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Month: September 2021

What is Cyber Threat Intelligence? [Beginner’s Guide]

What is Threat Intelligence?

Threat Intelligence is data collected, processed, and analyzed to understand threat actors’ motives, goals, and attack behavior. Threat Intelligence allows us to make faster, more informed, and data-driven security decisions and shift our behavior from reactive to proactive in the fight versus threat actors.

Why is Threat Intelligence Important?

Worldwide Cybersecurity, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), and defenders are continuously trying to outmaneuver each other. Data about a threat actor’s next move is critical to adapt your defenses and prevent future attacks proactively.

Organizations increasingly identify the value of Threat Intelligence, and 72 percent plan to increase their spending on Threat Intelligence in the coming quarters.

However, there is a difference between identifying the value and getting it. Today, most organizations focus only on the most basic use cases, such as integrating threat data feeds with existing networks, IPS, firewalls, and SIEMs, without taking full advantage of the insights intelligence can provide.

Organizations that limit themselves to this basic level of Threat Intelligence are missing out on real benefits that could significantly improve their security posture.

Threat Intelligence is essential for the following reasons:

  • Brings light into the darkness and enables security teams to make better decisions
  • empowers Cybersecurity actors by revealing the adversary’s motives and their Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP)
  • helps security professionals much better understand the threat actor’s decision-making process
  • empowers business stakeholders, such as boards of directors, CISOs, CIOs, and CTOs, to invest wisely, reduce risk, become a lot more efficient, and make faster decisions

Who Benefits from Threat Intelligence?

Threat Intelligence helps organizations of all types and sizes process threat data to understand their attackers better, respond more quickly to incidents and proactively anticipate a threat actor’s next move. SMEs can use this data to achieve a level of protection that would otherwise be unattainable.

On the other hand, organizations with large security teams can reduce the cost and skills required and deploy their analysts more effectively by leveraging external Threat Intelligence.

From start to finish, Threat Intelligence offers unique benefits to every member of a security team, including:

  • Sec/IT Analyst – Optimising prevention and detection capabilities and strengthening defenses.
  • Soc – prioritizing incidents based on risk and impact to the business.
  • CSIRT – Accelerate the investigation, management, and prioritization of incidents.
  • Intel analyst – uncover and track threat actors attacking the enterprise
  • Executive management – understanding the risks facing the business and the options available to address them

Threat Intelligence Lifecycle

The Intelligence Lifecycle is a process for transforming raw data into finished information for decision-making and action. In your research, you will find many slightly different versions of the Intelligence Cycle.

Still, the goal is the same: to lead a Cybersecurity team through developing and executing an effective Threat Intelligence program.

Threat Intelligence is challenging because threats constantly evolve, and organizations need to adapt quickly and act decisively.

The Intelligence Cycle provides a framework that enables teams to optimize their resources and respond effectively to the modern threat landscape. This cycle consists of six steps that culminate in a feedback loop to drive continuous improvement:

Below we will explain the six steps in more detail:

1. Requirements

The requirements phase is critical to the Threat Intelligence lifecycle as it sets the roadmap for a particular Threat Intelligence operation.

In this requirements phase, the team agrees on the objectives and methodology of its intelligence program based on the stakeholders’ requirements. The team can then set out to find out.

  • who the attackers are and what motivates them
  • how extensive the attack surface is
  • what specific measures should be required to strengthen the defense against a future attack

2. Collection

Once the requirements are defined, the team gathers the information needed to meet those objectives. Depending on the objectives, the team will consult traffic logs, publicly available data resources, relevant online forums, SOCial media, and industry or subject matter experts.

3. Processing

Once the raw information has been collected, it needs to be put into a format suitable for analysis. In most cases, this means organizing data points into spreadsheets, decoding files, translating information from outside sources, and checking the data for relevance and reliability.

4. Analysis

Once the data set has been processed, the team must conduct a thorough analysis to answer the questions posed in the requirements phase. During the analysis phase, the team also decodes the data set into recommendations for action for stakeholders.

5. Dissemination

In the dissemination phase, the Threat Intelligence team must translate its analysis into an understandable format and present the results to stakeholders. How the analysis is presented depends upon the target audience.

Most of the time, the recommendations should be presented concisely and without confusing jargon, either in a one-page report or in a short set of slides.

6. Feedback

The last stage of the Threat Intelligence lifecycle is to seek feedback on the submitted report to determine if changes require to be made for future Threat Intelligence operations. 

