Threat hunting

Compromise assessment or threat hunting? What do organizations need?

December 3, 2021 by

Organizations worldwide are undergoing rapid digitization to keep up with the fast-paced world we live in today. While it is a good initiative, cloud computing and remote work setup have opened gates for every new vulnerability.

The presence of storage and data sharing networks, IoT technology and the ever-present insider threats call for a more holistic approach towards cybersecurity. And despite the growing awareness regarding cybersecurity, implementing the correct security posture and technique is a complex task to muster.

Become a certified threat hunter

Become a certified threat hunter

Learn how to find, assess and remove threats from your organization — and become a Certified Cyber Threat Hunting Professional, guaranteed!

Compromise assessment and threat hunting are two rising techniques of implementing network security. However, the main hindrance in implementing any of these techniques comes with the challenge of assessing an organization's needs.

What is a compromise assessment, and what does it do?

A compromise assessment is an objective survey of a network and its devices to discover unknown security breaches, malware, and signs of unauthorized access. More specifically, the assessment seeks to find attackers currently in the environment or who have been active in the recent past. Such an assessment is commonly performed after a security incident to determine the possibility of any future cyber incidents and to authenticate if the organization is now secure.

A typical compromise assessment plan involves using specific software and scripts along with forensic information to detect previously unknown compromises or issues. It is often used to detect all known variants of malware and remote access tools and identify security breaches. The ultimate goal is to conduct a complete forensic examination and help build a proper incident response plan.

An organization can benefit from a thorough compromise assessment program that can help the organization form a robust risk mitigation strategy. Moreover, suppose organizations incorporate a regular compromise assessment within their risk mitigation strategy. In that case, they can help ensure that their security infrastructure is not compromised from even the most sophisticated security attacks.

Apart from that, a sound compromise assessment plan is also effective towards the rising malware invasion. Many malware such as botnets tend to be sneaky, and they remain silently within a system undetected. An organization deploying a regular compromise assessment can help stay secure from such attacks.

What is threat hunting, and what does it do?

Cyber threat hunting involves proactive research of various security networks, endpoints and data assets to detect malicious or suspicious activity that might harm the organization. A cyber threat hunter searches for multiple vulnerabilities within the system using a comparison of previous and recently collected data to identify and categorize potential threats to the network security system.

It is a proactive way of helping secure organizations from the possibilities of cyberattacks and helping them build up their defenses in advance. A typical cyber threat hunting session doesn't start from an alert or even due to an indicator of compromise, but it involves deep reasoning and a forensic approach. While performing threat hunting, the cyber threat hunter assumes the organization is vulnerable.

Become a certified threat hunter

Become a certified threat hunter

Learn how to find, assess and remove threats from your organization — and become a Certified Cyber Threat Hunting Professional, guaranteed!

A proactive cyber threat hunting program is necessary for an organization's security network. This technique helps counter several sophisticated cybercriminal methods often overlooked by traditional security methods and tools.

Since threat hunting works through a combination of human involvement and AI-powered machines, it effectively helps reduce the overall risks and damages to an organization. Moreover, its proactive nature helps security professionals rapidly mitigate incidents, reducing the overall probability of a cyber threat actor damaging an organization's data and integrity.

Compromise assessment versus threat hunting: Key differences

Threat hunting and compromise assessments are both techniques used to figure out vulnerabilities within the system, so there is often confusion in differentiation. While they may not seem different, several ways separate one technique from another.

A compromise assessment is carried out when the company suspects a possible malicious activity or network security breach of its security system. It consists of conducting an overall technical review of the organization's security posture and control systems.

In contrast, threat hunting is a hypothesis-based process that organizations deploy to investigate their system for unknown threat factors. It is an ongoing and defensive approach to cybersecurity and requires manual interaction with threat intelligence data.

Since threat hunting allows security teams to detect threats and vulnerabilities within the system long before they become active threats, the threat hunting process comes before compromise assessment.

With compromise assessment programs, the security teams deploy various security tools to investigate security breaches within the security network. It is more of a proactive analysis if the organization's security network identifies any threat that might have breached the organizational security.

Once the security system has completed a compromise assessment, reports show which actions should be taken.

Choosing compromise assessment or threat hunting?

When it comes to choosing between a compromise assessment or threat hunting, the answer mainly lies in a self-analysis of your organization. What you need is one of the most crucial elements in defining the security network you need to integrate within your organization's security system.

The question remains: Have you been attacked? Or can you be attacked? For any organization that has recently undergone a cyber incident or suspects a compromise of its security system, a compromise assessment can help it identify such issues. It can help identify possible signs of a security compromise and can also help in identifying any lingering impacts of a cyberattack.

In contrast to this, cyber threat hunting is an ongoing process and often asks the question, "can I be attacked?" Cyber threat hunting helps organizations build robust security networks by mapping out possible security threats and providing recommendations on the best mitigation methods.

Become a certified threat hunter

Become a certified threat hunter

Learn how to find, assess and remove threats from your organization — and become a Certified Cyber Threat Hunting Professional, guaranteed!

Keeping your organization secure

Data breaches cost companies an average of $4.24 million, according to the 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report from Ponemon Institute and IBM Security. It's time that organizations go beyond the baseline endpoint security measures like firewalls, antimalware software and VPNs.

Whether it is a compromise assessment or threat hunting, organizations must implement strong security measures to ensure real-time, proactive identification, response and mitigation.



Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-centric articles. Waqas runs the project, which presents expert opinions on online privacy and security.