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Cybercrime, Cyber Espionage Tactics Converge
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Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
2/25/2015 | 11:51:22 AM
Re: Good coverage of useful data points as usual, but...
Hi there, Stephen. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I thought Ryan Kazanciyan of Mandiant did a good job in my interview with him providing a measured analysis of the data & the report. I completely agree with your point that we only know what we know about the real attacks and groups out there. Reports like Mandiant's are really helpful in providing a good snapshot of the attacks/groups they are seeing in their breach investigation cases. But as you note, they are one org's perspective. 
Sara Peters
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Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2015 | 11:06:50 AM
compounding the problem...
Good stuff, Kelly! Attribution is extra complicated by the fact that these tactics are converging, and compounding the problem is the fact that the nature of the criminals themselves are changing. For the longest time, any time people said "Chinese hackers," the assumption was that they were backed by or working for the government. Now we know that there are financially motivated hacking groups in China that probably have nothing to do with the nation-state.
zcobb01
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zcobb01,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2015 | 2:51:59 AM
Good coverage of useful data points as usual, but...
I appreciate your coverage of these observations Kelly -- would that other journalists knew this subject area as wel as you do -- yet I worry that the lack of solid data on the true nature and extent of both cyber crime and cyber espionage is even greater than we acknowledge.

Useful as reports based on investigated incidents are, they are just that: the incidents seen by a specific entity, or group of entities in the case of the much anticipated Verizon DBIR. They can tell us some important things, but generalizing from them is fraught with danger, as is the urge to treat them as longitudinal studies.

To be fair to the authors of many of these studies, they include statistical disclaimers. But I think all of us are tempted to say things like "there were X% more of attack type Y this year than last" without including the qualifying factors (like "among cases that happened to be brought to our attention", as opposed to "as experienced by the same sample of organizations that we polled last year"). 

I really appreciated Mandant sharing their encounter "dormant artifacts from a previous compromise". That tells us we didn't have a complete picture before. I doubt we have one now.

Stephen Cobb


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