What is Threat Hunting in Cyber Security?

Cyber threat hunting is the proactive search through networks, endpoints, and datasets for anomalous activities that lurk undetected by existing tools. It digs deep for anomalies that have slipped past your initial endpoints.

Alarmingly, an attacker that has somehow slipped past the network’s defenses can remain in a network for as long as months as it stealthily collects data, including confidential information and login credentials, to move laterally across the security network. And once an anomaly manages to infiltrate, some organizations don’t have the capabilities to stop and remove the threats. That’s why it is an essential defense tactic for an organization’s network.

Why Utilize Cyber Threat Hunting?

Threat hunting has become an increasingly essential defense strategy as companies seek to stay ahead of the increasing number and complexity of potential cyber threats. They aim to adapt their existing cyber hunting functions to improve their network security system’s detection and response capabilities.

According to a study done by Forrester Consulting back in 2019, the top endpoint goals were to improve security detection capabilities and to increase efficiency in the security operations center (SOC). The same study also revealed that 83% of the enterprises included in the study have gaps in their endpoint detection and response systems. Many of these enterprises consider hunting a crucial requirement but feel that their current systems don’t even meet their needs. Other concerns were also brought up, such as their EDR solution not identifying every threat that breaks through and their system surfacing alerts that are irrelevant or not worth investigating.

Methods of Investigations

Traditionally, threat hunting was a manual process in which a cyber security expert would analyze the data based on their knowledge of the network and systems and make assumptions about the threats. But advancements have brought in automation, machine learning, and user and entity behavior analytics to improve threat detection and hunting for more informed alerts. As soon as the risk is determined, an investigation would be launched, which includes:

  • Hypothesis-driven investigationsThis type of investigation is triggered when information about a new threat is discovered. The hunting system will then dive deep into network and system logs to gain insights that would signal this new threat.
  • Analytics-driven investigationThis investigation mainly analyzes information gathered by machine learning and AI tools to detect irregular activities that could suggest potential malicious threats.
  • Tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) investigationThe TTP investigation method is based on the anomaly’s mannerisms or their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), which would then be used to source the threat. The hunting system would then utilize existing methods that would work against these behaviors.

Steps in Cyber Threat Hunting

  1. Hypothesis – The hunt would begin with a hypothesis or statement about what threats may be present in the environment and how to find them. The hypothesis can include the TTP, and the hunters would use the data regarding the threat, environmental knowledge, and their experience to arrive at a logical path of detection.
  2. Collect and process data – Collecting and gathering data is crucial for identifying threats. Plans to collect and process the data are done through the use of security and event management software which provides insight and a log of activities in the organization’s IT environment. 
  3. Trigger – The trigger points the hunters towards a specific area of the network to investigate when a suspicious activity has been detected. Frequently, the hypothesis acts as the trigger.
  4. Investigation – In this phase, investigative technology like Endpoint detection and response are utilized to do a deep search in the system or network for potential malicious anomalies. It will then determine whether it’s benign or confirmed to be malicious. 
  5. Response – The last step involves communicating the data to an automated security technology to resolve and mitigate the threats. Possible responses to the threat can be removing malware files, restoring altered or deleted files, installing security patches, updating firewall or IPS rules, and changing system configurations.

Upgrade Your Cyber Threat Hunting with Sangfor

Sangfor recognizes the need for better hunting capabilities to counter the increasing malicious malware endangering many organizations’ confidential data. Hence, the development of Sangfor Cyber Command, a threat detection and response platform powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Any device that accesses an isolated network through a VPN presents a risk of bringing malware to that network environment — unless there’s a requirement in the VPN connection process to assess the state of the connecting device like internetprivatsphare. Without an inspection to determine whether the connecting device complies with an organization’s security policies, attackers with stolen credentials can access network resources, including switches and routers.

Beyond VPNs, security experts recommend network administrators consider adding software-defined perimeter (SDP) components to their VPN protection like internetetsecurite infrastructure in order to reduce potential attack surfaces. The addition of SDP programming gives midsize and large organizations the ability to use a zero-trust model for access to both on-premises and cloud network environments

Cyber Command is a trusted solution to improve overall IT security and risk posture through its capability to monitor internal network traffic and its application of AI and behavioral analytics to uncover security control breaches as well as identify hidden threats within the network. Furthermore, the integrated network and endpoint security can be automated, making it a highly effective yet simplified security solution.

Protect your organization’s network and be prepared for future threats with Sangfor Cyber Command. 

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