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Know Your Enemy: Revealing the Security Tools, Tactics, and Motives of the Blackhat Community

Know Your Enemy: Revealing the Security Tools, Tactics, and Motives of the Blackhat Community


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-74613-1
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-74613-6

For centuries, military organizations have relied on scouts to gather intelligence about the enemy. The scouts' mission was to find out who the enemy was, what they were doing, how they might attack, the weapons they use, and their ultimate objectives. Time and again this kind of data has proven critical in defending against, and defeating, the enemy.

In the field of information security, scouts have never existed. Very few organizations today know who their enemy is or how they might attack; when they might attack; what the enemy does once they compromise a system; and, perhaps most important, why they attack.

The Honeynet Project is changing this. A research organization of thirty security professionals, the group is dedicated to learning the tools, tactics, and motives of the blackhat community. As with military scouts, the mission is to gather valuable information about the enemy.

The primary weapon of the Honeynet Project is the Honeynet, a unique solution designed to capture and study the blackhat's every move. In this book you will learn in detail not only what the Honeynet Project has discovered about adversaries, but also how Honeynets are used to gather critical information.

Know Your Enemy includes extensive information about

  • The Honeynet: A description of a Honeynet; information on how to plan, build, and maintain one; and coverage of risks and other related issues.
  • The Analysis: Step-by-step instructions on how to capture and analyze data from a Honeynet.
  • The Enemy: A presentation of what the project learned about the blackhat community, including documented compromised systems.

Aimed at both security professionals and those with a nontechnical background, this book teaches the technical skills needed to study a blackhat attack and learn from it. The CD includes examples of network traces, code, system binaries, and logs used by intruders from the blackhat community, collected and used by the Honeynet Project.



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The Enemy: Protecting Your Organization from Blackhats

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Honeynet Project: The Battleground

Honeynet Project: What a Honeynet Is

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Table of Contents



1. The Battleground.


2. What a Honeynet Is.



Value of a Honeynet.

The Honeypots in the Honeynet.


3. How a Honeynet Works.

Data Control.

Data Capture.

Access Control Layer.

Network Layer.

System Layer.

Off-Line Layer.

Social Engineering.



4. Building a Honeynet.

Overall Architecture.

Data Control.

Data Capture.

Maintaining a Honeynet and Reacting to Attacks.



5. Data Analysis.

Firewall Logs.

IDS Analysis.

System Logs.


6. Analyzing a Compromised System.

The Attack.

The Probe.

The Exploit.

Gaining Access.

The Return.

Analysis Review.


7. Advanced Data Analysis.

Passive Fingerprinting.

The Signatures.

The ICMP Example.



8. Forensic Challenge.


The Coroner's Toolkit.

MAC Times.

Deleted Inodes.

Data Recovery.



9. The Enemy.

The Threat.

The Tactics.

The Tools.

The Motives.

Changing Trends.


10. Worms at War.

The Setup.

The First Worm.

The Second Worm.

The Day After.


11. In Their Own Words.

The Compromise.

Reading the IRC Chat Sessions.

Day 1, June 4.

Day 2, June 5.

Day 3, June 6.

Day 4, June 7.

Day 5, June 8.

Day 6, June 9.

Day 7, June 10.

Analyzing the IRC Chat Sessions.

Profiling Review.

Psychological Review.


12. The Future of the Honeynet.

Future Developments.


Appendix A. Snort Configuration.

Snort Start-Up Script.

Snort Configuration File, snort.conf..

