IBM opens threat intelligence to combat cyber-attacks

04 June 2015 Consultancy.uk

To help organisations combat the increasingly sophisticated and organised cyber-attacks, IBM has launched a new cyber threat intelligence sharing platform: IBM X-Force Exchange. Via the platform, which is powered by IBM Cloud, users can access threat information from IBM and peer organisations as well as share their own findings. According to IBM, this will foster the collaboration needed to counter cybercrime.

Organised hacking
Organised cyber-crime, in which data, tools and expertise are shared, is the most profitable type of crime, which is costing the global economy $445 billon every year. More and more hackers are entering the organised segment of cybercrime, with at present day 80% of cyber-attacks being driven by highly organised crime rings.

Organised cybercrime

To combat this upcoming form of cybercrime, organisations are increasingly in need of trusted threat intelligence, which, unlike the attackers, is often not organised. 65% of house cyber security teams use multiple sources of trusted and untrusted external intelligence to fight attackers.

IBM X-Force Exchange
To help organisations tackle this problem, IT giant IBM has decided to make its vast library of security intelligence data available via the IBM X-Force Exchange, which is its new cyber threat intelligence sharing platform. Via the platform, which is powered by IBM Cloud, users will be able to access threat data from IBM and third-parties across the globe, including real-time indicators of live attacks, which can be used to defend against cybercrimes.

While using IBM X-Force Exchange, organisations will be able to directly interact with IBM’s security analysts and researchers, as well as with their industry peers to validate threat findings and expose them to other companies fighting cybercrime.

IBM X-Force Exchange


“The IBM X-Force Exchange platform will foster collaboration on a scale necessary to counter the rapidly rising and sophisticated threats that companies are facing from cybercriminals,” explains Brendan Hannigan, General Manager at IBM Security. “We’re taking the lead by opening up our own deep and global network of cyber threat research, customers, technologies and experts. By inviting the industry to join our efforts and share their own intelligence, we’re aiming to accelerate the formation of the networks and relationships we need to fight hackers.”

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How First Consulting generates more insight using fewer reports

08 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Organisations are continuously investing in more advanced data collection and manipulation methods to enable smarter and more informed business decisions. In order to maximise their business value, companies understand the growing need for performance related insights from their data. First Consulting, a consultancy firm specialised in business change, has helped many clients in the utilities sector to deliver effective change through improved use of their data.

Most utilities firms are structured in such a way that every business unit has a team of analysts who are responsible for providing relevant data insights to their business colleagues. The business analysis teams form the link between business decision making and IT by translating business requests into meaningful actions and delivering information via reports.

Typically, the business user will receive a unique report for each information request, with each new report requiring individual, tailored support from the analyst team. This limits the productivity of the analyst teams and minimises their ability to address new data requests. The growing demand for information puts additional pressure on these teams, as a significant amount of time is required simply to gather and update the required data. This has caused reporting portfolios to expand dramatically. However, due to the analysts’ already stretched capacity, reports do not always deliver the most vital information and documentation is often incomplete.

Redesigning information delivery

At First Consulting, business consultants work in close collaboration with their clients to improve the mechanism for the delivery of information and analysis in response to business requests. The improved structure focuses on providing information per role type, rather than per request. As such, one dashboard is designed for each organisational role type, with all the relevant information presented in a single overview. This allows all individuals of a given role type to open a single dashboard and view what they need, as opposed to collating a large range of disparate links and unique reports which, previously, were all required to enable business decision making.

Moving from unique reports for each request, to reusing KPIs in a select group of dashboards

By implementing this new way of working, clients are able to reduce the reporting portfolio from over 100 reports to fewer than 20 dashboards (see figure above). In addition, the capacity for data maintenance can be reduced significantly by using modular KPIs, allowing for the re-use of data across multiple dashboards.

Changing while everyday work continues

In order to deliver effective change, it is essential that day-to-day processes remain unaffected whilst transitioning to a new reporting landscape. First Consulting achieves this by embedding business consultants within the client’s analysis team to gain feedback and determine exactly what visuals are necessary within the dashboards. This focuses effort on the outcome (such as what should be presented in the final dashboard) and allows a broad range of requirements to be considered in the business context and combined, where appropriate.

Key users and stakeholders are involved from the outset to help define what makes a high-quality dashboard. Adopting this approach helps the team to produce an optimal output that contains the key business information for the appropriate roles in an easy-to-use format.

Once it is clear what should be included in the final dashboard and how this should be presented, the team works according to the priorities set out by the product owner. This ensures that analysts work on the requirements which deliver the most value and which form the most coherent dashboards.

Main results

The advantages of implementing straightforward, no-nonsense solutions using fewer reports are particularly noticeable for the business and for the analyst teams:

  • Making adjustments is easier and maintaining and updating data costs less time
  • Management information is displayed in one location and is displayed according to defined standards, facilitating decision making
  • There is greater capacity within the business for complex analysis and project support

First Consulting combines process, technology, and implementation consulting to deliver impactful and value-adding solutions. The firm has more than 200 consultants based in the UK and the Netherlands.