Connect with us

Security

Disorganized crime and state-backed hackers: How the cybercrime and cyberwar landscape is constantly changing

Published

on

special feature


Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity

Today’s security threats have expanded in scope and seriousness. There can now be millions — or even billions — of dollars at risk when information security isn’t handled properly.

Read More

The internet is as convenient, exciting and lucrative, as it is dangerous and dark. The web has evolved through the years and so too have the criminals that are out to harm others. Steve Ranger, UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, has covered the evolving cybercrime and cyberwar landscape for years and written several cover stories on the subject. Steve shared his insights with us in an interview as part of ZDNet’s Special Feature: Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Karen Roby: All right, to start off with here, talk about the world of online crime. How has it evolved in general?

Steve Ranger: Okay, so what’s happened is over the 30 or so years that we’ve had the web, just like the rest of us have learned to enjoy the web for various reasons, criminals have learned to enjoy and exploit it to make money, to break things. Some of them even want to change the world.

We have always different criminal groups out there from hacktivists to lone wolves who just want to break things right through to organized crime and even increasingly at the moment state-sponsored hackers who are going out and systematically breaking things.

Across the internet we have this huge kind of network of different crimes and different criminals. Sometimes they work together. Sometimes work completely apart. But yeah, what we’ve got is an evolving world with lots of different criminal groups, criminal individuals looking for ways to make money or just cause trouble really.

Karen Roby: And they’re scary obviously. Steve, when you talk about the groups, the organized crime, some of them working together as you mentioned, you’ve got lone wolves as well, as large groups everyone playing their own particular role. Talk a little bit about how they interact, how they go about their business.

Steve Ranger: Sure. What’s quite interesting is there’s this kind of overlapping ecosystem. You have, right at the bottom you have what we call disorganized crime, disorganized cyber criminals which might be individuals or groups of one or two or three, small groups, and they might be doing anything really from frauds to hacking to writing viruses to writing ransomware or to buying ransomware from larger organized groups or maybe someone on the dark web and then reselling it, or just trying to make a bit of money here and there doing scams.

Then you have organized crime. Organized crime on the internet now is a seriously big business. You have these kind of federated organizations where you have a kind of cybercrime boss, and then you’ll have, he or she will connect up different groups with different specialties to run really big frauds, make a bunch of money.

Download all the Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity articles as a free PDF ebook (free TechRepublic registration required)

Then above them you might have state-backed hackers. We’ve seen a lot of that recently involved with cyber espionage or probing military systems, looking for holes that can be exploited at a different date.

What’s interesting is all these different groups overlap. So the disorganized criminals will feed into organized crime. Organized crime and some of the state-backed stuff, they will also overlap as well. So you might have someone who is by day working as a criminal and by night working, doing some kind of state-backed stuff or the other way around.

All these groups, it’s really hard to work out who’s where, but there’s certainly a lot of overlapping, organized crime and disorganized crime, lots of overlapping activity there.

Karen Roby: Okay. And when you mentioned, you talked so much about how we are hearing so much about the state backed groups and the criminals there. How big of a threat is that?

Steve Ranger: I think it’s hard to calculate the threat. To the average person is pretty unlikely that a state-backed hacker is going to come after you, unless you’re a really high-value target. To the average person it’s quite a rare kind of a risk. Obviously if you are, I don’t know, working in aerospace or biotech or robotics, one of those kind of companies, then there’s a reason or chance that someone’s going to try and hack your systems to steal your intellectual property or just cause trouble.

In terms of the bigger risk, so clearly down the line there’s a lot of worry about cyber warfare that hackers could actually break into things like power systems or banks and cause chaos that way. That’s clearly a huge risk, but the likelihood is very low.

SEE Cyberwar: The smart person’s guide (TechRepublic)

What’s going to happen day to day is you’re more likely to run into a scammer or maybe get ransomware on your PC or something like that. Those are the kind of the everyday risks, which are incredibly annoying and a real problem if suddenly your PC is encrypted and you can’t get to your family photos or your work you’re doing. Those are kind of everyday risks.

Right at the other end of the scale there’s this fear of cyberwarfare and state-sponsored crime. That’s much less likely, but clearly really, really dangerous if it actually does happen.

Karen Roby: Right, both ends of the scale are scary for everyone. And when it comes to protecting ourselves Steve, what is it that you recommend?

