What is Threat Hunting and How Can it Help Your Business?

by Chester Avey

What is Threat Hunting and How Can it Help Your Business?

It has never been more important to invest properly in high quality cybersecurity. Cyber criminals are increasingly well funded, organised and sophisticated, and at the same time, there are harsher penalties in force for businesses that don’t take measures to keep customer data secure. And on top of this, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact too. 

Cybercrime has risen alarmingly quickly through the pandemic; some reports have suggested that attacks rose by nearly a third. There can be no doubt, then, that now is the right time to start considering improving your cybersecurity, if you have not done so already. 

Threat hunting is increasingly becoming seen as an essential aspect of good cybersecurity. But for many businesses, this term is just another piece of cybersecurity jargon. So, here we take a look at what threat hunting actually is and how it can help your business with cybersecurity issues. 

What is threat hunting?

In its essence, threat hunting is the process of proactively looking for hidden threats lurking in your system, and dealing with them before they can become a problem. This is important because of the cybersecurity metric known as ‘dwell time’. Dwell time is the amount of time between a cyber attack breaching your system and your cybersecurity recognising it. 

It has been estimated that the average dwell time could be as long as 95 days. This is important, because it shows that cybercriminals are often able to evade traditional cybersecurity measures. As such, it has become more important to proactively look for threats within your system, even if you don’t know that they are there. 

The need to be proactive

Being proactive has become an essential element of cybersecurity. It is no longer possible to simply rely on the preventative measures of antivirus solutions and firewalls. While these technologies still have an important role to play, it is true that without proactive threat hunting, many attacks can go undetected until it is too late. 

Part of the need to be proactive comes from the constantly increasing sophistication of cyber threats. This is explained by professional cyber threat hunters Redscan: “With the threat landscape constantly evolving, it’s important to ensure that detection capabilities keep pace. Leveraging the latest security tools and threat intelligence can help to ensure your organisation is prepared to respond to current and emerging cyber threats”

This goes beyond considering proactive cybersecurity as something that would be preferable; it is the case that being proactive has become an essential part of keeping your business secure against threat actors. Threat hunting is considered one of the most vital elements of proactive cybersecurity - along with other measures such as penetration testing and network monitoring. 

How it works

Threat hunting involves cybersecurity professionals using a range of manual and machine-assisted techniques and strategies. Threat hunters look for indications that a system has been compromised, working with threat intelligence and an understanding of the types of attacks that cybercriminals are using. 

Typically, threat hunters work from a hypothesis on a potential type of attack that could have infiltrated the business’ system. They then search for known factors that could indicate an attack has taken place - this gives them the chance to both respond to this incident, and also create a way to detect these types of attack in future. 

The benefits of threat hunting

In a sense, the benefits of threat hunting are singular: threat hunting reduces the impact of cyber attacks against your business. By reducing the time it takes to detect and respond to cyber attacks, threat hunting limits their scope and mitigates the potential damage that they can cause. 

It is important to recognise, of course, that cybercrime impacts a huge range of areas of the business. A cyberattack can cause problems with business reputation, GDPR compliance, customer trust, and even cash flow. If threat hunting can limit the impact of attacks, it can truly affect your company’s bottom line. 

As cybercriminals become more advanced and sophisticated, it is up to businesses to keep pace with them. Given that cybercrime can impact a business in so many ways, your company has a vested interest in doing everything you can to stop attacks before they can take place, or limit the scope of those that get through. 

Threat hunting is just one area of cybersecurity among many that have become a truly vital part of keeping your business secure. It’s a great idea, then, to speak with cybersecurity experts to come up with a plan specific to your needs. 

Chester Avey

Cybersecurity Expert

With more than a decade of experience in B2B cyber-security, I provide articles and content of real value to readers on topics including cyber-security, information assurance, business growth, software solutions and ecommerce.