Stakeholders may change their priorities, the frequency with which they wish to receive intelligence reports, or how the data is disseminated or presented.

Threat Intelligence Use Cases

Below is a list of use cases by function:

Sec/IT Analyst:
  • Integrate TI feeds with other security products
  • Block bad IPS, URLs, domains, files, etc
  • Use TI to enrich alerts
  • Link alerts together into incidents
  • Tune newly deployed security controls
  • Search for information on the who/what/why/when/how of an incident
  • Analyze root cause to determine the scope of the incident
Intel Analyst:
  • Look broader and more profound for intrusion evidence
  • Review reports on threat actors to better detect them
Executive Management:
  • Assess overall threat level for the organization
  • Develop security roadmap

3 Types of Threat Intelligence

The last section discussed how Threat Intelligence could provide us with data about existing or potential threats. This can be simple information, such as a malicious domain name, or complex information, such as a detailed profile of a known threat actor.

Remember that there is a maturity curve for information, represented by the three stages listed below. With each level, the context and analysis of CTI come to be more profound and more sophisticated, targeted at different audiences, and can become more expensive.

  1. Tactical intelligence
  2. Operational intelligence
  3. Strategic intelligence

1. Tactical Threat Intelligence

Tactical Intelligence is focused on the immediate future, is technical, and identifies simple Indicators Of Compromises (IOCs). IOCs are things like malicious IP addresses, URLs, file hashes, and known malicious domain names. They can be machine-readable, which means security products can ingest them via feeds or API integration.

Tactical Intelligence is the easiest to generate and is almost always automated. Therefore, they can be found via open-source and free data feeds but usually have a very short lifespan. IOCs such as malicious IPSs or domain names can become obsolete within days or even hours.

It is essential to note that while simply subscribing to information feeds can result in a wealth of data, it offers little opportunity to analyze the relevant threats. In addition, false positives can occur if the source is not timely or reliable.

2. Operational Threat Intelligence

Just as poker players study the peculiarities of other players to predict their opponent’s next move, Cybersecurity experts study their opponents.

Behind every attack is a “who,” a “why,” and a “how.” The “who” is called attribution, and the “why” is called inspiration or intent. The “how” is composed of the TTPs that the threat actor uses. 

Together, these factors make up the context, providing insight into how the adversary plans, executes and sustains campaigns and significant operations. This insight is Operational Intelligence.

Machines alone cannot create operational Threat Intelligence, and it takes human analysis to transform the data into a format that customers can easily use. 

Operational intelligence needs more resources than Tactical Intelligence. Still, it has a longer lifespan because adversaries cannot change their TTPs as quickly as they can change their tools, such as a particular type of malware.

Operational intelligence is most helpful for those Cybersecurity professionals who work in a SOC (Security Operations Centre) and are responsible for running day-to-day operations.

Cybersecurity disciplines such as vulnerability management, incident response, and threat monitoring are the biggest consumers of Operational Intelligence, as it helps them perform their assigned tasks more competently and effectively.

3. Strategic Threat Intelligence

Attackers do not operate in a vacuum, and there are almost always overriding factors surrounding the conduct of cyberattacks. For example, attacks by nation-states are usually linked to geopolitical conditions, and geopolitical conditions are associated with risk.

Furthermore, with the advent of financially motivated big game hunting, cybercriminals constantly evolve their Techniques and should not be ignored.

Strategic intelligence shows how global events, foreign policies, and other long-term local and international movements can potentially impact an organization’s cyber security.

Strategic intelligence helps decision-makers understand the risks that cyber threats pose to their organizations. They can make Cybersecurity investments that effectively protect their organizations and align with their strategic priorities with this knowledge.

Strategic intelligence tends to be the most difficult to generate. Strategic Intelligence requires people to collect and analyze data, which requires a deep understanding of Cybersecurity and the nuances of the geopolitical situation in the world. Strategic Intelligence usually comes in the form of reports.

Read More: Shared vs Managed WordPress Hosting: The Key Differences

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Shared vs Managed WordPress Hosting: The Key Differences

Are you trying to decide between Shared vs. Managed WordPress Hosting? In this post, we will cover the differences between the two.

Shared vs Managed WordPress Hosting

Shared vs. Managed WordPress Hosting has been a warm topic in the WordPress community for a long time. And we’re no strangers to the topic either – in our numerous hosting tests, comparisons, and surveys, we’ve come across many exciting viewpoints and opinions from both sides of the barricade time and time again.

