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8 Questions to Ask a Threat Intelligence Platform Vendor

The threat intelligence (TI) landscape contains a varying number of services and technologies, so finding the right threat intelligence platform can be daunting. Still, this decision is crucial to turning your threat intel data into something valuable for intel customers. To help you find the right platform, we’ve compiled eight questions to ask threat intelligence platform vendors in order to identify the best platform for your needs.

What Is a Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)?

A threat intelligence platform (TIP) is a software solution that facilitates collecting, analyzing, and managing threat intelligence data from commercial, open-source, and partner sources. Having access to threat intelligence data is not the same as using it effectively, which is where the TIP comes in. It provides a centralized, organized space with specialized tools to help analysts produce and share the right type of intel (e.g., operational, tactical, and strategic) according to the needs of the intel customers. 

TIPs often connect and integrate with other tools, such as security information and event management (SIEM), extended detection and response (XDR) systems, and endpoint, network, and cloud security tools. These tools help with the identification, prevention, and alerting of threats. A TIP supports these technologies by supplying them with threat intel that allows alerts to be better triaged, assessed, and prioritized so analysts can focus on the most important threats. TIPs also help share information between parties to keep everyone on the same page.

What are Threat Intelligence Services?

To support these different tasks, TIPs rely on a wide range of threat intelligence data sources, such as commercial threat intel services. These services come from diverse sources and supply actionable insights into the threats.

Some elements of threat intelligence services include:

  • Threat data collection: TI services start with data collected from various sources, such as open sources, honeypots, and the deep and dark web.
  • Threat actor analysis: Services can also analyze the information to profile threat actors and how they operate. 
  • Threat reporting: TI professionals share reports, insights, and summaries to offer knowledge and insights on emerging threats and risks.
  • Real-time alerts: Immediate alerts communicate active threats to subscribers. 
  • API integration: API integrations combine data from security tools with threat intelligence information for a more comprehensive view.

8 Questions to Ask Your Threat Intelligence Platform Vendor

Whether you’re buying a TI Ops platform or a TIP, you’ll need to ensure the solution fits your needs. Solutions can vary widely in features and capabilities, and this platform will play a crucial role in your day-to-day threat intel and security operations activities. It’s important to ask these questions of potential vendors and evaluate their responses to them. 

1. Does the Platform Support Capture and Action for a Variety of Threat Intelligence Requirements?

Threat intel requirements come in different types and subtypes. For example, 

  • Intelligence requirements (IR): These requirements address generalized threats that affect the organization. They create a foundation for other threat intelligence subtypes and create guiding principles for collecting, analyzing, and using threat intelligence.
  • Priority intelligence requirements (PIR): PIRs focus on how and why a threat occurs. They might include threat actor motives, impacts, targets, attributions associated with IRs, or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). PIRs help guide decision-making, offering more effective resource allocation to respond to the most impactful threats.
  • Specific intelligence requirements (SIR): SIRs include facts associated with threat activities, like IOCs. 

Connecting these intelligence requirements is crucial for creating a well-rounded, well-aligned defensive strategy. Look for a platform that can support capturing data for all types of threat intel and turning it into actionable information.

2. What Types of Data Sources, Downstream Security, IT Solutions, and App Integrations Are Supported?

A powerful capability of TIPs is the integration of different systems. From intel data sources to security tools, look for a platform that can connect with data sources and technologies most important to your organization.

  • Supported intelligence data sources: How does the platform support feeds, reports, and alerts from commercial, open, and trusted partner sources? 
  • Connectivity methods: Ideally, your TIP or TI Ops platform should offer multiple connectivity methods to support your existing systems and any new ones you may use in the future. Some examples include APIs, STIX/TAXII, and webhooks.
  • Support downstream security tools: To maximize the actionability of your intel, opt for a platform that integrates with downstream security tools, such as SIEM, XDR, EDR, NDR, firewalls, etc..
  • Supported IT solutions: Another way to streamline the use of your data is to integrate it with IT solutions. Look for a platform that connects with your IT infrastructure tools, ticketing systems, network orchestration tools, etc.
  • Supported Apps: Lastly, a robust TIP or TI Ops platform can integrate with business apps, such as collaboration and messaging platforms.

These connections can drastically save time and help streamline your threat intelligence workflows and processes.

3. How Does the Platform Address the Common Challenges of a Cyber Threat Intelligence Team?

Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) teams face challenges around collecting the right intel and supporting its effective use.

