What Is Threat Hunting 2024? [Complete Guide]

Cyber threat hunting is a proactive method of internet security in which threat hunters look for security hazards that may be hidden within a company’s network.

Cyber hunting actively looks out for previously undetected, unidentified, or unremediated threats that might have eluded your network’s automated defensive mechanisms, in contrast to more passive cyber security hunting techniques like automated threat detection systems.

What Is Threat Hunting

What Is Threat Hunting?

The act of actively looking for cyber threats that are skulking undetected on a network is known as threat hunting. Cyber threat hunting scours your environment for malicious actors who have gotten past your initial endpoint security measures.

Some dangers are more sophisticated and advanced, while the majority cannot get past security systems. For weeks, attackers can remain undetected in the system and files while slowly advancing via the network to gather more data.

Weeks or even months may pass during this procedure. It can readily evade detection from security tools and personnel without actively hunting.

Threat Hunting

Why Is Threat Hunting Important?

Because sophisticated threats can evade automated cybersecurity, threat hunting is crucial.

You still need to be concerned about the remaining 20% of threats even if automated security tools and tier 1 and 2 security operations center (SOC) analysts should be able to handle about 80% of them.

Threats in the remaining 20% are more likely to be complex and capable of doing major harm.

An attacker can enter a network covertly and remain there for months as they silently gather information, search for sensitive documents, or get login credentials that will allow them to roam around the environment.

Many businesses lack the sophisticated detection skills required to prevent advanced persistent threats from lingering in the network once an adversary has been successful in escaping detection and an assault has breached an organization’s defenses.

Threat hunting is therefore a crucial element of any defense strategy.

Types of Threat Hunting

IBM’s official website has explained the three main types of threat hunting quite appropriately. According to their blog, threat hunting is of the following types:

1. Structured hunting

An indication of attack (IoA) and the attacker’s tactics, methods, and procedures (TTPs) serves as the foundation of a systematic hunt.

Every hunt is planned out and based on the TTPs of the threat actors. Because of this, the hunter frequently recognizes a threat actor before the attacker has a chance to disrupt the environment. 

2. Unstructured hunting

An ad hoc hunt is initiated based on a trigger, one of many indicators of compromise (IoC). This trigger is typically used to urge a hunter to look for pre and post-detection patterns.

To the extent that data retention and previously connected offenses permit, the hunter may conduct a study to establish their plan.

3. Situational or entity driven

A situational hypothesis may be produced by an organization’s internal risk assessment or by an investigation of trends and weaknesses unique to its IT infrastructure.

Attack data gathered from the general public, which, when reviewed, shows the most recent TTPs of ongoing cyber threats, is where entity-oriented leads are created. The threat hunter can then scan the surroundings for these specific behaviors.

How Does Threat Hunting Work?

The human aspect and the massive data processing capability of a software solution are combined to effectively hunt down cyber threats.

Human threat hunters rely on data from sophisticated security monitoring and analytics tools to assist them in proactively discovering and eliminating threats.

Their goal is to employ solutions and intelligence/data to find adversaries that may elude normal defenses by using strategies like living off the land.

Intuition, ethical and strategic thinking, and creative problem-solving are all essential components of the cyber hunting process.

Organizations are able to resolve threats faster and more precisely by utilizing these human traits that “Cyber Threat Hunters” bring to the table as opposed to merely relying on automated threat detection systems.

Cyber Threat Hunters

Who Are Cyber Threat Hunters?

Cyber Threat Hunters add a human touch to business security, enhancing automated measures. They are skilled IT security professionals that identify, record, keep an eye on, and eradicate threats before they have a chance to become serious problems.

Though occasionally they are external analysts, they are ideally security analysts who are knowledgeable about the workings of the company’s IT department.

Threat Hunters scour security information. They look for suspicious behavior patterns that a computer may have missed or thought were handled but aren’t, as well as hidden malware or attackers.

They also aid in patching a business’s security system to prevent future occurrences of the same kind of intrusions.

What Is Threat Hunting

Prerequisites For Threat Hunting

Threat hunters must first build a baseline of anticipated or approved occurrences in order to better spot anomalies for cyber threat hunting to be effective.

Threat hunters can then go through security data and information gathered by threat detection technologies using this baseline and the most recent threat intelligence.

These technologies may include managed detection and response (MDR), security analytics tools, or security information and event management (SIEM) solutions.

Threat hunters can search your systems for potential dangers, shady activity, or triggers that depart from the norm after they are armed with data from a variety of sources, including endpoint, network, and cloud data.

Threat hunters can create hypotheses and conduct extensive network investigations if a threat is found or if known threat intelligence points to new possible threats.

Threat hunters look for information during these investigations to determine whether a threat is harmful or benign or whether the network is appropriately protected from emerging cyber threats.

