I attended the RSA 2014 Conference in San Francisco, which has held about two weeks ago. This year the conference offered new insights to today’s threat landscape, which will help us all plan for and protect users in 2014 and beyond.
Largest Security Conference of 2014
The attendance numbers for RSA are always impressive: this year had more than 25,000 attendees, 400+ sponsors and exhibitors, with more than 550 speakers. Such was the number of vendors that two large Exposition Halls – one each in the Moscone Center’s North and South buildings were used for vendor exhibits. The various sessions – including most of the technical track talks I attended – were in the Moscone West hall.
Earlier my colleague JM Hipolito shared her own thoughts about RSA; here is what I found most interesting there.
Opening Keynote: Finding a Path Forward in an Increasingly Conflicted Digital World
The Executive Chairman of RSA, Art Coviello, delivered the opening keynote. He gave his first public comment on the RSA and NSA controversy, as well as the need to separate the NSA’s offensive and defensive functions. But what I will remember most on his keynote is his call to governments and the security industry as a whole to adopt four guiding principles to help maintain a safer Internet for everyone:
- Renounce the use of cyberweapons, and the use of the Internet for waging war
- Cooperate internationally, in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of cyber criminals
- Ensure that economic activity on the Internet can proceed unfettered and that intellectual property rights are respected
- Respect and ensure the privacy of all individuals
He also reiterated the need for the security industry and governments to work hand in hand to create a safer digital world that will benefit this and the generations to come.
All of the guiding principles are all equally important, but I would like to highlight the first and second ones as being the most important.
The topic of cyberwar and cyberweapons is very sensitive, but I found the correlation between cyberweaponry and nuclear weapons compelling. I totally agree with Coviello’s statement that “we must have the same abhorrence to cyberwar as we do nuclear and chemical war.”
As for cooperation in prosecuting cybercrime, this is a topic where Trend Micro’s positions are well-known. We’ve frequently spoken about the need for researchers and law enforcement agencies to work together to prosecute the actual “threat actors”, as we believe that this is the most effective way to catch cybercriminals.
These partnerships allow researchers and police to combine their strengths and ensure that
Our efforts have netted effective results, most recently being the arrest of the creator of SpyEye.
Bitcoin Is Here: How to Become a Successful Bitcoin Thief
Uri Rivner of Biocatch and Etay Maor of Trusteer co-presented the one technical session at RSA dedicated to Bitcoins. They discussed the basics of cryptocurrency and how one can use it. They also discussed the usual use cases of Bitcoin: from creating a wallet and having your very own address, to filling the wallet with Bitcoins using an online Bitcoin exchange.
The highlight of the session for me was the a live demonstration of a hack using a SpyEye variant. In the demo, they performed a man-in-the-browser (MiTB) attack and stole the user’s Bitcoin from his wallet.
They also discussed the top cybercriminal activities that Bitcoin has been tied to. These include phishing attempts to steal Bitcoin-related website credentials, deploying RATs (Remote Access Trojans) to have direct access to desktop wallets, up to using botnets to mine Bitcoins (even though this is no longer particularly attractive).
They also explained why cybercriminals are interested in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Because the cybercriminals believe that cryptocurrencies offers anonymity, they think that these will help in laundering money made from illegal activites. In addition, advanced services available in the cybecrime underground (like Bitcoin fogging services) may enable threat actors to further increase their anonymity tenfold.
In summary, the presenters said that Bitcoin is a new exciting frontier and encouraged everyone in the room to try and delve into it so that they understand its potential. They warned about the increasing phishing and malware attacks related to cryptocurrencies. They also pointed out that online Bitcoin exchanges and online wallets are low hanging fruit that may be a big opportunity for the cybercriminals. (The troubles of many online exchanges recently, including erstwhile leader Mt. Gox, have only reinforced this last point.)
The talk mirrored many of the points we have discussed. In December, we had discussed the possibility of Bitcoin’s then-record prices causing thefts of Bitcoin wallets. We had also earlier discussed how users can help secure their cryptocurrency. Overall, we share their sentiments: Bitcoin is the object of much potential, but is the subject of multiple threats as well.
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