Three Threat Hunting Techniques You Should Know

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Examining the three most common threat hunting techniques that are used, successfully, today. 

Cybersecurity continues to be a primary concern for businesses of all sizes.

And with good reason, especially when you consider that the use of malware increased by 358% through 2020 and ransomware usage increased by 435% compared to the previous year, according to a study by Deep Instinct.

July, 2020 alone saw a 653% increase in malicious activity compared to the same month in 2019.

Knowing the level of risk that exists today, it is time for organizations to start being proactive versus reactive when it comes to their cybersecurity efforts.

After all, it is not a matter of if – but when – an organization will experience some sort of security event.

It is virtually impossible to eliminate 100% of threats to your organization. But, when you incorporate threat hunting techniques into your cybersecurity arsenal, you are much better positioned to protect your most critical data sets and assets.


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Threat Hunting Techniques

These threat hunting techniques offer several benefits to organizations, including a reduction in breaches and breach attempts, an increase in the speed and accuracy of incident response, and an overall improvement in the managed security of an organization’s environment.

So, what are threat hunting techniques that are commonly used in today’s cyber landscape?

Here are the 3 most common threat hunting techniques that businesses can use to detect and identify all manner of cyber threats including one-time, periodic, and advanced persistent threats.


Indicators of Compromise – Threat Hunting Technique #1

Indicators of Compromise (IOC)-based threat hunting is the most simple and least difficult threat hunting technique available today.

An organization’s ability to detect IOCs is a critical component of a comprehensive and effective threat hunting strategy.

IOCs are pieces of digital forensic data that identify potentially malicious activity on a system or network.

Rather than using automated security tools, IOC-based threat hunting requires an investigator to search through logs for these identifiers, and through leveraging this information, the investigator can detect malware infections, data breaches, and other security threats before they become harmful to your business.

Something to consider with IOC-based threat hunting is that it is reactive in nature, meaning that if an indicator is found, it is very likely that your network has already been compromised. And, as cybercriminals and their attack techniques become more sophisticated, IOCs can be more difficult to identify.

Overall, IOCs provide valuable information that can be used to proactively protect your business from cyber threats and prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.


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Tactics, Techniques & Procedures – Threat Hunting Technique #2

Threat hunting tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) is a technique of threat hunting that is centered around the knowledge of and activity patterns associated with specific threat actors.

The analysis of TTPs helps security teams contextualize threats and understand how threat actors perform attacks, providing invaluable threat intelligence that aids in a business’s security operations and significantly improves its security posture.

With TTP-based threat hunting, the hunting team can more efficiently identify possible sources of the attack and escalate the threat by correlating it to the activity of known actors, allowing for more efficient detection and response.

TTP-based hunts typically require a tier 2 threat hunter or above to think like an attacker and look for scenario-based attack evidence throughout an organization’s network.

The approach to hunting for TTP is systematic and thorough and as a standard practice should follow MITRE ATT&CK® guidelines.


threat hunting techniques

Digital Forensics & Incident Response – Threat Hunting Technique #3

Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR)-based threat hunting is perhaps the most advanced of the cyber threat hunting techniques. It focuses on the identification, investigation and remediation of cyberattacks within a corporate environment. 

DFIR occurs when there are signs of a breach or compromise. From there, an analyst will search through the security data of the potentially infected device with a fine-toothed comb to investigate the breach. This could include reviewing logs to identify suspicious activity, analyzing file systems for signs of compromise, reviewing network activity such as email and web browsing and more.

Findings from these types of analyses can help strengthen an organization’s preventative security measures as well as improve response times, which in turn reduces the organization’s overall risk.

With the ongoing shift to cloud environments and remote workforces – and considering the increasing amount of cyber attacks – it is more imperative than ever that organizations adequately protect themselves, and having a solid DFIR strategy is a key element in that effort.


Start Proactively Protecting Your Business with our Threat Hunting Techniques

Organizations often struggle to develop or execute an effective cybersecurity plan on their own due to several factors, whether it be a lack of in-house resources, budget constraints, or other reasons.

Thus, cybersecurity outsourcing and cybersecurity consulting services is oftentimes the best, most cost-effective option, especially for SMBs or enterprise organizations without a dedicated IT security team.

At Buchanan, we use the three cyber threat hunting strategies outlined above to identify attackers and advanced threats in a client’s environment. And, with our 24/7 security operations center, our team will be able to proactively detect threats and provide quick and efficient incident responses to keep your organization secure.

If you are interested in learning more about our cyber threat hunting services, contact us today.

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