What is Threat Hunting?

Threat hunting is a important security practice that involves actively searching for and identifying malicious activity within digital networks. It serves as a proactive measure to not only detect advanced threats but also gain insights into vulnerabilities within your digital infrastructure. To delve into the concept of threat hunting, let’s break down its meaning.

Threat hunting refers to the process of actively seeking potential threats and malicious activity in order to eliminate them from your network. It encompasses a combination of manual techniques and automated processes, such as employing code scanning tools and analyzing system logs.

Instead of relying solely on passive methods like firewalls or antivirus software, larger businesses and organizations with complex digital infrastructures can greatly benefit from proactive threat hunting. This proactive approach allows them to stay one step ahead of attackers by uncovering malicious activity before it can cause harm.

The primary objective of threat hunting is to not only detect and respond to suspicious behavior but also gain knowledge about the tools and tactics employed by attackers. By understanding these techniques, organizations can enhance their security measures to defend against future attacks, safeguarding vital information and resources.

What is the Role of Threat Hunters?

Cyber threat hunters play a crucial role in the cyber threat intelligence industry by proactively identifying and mitigating highly sophisticated attacks before they materialize as actual threats. To accomplish this, they possess a profound understanding of the threat hunting process, as well as the behavior, strategies, and objectives of adversaries. This enables them to assess potential risks within an organization and develop customized solutions.

These skilled professionals typically operate from a security operations center, where their primary responsibility is to detect and neutralize advanced persistent threats before they can manifest as attacks. This necessitates a meticulous analysis of adversaries’ behavior, strategies, and objectives, which in turn enables them to anticipate potential risks within a given organization and devise effective countermeasures. Moreover, cyber threat hunters collaborate closely with response teams in addressing incidents that have already occurred.

By virtue of their expertise and proactive approach, cyber threat hunters play a pivotal role in safeguarding organizations from sophisticated cyber threats, ensuring the security and resilience of critical systems and data.

Threat Hunting Models

Hypothesis Based Hunting

Hypothesis hunting involves formulating hypotheses based on collected data and prior knowledge to narrow down the search for potential threats. This method typically begins with an analyst reviewing system data and identifying unusual behavior that may indicate malicious activity. The analysts then leverage their understanding of attacker tactics to develop hypotheses about the situation and the data that would support those hypotheses.

Once a set of well-defined hypotheses is established, testing them against the available data begins. If the data aligns with the hypothesis, it can help confirm the existence of a threat. On the other hand, if the data does not support the hypothesis, it can be discarded, and an alternate one can be formulated in its place.

Objective Based Hunting

Objective-based hunting is a proactive methodology used to uncover threats within an organization’s environment. By setting clear and measurable goals, analysts can effectively detect indicators of malicious activity and concentrate their efforts on the most probable risks.

This approach enables the identification of various malicious activities, including malware infections, data exfiltration attempts, vulnerable services, suspicious user accounts, and more. Analysts can then develop hypotheses about potential attackers and devise customized action plans to safeguard against them.

Moreover, objective-based hunting offers the added benefit of evaluating the efficacy of existing security controls. By measuring the success of these controls in achieving their objectives, organizations gain valuable insights into ongoing security incidents and can promptly adjust their strategies, if necessary. Additionally, this model aids in resource prioritization by focusing attention on the most critical aspects when responding to threats.

Threat Intelligence based hunting

Threat intelligence-based hunting is a methodology used by analysts to identify potential threats. It combines open source and proprietary threat intelligence to gather information about malicious activities. By analyzing a library of security data, analysts can develop hypotheses about threat actors’ actions and plan necessary security measures for protection.

This approach enables analysts to quickly detect significant changes in their environment that indicate malicious activity, such as unusual traffic patterns, shifts in user behavior, or sudden increases in data exfiltration attempts. By leveraging this intelligence, analysts can gather more specific details about the attacker and gain a better understanding of the extent of their activities. Once the attack is identified, the same intelligence can be used to assess the severity of the incident and initiate appropriate countermeasures.

Analytics and Machine Learning Based Hunting

The hunting model for analytics and machine learning leverages both analytical models and machine learning algorithms to identify abnormal behaviors in an organization’s data traffic. By combining these powerful methods, it can swiftly detect suspicious patterns of activity that may indicate a cyber attack.

