The average data breach takes 287 days to detect and contain, according to research by Blumira and IBM. Given the critical data loss that can occur in that timeframe, it’s vital that businesses go on the cybersecurity offensive with threat hunting strategies.
In this guide to threat hunting tools, we’ll go over the threat hunting definition, answering, “What is threat hunting in cybersecurity?” and “How does it work?” We’ll also review threat hunting methodologies and tools to improve your organization’s threat hunting capabilities.
What Is Cyber Threat Hunting?
Cybersecurity strategies can either be reactive or proactive. Reactive defense occurs in response to a threat that’s underway, while proactive offense seeks out threats before they materialize.
Since the best defense is a good offense, proactive threat detection is the most effective way to keep your business systems secure. One of the keys to proactively defending your IT networks is through cybersecurity threat hunting.
As the name suggests, threat hunting is the process of actively seeking out threats that lurk within a network. It’s one element of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) that make up a cybersecurity strategy.
Cybersecurity experts use threat hunting tools to investigate the deeper layers of a cyber environment. Using these tools, experts can find threat actors that surreptitiously gain access past frontline security defenses.
Once a malicious actor gains access, it can lie undetected for months secretly collecting data. Without advanced cybersecurity practices, businesses remain vulnerable to these types of advanced persistent threats. Yet, the threat hunting process can solve this challenge in three steps:
- A trigger or indicator of compromise (IOC) directs cyber threat hunters to potential threats within a network area.
- The threat hunter uses tools to investigate malicious activity.
- The threat hunter alerts security teams who resolve the threat appropriately.
A Great Example of Doing Cyber Security Right
This law firm used threat hunting and Redpoint’s expertise to rethink its cyber security apparatus
Cybersecurity Threat Hunting Tools and Techniques
Managed threat hunting services use various tools and techniques to identify triggers, investigate malicious activity, and resolve threats. Prior to today’s advanced tools, cybersecurity teams manually combed through security data and built threat assumptions based on their expert knowledge of the network.
Today, threat hunting experts use tools that operate on advanced security technology like machine learning, automation, and user behavior analytics (UBA).
There are three broad types of threat hunting techniques and tools used in cybersecurity today—MDR, SIEM, and security analytics. Below we review each of these threat hunting methodologies and provide examples of threat hunting platforms for each.
1. MDR Threat Hunting
Managed detection and response (MDR) is a threat intelligence approach that proactively identifies and resolves advanced types of threats.
As an added layer of protection, MDR can hunt threats designed to elude Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) technology and human expertise. This threat hunting methodology is useful for reducing threat dwell time and executing swift and targeted attack responses.
Many threat hunting platforms include some level of MDR capabilities. Examples of MDR threat hunting software are:
- Crowdstrike Falcon Complete provides 24/7 MDR with attack prevention, identification, and investigation features, including an Intrusion Detection System (IDS).
- Cynet offers the CyOps 24/7 MDR Team that covers threat hunting, investigation, response, and reporting.
- Kaspersky uses AI-driven protection to detect multi-layer threats and targeted network attacks.
- Rapid7 uses advanced detection methods to identify and validate threats in real time while providing thorough remediation reports.
- Sophos MTR uses a combination of machine learning and security analysis to detect, investigate, and study threats while also eradicating them.
Not only do MDR threat hunting tools increase a cybersecurity team’s risk awareness levels, but they also help organizations overcome limitations that prevent them from being able to fully investigate and respond to attacks.
MDR provides round-the-clock monitoring and real-time alerts. Businesses that currently employ a cybersecurity team but don’t have the resources to respond to all triggers can use threat hunting MDR tools as a support solution in helping fully investigate and remediate threats.
To implement MDR threat hunting in-house, businesses must allocate staff to 24/7 monitoring. Constant coverage is costly to maintain, which is why many small-to-medium sized businesses outsource MDR to a provider with access to cutting-edge tools and technology.
