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Understanding Threat Intelligence Vs Threat Hunting

by M Asim

While threat intelligence vs. threat hunting are distinct concepts, it’s important to understand their interplay. Threat hunting is an approach to security incidents that employs regular monitoring and behavior-pattern searches to detect vulnerabilities missed by automated systems. Effective threat hunting requires possessing the appropriate set of skills, tools and creative techniques – such as OSINT data collection methods or frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK – as well as possessing knowledge of cybersecurity best practices.

Structured Intelligence

Automated security tools and tier 1-2 SOC analysts are capable of managing approximately 80% of threats; however, the remaining 20% can often prove more complex and pose more severe damage. Furthermore, some threats can hide for as much as 280 days without detection, making threat hunting a key component of any organization’s cybersecurity plan.

Security teams that want to hunt effectively must first have full visibility across their networks – including endpoints and servers – which allows them to monitor log data for signs of malware, such as unapproved traffic or unusual behavior. They should also possess the right resources – which might include Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software, which helps identify, correlate, and analyze events from multiple sources within one platform.

Hunters must create and validate a baseline of normal activity once they gain visibility, then use this as a reference point in further investigations. They should use threat intelligence as part of their investigations in order to gain greater insight into potential threats; for instance, this might mean using reports about malware that has hit similar organizations or using user and entity behavioral analytics (UEBA) systems to detect anomalies and flag potential threats.

Establishing a hypothesis is another essential step in the hunting process. If threat hunters don’t have a clear objective and understanding of what they’re searching for, they risk wasting time on unproductive searches. They should form a hypothesis focused on current or past attacks and the probability of threats existing within the network. This hypothesis then requires evidence collection, either confirming or refuting it. This process might involve examining specific indicators of compromise, analyzing logs, or revisiting previous hunting endeavors for contradictory evidence.

Security teams should understand the differences between threat hunting and detection/remediation. Threat hunters use intelligence-led approaches to discover unknown threats. In contrast, security teams rely on automated network and system monitoring for detection and remediation, which alerts them to suspicious activities.

Gaining this understanding can assist teams in making informed decisions regarding how best to mitigate risks, making sure they prioritize work on those vulnerabilities most critical to them. 

Suppose a threat report indicates that an attacker exploited a particular vulnerability and evidence of this attack was found within internal logs. In that case, your team must prioritize fixing that vulnerability immediately. By taking steps like these, individuals can help ensure an attack will be stopped in its tracks and reduce the time an attacker has to cause damage. They also avoid having to implement defensive measures again later by taking steps now. At each hunting effort, it is vitally important to document findings so they can refer back to this information for future hunts. Doing so allows threat hunters to quickly and efficiently detect hidden attacks and mitigate threats promptly and efficiently – hence why threat hunting should become part of security teams’ full-time job responsibilities rather than an occasional activity undertaken for one hour per week or two hours every month.

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