Security Blog

Your source for information security news and views.
Tags >> Weekend Think Tank

We are living in a world of cyber war. There isn't a single event now of days that doesn't involve the internet. From the malicious stuxnet attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, to Operation Payback's mass execution of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon botnet by thousands of pro-WikiLeaks supporters, even the Egyptian internet blackout, all related to some form of hacktivism or cyber warfare.

Computers and the internet have become a powerful weapon in todays world. Whether it be for financial gain, political activism, or malicious attacks. In properly trained hands a computer can be a more destructive weapon than any knife, gun, or bomb. Mind you not just anyone can walk into a gun shop and purchase a gun, but even young kids can walk into the nearest Best Buy and pick up a computer. With a click of a mouse and tap of a keyboard our worlds most valuable infrastructures can be shattered to bits. With the introduction of stuxnet we were introduced to the real life threat of SCADA system attacks which are able to strike far beyond our bank accounts and damage our much relied on power, nuclear, and utility facilities causing life threatening dangers.

On the banking end of things, for those who have not heard the rumors, the malicious and powerful offspring of the Zeus and SpyEye malware is now being released and is already in use by a few cybercriminals. Banks still fight off Zeus related attacks in attempts to protect customer credentials and prevent malicious transactions. The mutant malware boasts new skills regarding information harvesting and botnet capabilities.  It even offers a graphical user interface, similar to Windows interface, during remote control operations (talk about using our own technology against us).

As mentioned in an earlier entry, the enemy is cloning us bit by bit, byte by byte. With each advancement we make they mimic our actions following in our footsteps. For every piece of technology we release in the fight against cybercrime, malicious attackers have been able to reverse engineer it, thus the battle continues.

Within McAfee's release of the 2011 Threat Predictions we caught a glimpse of what criminals could very well have in mind for the unfolding year. Many of these threats we have already had a taste of in previous years. These threats include Exploiting Social Media, Mobile, Apple, Applications, Sophistication Mimics Legitimacy, Botnet Survival, Hacktivism, and Advanced Persistent Threats. Sounds like the enemy is targeting us for the war of a lifetime. In a nutshell the worst case scenario is that our enemies, for potentially political reasons, will be able to find us no matter where we are, hit us with crippling malware, which they will hide in applications we use and trust everyday, relentlessly strike over and over without fail, and closely monitor their chaos to ensure the most effective damage. Imagine a Stuxnet/Operation Payback attack, with a Zeus/SpyEye malware tool, capable of attacking our increasing array of mobile technologies, stealing our money, stealing our identities, maybe even stealing our lives, and never even giving us a chance to see it coming.

Well here is our chance. To look out beyond the enemy at our gates. We can see their plans and their weapons being built. It's time for us to adjust our game plan and defenses as well. We must use what we know about our enemies to build better strategies and stay on top of security. 

Cyberwar requires the same ideology as chess. A good chess player (our enemy) thinks one move ahead. But we can be that great chess player that thinks five moves ahead.

What are some of your opinions on this years upcoming cyber threats? How do you plan on staying five moves ahead?