Steve Ranger: Well, some of the real basics can save you here. If you make yourself a slightly more difficult target to go after, chances are the kind of the small fry will go somewhere else. That means making sure that you don’t have default passwords, making sure that you do your update, making sure that if you can use it then you do have two-factor authentication, all those kind of really obvious things, being careful about what you click on an email.

From the most basic to the most incredibly complicated attacks, nearly all of them start with a phishing email where someone sent you an email that you think is from a coworker or a friend or it says you’ve won the lottery or you won a prize. You click on that and you can be in a lot of trouble. Basically the common sense approach is going to save you from a whole lot of pain.

SEE Network Security Policy Template (Tech Pro Research)

At the other end of the scale, if you are being targeted by state-sponsored hackers, well, you’ve got to work a lot harder. You’ve got to, you’ve kind of almost expect that they will in some way get into your systems, and then try and work out how to reduce the damage. Again, that’s really only for a very small sector of people. Those people probably realize too they are already, but for the average person who isn’t necessarily a target for an intelligence agency, just doing the obvious stuff will make you so much of a harder target to go after that mostly they will go elsewhere.

Karen Roby: All right. Steve, as I mentioned there at the beginning, of course the web has opened up just such a whole new world to all of us really and is so exciting and so lucrative in so many ways and connects people together from all over the world. It’s evolving, but the criminals are evolving too, and that’s I guess the thing, we all need to kind of stay on our toes.

Steve Ranger: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s loads of amazing stuff on the web. You shouldn’t be scared of using it, but you should use some sort of basic common sense, basic security hygiene to keep yourself safe.

Download all the Cyberwar and the Future of Cybersecurity articles as a free PDF ebook (free TechRepublic registration required)

RECENT AND RELATED COVERAGE

Cybercrime and cyberwar: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you
From disorganised crime to state-backed hackers these groups can make the internet a dangerous place. Here’s a guide to the major menaces to avoid.

Governments and nation states are now officially training for cyberwarfare: An inside look
Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, and others are now running training exercises to prepare for the outbreak of cyberwar. Locked Shields is the largest simulation and TechRepublic takes you inside.

Devastating attacks to public infrastructure ‘a matter of when’ in the US
Cybercriminals are focusing on public infrastructure to disrupt services and cause mayhem as new targets are emerging and expanding throughout the world.

Understanding the military buildup of offensive cyber weapons
Over the past few years, offensive cyberweapons have risen in prominence as a part of international military efforts. The full impact of these weapons remains to be seen, however.

Cybercrime Inc: How hacking gangs are modeling themselves on big business
Over the past few years, offensive cyberweapons have risen in prominence as a part of international military efforts. The full impact of these weapons remains to be seen, however.

Why ransomware is exploding, and how your company can protect itself
Ransomware attacks on businesses grew exponentially in the past year. Here’s what you need to know and how you can prepare.

Cyberwar predictions for 2019: The stakes have been raised
Cybersecurity will define many of the international conflicts of the future. Here’s an overview of the current threat landscape, UK and US policy in this area, and some expert predictions for the coming year.

20181129zdstevecyberseckaren.jpg

ZDNet / CBS Interactive

Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Security

Retrospective thoughts on KubeCon Europe 2022

Published

on

I’m not going to lie. As I sit on a plane flying away from Valencia, I confess to have been taken aback by the scale of Kubecon Europe this year. In my defence, I wasn’t alone the volume of attendees appeared to take conference organisers and exhibitors by surprise, illustrated by the notable lack of water, (I was told) t-shirts and (at various points) taxis.

Keynotes were filled to capacity, and there was a genuine buzz from participants which seemed to fall into two camps: the young and cool, and the more mature and soberly dressed.

My time was largely spent in one-on-one meetings, analyst/press conferences and walking the stands, so I can’t comment on the engineering sessions. Across the piece however, there was a genuine sense of Kubernetes now being about the how, rather than the whether. For one reason or another, companies have decided they want to gain the benefits of building and deploying distributed, container-based applications.

Strangely enough, this wasn’t being seen as some magical sword that can slay the dragons of legacy systems and open the way to digital transformation the kool-aid was as absent as the water. Ultimately, enterprises have accepted that, from an architectural standpoint and for applications in general, the Kubernetes model is as good as any available right now, as a non-proprietary, well-supported open standard that they can get behind.

Virtualisation-based options and platform stacks are too heavyweight; serverless architectures are more applicable to specific use cases. So, if you want to build an application and you want it to be future-safe, the Kubernetes target is the one to aim for.

