In preparation for an upcoming February RSAC 365 podcast with Andy Greenberg, I’ve been stealing time at every turn trying to plow through Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency while also finalizing the programming for RSAC 2023, shuttling my kids between school and their after-school activities, and reading Viola Davis’s memoir for my monthly book club. Deep exhale.
Thank goodness I love books. Someone once said to me, “I only read books to learn something,” which struck me as funny. Don’t we all learn something from every story? Take Greenberg’s book, for example. Certainly, I am learning about tracing cryptocurrency in the dark web, but the book is also a testament to the philosophical teachings of Plato and what it means to be human.
Plato often questioned whether people only behave ethically because they fear the social consequences of shame or punishment for bad behavior. Tracers in the Dark affirms that people will act without impunity when they believe they won’t get caught. Certainly, the federal agents who were siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrencies believed their identities could not be traced.
Greenberg’s book, and headlines from this week, teach that we are not invisible, even on the dark web. Defenders are making advancements in Mapping the Cybercriminal Ecosystem, which is why it is critical that security professionals also learn about the mindset and motives of these actors.
There’s a part of me that believes Ross Ulbricht, who created the Silk Road marketplace on the dark web under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Greenberg explained that upon sentencing, Ulbricht claimed that his intention was to create a private and free marketplace where people could engage in the free trade of goods and services outside of the watchful eye of institutionalized banking systems. As so many who came before him did, he fell victim to hubris. The unfortunate story of so many tragic heroes.
What Tracers in the Dark also teaches the reader is that good can prevail (all these lessons, yet I’m only halfway through). The cybersecurity industry is ripe with Humans as Heroes, evidence that we are indeed stronger together.
Now let’s take a look at what else made cybersecurity headlines this week.
Jan. 27: “The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) … warned of spear-phishing attacks mounted by Russian and Iranian state-sponsored actors for information-gathering operations,” The Hacker News reported.
Jan. 27: Robotics and Automation News offered tips for securing the remote workforce.
Jan. 26: RSAC Program Committee and Forbes Technology Council member Etay Maor shared best practices for securing operational technology.
Jan. 26: “The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning that the malicious use of remote management tools continues to pose a major threat, pointing to a ‘widespread’ cyberattack campaign from last fall that employed legitimate remote monitoring and management (RMM) software,” CRN reported.
Jan. 25: OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a “chatbot” AI technology with the ability to mimic human conversations, is fomenting concerns from academics and security professionals alike.
Jan. 25: “CISA discovered malicious activity within the networks of multiple federal civilian executive branch (FCEB) agencies using the EINSTEIN intrusion detection system after the release of a Silent Push report in mid-October 2022,” BleepingComputer reported.
Jan. 25: According to TechTarget, “A security contractor for Baltimore County Public Schools mistakenly opened a suspicious phishing email attachment in an unsecure environment, leading to the ransomware attack.”
Jan. 25: Beware of any emails from Yahoo! proclaiming big winnings, as nearly 20% of phishing attacks in 2022 Q4 were fraudsters impersonating the brand.
Jan. 24: According to news from Dark Reading, researchers at SentinelOne have identified “a threat actor compromised a number of organizations across China and Taiwan by creating a Frankenstein’s monster-style composite of preexisting open source components.”Jan. 24: CISA released a new report to help augment the security strategy for the K-12 education sector.