Editor’s note: The blogs and podcasts listed in this roundup were originally published on digitalshadows[.]com.
2022 has been an eventful year in the world of cyber threat intelligence. Organizations across the globe started the year by handling the aftermath of the Log4j disclosure, before being thrown into the turmoil of the ongoing Russia and Ukraine war. There also has also been a continuation—and in many ways—expansion of cyber extortion activity, notably ransomware and data-leak extortion. Of course, this has coincided with nation-state threat groups targeting companies’ sensitive data. As we approach the final days of 2022, it’s always good to look back at some of the content released by the ReliaQuest Photon team in the past year. Check out three of our top blogs and podcasts in our summary below.
Top 3 Threat Intelligence Blogs This Year
Killnet and the Revival of Hacktivism
One of the biggest trends from 2022 has been the revival of hacktivism globally. Once thought as a declining type of malicious activity, hacktivism has sprung back to life, largely amidst the Russia-Ukraine war. On both sides of the conflict, hacktivist actors have attempted to influence the outcome of the conflict, by conducting targeted DDoS attacks, defacement activity, data breaches, or doxxing individuals of interest. While the IT Army of Ukraine has led the charge for Ukraine’s interest, Russian hacktivist group Killnet has offered increasing support in conducting attacks against Ukraine and its alleged allies.
The Lapsus$ Enigma
Another group that really entered the stage in 2022 was the Lapsus$ threat group, which was successful in impacting a number of enterprise companies in the past year. Utilizing a series of out of the box techniques to impact victims—including several social engineering techniques—Lapsus$ were able to compromise companies who likely operate with a high level of security maturity, including Okta and Rockstar Games. Lapsus$ likely operate on a spectrum between financially motivated and hacktivist, however there’s also a third motivation for their activity—conducting attacks for their own amusement. It’s this additional nuance that makes Lapsus$ such an intriguing threat group.
There’s No Honor Among Thieves: Carding Forum Staff Defraud Users In An ESCROW Scam
Another insightful blog released this year details the perilous landscape facing cyber criminals attempting to engage in carding. Carding—which involves the trafficking and unauthorized use of credit cards—has long been assessed as a dying form of cyber criminal activity. While there are spaces available for threat actors to engage in this type of activity, they themselves may end up being used to facilitate fraud. We’ve detailed one such exit scam that carding forum administrators committed on their users.
Top 3 ShadowTalk Podcasts
The Russia–Ukraine war: February 2022
While representing a continuation of a conflict that originally started in 2014, the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to start the so-called “special military operation,” dramatically changed implications for the global security landscape. Originally released on 28 Feb 2022, the Photon team discussed some of the initial observations related to the conflict, including the initial fighting outbreaks between Russian and Ukrainian forces, the introduction of sanctions targeting Russia, and cybercriminal reactions to the conflict. It’s certainly an interesting listen to go back and hear some of our initial thoughts as news broke.
Discussing the Conti Leaks
At the end of February, the cybersecurity community was rocked by the appearance of alleged chat logs recording conversations between members of the prolific Russian-speaking ransomware group Conti. Over 60,000 messages were allegedly taken from a backend Jabber server used by the group. In our podcast released on 05 Apr 2022, the team discusses some of the implications that emerged from this treasure trove of intelligence.
Use of Structured Analytical Techniques within CTI
The last podcast to highlight here details the use of structured analytical techniques (SATs) within the Photon intelligence team. SAT are a series of models to enable a more rigorous process for analyzing intelligence. This includes several models that have been used to fine tune our intelligence products, including the Cone of Plausibility, an Analysis of Competing Hypothesis (ACH), and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. SAT is something that we’ll almost certainly continue to use in 2023.