Cyber threat hunting is a forward looking approach to internet security in which threat hunters proactively search for security risks concealed within an organization’s network. Unlike more passive cyber security hunting strategies like automated threat detection systems, cyber hunting actively seeks out previously undetected, unknown, or non-remediated threats that could have evaded your network’s automated defense systems.
Today’s cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated than ever, which means cyber threat hunting is an essential component of robust network, endpoint, and dataset security strategies. If an advanced external attacker or insider threat can elude initial network defense systems, they could remain undetected for months. During this time, they could gather sensitive data, compromise confidential information, or secure login credentials that enable them to sneak laterally across your networking environment.
Security personnel can no longer afford to sit back and wait for automated cyber threat detection systems to notify them of an impending attack. To remain steadfast, cyber threat hunting enables your IT security teams to proactively identify potential vulnerabilities or threats before an attack can cause damage.
Cyber threat hunting works by combining the human element with a software solution’s big data processing power. Human threat hunters–whose purpose is to use solutions and intelligence/data to find adversaries who may evade typical defenses by using techniques such as living off the land–lean on data from complex security monitoring and analytics tools to help them proactively identify and neutralize threats.
Human intuition, strategic and ethical thinking, and creative problem solving play an integral role in the cyber hunting process. These human characteristics enable organizations to implement threat resolutions faster and more accurately than solely relying on automated threat detection tools.
For cyber threat hunting to work, threat hunters must first establish a baseline of anticipated or authorized events to better identify anomalies. Using this baseline and the latest threat intelligence, threat hunters can then comb through security data and information collected by threat detection technologies. These technologies can include security information and event management solutions (SIEM), managed detection and response (MDR), or other security analytics tools.
Once equipped with data from varied sources such as endpoint, network and cloud data, threat hunters can scour your systems for potential risks, suspicious activities, or triggers that deviate from the normal. If a threat is identified or known threat intelligence indicates new potential threats, threat hunters can develop hypotheses and in-depth network investigations. During these investigations, threat hunters attempt to discover whether a threat is malicious or benign, or whether the network is safeguarded adequately from new types of cyber threats.
Cyber Threat Intelligence is a focus on the analysis, collection and prioritization of data to improve our understanding of threats facing a business.
There are three core threat hunting investigation types, including:
In all three of these investigation types, threat hunters search through events for anomalies, weaknesses, or suspicious activity outside of anticipated or authorized events. If any security gaps or unusual activity are found, hunters can then patch the network before a cyberattack occurs or reoccurs.
To effectively initiate a cyber threat hunting program, there are four steps your security personnel should follow:
Because cyber security hunting takes a proactive, hands-on approach to threat detection and remediation, some organizations face significant challenges when implementing this security practice. For a cyber hunting program to be successful, an organization must have three key components working in harmony:
Deploying all three of these components and ensuring they seamlessly work together requires many organizational resources. Unfortunately, some security teams don’t have access to the right tools, personnel, or information to establish a full-scale cyber threat hunting program.
Successfully protecting your organization’s infrastructure requires a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. Gone are the days in which automated threat detection technologies are enough on their own to safeguard confidential data or information. Instead, your security teams must implement an ongoing cyber threat hunting program that enables them to create informed hypotheses and pinpoint network anomalies, risks, or suspicious activity before an external attacker or insider threat can cause damage.
Searching for security operations software to help you get a cyber threat hunting program up and running with minimal resources? CyberRes provides a holistic platform that supports a hypothesis-driven threat hunting process such as: actionable threat intelligence, User Entity Behavior Analytics, Security Orchestration Automation and Response, and a big data analytics-based forensic search and visualization solution. Using this managed threat hunting platform, you can proactively detect anomalies and remediate threats quickly and efficiently—all without expending significant organizational resources.
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