However, pitting Shared and Managed Hosting against each other is not as easy as it seems at first glance.

This article will explore what developers and everyday users mean when talking about Shared and Managed WordPress hosting.

Then I’ll go over the specific differences between the two and recommend which option is better in a given scenario.

Shared vs Managed WordPress Hosting in a nutshell

The argument between Shared and Managed WordPress hosting revolves around the additional WordPress-specific services and performance improvements you get with Managed WordPress Hosting.

Managed WordPress Hosting resembles an attendant service for your WordPress site, whereas regular Shared Hosting leaves much work to you regarding backups, WordPress optimization, and more.

However, Shared Hosting and Managed WordPress Hosting are not inherently different. When talking about Shared Hosting, the term is usually equated with “general low-cost hosting.”

But here’s the thing:

Many shared hosts offer a “managed platform” or “managed services”. These hosts are often counted among the list of WordPress-Managed Hosts.

  • Shared Hosting is just a hosting plan where your website “shares” resources with other websites on the same server.
  • Managed WordPress Hosting is a collection of additional services and performance enhancements offered in addition to regular hosting.

Despite this caveat, we will stick to common usage in this article and treat Shared and Managed WordPress hosting as distinct entities. Even though this is not technically correct, it is correct considering how most people use the two terms.

The main differences between shared vs Managed WordPress Hosting

Shared Hosting in a nutshell

Shared Hosting is about hosters trying to keep their costs down by putting many different websites on a single server. That sounds negative – but it’s not. Shared Hosting serves a purpose.

If shared hosts didn’t do that, none of us would certainly have the ability to host unlimited websites for the same amount we spend at Starbucks every month.

Shared Hosting is an excellent solution for a proof-of-concept site, for example, or a hobby site. And perhaps even for a small business site, as long as it’s a simple “online business card.”

If you were to opt for a professionally Managed WordPress Hosting setup for each of these projects, you wouldn’t be able to test more than 1-2 websites at a time. With Shared Hosting, you can run ten such sites on one server.

Also, you’ll be sharing your server’s resources with dozens or hundreds of other websites, which might slow your website down because something is happening on another website.

Quality shared hosts avoid overloading their servers to prevent this – ultra-budget shared hosts usually offer too much space.

In addition, you usually use a generic cPanel dashboard to manage your website(s).

While cPanel has some WordPress-specific features – such as an installation tool – it’s not explicitly designed to make your life with WordPress easier, as Managed WordPress Hosts dashboards are.

Managed WordPress Hosting in a nutshell

Managed WordPress Hosting consists of several services, performance optimizations, and other add-ons. These additional features:

  • Make sure that your website loads faster, as each configuration is optimized specifically for WordPress.
  • You’ll get tools that simplify WordPress installation and management, as well as tools like staging sites that help you make changes to your WordPress site safely. You’ll get assistance with maintaining your site.
  • Better secure your WordPress site with security rules and features specific to WordPress

In addition to these features, you can usually manage your site through a customized dashboard (although this is not always the case with low-cost WordPress hosts).

Pros and cons of Shared Hosting

Pros of Shared Hosting

  • You often pay a significantly reduced monthly fee.
  • With many shared hosts, you can host unlimited websites for a flat fee.
  • While there is no such point as an “unlimited number of visitors,” most shared hosts advertise an unlimited number and have no set cap on the number of visits to your site.

Cons of Shared Hosting

  • Your website will usually load a little slower because the focus is often on cost reductions rather than performance improvements.
  • Because you share resources, your website load times can also be affected by the activity of other websites on the shared server.
  • You lack value-added features such as automatic updates and automatic backups.
  • They do not always have WordPress-specific performance and security enhancements.

Pros and cons of Managed WordPress Hosting

The pros and cons of Managed WordPress Hosting are a bit more varied…

Pros of Managed WordPress Hosting

  • A server architecture designed specifically for WordPress, which usually means better performance.
  • Built-in caching at the server level, which also means better performance
  • Automatic WordPress updates to maintain your website secure and functional
  • Automatic backups to ensure the security of your WordPress website data
  • WordPress-specific security measures such as firewalls, login hardening, and malware scans
  • A convenient dashboard for website management (though not with all Managed WordPress Hosts).
  • All customer support staff are WordPress experts

Cons of Managed WordPress Hosting

  • Managed WordPress Hosts are frequently more expensive than shared hosts, although you can find a middle ground.
  • They can usually only host WordPress websites (of course).
  • To ensure performance, some Managed WordPress Hosts restrict the plugins you can use. Managed WordPress also hosts usually impose stricter website limits and visitor caps.