Cybersecurity digital transformation has created a very available method of surveillance tracking. Our cybersecurity and privacy attorney, Violet Sullivan, talks to @CSOonline about the risks of data over-collection.https://t.co/vYOQpkvVuk #cybersecurity #datacollection #CISO
— Redpoint Cybersecurity (@RedpointCyber) August 10, 2022
2. SIEM Threat Hunting
Security information and event management (SIEM) is a real-time threat hunting framework to monitor and analyze events and track and log security data. This threat hunting technique uses a combination of different tools and tactics that work cohesively to provide network security.
SIEM specifically looks at unusual user behavior and irregularities that provide essential insight for further investigation. As every network user leaves behind a trail of data that gets logged, SIEM capitalizes on this logged data to uncover suspicious activity.
As with MDR tools, there are many cyber hunting solutions that cover both MDR and SIEM and other tactics. Some of the threat hunting platforms that include SIEM are:
- Exabeam Fusion allows security teams to collect and analyze log data and use it to detect data breaches.
- IBM Security QRadar helps cyber hunting teams detect, investigate, and analyze threats using behavior analytics and AI.
- LogPoint detects anomalies in user behavior as a basis for threat hunting by recording the activity of every user using machine learning.
- Netsurion EventTracker is a log monitoring system that tracks behavior across the entire enterprise ecosystem, providing real-time potential threat alerts.
- SolarWinds collects and centralizes behavior data and issues automated threat detection and response protocols.
Advanced SIEM threat hunting works by using machine learning to become familiar with any given user’s typical behavior. When users stray from predicted patterns of behavior, the system automatically issues an investigative response to determine whether there is a legitimate threat.
Integrating intelligent analysis into your business’s cybersecurity plan improves your company’s level in the threat hunting maturity model. At the highest levels of maturity, organizations automatically collect and analyze security data for threat hunting purposes.
Ask your SIEM threat hunting platform vendor how their tool’s features help your business improve your threat hunting maturity level.
3. Security Analytics
One step beyond SIEM is security analytics techniques, which provide your business with even deeper insights into your security data. Security analytics is a comprehensive approach to cyber threat hunting that incorporates multiple different techniques.
Some of the techniques involved in security analytics for threat hunting include:
- Big data harvesting
- Integrated machine learning and AI
- Advanced algorithms
Because of the volume of data and the analytics capabilities involved, security analytics tactics are able to accelerate the identification and remediation of threats to a greater degree than any type of threat hunting tool alone.
Additionally, security analytics provide multi-level visibility into threats across the entire organization. Machine learning capabilities also improve a company’s cyber resilience by developing tailored algorithms that prevent future threats.
Top security analytics software platforms include:
- Datadog is a cloud-based data collection and monitoring platform that provides automated threat detection with search and filter functions.
- LogRhythm uses machine learning to detect threats and provides scenario-based analytics.
- Logz.io is an automated threat detection platform that allows you to customize and schedule security analytics reports.
- Splunk Enterprises uses machine learning and behavior analytics to detect threats and provides automated responses based on types of threats.
- Sumo Logic monitors data logs and provides security analytics that IT analysts can use to respond to threats and resolve issues.
Many of the threat hunting tools previously mentioned, such as Solar Winds and IBM, have developed separate security analytics platforms that IT analysts can use to develop their own data intelligence strategies.
Credit: Adi Goldstein
Choose Redpoint Cybersecurity for Threat Hunting Managed Services
Businesses today require a robust cybersecurity strategy that’s proactively targeted toward threat hunting.
Though there are many tools that help businesses perform threat hunting in-house, cyber hunting is a round-the-clock job that requires a dedicated team of elite cybersecurity experts.
For leading threat hunting cyber security services, choose Redpoint Cybersecurity. Top organizations in U.S. intelligence and defense as well as healthcare and financial services rely on Redpoint Cybersecurity for threat detection and prevention.
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