Analytics involves employing comprehensive statistics to track changes in user behavior over time, searching for anything out of the ordinary or dubious. This encompasses monitoring the frequency of application usage, scrutinizing data transfers, and analyzing other metrics that could signify malicious activity. On the other hand, machine learning utilizes artificial intelligence techniques to “learn” from past behavior and uncover anomalies in present network activity. By integrating analytics and machine learning, organizations can effectively monitor their networks, expedite the identification of suspicious patterns, and promptly respond to potential attacks.

Threat Hunting Frameworks and Methodology

TaHiTI MeThodology

TaHiTI stands for Targeted Hunting integrating Threat Intelligence. It presents an efficient approach to threat hunting, consisting of three distinct phases: Initialize, Hunt, and Finalize.

During the Initialize phase, threat hunting ideas are generated and documented in an abstract form, including details about the targets. This abstract is stored in the hunting backlog for future reference.

In the Hunt phase, the abstract is refined using tailored signatures, attack path mapping, and other threat intelligence strategies. By employing these tools, potential threats can be identified with greater accuracy.

Finally, in the Finalize stage, all findings are documented and shared with other teams. TaHiTI also offers best practice guidance and metrics to measure performance levels throughout the process. Additionally, it provides access to ‘MaGMa for threat hunting,’ a convenient tool for tracking success rates over time and interpreting patterns from previous investigations.

In addition to outlining the phases, TaHiTI offers essential best practices for organizations conducting threat hunting activities. It also includes various metrics to measure performance levels. Notably, the ‘MaGMa for threat hunting’ tool enables users to track success rates over time and analyze patterns from previous investigations.

Threat hunting with MITRE ATTACK

The MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques and Common Knowledge) framework is an invaluable resource for a threat hunter. It offers a comprehensive and standardized approach to understanding and analyzing the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) employed by adversaries. By detailing cybercriminal tactics and techniques, it enables users to effectively monitor and investigate potential cyber threats within their systems.

In addition to the ATT&CK matrix, MITRE provides various other resources that greatly benefit cyber threat hunters. For instance, there are graphical and tabular visualizations of techniques, enhancing their comprehension. Furthermore, MITRE offers best practice recommendations for implementing defenses tailored to specific threats.

The beauty of MITRE ATT&CK lies in its universal applicability to systems of any size or industry, making it an invaluable asset for threat hunting operations.

Cyber Threat Hunting Platforms

The efficiency and proficiency of threat hunting operations can greatly be enhanced by leveraging the right platforms. These platforms, equipped with automated security tools, provide an edge by minimizing manual effort and maximizing accuracy in threat detection. Let’s take a closer look at some cyber threat hunting platforms:


Threat hunting plays a crucial role in every organization’s security strategy. By harnessing the capabilities of SIEMs, organizations can proactively search for and identify malicious activities that might have evaded detection by traditional security measures. With the aid of advanced analytics, SIEMs can detect anomalies in user behavior or system activity that may indicate malicious intent.

Furthermore, they can be utilized to uncover suspicious network traffic or unusual file access patterns that may suggest an ongoing breach. Overall, SIEMs provide an efficient and centralized platform for threat hunting activities, allowing organizations to quickly respond to potential threats.


EDRs play a crucial role in threat hunting, empowering organizations to detect and analyze malicious activities across all endpoints. By identifying and alerting on malicious processes, suspicious network connections, and other nefarious behaviors, EDRs bolster security measures.

Moreover, EDRs serve as invaluable tools for conducting forensic investigations on endpoints. By capturing vital data, such as process execution, network connections, and file system activity, these solutions equip security teams to delve into the intricacies of an attack, gaining a clearer and more comprehensive understanding.

Network Traffic Analysis Tools

A reliable network traffic analysis tool empowers security teams with real-time reporting on network activities. This includes comprehensive insights into bandwidth usage across all devices, top destinations for incoming and outgoing data, prevalent protocols, and average latency in specific areas of your organization.

By highlighting anomalies and trends in user behavior, such as a surge in data transfer between internal and external entities, it enables early identification of potential security risks. Stay ahead of the curve with actionable intelligence for enhanced network protection.


Threat hunting is an active and powerful approach to detecting threats that can help security teams safeguard organizations against malicious activity. By leveraging the MITRE ATT&CK framework, organizations can gain deeper insights into their adversaries and execute more precise and proactive cyber threat hunting operations. This involves utilizing various visualizations of attackers’ techniques and implementing best practice recommendations for threat detection. By implementing effective threat hunting strategies, organizations can proactively outmaneuver their adversaries and thwart their malicious activities.

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