What Is Cyber Threat Hunting?

Cyber crimes have been taking place at an exponentially high rate in the past two decades. In 2022, Canada alone bore a loss of a whopping 2 billion US dollars because of cyber crimes. Cyber security experts have been trying hard to blend conventional as well as modern techniques to prevent threat actors from breaking into our banks and networking systems. 

Cybercriminals, on the other hand, are swift enough to adapt to any modern technological advancements that give them a competitive edge. 

Cyber Threat Hunting is an effective tactic leveraged by cyber security experts who are aiming to identify the latent cyber risks that can exist in a network. The process is now being used actively by companies and organizations that wish to keep their data secure and safe. 

Let’s find out about cyber threat hunting in detail!

Cyber Threat Hunting- The Defense Mechanism Against Threat Actors!

Sometimes, phishing experts manage to slip into your network system undetected. They covertly keep operating from there and conveniently gain access to sensitive details and confidential data. From login credentials to bank account passwords, they gain control over all the important data without your knowledge. Threat actors penetrate through individual network systems as well as the systems of companies. They take advantage of the fact that most of these network systems lack threat-detection features.

This is where cyber threat hunting steps in. It successfully identifies any suspicious activity being carried out within the network without the permission of the victim.

In the realm of cyber threat hunting, fortifying email security through the robust trio of DMARC, SPF, and DKIM protocols is paramount for safeguarding against phishing attacks and ensuring the authenticity of digital communication.

Cyber Threat Hunting Methodologies Implemented By Threat Hunters

1. IOCs and IOAs-Centric Investigation

Threat hunters leverage tactical threat intelligence in order to catalog indicators of compromise and attacks, which are associated with new threats. These indicators are then traced in the existing system to identify any kind of latent malicious activities in the network.

2. Hypothesis-Driven Threat Investigation

In this method, threat hunting gets triggered by a new source of threat. The aim of the investigation is to get acquainted with the attacker’s TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures). It is done by studying bulk crowdsourced attack data

Once the threat hunters are well-versed in the attacker’s behavior, they try to trace the same pattern within the existing network.

3. Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics Investigation

Data analysis and machine learning prove to be of immense help in searching through massive data collections. They study the data to understand whether or not there are some irregularities and malicious activities happening in the background.

These 3 techniques are basically manual investigative approaches blended with advanced technology to grapple with the increasing risk of cyber threats

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4 Major Steps Involved in Cyber Threat Hunting

1. Hypothesis

Cyberhunters begin by developing a hypothesis around which they keep working to discover the latent threat. The hypothesis is developed on the basis of vulnerabilities that may already exist in an organization’s system. The hypothesis also takes hints from the attacker’s TTPs. Cyber hunters keep a close eye on any suspicious activity that seems to deviate from the SOP.  

2. Investigation

In the next step, threat hunters leverage detailed datasets that are derived from different threat-hunting solutions such as MDR, SIEM, and UEBA. The investigation is carried out until some anomalies are identified or the triggers prove to be false alarms.

3. Finding Patterns

The moment they detect any anomaly in the system, the threat hunters proceed with a mitigation response. The process involves multiple steps, such as blocking different IP addresses, disabling users, changing network configurations, integrating security patches, coming up with the latest identification requirements, and updating authorization privileges.  

4. Respond and Automate

Taking suitable mitigation steps and feeding the collected data into the automated system further keeps the network secure and free from any malicious activity.

Top Challenges Faced by Cyber Threat Hunters

Matching Pace with Threat Intelligence

Threat hunters need to stay updated about the latest technologies and security measures. They need to stay abreast of threat intelligence, which will further help them analyze present cyberattack trends with available data. Without complete knowledge, it is next to impossible to detect any latent threats in the network.

Gathering Comprehensive Data

Another challenge faced by threat hunters is access to data, which they need to decipher and study in order to recognize the attacker’s pattern. If this aggregated data is missing, it is not possible for threat hunters to develop a hypothesis for carrying out an investigation.

Implementation of Cyber Threat-Hunting Technology 

The expenses involved in deploying threat-hunting technology appear to be quite hefty, even on an organizational level.

What are the Features Which Make a Great Cyber Threat Hunter?

  • Data analytics and reporting
  • Communication
  • Information security experience
  • Operating systems and networks knowledge
  • Application security (AppSec) principles
  • Programming language familiarity

Cyber security is the need of the hour if you are running an organization. From employee data to sensitive client information, from payment details to business reports, threat actors keep hunting for data that they can exploit for their malicious activities

Integrating an efficient cyber threat-hunting system will keep you one step ahead of these cybercriminals.

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