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Over the past 12 months or so cyber intelligence has become one of the new catch phrases of the infosec community.

Roughly defined as the art of gathering threat information from a variety of sources – some public, some on the Dark Web – it is a way for CISOs to be proactive rather than reactive.

But who should be gathering intelligence – security staff or a vendor? That’s the question Jason Polancich, founder and chief architect of SurfWatch Labs, a cyber-intelligence and risk analysis provider, asks in this blog.

He has an obvious interest here, but he tries to objectively point out the pros and cons of each option.

The first con, of course, is price: “Most providers are very expensive,” he admits. And there’s the risk the provider won’t be at the CISO’s disposal, as in-house staff will be. They may also be inconsistent or late with information. Also, it may not be easy to integrate external data with your processes.

But service providers that specialize in intelligence can recruit and hire people more talented than all but the biggest organizations. And, with the right SLAs can deliver results faster than in-house staff.

Cost is also the flip-side of the in-house option: It will cost a lot to have a team dedicated to the latest threat intelligence, both in money and time.

Still, as Polancich writes, “no one knows you like you do, so starting a cyber intelligence gathering initiative has the benefit of perspective on every part of the business you’re trying to defend.”

The right choice, of course, is the one that fits the needs and budget of each organization. But no one doubts that some sort of threat intelligence capability is now an essential tool for every CISO.