What is Cyber Threat Hunting? A Cybersecurity Guide

Cyber Threat Hunting

Cyber threat searching is a forward-looking approach to internet security. that is proactive and seeks out security threats hidden within an organization’s network.

This is in contrast to passive cyber security strategies such as automated threat detection systems cyber hunting actively searches for previously undiscovered, unknown, and non-remediated threats that could have evaded the network’s automated defense system.

Cyber Threat Hunting: Why is it Necessary?

Cybercriminals today are more sophisticated than ever. This means that cyber threat hunting is an integral part of a strong network, endpoint, and dataset security strategies. They could go unnoticed for several months if an advanced attacker or insider threat can evade initial network defenses. They could also be able to access sensitive data or compromise confidential information during this period. Secure Login Credentials that allow them to sneak laterally through your network environment.

Security personnel cannot afford to wait for an automated cyber threat detection system to alert them of an imminent attack. To be steadfast, Cyber threat hunting allows your IT security teams proactively to identify vulnerabilities and threats in advance of an attack.

How Does Cyber Threat Hunting Work?

Cyber threat hunting combines the human element with the big data processing power of a software solution. Human threat hunters – whose goal is to find adversaries that may not be able to evade traditional defenses using solutions and intelligence/data. They use techniques like living off the land and rely on complex security monitoring data and analytics tools in order to help them identify and neutralize potential threats.

Cyber threat hunting is a process that relies on intuition, creative problem-solving, and strategic and ethical thinking. This human characteristic allows organizations to implement threat resolutions faster than they can rely on automated threat detection tools.

Also read: Top 10 Threats To An Open API Ecosystem

What is Required to Begin Threat Hunting?

To be able to identify anomalies in cyber threat hunting, threat hunters need to establish a baseline of authorized or anticipated events. Threat hunters will then be able to comb through the security data and information collected using threat detection technologies. These technologies could include security information and event management solutions (SIEM), managed detection and response (MDR), or other security analysis tools.

Threat hunters are able to search your system for suspicious activity, potential risks, or other deviations from the norm once they have access to data from various sources, such as networks, endpoints, and cloud data. If there is a threat to the system or if threat intelligence suggests types of cyber threats. Threat hunters can create hypotheses and conduct network investigations. These investigations are used to determine whether a threat is malicious, or benign, or if the network is adequately protected against new cyber threats.

Is Threat Hunting part of Threat Intelligence

Cyber Threat Intelligence focuses on the analysis, collection, and prioritization of data in order to better understand threats facing businesses.

Threat Hunting Investigation Types

There are three types of core threat hunting investigations:

  1. Structured: This type of cyber security hunting relies on an indicator (IoA) and the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), of an attacker. The MITRE Adversary Techniques Techniques and Common Knowledge (ATT & CK(r))framework Structured hunting allow threat hunters to detect malicious actors before they can harm networks.
  2. Unstructured: Based on an indicator or trigger of compromise (IoC), Threat hunters use unstructured hunting in order to find any patterns within the network before or after a trigger was discovered.
  3. Situational or Threat Intelligence Based: Hypotheses can be derived from situations, such as vulnerabilities found during a network risk assessment. Cyber threat hunting can also be done with the latest threat intelligence since threat hunters can refer to internal and crowdsourced data about cyberattack trends or TTPs from attackers when analyzing their network.

In each of these three investigation types, Threat hunters look for suspicious activity, anomalies, and weaknesses in events outside of authorized or anticipated events. Hunters can patch any security holes or suspicious activity to prevent a cyberattack from ever happening again.

Cyber Threat Hunting: The 4 Steps

There are four steps that your security personnel must follow to effectively start a cyber threat hunt program.

  • Create a Hypothesis Cyber security hunting: starts with the development of a threat hypothesis. The hypothesis can be based on potential vulnerabilities or risks within an organization’s infrastructure, current threat information, attacker TTPs, suspicious activity, or any other trigger that is different from the standard baseline activity. Threat hunters can use their experience and creative problem-solving skills to create a threat hypothesis and determine a way forward to test it.
  • Begin your investigation: A threat hunter can use complex historical data derived from threat hunting tools such as SIEM and MDR to aid in their investigation. The investigation will continue until the hypothesis has been confirmed, anomalies are found, or the hypothesis is benign.
  • Find New Patterns: When malicious activity or anomalies are discovered, the next step is to deploy a fast and efficient response. This could involve disabling users or blocking IP addresses, installing security patches, changing network configurations, updating authorization privileges, and introducing new identification requirements. Your security teams will learn how to prevent future threats from emerging and the tactics and techniques of the threat actors as they work together to solve network threats.
  • Respond Enrich and Automate: Cybercriminals are constantly evolving and creating new threats to the network. Cyber threat hunting should be an everyday part of your organization’s security process. It should also work with automated threat detection technology and current threat identification and remediation processes.

Also read: 17 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Top Challenges of Cyber Security Hunting?

Cyber security hunting is a proactive and hands-on approach to threat detection and remediation. This poses significant challenges for some organizations. An organization must have three components that work together to make a cyber hunting program successful.

  • Deploying expert threat hunters: Human capital is the most important component. Threat hunters today must have a deep understanding of the threat landscape and the ability to quickly identify signs of sophisticated attacks.
  • Gathering comprehensive data: In order to properly search for threats, hunters need access to a wide range of data, both historical and current. This gives them visibility over the entire infrastructure. Threat hunters will not be able to create informed threat hypotheses without this aggregated data.
  • Staying up-to-date with threat intelligence: Threat hunters need the most current threat intelligence in order to be able to compare cyberattack trends with their internal data. It is impossible to know what trending threats or new threats are out there. Threat hunters won’t have all the information they need to correctly analyze network threats.

It takes a lot of organizational resources to deploy all three components and ensure they work seamlessly together. Some security teams lack the necessary tools, personnel, or information to create a comprehensive cyber threat-hunting program.

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