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Perimeter

12/26/2018
09:00 AM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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6 Ways to Anger Attackers on Your Network

Because you can't hack back without breaking the law, these tactics will frustrate, deceive, and annoy intruders instead.
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(Image: ls_design - stock.adobe.com)

(Image: ls_design stock.adobe.com)

When you see an attacker on your network, it's understandable to want to give them a taste of their own medicine. But how can you effectively anger intruders when "hacking back" is illegal?

In fact, the biggest legal risks are violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), says Jason Straight, senior vice president and chief privacy officer at UnitedLex. And while businesses are dabbling in illegal activity, he advises against it.

"Make no mistake: It is happening. Companies are hacking back," he explains, and much of their activity is arguably in violation of the CFAA. That said, he isn't aware of any prosecutions under CFAA against organizations engaged in what is often called "active defense activities."

Legal trouble aside, getting into a back-and-forth with attackers is dangerous, Straight cautions. "Even if you're really, really good and know what you're doing, the best in the business … will tell you it's very hard to avoid causing collateral damage," he explains. Chances are good your adversaries will see your "hack back" and launch a more dangerous attack in response.

The worst thing you can do is go after the wrong party, the wrong network, or the wrong machines, he continues. Most hackers aren't using their own equipment when they attack.

"There are times when I have really wanted to strike back, but you can't and you don't," says Gene Fredriksen, chief information security strategy for PCSU. You can shut them off, blacklist their IP addresses, and do things to slow them down if your team uses a SIEM system. There are several steps you can take to anger attackers without actively targeting them in response.

The idea is to get the bad guy to think twice, he explains, and let them know you're serious.

Here, security experts cite the most effective ways they've found to frustrate, deceive, and annoy attackers without risking legal consequences. If you have a tactic they didn't list, please share it in the comments.

 

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2018 | 11:14:54 AM
Hack back
Legal trouble aside, getting into a back-and-forth with attackers is dangerous, Straight cautions. This would let happen within the country, as outside of country then they would not care as they do not think rules applied to them.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2018 | 11:17:45 AM
privileges
Don't give people more privileges than they really need. I think this is important aspect of whole security, and always missed use of least privilege rule.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2018 | 11:19:38 AM
Honeypots
However, they require time to build and monitor, and companies often don't have the resources they need to do that Honeypots are good, it requires resources obviously, you can use that resource to harden you production env.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2018 | 11:21:42 AM
Canaries
Canaries are less invasive and less passive, and it's less likely even an advanced attacker will realize what happened. I assume it still requires to set it up and monitor, do some resources are needed.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2018 | 11:26:39 AM
Open-ports
If you have an open port on your machine, for example, many people know you have a weakness. Open ports are the same as least privileged approach, closed unless needed.
idolapk
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idolapk,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/29/2018 | 2:51:01 PM
Re: Hack back
very nice
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2018 | 6:23:00 PM
Re: Open-ports
@Dr.T: Of course, in some cases, accessibility trumps security. The key is looking at which ports are open and which ports are being accessed. Some ports have almost no business being accessed by unknown third parties ever.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2018 | 6:29:02 PM
A couple of points
The note about sharing information and working together is well taken. The financial-services sector has been doing this and scaling up their resources here for some years now -- with assistance/collaboration w/ government agencies as well (the latter of which see it as a matter of crime deterrence and national security).

The separate point about "non-prosecutable activity" is similarly well-taken. While I could never advise it as an attorney, risk and compliance professionals need to understand that security is about risk. Sometimes, non-compliance -- while unlawful and unrecommended by the attorneys -- is an effective business tactic.
MarkSitkowski
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MarkSitkowski,
User Rank: Moderator
1/3/2019 | 5:53:39 PM
Re: Hack back
There's a very simple and effective way to strike back, which will not violate any laws, and earn you some gratitude.

As you rightly pointed out, hackers don't use their own hardware, they use compromised machines, usually high-end servers.

The thing to do, as soon as you detect a hack attempt is:

Add a firewall rule blocking the IP address

Look up the owner of the IP in whois

Send your log extract, which shows the hack attempt, to the owner's abuse contact, and CC the country's CERT office

In all cases, the owner will either remove the malware/script or cancel the account generating the traffic. ISP's hate hackers nearly as much as you do, and you'll get cooperation from  every country in the world.

The most satidfying message we received was from a Russian ISP, saying "This user has been terminated..."

We've been doing this for years and, to-date, have seen 102195 sources of hacking removed from the internet.

Do it. It works.

 
samwebstudio
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samwebstudio,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2019 | 6:46:22 AM
Re: Hack back
nice
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