Feeds

Don't let hackers know Mandiant founder checks his email on an iPad. Oh.

Mandia prefers face-to-face natter to avoid piles of spyware booby-traps

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Infosec 2014 Mandiant boss Kevin Mandia says he has cut back on email and only uses an iPad to check his inbox as he fends off counterattacks from hackers.

In 2013, the company published a landmark report on the so-called APT1 espionage crew: the detailed dossier claimed Shanghai-based People's Liberation Army Unit 61398 had hacked and injected malware into 141 organisations globally over seven years, and swiped terabytes of corporate secrets as a result.

Months later it emerged hackers had lifted personal information from CorporateCarOnline, a limousine-booking firm used by Mandia as well as basketball star LeBron James, Donald Trump and many other famous figures.

Data grabbed from the limo biz included names and addresses and credit numbers in a plain-text archive, plus travel records and instructions to drivers. The records were found on the same servers used by hackers to store information stolen from PR Newswire as well as source code taken from Adobe, investigative journalist Brian Krebs reported in November 2013.

Around that time, Mandia received emails with spyware-loaded PDFs of limo invoices. The US Air Force officer-turned-businessman said he strongly suspected the Chinese were behind that phishing expedition.

"People try to hack us all the time," Mandia told The Reg at the Infosec trade show in London last week.

Mandiant was acquired by FireEye in a stock-and-cash deal worth more than $1bn, a move that installed Mandia as FireEye's COO. In his new role, and as before, Mandia insists security breaches of one sort or another are inevitable, so his strategy is to minimise the consequences of a system compromise.

"I try to do as much business as I can either face-to-face or on the phone," Mandia explained by way of example. "I don't do a lot of email and, when I do, I use an iPad."

The Kremlin raised ripples in the security world this year by ditching iPads for Android tablets from Samsung. Politicians, government officials and high-profile business folk have long been the target of espionage, online and offline, but as the world becomes more and more connected, spying is likely to increase.

"I'd advise firms not to keep what they don't need and to keep their internet presence small – contrary to what marketing may say," he advised.

Hall of mirrors

APT1 is very much back in business after a "brief hiatus", according to Mandia. The hacking gang is using a whole new infrastructure built after infiltrating systems at universities and small businesses in the US. These compromised assets – "thousands of new victims", we're told – are used as launch pads for lucrative espionage missions, Mandia said.

He also argued the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have had no effect on cyber-espionage activity. "Nation states that are hacking are still hacking," Mandia noted.

The self-styled Syrian Electronic Army, miscreants in Iran, Russia, Ukraine and China, and Anonymous hacktivists are the main cast in Mandiant's cyber-threat theatre. Most of the firm's clients are either US organisations or multi-national corps.

Mandia, who served in Uncle Sam's air force and in the Pentagon before leaving for the private sector, said Mandiant "hadn't seen" any cyber-espionage activity that traced back to the United States, maintaining that US spooks hack foreigners for "security reasons and not economic" reasons. Judging by Snowden-sourced documents, NSA cyber-spies allegedly raided oil giant Petrobras in Brazil and the Mexican president's email inbox for those aforementioned security reasons, it seems. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.