Whether to adopt Kubernetes might be a done deal, but how to adopt certainly is not. The challenge is not with Kubernetes itself, but everything that needs to go around it to make resulting applications enterprise-ready.

For example, they need to operate in compliance environments; data needs to be managed, protected, and served into an environment that doesn’t care too much about the state; integration tools are required with external and legacy systems; development pipelines need to be in place, robust and value-focused; IT Operations need a clear view of what’s running whereas a bill of materials, and the health of individual clusters; and disaster recovery is a must.

Kubernetes doesn’t do these things, opening the door to an ecosystem of solution vendors and (often CNCF-backed) open source projects. I could drill into these areas Service Mesh, GitOps, orchestration, observability, and backup but the broader point is that they are all evolving and coalescing around the need. As they increase in capability, barriers to adoption reduce and the number of potential use cases grows.

All of which puts the industry at an interesting juncture. It’s not that tooling isn’t ready: organizations are already successfully deploying applications based on Kubernetes. In many cases, however, they are doing more work than they need developers need insider knowledge of target environments, interfaces need to be integrated rather than using third-party APIs, higher-order management tooling (such as AIOps) has to be custom-deployed rather than recognising the norms of Kubernetes operations.

Solutions do exist, but they tend to be coming from relatively new vendors that are feature rather than platform players, meaning that end-user organisations have to choose their partners wisely, then build and maintain development and management platforms themselves rather than using pre-integrated tools from a singe vendor.

None of this is a problem per se, but it does create overheads for adopters, even if they gain earlier benefits from adopting the Kubernetes model. The value of first-mover advantage has to be weighed against that of investing time and effort in the current state of tooling: as a travel company once told me, “we want to be the world’s best travel site, not the world’s best platform engineers.”

So, Kubernetes may be inevitable, but equally, it will become simpler, enabling organisations to apply the architecture to an increasingly broad set of scenarios. For organisations yet to make the step towards Kubernetes, now may still be a good time to run a proof of concept though in some ways, that sip has sailed perhaps focus the PoC on what it means for working practices and structures, rather than determining whether the concepts work at all.

Meanwhile and perhaps most importantly, now is a very good moment for organisations to look for what scenarios Kubernetes works best “out of the box”, working with providers and reviewing architectural patterns to deliver proven results against specific, high-value needs these are likely to be by industry and by the domain (I could dig into this, but did I mention that I’m sitting on a plane? ).

Jon Collins from Kubecon 2022

Kubernetes might be a done deal, but that doesn’t mean it should be adopted wholesale before some of the peripheral detail is ironed out.

The post Retrospective thoughts on KubeCon Europe 2022 appeared first on GigaOm.

Continue Reading

Security

Retrospective thoughts on Kubecon

Published

on

I’m not going to lie. As I sit on a plane flying away from Valencia, I confess to have been taken aback by the scale of Kubecon Europe this year. In my defence, I wasn’t alone the volume of attendees appeared to take conference organisers and exhibitors by surprise, illustrated by the notable lack of water, (I was told) t-shirts and (at various points) taxis.

Keynotes were filled to capacity, and there was a genuine buzz from participants which seemed to fall into two camps: the young and cool, and the more mature and soberly dressed.

My time was largely spent in one-on-one meetings, analyst/press conferences and walking the stands, so I can’t comment on the engineering sessions. Across the piece however, there was a genuine sense of Kubernetes now being about the how, rather than the whether. For one reason or another, companies have decided they want to gain the benefits of building and deploying distributed, container-based applications.

Strangely enough, this wasn’t being seen as some magical sword that can slay the dragons of legacy systems and open the way to digital transformation the kool-aid was as absent as the water. Ultimately, enterprises have accepted that, from an architectural standpoint and for applications in general, the Kubernetes model is as good as any available right now, as a non-proprietary, well-supported open standard that they can get behind.

Virtualisation-based options and platform stacks are too heavyweight; serverless architectures are more applicable to specific use cases. So, if you want to build an application and you want it to be future-safe, the Kubernetes target is the one to aim for.

Whether to adopt Kubernetes might be a done deal, but how to adopt certainly is not. The challenge is not with Kubernetes itself, but everything that needs to go around it to make resulting applications enterprise-ready.

For example, they need to operate in compliance environments; data needs to be managed, protected, and served into an environment that doesn’t care too much about the state; integration tools are required with external and legacy systems; development pipelines need to be in place, robust and value-focused; IT Operations need a clear view of what’s running whereas a bill of materials, and the health of individual clusters; and disaster recovery is a must.

