April 2, 2024by Chris Strand

Enhancing Security Posture with Cyber Risk Intelligence Part 1

Risk intelligence is a critical tool for organizations aiming to bolster their defenses against a myriad of threats lurking in cyberspace and establish governance and compliance with evolving government and industry regulatory mandates. Risk intelligence is a form of cyber threat intelligence (CTI), yet it serves a more specific function. It’s important to understand its role and how, when properly applied, risk intelligence significantly augments security measures.

In the first of this two-part series, I’ll provide an overview of risk intelligence and its role in helping organizations meet the growing number of cybersecurity regulatory mandates. In part two, I’ll provide guidance on how to implement risk intelligence to gain the full range of benefits it offers.

Let’s start by answering the question - what is risk intelligence?

Risk intelligence delves into evidence-based data, providing context and enforceable insights crucial for gauging an organization's exposure to a wide variety of risks posed by cybersecurity threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, and system gaps. Traditional CTI focuses on analyzing adversary intent, capabilities, and techniques. Risk intelligence goes a few steps further – rooted in data-driven analysis, it measures and establishes an enforceable level of risk through proactive, contextual, and actionable threat intelligence, aligning an organization’s threat posture with its risk level to achieve security and compliance. Its essence lies in substantiating the level of risk an organization carries and proving its share of liability – a vital aspect, especially in regulatory compliance-driven environments.

A critical challenge in aligning threat posture with risk for many (perhaps most) organizations is two-fold: 1) a lack of resources to conduct thorough threat monitoring and 2) no automation across systems. This is where risk intelligence comes in. Risk intelligence expedites external threat intelligence convergence and proactively amplifies business context with findings to quantify risk. The results are enriched risk visibility, elimination of threats before they exist, reduced manual efforts, more value derived from the security stack, and compliance efficacy across the enterprise.

Why risk intelligence is critical

Consider these startling statistics, which have led the SEC and other regulatory bodies to enforce stricter mandates for companies and their third-party networks to prove an enforceable level of risk

  • Since 2013, there have been more than 13 billion global data records lost

  • In 2021 alone, there were more than 40.4 billion global data records lost

At its core, risk intelligence is an accelerator to the risk assessment process, furnishing answers and tangible evidence to crucial questions. Let's delve deeper into its key elements:

  1. Vulnerability Intelligence: risk intelligence facilitates a proactive approach to identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities within an organization's security stack. By filtering out noise and false positives, it aids in determining the critical gaps that necessitate immediate attention, aligning with mandates for maintaining a secure infrastructure.

  2. Attack Surface Intelligence: This facet provides comprehensive visibility into an organization's security landscape, identifying core gaps in the security infrastructure. It plays a pivotal role in fortifying defenses by uncovering vulnerabilities across the entire security stack.

  3. 3rd-Party Intelligence: risk intelligence extends its purview beyond organizational boundaries, encompassing supply chains and third-party networks. Many regulatory and industry compliance mandates necessitate understanding the security posture of interconnected entities, ensuring a holistic approach to risk management.

  4. Regulatory Intelligence: This facet aligns risk intelligence with sector-specific regulations, such as PCI DSS for the retail sector. By combining data from vulnerability, attack surface, and 3rd party intelligence, organizations can ensure compliance with regulatory requirements tailored to their industry.

Let's examine the significance of risk intelligence in the context of PCI DSS compliance as an example.

The latest iteration of PCI DSS, version 4.0, underscores the importance of a risk-based approach to assessing and addressing security controls. Risk intelligence plays a pivotal role in this paradigm shift, enabling organizations to swiftly identify and prioritize requirement gaps while continuously assessing vulnerabilities based on quantitative risk metrics.

One of the ongoing themes and a critical primary change within the PCI DSS 4.0 is the need for effective prioritization of vulnerabilities, many of which result in and have been the main cause of data breaches. Risk intelligence bridges this gap by providing actionable insights and enforceable data into the real risk posed by vulnerabilities continuously, empowering organizations to align their patch management efforts with the most critical threats posing the highest real risk to their enterprise. (For more information about how you can achieve PCI DSS 4.0 readiness, download our free ebook.)

Additionally, risk intelligence can be a preemptive defense mechanism, allowing organizations to anticipate and mitigate potential threats before they materialize. By analyzing digital footprints and monitoring dark web activities, organizations can stay ahead of adversaries and fortify their defenses against emerging threats.

In conclusion, risk intelligence is emerging as a cornerstone of modern cybersecurity, offering organizations a strategic advantage in the ever-evolving threat landscape. By integrating risk intelligence into their security framework, organizations can meet regulatory requirements and bolster their resilience against cyber threats, ultimately safeguarding sensitive data and preserving trust in an increasingly digital world.

To learn more about how Cybersixgill can help you in your risk management efforts, contact us here.

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