Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Ed Featherston, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Donald Meyer, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Industrial IoT, Agile Computing, Release Management

Cloud Security: Article

Victim-nomics: Estimating the “Costs” of Compromise

Should you pay now or pay later?

Since launching ThreatConnect.com, Cyber Squared's Intelligence Support Team has become more effective in managing, analyzing and sharing our Threat Intelligence. While understanding the threat remains one of our core requirements, we have also begun to fill a key gap that, we feel, many within the industry are failing to address.

Providing effective Threat Intelligence requires more than just characterizing the threat from a technical perspective.  Instead, you must strike a balance between providing technical context as well as non-technical relevancy to the victim.  Industry report authors will often admire the cyber espionage problem all the while promoting their technical talents.  Unfortunately, these overly technical threat details are not easily interpreted or acted upon by today's non-technical business leaders.  So, ultimately, this shortcoming often overwhelms and distances the customer from the reality of the issue. It also reduces their ability to fully appreciate and understand how an investment toward Threat Intelligence can protect their business operations and enhance their overall corporate risk mitigation strategy.

Caveats
In the following scenario, we have masked the possible victim companies in an effort to protect their identities and have addressed the threat and its infrastructure in very general terms to acknowledge operational equities without contextually identifying the possible victim companies. We have used the data obtained in our recent discovery to walk through several hypothetical scenarios while making assumptions that give the reader a better understanding of the potential financial impact of dealing with a targeted attack.  Finally, we have notified the appropriate authorities and possible victim companies, so that they are aware of the threat and the tailored infrastructure which we believe may be directed against them or their customers.

The Facts
While recently researching a known threat group within ThreatConnect.com, we identified several interesting observables associated with targets of a single Chinese-based Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group.  Over the course of seven days, we watched the adversary tailor their command and control infrastructure toward the specific target companies and industries.  Ten suspected targets were readily identified; they consisted of U.S. based, publicly and privately held companies across the following industries:

  • Mining & Metals
  • Aerospace & Defense
  • Manufacturing & Fabrication
  • Construction & Engineering

We researched the collective group of target organizations and found that the sum of the companies' annual revenues was approximately $54 Billion dollars.  The relative size of each company and specific industries give us insights into what the intelligence collections requirements of the attackers may have been at the time of compromise.

Company

Rounded Revenue

U.S. Company 1

$26,000,000,000

U.S. Company 2

$11,000,000,000

U.S. Company 3

$6,000,000,000

U.S. Company 4

$5,000,000,000

U.S. Company 5

$4,000,000,000

U.S. Company 6

$1,500,000,000

U.S. Company 7

$600,000,000

U.S. Company 8

$20,000,000

U.S. Company 9

$20,000,000

U.S. Company 10

$2,500,000

Total:

$54,142,500,000

In this use case, we made some assumptions based on the information available to us.  Our first assumption was that the victim companies were likely committed to making a short to mid-term investment in mitigating the immediate risk and eradicating the threat from their network.  Unfortunately, we did not have any data available to us that revealed the severity of the compromise nor did we have access to the actual budgets or investments toward a response and future threat mitigation efforts in which these respective companies may choose to make.

The cost of getting "RSA'ed":
When making assumptions, it is important that we compare apples to apples.  We can assess with a high level of confidence that the threat we are monitoring in this case is an APT of Chinese origin.  We can confidently assess that the threat is most likely persisting within the respective enterprises with the intent of conducting long term data exfiltration of proprietary information from the respective organizations.

One example that helped us put the scenario in perspective is from the 2011 RSA breach.  Between April and June 2011, RSA spent $66 million dollars in the aftermath of a March 2011 APT breach, which also resulted in the compromise of information associated with RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication technology.   It is important to note that the $66 million cleanup figure did not include the post breach expenses from the first quarter of 2011 when EMC began investigating the breach, nor does it account for any of the long-term associated costs.  EMC's 2011 earnings statement cited a consolidated revenue of $20 billion dollars.  The $66 million cleanup figure would account for 0.33% of EMC's overall $20 billion dollar revenue.  However, if we apply the same $66 million cleanup costs for RSA's total revenue of $828.2 million for 2011, we find that the intrusion had a direct impact of 7.96% of RSA's 2011 revenue.

