DarkCyber for March 9, 2021, Now Available

March 9, 2021

This week’s DarkCyber is available on YouTube. The program includes two stories. The first is a summary of our SolarWinds’ research project. An investment firm commissioned a report to answer this question, “What are some companies that will benefit from the breach of SolarWinds’ Orion enterprise software?” The second story describes a loitering drone which has seen action in a recent hot fire skirmish.

The SolarWinds’ story comes at the breach of SolarWinds’ Orion product from a different angle. Most of the existing studies focus on what happened and what organizations are affected. Those reports fall into several broad categories: [1] Technobabble. These are explanations ignoring the obvious fact that non of the installed cyber security systems spotted the SolarWinds’ malware for more than six months, maybe more. [2] After action reports identifying issues with how SolarWinds and many other organizations software are assembled; for example, the use of open source libraries without making sure these libraries do not contain malware and managing basic security processes. [3] Academic / technical discussions of the specific types of malware used in the breach. (The reality is that the malware was based on existing exploits and used methods frequently discussed on hacker forums.)

In the course of our exploration of the hack, we learned that the existing, easily findable information provided a road map for the bad actors. Instead of lightning flashes of genius, the bad actors learned from a range of sources. We mention some of these in this video summary of portions of our research. Then we looked at SolarWinds itself. In this video summary, we provide a snapshot of the distraction factors at SolarWinds in the months leading up to the discovery of the breach. We identify the numerous balls SolarWinds’ executives were juggling. Obviously the firm’s security ball was fumbled by the juggler. The video summary identifies the types of commercial and open source software enabling the breach. One interesting finding is that Microsoft GitHub is the “home” for many useful tools. Some of these were likely to have facilitated certain functions added to existing malware. The final part of the video summary reveals the major findings of our research and analysis process.  A more comprehensive and detailed version of this summary will be presented to units of the US government in March. Some of the information will be provided to the attendees at the US 2021 National Cyber Crime Conference. The DarkCyber video summary, we believe, is useful.

There is no written report available to the public. However, if you want a comprehensive briefing about the report, please, write us at darkcyber333 at yandex dot com. There is a charge for the one hour Zoom briefing and a 30 minute question-and-answer session following the formal presentation.

The second story documents the steady advance of artificial intelligence deployed in autonomous kamikaze drones.

Kenny Toth, March 9, 2021


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