Every system that uses digital technologies – whether it involves centralized servers with immense processing power and storage capabilities or information we store and transact on our smartphones – has vulnerabilities associated with it. Some of these are well known and understood; others are constantly emerging. The reality is that a system that was considered secure yesterday may be insecure this morning because a new, previously unknown hardware or software issue (called a zero-day vulnerability) has been identified.
Systems are compromised by attackers for many reasons. A disgruntled current or former employee with a grudge wipes out a key file or program. A nation-state actor compromises a company’s competitive bidding system and provides its forthcoming bid to a competitor in its country. A hacker compromises huge numbers of payment card accounts and offers them for sale on the dark web. A criminal tricks someone at a help desk into providing them with access codes. A misconfigured system allows an intruder to go from a portion of a system that monitors environmental conditions in one location to one that stores sensitive financial information. These all have happened and continue to happen.
In this chapter, we share our collective insight spanning the public and private sectors, different parts of the world, and diverse industry backgrounds and experience of more than 40 years investigating and responding to cyber incidents.
The questions we cover are: Who are the suspects? What kinds of threat-actors are out there targeting our systems? Is there some logic in how they select victims? In how they attack? Why are so many attacks successful?
An extract from the first edition of The Guide to Cyber Investigations. The whole publication is available at Global Investigations Review.