Welcome to the Threat Hunter Blog

Observations from out on the rim...

Active Defense

Dr. Peter Stephenson

I'll begin by announcing our new sponsor, Intel471.  Intel471 is a threat actor-centered service that has a database of over a million threat actors and that tracks actors through participation in the underground forums where the hackers do their work and sell their warez.  Click on the link below to visit their web site.Welcome to the Threat Hunter Blog!

An interesting story came across my desk this week – the topic was active defense or, in the vernacular, “hack-back”.  I found this interesting because it seems so controversial and I really don’t understand why.  Before we explore this a bit deeper and I tell you my position on it (you may or may not agree – that’s your prerogative) let’s just get the facts out of the way.  First, in the U.S. it’s illegal and second, more often than not it simply does not work.  When it does work it’s because you were amazingly lucky or very, very skilled.  That certainly narrows the probability for success. 

So if active defense is illegal and unreliable, why would anyone do it? Two answers come to mind: revenge and greed. 

On the revenge side it must feel good to get inside the server of the twerp who just sent a bot into your system through a phishing email.  “I got that sucker… he won’t come after me again!”  Think again… the stories of the hackers turning back on folks who hack back are legion. 

This is Stephenson’s Theory of Rattlesnakes.  If you are stupid enough to pick up one – and it doesn’t bite you – you can’t just put it down.  If you do you’re toast.  The snake will turn on you and now it’s really mad.  You have to fling the snake as far from you as you can.  Same with hack-back.  If you go after the hackers you’d better be prepared for retaliation ‘cause that snake now is really angry.

Now we come to greed.  There are several consultancies – usually boutiques – that specialize in active defense.  They get good money for breaking the law. There is no lack of clients, either.  One consultant who does this told the author of the story:

“It has been attack after attack after attack. My business has skyrocketed. I feel like I should send the Chinese a Christmas card saying thank you for a wonderful year.”

The story that got me thinking about this, (http://www.pymnts.com/in-depth/2015/attacking-hackers-the-next-security-frontier/#/Vco7407D_bU), talks about the “three As” of active defense: annoy, attribution and attack.  Annoy, as the author of this piece describes it is really nothing more than a honeypot. That is useful for research but I fail to see how it would annoy the attacker beyond getting frustrated by not finding anything of value and being led down a rabbit-hole. There’s nothing illegal about this and you may learn something that would allow competent authority to take down the server.

Attribution is the hardest problem in cyber attacks. ADHD has an app called Honey Badger that uses geolocation to pinpoint attackers.  I have not tried it, I have no idea at this pont how – or even if – it works. The other way, of course, is beacons.  These are tokens that are inserted in data that the hacker wants to steal and that reports its true destination.

At this point I must say that so far I would only expect to be successful against script kiddies.  The real bad guys are writing good software (or really bad, depending upon your viewpoint) and the cyber crooks are buying/renting and using it.  There’s a full-blown underground economy here, but that’s a story for another time.

The third piece, obviously, is attack.  This is a bad idea.  It’s illegal (I already said that but it bears repeating) and you are more likely to nuke some computer that belongs to a mom-and-pop store and has been pwned by the bad guys than you are to hit the bad guys themselves.

So, what’s the point?  Can’t answer that, really… I suppose it just feels good… but so does stopping when you’ve been smacking your head against a brick wall.

