IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Threat Hunting 101: What MSPs Need to Know

For MSPs, threat hunting is a real opportunity to add tremendous value to their customers’ security postures. By Iratxe Vazquez

In today’s world, threat actors lurk in all corners of the internet—potentially even on your network—honing their craft and lying in wait to strike. Sophisticated attackers often have no need to deploy malware in the early stages of an attack; they can use tools like operating system components, misconfigurations, or installed software to achieve their aims.

Even advanced threat detection—which tends to identify attacks after they’ve already begun—may not be enough to keep organizations protected from these lurkers. To build a more robust defense, organizations need a more proactive approach such as threat hunting. With threat hunting, the goal is to anticipate and prevent attacks by analyzing networks, endpoints, and data to identify suspicious activity that existing solutions might miss.

While technology-based solutions are still important, threat hunting also requires a human-centric approach to be effective. This enables an organization to move faster than the speed of the threat, shutting down attacks often before they start.

It can be challenging for some organizations to implement a threat hunting program, however.  According to a recent Pulse survey, over half of IT organizations pointed to budgetary constraints and a lack of cybersecurity expertise as two of the main roadblocks on the path to a successful threat-hunting initiative. Facing those obstacles, it’s no wonder organizations are looking to managed service providers to take on their threat-hunting responsibilities.

For MSPs, this is a real opportunity. Threat hunting enables them to add tremendous value to their customers’ security postures, including:

  • Timely threat response. A human-driven approach augments any existing tech-based controls before a breach even takes place.
  • Reduced investigation time. Threat hunting not only intercepts threats that may otherwise go undetected for days, weeks, sometimes even months, it minimizes the dwell time and is crucial to reliably disrupting breaches.
  • Better insights for security teams. When performed effectively, a well-thought-out threat-hunting program arms security teams with high-level insights to assist in culling pertinent data needed to establish best practices and disrupt future threats.
  • Improved efforts to minimize the attack surface and boost automated detection. Threat hunting can detect new patterns, which in turn helps organizations improve detection capabilities, leaving threats with nowhere to hide.

To properly adopt threat hunting, organizations—including MSPs—must shift their mindsets around security. That means moving beyond prevention and incident response to a proactive, continuous response model, starting with an assumption that organizations have been compromised and need constant monitoring and remediation.

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