Many an article chronicles hacked passwords out there in bulk on the evil “Darkish Internet.” It is offered as proof that the dangerous conduct of customers is the foundation of all hacking. However as a former crimson teamer, the top consumer is not the one one who’s a prisoner to discernable behavioral patterns.
There’s a “sample of vulnerability” in human conduct extending far past finish customers into extra complicated IT capabilities. Discovering proof of those patterns may give hackers an higher hand and velocity the timeline of compromise.
It is a actuality I acknowledged earlier in my profession in operational roles. I’ve bodily helped rebuild and relocate knowledge facilities and rewire buildings from prime to backside. It gave me an incredible perspective of what it takes to construct in safety from scratch, and the way unconscious behaviors and preferences can put all of it in danger. In truth, understanding methods to establish these patterns gave me a really dependable “superpower” after I moved into crimson teaming, which in the end resulted in a patent grant. However extra on that later.
Let’s begin by analyzing how our habit to patterns betrays us — from credentials, to software program operation, to asset naming.
Whereas know-how has afforded us so many advantages, the complexity of managing it — and the cumbersome controls supposed to guard — drive folks to repeatable patterns and the consolation of familiarity. The extra common the duty or perform turns into, the extra complacent we get with the sample and what it telegraphs. For a crimson teamer, the flexibility to look at routines, from the bodily to the logical, can supply a wealth of intelligence. Repeatability provides alternative and time to discern patterns, after which to search out the vulnerability in these patterns that may be exploited.
Inside naming schemes specifically — be they asset names, system names, or credential groupings — lend themselves to choosing widespread phrases for descriptive categorization. I noticed one group that used the names of mountains. And when you could not know which system K2 versus Denali is, it acts as a filter for an attacker as they discover an surroundings. It is also a wonderful social engineering software, permitting an attacker to “converse the interior IT lingo.” It’s possible you’ll ask, OK, however “what’s in a reputation?”
I am certain you have heard of brute-force assaults the place attackers throw guesses in quantity at a goal to search out the best mixture that results in entry. It is a numbers sport and a blunt instrument. Nevertheless, when you can discern the usage of naming conventions, it sharpens the flexibility to give attention to a spread of accounts or methods, after which perceive their potential attributes. It hastens the clock for an attacker.
However, you ask, “if these are inner conventions, how does an exterior attacker even discover one of these info”?
Enter my aforementioned superpower. As any skilled crimson teamer is aware of, info leaks out of organizations in some ways, you simply have to know the place to look, and methods to discover the alerts within the noise.
Inside naming teams and conventions change into uncovered to the surface world in a wide range of methods. They’re buried in web site code, detailed in technical documentation or as a part of APIs, or simply merely printed in public system info.
Actions Converse Louder
So, we have established how our deeply rooted behaviors can betray our safety actually with “writing on the wall.” How do we modify, or not less than be extra conscious of, our very nature?
There’s the outdated joke summed up within the punch line that you just needn’t outrun a tiger — you simply have to outrun your companions. On this method, first use the essential “sneaker” applied sciences. Password managers, multifactor authentication (MFA), and the like not less than let you outrun your friends so attackers can give attention to the laggards within the herd.
Second, elect for normal change. Change is uncomfortable, however that discomfort triggers higher situational consciousness. If you understand your self and your surroundings higher, and drive change, that helps stop an attacker’s skill to get to know you too properly.
Subsequent, belief your intestine. If one thing would not appear proper, it most likely is not. Should you give attention to failure and never the familiarity of the conduct round failure, you are higher outfitted to see the dangerous guys coming and ensure a small anomaly would not change into a giant drawback.
Lastly, play chess, not checkers. Too many organizations assume they’re enjoying chess, and could also be using extra complicated items and roles, but when, in the end, you are enjoying in response to your opponents’ strikes, it is checkers in disguise.
It is a lesson I’m educating my very own son whereas he is concerned with studying chess. He is studying the technique behind the sport. He understands utilizing the items and their traits to govern the sport, and is shortly catching on to the truth that he additionally must give attention to manipulating me. I am educating him to assume three strikes forward, take into consideration what is feasible, and lure his opponent into doing what he desires them to do, not what they need to do — and, most significantly, to belief the gambit.