<< Back Add New Comment
10/18/2017 1:18:35 PM
n <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/cheap-cialis-generic-online >cialis canada pharmacy</a> body
either <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-10-mg>substitute for cialis</a>
cialis pills for sale
10/18/2017 1:16:51 PM
c <a href= http://paydayrgd.com/payday-loans-pittsburgh >payday loans online california</a> started
hat <a href=http://paydayrgd.com/bad-credit-payday-loans-online>payday loans with a prepaid debit card</a>
top online payday loans
10/18/2017 1:15:45 PM
w <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-patent >cialis side effects list</a> been
church <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-without-prescription>cialis india</a>
cialis for daily use dosage
10/18/2017 12:53:17 PM
p <a href= http://paydayrgd.com/payday-loans-in-sc >online payday loans same day deposit</a> looked
thrown <a href=http://paydayrgd.com/payday-loans-online-no-credit-check-no-faxing>quick cash payday loans</a>
payday loans dothan al
10/18/2017 12:53:01 PM
j <a href= http://erectionpillsvcl.com/get-viagra-prescribed-online >xanax and viagra</a> found
share <a href=http://erectionpillsvcl.com/viagra-commercials>fda approves female viagra</a>
buy viagra online
10/18/2017 12:47:52 PM
n <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/viagra-vs-cialis-cost >cialis website</a> pain
quietly <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/5-mg-cialis>when to take cialis 5mg</a>
cialis 5mg cost
10/18/2017 12:45:48 PM
n <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/which-is-better-viagra-or-cialis >medicare cialis</a> spirit
also <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/online-cialis-reviews>buy cialis now</a>
cialis online without prescription
10/18/2017 12:23:52 PM
v <a href= http://erectionpillsvcl.com/viagra-coupons-online >how to take viagra</a> expression
wife <a href=http://erectionpillsvcl.com>how long before sex should i take viagra</a>
best place to buy viagra
10/18/2017 12:17:11 PM
w <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/herbal-cialis >how long until cialis works</a> countenance
to <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/directions-for-cialis>cialis daily coupon</a>
max dosage of cialis
10/18/2017 12:15:57 PM
e <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-indications >cialis before surgery</a> makes
lives <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/overnight-cialis>cialis dosage 40 mg</a>
price of cialis 5mg
10/18/2017 11:54:36 AM
j <a href= http://erectionpillsvcl.com/funny-viagra-commercial >canada pharmacy viagra</a> has
hung <a href=http://erectionpillsvcl.com/over-the-counter-viagra-substitute-walgreens>viagra 50mg price</a>
coupons for viagra
10/18/2017 11:45:45 AM
u <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-over-the-counter-at-walmart >best cialis online</a> Mr
hands <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/natural-cialis>buy cialis generic online</a>
best online pharmacy for cialis
10/18/2017 11:25:40 AM
d <a href= http://erectionpillsvcl.com/viagra-heart-attack >when do you take viagra</a> changed
view <a href=http://erectionpillsvcl.com/viagra-100mg-street-price>cenforce 100 vs viagra</a>
viagra for premature ejaculation
10/18/2017 11:20:47 AM
d <a href= http://paydayrgd.com/payday-installment-loans-online >online no fax payday loans</a> broke
five <a href=http://paydayrgd.com/online-payday-loans-in-nc>payday loans tallahassee</a>
payday loans phoenix az
10/18/2017 11:16:13 AM
t <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/viagra-v-cialis >cialis 30 day trial</a> conduct
bound <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/adcirca-vs-cialis>cialis tablet</a>
cialis generika
10/18/2017 11:15:32 AM
m <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/lower-cost-cialis >cialis half life</a> had
telling <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/shelf-life-of-cialis>cost of cialis at costco</a>
walgreens cialis 20mg price
10/18/2017 10:57:17 AM
n <a href= http://paydayrgd.com/online-payday-loans-in-va >first payday loans</a> trees
hard <a href=http://paydayrgd.com/best-payday-loans-reviews>payday loans direct lenders bad credit</a>
payday loans tulsa ok
10/18/2017 10:56:40 AM
j <a href= http://erectionpillsvcl.com >walmart viagra</a> drew
their <a href=http://erectionpillsvcl.com/is-viagra-otc>viagra samples</a>
buy viagra cheap
10/18/2017 10:45:58 AM
a <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/max-dosage-cialis >what does a cialis pill look like</a> she's
if <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/lower-cost-cialis>cialis discounts</a>
cialis online india
10/18/2017 10:45:19 AM
o <a href= http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-dosage-side-effects >buy cialis online reviews</a> reached
shoulder <a href=http://cialisxtl.com/cialis-2.5mg-price>cialis india</a>
how much is cialis per pill
25370 items total 1  2  3  4  5  ...  1269 
Add New Comment
Please type the confirmation code you see on the image*
Reload image