Tracking Down Cybercriminals

As cybersecurity concerns increasingly become front-page news, there is a burgeoning effort to combat cyberattacks with the same defensive tactics employed in traditional warfare. There is, however, a novel complication—finding the attackers in the first place—but should security efforts concentrate on naming names or taking immediate action?

A number of countries are known for their extensive cybercrime networks—notably Russia, China, and Turkey, where organized crime members have grasped onto the lucrative possibilities of exploiting the internet. It’s difficult, though, to pinpoint the exact perpetrators of the crime, particularly if the countries themselves refuse to contribute their resources for whatever reason. As international governments wade into uncharted waters in dealing with issues of cybersecurity, some experts are questioning the status quo. Jeff Moss, founder of Black Hat, proposes that we turn our sights to containing and minimizing attacks. He argues that extradition for black hat hackers is unlikely, even more so is war, thus energy should be placed elsewhere.

Even in the United States, domain name registrars can be slow to respond to reports of abuses, and security researchers are quick to point out that it is the registrar’s responsibility to shut down malicious sites. Crackers (criminal hackers) often use fast flux service networks to cover and complicate their attacks by essentially hiding the original server. Rather than waste time rooting through proxies, researchers recommend going straight to the source of the domain name.

Computerworld contributor Patrick Thibodeau mentions that the much-publicized Google-China back-and-forth is small potatoes compared to what domain registrar GoDaddy.com deals with in trying to police legitimate domains. With a staff of 19 trying to address hundreds of thousands of cybercrimes, it’s no wonder that attackers have plenty of time to carry out their schemes. It seems that, going forward, security consultants and strategists will have to revise their notions of offense and defense for a complicated battlefield.


Info about US domain name registrars, SFGate, Difficulties of tracking cybercriminals, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/02/03/urnidgns852573C400693880002576BF00837B9B.DTL&feed=rss.news

Jeff Moss quote, Computerworld, At Black Hat, a search for the best response to China, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9151018/At_Black_Hat_a_search_for_the_best_response_to_China_?taxonomyId=17&pageNumber=1

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