Building an online presence and managing your company’s digital assets is quite an investment. A feature-rich, custom website alone can cost up to $30,000. Likewise, digital asset management software, or DAM, costs at least $51,000 per year. Digitizing your operations provides a multitude of benefits. It optimizes your supply chain, ensures customer satisfaction, and streamlines your shipping process. It is worth every penny but it isn’t cheap. 

With that said, pulling out all the stops to protect your digital investments should be a non-negotiable part of your operation. Cybersecurity is no longer optional. One of the best ways to safeguard your company is through proactive threat hunting. In this article, we would explore proactive threat hunting – the definition, the benefits, and a few of the best practices. 

What is Proactive Threat Hunting?

At its core, proactive threat hunting is the process of hunting security breaches after an attack happens. This practice tries to uncover hackers that have gained access to your network after bypassing initial security defenses. Following an attack, it surveys your digital asset ecosystem and uncovers details about the breach. This information is handy to prevent future attacks on your network. 

Proactive threat hunting is an important part of a cybersecurity ecosystem considering how hackers can have access to a network for months before instigating an attack. Identifying a foreign actor within your digital is key to preventing severe and possible irreversible problems within your network. 

How Does Proactive Threat Hunting Work?

There are three common methodologies in threat hunting: 

  • Hypothesis-Driven Investigations

The hypothesis-driven method makes use of the pool of information to locate possible attackers within a company’s digital environment. Through a pool of crowdsourced data available online, it is possible to identify the tactics, techniques, and procedures attackers use to infiltrate an ecosystem. In turn, with this info in tow, threat hunters scan through their own environments and locate malicious entities.

  • Locating IoCs 

IoCs, or Indicators of Compromise, are pieces of information within a network that can serve as evidence of a possible attack. In proactive threat hunting, IoCs are utilized as triggers to further investigate an entry point. If an IoC is located, threat hunters scan through that part of the network to locate any possible foreign actors.

  • AI Driven Investigations

The third method leverages advances in AI technology to identify threats within a network before an attack happens. Through data and machine learning, a threat hunter is able to sift through the massive amount of information to identify irregularities that can point to possible threats. 

What are the Common Steps in Threat Hunting? 

Depending on the proactive threat hunting software you opt for, the process can come in many forms. However, for the most part, there are three steps that most options imbibe:

  • Tapping the Trigger

Proactive threat hunting entails identifying triggers that can point to possible entry. The activation of the trigger points to threat hunters to the specific location of the irregularity, The source of the triggers can vary. Some operations use IoC as triggers to identify hackers within a system. There are also a few security measures that use the information sources from the hypothesis-driven investigation to identify threats.

  • Investigating

During the investigation phase of the threat hunting process, the cybersecurity team uses various software to dig deeper into the possible threat. Software like EDRs, or Endpoint Detection and Response, sheds a light on the extent of the infiltration.

  • Creating a Stronger Fortification

The results of the investigation provide a full analysis of the weaknesses of a network following an attack. With this information in tow, the next step in fully utilizing the strengths of a proactive cyber threat hunting protocol is developing stronger security measures to prevent the same attacks from happening again. Regardless if the effects of an attack have been mitigated, forensic analysis is crucial in safeguarding a network from similar threats. 

What are the Benefits of Proactive Threat Hunting?

Threat hunting provides real benefits to most operations regardless of the industry. Below are a few of the advantages that you can reap should you include threat hunting into your cybersecurity process:

  • Discover Points of Vulnerability 

As discussed earlier, EDRs are useful as a reactive security measure. While there are EDRs that offer antivirus add-ons, the main purpose of this security option is to provide a full- analysis of an attack as well as determining the weaknesses within a network.  This security tool allows users to uncover vulnerable areas that were targeted during an attack and entry-points that hackers used to gain access to sensitive information. Having this data in two can help in developing a stronger protective foothold for weak points. Moreover, it provides a gauge as to the total damage an attack has imposed on a network.

  • Improve Speed of Response

In cybersecurity, the quicker a threat is identified, the less effect it would have on the health of a network. Automated threat hunting allows companies to improve their speed of response by providing them with information sourced from a previous attack.

  • Reduce Damage and Overall Risks

Through a proactive approach, foreign and malicious actors that try to mimic a previous attack wouldn’t be able to impose the same extent of the damage. Since the network has already assessed a previous threat, the information from the investigation helps minimize the effects of subsequent attacks.

Proactive Threat Hunting Best Practices

Proactive threat hunting can be overwhelming at the onset. There are, however, best practices that can make the transition less of a hassle:

  • Learn Your Network

Proactive threat hunting works best if you know your network like the back of your hand. Being familiar with the “norm” makes it easier to identify irregularities within your ecosystem. Establishing a baseline and making this baseline known to your team is an effective first step in easing into proactive threat hunting.

  • Study Common Attacks

The best way to identify possible attacks is to think like an attacker. EDRs enable companies to see a network from the perspective of a malicious actor. By looking at your network like a malicious threat, you are able to identify weak points that can be a point of entry for these individuals.

  • Don’t Forget the Basics 

Proactive threat hunting is a great complement to an already established cybersecurity framework. That said, it is only a part of an overall security process. Opting to endeavor on a proactive cyber threat hunting protocol doesn’t mean forgoing traditional security measures like firewalls and antivirus software. It is important to have traditional security measures in place before exploring other options like proactive threat hunting. 

As they say, prevention is better than cure. This is doubly so with cybersecurity. Proactive threat hunting safeguards your operation at a higher level than traditional security measures. It is a great complement to your cybersecurity process. SecureBrain’s Endpoint Security Cyberattack Health Check has threat hunting capabilities that are efficient and data-oriented. Reach out to us today to learn more about what we have to offer.