Feeds

Revenge motivates insider hacking attacks

Appetite for destruction

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Thirst for revenge against the boss fuelled the majority of insider hacking attacks, according to a US government survey published this week.

The idea that a negative work-related event, such as a dismissal, triggered most insiders’ actions comes as no great surprise. But the details unearthed in a study of 49 hacking incidents against critical infrastructure targets in the US between 1996 and 2002 makes for an interesting read.

The report Insider Threat Study: Computer System Sabotage in Critical Infrastructure Sectors (PDF), by the US Secret Service and security clearing house US CERT, found that most perps planned their activities in advance but tended to resort to "unsophisticated methods for exploiting systemic vulnerabilities in applications, processes or procedures". The use of sophisticated hacking tools was rarer but not unknown. Viewed retrospectively, most attackers behaved abnormally in the workplace in the run up to an attack. One third of attackers had an arrest record, investigators discovered.

The majority of the insider attacks were only detected after systems malfunctioned. Financial losses were the norm though losses varied enormously by incident from a few dollars to millions of dollars in at least two examples. "The majority of insiders compromised computer accounts, created unauthorized backdoor accounts, or used shared accounts in their attacks," the report notes.

Scary stuff but the authors of the report have various suggestions about how security risks from aggrieved sys admins can be contained. "Insiders can be stopped, but stopping them is a complex problem. Insider attacks can only be prevented through a layered defence strategy consisting of policies, procedures, and technical controls. Therefore, management must pay close attention to many aspects of its organization, including its business policies and procedures, organizational culture, and technical environment," the report concludes.

A separate study involving both CERT and the US Secret Service published last year estimates insiders are responsible for 29 per cent of attacks. Respondents to the E-Crime Watch Survey 2004 identified current or former employees and contractors as the second greatest cyber security threat behind only external hackers. ®

Related stories

Stopping the enemy at the gate
Homeland Security blows $16m prepping for apocalypse
Vendors agree vulnerability scoring system
Microsoft unveils details of software security process
DoD hacker jailed for 21 months

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.