What is Threat Hunting 2024? [Complete Guide]

Cyber ​​threat hunting is a proactive internet security method. Threat hunters look for security threats that may be hidden in a company’s network.

Unlike more passive cybersecurity hunting techniques such as automatic threat detection systems, cyberhunting actively searches for previously undetected, unidentified, or unfixed threats that may have evaded your network’s automatic defense mechanisms.

What is Threat Hunting?

The act of actively searching for cyber threats that travel unnoticed in a network is known as threat hunting. Cyber ​​threat hunting scans your environment for malicious actors who have breached your initial endpoint security measures.

While some threats are more complex and advanced, the majority cannot bypass security systems. Attackers can remain undetected in the system and files for weeks as they slowly move through the network to collect more data.

Weeks or even months may pass during this process. It can easily evade detection from security vehicles and personnel without actively hunting.

Why is Threat Hunting Important?

Threat hunting is crucial because sophisticated threats can evade automated cybersecurity. Even with automated security tools and layer 20 and 1, you still have to worry about the remaining 2% of threats. security operations center (SOC) analysts, 80% of them.

Threats in the remaining 20% ​​are more likely to be sophisticated and cause great harm.

An attacker can sneak into a network and remain there for months while silently gathering information, searching for sensitive documents, or obtaining login credentials that will allow him to navigate the environment.

Many businesses lack the advanced detection capabilities needed to prevent advanced persistent threats from remaining on the network once an adversary manages to evade detection and an attack breaches an organization’s defenses.

That’s why threat hunting is a crucial element of any defense strategy.

Types of Threat Hunting

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

1. Structured hunting

An indicator of attack (IoA) and the attacker’s tactics, methods, and procedures (TTPs) serve as the basis for a systematic hunt.

Each hunt is planned and based on the threat actors’ TTPs. Therefore, the predator often recognizes a threat actor before the attacker has a chance to disrupt the environment. 

2. Unstructured hunting

Ad hoc search is initiated based on a trigger, one of many triggers. indicators of consensus (IOC). This trigger is typically used to encourage a predator to search. Pre- and post-detection models.

The hunter can conduct a study to create his plan, as far as the storage of data and previous related crimes allow.

3. Situational or asset-based

A situational hypothesis can be generated by an organization’s internal risk assessment or by investigating trends and vulnerabilities specific to its IT infrastructure.

Attack data collected from the general public, which when reviewed shows the latest TTPs of ongoing cyber threats, is where enterprise-focused leads are generated. The threat hunter can then scan the environment for these specific behaviors.

How Does Threat Hunting Work?

The human aspect of a software solution and its massive data processing capacity are combined to hunt cyber threats effectively.

Human threat hunters rely on data from advanced security monitoring and analysis tools to help them proactively discover and eliminate threats.

Their goal is to use solutions and intelligence/data to find enemies that can evade normal defenses using strategies such as living off the land.

Intuition, ethical and strategic thinking, and creative problem solving are essential components of the cyberhunting process.

Organizations can resolve threats faster and more precisely by using the human capabilities “ Cyber ​​Threat Hunters ” bring to the table rather than relying solely on automated threat detection systems.

Who are Cyber ​​Threat Hunters?

Cyber ​​Threat Hunters enhance automated countermeasures, adding a human touch to business security. They are skilled IT security experts who detect, record, track and eliminate threats before they have a chance to become serious problems.

Although they are sometimes external analysts, ideally they are security analysts with knowledge of the workings of the company’s IT department.

Threat Hunters research security information. They look for hidden malware or attackers, as well as suspicious behavior patterns that a computer may have overlooked or thought had been addressed but were not.

They also help patch a business’s security system to prevent the same type of intrusions from occurring in the future.

Prerequisites for Threat Hunting

For cyber threat hunting to be effective, threat hunters must first establish a baseline of expected or confirmed events to better detect anomalies.

Threat hunters can then use this foundation and the latest threat intelligence to review security data and information collected by threat detection technologies.

