The Evolution of Cyber Threat; Interview with IntelCrawler’s Researchers

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Today I desire to propose an interview with Andrey Komarov, CEO of IntelCrawler and Dan Clements, President of IntelCrawler. IntelCrawler is a multi-tier intelligence aggregator, which gathers information and cyber prints from a starting big data pool of over 3, 000, 000, 000 IPv4 and over 200, 000, 000 domain names, which are scanned for analytics and dissemination to drill down to a desired result.

I have prepared for them a series of answers and questions to analyze significant evolutions in the cyber-threat landscape:

Q. Which are the most concerning cyber threats for private businesses and government organizations?

  1.  Avoiding talking about usual and standard things, of course, the most dangerous and annoying is the emergence of fundamentally new vulnerabilities in critical applications and systems. “Zero day” vulnerabilities market is developing every day and taking the shape of a part of the future cyberwarfare market, as it is still in the process of formation. Neither consumers in the face of government or companies, nor vendors are not ready for such kind of threat, which makes mitigation actions very complicated.

Q. Which are the industries most exposed to cyber attacks and why?

  1.  Just imagine, what would be interesting for you, if your main interests were money and information? It is two main reasons of all past and today’s cyber attacks in the world. First of all, it is all related to profitable commercial business, such as private banking and industrial sector, ending with government infrastructures, which relates to state sponsored attacks. It is true, as cyber offensive approaches displace “old school”, such as signal intelligence, as it is much cheaper and easier in the 21st century. The role of information takes new forms, making the computer communications as a battlefield of modern cyber warfare.

Which are the factors that most of all have influenced the design of malicious code in the last year (e.g. P2P communication protocols, advanced evasion techniques, hiding C&C in Tor networks)

Malware coders are interested in hiding of the communications between the infected host and C&C, that’s why the stable trend is to create or to use alternative means of communications. That’s why, there were lots of new kinds of samples, which used C&C in TOR or I2P, which was really exotic for the first time, but then became one of the standards for the cybercriminals.

Q. Which is the role of the intelligence in the fight to the cybercrime?

  1.  The role of e-crime intelligence is huge, as sometimes only timely notification about planned threat can help to prevent cyber attack or fraud. There are some difficulties in this niche as well, such as the heterogeneity of geographies cyber criminals live, the languages they speak, opportunity of deep infiltration in Underground communities, gathering information on the real identity of the criminals in the age of anonymity and impersonality and etc., all these aspects forcing us to organize systematical monitoring of several the most important regions, such as Asian segment, former USSR, risky EU-based countries, such as Romania, and use a large network of trusted sources. Software protection ways can’t help on 100%, that’s why human resources and intelligence are one of the most important additional elements.

Q. Malware and Internet of things, what to expect in the next months?

  1.  First of all, new variants of mobile malware, as it will be one of the most actual for the nearest future, because of global “mobilization”. Secondly, new kinds of online-banking trojans and the appearance of medication of POS/ATM malicious code, as “skimming” becomes too expensive and risky. Thirdly, hacking and surveillance will damage your privacy more and more, as it is inseparable.

Q. Does it exist a marked distinction between cybercrime and state-sponsored hacking?

  1.  Yes, as state-sponsored hacking has more specifics. Interesting fact, that firstly cybercriminalitycreates the trend for further state-sponsored hacking, governments copy its actions and explore the methods and means they use in that or this country, as it is really different. Just compare, Chinese hackers and Latin American hackers, absolutely different style of intrusions, fundamentally different approaches on malicious code, as Chinese stuff is more sophisticated, because of great experience and scientific potential across the whole country. 

Q. Which are the governments most active in cyberspace?

  1.  You should be very cautions talking about exact governments in cyber world, because it is still not very transparent. Good example, we have detected the C&C placed in Morocco, but the owners of thebotnets who were behind using email accounts registered on GMX.DE. Another is when the malware after reverse engineering and unpacking had strings written in Hebrew, but hosted in Latvia. Despite these facts, the leaders of this industry certainly are: China, USA, Russia, Germany, France, UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Q. Do you think it is possible a major cyber attack against a government network or a critical infrastructure in the next year?

A. Yes, as it is one of the today’s main interests of bad actors, doesn’t matter state sponsored or general criminals.

Q. Do you think it is possible that a Stuxnet like malware is already operating on the Internet?

  1.  You never know, but I think that the topic of embedded systems backdooring or malware distribution under PLC/RTU/SCADA is still very actual. And was not deleted from the plans of the intelligence community.

Dan Clements: IntelCrawler President, former Cardcops president, one of the first cybercrime intelligence company, which worked with major banks in the US on compromised data recovery.

Andrey Komarov: IntelCrawler CEO, author of OWASP SCADA Security Project. Expert in critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and SCADA security assessment. Responsible for cyber intelligence and e-crime intelligence topics in the company, as well as for R&D on Big Data and IPv4/IPv6 address space research.

