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SHADOWS IN THE CLOUD: Investigating Cyber Espionage 2.0

SHADOWS IN THE CLOUD: Investigating Cyber Espionage 2.0

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Published by The SecDev Group
Shadows in the Cloud documents a complex ecosystem of cyber espionage that systematically compromised government, business, academic, and other computer network systems in India, the Offices of the Dalai Lama, the United Nations, and several other countries. The report also contains an analysis of data which were stolen from politically sensitive targets, and recovered during the course of the investigation. These include documents from the Offices of the Dalai Lama, and agencies of the Indian national security establishment. Data containing sensitive information on citizens of numerous third party countries, as well as personal, financial, and business information, were also exfiltrated and recovered during the course of the investigation. The report analyzes the malware ecosystem employed by the Shadows’ attackers, which leveraged multiple redundant cloud computing, social networking platforms, and free web hosting services in order to maintain persistent control while operating core servers located in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Although the identity and motivation of the attackers remain unknown, the report is able to determine the location (Chengdu, PRC) as well as some of the associations of the attackers through circumstantial evidence. The investigation is the product of an eight month, collaborative activity between the Information Warfare Monitor (Citizen Lab and SecDev) and the Shadowserver Foundation. The investigation employed a fusion methodology, combining technical interrogation techniques, data analysis, and field research, to track and uncover the Shadow cyber espionage network.
Shadows in the Cloud documents a complex ecosystem of cyber espionage that systematically compromised government, business, academic, and other computer network systems in India, the Offices of the Dalai Lama, the United Nations, and several other countries. The report also contains an analysis of data which were stolen from politically sensitive targets, and recovered during the course of the investigation. These include documents from the Offices of the Dalai Lama, and agencies of the Indian national security establishment. Data containing sensitive information on citizens of numerous third party countries, as well as personal, financial, and business information, were also exfiltrated and recovered during the course of the investigation. The report analyzes the malware ecosystem employed by the Shadows’ attackers, which leveraged multiple redundant cloud computing, social networking platforms, and free web hosting services in order to maintain persistent control while operating core servers located in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Although the identity and motivation of the attackers remain unknown, the report is able to determine the location (Chengdu, PRC) as well as some of the associations of the attackers through circumstantial evidence. The investigation is the product of an eight month, collaborative activity between the Information Warfare Monitor (Citizen Lab and SecDev) and the Shadowserver Foundation. The investigation employed a fusion methodology, combining technical interrogation techniques, data analysis, and field research, to track and uncover the Shadow cyber espionage network.

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Published by: The SecDev Group on Apr 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

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06/17/2013

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JOINT REPORT:
SHADOWS IN THE CLOUD:
 
Investigating Cyber Espionage 2.0
JR03-2010
WEB VERSION. Also found here:
 
 
JR03-2010
Shadows in the Cloud 
-
FOREWORD
I
Foreword
Crime and espionage orm a dark underworld o cyberspace. Whereas crime is usually the rst to seek out newopportunities and methods, espionage usually ollows in its wake, borrowing techniques and tradecrat. The
Shadows in the Cloud
report illustrates the increasingly dangerous ecosystem o crime and espionage and itsembeddedness in the abric o global cyberspace.This ecosystem is the product o numerous actors. Attackers employ complex, adaptive attack techniques thatdemonstrate high-level ingenuity and opportunism. They take advantage o the cracks and ssures that open upin the ast-paced transormations o our technological world. Every new sotware program, social networkingsite, cloud computing, or cheap hosting service that is launched into our everyday digital lives creates anopportunity or this ecosystem to morph, adapt, and exploit.It has also emerged because o poor security practices o users, rom individuals to large organizations. Wetake or granted that the inormation and communications revolution is a relatively new phenomenon, stillvery much in the midst o unceasing epochal change. Public institutions have adopted these new technologiesaster than procedures and rules have been created to deal with the radical transparency and accompanyingvulnerabilities they introduce.Today, data is transerred rom laptops to USB sticks, over wireless networks at caé hot spots, and stored acrosscloud computing services whose servers are located in ar-o political jurisdictions. These new modalities o communicating de-concentrate and disperse the targets o exploitation, multiplying the points o exposureand potential compromise. Paradoxically, documents and data are probably saer in a le cabinet, behind thebureaucrat’s careul watch, than they are on the PC today.The ecosystem o crime and espionage is also emerging because o opportunism on the part o actors. Cyberespionage is the great equalizer. Countries no longer have to spend billions o dollars to build globe-spanningsatellites to pursue high-level intelligence gathering, when they can do so via the web. We have no evidence inthis report o the involvement o the People’s Republic o China (PRC) or any other government in the
Shadow
 network. But an important question to be entertained is whether the PRC will take action to shut the
Shadow
 network down. Doing so will help to address long-standing concerns that malware ecosystems are activelycultivated, or at the very least tolerated, by governments like the PRC who stand to benet rom their exploitsthough the black and grey markets or inormation and data.Finally, the ecosystem is emerging because o a propitious policy environment — or rather the absence o one — at a global level. Governments around the world are engaged in a rapid race to militarize cyber space,to develop tools and methods to ght and win wars in this domain. This arms race creates an opportunitystructure ripe or crime and espionage to fourish. In the absence o norms, principles and rules o mutualrestraint at a global level, a vacuum exists or subterranean exploits to ll.There is a real risk o a perect storm in cyberspace erupting out o this vacuum that threatens to subvertcyberspace itsel, either through over-reaction, a spiraling arms race, the imposition o heavy-handed controls,or through gradual irrelevance as people disconnect out o ear o insecurity.
 
JR03-2010
Shadows in the Cloud 
-
FOREWORD
II
There is, thereore, an urgent need or a global convention on cyberspace that builds robust mechanisms o inormation sharing across borders and institutions, denes appropriate rules o the road or engagement in thecyber domain, puts the onus on states to not tolerate or encourage mischievous networks whose activitiesoperate rom within their jurisdictions, and protects and preserves this valuable global commons.Until such a normative and policy shit occurs, the shadows in the cloud may grow into a dark, threatening storm.
Ron Deibert
Director, the Citizen Lab, Munk School o Global AairsUniversity o Toronto
Rafal Rohozinski
CEO, The SecDev Group (Ottawa)

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