What is Cyber ​​Threat? Definition, types, hunting, best practices and examples - Spiceworks (2023)

A cyber threat or cyber security threat is defined as a malicious act intended to steal or destroy data or disrupt the digital well-being and stability of a business. Cyber ​​threats cover a wide range of attacks ranging from data breaches, computer viruses, denial of service and many other attack vectors. This article examines the definition of cyber threats, types of cyber threats, and some common examples of threats. It also explores related concepts such as cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat hunting, and presents five best practices for successful cyber threat hunting.


    • What is Cyber ​​Threat?
    • Types of cyber threats
    • Cyber ​​Threat Management: Definition and Benefits
    • What is Cyber ​​Threat Analysis?
    • Cyber ​​Threat Hunting: Definition and Best Practices

What is Cyber ​​Threat?

A cyber threat or cyber security threat is a malicious action to steal or destroy data or disrupt the digital well-being and stability of a business. Cyber ​​threats cover a wide range of attacks ranging from data breaches, computer viruses, denial of service and many other attack vectors.

Anything that has the potential to cause serious damage to an organization's or individual's computer system, networks, or other digital assets is a cyber threat. According to Techopedia, cyber threats seem to be changing their capabilitiesvulnerabilitiesin actual attacks on systems and networks. Cyber ​​threats can include anything from Trojans, viruses, hackers to backdoors. The term "mixed cyber threat" is usually more appropriate, as a single threat can involve multiple exploits. For example, a hacker can use a phishing attack to obtain information and break into a network.

Cyber ​​threats also refer to a potential cyber attack aimed at gaining unauthorized access to an IT resource, disrupting, stealing or destroying intellectual property, a computer network or any other form of sensitive data. Threats can come from trusted users within the enterprise and from remote locations, from unknown third parties.

It is no exaggeration to say that there are threats to cyber security they affect every aspect of our lives. In reality, cyber threats can lead to power outages, failure of military equipment, or breach of national security secrets. They can disrupt computer and telephone networks or paralyze systems, causingdata not available. They can also steal sensitive, valuable data, such as medical records and other personal information, from consumers and employees around the world.

In this article, we will look at the definition of cyber threats, the types of cyber threats and some common examples of threats. We'll also explore related concepts like cyber threat hunting, including top five best practices for effectiveness and efficiencyhunting cyber threatsOpens a new windowand cyber threat intelligence.

Together, the Cyber ​​Threat Management, Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence and Threat Hunting teams form a powerful trio designed to address the overall cybersecurity needs of today's global enterprises.

Read also:What is an advanced persistent threat? Definition, life cycle, identification and management best practices

Types of cyber threats

By their very nature, cyber security threats are constantly evolving. Enterprise security teams must monitor all new threats in the domain that may affect their business. Here is a list of common cyber threats that organizations face most often.

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  • Malware

Malware is a general term that describes any program or file designed to disrupt or damage a system or computer. Malware enters the web through a vulnerability, usually when a user clicks on an email attachment or a malicious link that installs malicious software. The different types of malware include:

    • Trojan Horseis a form of malware that masquerades as legitimate software but performs malicious actions on startup.
    • Viruses and wormsis a piece of malicious code that installs without the user's knowledge. These viruses can multiply and spread to other systems simply by attaching themselves to computer files. Worms also reproduce, just like viruses, but they don't need to connect to another program to reproduce.
    • Ransomwareis a type of malware that encrypts the victim's information and demands payment in exchange for a decryption key. Even paying the ransom does not guarantee that you will be able to recover the encrypted data.
    • Botnet software it is specifically designed to infect a large number of devices connected to the Internet. Few botnets consist of millions of infected machines, each of which consumes negligible computing power. This makes it extremely difficult to detect botnets, even when they are active.
    • Spywareis a form of malware used to illegally monitor user computer activity and collect personal information.
    • Trojan horses or RATs for remote accessinstall backdoors on target systems. They provide malicious users with remote access and administrative control.
  • Back doorallow remote access to systems and computers without the user's knowledge.
  • Domain Name System (DNS)Poison attacks subvert DNS and redirect traffic to malicious websites. They do not hack affected websites.
  • Distributed denial of serviceor DDoS attacksservers, systems and networks are flooded with Internet traffic, exhausting resources or bandwidth and causing them to shut down. This prevents the system from fulfilling legitimate requests.
  • Wworms,Malicious JavaScript code is injected into online payment forms to collect customer card details.