Read More: 25 ways to increase website traffic

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25 ways to increase website traffic

Ask a marketing expert or business owner what they want most, and they’ll likely tell you “more customers.” What typically comes after customers on a business’s wish list? More visitors to their website.

There are many ways to increase traffic to your website. In today’s article, we’ll introduce you to 25 of them, including some ways to increase traffic to your website for free.

1. Advertise

This option is so apparent that we will look at it first. Paid search, social media advertising, and present advertising (try our Smart Ads Creator!) are great ways to attract visitors, develop your brand, and get your website noticed.

Tailor your paid strategies to your goals – do you want more visitors, or do you also want to increase conversions? Each paid network has its pros and cons. Think carefully about your goals before you whip out your credit card.

If you’re hoping that more visitors to your site will also lead to more sales, you must target keywords with high commercial intent as part of your paid search strategies. Yes, competition for these keywords can be fierce (and expensive), but it can be worth it.

2. Get Social

It’s insufficient to produce great content and hope people find it – you need to be proactive. Among the best ways to drive traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote your content.

Twitter is ideal for short, concise (and enticing) links, while Google++++ can help your site show up in personalized search results, which seems to be especially effective in B2B niches.

If you’re a B2C product company, image-heavy social sites like Pinterest and Instagram can help you attract a lot of attention. Here’s more advice on how to make the most of social media marketing.

3. Mix It Up

There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for content marketing success, despite what some would have you believe. To vary the length and format of your content to make it as appealing as possible to different readers.

Mix shorter, news-based blog posts with longer content and videos, infographics, and data-driven posts for maximum impact.

4. Write Irresistible Headlines

Headlines are one of the essential parts of your content. Without a compelling headline, even the most extensive blog post won’t get read. Master the art of headline writing.

Think carefully about your headline before you hit “publish.”

5. Pay Attention to On-Page SEO

Think SEO is dead? Wrong thinking. Optimizing your web content for search engines is still a valuable and beneficial technique. Are you making the best use of alt text from images? Are you creating internal web links to new content? What about meta descriptions? On-page SEO optimization doesn’t have to take forever and can help you increase your organic traffic.

6. Target Long-tail keywords

Have you covered your high-intent keywords and popular keywords? Then it’s time to target Long-tail keywords as well. Long-tail keywords make up a large portion of search queries on the internet. That means you’re missing out if you’re not targeting them as part of your paid search or SEO efforts.

7. Start Guest blogging

Before you say it – no, Guest blogging is not dead, although you may have heard it. A guest post on a reputable site can increase blog traffic to your site and incidentally build your brand.

Be warned, though – Guest blogging standards have changed radically in the last eighteen months, and spammy tactics can result in stiff penalties. So proceed with caution.

8. Invite Others to Guest Blog on Your Site

Guest blogging is a two-way street. Don’t just publish content on other blogs; invite people from your niche to blog on your site. They will likely share and link to their guest article, which could bring new readers to your site.

However, make sure you only post quality, original content with no spam links because Google+++ cracks down on low-quality guest blogs.

9. Go After Referral Traffic

Instead of trying to convince other sites to link to you (a tedious and time-consuming process), create content that is just begging to be linked to.

10. Post Content to LinkedIn

LinkedIn has come to be far more than a means to find a new job. The world’s largest social network for professionals is now a valuable publishing platform, which means you should regularly post content on LinkedIn. This can drive traffic to your website and raise your profile in your industry – especially if you have a medium to a huge following.

11. Implement Schema Microdata

Implementing Schema (or any other microdata format) doesn’t necessarily increase traffic to your site, but it does make it much easier for search engine bots to find and index your pages.

Another benefit of using schema for SEO is that it can lead to better rich site snippets, improving click-through rates.

12. Link Internally

The strength of your link profile depends not only on how many sites link to you but also on your internal link structure. When creating and publishing content, look for opportunities for internal links.

Not only does this help with search engine optimization, but it also leads to a better, more helpful experience for the user – the cornerstone for more visitors to your site.

13. Interview Industry Thought Leaders

Do you think interviews are only for the big guys in the industry? Send out emails asking to interview thought leaders in your industry and post the interviews on your blog. You’ll be amazed at how many people agree to talk to you if you ask them.

