In the introduction to this series, I asserted that people have many questions about security intelligence, then made the bold promise to answer six of the most pressing ones.  Let’s start by gaining a common understanding of security intelligence.

In a recent post, I proposed the following definition of security intelligence that I feel encapsulates where the industry is headed:

“Security intelligence is the real-time collection, normalization, and analysis of the data generated by users, applications and infrastructure that impacts the IT security and risk posture of an enterprise. The goal of Security Intelligence is to provide actionable and comprehensive insight that reduces risk and operational effort for any size organization.”

Breaking Down the Key Elements:


Viewing time-stamped historical data or pouring over logs won’t cut it.  You need a view of what’s happening right now, across your entire network.

“Collection, normalization and analysis”

This is where context and intelligence rule. Gather data from every relevant device and system in your network.  Normalize it so you can compare activity across different devices and locations.  Apply analytics and correlate activity and rule out the false positives that are the bane of every security analyst’s world.  Then present the results, clearly and simply, and put every relevant piece of information at your fingertips or eyeballs.  Use every bit of data (Big Data anyone?) to enrich your view of security incidents, because context drives insight and discovery.  Look, you might have already been breached and the evidence could be right in front of you, but you’ll never see it if your solution can’t intelligently correlate, analyze and present information to you.

“The IT security and risk posture of an enterprise”

Your ability to secure your data, intellectual property, IT assets and more from malicious outsiders and insiders, while maintaining reliable and efficient business operations. A crucial element of protecting your brand and reputation, this can only be accomplished by collecting and analyzing the most comprehensive set of data generated across the organization.

“Actionable and comprehensive insight”

Collecting and analyzing all the relevant data in your network is a good start, but data (logs, query results, etc.) by themselves are worthless.  (How many times have you experienced alert overload?)  A security intelligence solution must make sense of your data and help you quickly research and remediate incidents.

“Reduces risk and operational effort”

(Enough said.)

“For any size organization”

Security intelligence isn’t just for those with big budgets, staff and lots of patience.  Today’s modern security intelligence solution has evolved from the dinosaurs known as first-gen SIEM offerings.  These products required major upfront implementation work and actually added to your ongoing headcount needs, rather than easing them.  Today it’s just the opposite – which means security intelligence is within the reach and budget of virtually any organization.  I’ll discuss this further in my next post in this series.


Security Intelligence Solution

Security intelligence solutions have evolved from a number of technologies you may be familiar with.  In short, security intelligence builds on the data collection capabilities and compliance benefits of log management, the correlation, normalization and analysis capabilities of SIEM (security information and event management), the network visibility and advanced threat detection of NBAD (network behavior anomaly detection), the ability to reduce breaches and ensure compliance provided by risk management, and the network traffic and application content insight afforded by network forensics.  Yet what distinguishes a modern Security Intelligence solution is that it’s not a gift basket of discrete technologies wrapped together with duct tape, or worse, PowerPoint.  It’s a truly integrated solution built on a common codebase, with a single data management architecture and a single user interface.


Why Does Security Intelligence Matter

As for why it matters, I could discuss the increased prevalence and sophistication of advanced persistent threats. But instead, I thinkDavid Ingall of BGL Group (a leading UK insurance broker) puts it best:

“The move to the QRadar Security Intelligence Platform has been a real eye opener for us and has helped us to concentrate our efforts on the most important issues. Even without significant tuning, it has improved how we deal with security intelligence and it will form a core part of our infrastructure as we move forward.”

Check out the next posts in this series, where we’ll take a closer look at how modern security intelligence solutions differ from first-generation products.


More from Intelligence & Analytics

BlackCat (ALPHV) Ransomware Levels Up for Stealth, Speed and Exfiltration

9 min read - This blog was made possible through contributions from Kat Metrick, Kevin Henson, Agnes Ramos-Beauchamp, Thanassis Diogos, Diego Matos Martins and Joseph Spero. BlackCat ransomware, which was among the top ransomware families observed by IBM Security X-Force in 2022, according to the 2023 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, continues to wreak havoc across organizations globally this year. BlackCat (a.k.a. ALPHV) ransomware affiliates' more recent attacks include targeting organizations in the healthcare, government, education, manufacturing and hospitality sectors. Reportedly, several of these incidents resulted…

9 min read

Despite Tech Layoffs, Cybersecurity Positions are Hiring

4 min read - It’s easy to read today’s headlines and think that now isn’t the best time to look for a job in the tech industry. However, that’s not necessarily true. When you read deeper into the stories and numbers, cybersecurity positions are still very much in demand. Cybersecurity professionals are landing jobs every day, and IT professionals from other roles may be able to transfer their skills into cybersecurity relatively easily. As cybersecurity continues to remain a top business priority, organizations will…

4 min read

79% of Cyber Pros Make Decisions Without Threat Intelligence

4 min read - In a recent report, 79% of security pros say they make decisions without adversary insights “at least the majority of the time.” Why aren’t companies effectively leveraging threat intelligence? And does the C-Suite know this is going on? It’s not unusual for attackers to stay concealed within an organization’s computer systems for extended periods of time. And if their methods and behavioral patterns are unfamiliar, they can cause significant harm before the security team even realizes a breach has occurred.…

4 min read

Why People Skills Matter as Much as Industry Experience

4 min read - As the project manager at a large tech company, I always went to Jim when I needed help. While others on my team had more technical expertise, Jim was easy to work with. He explained technical concepts in a way anyone could understand and patiently answered my seemingly endless questions. We spent many hours collaborating and brainstorming ideas about product features as well as new processes for the team. But Jim was especially valuable when I needed help with other…

4 min read