trends and potential risks, offering a macro view of the cyber threat landscape. This understanding is crucial for making informed decisions about cybersecurity investments that align with the organization’s strategic goals.

Asking focused, specific questions is the key in producing strong strategic threat intelligence. It helps us determine the intelligence requirements. It also demands analysts with a broad range of skills, including an understanding of sociopolitical and business concepts.

By leveraging strategic threat intelligence, executives and other decision-makers can gain valuable insights into the constantly evolving cyber threats targeting their organization.

Tactical Threat Intelligence

Tactical threat intelligence is a method of analyzing current attack patterns. It focuses on outlining TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) of threat actors. This type of intelligence is valuable for security teams and professionals who use reports produced by security vendors. With tactical threat intelligence, organizations can enhance their security controls and processes and respond to incidents more quickly.

However, relying solely on intel feeds for tactical threat intelligence can lead to information overload and false positives if the sources aren’t up to date or reliable. By having a clear understanding of tactical threat intelligence and its applications, organizations can better identify current threats and weak spots, staying ahead of potential attacks.

Technical Threat Intelligence

Technical threat intelligence is a form of operational threat intelligence that provides technical details about attack vectors, vulnerabilities being exploited, and command and control domains being used. It plays a crucial role in identifying and understanding the technical aspects of cyber threats.

In the realm of technical threat intelligence, AI and machine learning have become game-changers. They can help automate data collection and processing, enabling threat intelligence systems to be more efficient. For instance, machine learning can create predictive models to anticipate events and entity properties based on already mined and categorized data.

With AI and machine learning, organizations can streamline their threat intelligence efforts, resulting in faster and more accurate threat detection and prevention.

Operational Threat Intelligence

Operational threat intelligence offers specialized insights about cyber attacks, events, or campaigns, helping incident response teams understand the nature, intent, and timing of specific attacks. It aims to provide a better understanding of the people behind the attacks and the tactics they employ.

Gathering operational threat intelligence can be challenging due to the need for data from sources in other languages and the requirement for human expertise to interpret the information. Machine learning can help overcome these challenges by automating data collection on a massive scale and employing natural language processing to collect information from foreign-language sources. This enables cybersecurity professionals to quickly identify and respond to emerging threats targeting their organization.

The Threat Intelligence Lifecycle: A Step-by-Step Guide

The threat intelligence lifecycle is a six-step process that transforms raw data into actionable intelligence, guiding organizations in making well-informed decisions. The process begins with the direction phase, where goals and objectives are set for the threat intelligence program.

Next is the collection phase, which involves gathering data from various sources to support the established goals. Following the collection phase is the processing phase, where data points are organized and assessed for relevance and trustworthiness.

The analysis phase comes next, diving deep into the processed dataset to answer the questions identified in the requirements phase and transforming the dataset into action items and useful recommendations. After the analysis, the dissemination phase occurs, where key recommendations and conclusions are shared with the right people in the organization.

Finally, the feedback stage is crucial for improving future threat intelligence operations by learning from past experiences.

Tools and Solutions for Threat Intelligence

To effectively protect organizations from potential cyber attacks, various threat intelligence tools and solutions are available, such as ThreatConnect, Cisco Umbrella, Threat Intelligence Platforms, Resecurity, Cyborg Security, and SolarWinds Security Event Manager. These tools help organizations understand the risks of different types of attacks and how best to protect themselves.

By employing these tools and solutions, organizations can take quicker, more informed, data-driven security decisions and switch from reactive to proactive when it comes to thwarting threat actors. The importance of threat intelligence cannot be emphasized enough – it is a critical component in ensuring a robust security posture.

Use Cases of Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence has a wide range of use cases, such as incident response, security operations, vulnerability management, risk analysis, fraud prevention, and security leadership. For example, integrating threat intelligence into incident response can help organizations identify risks 10 times faster than before, giving them more time to take action.

Additionally, high-level security processes like fraud prevention and risk analysis can be greatly enhanced by leveraging the knowledge of the current threat landscape that threat intelligence offers. By understanding the tactics and motivations of threat actors, organizations can better protect their data and brand from fraud and other threats.

Integrating Threat Intelligence with Security Teams

Integrating threat intelligence with security teams can greatly improve an organization’s ability to understand and respond to cyber threats. Threat intelligence feeds and platforms can collect and assess threat data, enabling security teams to more effectively detect and respond to cyber attacks. These platforms, such as ThreatConnect, are specifically designed to link threat intelligence with an organization’s security teams.

By incorporating threat intelligence into their security operations, organizations can better understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures employed by attackers. This understanding enables security teams to respond faster and more effectively, ultimately achieving better protection against potential threats.

AI and Machine Learning in Threat Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have become increasingly important in the realm of threat intelligence. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data, spot patterns, and automate certain tasks, making threat intelligence systems more efficient. For instance, they can help detect unknown malware variants by analyzing their behavior.

Despite the benefits, there are challenges associated with using AI and machine learning in threat intelligence. For example, it requires a lot of data to train the models, and AI and machine learning models are prone to adversarial attacks. Additionally, interpreting the results can be difficult.

Nevertheless, AI and machine learning have proven to be valuable tools in automating data collection and processing, providing more insight into indicators of compromise, and helping with faster and more accurate threat detection and prevention.

Building a Cyber Threat Intelligence Program

Building a cyber threat intelligence program involves several key steps. First, determine the scope and objectives of the program, and create a collection and analysis plan that aligns with these goals.

Next, develop a process for analysis and dissemination, ensuring that the analyzed data is presented in a clear and concise manner for decision-makers to understand. Implement security controls to protect the organization and its data, and review and update the program regularly to ensure its continued effectiveness.

By following these steps, organizations can establish a robust cyber threat intelligence program that helps them stay ahead of emerging threats and protect their organization’s attack surface.


In conclusion, understanding and utilizing cyber threat intelligence is essential for organizations to proactively defend against potential attacks. By exploring the different types of threat intelligence, their applications, and the threat intelligence lifecycle, organizations can better understand the ever-changing threat landscape. Furthermore, leveraging AI and machine learning technologies, as well as various tools and solutions, can greatly enhance organizations’ security posture. The importance of building a robust cyber threat intelligence program cannot be overstated – it is the key to staying one step ahead of attackers and protecting your organization from potential threats.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is threat intelligence in simple terms?

In simple terms, threat intelligence is about proactively monitoring and gathering information about potential threats to an organization in order to reduce the likelihood of a successful attack. It also helps inform appropriate responses to any threats that do arise.

What is an example of cyber threat intelligence?

Cyber threat intelligence is a valuable tool for organizations, providing them with information about potential threats so they can take appropriate action. For example, by looking at attacker behavior and analyzing trends, cybersecurity teams can proactively assess risk and develop protective strategies.

Is threat intelligence the same as cyber security?

No, threat intelligence and cyber security are not the same. Threat intelligence focuses on gathering and analyzing data about potential threats and their sources, whereas cybersecurity involves developing strategies to protect systems from those threats.

Cyber security is a broader umbrella, and threat intelligence falls within it.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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