Will the Feds take down a big hacker group in 2008?

Will the Feds take down a big hacker group in 2008?

Summary: This is the season for predictions and Websense is out with its top 10 predictions and a couple of them are quite interesting. One of the more interesting ones is the prediction (more like hope) that the government nabs a big hacking group in 2008.

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This is the season for predictions and Websense is out with its top 10 predictions and a couple of them are quite interesting. One of the more interesting ones is the prediction (more like hope) that the government nabs a big hacking group in 2008.

Here's the Websense prediction (we'll get to the other items in a bit):

9. Global law enforcement will crack down on key hacker groups and individuals. In 2007, large-scale Internet-based attacks garnered the attention of law enforcement officials around the world. Websense anticipates that through the global cooperation of enforcement agencies, in 2008 the biggest crackdown and arrests of key members of a hacker group will occur.

I got a briefing with Dan Hubbard, Websense's vice president of security research, late Tuesday and had to snicker at the mere thought that the government would even begin to keep up with fast-moving hackers.

Hubbard acknowledged that this prediction was bordering on a hope. But his rationale is solid and may just give the Feds a fighting chance. "Many hacker groups are operating out in the open and getting more involved with other activities beyond malicious code," said Hubbard.

My next question: Will the code or the side ventures bring down these groups? Hubbard said clearly the side ventures will be the problem. "If they are caught it'll be these other activities. It's like the mafia guy that gets caught for tax evasion," he said.

As for the other predictions in order, Websense notes that the Olympics will bring new cyber attacks; malicious spam will invade blogs and search engines; Web 2.0 weak links will be exploited; the number of compromised sites will surpass the number of created malicious sites (why build when you can just exploit); cross platform attacks (think iPhone) increase; hackers will attack special interest groups (think Baby Boomers); JavaScript will morph to evade anti-virus software; attacks will get encrypted; and voice spam will increase.

Some of those predictions are no brainers, but the morphing JavaScript could be an interesting trend to note. Hubbard referred to "polymorphic JavaScript." In a nutshell, this is malicious code that is encoded in a way that make it difficult for any virus signature to keep up. It changes hourly and even by the minute.

Also see Richard Stiennon's predictions.

Topics: Government US, Government, Security

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8 comments
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  • Here's a Safe Bet

    Teh feds will take down somebody and claim to have taken down a big (huge, major) hacker group.

    The question will be whether that is true

    A
    andycher
  • I think so

    The danger is that given the links between virus writers and organized crime, somebody might get killed over it.
    John L. Ries
    • Agreed these lines

      between computer crime and the organized variety are going to be increasingly blurred.
      Larry Dignan
  • RE: Will the Feds take down a big hacker group in 2008?

    I'm not sure why people point to iPhones for cross-platform attacks when compared to the relative penetration of wireless market of Symbian or WinMo then why wouldn't hackers attack those platforms?
    LDCMobile
  • RE: Will the Feds take down a big hacker group in 2008?

    Under the Bush Administration, being a public servant has lost most of its appeal, since common sense and rationality no longer are relevant to policy formation, and skill alone is not enough for promotion.

    So, the idea that the Feds can hire and retain people of sufficient skill to bring down hackers is fantasy, unless they are engaged in things like pirating software on the side or evading taxes. Perhaps our European allies can bring down malicious hackers. Not every hacker has ill intent. Some merely program beyond their understanding and we bear the consequences.
    SeniorMoment
  • Polymorphic code

    ...can be stopped simply by antivirus programs guarding against general malicious actions that are commonly performed by malware. McAfee antivirus does this for example so the threat is minimal as long as one has one of the bigger more feature rich antivirus suites.

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach
    • RE:Polymorphic code

      Not only that, but with Vista's IE protection and UAC there is little room for any exploit to spread itself in the victims system. The same can be said for Mac OS X and other *nix systems who actively take advantage of the *nix permissions system, in these cases the operating system provides enough security itself to provide little room for damage to be caused by unsuspecting malware.

      - John Musbach
      John Musbach
  • If I remember right...

    There have been several big spammers taken down over the past year and a half. Now I don't think anyone will complain if the waterboards get put into use; the spammers and hacker groups are working together; somebody is probabily going to sing.
    Uncle Buck