Threat Hunting: An In-Depth Guide
Implementing protective cybersecurity measures to safeguard your organization from cyber-attacks is no longer enough.
Cyber threat hunting is a proactive approach that involves searching for cyber threats that exist beyond your initial endpoint security defenses. With cyber threat hunting, you’re always one step ahead of attackers and intruders.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know about cyber threat hunting. So let’s dig into it!
Types of Threat Hunting
There are 3 types of threat hunting:
1- Structured Hunting:
This method relies on identifying the attacker’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), as well as the indicators of attack (IoA).
2- Unstructured Hunting:
Based on a trigger or an indicator of compromise (IoC).
3- Situational or Entity-Driven:
Emphasizes high-risk entities like critical documents and sensitive information.
Key Elements of Threat Hunting
Some of the key elements of threat hunting include:
- Identifying anomalies
- Utilizing tools and techniques to analyze these anomalies
- Coming up with mitigation methods
Why is Threat Hunting Important?
Threat hunting is vital for your organization because cyber attackers always find new ways to breach even the most highly secured systems.
This makes cyber threat hunting an important part of your defense strategy as it focuses on developing a robust and secure network, data set security strategies, and endpoints.
How Does Cyber Threat Hunting Work?
Typically, the cyber threat hunting process involves these elements:
- Defining the environment’s data fertility (the business’s security system).
- Data collection.
- Use of automated tools.
- Hiring skilled IT security professionals to identify and eliminate potential threats.
Threat Hunting Methodologies
There are 3 common threat-hunting methodologies, which can be summed up as follows:
1- Intelligence-based hunting:
Uses a reactive approach to hunt for threats based on input sources of intelligence.
2- Hypotheses-based hunting:
Includes testing hypotheses like analytics-driven and situation-awareness-driven hypotheses.
3- Hybrid threat hunting:
An approach that combines both intel-based and hypotheses-based hunting.
What's Required to Start Threat Hunting?
To start the threat-hunting process, you need to hire cybersecurity professionals with extensive experience in threat hunting.
You also need to choose the most suitable threat hunting model for your organization. Of course, you also need to have the capacity to collect and analyze large sums of security-related data. Utilizing the right tools is vital here as well.
Threat Hunting vs Threat Intelligence: What’s the difference?
The core difference between threat intelligence and threat hunting is the purpose. Threat intelligence involves collecting and analyzing data from historical successful intrusions for future use in enhancing an organization’s security system.
These findings can later be used in threat hunting to search for potential threats and bad actors.
Benefits of Automation in Cyber Threat Hunting
Threat hunting automation enables threat hunters to identify threats faster, which also helps in taking the necessary actions more quickly.
It also helps threat hunters keep pace with cyber criminals who rely on automation tools to expose threats.
What are the Top Challenges of Cyber Security Hunting?
Some of the most relevant challenges in cyber threat hunting include:
- Finding and hiring experienced threat hunters.
- Staying updated with threat intelligence
- Collecting large amounts of data
Should You Enlist a Managed Threat Hunting Service?
It’s generally considered a good idea to collaborate with a third-party managed threat hunting provider. Due to the talent storage in the threat hunting domain, many businesses opt for managed threat hunting to identify and get rid of security threats.
These services also come with the benefits of proven expertise and 24/7 monitoring, maintenance, and support.
How does Extended Storage Help with Threat Hunting?
Extended storage helps threat hunters proactively find new threats as soon as they exist. By retaining data for long periods, threat hunters will be able to deal with APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) more effectively.
Who Should be Involved in Threat Hunting?
For result-oriented threat hunting, you must hire a certified cyber threat hunter who’s capable of finding and mitigating risks and potential threats.
You should also let the threat hunter communicate and collaborate with your IT team to help in the threat identification and mitigation process.
What Makes a Great Threat Hunter?
Some of the skills and qualifications that a great threat hunter should possess include:
- Information system experience
- Data analytics and pattern recognition
- Fluency in one or more scripting and compiling programming languages
- Certification (CCTHP or CEH)
- Experience with automated security tools
- Technical writing
- OS knowledge
- Network knowledge
When Should You Do Threat Hunting?
Threat hunting should be conducted regularly since new threats may arise at any time. Ideally, you’d want to conduct threat hunting on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to improve your incident response and management strategies.
It’s also important to adapt and evolve your threat hunting approach over time.
Cybercriminals are always coming up with new techniques to infiltrate organizations and steal their data, so you must follow a similar approach in your threat hunting strategy.
Tips to Improve Your Threat Hunting
Here are some actionable tips that will help you improve your threat hunting strategy:
- Identify your company’s regular activities.
- Gather the required threat hunting resources, including personnel, systems, and tools.
- Use the Observe, orient, decide, act (OODA) technique to eliminate potential threats.
Threat Hunting Platforms & Tools
Threat-hunting tools include:
1- Security monitoring tools:
Include anti-malware, endpoint security, and firewall solutions.
2- SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solutions:
For managing and analyzing data related to security.
3- Analytics platforms:
For data-based entity correlating and pattern identification.
To recap, incorporating threat hunting in your organization is no longer optional; it’s a must. The key here is to hire the right people. Alternatively, you can opt for managed services.
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