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A Quick Look at the 4 Most Prevalent Types of Threat Intelligence

Jonathan Zhang

You won't go far with your cybersecurity when you're relying on the wrong intelligence.

This is simply because not all types of threat intelligence are equal. You might have experienced this yourself; investing time and resources into just one only to receive meagre results in the end. Sadly, many organizations fail to realize that depending on just a single source of information is a big mistake.

You see, relevant insights can only be obtained when they are based on consolidated quality data and analysis. Here's where a threat intelligence platform combining various sources of data can step in to accommodate specific cybersecurity needs.

However, before opting for a specific solution it's important to understand the difference in the main types of threat intelligence in order to distinguish which one you should or should not acquire.

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

This is perhaps the most obvious type of threat intelligence and it is acquired from human beings through either direct or indirect interpersonal contact. HUMINT, in the world of cybersecurity, is leveraged by experts for counterintelligence purposes. For instance, professionals can use it to identify users carrying out malicious activity in secret within a given network.

The integration of such human intelligence methodologies is essential for organizations to discover and hunt down cyber threats. This is because the highest level of intelligence gathering requires interaction with human beings — a process which demands intuition to understand individuals and analyze their actions.

Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)

In cybersecurity, signals intelligence or SIGINT refers to the act of gathering information through signal interception. These signals can come from communication channels between individuals or can come in the form of electronic intelligence which is collected by using electronic sensors.

The main approach is to seize raw data externally which are then reorganized covertly and analyzed using various complex tools. Basically, it can be carried out by a company to gain a cybersecurity advantage by ensuring its protocols and processes are not known to the public.

Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT)

This type of intelligence is obtained by leveraging geographical information to gain insight into human activities anywhere in the world. Similar to the two kinds of intelligence we've mentioned, GEOINT can also be acted upon which makes it one of the most salient sources of threat intelligence.

One common use of geospatial intelligence in cybersecurity is to notify users of unauthorized access to a network. It can also promote situational awareness in an organization by providing analysts with a distinct overview of affected systems during a certain incident.

Integrating IP geolocation technology with existing protocols is one way to acquire GEOINT. If you'd like to know more about this approach which allows learning about the physical whereabouts of electronic devices, continue reading in our post dedicated to IP geolocation.

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

Open source intelligence or OSINT is a type of intelligence derived from publicly available sources — both online and offline. Some of the most common OSINT techniques applied in cybersecurity include:

  • Monitoring and analyzing search engine data from Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and more;
  • Reviewing available content on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.;
  • Studying old website versions to discover valuable clues for investigations;
  • Examining various open source feeds such as malware feeds as well as domain details which can be done with the help of threat intelligence platforms.

* * *

There are different types of threat intelligence available nowadays with each of them offering specific benefits and drawbacks. To maximize one's results in cybersecurity, it is crucial for organizations to tailor an action plan that combines the data from multiple sources or utilize a dedicated threat intelligence platform that can facilitate this process for users.

By Jonathan Zhang, Founder and CEO of WhoisXMLAPI & ThreatIntelligencePlatform.com
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Related topics: Cybersecurity, IP Addressing
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