Emerging Cyber Threats for 2012 - Slide 7

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Researchers expect large-scale botnets and targeted, persistent attacks to share more common ground in the future. According to Georgia Tech Professor Wenke Lee, “Targeted attacks against a specific organization used to be perceived as isolated. But now we have evidence that some of these targeted attacks have roots in common botnets.”

When an operator creates a large-scale botnet, they have vari­ous options for monetizing the investment. In the past, the highest bidders needed the computational power to send vast amounts of spam or conduct a denial of service attack. But now, advanced persistent adversaries query botnet operators to identify compro­mised machines belonging to the company or organization in their crosshairs. The adversary may ask the botnet operator if he can run some queries against the machines to determine the OS, applications running, type of function they perform, etc., to gather information for creating a targeted, stealthy attack with the end goal of data theft. In many cases, adversaries will pay top dollar for the information, providing a new and extremely lucrative source of revenue for botnet operators.

In the past year, we have witnessed cyber attacks of unprecedented sophistication and reach. These attacks demonstrate that malicious actors have the ability to com­promise and control millions of computers that belong to governments, private enterprises and ordinary citizens. If we are going to prevent motivated adversaries from attack­ing our systems, stealing our data and harming our critical infrastructure, the broader community of security research­ers — including academia, the private sector and govern­ment — must work together to understand emerging threats and to develop proactive security solutions to safeguard the Internet and physical infrastructure that relies on it.

This slideshow features emerging cyber threats for 2012, identified by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and the Georgia Tech Research





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