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DevOps and Security Glossary Terms

Threat Hunting

Introduction: Threat Hunting

Yes, organizations and IT teams need robust, state-of-the-art defense mechanisms like firewalls, antivirus software, SIEM solutions, and all of the protective and security software that you have at your disposal. Preventive threat hunting tools and solutions are essential for minimizing and blocking out potential threats.

But sometimes, your greatest defense is your offense, and this where threat hunting comes in.

What is threat hunting?

Threat hunting, aka cyber threat hunting or proactive threat hunting, is the act of seeking out unknown threats to a network. Threat hunting involves actively searching through endpoints, networks, systems, applications, sources, and datasets in order to hunt or identify malicious or suspicious activity.

While things like threat detection or automated triggers are useful in finding potentially harmful material in your networks, they’re still somewhat passive approaches that should be working alongside a cyber threat hunting strategy.

Part of the key to this is not getting complacent and enabling your security team to remain vigilant and seek out a threat as opposed to sitting around, waiting for something to happen.

How does threat hunting work?

So now that we know what cyber threat hunting is, how does it work?

Threat hunters dig deep into the backends of websites to find anomalies and issues that may lead to an attack on the network. It’s a manual process that involves IT security analysts thoroughly scrutinizing the data in their networks. Threat hunters utilize several tools, including automation, machine-learning and behavioral analytics solutions in order to identify potential threats.

Cyber threat hunters usually leverage log data, permission, and comparative approaches to help them identify abnormalities. Baselining, for example, helps threat hunters understand how their networks would look under normal conditions. From there, they can begin to identify abnormalities in the network and single out malicious behavior.

[Read more: Threat Intelligence]

Threat hunting steps

What strategy do cyber threat hunters take and how do they engage in the process of threat hunting?

Threat hunting, like most tried and true processes, follows a series of steps that ensure a thorough and effective hunt. These steps include:

  1. Starting with a hypothesis: All threat hunters begin by making a hypothesis about where or what kind of threats might be compromising the system. AI applications, baselining, and other security-related solutions lead threat hunters to their starting points.

  2. Data collection: With the help of SIEM solutions, threat hunters can utilize data already at the disposal of the organization to verify their assumptions.

  3. Investigation: Once threat hunters have come up with a hypothesis and examined their data, they can begin investigating based on Indicators of Compromise or Indicators of Attack, which are basically signs or evidence of an attack. These include malware infection, suspicious outbound traffic, and large outbound data transfers, among others.

Resolution: With the help of automation, advanced analytics, and machine-learning, threat hunters can submit data into their intelligent solutions that will subsequently identify, resolve, and remove or mitigate threats. This looks like anything from removing malware or other malicious material to restoring data or deleted files.

When to engage in threat hunting?

Ideally, threat hunting is happening all the time. The whole idea behind threat hunting is proactive security, meaning IT teams can’t get complacent and rely on their protective and passive solutions to keep their networks safe.

What this might look like is monthly, bi-weekly, and weekly checks and scans through log data and other relevant network features. Only by examining large pools of crowdsourced data and log data on a regular basis can threat hunters gain insight into attack tactics and respond accordingly with the steps listed above.

Types of threat hunting tools

There are several tools out there that provide IT teams with the capability and power to engage in competent threat hunting. Some of these tools provide IT teams with the space to reallocate time to threat hunting, while others provide automation functionalities that assist threat hunters get through their steps more efficiently and quickly.

  • Xori Automated Disassembly: Xori is a great solution that automates the tedious process of disassembling malware, including the swaths of sample variants from the same family of malware.

  • Dejavu Deception Framework: Dejavu is a clever solution to a tricky problem. Dejavu creates a number of fake workstations and servers that lure in rogue bots or unwanted bugs and identify where they came from to prevent future breaches.

  • Dradis Framework: Dradis is like Github for reporting threats. It’s a collaborative solution that basically makes it easier to customize, format, and create reports on threats.

  • Sumo Logic: Sumo Logic does a number of things to help optimize your threat hunting strategy. Improved analyst productivity, in conjunction with automated SOC analyst workflows, helps IT teams to perform all the routine tasks that go into threat hunting. Additionally, focused and guided workflows take resources away from managing SIEM systems and put that energy on proactive measures, like cyber threat hunting.

Alert reduction, event correlation, anomaly detection, and deep analytic features are all optimized through Sumo Logic’s advanced, intelligent features that make threat hunting more effective, efficient, and seamless for IT teams.

Embrace the power of a truly proactive threat-hunting strategy with Sumo Logic today.

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