Why Threat Hunting Shows Your Network Isn’t as Safe as You Think

As it becomes more difficult to commit crime in the real world, cybercrime continues to rise. In the United States, organizations are paying an average of $7 million for every data breach. By 2019, the cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $2 trillion globally. Most organizations simply aren’t safe with passive security measures like endpoint protection and firewalls. Because of this, many IT professionals are taking a more active security protocol via threat hunting tools. Rather than waiting for the next breach to happen before reacting, threat hunting actively searches your network data for potential threats.

Why Basic Security Can Fail

An advanced persistent threat (APT) is an intelligent and determined attack by hackers to get into your system. Talented hackers have become skilled at making their activity appear unsuspicious to most security software. Because they know the rules by which firewalls and other programs operate, APTs can patiently attack your defenses thousands of times until they discover a vulnerability. Once inside, APTs can slowly pick their way through other systems, getting to their target data through lateral movement rather than attacking it head on.What is truly insidious is the way that they maintain their presence by keeping control over the channels and credentials they used to gain entry each individual system. Because they never violate the policies of your security, your software rarely finds anything amiss until after the target data has been extracted.

Threat Hunting Benefits

Attack surface refers to the total amount of different points of exposure where an attacker can extract or enter data. A recent survey found that 74% of organizations using threat hunting had reduced their attack surface. Furthermore, 59% found it increased the accuracy of incident response and reduced response time. Finally, over half of respondents said that cyber threat hunting detected threats that had previously gone unnoticed. The survey participants were experiencing these benefits even though only 60% of them had a formal threat hunting procedure.

How Threat Hunting Tools Work

These tools go about finding attacks by looking for suspicious activity in your system. While normal security software can detect more obvious breaches of protocol, threat hunting can find anomalies that are signs of an attack. For instance, an administrator logging into a system unrelated to their work would seem unsuspicious to most security software.As long as the admin logged in correctly, the software would detect no threat. Threat hunting would notice this unusual activity and dig deeper to determine whether this was malicious or not. Threat hunting software can improve the process by creating a repeatable procedure that continuously improves your system’s defenses even as it eliminates a threat.

Evolution is a constant struggle between attack and defense to get the upper hand. Every time cybersecurity develops a new defense, cybercrime ups its game in response. In the new era, turtling up and expecting your security software to deflect all threats is no longer realistic. Offense is now the best defense as threat hunting tools allow you to proactively search your system for potential attacks before the breach is complete.

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