Read also:What is phishing? Definition, types and best practices for prevention

Cyber ​​attack techniques

While many types of cyberattacks are possible, typical adversary attack techniques and tactics can be grouped into a matrix that includes the following categories:

  • First accessincludes techniques used to gain a foothold in the network, such as targetingspeargunconfiguration weaknesses in public systems or exploitation of vulnerabilities.
  • Command and controlThese are techniques that attackers use to communicate with a system they control. For example, an attacker communicates with the system through elevated or unusual ports to avoid detection by proxies/security devices.
  • Collectionit includes tactics used by adversaries to gather and consolidate the intelligence they have turned to as part of their objectives.
  • persistencecontains techniques that allow an adversary to retain access to the target system even after changing credentials and rebooting. For example, an attacker creates a scheduled task that executes code when the computer is restarted or at a specific time.
  • Defense avoidancecontains techniques used by attackers to avoid detection. These include hiding malicious code in trusted folders and processes, disabling security software, or hiding hostile code.
  • Implementationincludes the techniques used to execute code on the target system. For example, an attacker runs a PowerShell script to download additional attacker tools or scan other systems.
  • Discoveryincludes techniques used by attackers to obtain information about networks and systems that they intend to use for tactical advantage.
  • Credential accesscontains techniques used in networks and systems to steal usernames and credentials for reuse.
  • influencecontains techniques used by attackers to affect the availability of data, systems and networks. This includes denial of service attacks, data wiping software or disk wiping.
  • Lateral movementincludes tactics that allow attackers to move from one system to another on the network. Some common techniques include excessive use of Remote Desktop Protocol or hash forwarding methodsuser authentication.
  • filtrationcontains a tactic used to transfer data from a compromised network to a system or network under the attacker's full control.
  • Privilege Escalationincludes techniques used by adversaries to gain high-level privileges on the system, such as root or local administrator.

Read also:What is Unified Threat Management (UTM)? Definition, best practices and best UTM tools

Cyber ​​Threat Management: Definition and Benefits

Cyber ​​Threat Management is defined as the framework used by cyber security professionals to manage the lifecycle of a threat so that it can be detected and responded to quickly and appropriately. The foundation of strong cyber threat management is the seamless integration of people, processes and technology to stay one step ahead of threats.

A recent report fromMcAfeeOpens a new windowBased on data from more than 30 million McAfee MVISION Cloud users worldwide between January and April 2020, a link was found between the growing use of cloud services and a massive increase in threat incidents. As a result of the Covid-19 shift to remote working and the widespread adoption of cloud-based collaboration tools from Zoom to CiscoWebex and Microsoft Teams, the report saw a 630% increase in incidents related to external threats.

However, it is not only about the threat itself, but also about the financial losses it can cause to companies. Companies lose an average of over $8 million per data breach. And according toReport the cost of a data breachOpens a new windowBy detecting data breaches earlier, IBM could save companies more than $1.2 million.

With the ever-increasing number of cyber threats and the increasing sophistication of attacks, companies are struggling to keep up. Threat management is now more important than ever. It helps identify threats earlier and respond quickly, not only saving the company money or penalties, but also protecting credibility and brand value.

