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March Dinner Meeting Recap E-mail
Written by George Orlin   

Artificial Intelligence: Driving Exponential Innovation

While countless organizations and companies invest in increasingly advance cyber-security measures, the human user has remained the weakest link in the entire structure.

March Speaker


While countless organizations and companies invest in increasingly advance cyber-security measures, the In our latest AITP Atlanta dinner meeting, Gregory Evans, an often-televised cyber-security thought leader, addressed the challenges associated with establishing true protection against data theft and malicious hacking when the penetration often occurs at the user level. Ultimately, effective protection against cyber-attacks and "hacking" requires cyber-awareness at the user level; to become "cyber-aware", means that you need to start thinking like a hacker.

Hacking 101


In an effort to help the group to start to think like a hacker, Gregory addressed the typical five-stage process of hacking:
uman user has remained the weakest link in the entire structure.

 

Hacking


Reconnaissance: This is the primary phase where the Hacker tries to collect as much information as possible about the target. It includes Identifying the Target, finding out the target's IP Address Range, Network, DNS records, etc.

Scanning: It involves taking the information discovered during reconnaissance and using it to examine the network. Tools that a hacker may employ during the scanning phase can include dialers, port scanners, network mappers, sweepers, and vulnerability scanners. Hackers are seeking any information that can help them perpetrate attack such as computer names, IP addresses, and user accounts.

Penetration: Vulnerabilities discovered during the reconnaissance and scanning phase are now exploited to gain access. The method of connection the hacker uses for an exploit can be a local area network (LAN, either wired or wireless), local access to a PC, the Internet, or offline. Examples include stack based buffer overflows, denial of service (DoS), and session hijacking.

Advance: Once a hacker has gained access, they want to keep that access for future exploitation and attacks. Sometimes, hackers harden the system from other hackers or security personnel by securing their exclusive access with backdoors, rootkits, and Trojans. Once the hacker owns the system, they can use it as a base to launch additional attacks. In this case, the owned system is sometimes referred to as a zombie system.

Covering Tracks: Once hackers have been able to gain and maintain access, they cover their tracks to avoid detection by security personnel, to continue to use the owned system, to remove evidence of hacking, or to avoid legal action. Hackers try to remove all traces of the attack, such as log files or intrusion detection system (IDS) alarms. Examples of activities during this phase of the attack include steganography, the use of tunneling protocols, and altering log files.

In summary, a number of cybersecurity technologies and measures can be implemented to hedge against the risk of a hacking incident as described above. However, cyber-awareness remains one of the most effective measures to protect against damaging breaches.

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