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Vulnerability Hunting: Threat Hunting’s Cybersecurity Cousin

Vulnerability hunting is quickly becoming the go-to method for improving an organization’s cybersecurity posture and reducing their risk of attack. Defined as the “process of actively searching for and identifying vulnerable hosts in a network,” vulnerability hunting is a form of “threat hunting,” the practice of searching for signs or indicators of possible malicious activity.

Unlike threat hunting, which requires immense security expertise and knowledge of security frameworks, vulnerability hunting can be more accessible to a broader audience, allowing less experienced individuals to identify weaker points in a network and make corrections. The process begins by performing a “network scan” of the organization’s premise or network infrastructure. This scan will reveal any hosts potentially exposed to malicious actors, which can then be investigated further.

During the investigation, several steps are taken to identify and assess each vulnerability. First, the vulnerability is categorized based on how severe it could be. The severity level defines how likely the vulnerability is to be successfully exploited. For example, vulnerabilities that could easily be remotely accessed by an attacker are usually considered “critical”, while other less severe ones may be deemed “low” or “medium”.

The next step is to apply the necessary tools to determine if a potential exploit is available to take advantage of the identified vulnerability. This could involve reviewing the latest open-source security advisories to uncover known attack paths or using custom scripts to check if a vulnerability can be exploited. In some cases, an exploit may not be publicly available, but one can still be crafted, so a level of expertise and advanced knowledge is often needed to assess their risk.

Once the risk assessment is complete, the next steps are to determine the appropriate corrective action and deploy it. This could include anything from patching the affected systems to implementing basic security protocols, such as setting up firewalls or monitoring for suspicious activity. The corrective action taken depends on the severity of the problem, the context of the vulnerability, and the organization’s overall security posture.

To sum it up, vulnerability hunting is a vital component of an organization’s cybersecurity posture. It allows individuals to identify and assess potential vulnerabilities, determine the appropriate corrective action, and ensure that systems are as secure as possible. And while the process requires more effort and knowledge than straight-forward threat hunting, its careful and thorough approach can go a long way in preventing future attacks.

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