Companies Fight Back Against Hackers

Sue Marquette Poremba

One of my favorite scenes in "Rocky III" comes during Rocky’s rematch with Clubber Lang and it looks like Rocky is on the wrong end of a beating. Rocky’s trainer, Apollo Creed, is groaning about the way Rocky has seemingly backed down to his adversary, but Rocky’s brother-in-law, Paulie, growls, “He’s getting mad!” The beating infuriated Rocky who turned around and went on the attack, eventually winning in a knockout.

I thought about this scene as I read how businesses are increasingly deciding they’ve had it with hackers. They are getting mad and they are letting that frustration build into the knockout punch.

According to Reuters, companies that are tired of the increasingly sophisticated attacks against their networks that seem impossible to stop are now taking retaliatory action against the hackers. Reuters stated:

Known in the cybersecurity industry as "active defense" or "strike-back" technology, the reprisals range from modest steps to distract and delay a hacker to more controversial measures. Security experts say they even know of some cases where companies have taken action that could violate laws in the United States or other countries, such as hiring contractors to hack the assailant's own systems.

The goal of these actions is a direct hit on the hackers. Or as Shawn Jenry, the former FBI head of cybercrime investigations and current employee of security company CrowdStrike, said about the practice, “Not only do we put out the fire, but we also look for the arsonist."

Companies using this active defense are doing things like allowing the hackers to stick around for a bit, toying them with data that can’t be extracted and wasting the hackers' time or giving them dummy documents to steal that end up betraying the hackers’ machines.

Many security experts aren’t keen on the tactic, saying that it is too risky and it may not have any real effect on hacker behavior. I tend to agree with that sentiment. But, it is good to see these companies getting mad and coming out swinging after being knocked around too many times.

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