Organizations may know they need more knowledge of the IT security risks coming their way, but properly identifying and choosing the right source of information is a huge problem in its own right, according to a recent threat intelligence report.

Published by the U.K. government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, with research from MWR InfoSecurity, the threat intelligence report, “Threat Intelligence: Collecting, Analysing, Evaluating,” breaks down the subject into strategic, operational, tactical and technical areas. It also provides a way to distinguish real threat intelligence from basic antivirus software and other products and services that claim to offer such capabilities.

The white paper received a rave review from ZDNet, which described it as an owner’s manual for those responsible for protecting data and mitigating major IT security risks. In particular, areas that delve into the pros and cons of information sharing might have helped some organizations avoid recent high-profile data breaches, ZDNet noted.

One of the report’s authors told Infosecurity Magazine the project stems from a concern that chief information officers (CIOs) and their teams are not getting enough facts before investing in safeguarding their organizations from cybercriminals. In fact, one of the takeaways from the research was that threat intelligence isn’t so much about spending a lot of money, but rather about using available resources as wisely as possible and setting up the right type of team to support the effort.

In some respects, the recommendations in the report reflect the conclusions of a similar project recently produced by the Ponemon Institute and Webroot, a security firm. In a summary published on BetaNews, the Ponemon threat intelligence report shows 80 percent of those who have experienced a data breach in the past two years believe they could have avoided the worst by having a threat intelligence plan in place.

As is often the case, much of the issue is the way data is captured and presented. A story on SiliconANGLE about the Ponemon Institute study noted only 11 percent of respondents described what they found in a threat intelligence report as useful. Therefore, it stands to reason that CIOs must not only think about the strategies and technologies they put in place, but also the type of candidates they should hire. At least one IT security expert in a given organization should be able to make sense of the threat intelligence the organization receives. In the end, this may wind up being the most intelligent thing CIOs can do.

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