What’s The Difference Between Vulnerability Management and Threat Hunting?  

Cybercriminals are becoming more persistent in finding ways to hack and steal information from organizations. They’ve also become more technologically advanced and are using elaborate techniques so they can infiltrate networks without being detected by security systems. For businesses, the only way they can fight the challenge against these attackers is to employ a proactive approach in cyber threats hunting and vulnerability management. 

So how do threat hunting and vulnerability management differ from another? Threat hunting refers to the process of looking for active threat actors that can cause harm to your network and devices. Meanwhile, vulnerability management is the act of strengthening security defenses to lessen weaknesses and prevent the risk of being compromised. These two processes usually go hand-in-hand to fortify a company’s overall cybersecurity posture. 

Vulnerability Management vs. Threat Hunting: What You Need To Know  

Businesses, regardless of whether they’re a small-sized company or large enterprise, cannot afford to have their networks and database hacked. Several reports show that over 2,000 cybersecurity attacks happen per day and since the pandemic started, cybercrimes have cost organizations up to $13 million in damage and losses. 

For this reason, investing in security tools, technology, and IT people is a good move for many companies. Once you have the right resources, the next step is to create a robust cybersecurity risk plan and this usually includes the practices of threat hunting and vulnerability management. 

How Threats and Vulnerability Differ From Each Other
Threats Vulnerabilities
Definition  In cybersecurity, a threat pertains to any potential danger or attacker that can take advantage of your vulnerability to disrupt your business operations and damage your computers, network, and internal systems.  Vulnerability refers to the state where a company is highly prone to an online attack. This happens due to an exposed weakness in the system or a flaw in the security policies and protocols. 
Common Examples  Cybersecurity threats can be classified into two categories: 

Intentional threats refer to the different malicious actions or components that criminal groups use to exploit, steal, or harm an organization. Some examples are malware, ransomware, phishing, DDoS attack, SQL injection, and data theft. 

Unintentional threats often pertain to human error, system failure, and environmental or natural hazards. Lack of cybersecurity training and poor web browsing practices are the most common causes of unintentional threats. 

Vulnerabilities can also be categorized into different types: 

Network vulnerability which can include lack of secure WiFi points and misconfigured firewall systems.

Operating system vulnerability refers to any error in the device and its programs. This can include spoofing, hidden backdoor programs, and unauthorized disclosure of user accounts and information. 

Human vulnerability such as social engineering, misuse of sensitive data, and weak passwords. 

Process vulnerability refers to inadequate security controls or processes. 

How Cybersecurity Threat Hunting Is Done 

Threat hunting is a crucial part of cybersecurity strategy and it’s often done by a team of security analysts. This process involves digging deep into your network infrastructure, digital environment, and endpoints to search for malicious components that may be waiting to attack. Many cybersecurity threats often remain in the system undetected and they take action when you least expect it.

While there are many automated security tools that can do the job for you, the best threat hunting processes still involve human skill and intelligence. Using existing technologies, IT experts and security analysts can approach threat hunting in different ways. This can include the following: 

1) Hypothesis-driven investigation 

A hypothesis-driven hunting is performed by gathering crowdsourced data and insights into the latest techniques and methods that cyber attackers use. The threat hunters will then use this information to inspect their own networks for these known threats or triggers. They can make use of three different types of hypotheses: 

Analytics-driven  This uses machine learning and user behavior analytics to identify risk scores and create threat assumptions 
Intelligence-driven  This type of hypothesis formation includes malware analysis, vulnerability scanning, and intelligence reports. 
Situational awareness This involves cybersecurity risk assessments and evaluation of the current risks in the company’s important assets. 

2) Intel-based hunting 

This type of threat hunting involves analysis of different sources of threat intelligence to search for known indicators of compromise (IOC) and indicators of attack (IOA). The IOC is an important marker that your network security has been breached and some examples are IP addresses, hash values, and log files. IOC usually employs a more reactive approach because it means that there is an ongoing attack. 

Meanwhile, an IOA is more proactive and it involves your IT team looking for the presence of threats that can lead to a cyber attack. It essentially identifies the attacker and its intent and from there, the hunters can set up their defenses to prevent or limit the impact of the malicious threat.

3) Hybrid hunting

This threat hunting method uses a combination of the two mentioned techniques. This provides your security analysts with the opportunity to work with more data for more accurate detection and threat investigation. This is usually done when you’ve been alerted with a threat and you don’t know how deep it has attacked your networks. Threat hunters can use a variety of situational awareness, hypotheses analysis, and intel-based processes to find and resolve a security issue. 

What Are The Processes in Vulnerability Management

Before a threat occurs, cybercriminals usually look for loopholes, flaws, and weaknesses that they can exploit. To minimize the likelihood of attackers finding these defects in the systems, a good cybersecurity plan should also include vulnerability management. Finding vulnerabilities typically comprises of different processes: 

1) Identification

This initial step involves checking and inspecting network systems and operations for any gaps, and mistakes that attackers may take advantage of. During this phase, analysts may use different automated tools and vulnerability scanners to search for any misconfigurations or weak infrastructures.

2) Classification 

After identifying the vulnerabilities, you’d need to evaluate the level of risk they pose to the organization. Different threats can have different impacts on the company and it’s important to classify and rank them according to their severity so you can prioritize your security resources and efforts. 

3) Remediation 

This stage involves the creation of solutions or steps that will mitigate or lessen the possibility of a vulnerability turning into an active attack. During this step, you want to update your software, configure firewalls, and install security patches to strengthen your network’s defenses and reduce access to the areas that are at risk. You’ll also need to test and measure the effectiveness of your new programs. 

4) Monitoring

Regular monitoring is important to ensure that all your security programs are well-functioning and doing its job of minimizing vulnerabilities. It’s also recommended to keep a record of reported vulnerabilities and past threats so you know where to improve on your security efforts. Doing this can help prevent future attacks and assure that your security protocols remain in compliance with security standards. 

Why Should You Do Both Vulnerability Management and Threat Hunting?  

The practice of active threat hunting and comprehensive vulnerability management gives a company an edge in their cybersecurity. Some of its known benefits are: 

  • Improves threat detection and reduces incident response time 
  • Strengthens overall network systems, infrastructure, and digital environment 
  • Helps you stay up-to-date with the latest security trends and advanced threats 
  • Lets you save on annual costs for potential damages
  • Helps map out ideal actions and solutions that you should do in the case of a cybersecurity attack
  • Eliminates risks and weaknesses before cybercriminals can find them

Trust The IT Experts At Abacus For Your Business’ Cybersecurity Solutions 

Nowadays, a responsive approach to cybersecurity is not enough. Companies can benefit more from being proactive and preparing in advance against modern threats. At Abacus, our highly-experienced team of IT experts can provide extensive security support and solutions to reduce your risks and vulnerabilities to online attacks. 

We’re committed to helping businesses with their strategic management, business continuity, and IT needs. Our services include data backup and disaster recovery, consulting, data analytics, systems integration, and security planning. Call us today and learn how our solutions can help your company. 

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The Abacus Blog Team
At Abacus IT, our blog is authored by a team of IT experts with a wealth of experience in various facets of technology. Our primary blog author is a seasoned IT professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry. With a deep understanding of cybersecurity, cloud solutions, network infrastructure, and IT management, our author provides valuable insights and actionable tips to help you optimize your IT operations.

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