Companies that successfully implement a cyber threat management framework can significantly benefit from:

    • Faster threat detection, consistent investigation, and faster recovery time in the event of a breach
    • Greater network and data protection from unauthorized access
    • Immediate identification of potential impacts resulting in improvementinformation Securityκαι BCM (Business Continuity Management)
    • Increased stakeholder confidence in information security arrangements, especially in an era where the Covid-19 pandemic is working remotely
    • Better access control for the entire company, regardless of location and device used to access systems
    • Continuous improvement with built-in measurement and process reporting

Read also:Top 10 Threat Modeling Tools

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What is Cyber ​​Threat Analysis?

Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence (CTI) is the process of collecting, processing, and analyzing information related to cyber adversaries to disseminate threat intelligence. It is about understanding the motivations, modus operandi and capabilities of attackers that can support cybersecurity measures through corporate security teams.

Cyber ​​Threat Analysis is an advanced process that enables a company to gain valuable insights by analyzing situational and contextual threats. It can be tailored to a company's specific threat landscape, markets and industry. With this information, companies can predict cyber threats or planned breaches before they happen.

Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence provides effective cyber threat management and is an important part of the framework, giving your business the information it needs to proactively implement defenses both against and during a cyber threat.attack.

For example, while threat management also covers imminent threat scenarios, cyber threat intelligence can be analyzed and modeled over time, allowing security professionals to identify patterns and threat actors, implement countermeasures, adjust processes or improve metrics to better mitigate business impacts. position. any future threats.

While most organizations recognize the importance of adding cyber threat intelligence to their security portfolio, most organizations struggle to integrate intelligence into existing security solutions in a practical and continuous manner.

Benefits of Cyber ​​Threat Analysis

Threat intelligence provides specific alerts and indicators that can be used to identify and limit current and potential future threat activity in a business environment.DangerThe intelligence also provides awareness of the state of the threat landscape, helping enterprise security teams understand who might be interested in attacking their environment.

This process involves using case histories, understanding the internal environment, and identifying potential targets for the threat actors. It does not predict the future, but monitors what is happening in the world so that companies can develop a strong plan for their defense.

Companies often use the results of threat intelligence to prioritize investments in people and technology. It allows decision makers to get real value by telling a story about what is likely to happen based on multiple factors. Threat intelligence enables decision makers to take proactive action to improve governance, reduce risk, and implement cyber defense capabilities in a way that helps align security with business goals and processes.

Integrating cyber threat intelligence into an organization's broader security functions provides a significant contribution to improving an organization's security capabilities. With a strong cyber threat management framework and a strong cyber security organization, cyber threat intelligence that provides strategic and tactical intelligence can help prevent and detect attacks as they happen.

Read also:What is a security vulnerability? Definition, types and best practices for prevention

(Video) The Cycle of Cyber Threat Intelligence

Cyber ​​Threat Hunting: Definition and Best Practices

Threat detection means proactively going beyond what we already know or have been warned about. Although our security software warns us about itcyber security threatsand behaviors we know are malicious and chase threats into the unknown.

This is an active security exercise designed to identify and eliminate unknown or new intruders that have entered your environment without raising the alarm. This contrasts with traditional investigations and alert responses when potentially malicious activity is detected.

For example, endpoint security tools typically identify potential incidents, block some, and forward others to appropriate teams for investigation and mitigation. This works well against automated, routine and known attacks. However, most attackers are constantly developing tactics to bypass automated security solutions.

Attackers try to remain undetected until they gain access to the most sensitive information, but to stop them, they must first be detected. This is where the threat hunting team's "always assume a breach" mindset helps uncover IOAs (indicators of attacks) that have yet to be discovered.

Let's take a look at five best practices for successful threat hunting that can successfully defeat attackers.