Consider your CTI team’s current challenges and how your partner could address them. For example, how do you deal with big data challenges with your threat intel, e.g., large volumes, velocities, and varieties of intel data?

Another example comes from developing intelligence requirements. Almost 40% of CTI teams don’t have documented intelligence requirements despite the significant importance to a CTI program. Offering capabilities to help fill this gap is one way your threat intel vendor can help meet the challenges of cyber threat intelligence.

4. What Do You Do to Ensure the Quality of Your Threat Intelligence?

Not all data sources are created equal. Your platform should include mechanisms to confirm the quality of your threat intel data. High-quality data is accurate, comprehensive, timely, and actionable. For example, does the vendor’s platform provide analytics to understand the coverage and effectiveness of threat intel feeds being used or the collective insights from the threat intelligence community to understand the fidelity of threat intel data?

5. How Does the Platform Leverage modern capabilities like AI and Machine Learning, Automations, and Visualization?

Some cyber security questions to ask a vendor revolve around how their platform uses these modern, time-saving resources to improve the efficacy, consistency, and efficiency of your CTI team. Here are some examples of how a TIP or TI ops platform can leverage these different technologies:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML): AI and ML have vast potential and can help analyze vast quantities of data, finding insights humans wouldn’t spot. They can analyze large volumes of data points to identify the most relevant threats. AI and ML are both excellent resources for making your threat intel operations more proactive.
  • Automations: Automation capabilities can drastically reduce the manual burden on your CTI team, and with the right platform, users won’t need to know how to code to use them. You can use automation to streamline tasks and standardize processes and workflows, particularly when combining them with integrations with other tools.
  • Visualizations: For many users, visualizing threats improves understanding. Visualization tools often support specific tactics and techniques, like ThreatConnect’s ATT&CK Visualizer and Threat Graph enable analysts to get broad insights into threat intelligence data. Look for a variety of visualization opportunities in your platform.

6. How Do You Maximize the Value of Your Threat Intelligence?

Remember, collecting data is only one part of the puzzle. A TIP should go further and make that information as valuable as possible. Ask your threat intelligence platform vendor about ways their platform::

  • Reduces  false positive alerts and  helps with prioritizing and triaging threats that pose the greatest risk to your company
  • Provides a variety of features, like  visualizations and dashboards, to make analysis faster and easier
  • Provides automation, both built-in and customized, to reduce the operational burden on analysts doing their work
  • Integrates with other tools to share the right intel in the right format at the right time
  • Provides  built-in metrics that calculate and report on savings (e.g., the ROI) through the use of the platform 

Look for features that show the platform goes beyond data aggregation.

7. How Does the Platform Support Threat Intel Analysis and Ease of Use?

As a tool your CTI team will use regularly, ease of use is crucial. In your discussions, some questions to ask your TI platform vendor include how their platform streamlines analysis and helps users find relevant details more quickly and effectively. Some common approaches to building user-friendly interfaces include dashboards, tables, and visualizations. Dashboards can offer at-a-glance insights into your entire threat intelligence environment, while tables and visualizations can improve understanding and facilitate sharing for large data volumes.

8. How Does the Platform Enable Sharing and Operationalization of Threat Intel With Your Customers?

Another critical component is the ability to disseminate data with others, including internal and external analysts and technologies. Your vendor should attest to features that facilitate sharing and operationalization, such as automation and integrations, reporting, workflows, and case management. Consider how these features will help users maximize your intel and integrate with your workflows.

Find the Right Platform for Your Organization

Knowing what to ask a TIP platform vendor is a great way to learn more about the capabilities of their platform. Learn more about these capabilities in our full Threat Intelligence Operations Buyer’s Guide.

Check out our interactive demo to learn more about the ThreatConnect Threat Intelligence Operations Platform. You can also request a customized demo today to see why over 200 organizations choose ThreatConnect for their threat intel needs! 

About the Author

ThreatConnect

By operationalizing threat and cyber risk intelligence, The ThreatConnect Platform changes the security operations battlefield, giving your team the advantage over the attackers. It enables you to maximize the efficacy and value of your threat intelligence and human knowledge, leveraging the native machine intelligence in the ThreatConnect Platform. Your team will maximize their impact, efficiency, and collaboration to become a proactive force in protecting the enterprise. Learn more at www.threatconnect.com.