Catch the Unknown Cyber-Attacks with Threat Hunting

The “reactive trend” of Cyberthreat monitoring is a very essential issue since it demonstrates that most organizations don’t hunt until the event is identified. They respond simply to intrusion detection systems and event warnings. For instance, it is pointless to simply build a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) and wait until the alerts arrive at you. Notice that organizations with various environments and security team targets can describe hunting in different ways, for instance hunting for vulnerabilities or attributing threats to offenders. The Cyber Threat Hunting Realistic Model describes threat hunting as an efficient, analyst-led process in which attacking strategies and techniques and procedures can be searched within the area.

What Makes Threat Hunting Different?

Threat hunting means the identification, researching, and redefining of the concept that hunters find the threat. Threats hunting is an ongoing activity, the protective measure is critical for threat hunting, requires extensive knowledge of threats and experience of the IT system of the company inside and outside. Although threat hunting methods are used by the security team to detect risks, the team is the key part of delivery.

CYBER ATTACK ANATOMY

Threat players such as cybercrime organizations, national-state hackers, and recruitment hackers have different reasons for targeting an organization:

Commercial benefit: Malicious hackers steal information for direct or indirect financial benefit; hackers, for example, steal credit card information to benefit financially from it. To obtain access to personal data and sell it on the dark web, hackers may also compromise a corporate database.

Intellectual property theft: hackers steal information about military or industrial secrets, trade secrets and infringements on goods such as aircraft, cars, arms and electronic components, often intended to spy on opponents.

Critical infrastructure disruption: Hackers interrupt or compromise networks to cause instability, such as energy power generation, water supply, and transportation systems.

Political issue: attackers and “hacktivists” target sites to make a political statement

Malicious Insiders: A malicious insider is an employee who exposes private company information and/or exploits company vulnerabilities. Malicious insiders are often unhappy employees. Users with access to sensitive data and networks can inflict extensive damage through privileged misuse and malicious intent.

Common Vector of Specific Attack

Here are some of the most common ways to deliver a payload and exploit device vulnerabilities for cybercriminals.

PHISHING: An email that encourages the recipient to open or click a malicious path to open an infected file. 

DRIVE-BY-DOWNLOADS: Inadvertently downloaded malware from a compromised website; usually taking advantage of bugs in the operating system or a network.

SHADOWING OF DOMAIN: If a hacker possesses credentials from the domain registrar, they can add host records to the DNS records of an entity and then redirect users to these malicious IPs.

MALWARE: Malicious code that interferes with services, gathers data, or gains access. In infection and propagation characteristics, different malware strains vary.

DENIAL-OF-SERVICE: An effort to make a device or network unavailable; it also uses more computing resources than communication networks can manage or disable.

MALVERTISING: Internet advertising owned by cybercriminals. When they click the ad, which can be on any site, including famous sites visited daily, malicious software is downloaded to the user’s systems.

Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: This is a vulnerability that nobody is aware of until the breach happens (hence the name zero day, as there is no time elapsed between when the attack happens, and the vulnerability is made public). If a developer has not released a patch for the zero-day vulnerability before a hacker exploits that vulnerability, then the following attack is known as a zero-day attack. Having the red team write POC exploits is a way to mitigate zero-day vulnerabilities.

Analyzing Data for Threat Hunting:

  Data on its own does not equate intelligence, so it would be overkill to simply record all of the logs or events that make noisy on your network. What are the systems, data or intellectual property that will cripple the company if compromised?

The following are some of the types of logs that might be appropriate to gather in your scenario:

Essential Cyber Threat Hunting Tools Types:

Analytics-Driven: Threat hunting tools powered by analytics use behavior analytics and threat hunting for machine learning to produce key metrics and other possibilities. The following are examples of analytics tools: Maltego CE, Cuckoo Sandbox, and Automater.

Maltego CE is a method for data-mining. For relation analysis, it makes active relationship and is also used for online investigations. It works by identifying relationships on the internet between portions of data from various sources. You will be notified if these add up to a threat.

Cuckoo Sandbox is an open-source malware analysis system which allows any suspicious files to be disposed of while collecting detailed results up-to-the-minute. In order to better understand how to avoid them, Cuckoo Sandbox is able to provide you information and analytics about how malicious files work.

 Automater focuses on intrusion data. You select a goal and the findings from common sources are checked by Automater.

Intelligence-Driven:

Threat hunting, powered by intelligence, collects all the information and reporting you already have on hand and applies it to threat hunting.Examples of intelligence platforms for cyber threats include: YARA, CrowdFMS, and BotScout.

In order to construct definitions based on binary and textual patterns, YARA classifies malware. The details are then used to assess and put a stop to the malware’s identity.

CrowdFMS is an automated program that gathers samples from a website that publishes phishing email information and processes them. An alert will be activated if anything crosses through your network that matches a known phishing email.

BotScout prevents bots from registering on forums that contribute to spam, server misuse, and contamination of the database. In order to identify the source and to remove bots, IPs are monitored as well as names and email addresses.

Driven by Situational Awareness:

To analyze an organization or individual’s patterns, risk analyses are used.The AI Engine and YETI are examples of situational awareness-driven tools.

The AI Engine is an interactive tool which helps to modernize the intrusion detection system of your network. Without physical interactions, it can learn and network forensics, network selection, and span detection can be achieved.

YETI is an instrument that communicates knowledge on threats through organizations. To help keep everyone updated on the latest threat patterns, businesses can share the data they want from trusted partners.

Paid tools also exist, including: Sqrrl, Vectra, and InfoCyte, some of the more common paid threat hunting tools.

Conclusion:

In the “incident scoping” process of the incident response, hunting still plays a significant role, provided that incident intelligence is now leading the hunters on where to locate additional compromised hosts. This process helps to assess the total number of systems affected and to calculate the amount of seriousness of the violation. They are looking for suspicious actions that may suggest the existence of malicious activity. Effective hunters of cyber threats look for signs indicating ongoing attacks in the system. Threat hunters then take the clues and hypothesize how the attack could be carried out by the hacker.

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Sattwik Vaidya is a passionate Cyber Security Consultant and Network Security Architect, Author at GBHackers on Cyber Security, With over 15+ years of experience working in various security disciplines and delivering Security solutions as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for his clients in the MENA region.

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