Kubernetes doesn’t do these things, opening the door to an ecosystem of solution vendors and (often CNCF-backed) open source projects. I could drill into these areas Service Mesh, GitOps, orchestration, observability, and backup but the broader point is that they are all evolving and coalescing around the need. As they increase in capability, barriers to adoption reduce and the number of potential use cases grows.

All of which puts the industry at an interesting juncture. It’s not that tooling isn’t ready: organizations are already successfully deploying applications based on Kubernetes. In many cases, however, they are doing more work than they need developers need insider knowledge of target environments, interfaces need to be integrated rather than using third-party APIs, higher-order management tooling (such as AIOps) has to be custom-deployed rather than recognising the norms of Kubernetes operations.

Solutions do exist, but they tend to be coming from relatively new vendors that are feature rather than platform players, meaning that end-user organisations have to choose their partners wisely, then build and maintain development and management platforms themselves rather than using pre-integrated tools from a singe vendor.

None of this is a problem per se, but it does create overheads for adopters, even if they gain earlier benefits from adopting the Kubernetes model. The value of first-mover advantage has to be weighed against that of investing time and effort in the current state of tooling: as a travel company once told me, “we want to be the world’s best travel site, not the world’s best platform engineers.”

So, Kubernetes may be inevitable, but equally, it will become simpler, enabling organisations to apply the architecture to an increasingly broad set of scenarios. For organisations yet to make the step towards Kubernetes, now may still be a good time to run a proof of concept though in some ways, that sip has sailed perhaps focus the PoC on what it means for working practices and structures, rather than determining whether the concepts work at all.

Meanwhile and perhaps most importantly, now is a very good moment for organisations to look for what scenarios Kubernetes works best “out of the box”, working with providers and reviewing architectural patterns to deliver proven results against specific, high-value needs these are likely to be by industry and by the domain (I could dig into this, but did I mention that I’m sitting on a plane? ).

Jon Collins from Kubecon 2022

Kubernetes might be a done deal, but that doesn’t mean it should be adopted wholesale before some of the peripheral detail is ironed out.

The post Retrospective thoughts on Kubecon appeared first on GigaOm.

Continue Reading

Security

Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Published

on

It seems like every day the news brings new stories of cyberattacks. Whether ransomware, malware, crippling viruses, or more frequently of late—distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. According to Infosec magazine, in the first half of 2020, there was a 151% increase in the number of DDoS attacks compared to the same period the previous year. That same report states experts predict as many as 15.4 million DDoS attacks within the next two years.

These attacks can be difficult to detect until it’s too late, and then they can be challenging to defend against. There are solutions available, but there is no one magic bullet. As Alastair Cooke points out in his recent “GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection” report, there are different categories of DDoS attacks.

And different types of attacks require different types of defenses. You’ll want to adopt each of these three defense strategies against DDoS attacks to a certain degree, as attackers are never going to limit themselves to a single attack vector:

Network Defense: Attacks targeting the OS and network operate at either Layer 3 or Layer 4 of the OSI stack. These attacks don’t flood the servers with application requests but attempt to exhaust TCP/IP resources on the supporting infrastructure. DDoS protection solutions defending against network attacks identify the attack behavior and absorb it into the platform.

Application Defense: Other DDoS attacks target the actual website itself or the web server application by overwhelming the site with random data and wasting resources. DDoS protection against these attacks might handle SSL decryption with hardware-based cryptography and prevent invalid data from reaching web servers.

Defense by Scale: There have been massive DDoS attacks, and they show no signs of stopping. The key to successfully defending against a DDoS attack is to have a scalable platform capable of deflecting an attack led by a million bots with hundreds of gigabits per second of network throughput.

Table 1. Impact of Features on Metrics
[chart id=”1001387″ show=”table”]

DDoS attacks are growing more frequent and more powerful and sophisticated. Amazon reports mitigating a massive DDoS attack a couple of years ago in which peak traffic volume reached 2.3 Tbps. Deploying DDoS protection across the spectrum of attack vectors is no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity.

In his report, Cooke concludes that “Any DDoS protection product is only part of an overall strategy, not a silver bullet for denial-of-service hazards.” Evaluate your organization and your needs, read more about each solution evaluated in the Radar report, and carefully match the right DDoS solutions to best suit your needs.

Learn More About the Reports: Gigaom Key Criteria for DDoS, and Gigaom Radar for DDoS

The post Defeating Distributed Denial of Service Attacks appeared first on GigaOm.

Continue Reading

Trending