The Anatomy of a “Sniper” Hack

In war, there is quite a difference between the crude methods of indiscriminate destruction of weapons of mass destruction and a well trained sniper on a well-funded, precisely planned mission. WMDs leave mess everywhere, make it clear to everyone something big happened and are more about fear than accomplishing specific goals.

In cyber war, the term WMD could be applied to most of the malware and security breaches that happen. These are often not grass roots, highly trained hackers who are after something specific. Most times they bought the code from a black site, packaged it up, threw it out there and tried to cast a wide net to find something. It would surprise most people how low tech this method really is.

Then there are the “snipers” of cyber hacking. These hackers are well trained, highly intelligent, and after specific information. The incidents are targeted, quiet and highly difficult to pull off. Federal law requires that corporations notify customers when their information has been breached, so we hear about some of these hacks, but most breaches of federal networks have nothing to do with citizen information. It’s about state secrets no one is supposed to know about. So we will never hear about them… but they happen.

The anatomy of a state sponsored hack into a government agency is unique because it is more complicated, better funded and very sophisticated. SwishData’s “Anatomy of a hack” infographic brings you the true story of one of these sniper hacks into federal networks.

Today’s federal networks are more secure than ever, which is why this kind of hack is so interesting. The simple plan of buying code from a black site and throwing it a federal network rarely will work, or work for long. Welcome to the cyber-war of 2014.


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