Even the most security-savvy companies are still at risk for cyber attacks. Where does that leave organizations that lack cybersecurity resources and oversight?

Cyberattack strategies are increasingly agile and targeted in every industry. Breached organizations risk financial losses and permanent damage to personnel, customer, and stakeholder relationships.

These consequences can be crippling for small and mid-sized organizations, which tend to lack the robust security knowledge, personnel, processes, and tools of Fortune-500 companies. 

At the time of writing this blog, many businesses’ attentions are focused on COVID-19 and away from their cybersecurity strategies. However, these threats are only expected to increase in the coming months as cyber adversaries weaponize the pandemic. Effective cybersecurity solutions have never been more crucial, especially as more businesses adapt to their employees working from home.

Adversaries are aware of this, pursuing targets with the biggest payoff and the weakest security: according to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report, a majority of breaches (43%) targeted small businesses in 2019. 

iStock-data stream overlay corporate buildingsCyber threat intelligence enables security teams to identify, mitigate, prevent, and sometimes even predict emerging threats affecting their organization. Threat intelligence solutions can be delivered in a number of ways depending on a company’s needs and budget.

We could probably write a book on the specific security solutions out there—but here, we’re focusing on how threat intelligence solutions can be delivered and which are ideal for mid-size enterprises.

Threat Intelligence Solutions

Regardless of a company’s vertical, size, or resources, its cybersecurity goal is generally the same: detect, address, and prevent vulnerabilities and attacks.

There are many threat intelligence solutions available to achieve this goal. For many companies, this comes down to a choice between in-house or outsourced solutions—but using a third-party threat intelligence platform is an attractive alternative for small, mid-size, and even large-scale enterprises. 

1. In-House Cybersecurity Teams

Hiring a cybersecurity team is ideal for large companies requiring comprehensive threat intelligence solutions. These teams often consist of security analysts, engineers, developers, and pen testers. They’re fully equipped with the tools and experience to detect and defend companies against attacks using multiple tools, from threat intelligence products and threat data feeds to firewalls and antivirus software.

An in-house team offers companies a broad solution that is entirely customized and dedicated to their specific needs. They’re also immediately available in the event of an incident, and their experience and training is the organization’s direct control. 

However, hiring an experienced team is becoming more challenging and competitive amidst a cybersecurity skills shortage. This option is also prohibitively expensive, and outside the scope of most mid-tier organizations.

2. Managed Services

analyst at desktop corporate computer woman in glasses

Another option is to outsource a managed security service. These companies manage digital security, gather threat intel, and create finished intelligence reports on your behalf. Managed services also avoid the issue of finding hireable talent in a competitive marketplace.

But managed services also carry a number of challenges. They’re a great option if your organization finds a good fit—but they can take a long time to onboard and understand your specific risks and needs. Your cybersecurity is also subject to their processes, priorities, and schedule. In crises like we are seeing now with COVID-19, managed services can become overwhelmed managing an increased amount of threat data for multiple clients. This is not always ideal when speed-to-information and response for your organization is essential.

Delivering finished threat intelligence (as opposed to raw threat data) can save your organization time and resources. However, threat data is interpreted through the bias of their analysis, partners, and/or vendors, so it can be misaligned with your organization’s actual needs and overlook context. Threat data sources and types may also vary from service to service. 

Even though managed services are generally less expensive than hiring an in-house team, they are often still too costly for mid-sized companies.

3. Third-Party Threat Intelligence Platforms

Lastly, organizations can opt for third-party threat intelligence platforms. These are generally offered as SaaS products with ongoing support for internal use. They give your organization access to threat alerts and intelligence from a variety of sources like social media, the dark web, and breached data repositories. They’re useful for identifying digital threats, as well as physical risks to executives and assets.

Threat intelligence platforms aren’t a comprehensive security solution like a full in-house team—but they enable mid-tier organizations to detect attacks, mitigate risk, and keep their staff, customers, and stakeholders more informed and prepared.

This is  crucial during global pandemics when organizations need access to timely, accurate information, and other managed services might be too overwhelmed to provide this level of alerting. For example, third-party platforms can help your business detect supply chain shutdowns affecting your business in another state or country. Or, they can detect a breach leveraged by a COVID-19 phishing attack targeting your employees.

Threat intelligence platforms also tend to be significantly more cost-effective than hiring in-house teams or managed services.

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They can also be useful for large organizations leveraging their existing security tools—for example, if they want access to more data feeds or to integrate a platform’s proprietary API. 

One of the main benefits of a third-party platform is the ability to access threat data internally. Some platforms support an intuitive, web-based UI and don’t take a team of experts to get up-and-running quickly. Since they don’t necessarily deliver finished intelligence as managed services do, your team can also assess the full context of a threat and its relevance to your organization.

Choosing an Effective Threat Intelligence Solution

There are many non-budget variables when it comes to choosing a threat intelligence solution. Whether you’re new to cybersecurity investments or reevaluating existing strategies, consider:

  • Your organization’s roadmap. What platforms and solutions are scalable to your growth plan?
  • Risk factors and vulnerabilities. This will depend on your vertical and infrastructure and can be determined via risk assessment.
  • Existing threat intelligence solutions. What products or services will integrate effectively with your current strategy?
  • Your team. What is their experience level, and which threat intelligence platforms will have the fastest learning curve?
  • The security regulations specific to your industry or region. For example, security requirements for an insurance company will be very different from a retailer. If you’re gathering threat intelligence from social networks or monitoring global threats, you should also consider regional privacy laws.
  • How prepared will you be in the face of wide-scale crises, such as a pandemic? If staying current and agile amidst a crisis situation is crucial for your organization, in-house solutions and platforms might be preferable over (or in addition to) managed services.

The threat intelligence market is expected to more than double between 2018-2023, from USD $5.3 billion to USD $12.9 billion. This growth is a direct response to the rapid expansion of digital footprints and adopted technologies across every industry—and the increased risks and attack surfaces that follow. As global crises like pandemics become the new normal, these risks are likely to increase in their frequency, magnitude, and complexity.

Accessing cyber threat intelligence is now crucial to addressing these threats, whether you’re a small, mid-sized, or large-scale organization. Forward-thinking companies can no longer afford to ignore threat intelligence solutions, regardless of their budget.

Weighing your cybersecurity options or looking for new threat intelligence sources?
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