In both the physical and digital worlds, the things that pose the greatest threats to our security are often hiding in plain sight. And no matter how hard we try, the tools and techniques we use to protect ourselves have limitations. So, what better way to observe National Cyber Security Awareness Month than to expand our cybersecurity efforts in new and different ways—like social media.
Here’s a recent example where the effective use of social media might have prevented a real-world cyberattack by a well-known hacker group. (Actual dates and organization names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
Day One, 8:07 a.m.: A crime prevention agency in the U.K. (let’s call it “James Bond”) announces the arrest of some teenagers for their use of a cyber-attack toolkit hosted by some bad guys (let’s call them “Bad Guys”). News of these arrests is reported on syndicated newswire feeds.
Day One, 5:55 p.m.: The Bad Guys, made aware of the U.K. arrests, post a tweet threatening to ramp up operations “soon.”
Day Three, 9:34 p.m.: The James Bond twitter account confirms that their website is suffering a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The Bad Guys later take credit for the attack.
Hindsight being 20-20, it’s clear that this attack might have been foreseen—or thwarted. Over the three-day span between the Bad Guys threatening tweet and the attack, the use of social network influence analysis and threat profiles might have identified links between the arrested teens and the specific Bad Guys who launched the attack. That early warning of a credible threat might have then prepared James Bond to mitigate the attack—or prevent it entirely.
Lesson for us: Indications of cyber threats can be found in unconventional data sources. As you strive to protect your network, make sure your solution allows you to analyze, extract, and combine signals from that data to give yourself a leg up on the Bad Guys.
Lesson for James Bond: The next time you arrest some Bad Guys, you might want to keep it under your bowler.
Spread the news: October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.