Threat Hunting: Closing the Gap in Cybersecurity Defenses

Cybersecurity is an increasingly high-stakes game where even a single mistake can lead to significant data breaches or system compromises. Organizations rely heavily on their Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to detect threats and take corrective action. However, recent research suggests that SIEMs alone may not be enough, but threat hunting can help fill that gap.

A study from CardinalOps, titled “Third Annual Report on the State of SIEM Detection Risk,” has raised eyebrows across the industry. The study reveals that modern SIEM products provide detections for only 24% of all MITRE ATT&CK techniques, despite having the log data that could potentially cover an impressive 94% of these techniques. Moreover, the study also found that an alarming 12% of detection content is essentially ‘broken,’ meaning it will never trigger an alert.

These statistics are sobering, highlighting the significant gap between the potential coverage of our cybersecurity defenses and their actual performance. This is where threat hunting enters the stage.

Threat hunting is a proactive and iterative approach to cybersecurity that involves searching through networks to detect and isolate advanced threats that evade existing security solutions. Rather than waiting for automated systems to alert them to a potential breach, threat hunters take the initiative, actively seeking out the signs of an attack. The goal is to find the threats that traditional, automated security solutions miss—threats that could potentially have catastrophic impacts.

The use of threat hunting strategies can significantly close the security gap that many organizations unknowingly grapple with. By actively searching for and investigating potential threats, organizations can identify and mitigate issues before they result in data breaches or system compromise.

The beauty of threat hunting is that it is not reliant on automated systems to detect anomalies. Instead, it involves a combination of manual techniques and automated systems, driven by the human element—security professionals who understand not just the technology, but the behaviors and tactics of attackers. Threat hunters delve into the unknown, uncovering threats that may have been lurking undetected for days, weeks, or even longer.

Incorporating threat hunting into your cybersecurity strategy can dramatically improve the detection and response to advanced threats. By using this approach, your organization can go beyond the 24% coverage provided by most modern SIEMs, unlocking the potential to cover up to 94% of all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

The continued reliance on faulty detection content that will never fire is akin to leaving your front door open while believing it’s securely locked. By actively hunting threats, organizations can ensure their defenses are up to the task, dramatically reducing the risk of surprise attacks.

The key takeaway here is clear: while SIEMs play a vital role in modern cybersecurity, relying on them as your only line of defense creates a significant blind spot. By complementing these systems with threat hunting techniques, organizations can close this gap, significantly enhancing their cybersecurity posture.

However, it’s important to note that while threat hunting is a powerful tool, it isn’t a silver bullet that will fix all cybersecurity woes. Like any good security practice, it should be part of a layered defense strategy. The combination of SIEM systems, threat hunting, and other security practices will offer the best protection against the myriad of cyber threats facing organizations today.

The need for improved cybersecurity is indisputable, and the benefits of threat hunting are clear. It’s time for organizations to take a proactive stance and close the gap in their cybersecurity defenses. After all, in the digital world, the only true defense is a good offense.

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