How Threat Hunting Evolved In 2021

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Today’s world is full of technology. Everyone is connected to the internet as the internet of things (IoT) theory steadily becomes a reality. With talks of the metaverse and virtual reality steadily ramping up, cars and trains connecting to the internet to learn how to move autonomously and as important data such as medical records and bank details are stored online more than elsewhere, security must be the number one concern on everyone’s mind. Keeping data safe and networks secure will be vital if there is a safe online world.

Throughout 2020 there were over one thousand data breaches with over 150 million records exposed. Despite the security of that year, there were clearly still issues with ensuring the safety of all individuals. So how did they surpass the previous plans, and how did the threat hunting evolve throughout 2021? Read on to find out.

How Did Tech Improve?

Automated security has risen dramatically since the beginning of 2021 as teams and threat hunters look for new programs that can do it autonomously. Several robust solutions for cyber threat hunters have been developed, providing them with platforms that can give real-time performance reports when an exploit is published or vulnerability discussed before anyone can use it. This allows teams to ensure their networks are safe from attack before anyone with malicious intent can even think to attempt it. In addition, these platforms are often paired with algorithms that can predict exploit-probability, allowing programmers and networks to track threats most likely to be exploited by active threat actors and offer potential remedies to these threats to secure the network and keep it safe.

These safety platforms and threat tracking features allow people to keep an eye on the possibilities of attacks and help counter them early. Yet, what else is being done in the world of threat hunting in terms of specific applications? According to some search engines, the number of searches for “best antivirus software” grew by almost 270% from 2018 to 2021. This increase shows that more and more people are well informed about the potential cyber-threats they could face and are taking advantage of the best software available. More and more people are now using VPNs on public networks, further protecting themselves from threats.

How Are Hunters Getting Better?

Threat hunters have begun changing tack over the last year to start fighting cyber-attacks before they can commence. A major issue plaguing the security of many networks is the complexity of today’s networks, as it makes it hard to quickly spot and identify threats or intruders, allowing cyber-criminals to silently retrieve valuable data and cause irreparable damage.

Unfortunately, organizations tend to be far too slow to discover threats, allowing many data breaches throughout 2021. Thankfully, threat hunters have developed a straightforward strategy to spot threats faster: check for infiltration before an alarm. It really is that simple. Most networks will only perform routine searches or antivirus scans once there has been an alert that something is wrong, but this could already be too late for many attacks. By regularly scheduling scans and throwing in some random scans as a precaution, threats can be caught early if they are present and give peace of mind if they are not. Proactive threat hunting is rapidly becoming the best move.

Adding extra layers of visibility to the network you are defending is another critical tool that threat hunters are starting to use. As stated earlier, most networks used today are complicated messes of interwoven pieces, with data stored chaotically and fragmentation running rampant. To stay ahead of potential threats and attacks, a team must be wary of any and all vulnerabilities in their system. However, with huge organizations having heavily interconnected networks and remote working networks becoming all the more common, there is a chance of the network being accessed from an insecure public place by other employees. This means that it is much harder for a team to spot an attack and much easier for an attacker to sneak in unseen and without alarm.

This means it’s vital for the security team to have full visibility of the network and a complete understanding of who should be able to access the network at any given time. They must also be able to access and see who is currently accessing the network and from where and what applications are being used, as this will allow the team to identify a quiet attack. If data or applications are being used from an unknown source or someone’s account is looking at data they are not supposed to be able to access, an attack is likely underway.

Threat hunting has massively improved in tactics over 2021, as security teams move from countering attacks to pre-empting attacks, allowing a network to always be safe under constant vigilance. However, the full effect of this change is yet to be seen. So keep an eye out for improved security through 2022.

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