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A Closer Look at Threat Hunting: Identifying Adversaries

It may be hard to believe, but there is a very high likelihood that any network may already have hidden threats and breaches. There is no such thing as an unbreachable cybersecurity solution. Hackers are reaching a point where no security system can adapt to the rate and complexity of their attacks. By the time you learn of a new threat, they may have already penetrated your defenses. As a result of the increasing threat level, many organizations are becoming proactive about threat hunting.

What is threat hunting?

There are three checkboxes to consider before seeing an adversary as a threat: opportunity, intent, and capability to cause harm. Threat hunting focuses mainly on identifying perpetrators who have made it into the organization’s systems and networks and who check the three boxes mentioned earlier. Threat hunting is a formal process that is not the same as eliminating vulnerabilities or preventing future breaches. Instead, it is its own dedicated attempt to identify adversaries who have breached the defenses and established a malicious presence within the network.

Why is threat hunting important?

Although perpetrators usually automate their attacks, there is still a human element behind their threats. These hackers are continually improving their skills, and they have the intelligence to use them for their own benefit. Many perpetrators belong to well-funded groups sponsored by criminal organizations or even foreign governments. This means their attacks can be long-term, planned out, and very harmful. Some of the more advanced threats can remain hidden for months or even years before triggering an alert. If given that much time, the hacker has most likely already done his damage. Effective threat hunting calls for companies to identify threats early on in an effort to minimize the total damage done.

Who should be doing the threat hunting?

Designating the right talent for the job is important. Given the current talent gap the industry is facing, it may be difficult to find experienced threat hunters. As a result, it may be necessary to have existing staff members add threat hunting into their own agendas. For example, an analyst or incident responder may have to hunt threats in their downtime. However, when designating this responsibility to someone, it is important to choose people with the right characteristics. Threat hunters should be innovative analysts who are very familiar with the threat landscape as well as the organization as a whole. Threat hunters also need to be skeptical, curious, and creative to ensure they are asking questions, let alone the right ones. Your potential threat hunter also needs to have sufficient skills with SIEM, malware analysis, sandboxes, etc.

Why is automation important?

Perpetrators are embracing automated attacks in very advanced strategies. This gives them the ability to be persistent and consistent with their goals. They can jump from one network to another with ease and the ability to process more data in less time. If companies continue to try and avoid these threats manually, they will be at a serious disadvantage.

Since it is extremely difficult and cost inefficient to find skilled threat hunters, automation can help run basic steps to save time and boost efficiency. Senior analysts can then build automated playbooks.

A well-designed threat hunting program lead by automation tools can help significantly reduce the risk of an attack. In today’s climate, it’s not about if you are attacked but rather when you are attacked – will you be ready?

Automate your threat hunting with Cybersponse

Cybersponse provides integrated threat intelligence capabilities along with an easy-to-use incident management platform. With our technologies, you will be able to integrate threat feeds and automate threat hunting operations. Such functions save time and reduce the risk of exposure significantly. Schedule your demo today to learn more about how Cybersponse can protect your organization.