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Perimeter

5/17/2010
02:10 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
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Build-A-Botnet Kits Let Anyone Steal Data

At the recent Cisco Networks Solution Forum held in Toronto, a Cisco product manager stated, "You don't need to be tech savvy" to steal data. It's a sad but true reality that isn't much of an eye opener for many of us who watch users get their accounts compromised day in and day out due to social engineering and malware. We've seen the results of easy-to-use exploit toolkits.

At the recent Cisco Networks Solution Forum held in Toronto, a Cisco product manager stated, "You don't need to be tech savvy" to steal data. It's a sad but true reality that isn't much of an eye opener for many of us who watch users get their accounts compromised day in and day out due to social engineering and malware. We've seen the results of easy-to-use exploit toolkits.What amazes me about the article, "Why hackers need little tech knowledge," is that the people stealing the data are constantly referred to as "hackers." I know the media likes to use the word "hacker" as term for malicious attackers, but I'm sorry, if you're stealing data by buying an plug-n-play exploit kit that basically does the work for you, then you are not a hacker--you're a criminal. There's no "hacking" involved, but I digress.

I saw a link come across Twitter this morning that is supposedly a demonstration of a bot exploit toolkit called WARBOT. When I'm talking to users about the dangers out on the Internet and who's out to get them, I tell them about organized crime and the black market for credit cards and identities.

Toolkits like WARBOT are exactly the type I talk about that are designed for "n00bs" to use to compromise and use for data theft and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Take a look at the WARBOT demo to see just how easy it is to manage bot-infected machines with the easy, drag-and-drop interface.

The lack of tech-savviness argument extends to insider threats, too. Insiders do not need to have tech skills to steal data--all they need is access. Once they have access, they can copy the data to USB flash drives, send it via e-mail, or print a hard copy. Having some tech skills might assist them in being undetected if there's a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place, but even then, circumventing DLP isn't too difficult if you know where it's monitoring.

So should you be scared of the advanced persistent threat (APT) that's all the rage these days or your own users who could spend a few hundred bucks for a botnet kit that's about as easy to put together as a Build-a-Bear? Yeah, I'm going with the latter, too.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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