Security Experts:

Flashpoint Enhances Risk Intelligence Platform

Just as global intelligence firm Stratfor extracts and presents geopolitical intelligence from the noise of available information, so now does Flashpoint extract cyber business risk intelligence (BRI) from the noise of deep and dark web conversations.

Flashpoint is not new to BRI. It raised $10 million in Series B funding in July 2016 and announced its expansion from cyber threat intelligence into business risk intelligence. "Looking beyond cyber threat Intelligence, BRI ultimately informs decision-making, improves preparation, and mitigates risk throughout an entire organization," said Flashpoint at the time.

That process has now come to fruition with today's launch of the Flashpoint Intelligence Platform 3.0. It aims to convert and present the raw intelligence gleaned from the deep and dark web as actionable business risk intelligence that will help customers take a more strategic role in security planning.

Most threat intelligence ultimately comes from the deep and dark web. This is where cyber criminals share information, trade malware and boast about exploits. But access is difficult. The deepest and darkest areas are well-protected, and only accessible to 'approved' people. Flashpoint has a team of expert analysts, often with 3-letter agency backgrounds, who spend the time and effort necessary to get into the darkest corners. 

This is where Flashpoint gleans its threat intelligence. It comes from actual dialogue between threat actors; from black market products and services; from where malicious tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are discussed; and where weapons and training manuals are shared. 

But threat intelligence falls short of business risk intelligence. "Some threat intelligence solutions can be no different than URL filtering, merely contributing to the greater noise," warns Gartner Research VP, Greg Young. "Instead, good threat intelligence solutions are customized and able to deliver a high-confidence alert to initiate an actionable response. Peering out at what often looks like a world of shadows and hostility, security teams can see specificity as a key to the achievement of their best success with limited resources."

For most organizations, access to any threat intelligence comes from surface web reports produced by different security vendors. These often discuss individual threats discovered by individual vendors, often focusing on their own product sphere. While these are valuable, they present a piecemeal view of the overall threat landscape.

In this sense, Flashpoint is vendor-neutral: it provides intelligence rather than product. Its new development is to generate and present actual risk intelligence from the raw threat intelligence. But its team of analysts don't just gather intelligence from the dark web, it converts it through analysis reports into business actionable information -- in short, it adds context that goes beyond cyber. 

"Traditional cyber threat intelligence, which has been largely focused on indicators of compromise, is insufficient in supporting the risk decision-making process, as it too often limits its focus on events in cyberspace," warned Flashpoint in its Business Risk Intelligence - Decision Report, published in January 2017. "Not all actors constrain their operations solely to the cyber realm; top tier nation-states like the U.S. and Russia use the full-spectrum of their capabilities to achieve their objectives. A threat assessment of Chinese or Russian cyber operations without the context of the national objectives they are supporting fails to provide risk decision-makers with an accurate portrayal of the threat landscape upon which to make business decisions."

The Intelligence Platform 3.0 provides access to Flashpoint's analyses with a finished intelligence experience. Users can use it to search Flashpoint's reports, focusing on specific areas of interest and including both cybercrime intelligence and physical threat intelligence -- or they can pivot directly into a sanitized sandbox of the original threat actor data. The result helps the security team understand the overall threat landscape, and provides the materials necessary to translate threats into business risks consumable by senior management.

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Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines – from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.