Cyber-attacks are now increasing in volume and complexity. This has made cyber threat-hunting tools an essential part of any modern organization’s cybersecurity strategy. Threat actors often lurk in networks for weeks or even months before they are discovered, posing a significant risk to data, information, and services.

However, not all organizations can afford threat-hunting tools or even know where to start when it comes to cyber threat hunting. Fortunately, modern threat-hunting tools have made it easier for companies to deploy established cyber threat-hunting security systems – ensuring an extra layer of protection for your network.

What are Threat Hunting Tools?

What is Cyber Threat Hunting?

Threat hunting - or cyber threat hunting - is the process of proactively analyzing an organization’s network to identify threats and eliminate them. By doing so, companies have a better understanding of their cybersecurity posture and how to improve it.

Cyber threat-hunting tools use information gathered by security analysts and threat intelligence to form different threat-hunting techniques. These cyber threat-hunting tools also make use of user and entity behavior analytics to monitor and defend the network and operating systems.

The threat-hunting methodology consists of 3 elements: an initial trigger phase, an investigation phase, and a resolution phase.

  • Trigger Phase - This is typically the starting point. In the threat-hunting process, the threat hunter will collect information and formulate an idea of a potential attack. It then chooses a trigger for when that attack is forming.
  • Investigation Phase - Once a trigger has been created, the threat hunter looks at the anomalies present that either confirm or refute the threat hypothesis.
  • Resolution Phase - After gathering enough information on the potential threats, the hunter gives the data to the cybersecurity team and other threat detection tools for evaluation, prioritization, analysis, and storage.

These come together to form a stable threat-hunting platform to secure your network and data from a cyber-attack.

What are Threat Hunting Tools?

These are essentially the tools used during a threat hunt. These include threat-hunting software and equipment that allow cybersecurity professionals to find and handle the threats in a network.

These tools have a wide range of services - including analytical insights, security monitoring, integrated security information, automation, response systems, and managed detection and response systems.

In the past, threat hunting would have taken a significant amount of time to complete. This is because the data, intelligence, logs, history, and research would have to be done manually. However, these threat-hunting tools now allow threat hunters to quickly and efficiently find threats to streamline the entire threat-hunting process.

Types of Threat Hunting Tools and Platforms

Threat-hunting platforms use different tools to fully analyze and detect threats within the system. These are all specific in function and play vital roles in seeking out suspicious or anomalous behavior. Broadly, they are categorized into five sets of threat-hunting tools:

  • Free SIEM Tools: These are the usual Security information and event management (SIEM) olutions available that provide real-time threat analysis and raw security data management capabilities.
  • Security Monitoring Tools: These tools collect and monitor threats to your network’s cybersecurity through antivirus agents, firewalls, and endpoint security measures.
  • Analytics Tools: Using statistical knowledge, these tools provide clear and concise patterns created by network usage to find any potential threats.
  • SOAR Systems: Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) systems apply a better level of protection through automated management and effective identification of threats.
  • MDR Systems: These Managed Detection and Response (MDR) systems are a third-party security layer that constantly monitors the network for threats.

These cyber threat-hunting tools should be optimized with machine learning and AI technology to provide automated and advanced protection. They can also be integrated to form a stable and reinforced shield against threats.

With the sheer volume of data flowing through a company daily, automation is vital to the threat-hunting process. Businesses of all sizes should invest in managed threat-hunting tools and automated threat-hunting platforms that are designed to consistently perform all these necessary functions.

5 Free Open-Source Threat Hunting Tools

Most smaller companies rely on open-source threat-hunting software. This is because it can be more affordable and accessible for their businesses. While these threat-hunting solutions are usually freely available online, choosing the correct one can be slightly tricky at times.

Some of the best threat-hunting tools we’ve rounded up that are freely available include:

1. Snort

This open-source Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) defines malicious movements and then generates alerts for users based on any abnormal or suspicious activity. Snort is highly efficient for network traffic debugging and full-blown threat prevention. The tool can be downloaded and configured for both personal use and businesses.

