Cyber threat hunting is a security function that combines proactive methodology, innovative technology, and threat intelligence to find and stop malicious activities.
Let’s Define Cyber Threat Hunting
For companies that are ready to take on a more proactive approach to cyber security – one that attempts to stop attacks before they get too deep – adding threat hunting to their security program is the next logical step.
After solidifying their endpoint security and incident response strategies to mitigate the known malware attacks that are inevitable today, organizations can then start to go on the offensive. They are ready to dig deep and find what hasn’t yet been detected – and that’s exactly the purpose of threat hunting.
Threat hunting is an aggressive tactic that works from the premise of “assumption of breach;” that attackers are already inside an organization’s network and are covertly monitoring and moving throughout it. This may seem far fetched, but in reality, attackers may be inside a network for days, weeks and even months on end, preparing and executing attacks such as advanced persistent threats, without any automated defense detecting their presence. Threat hunting stops these attacks by seeking out covert indicators of compromise (IOCs) so they can be mitigated before any attacks achieve their objectives.
The goal of threat hunting is to monitor everyday activities and traffic across the network and investigate possible anomalies to find any yet-to-be-discovered malicious activities that could lead to a full blown breach. To achieve this level of early detection, threat hunting incorporates four equally important components:
Research from the 2018 Threat Hunting Report from Crowd Research Partners confirms the importance of these threat hunting capabilities. When asked to rank the most important capability the survey found:
69% chose threat intelligence
57% chose behavior analytics
56% chose automatic detection
54% chose machine learning and automated analytics
Threat hunters look for attackers that get in under the radar, through vulnerabilities a company may not even know exists. These attackers spend considerable amounts of time planning and performing reconnaissance, only acting when they know they can successfully penetrate the network without notice. They also plant and build malware that has yet to been recognized, or use techniques that don’t rely on malware at all, to set themselves up with a persistent base from which to attack.
So what does it take to outsmart even the smartest attackers?
Cyber threat hunters are relentless and able to find even the most minute trace of what cyber attackers leave behind.
Threat hunters use their highly tuned skills to zero in on the slight changes that occur as the attackers make their moves inside a system or file.
The best threat hunters rely on their instincts to sniff out the most nefarious attacker’s stealth moves.