What if?
All of the target organizations are not the same.  Their roles, sizes and revenues within their respective industries all differ.  Furthermore, many of these companies do not have a parent company the size of EMC which could absorb the cost of a $66 million dollar incident. However, each organization could respond and invest in a similar manner as RSA.  If we theorize that each company identified were to invest 7.96%, of their annual revenues to mitigate the effects of this persistent APT, the effect would be:

Company

Rounded Revenues

Cost of getting "RSA'ed"

U.S. Company 1

$26,000,000,000

$2,069,600,000

U.S. Company 2

$11,000,000,000

$875,600,000

U.S. Company 3

$6,000,000,000

$477,600,000

U.S. Company 4

$5,000,000,000

$398,000,000

U.S. Company 5

$4,000,000,000

$318,400,000

U.S. Company 6

$1,500,000,000

$119,400,000

U.S. Company 7

$600,000,000

$47,760,000

U.S. Company 8

$20,000,000

$1,592,000

U.S. Company 9

$20,000,000

$1,592,000

U.S. Company 10

$2,500,000

$199,000

Total:

$54,142,500,000

$4,309,743,000

Irrespective of size, could these companies really all afford a 7.96% hit in response to a major enterprise breach? Considering that many of the victims are either publicly traded or provide direct support to U.S. Government funded programs, most would be compelled to notify various stakeholders, such as investors, the U.S. Security Exchange Commission, and their primary customers or government contract managers.

Based on our long term understanding of this threat group, we are almost certain that a resourced Chinese state sanctioned or sponsored threat group is responsible for establishing and using the observed command and control infrastructure we have detected within ThreatConnect.com.  We also conclude that the threat group is likely conducting economic espionage on behalf of an unknown Chinese benefactor who may be in an advantageous position to operationalize and monetize the information.  What we do not know is who, when or how the information may be employed.

The targeted and persistent nature of the threat suggests that the threat actor knows what type of information they want to acquire and are concentrating their collection by targeting multiple victims within overlapping industries.  Left unchecked, enterprise compromises could facilitate access to corporate intellectual property such as research and development, confidential corporate insights, and operational plans.  Access to confidential information regarding the mining and metals industry, as well as U.S. defense aerospace, engineering and fabrication could allow the attacker to enable the manipulation of markets, conduct restricted defense related technology transfers and or obtain unfair advantages within international business or trade negotiations.

Conclusion
Until more companies come forward with details of Chinese corporate espionage, little data will be available to us regarding the associated short and long term costs. In 2011 the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a report titled "China: Effects of Intellectual Property Infringement and Indigenous Innovation Policies on the U.S. Economy".  The report details estimates of Chinese Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement had cost the U.S. economy approximately $48 billion in 2009 alone, caveating the $48 billion figure that many companies were unable to quantify their losses.  The ITC report also highlighted that if China improved their current international obligations to protect and enforce IPR, 2.1 million jobs could have been created in the U.S.

Although there are numerous variables that cannot be accounted for with the data available to us, we can apply a simple model based on the RSA data that supports our hypothetical scenario and begin to see what the financial and economic effects would be across ten companies of various industries and revenues.  It is important to understand the scenario outlined above is associated with a real threat that has tailored their infrastructure and is likely exploiting the U.S. companies. Any associated enterprise exploitation would have an obvious direct and indirect effect to each company's respective annual revenues.   All of the threat data obtained is based on real-world data collected and analyzed within ThreatConnect.com.

More Stories By Rich Barger

Rich is the Chief Intelligence Officer for Cyber Squared and the ThreatConnect Intelligence Research Team (TCIRT) Director.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
"What we see what happens when you have a completely networked society and the potential to now drive the value creation and the collaboration and the ecosystems that are possible when you start to be able to connect people and industries together in ways that have never been possible before," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP of Marketing Enterprise & Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...