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Threat Intelligence: Understanding Adversaries and Threats

This quote from The Art of War could not be more relevant when we think of today’s digital battlefield:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

There’s no doubt, that as with any strategy, being aware of the opponent’s motivations and tactics is key to victory. This can be especially important since not all opponents—cybercriminals, in our case—share the same intentions.

Some of them may hack for financial gain while others are more inclined politically or socially and use different methods to carry out the attacks. We’ve spoken extensively about it in our article The 6 Types of Threat Actors You Need to Know, and in this post, we’ll take a look at some of their profiles and discuss ways to confront them.

The Different Types of Threat Actors Today

As the term “threat actor” has a broad meaning it’s best to categorize these individuals into groups based on their approach.

Government-sponsored threats – These are the threat actors that are supported by a nation and are able to employ attacks on a large scale. They are often hackers caught in the act and offered a chance to work for a government in exchange for their charges to be dropped.

Organized crime – Although individuals under this category can be likened to government-sponsored actors in terms of sophistication, the main difference is that in this case they are mostly motivated by financial gain. These actors are usually experienced veteran criminals who target high-value data such as banking details and intellectual property assets for resale.

Insiders – This category can be represented by disgruntled employees or negligent staff members who can cause leakage of crucial confidential data. Many insiders can be unknowing participants in a cyber-attack because of their lack of knowledge in identifying social engineering techniques.

Tips to Combat Threat Actors and Their Deeds

Once organizations get an understanding of who they may be up against, they need to learn how to counteract these threats. Here’s what they can do:

Combine threat intelligence sourcesn – In order to better combat organized crime and government-sponsored hackers, companies can’t rely only on reactive techniques and setting up expensive cybersecurity software.

In fact, businesses need to constantly be prepared and monitor the threat landscape for emerging threats. This can be done, for example, by analyzing and combining threat intelligence derived from various sources such as signal intelligence (SIGINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), and open-source intelligence (OSINT).

Prepare for social engineering – When putting together a social engineering scam, hackers bank on insiders knowing that the weakest link in any organizational defense is their uneducated employees. Mostly they use emails, but they also can engage other means to customize their attacks even further.

This is where establishing security policies and disseminating knowledge about common signs of social engineering attacks can be extremely useful. Specialists can also use threat intelligence platforms and domain reputation software in order to run suspicious links through thorough analysis.

Use domain investigation – Malicious individuals are like spiders—they weave their webs setting up numerous connected domains containing malware, viruses and more. And in case of organized crime that is extremely well-funded, it’s very hard to detect these webs since huge resources are invested to protect them.

A threat intelligence platform can enable users not only to reveal if individual pages contain malware or viruses but also allows them to look into domain ownership and connected domains. This can help specialists connect the dots and in many cases identify the whole network of dangerous pages.

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Although threat actors will always be around, companies need not remain helpless. Instead, they can study and learn how these individuals operate in today’s online landscape. By leveraging Threat Intelligence Platform, businesses can gain insights on potential risks and even prevent future attacks from taking place.

By WhoisXML API, A Domain Research, Whois, DNS, and Threat Intelligence API and Data Provider

Whois API, Inc. (WhoisXML API) is a big data and API company that provides domain research & monitoring, Whois, DNS, IP, and threat intelligence API, data and tools to a variety of industries.

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