Not only will the name recognition increase your credibility and drive traffic to your website, but the interviewee will likely share the content, further increasing your reach.

14. Don’t Neglect Email marketing

Many companies focus on attracting new customers via content marketing that they ignore much more traditional methods. Email marketing can be a powerful tool, and even a moderately successful email send can significantly increase traffic.

Just make sure you don’t bombard your customers with constant emails about every single innovation in your business. Also, don’t neglect the power of word-of-mouth marketing, especially from people already using your products or services.

Even a friendly email reminder about a new service or product can help you increase your traffic.

15. Make Sure Your Site is Responsive

When surfing the Internet took location specifically on desktop PCs are long gone, the days. Today, more people than ever are using mobile devices to access the Internet. If you force your visitors to dig and scroll through your website, you’re asking them to go somewhere else.

Even if you have a simple website, you need to make sure it’s accessible and comfortable to view on various devices, including smaller smartphones.

16. Make Sure Your Site is Fast

Have you ever waited thirty seconds for a website to load? Neither have I. If your website takes forever to load, your bounce rate will skyrocket.

Ensure your pages are as technically optimized as possible, including image file size, page structure, and third-party plugin functionality. The faster your website loads, the better.

17. Foster a Sense of Community

People want to speak their minds and express themselves on topics they care about. Therefore, building a community on your website is a great way to start a conversation and drive traffic to your site.

Implement a robust commenting system using third-party solutions like Facebook Comments or Disqus, or develop a specialized discussion forum where visitors can ask questions. However, don’t forget to manage your community to ensure minimum standards of decency are met.

18. Make Yourself Heard in Comment Sections

You probably visit at least a few websites relevant to your business regularly.

Comments don’t necessarily lead to an immediate increase in traffic, but making a name for yourself by writing insightful, thought-provoking Comments on industry blogs and sites is a great way to get your name out there – which in turn can lead to more traffic to your site.

Remember that, as with guest posts, quality and relevance are essential – you should be sharing with other people in your niche and not spamming links on unrelated sites.

19. Examine Your Analytics data

Google Analytics is an important source of information on almost every conceivable aspect of your website, from most popular pages to visitor demographics. Maintain a close eye on your Analytics data and use this information to optimize your advertising and content strategies.

Take note to which posts and pages are proving most popular. Review visitor data to see how, where, and when your website traffic is coming in.

20. Get Active on social media

It’s not enough to distribute content through social channels – you also need to participate in the community actively. Do you have a Twitter account? Then participate in group discussions with relevant hashtags. Does your audience leave Comments on your Facebook posts?

Answer questions and engage with your readers. Nothing scares people away faster than using social media as a broadcast channel – use social media as it’s meant to be used and interact with your fans.

21. Submit Your Content to Aggregator Sites

First, a note: don’t spam on Reddit and other similar sites in hopes of hitting the “jackpot” of traffic because it’s not going to happen.

Members of communities like Reddit are exceptionally savvy about spam disguised as legitimate links. Still, it doesn’t hurt to submit links that this audience will find helpful every once in a while. Choose a relevant subreddit, submit your content, and watch the traffic roll in.

22. Incorporate Video into Your Content Strategy

Text-based web content is all well and good, but videos can be a valuable tool for attracting new guests and making your website more engaging. The information shows that details retention is significantly higher with visuals than text. This means that video marketing is a great way to grab – and hold – your audience’s attention while driving traffic to your website.

23. Research the Competition

You’re at massive cons if you’re not using software like BuzzSumo to discover what your competitors are doing. These services aggregate the social performance of certain websites and content to show you at a glance what topics are resonating with readers and making the rounds on social media in particular.

Search out what people are reading (and talking about) and mimic that kind of content to drive traffic to your website.

24. Host Webinars

People love to learn, and webinars are a great way to share your knowledge with your eagerly waiting audience.

Combined with an effective social media advertising campaign, webinars are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Send out an email about a week before the event and a “last chance to register” reminder the day before the webinar.

Be sure to archive the presentation so you can view it later and promote your webinars on social media. If you’re wondering how to run a webinar, click the link for some tips.

25. Attend Conferences

Regardless of the industry, you’re in, there are probably at least one or two major conventions and conferences relevant to your business. Attending these events is a good idea – speaking at them is even better.

Even a half-decent speaking engagement is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and get your website noticed.

That’s why we’ve created this list of 25 proven tactics that work when trying to generate more leads online. We hope that by sharing our research, we can help you improve your lead generation efforts.

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