• Big game hunting often involves the use of ransomware, a perilous malware type capable of encrypting all files on a specific device.
  • Cyber big game hunters are skilled professionals who often work in structured networks like corporations.

In the domain of cybersecurity, Cyber Big Game Hunting is a term that commands attention. Organized groups orchestrate this methodical and high-stakes form of cyberattack to target large organizations and high-profile entities, all in pursuit of significant financial gains.

In this overview, we delve into the world of cyber threat hunting, exploring the motivations, strategies, and defenses against this formidable threat. Let’s initiate our discussion by focusing on what is big game hunting in the cyber world.

What Is Cyber Big Game Hunting?

Cyber big game hunting is a cyberattack strategy that typically involves the use of ransomware to target financially robust organizations or prominent entities. The selection of victims is determined by their financial capability and the probability of them meeting ransom demands to regain normal business operations or prevent public scrutiny.

Potential targets encompass various sectors, such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Managed services
  • Media
  • Government agencies
  • Business entities
  • Financial institutions
  • Utility companies
  • High-net-worth individuals – top business figures
  • Entity handling sensitive data

Comprehending the concept of cyber big game hunting forms the basis for exploring the mechanics of these advanced attacks.

How Does Big Game Hunting Cyber Work?

In the sphere of business, big game hunting typically aims for financial gain, employing various strategies to achieve this objective.

While it presents attackers with the potential for significant financial rewards, it also carries substantial risks and potential legal consequences. To defend against these threats, businesses must implement strong cybersecurity measures for early detection and effective mitigation.

It’s essential to acknowledge that big game hunting attacks are incredibly sophisticated, focusing on well-prepared organizations skilled in defending against basic cyber threats. The higher the level of sophistication, the more difficult detection and mitigation become. Here are the potential scenarios that may arise during the hunting process:

  • Big game hunting frequently incorporates ransomware, a hazardous form of malware capable of encrypting all files on a targeted device.
  • To obtain the decryption key, victims must meet the attacker’s ransom demand, as ransomware is favored in big game hunting for its potential to yield higher ransoms when targeting affluent victims.
  • Big game hunting attacks are typically orchestrated by criminal groups rather than individuals, with ransomware gangs and ransomware-as-a-service platforms posing significant global threats.
  • Criminal groups evaluating potential targets consider crucial factors such as the organization’s financial strength and digital security. Cybersecurity weaknesses can serve as an ideal entry point for ransomware operators.
  • Prominent companies can’t dodge big game hunting; if cybercriminals see them as valuable targets, they will be targeted.

Exploring how big game hunting cybersecurity works provides valuable insights into the individuals and groups behind these intricate attacks, commonly known as cyber big game hunters.

Who Are Cyber Big Game Hunters?

Cyber big game hunters are accomplished professionals who frequently collaborate within structured networks akin to corporate organizations. These groups are often suspected of having ties to government agencies or prominent individuals.

In the world of cybersecurity, ‘big game hunting’ signifies the pursuit of the most lucrative and influential targets, akin to how wildlife hunters seek the most valuable prey in the wilderness. These attacks can result in substantial financial losses and damage an organization’s reputation, underscoring their substantial threat to cybersecurity.

Understanding the motivations and profiles of cyber big game hunters is crucial as it leads us to dissect how these skilled individuals and groups carry out their attacks.

How Do Cyber Big Game Hunters Attack?

Individuals and organized groups can carry out ransomware attacks, but organized criminal entities often target large corporations. These groups may even have ties to government sponsorship. Businesses face notable risks in such scenarios, as many insurance policies do not provide coverage for state-sponsored attacks.

Perpetrators establish their initial foothold in the target’s network, frequently utilizing techniques such as phishing emails, exploiting software vulnerabilities, or leveraging stolen credentials. In addition, they may engage in reconnaissance activities to pinpoint vulnerabilities in the target’s cyber security infrastructure.

Upon gaining entry to the network, attackers pivot laterally, seeking to expand their access to additional systems and valuable data. They analyze the network’s structure and pinpoint valuable assets in the process.

Numerous big game hunting cyber incidents feature the use of ransomware, which encrypts the victim’s data, rendering it inaccessible. Subsequently, the attackers demand a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.

Big game hunting attacks differ from typical phishing campaigns. They focus on exploiting specific vulnerabilities in high-value targets. Detecting such threats requires AI-powered tools that learn user and device behavior to spot unusual activity indicative of potential cyberattacks.

Cyber big game hunters carefully select targets based on criteria, employing increasingly advanced methods to install ransomware. They often spend months observing the organization’s IT system before deploying malware. While their presence is concerning, it provides an extended window for detection. Typically, modern cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers for network access.

Examining the tactics employed by cyber big game hunters unveils the urgency for organizations to safeguard their operations proactively.

What Can Organizations Do to Protect Themselves?

As the expenses associated with ransomware attacks continue to rise, large enterprises must adopt a fresh perspective on big game hunting cybersecurity. This entails thoroughly reassessing the organization’s intrusion detection and incident response methods.

Below are a few ways you can protect your business:

  • Regularly apply patches and updates: Ensure that all software, operating systems, and applications are consistently updated with the latest security patches to mitigate vulnerabilities.
  • Strengthen email security: For enhanced efficiency, contemplate the retrospective integration of automated response capabilities to isolate delivered emails prior to any user interaction.
  • Regularly use EDR for ongoing malicious activity monitoring: It acts as a surveillance system across all endpoints, detecting unaddressed threats and supporting proactive threat hunting.
  • Create ransomware-resistant offline backups: To protect your data from ransomware attacks, prioritize offline backups, as threat actors have previously targeted online backups. These offline backups enable faster data recovery in emergencies.
  • Establish an incident response strategy: Develop and maintain an incident response plan to provide guidance in the event of a cyberattack. Conduct tabletop exercises regularly to verify preparedness.
  • Boost identity protection: Strengthen security with a comprehensive identity protection program that assesses on-premises and cloud identity stores, identifies gaps, analyzes account behavior, and detects ransomware threats through risk-based conditional access.


In this fast-evolving corporate landscape with significant risks, businesses must maintain constant vigilance, proactively respond to emerging threats, and strengthen their cybersecurity measures to protect their operations, reputation, and sensitive data from the persistent danger of cyber big game hunting.

Businesses should employ a comprehensive cybersecurity solution to mitigate big game hunting cyber threats. This encompasses ongoing monitoring, comprehensive employee training, regular system updates, and the integration of advanced threat detection and response capabilities. Additionally, the establishment of secure, offline backups is essential to ensure data recovery in the event of an attack.

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