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What is Threat Intelligence (and Why Does It Matter for Physical Security)?

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Threats can come from many places. 

Trespassers could vandalize your equipment. An employee could bring a weapon to work. Organized crime could target your stores. 

But by the time an incident takes place, it’s often too late to react. And that can have big consequences for your company. 

No doubt, threat actors put your assets, your employees, and your customers at risk. 

Incidents, however, could also result in fines and business disruptions. Not to mention the damage to your company’s reputation. 

So what’s the answer?

In response to these problems, more organizations have adopted threat intelligence programs.

These initiatives allow teams to predict and prepare for anything that can go wrong. They also enable companies to respond faster to incidents that have already occurred. 

But exactly what is threat intelligence? And how can it benefit your company? 

Let’s take a look.

What is Threat Intelligence?

Simply put, threat intelligence represents data that has been collected, processed, and analyzed to understand potential threats. 

In this sense, threat intelligence to a business is like radar for pilots. Freak weather events, such as thunderstorms and turbulence, can pop up at any time. Radar allows aviators to spot dangers in advance and plot a safer route. 

Threat intelligence works the same way. 

It provides insight into the goals, techniques, and resources of adversaries. And it allows companies to better predict and respond to different risks.  

To be clear, threat intelligence isn’t just a tool for cybersecuity professionals. 

Oftentimes the subject gets lumped exclusively into dealing with digital risks. And experts often refer to it in the context of protecting network systems. 

In reality, threat intelligence provides value for physical security professionals, too. It’s just as useful for addressing real-world threats like theft, violence, and trespassing.

Why is Threat Intelligence Becoming More Important?

Most security teams use a “guard at the gate” approach. 

The job means waiting for something to go wrong. Then you address it appropriately. 

But this tack has started to fall short for a few reasons:

  • More complex risks. Digital spaces now impact the physical world and vice versa. Companies also face smarter adversaries (i.e. terrorists, state actors, organized crime). To get a good picture of the threat landscape, you have to watch more spaces, both online and offline, than ever before.
  • Business has gone global. Teams now often have to manage at a distance. That means you’re no longer watching a few sites in one city or region. You might have to defend hundreds or thousands of assets worldwide. 
  • Too much data. We have more data at our fingertips than ever before. But without context, analysts struggle to arrange and interpret these feeds. Teams can drown under a flood of alerts and false positives. 
  • A skills shortage. Incident response is not an entry-level job. Team members need a wide range of skills. And they have to perform complex tasks under pressure. In other words, there’s not exactly a large pool of talent to recruit from. 

In other words, security leaders know they can’t block every conceivable type of attack. That’s why more organizations have taken a smarter approach. 

A report by ESG Research found 60% of large companies now have a threat intelligence program in place. And 72% of these firms plan to boost spending on these initiatives over the next 12 to 18 months.

These programs provide a clear payoff. 

The timely insights provided by threat intelligence allow teams to prioritize alerts and automate routine tasks. And by extension, these investments enable security leaders to stretch their limited resources. 

Who Benefits From Threat Intelligence?

In short, everyone!

Some people consider threat intelligence a research service for high-level managers. In reality, it can benefit teams across your organization. 

For instance:

Incident Response: The sheer volume of incoming data can overwhelm front-line personal. Intelligence reduces the number of false positives they have to shift through. It also allows response teams to make better decisions on the fly. 

Executive Protection: Intelligence protects VIPs while they’re on the go. Teams can watch out for riots, shootings, natural disasters, and other hazards. Additionally, protection units can also spot online issues like doxings or death threats. 

Managers: Threat intelligence allows leaders to better quantify risks. That makes it easier to justify security investments to executives and board members. 

Brand Protection: Unsanctioned activities under your corporate banner will hurt your firm’s reputation. Examples include counterfeit products, executive impersonations, employment scams, and typosquatting websites. Intelligence, however, makes it easy to spot and address these schemes. 

Fraud Prevention: Anti-fraud groups need up-to-date details on the latest criminal scams. This information empowers these groups to prevent theft and fraud. And it also allows organizations to spot and recover stolen inventory.

Cybersecurity: Intelligence allows tech teams to pick out and repair vulnerabilities in network systems. That can stop a hack before it occurs. It also enables tech teams to spot data breaches that have already happened. 

Risk Analysis: Intelligence captures on the ground “chatter,” providing insights into what’s going on in cities or regions. That could be invaluable when deciding whether to start a new project or expand into another territory. 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: By the time an incident comes to your attention, it’s probably too late. 

To mitigate damage, companies increasingly want to detect threats in advance. And that’s why more and more have turned to threat intelligence. 
Of course, we have only scratched the surface of this topic. Want to learn more about using threat intelligence to protect your business? Then check out our latest blog posts by clicking here.

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