Feeds

Former White House advisor wants cybercrime haven crackdown

Harbouring hackers not cool

3 Big data security analytics techniques

A former White House security advisor has urged a crackdown on rogue states that serve as a "safe haven" for cybercrime, along with a fundamental rethink of internet architectures.

Richard Clarke, who served as special advisor to the President George W Bush on cybersecurity, told delegates to the RSA Conference in London that Western law enforcement officials often fail to get the help they need when after they track back the source of cyber attacks to countries such as Moldova, Russia and Belarus in eastern Europe.

"These countries are international cyber-sanctuaries for crime," Clarke said.

"Local governments tolerate hacking where attacks occur outside the country. Hackers, who pay local police kickbacks, can be used to work for the government, in cases where they need plausible deniability."

Clarke said "renegade" countries need to be pressured into acting on cyber-criminals through a process akin to the way in which countries who tolerated the laundering of drug profits through their banking system were brought into line.

"There ought to be consequences for scofflaw nations who do not live up to international norms," Clarke said. "We can limit traffic in and out of renegades by applying filtering and monitoring."

"At the moment none of that is going on," he added.

Stop throwing 'good money after bad'

The former counter-terrorism and cyber-security advisor to four US administrations argued that a fundamental rethink on internet architectures was needed in order to limit cybercrime and related problems, such as economic espionage.

He pointed out that the numerous cases of corporate victims of hacking had firewalls, up to date anti-virus and intrusion prevention. Applying more of the same in the hope that it might stymie attacks will never work. What's needed is a fundamental re-appraisal of internet architectures, building a more secure system that fit for purpose.

"Spending more money on firewalls, anti-virus and intrusion prevention is just throwing more good money after bad," he said.

"The money spent to develop the next version of the X-box would be better spent on the next protocol for the internet. With respect to Vint Cerf and the engineers who created the internet we ought to think about developing a network that's more secure."

"The cost of the R&D would be a mere fraction of cost of R&D for the crap that doesn't work," he concluded

Banks normally absorb the cost of fraud associated with cybercrime, ultimately passing on this cost to customers in the form of higher fees. Clarke argued this arrangement was economically unsustainable.

"We're losing billions in cybercrime with little in the way of effective action. Cybercrime pays and in sanctuary countries it pays a great deal."

Blame Canada

Hackers are also involved in industrial and state-sponsored espionage, where the target is secrets rather than identities or money. The so-called Operation Aurora Attacks on Google and scores of US hi-tech firms last year are just part of a widespread problem.

"It's not just the Chinese, though they get a lot of the blame," Clarke said. "There's a lot of spoofing and misdirecting."

The approaches and tactics applied to compromise systems and extra secrets might just as easily be applied to disrupt or damage systems.

"Whatever techniques you use to do cyber-espionage can be used for cyber-war," Clarke explained. "The difference between cyber-espionage and cyber-war is a few keystrokes."

Clarke said that many nations had offensive cybercrime capabilities, arguing that some form of arm control talks on cyberweapons might be needed.

"I'm not saying cyberwar is about to happen. Just because nations have cyberweapons in their inventory is doesn't mean they are not going to rush out and use them. What it does mean is that they have an option of sending a cyber-attack instead of a conventional assault," Clarke concluded.

Clarke advanced his arguments during a well-received presentation at the RSA Conference in London on Wednesday. ®

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
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Reddit users discover iOS malware threat
'Unflod Baby Panda' looks to snatch Apple IDs
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.