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

Armed with data from a variety of sources, including endpoint, network, and cloud data, threat hunters can search your systems for potential threats, shady activity, or triggers that deviate from the norm.

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

Threat hunters seek information during these investigations to determine whether a threat is harmful or benign or whether the network is appropriately protected against emerging cyberthreats.

Threat Hunting Methodologies

Threat hunters begin their investigation by assuming that adversaries are already present in the system, looking for strange behavior that may indicate the presence of hostile activity.

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

All three strategies involve a human-driven effort that combines threat intelligence sources with the latest security technology to proactively defend an organization’s systems and information.

1. Hypothesis-based investigation

A new threat discovered through a large database of crowdsourced attack data often triggers hypothesis-driven research that provides insight into the latest strategies, techniques, and procedures used by attackers (TTP).

When a new TTP is detected, threat hunters will check to see if the attacker’s unique actions are present in their environment.

2. An Investigation Based on Identified Indicators of Attack or Indicators of Compromise

Using tactical threat intelligence, this threat hunting method lists known IOCs and IOAs associated with new threats. Threat hunters can then use these as triggers to find possible sneak attacks or ongoing malicious activity.

3. Advanced analytics and machine learning research

The third method mines vast amounts of data using machine learning and advanced data analysis to look for anomalies that may indicate possible hostile activity.

These anomalies become hunting clues examined by knowledgeable analysts to find hidden dangers.

Threat Hunting with Proxy

Threat hunters can find a wealth of information in web proxy logs. These proxies act as channels between the server or device receiving requests and the device sending the request.

A common dataset created by web proxies can be used to detect unusual or suspicious behavior.

For example, a threat hunter in an organization can analyze compromise information contained in web proxy logs and discover suspicious activity with user agents such as cURL and SharePoint sites.

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

Threat hunters use a variety of protocols and methodologies to examine these logs and find malicious actors in the mix. Web proxy logs often provide the following details:

  • Destination URL (Hostname)
  • Target IP
  • HTTP Status
  • Field Category
  • Protocol
  • Destination
  • User Agent
  • Request Method
  • Device Action
  • Desired File Name
  • Duration

How Does Threat Hunting with Proxy Logs Work?

Now that you understand threat hunting, let’s examine how web proxy logs help these hunters. Because web proxy logs contain several pieces of data, analysts must use a variety of methods to find vulnerabilities and malicious parties interacting with the network.

1. Review blocked traffic:

It is important to find out what causes the user to access a particular website, even if it is prohibited for the organization’s users. This could mean that their computer is infected with a virus.

2. URLs with IP requests:

This filtering can detect logs that bypass DNS security restrictions using hard-coded IP addresses.

3. URLs with file extensions:

This filter makes visible potentially dangerous URLs with file extensions such as .doc,.pdf, and .exe. Attackers often use doc or pdf files with macro functions to plant malware on a machine or network.

4. Known referring URL with uncommon URL:

Identifying phishing links can be made easier by filtering logs that contain popular referring domains and distinctive URLs.

Difference Between Threat Hunting and Threat Intelligence

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

This information is used in threat hunting to conduct a comprehensive, system-wide search for malicious users. Threat hunting, in other words, begins where threat intelligence ends. A prolific threat hunt can also find dangers not yet seen in the wild.

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

Conclusion: What is Threat Hunting 2024? 

The usual incident detection, response and remediation procedure is powerfully complemented by threat hunting. A realistic and practical strategy for businesses is to strengthen themselves against unforeseen threats.

However, monitoring proxy logs also makes it possible to identify users scraping websites. Only those who are trying to complete legitimate tasks will have problems in such a situation.

By using several proxies, especially those that help hide their real IP addresses, users can prevent threat hunters from detecting their activities. Additionally, their logs do not raise a red flag for these predators because there is no single IP address for all their activities.

For this, you will need high-quality proxies that look legitimate for 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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