Introduction to Threat Hunting
The process of abnormal activity on the server which may be the indications of compromise, intrusion or exfiltration of data is called threat hunting. The simple fact that no system is a hundred percent protected is the central pillar of it. An organization may employ several security layers for protecting itself from threats with the best and the most current technology, but there is always a chance of advanced threats. The approach most companies have adopted is that a security solution protects against most attacks after it is deployed but if a new type of attack occurs, even the most efficient artificial intelligence-based security solutions will have a hard time analyzing the new threat. It is necessary to understand all the elements and the program in order to create a threat hunting process.
How to Create a Threat Hunting Process?
The steps involved in creating a threat hunting process are:
Step #1: Collection and processing of data
Quality data is the basic element without which the threat of hunting is not possible. Planning must be done ahead and defined to determine what kind of data must be collected and where the collected data must be processed and centralized.
Step #2: Establishing a hypothesis
To know the reason for hunting is the most important point and the reason will be based on the business which in turn is based on a company-oriented context. Meaningful, simple and high-level questions are the starting point for the strategy of the company’s cybersecurity. This allows the real situations to be focused on by the threat hunter which results in an efficient threat hunting program.
Step #3: Hunt
In threat hunting, no matter how many times the data is crunched, and the results are interpreted for long hours, the hypothesis may not be confirmed. The threat hunter must have great technical expertise in the area of information security, forensic science, and analysis of intelligence. The threat hunter must also have a lot of patience.
Step #4: Identification of threats
At some point, the hypothesis will be considered as valid and the identification of threats will happen. Once the threat is identified, it is important to understand the effect of threat on the company. Is it a security incident that is ongoing and is critical? Is it a cyberattack that is just beginning? Is it a false alarm by any chance? Before laying out the best course of action, all these questions must be answered by the threat hunter.
Step #5: Response
The next step is to create a response once the threat is confirmed and the extent of the consequences of the threat is known. The current attack must be stopped, the eventual malware files must be removed, the altered or deleted files must be restored to their original state. But it is also important to understand the cause of the threat in order to improve security and to prevent attacks of a similar manner in the future. All necessary steps must be taken to ensure that attacks in a similar manner are not likely to happen again.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Threat Hunting
There are several advantages and disadvantages to threat hunting. They are:
The advantages of threat hunting are:
- Uncover the security incidents proactively: Threat hunting proactively identifies hidden threats in the background who have breached the security and found a way into the organization’s network. The current attackers can be stopped using it.
- Improving the threat response speed: As quicker the identification of the active threats and communication about the active threats to the incident responder which has knowledge and experience to respond to the threat quickly and neutralize before any damage is caused to the network and data, the better the outcome.
- Reduction of investigation time: Threat hunting reduces the investigating time by providing insights of the incident like understanding the scope of the incident, determining the causes of the incident, predicting the impact of the incident, etc. to the security team.
- Help the analysts in cybersecurity to understand the company: Threat hunting not only helps to identify the possible threats or the new threats to the organization but also helps the cybersecurity professionals to understand the security of the organization and its expected defense for the various types of attacks.
- Provides improved defense system to achieve mitigation of threats: Threat hunting detects the hidden threats, unknown threats, and emerging threats beforehand and helps the cybersecurity teams to provide security and defense to their environments.
- Threat hunting forces to have specialized and skillful professionals in the company: If the company is implementing threat hunting, the company must look for professionals skilled in the area of IR, forensics, cybersecurity, network engineering, security analytics, network protocols, malware management, reverse engineering, etc.
- Bringing the security operation centers (SOC) to the future: A threat hunting platform is efficient if the valuable tools like security information and event management (SIEM) software products, intrusion detection systems, etc. are included. These tools are important for security operation centers (SOC) in the future.
- The damage and overall risk to the organization are reduced: Threat hunting reduced the damage and overall risk to the organization.
The disadvantages of threat hunting are:
- The methodologies for threat hunting are less: The organizations are finding it difficult to define threat hunting programs because it is a domain of highly skilled security practitioners and there are no guidelines and methodologies for proper threat hunting.
- There is no staff reserved specifically for threat hunting: The challenge the organizations are facing is to find the hunters. As per the survey, only thirty-one percent of the staff are dedicated to hunting but with multiple responsibilities and hence their focus on hunting is not effective.
- There are no new infrastructures used, only existing ones are used: The threat hunters use existing infrastructure like log files, SIEM analytics, intrusion detection systems, etc. but they all have rule-based capabilities and the detection is only reactive.
Threat hunting adds significant value to the strategy of cybersecurity. The simple fact that no system is a hundred percent protected is the central pillar of threat hunting and the threat hunter can identify and prevent the attacks proactively. The creation of this program takes some effort as explained in the tutorial.
This is a guide to Threat Hunting. Here we discuss steps to create a threat hunting process along with several advantages and disadvantages. You may also look at the following articles to learn more-