Cyber threats are becoming more common in the digital world. Unfortunately, malware attacks and unknown threats are always waiting to happen. However, with threat-hunting tactics, techniques, and procedures, data breaches will be a thing of the past. Furthermore, the goal of threat hunting is to monitor everyday activities and detect suspicious activity.
Let’s look at a detailed explanation of what threat-hunting solutions are.
What is Cyber Threat Hunting?
Threat hunting is a security technique where threat hunters go through systems, computers, and systems to fish out hidden threats. It is a proactive approach that security teams and other threat-hunting teams should know to use to identify threats. Additionally, any potential threats in a system can stay hidden and cause a full-scale cyber threat.
Unlike passive cyber threat-hunting security services like automated threat-hunting solutions, proactive threat-hunting seeks out any malicious activity and eradicates it. Additionally, threat hunting is not a passive means of threat eradication like antiviruses, and it is more focused on endpoint detection. Think of it as an “assumption of a threat”, where companies do a deep dive into their systems to remove advanced threats.
While the “assumption of a threat” might seem like going overboard, advanced persistent threats (APTs) can remain in your system for months. Most of the time, they have already gained access to the initial endpoint security layers. Furthermore, only a successful threat-hunting program can help to bring them to the surface.
We also can’t always be sure that our security is safe and protecting the system 100% of the time. This is why threat hunters need to be vigilant, and every system should have layers of security, and threat hunting is one of the layers. Threat hunting will supplement any organization’s security.
Three-step Threat Hunting Solution Framework
In this process, there are 3 threat hunting steps taken to mitigate threats. Security professionals with cyber security awareness training will always follow these steps to prevent any cyber incidents and eliminate current vulnerabilities. They are:
Before acting on an anomaly within a system, there are steps that threat hunters take to discover triggers. A trigger can be a network area, a system, or even a hypothesis, as long as it can cause the system to initiate a response. Additionally, cyber threat hunters gather information about potential risks and threat actors.
Threat hunting is a focused process where threat hunters comb through security data to find suspicious activity or malware. Cyber threat intelligence analysis software can also identify anomalies based on triggers from the environment. Sometimes, a trigger could easily be missed or waiting to be resolved, but the computer kept it pending.
After a trigger is identified, the focus is directed to trying to find a malicious activity that will prove or disprove the hypothesis. Remember that during the investigation, threat detection technologies and automated security tools assist in looking for threats. However, keep in mind that anomalies might not always be malicious.
However, if you need to employ a cyber threat-hunting program, then you most probably have malicious activity in your system. Unrecognized or suspicious executables running on your network are some of the prime suspects to look out for.
In this phase, the threat-hunting team sends information to other teams and ensures that the information gathered in the first stage is prioritized, analyzed, or stored for future use. Remember, information can be harmful or harmless, but there it will still be helpful in future analysis and investigation.
In this phase, the goal is to ensure that the relevant assessments that inform decision-making act on the information gathered. Furthermore, once the information is communicated to security teams, they can respond and neutralize threats.
Threat Hunting Activities
a) Hunting for Internal Threats and Outside Attackers
Threat hunting can expose whether a threat is internal or external. Most of the time, external threats are usually malicious behavior from attackers. On the other hand, you can easily internal threats are usually accidental. A data breach can occur when employees share sensitive data over an open public Wi-Fi network.
b) Searching for Hidden Threats
Cyber threat hunting is also known as a proactive approach because the threat hunting program doesn’t just look for already known attack patterns. Rather, it searches for patterns that are not well known and aren’t caught by the usual security tools.
Cyber threat hunting ensures the system’s security by analyzing the computing environment and using constant monitoring. Behavioral analysis is also employed to ensure that any threats are easily found and eradicated.
c) Hunting for Known Malicious Activity
Every known attacker is usually listed on threat intelligence services. This ensures that other professionals and security companies know to scan for known attackers’ code patterns.
d) Executing the Incident Response Plan
Executing a response plan requires gathering as much information as possible. Information about the threat will inform how to go about neutralizing a future attack. Furthermore, a cyber threat hunter detects potential threats so that in the event of a security incident, you can minimize damage and exposure.
Types of Threat Hunting Investigations
The goal of threat hunting is threat detection to prevent a full-blown breach. To achieve this, threat-hunting programs use the following methodologies:
1) Structured Hunting
This type of hunting is based on an indication of an attack (IoA) and the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPS) of an attacker. To combat this, threat hunters use Adversary Tactics Techniques and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) to identify any malicious actors before they wreak havoc.
2) Unstructured Hunting
Based on a trigger, threat hunters use unstructured hunting to look for any noticeable patterns within the network. Additionally, the unstructured method can be used before and after a trigger is found.
3) Threat Intelligence-Based Hunting
When carrying out a network risk assessment, the vulnerabilities that are discovered usually inform the hypothesis. Threat intelligence can lead to cyber threat hunting since the programs can reference crowdsourced or internal data and draw information on cyberattack trends.
Frequently Asked Questions About Threat Hunting
i) What are some threat-hunting tools?
Some threat-hunting tools include Antivirus, Endpoint Detection and Response, Intrusion prevention systems, Security information and event management, and Cyber threat intelligence.
ii) Where does threat hunting fit?
Threat hunting is complementary to the standard process of incident detection, response, and remediation. Human threat hunters can analyze any cyber threat leads and proffer suitable methods of dealing with them.
iii) Should I enlist a Threat Hunting Service?
Yes, it is a wise decision. While carrying out threat hunting seems like a straightforward procedure, getting personnel who are well-versed and equipped to conduct the exercise is the issue. However, a good threat-hunting team can easily remain vigilant and deliver expertise.
The Bottom Line
Organizations with adequate personnel and a budget should strive to engage in real-time analysis and threat hunting. Additionally, the network and endpoints should always be actively engaged to expose any threats.
Featured Image Source: unsplash.com