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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/10/2011
04:20 PM
50%
50%

Teaming Up To Take Down Threats

Security professionals are leery of one-way public-private partnerships, but Operation Ghost Click shows that the model is necessary to take on international threats

Policy makers and government officials have used the term "public-private partnerships" as a way to fight online threats so frequently that it has become code for doing nothing. Yet the recently announced Operation Ghost Click shows that such teamwork is necessary to take on cybercriminals and more advanced threats online.

On Wednesday, the FBI announced a massive investigation in conjunction with international law enforcement agencies, private industry, and nongovernment organizations, which led to the charging of seven Estonian and Russian citizens for a widespread click fraud scheme that had infected more than 4 million computers and netted the group more than $14 million.

The group, operating under various corporate names including Rove Digital, allegedly infected victims' computers with DNSChanger -- malware that changed the systems' domain-name servers, redirecting requests for Web site addresses through a network of criminal-controlled hosts. For four years, the group allegedly used the malware and servers to create false advertising clicks to businesses that paid affiliate fees, defrauding the firms. The Estonian police arrested the six Estonian nationals on Tuesday, while the sole Russian suspect remained at large.

"With the flip of a switch, the FBI and our partners dismantled the Rove criminal enterprise," said Janice K. Fedarcyk, the FBI's Assistant Director-in-Charge, in a statement. "Thanks to the collective effort across the U.S. and in Estonia, six leaders of the criminal enterprise have been arrested and numerous servers operated by the criminal organization have been disabled."

The scheme required massive cooperation to investigate and track the people perpetrating the fraud. The FBI worked with the Estonian Police and Border Guard, the Dutch National Police, and NASA's Office of the Inspector General. In the private sector, the law enforcement agency relied on resources at Georgia Tech University, the Internet Systems Consortium, security firm Mandiant, anti-spam group Spamhaus, security intelligence firm Team Cymru, antivirus company Trend Micro, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and members of an ad hoc group of subject matter experts known as the DNS Changer Working Group.

The FBI even sought a partner to help manage the remediation efforts. Merely taking down the fraudulent DNS network's control servers would have likely resulted in the infected computers being cut off from the Internet until a knowledgeable person reset the computer's lists of DNS hosts. In this case, the rogue DNS servers were replaced by legitimate ones run by the Internet Systems Consortium, the nonprofit company that develops the widely used BIND domain-name system software.

Without such cooperation, the criminals and agents behind online crime and intellectual property attacks could not be investigated or prosecuted, says Phyllis Schneck, chief technology officer for public sector at McAfee.

"This is what happens when the good guys make it work," Schneck says. "This is what happens when several companies can get together with nonprofits and work together with law enforcement to go across corporate boundaries and across international boundaries. This was exceedingly well-orchestrated."

Without the limitation of legal and national boundaries, and frequently better at sharing information, online adversaries are typically much more agile than the defenders, and that's a key issue such partnerships need to address, says Schneck.

Without better cooperation and better information sharing, cybercriminals and espionage agents will continue to win, says Steve Santorelli, director of global outreach at Team Cymru and an ex-Scotland Yard detective. The FBI's successful cooperative effort is an excellent example of how to proceed, he says.

"It is a model for the future," Santorelli says. "Law enforcement has realized they can't do it on their own. And industry has realized that they can't do it on its own."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/4/2020
Abandoned Apps May Pose Security Risk to Mobile Devices
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/29/2020
How AI and Automation Can Help Bridge the Cybersecurity Talent Gap
Peter Barker, Chief Product Officer at ForgeRock,  6/1/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: What? IT said I needed virus protection!
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-13842
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
An issue was discovered on LG mobile devices with Android OS 7.2, 8.0, 8.1, 9, and 10 (MTK chipsets). A dangerous AT command was made available even though it is unused. The LG ID is LVE-SMP-200010 (June 2020).
CVE-2020-13843
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
An issue was discovered on LG mobile devices with Android OS software before 2020-06-01. Local users can cause a denial of service because checking of the userdata partition is mishandled. The LG ID is LVE-SMP-200014 (June 2020).
CVE-2020-13839
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
An issue was discovered on LG mobile devices with Android OS 7.2, 8.0, 8.1, 9, and 10 (MTK chipsets). Code execution can occur via a custom AT command handler buffer overflow. The LG ID is LVE-SMP-200007 (June 2020).
CVE-2020-13840
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
An issue was discovered on LG mobile devices with Android OS 7.2, 8.0, 8.1, 9, and 10 (MTK chipsets). Code execution can occur via an MTK AT command handler buffer overflow. The LG ID is LVE-SMP-200008 (June 2020).
CVE-2020-13841
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-05
An issue was discovered on LG mobile devices with Android OS 9 and 10 (MTK chipsets). An AT command handler allows attackers to bypass intended access restrictions. The LG ID is LVE-SMP-200009 (June 2020).