Threat Intelligence and Energy and Utilities

June 10, 2021 | Theresa Lanowitz

This is the second in a blog series dedicated to the energy and utility industries. Read the first blog in the series here.

Introduction

It is increasingly common to hear about cyber threats to energy and utility industries. These are malicious acts by adversaries that target our data, intellectual property, or other digital assets.

All too often it seems as though energy and utility companies are put in a defensive position to battle it out with these cyber intruders. How can the industry switch to a more offensive position when it comes to understanding these threats? Threat intelligence is a way to make sure your cybersecurity teams can minimize the impact of a threat against your assets.

Let’s take a look at how threat intelligence can be an effective source of information for energy and utilities.

What is threat intelligence?

If you have an adversary threatening your system, it is a good idea to learn who they are, why they want to attack you, and where they are most likely to attack. You also want to know if they have ever been undetected on your network or in your applications, if they are currently there, or if it is likely they will try to breach your business.

Threat intelligence is a way to collect that information and make informed and data-driven decisions on how to prepare for an attack, prevent an attack, and identify cyber threats. All of this helps to make your business more resilient so you can remain operational during and after a cyber incident, with a goal of every cyber incident not being catastrophic.

Who uses threat intelligence?

Cybersecurity is a business enabler. And, having insight into the psyche and rationale of those who want to inflict harm on your business is a good idea for a variety of stakeholders. Albeit, the technical details for each stakeholder will vary.

Users of threat intelligence for energy and utility companies may include:

  • SOC analysts
  • IT analysts
  • IT operations teams
  • Incident response teams
  • Development and quality assurance teams
  • C-suites including CISO
  • Boards of Directors

Executives use threat intelligence to understand business risk, communicate with functional team leaders, and quickly deploy funding where appropriate to manage threats or bring on experts to assist.

Practitioners use threat intelligence to help set priorities in managing threats, identify vulnerabilities, and act proactively. Threat intelligence data is useful and beneficial beyond the team of cybersecurity professionals. Effective use of threat intelligence helps to remove often deeply engrained silos in organizations. 

How can energy and utilities benefit from threat intelligence?

Think of threat intelligence as the data that helps to inform the decisions in managing the risk an organization is willing to take. Organizations can create their own threat intelligence feeds or purchase a feed specific to their vertical market or geographic location.

Automating threat intelligence helps reduce human error, increases fidelity through pattern matching, and delivers results more quickly. Using automated threat intelligence means the right stakeholders can receive relevant and actionable information more quickly.

Overall, threat intelligence can help energy and utility organizations:

  • Prevent catastrophic disruptions to services
  • Reduce costs associated with the impact of a breach
  • Reduce the risk of a cyber incident to steal data
  • Increase collaboration and cross-functional work of the IT, development, security, and the rest of the organization

With the increase in numbers and growing determination of cyber adversaries, energy and utility organizations need to be more resilient. Part of that resiliency includes a cybersecurity team that is efficient, effective, and proactive. Threat intelligence is a smart way to understand what is going on inside your network, applications, and systems to stay ahead of adversaries and help deliver on the goal of a resilient company.

For more information on AT&T Alien Labs, the threat intelligence unit of AT&T Cybersecurity, please visit here.

Theresa Lanowitz

About the Author: Theresa Lanowitz

Theresa Lanowitz is a proven global influencer and speaks on trends and emerging technology poised to help today’s enterprise organizations flourish. Theresa is currently the head of evangelism at AT&T Business - Cybersecurity. Prior to joining AT&T, Theresa was an industry analyst with boutique analyst firm voke and Gartner. While at Gartner, Theresa spearheaded the application quality ecosystem, championed application security technology, and created the successful Application Development conference. As a product manager at Borland International Software, Theresa launched the iconic Java integrated development environment, JBuilder. While at Sun Microsystems, Theresa led strategic marketing for the Jini project – a precursor to IoT (Internet of Things). Theresa’s professional career began with McDonnell Douglas where she was a software developer on the C-17 military transport plane and held a US Department of Defense Top Secret security clearance. Theresa holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

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