Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics //

Security Monitoring

5/9/2013
02:52 PM
Wendy Nather
Wendy Nather
Commentary
50%
50%

I Think We're All Botnets On This Bus

How many undercover researchers can fit under one cover?

Threat intelligence is such a thing these days that everyone is doing it. I talk to dozens of vendors who tell me about the sensors they have distributed across the Internet, the thousands of honeypots and honeyclients they're running, and the traffic they're capturing. They even tell me about their researchers monitoring IRC channels.

This pool is getting so crowded, it might just happen that they're all monitoring one another.

I'm imagining IRC channels full of moles, pretending to be Anonymi and taking notes on what everyone else says. (Are there language boot camps somewhere for 1337-speak?) I'm envisioning botnets that have willing participants, maybe significant percentages of them, belonging to researchers. And I'm sure there have been collisions already where one group from Tirebiter Labs was tracking some activity that turned out to come from the researchers at Spoilsport Security.

If the trend toward "offensive security" continues (or "active defense," or "hacking back," or whatever other terms you like), then even if these security researchers limit themselves to deception and disruption, it's likely that other "good guys" may end up getting deceived and disrupted. Sorting out the real threats from the fake ones could become a regular part of security research operations.

Malware is already showing up that uses SSL and authentication to communicate with the C&C servers, demonstrating that its authors are concerned with keeping white hats out of their botnets. As an escalating arms race, this is enough to keep everyone busy. But when you throw growing numbers of uncoordinated investigators into the mix, it could happen that we'll eventually see examples of "friendly fire."

So although there's a rich mine of information out there, both for monitoring and for research, I think it's only a matter of time before the water gets seriously muddied. It isn't just a case of what the government is allowed to monitor; it's also a question of who else, and how many of them, can do it without creating additional problems. This particular discussion should be happening soon.

Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at the independent analyst firm 451 Research. You can find her on Twitter as @451wendy. Wendy Nather is Research Director of the Enterprise Security Practice at independent analyst firm 451 Research. With over 30 years of IT experience, she has worked both in financial services and in the public sector, both in the US and in Europe. Wendy's coverage areas ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
bross191
50%
50%
bross191,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2013 | 3:08:24 PM
re: I Think We're All Botnets On This Bus
That was my first thought when I heard about a researcher who was amazed by the number of misconfigured DNS servers that he was able to turn into a botnet to do some research. It was quite possible that the bulk of those "misconfigured" servers were actually honeypots.
Maybe that's what used up all of the IPv4 addresses. They are all being used as honeypots.
DorLock
50%
50%
DorLock,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/13/2013 | 11:36:46 PM
re: I Think We're All Botnets On This Bus
Very good article! That's very true that the same botnet's that researchers are monitoring could be possibly other researchers conducting the same covert activities. Wouldn't it be interesting if this is happening with Zeus? We're so focused on trying to spot patterns and the bad guys behind these malicious tools we may be compromising our own efforts of research.
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-24376
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
The Autoptimize WordPress plugin before 2.7.8 attempts to delete malicious files (such as .php) form the uploaded archive via the "Import Settings" feature, after its extraction. However, the extracted folders are not checked and it is possible to upload a zip which contained a directory w...
CVE-2021-24377
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
The Autoptimize WordPress plugin before 2.7.8 attempts to remove potential malicious files from the extracted archive uploaded via the 'Import Settings' feature, however this is not sufficient to protect against RCE as a race condition can be achieved in between the moment the file is extracted on t...
CVE-2021-24378
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
The Autoptimize WordPress plugin before 2.7.8 does not check for malicious files such as .html in the archive uploaded via the 'Import Settings' feature. As a result, it is possible for a high privilege user to upload a malicious file containing JavaScript code inside an archive which will execute w...
CVE-2021-24379
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
The Comments Like Dislike WordPress plugin before 1.1.4 allows users to like/dislike posted comments, however does not prevent them from replaying the AJAX request to add a like. This allows any user (even unauthenticated) to add unlimited like/dislike to any comment. The plugin appears to have some...
CVE-2021-24383
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-21
The WP Google Maps WordPress plugin before 8.1.12 did not sanitise, validate of escape the Map Name when output in the Map List of the admin dashboard, leading to an authenticated Stored Cross-Site Scripting issue