Cyber threats continue to change and become more sophisticated, making it challenging for businesses to deter every potential attack. Fortunately, there are proactive ways to mitigate cyber threats and possible vulnerabilities. One of the methods your business can take is cyber threat hunting.
Similar to real-world hunting, cyber hunting is the practice of searching for various threats that remain currently undetected or lurking in your networks and systems. It requires the expertise and skills of a cyber threat hunter who’s a critical thinker, creative, patient, and has a keen eye for spotting network abnormalities.
What’s Cyber Threat Hunting
Cyber threat hunting is designed to help organizations find gaps, flaws, or vulnerabilities in their network before attackers take advantage of them to infiltrate your system. Compared to other cybersecurity strategies, threat hunting is a proactive technique that combines data, analytics tools, and the expertise of threat hunting specialists to evaluate the system.
Additionally, cyber threat hunting aims to look for threats that may have slipped through your firewall and other defensive layers, preventing cybercriminals from wreaking havoc and attacking your business.
The whole process differs from vulnerability assessment and penetration testing because such methods simulate attacks from the outside. On the other hand, a threat hunting team works from the premise that attackers are already in the network and search for indicators of compromise and other signs that indicate an attack behavior. When done successfully, it can help your business prevent security breaches or threats that may cause significant financial loss.
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Why Is Cyber Threat Hunting Important
Threat security analysts can deal with unsophisticated attacks easily using good security hygiene and advanced tools. Nonetheless, such an approach isn’t enough when handling advanced threats.
When cybercriminals gain a foothold in your system or network, they may remain hidden for months as they collect data, obtain login credentials and search for confidential materials that will let them move laterally across your system. And once you find out about it, it’s probably too late. This is why it’s crucial to consider cyber threat hunting.
The job of threat hunters is to defuse and investigate malicious activities that other methods can’t detect. They hunt known threats like malware and other unknown threats that insiders or organized cybercrime groups might initiate.
How Often Should You Do Threat Hunting
Cyber threat hunting should be done regularly and not only when necessary. If you have a dedicated schedule for this proactive cybersecurity approach, you can improve your company’s security posture and get real-time data about malicious activities in your system.
If your security team has a lot of responsibilities and can’t prioritize threat hunting, working with external cybersecurity specialists is an excellent option. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that dedicated professionals regularly check your system for malicious activities.
How Cyber Threat Hunting Works
Cyber threat hunting goes beyond traditional detection technologies, such as endpoint detection and response (EDR) and security information and event management (SIEM). Typically, threat hunters rely on security data to look for suspicious activities and hidden malware that your system might have. They help patch your company’s system to avoid recurring cyberattacks too.
A successful cyber threat hunting often involves the following steps:
Several companies have scheduled programs to hunt threats. Usually, threat hunters identify the triggers in a particular application and network area. They also formulate a hypothesis based on the unusual events that indicate malicious activities.
Threat hunters utilize various tools to dive into possible compromises in your network infrastructure. The investigation may continue until the hypothesis is unproven or proven.
Part of cyber threat hunting is responding appropriately to malicious activities. It often involves communicating the new data to the operations or security teams, allowing them to respond immediately and mitigate the threats.
These are the steps to perform cyber threat hunting. And threat hunters document the attacker’s methods to predict and analyze similar compromises and vulnerabilities in the future.
Benefits Of Cyber Threat Hunting
There are many benefits of cyber threat hunting. One of these is that it helps uncover attacks that remain hidden from your organization’s passive defenses. For example, it can detect non-malware attacks because it doesn’t only focus on malware-based attacks.
In addition, cyber threat hunting enables companies to characterize, detect, eliminate, and assess advanced threats quickly in the kill chain. With this, it’s made possible to put an end to attackers, preventing them from causing damage to your system.
Cyber threat hunting enables your organization to get out in front of potential unknown and known threats by proactively hunting malicious activities in your system. While there are advanced solutions that help stop cyber attackers, effective threat hunting can complement them since most attackers become more innovative and look for other ways to attack your network security. Moreover, adding the expertise of threat hunters can provide your company with an extra layer of protection.