Threat Hunting Methodologies

Threat hunters start their investigations assuming that adversaries are already present in the system and look for odd behavior that can point to the presence of hostile activities.

This beginning of an investigation often falls into one of three categories in proactive threat hunting.

For the purpose of proactively defending an organization’s systems and information, all three strategies involve a human-powered effort that combines threat intelligence resources with cutting-edge security technology.

1. Hypothesis-driven investigation

A new danger that has been discovered through a vast database of crowdsourced attack data frequently sparks hypothesis-driven investigations, providing information on the most recent strategies, techniques, and procedures used by attackers (TTP).

Threat hunters will then check to see if the attacker’s unique actions are present in their own environment once a new TTP has been detected.

2. An investigation based on identified Indicators of Attack or Indicators of Compromise

Using tactical threat intelligence, this method of threat hunting lists known IOCs and IOAs connected to fresh threats. Threat hunters can then utilize these as triggers to find prospective covert attacks or ongoing harmful activities.

3. Advanced analytics and machine learning investigations

The third method mines through a vast quantity of data using machine learning and advanced data analysis to look for anomalies that might point to possible hostile activities.

These anomalies become hunting leads that are examined by knowledgeable analysts to find covert dangers.

Threat Hunting With Proxies

Threat hunters might find a wealth of information in web proxy records. These proxies function as conduits between the server or device that receives requests and the device that sends the request.

A common set of data generated by web proxies can be utilized to spot unusual or suspicious behavior.

For instance, a threat hunter at an organization might analyze the danger information included in the web proxy logs and discover suspicious activity with user agents like cURL and SharePoint sites.

They draw attention to the problem and discover that the requests are legitimate and originate from the DevOps teams.

To examine these logs and find any malicious individuals among the mix, threat hunters employ a variety of protocols and methodologies. Web proxy logs frequently offer the following details:

  • Destination URL (Hostname)
  • Destination IP
  • HTTP Status
  • Domain Category
  • Protocol
  • Destination Port
  • User Agent
  • Request Method
  • Device Action
  • Requested File Name
  • Duration

**And more!

How Does Threat Hunting With Proxy Logs Work?

Let’s study how web proxy logs assist these hunters now that you understand threat hunting. Analysts must employ a variety of ways to find vulnerabilities and malicious parties engaging with the network because web proxy logs contain several data pieces.

1. Reviewing blocked traffic:

It’s important to find out what led the user to access a particular website even though it may have been prohibited for the organization’s users. It can mean that their computer has been infected.

2. URLs with IP requests:

This filtration can spot logs that work around DNS security restrictions by using hardcoded IP addresses.

3. URLs with file extensions:

This filter makes potentially dangerous URLs with file extensions like.doc,.pdf, and .exe visible. Attackers frequently utilize doc or pdf files with macro functionality to implant malware onto a machine or network.

4. Known referrer URL with uncommon URL:

Identifying phishing links may be made easier by filtering out logs containing popular referral domains and distinctive URLs.

Difference Between Threat Hunting And Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is a collection of data regarding attempted or successful intrusions that are typically gathered and examined by automated security systems using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

This information is used in threat hunting to conduct a thorough, system-wide search for malicious users.

Threat hunting, in other words, starts where threat intelligence ends. A productive threat hunt can also find dangers that haven’t yet been seen in the wild.

Threat indicators are sometimes used as a lead or hypothesis in threat hunting. Virtual fingerprints left by malware or an attacker, an odd IP address, phishing emails, or other anomalous network traffic are all examples of threat indicators.

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Conclusion: What Is Threat Hunting 2024? 

The usual procedure of incident detection, reaction, and remediation is strongly complemented by threat hunting. A realistic and practical strategy for businesses is to fortify themselves against unforeseen threats.

Nevertheless, monitoring proxy logs also makes it possible to identify users who might be scraping websites. Those who are merely attempting to complete legitimate tasks run into problems in such a situation.

By employing several proxies, particularly those that assist to conceal their true IP address, users can avoid threat hunters from spotting their activities.

Also, their logs don’t raise a red flag for these hunters because there isn’t a single IP address for all of their activities.

For this, you’ll need high-quality proxies that appear legitimate to threat-hunting software. To answer your question, threat-hunting software is basically a program that performs threat-hunting protocols and analysis.

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Kashish Babber
This author is verified on BloggersIdeas.com

Kashish is a B.Com graduate, who is currently follower her passion to learn and write about SEO and blogging. With every new Google algorithm update she dives in the details. She's always eager to learn and loves to explore every twist and turn of Google's algorithm updates, getting into the nitty-gritty to understand how they work. Her enthusiasm for these topics' can be seen through in her writing, making her insights both informative and engaging for anyone interested in the ever-evolving landscape of search engine optimization and the art of blogging.

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