Hactivism: Drawing Parallels With The Industrial Revolution

In much the same way as the Industrial Revolution created faster, better and more efficient sectors of the economy under Queen Victoria’s reign some 200 years ago, cyber terrorism is undergoing its own transformation with the ‘industrialisation of hacking’ creating a faster, more efficient economy profiting from attacks to our IT infrastructure. This transformation is profoundly changing how we must protect our systems, forcing us to think about how to future-proof our approach to IT security.

From playground hobby to serious industry

The Industrial Revolution marked a period where innovation transformed industries and created new markets. In parallel, hacking used to be a hobby. But as certain individuals realised there was value to be gained, processes have evolved and the work has become more mechanized. Stealthy new methods to circumvent protection like port hopping, tunneling, droppers and botnets have made it easier, faster and cheaper for hackers to get in and increasingly difficult for defenders to see them and keep them out.

From railways to fibre optic highways

The advent of the steam engine in the Industrial Revolution transformed transportation, resulting in more effective ways to transport raw materials and finished goods. Today, a breadth of new devices, infrastructure and networks including personal and mobile devices provide new, efficient mechanisms to transport malware and conduct attacks.

And just as transportation connected the world in the early 20th century and made it “smaller,” so too has technology. Groups of hackers can be found in any country and their targets are just as easily halfway around the world as across town. Controlling who and what has access to corporate networks seems almost insurmountable.

Telegraph paves the way for always on, instant connectivity

The Industrial Revolution was also a time when inventions such as the telegraph opened up communication as never before and set in motion a wave of change. Today, mobile devices enable instantaneous, anytime/anywhere connections. And while social media, mobile applications, web sites and web-enabled applications continuously create new ways for businesses and individuals to connect, they have also exposed individuals and organisations to new inbound and outbound security threats.

Keeping ahead of the hackers

The industrialization of hacking has created a wave of threats that are increasingly sophisticated. We need to turn the tables and stay ahead of hackers with specialised security technologies designed to combat the latest threats. Protections must be capable of intelligent and continuous updates and able to take action to stop the inevitable outbreak. Look for security technologies that allow you to add capabilities such as:

  • Malware detection – the ability to identify files as malware at the point of entry, remediate according to your organisation’s policies and learn and update detection information based on evolving threat intelligence
  • Continuous file analysis – the ability to analyse detailed information on how the malware is behaving and propagating so you can understand how to contain the outbreak and block future attacks
  • Retrospective remediation – the ability to alert on and quarantine files previously thought to be safe but now, according to the latest threat information, are identified as malicious
  • Technologies that recognise the need to fight against advanced malware and targeted attacks without compromising efficiency or overstretching the budget are the only way we can effectively protect ourselves against the industrialisation of hacking.
SHARETweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Leon is a field product manager for Sourcefire. Prior to joining Sourcefire, Leon was involved in the design and development of open source (OSS) Intrusion Prevention Systems. Leon applies his strong background in UNIX security and protocol analysis to overcome the challenges of network security monitoring in the enterprise, specifically in the areas of network intrusion detection, threat mitigation, event analysis and vulnerability assessment. In the little spare time Leon finds, he is the lead contributor to the open source network traffic forensics project OpenFPC (Open Full Packet Capture).