2. Suricata

The next open-source tool is Suricata which is owned and supported by the Open Information Security Foundation (OISF) - a non-profit that is committed to keeping Suricata open-sourced forever. Suricata can log HTTP requests, log and store TLS certificates, extract files from flows, and store them on disk. Its full pcap capture support also allows easy analysis - making it a powerful engine for a threat-hunting tool.

3. Zeek

Zeek - formally known as Bro - is a threat-hunting solution that monitors and interprets what it sees to create compact, high-fidelity transaction logs, file content, and fully customized output. This output is also suitable for manual review on disk or in a more analyst-friendly tool like a security and information event management (SIEM) system.

Without licensing fees, some enterprises seek out threat-hunting tools like Snort, Suricata, and Zeek,  which are rules-based intrusion detection systems (IDS) that focus on network analysis but can also be resource-intensive.

4. Cuckoo Sandbox

This free, open-source tool is perfect for analyzing malware and is an ideal threat-hunting solution. Cuckoo Sandbox can easily monitor different files and allows users to customize the analysis and reports created. Being compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android makes it suitable for any digital environment.

Cuckoo Sandbox is also made up of a Linux Ubuntu host with a nested Windows 7 system on top of it. The tool’s primary package is based on Python and has multiple dependencies – which can make it difficult to install. VirtualBox is used on the Ubuntu host while Windows 7 acts as a guest system – with a Cuckoo agent to help the 2 devices communicate.

5. APT-Hunter

The APT-Hunter is a free, open-source tool designed to find abnormal patterns and track APT movements for Windows event logs. The tool notes Mitre ATT&CK tactics and techniques for Windows event log event IDs to help with finding the indicators of an attack.

Learning from previous experiences, the tool can detect an attack faster before containing it. APT-Hunter acts as a filter in your network and speeds up Windows log analysis.

5 Free Open-Source Threat Hunting Tools

While these open-source threat-hunting services are effective in their ways, commercial security tools can provide guaranteed services and solutions that are essential for bigger organizations. These professional vendors also provide timely and reliable services and updates to keep your network completely secure.

Threat-Hunting Cybersecurity That Works for You

Cybersecurity should not take on a “one and done” approach. It needs to be configured carefully and correctly by each organization to ensure the best protection possible.

Open-source threat-hunting software can be a great asset if done properly, but your company deserves a detailed threat-hunting strategy that works for your unique needs and covers all your cybersecurity bases.

That’s where Sangfor comes into the picture. We understand that the best threat-hunting tools are integrated and offer elastic cybersecurity. That’s why the Sangfor Cyber Command platform is the perfect threat-hunting solution.

Going well beyond any open-source tools available on the market, the Cyber Command solution ensures that organizations gain full visibility into their network and its threats.

Sangfor is dedicated to providing efficient, effective, and affordable cybersecurity threat-hunting tools and services.

For more information on Sangfor’s cyber security and cloud computing solutions, contact us for all your threat-hunting inquiries.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The top 5 best open source threat hunting tools are Snort, Suricata, ZeekCuckoo Sandbox and APT-Hunter as mentioned above. You can visit their websites and download the latest recommended version.

While open-source threat hunting tools are cheap, they are not always easy to work with and are often incorrectly configured and installed. They are also not powerful or comprehensive enough to protect an entire enterprise.  Should the worst happen, and you suffer a cyber-attack, it’s important to consider how your customers will react to your cyber security strategies — will they congratulate you on your frugal approach to cyber security practices – or seek out a company that invests in protecting their data?

Open-source threat hunting platforms do hold a higher level of accessibility to most people who think that deploying professional threat hunting tools might be too costly or include too much red tape. There’s a growing understanding that freely available and easily modified open-source threat hunting gives you the comfort of cybersecurity without the hassle of admin.

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