Intelligence became an integral military discipline centuries ago. More recently, this practice evolved into what is called Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, or IPB. In both military and civilian agencies, the discipline uses information collection followed by analysis to provide guidance and direction to operators making tactical or organizational decisions. Used strategically, this type of intelligence puts an organization in a stronger position to operate offensively or defensively because in theory, they now know more than their enemy.
This same concept can be applied in the theater of cybersecurity operations. However, the current scope of intelligence in many enterprises describes just one aspect of the IPB discipline: information collection. The critical component missing to complete the process is a specialized researcher trained in this type of analysis and subsequent application of intelligence.
A disciplined intelligence cycle goes deep—applying advanced data collection methodologies from open, closed and propriety sources, social media, human intelligence and the dark web against areas such as cybercrime, hactivism, or cyber espionage to thoroughly analyze the adversary. Intelligence can ultimately be used to prepare organizations tactically and strategically to both anticipate and mitigate modern threats.
The latest research and analysis from McAfee Advanced Program Group (APG) researcher Anne An detailing the actions of Chinese non-state threat actor groups is a great example of intelligence that is invaluable for organizations. This unique take on Chinese cyber criminality educates practitioners on the threats around them, empowering them to prepare their organization to be proactive, rather than reactive. Further, there are many times where organizations are unaware they have been a victim of a cyberattack. This could include stolen data, which McAfee APG may find being sold on the dark markets, and in some cases, could have a devastating effect on their business.
Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, and military strategist once articulated, “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.” These ancient words are still very meaningful today. If organizations robustly embrace the intelligence process, their defensive posture will exponentially improve.