What is Cyber ​​Threat? Definition, types, hunting, best practices and examples - Spiceworks (1)
Cyber ​​threat detection best practices

1. Take the OODA approach

The Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) strategy is used by military personnel in combat operations. Similarly, threat hunters use OODA strategies in cyber warfare. This is how it works:

    • wNoticephase regularly collects endpoint data.
    • wBe orientedAt this stage, the collected data is carefully analyzed and combined with other threat information to understand its potential significance and impact. A detailed analysis is then performed to detect any indications of an attack or command and control (C&C) of the traffic.
    • wDecidephase, you must determine your next course of action. If such an event occurs, threat hunters should raise the alarmcompany securityimplementing a specific incident response strategy.
    • wActionAt this stage, a plan is implemented to mitigate the breach and improve the organization's security posture. In addition, further measures are being taken to prevent similar attacks in the future.

2. Understand normal activities

The purpose of threat hunting is to detect wrong actions that can cause serious damage to the organization. To understand any unusual activity, it is necessary to understand the normal activities in a given environment. This will allow any anomalies to be identified as they are visible and easy to spot.

Hunters have to spend a lot of time understanding the routines. They must also become familiar with the entire architecture, including systems, networks, and applications, in order to discover itvulnerabilitiesor weaknesses in the system that could create opportunities for adversaries.

Threat hunters also build relationships with key personnel, both inside and outside the IT department, as these contacts can help differentiate normal from abnormal activity. For example, any issue detected by threat hunters may or may not be an attack. Instead, it may just be a dangerous practice.

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To improve your company's security posture, threat hunters must act as effective agents of change, which may not be possible without a relationship of trust with all stakeholders.

Read also:What is a ransomware attack? Definition, types, examples and best practices for prevention and removal

3. Assemble a special cyber hunting team

Cybercriminals are creative thinkers who are constantly finding new ways to commit crimes, and threat hunters must keep pace with the ever-changing cyberattack landscape. Statistics show that threat hunters have their work cut out for them.

    • According to Alert Logic's 2018 Threat Hunting Report, 55%vansecurity expertsidentified advanced threat detection as the biggest challenge for the Security Operations Center (SOC).
    • 43% of security personnel do not have the required skills to mitigate this risk.
    • Additionally, 36% of automation tools lack threat mitigation capabilities.

Creating a dedicated threat hunting team gives them the necessary time and authority to research and implement multiple cases, SOCs, and create the ultimate threat detection strategy.

For example, Microsoft has a three-tier enterprise threat protection model where Tier 1 and Tier 2 analysts focus on responding to alerts, while Tier 3 analysts continue to conduct research focused on uncovering undiscovered adversaries.

What is Cyber ​​Threat? Definition, types, hunting, best practices and examples - Spiceworks (2)

Microsoft's three-tiered approachOpens a new window

4. Create an informed case

Threat hunting starts with a hypothesis. Threat hunters can build hypotheses based on external information such as blogs, threats or social media. For example, you might learn about new malware through an industry blog and assume it was used by an adversarymalwareattack your body.

The case can also be developed based on internal data and information about previous events and analysis by the Threat Intelligence team. There are various cases. For example, the MITER ATT&CK platform is a great tool to help develop hypotheses and design threat studies.

5. Document your hunt carefully

The best threat hunters not only try to anticipate and pre-identify malicious intrusions, but also keep a record of every hunt conducted, along with detailed technical information for each case. Thedocumentationit must also include all business and confidential information used in the case, the reason for the hunt, and the case upon which it was based.

However, good documentation is not useful if it is not properly organized. Choose the right tool to organize documented threat hunting activities so other team members can easily review steps and drills for future hunts.

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Successful cybersecurity requires many complementary approaches.Threat managementFrameworks, threat intelligence, and threat detection protocols are critical components of a strong security portfolio.

Understanding the different types of threats your organization is exposed to is a good place to start. This protects your IT systems and networks from attacks. It will also establish the appropriate teams, processes and technologies to manage both cyber threats and general cyber security.

What does your organization's cybersecurity structure look like? What cyber hunting tactics have you used to proactively identify cyber threats in your organization? Share your experiences with usLinkedInOpens a new window,on TwitterOpens a new window, zFacebookOpens a new window. We'd love to hear from you!


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