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Enterprise Lessons from Anonymous' World Cup Threat

Enterprise Lessons from Anonymous
June 3, 2014 10:29AM

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Anonymous is taking on the World Cup, threatening to launch cyberattacks on its sponsors. To deal with Anonymous' threats, World Cup sponsors and all businesses need to take a gaming frame of mind when they build their cybersecurity practices -- it's about the game play, not the technology, said TK Keanini, CTO of network security firm Lancope.

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Anonymous isn’t making as many news headlines this year as it did in years past, but the hactivist organization is alive and well -- and making threats to launch cyberattacks on sponsors of the World Cup in Brazil.

“We have a plan of attack,” a member of Anonymous who calls himself Che Commodore, told Reuters. “We have already conducted late-night tests to see which of the sites are more vulnerable . . . This time we are targeting the sponsors of the World Cup.”

Reuters admits it had no means of confirming Commodore’s identity or his affiliation with Anonymous and reports that the sponsors did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the threat. But what can enterprises learn from this global headline?

Are You Ready?

We caught up with TK Keanini, CTO of network security firm Lancope, to get his take on the Anonymous moves. Regardless of threat profile, he told us an event of this magnitude needs to have a heightened level of readiness to a physical or cybersecurity related event.

“By the time a group like this makes a public announcement, much of the infiltration phase has already been done,” Keanini said. “These threat actors are smart and they don't start to show their cards until they are well into the operational phase of their campaign.”

Keanini stressed that events like the World Cup require hundreds of interconnected businesses all of them need to be prepared. Offering the hard truth, he said if your business is connected to the Internet you should be prepared for cybersecurity events because they are likely to have already happened -- you just don't have the tools and techniques to detect them.

“When we consider the World Cup and the level of talent competing, it helps us frame the challenges many face in cybersecurity,” Keanini said. “It is not as much about the technology, as it is about the game play and talent where as soon as one side makes a mistake, it is exploited by the other team.”

A Gaming Frame of Mind

This is the same thing that happens in cybersecurity and in some cases, he said, the adversaries have an overwhelming advantage in terms of talent. His advice: businesses need to take a gaming frame of mind when they build their cybersecurity practices -- it is about the game play, not the technology.

We also asked Tom Cross, Lancope director of security research, for his take on the Anonymous news. He told us distributed denial-of-service attacks often come into play in public controversies and protests. At this point, he noted, preparation for denial-of-service attacks should be standard practice for any organization with a large, mission-critical presence on the Web.

“However, every organization with an Internet network can do their part to make sure that they don't have services running on their network that can be leveraged by attackers for traffic reflection and amplification,” Cross said. “DNS servers, NTP servers, SNMP services, voice over IP services and XML-RPC ping back services in particular should be checked to make sure that they don't provide a spring board for denial-of-service attacks.”

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