5 Tips for a Successful Threat Hunt
Threat hunting is an essential part of cyber security, playing an active role in uncovering the latest attack trends, intent, goals, and tech. Read on for tips.
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Survey data suggests that around 40% of SOCs (security operations centers) have started implementing specific threat hunting protocols. These protocols are created for cyber threat hunting or catching advanced threats that traditional tools and software missed.
Most tools and protocols are sophisticated enough to detect most threats. However, hackers are constantly striving to create new techniques and approaches that evade detection. Unfortunately, even newer tools that are AI-powered can miss detecting advanced threats.
While these pieces of software are often stellar in detecting already-existing threat variations, they can fail to identify novel approaches. This is when threat hunting comes in. The role of actively monitoring for threats and analyzing the current security systems is to identify weak points and possible threat-entry points.
What Are the Steps of Threat Hunting?
Experts more or less agree that a proactive approach to cyber threat hunting will typically consist of three distinct steps:
- The trigger: The trigger can be described as a specific area in a network or system that may need additional investigation. Often, even a hypothesis about a lingering threat can be a great trigger point as well.
- Investigation: In this step, the threat hunter uses various tech to investigate the potential compromise and continues with the investigation until establishing whether the threat is malicious or benign.
- Resolution: This step involves communication with a relevant network or system security themes to respond to the threat. Furthermore, the info gathered throughout the hunt can be added to the automated tech to boost its effectiveness.
During the hunt, the hunters gather as much info and data as possible. Not just about the attack’s technological background but about the intent and goals behind it. The collected data can help identify new trends and eliminate potential system vulnerabilities.
What Is the Goal of Threat Hunting?
In the simplest terms, threat hunting is a proactive security function that combines technology with a proactive approach to threat intelligence in order to identify and stop malicious threats within a system or a network.
Threat hunting can also be described as an aggressive method that “always assumes the potential of a breach.” This means that the approach builds on the premise that the hackers have already infiltrated the system.
As such, the goal of threat hunting is to continuously monitor a given system, trying to identify not just threats but new potential trends in hacker activities. With a proactive approach, threat hunters can mitigate certain problems before the attackers actually start their malicious activity within a system.
5 Threat Hunting Tips
As mentioned above, the bread and butter of threat hunting is monitoring. As such, there are quite a few tips that can help you with forging the necessary proactive approach that will boost the efficacy of your hunting operations.
Here are five tips that can help you with identifying a wider range of threats.
Search Tunneled Communications
The best area to start scanning for potential threats might be C£ indications or command and control indications. Put more effort into scanning for activities that are trying to mimic standard traffic. Tunneled communications where network protocols can carry another are a great area to start.
Often you will see that hackers will try to place their convos in DNS traffic. This is because most corporate firewalls are calibrated in a way that permits outbound DNS traffic.
Analyze the system’s data logs, network logs, and more. Even the SIEM can serve as a great data pool for threat hunting. However, when sifting said data, you should focus on establishing some parameters. For example, some experts recommend going through a week’s worth of data and no more. Also, the key is to identify data sources that will most likely match the activity that you’re looking for.
When identifying the threat, hunters should also put in the necessary effort to study the characteristics of said threat. Looking for specific attributes (for example, the URLs used) can help a great deal in properly mitigating the threat and will also come in handy for the rest of the security team that can use it to create a more sophisticated security protocol for the system/network.
Sort the Data
When trying to hunt threats effectively, narrowing the data set to be able to home in on the lingering threats is crucial.
You can sort the data from smallest to largest and focus more on larger files. You can also sort by using the HTTP method. The sorting process can also be done by using visualization and other techniques as well.
The point here is to establish a system that allows you to scan everything in your data set effectively.
Wide Pass the Data
It’s crucial to filter the data before diving into investigating every byte in detail. Instead, take a look at everything and bookmark the items that might raise suspicion, and take another glance at them when you’re finished with the initial pass.
This approach enables you to create several data categories or a way to establish a hierarchy within the data pool. This way, it will become easier to differentiate more suspicious data sets from probably unharmed ones.
Threat hunting is an ongoing process where hunters have to constantly monitor systems and networks. They aim to identify potential attacks before they happen, locate the most vulnerable points within a system, and uncover the latest cyber attack trends. They try to understand the technical background of an attack and aim to uncover their intent.
Threat hunting is an essential part of cyber security, as it plays an active role in uncovering the latest attack trends, intent, goals, and the technology behind the latest attacks. Working closely with a hunter enables security teams to improve their AI-powered security systems to mitigate advanced threats as soon as possible, stripping hackers of any type of advantage they might have had up to that point.
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