Researcher wants hacker groups hounded mercilessly
Botnet expert Joe Stewart says 'special ops' teams could thwart cybercriminals
Computerworld - Criminal cybergangs must be harried, hounded and hunted until they're driven out of business, a noted botnet researcher said today as he prepared to pitch a new anti-malware strategy later this week at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.
"We need a new approach to fighting cybercrime," said Joe Stewart, director of SecureWorks Inc.'s counterthreat unit. "What we're doing now is not making a significant dent."
Rather than pursue malware makers the old-fashioned way -- a tack Stewart argued is haphazard, at best -- he said that teams of paid security researchers should be created to stalk and disrupt specific criminal gangs or botnets. Set up like a police department's major crimes unit or a military special operations team, the researchers would take a long-term view, get to know their target, perhaps even infiltrate the group responsible for the botnet and employ a spectrum of disruptive tactics.
"Criminals are operating with the same risk-effort-reward model of legitimate businesses," said Stewart. "If we really want to dissuade them, we have to attack all three of those. Only then can we disrupt their business."
Researchers have had some success, said Stewart, who cited last November's takedown of McColo Corp., a hosting company that was harboring the command-and-control servers for several large botnets, as an one example. The creation of the Conficker Working Group, a consortium of companies and organizations that has worked to keep that worm's makers from communicating with infected PCs, is another.
"McColo didn't take all the botnets out," said Stewart, who was instrumental in identifying the botnets controlled by McColo-hosted systems, "even though some, like Srizbi, suffered. But even though Srizbi didn't really come back, [its authors] are back up and running another bot. It's much less sophisticated, and just one-tenth the size, but they're back."
To affect a botnet, and the criminal group behind it, Stewart believes that small, independent teams must focus on just that one malware family. "These small groups would have a long-term focus on just one criminal group or botnet, and employ every tactic that they can come up with," he said.
Current tactics, such as taking down a command-and-control server or building spam filtering lists, are not enough, Stewart argued. "We need to keep doing them, over and over again," he said.
A purely volunteer effort won't cut it, he's convinced, and some way to fund professionals must be found. "Maybe a bank or group of banks would fund a team that goes after a phishing group or banking Trojan groups," Stewart speculated. But he acknowledged he doesn't have all the answers. "I'm more of an idea guy."
- Silicon Valley's 19 Coolest Places to Work
- Is Windows 8 Development Worth the Trouble?
- 8 Books Every IT Leader Should Read This Year
- 10 Hot Hadoop Startups to Watch
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Radicati: Cloud Business Email - Market Quadrant 2013 Google was named the top cloud business email provider in a recent report by research firm Radicati. Out of 14 key players, Google...
- Tablets in the Enterprise: A Checklist for Successful Deployment How can you enterprise manage and secure tablets in order to protect corporate data while providing access to the information and applications employees...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Enterprise File Sync & Share Checklist File sync and share has changed the way people work and collaborate in today's tech-savvy world. Gone are the email roadblocks, clunky FTP...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy... All Security White Papers | Webcasts