The Palaeontology of Cyberattacks by Vitaly Kamluk


Vitaly Kamluk is the Director of Global Research & Analysis Team (GReAT), Kaspersky Lab APAC. He has been involved in malware research at Kaspersky Lab since 2005. At the Kaspersky Lab Palaeontology of Cybersecurity conference, he gave the keynote speech on The Palaeontology of Cyberattacks.

He shared how Kaspersky Labs performed digital forensics, literally the palaeontology of digital monsters, to trace their creators and to learn how to shut them down. He also took the opportunity to officially announce the release of his open source, free remote forensics tool called BitScout.

Don’t forget to check out the other Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!


The Palaeontology of Cyberattacks by Vitaly Kamluk

The Director of the APAC Kaspersky GReAT (Global Research & Analysis Team), Vitaly Kamluk, details how Kaspersky Lab dissect cyberattacks so they can take down their infrastructure and alert victims. He also talks about BitScout – the open source digital tool he created to analyse and investigate these cyberattacks.

Here are the key takeaway points :

  • Stuxnet is an example of how malware can affect and even destroy objects in the real world.
  • Digital forensics is important because only by learning from the past can we prevent it from repeating in the future.
  • The art of tracing these cyberattacks takes time and involves multiple stages like :
    • Add detection for known modules and collect new samples
    • Reverse engineer the samples
    • Decrypt sophisticated encryption and compression schemes
    • Understand the lateral movement of the attacker
    • Outline multiple attack stages in the correct order
    • Map the command and control (C&C) infrastructure
    • Set up sinkholes – servers that they can redirect victims to, and analyse the collected traffic and protocols
    • Crawl other hosts that understand the same protocols, to check if they have been compromised as well
    • Take down and acquire images of the C&C servers to identify the attackers
    • Identify victims, send out notifications to warn them, and alert global CERTs
    • Apply forensics and extract logs, stolen files, etc.
    • Collect and analyse data from all sources
    • Write a comprehensive report
  • Zero day (0-day) vulnerabilities or exploits are rare and valuable. For example, one iOS 0-day exploit was priced at US$1.5 million.
  • Even old exploits (like the Silverlight 0-day) that have been exposed years ago are still usable, because not everyone updates their operating system.
  • In the case of the Silverlight exploit, Kaspersky Lab used signature code snippets from the creator’s own public code samples to identify a new 0-day Silverlight exploit that he created as well.
  • Vitaly also shared how Kaspersky Lab tracked the Lazarus group, which was famous for its theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh last year (February 2016).
  • Kaspersky Lab found several artefacts that pointed to a Korean origin, including proof that at least one of the computers used in developing the malware was using a Korean version of Windows.
  • They also identified false flag attempts to pin the exploit code on Russian developers using crude Russian phrases and a commercial Russian software protector.[adrotate group=”2″]
  • Kaspersky Lab also discovered that the Lazarus group used a testing bot that was located in a North Korean server.
  • Because attribution of any cyberattack is difficult, Kaspersky Lab believes there should be better cooperation between cybersecurity companies and the police and the private sector.
  • Therefore, Kaspersky Lab is officially releasing a tool that Vitaly Kamluk himself developed – BitScout – to help them with their investigations.
  • BitScout is an open-source tool that is free for anyone to perform remote forensics on a compromised system.
  • Using virtualisation, BitScout allows a cybersecurity expert to trace and detect malware in a compromised system without making any changes to the storage drives, preserving the legal chain of custody and avoiding the perception of possible tampering with the data.

Don’t forget to check out the other Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!

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