Today I desire to propose an interview with Andrey Komarov, CEO of IntelCrawler and Dan Clements, President of IntelCrawler. IntelCrawler is a multi-tier intelligence aggregator, which gathers information and cyber prints from a starting big data pool of over 3, 000, 000, 000 IPv4 and over 200, 000, 000 domain names, which are scanned for analytics and dissemination to drill down to a desired result.

I have prepared for them a series of answers and questions to analyze significant evolutions in the cyber-threat landscape:

Q. Which are the most concerning cyber threats for private businesses and government organizations?

  1.  Avoiding talking about usual and standard things, of course, the most dangerous and annoying is the emergence of fundamentally new vulnerabilities in critical applications and systems. “Zero day” vulnerabilities market is developing every day and taking the shape of a part of the future cyberwarfare market, as it is still in the process of formation. Neither consumers in the face of government or companies, nor vendors are not ready for such kind of threat, which makes mitigation actions very complicated.

Q. Which are the industries most exposed to cyber attacks and why?

  1.  Just imagine, what would be interesting for you, if your main interests were money and information? It is two main reasons of all past and today’s cyber attacks in the world. First of all, it is all related to profitable commercial business, such as private banking and industrial sector, ending with government infrastructures, which relates to state sponsored attacks. It is true, as cyber offensive approaches displace “old school”, such as signal intelligence, as it is much cheaper and easier in the 21st century. The role of information takes new forms, making the computer communications as a battlefield of modern cyber warfare.

Which are the factors that most of all have influenced the design of malicious code in the last year (e.g. P2P communication protocols, advanced evasion techniques, hiding C&C in Tor networks)

Malware coders are interested in hiding of the communications between the infected host and C&C, that’s why the stable trend is to create or to use alternative means of communications. That’s why, there were lots of new kinds of samples, which used C&C in TOR or I2P, which was really exotic for the first time, but then became one of the standards for the cybercriminals.

Q. Which is the role of the intelligence in the fight to the cybercrime?

  1.  The role of e-crime intelligence is huge, as sometimes only timely notification about planned threat can help to prevent cyber attack or fraud. There are some difficulties in this niche as well, such as the heterogeneity of geographies cyber criminals live, the languages they speak, opportunity of deep infiltration in Underground communities, gathering information on the real identity of the criminals in the age of anonymity and impersonality and etc., all these aspects forcing us to organize systematical monitoring of several the most important regions, such as Asian segment, former USSR, risky EU-based countries, such as Romania, and use a large network of trusted sources. Software protection ways can’t help on 100%, that’s why human resources and intelligence are one of the most important additional elements.

Q. Malware and Internet of things, what to expect in the next months?

  1.  First of all, new variants of mobile malware, as it will be one of the most actual for the nearest future, because of global “mobilization”. Secondly, new kinds of online-banking trojans and the appearance of medication of POS/ATM malicious code, as “skimming” becomes too expensive and risky. Thirdly, hacking and surveillance will damage your privacy more and more, as it is inseparable.

Q. Does it exist a marked distinction between cybercrime and state-sponsored hacking?

  1.  Yes, as state-sponsored hacking has more specifics. Interesting fact, that firstly cybercriminalitycreates the trend for further state-sponsored hacking, governments copy its actions and explore the methods and means they use in that or this country, as it is really different. Just compare, Chinese hackers and Latin American hackers, absolutely different style of intrusions, fundamentally different approaches on malicious code, as Chinese stuff is more sophisticated, because of great experience and scientific potential across the whole country. 

Q. Which are the governments most active in cyberspace?

  1.  You should be very cautions talking about exact governments in cyber world, because it is still not very transparent. Good example, we have detected the C&C placed in Morocco, but the owners of thebotnets who were behind using email accounts registered on GMX.DE. Another is when the malware after reverse engineering and unpacking had strings written in Hebrew, but hosted in Latvia. Despite these facts, the leaders of this industry certainly are: China, USA, Russia, Germany, France, UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Q. Do you think it is possible a major cyber attack against a government network or a critical infrastructure in the next year?

A. Yes, as it is one of the today’s main interests of bad actors, doesn’t matter state sponsored or general criminals.

Q. Do you think it is possible that a Stuxnet like malware is already operating on the Internet?

  1.  You never know, but I think that the topic of embedded systems backdooring or malware distribution under PLC/RTU/SCADA is still very actual. And was not deleted from the plans of the intelligence community.

Dan Clements: IntelCrawler President, former Cardcops president, one of the first cybercrime intelligence company, which worked with major banks in the US on compromised data recovery.

Andrey Komarov: IntelCrawler CEO, author of OWASP SCADA Security Project. Expert in critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and SCADA security assessment. Responsible for cyber intelligence and e-crime intelligence topics in the company, as well as for R&D on Big Data and IPv4/IPv6 address space research.

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