Appendix B. Swatch Configuration File.
Appendix C. Named NXT HOWTO.
Appendix D. NetBIOS Scans.
Appendix E. Source Code for bj.c.
Appendix F. TCP Passive Fingerprint Database.
Appendix G. ICMP Passive Fingerprint Database.
Appendix H. Honeynet Project Members.
Index. 0201746131T08302001


Have you ever wondered what motivates blackhats, often called hackers, to attack, compromise, and exploit systems or what hackers do once they own them? Well, the purpose of this book is to teach you about this enemy, aka the blackhat. These individuals are attempting to use Internet technology to carry out illegal, destructive, or unauthorized activities. This activity could be as simple as a teenager attempting to vandalize Web sites, a sophisticated attempt at compromising credit card companies, or terrorist attacks against a country's infrastructure. Regardless of who you are--a homeowner with a cable modem connection, a security administrator for a large organization, or an information warfare officer for the military--these threats are for real. This book will teach you the tools, tactics, and motives of these threats: to know your enemy.

This book is the result of a 2-year project known as the Honeynet Project. What makes our research unique is that we let the blackhat community teach us how they operate. Instead of trying to guess who the enemy is and to develop theories on how blackhats think and operate, we have them teach us their tools, tactics, and motives. Our primary method for learning is the Honeynet, a collection of production systems designed to be compromised. When the bad guys probe, attack, and compromise our systems, we watch and learn from their every step. In the past two years, we have learned a great deal from having had numerous systems probed, attacked, and compromised. This book is an attempt to share those lessons. In addition, we have created the Web site http://project.honeynet.org/book/. This site will contain any additional information relative to this book, such as corrections or updates, and unabridged text of the chat sessions in Chapter 11.

For those of you without a technical background, this book will show you in simple terms how the bad guys accomplish what they do. You do not have to understand all the technical details to learn how the enemy operates and thinks. We will also teach you some of the technical skills necessary to study an attack and to learn from it. For those of you with technical backgrounds, we will develop your skill sets in capturing and analyzing data, such as forensic analysis. However, the end goal is the same regardless of your skill set: to teach you what we have learned about the blackhat community and how we learned it. We hope that by better understanding the enemy, you can better defend against attack.

This book has three parts. In Part I, we cover step-by-step how we plan, build, and maintain a Honeynet and the risk/issues involved. In Part II, we show you step-by-step how we use a Honeynet and how we learn from it, specifically, data analysis. In Part III, we cover what we have learned about the blackhat community, including several specific examples of compromised honeypots. We discuss as little theory as possible, instead focusing on the actions of the blackhats we have witnessed and the lessons we have learned. We hope that you learn as much from this book as we have learned from the blackhat community.



Page references in italics refer to figures. An "n" after a page number refers to a footnote.

A access control layer, 31-35
access control list (ACL), 51
accounts, user, 154-155
ACL (access control list), 51
ADM Crew, 43
Administrative networks, 21, 21-22, 25, 26, 30, 271
administrative rights, 133
Adore, 136
Advanced Reference Archive of Current Heuristics for Network Intrusion Detection Systems (arachNIDS), 91, 311
AFWIC, 311
Air Force, U.S., 309
alerts, 25-26, 32-35, 34, 38
     firewall, 50, 52, 58-60, 62-63, 73, 76, 92
     IDS (intrusion detection system), 52, 58, 60-61, 66
     reference numbers, 77
     Snort, 275
     suspicious signature, 35
     binary logs, 69, 78, 81, 121, 153
     compromised system example, 75-93
     data, 55-73, 95-109
     IDS (intrusion detection system), 60
     IRC (Internet relay chat), 69, 260-265
     keystrokes, 83
     NetBIOS protocol, 141
     packets, 64, 64n, 67
     signatures, 95
     timeline, 261
     traffic, 261
     trends, 60
"An Evening with Berferd" (Bellovin and Cheswick), 9
anti-IDS, 43
antispoofing, 29, 49, 50
The Anti-Virus Book (Shah), 313
Anzen Computing, 305
arachNIDS (Advanced Reference Archive of Current Heuristics for Network Intrusion Detection Systems), 91, 311
Arbor Networks, 305
architecture, Honeynet, 21, 45-47
     database, 129
     firewall, 34-35, 52, 59, 73
     log files, 271, 275
A record, 280
Arkin, Ofir, 303, 311-312
     "ICMP Usage in Scanning," 96
     "Identifying ICMP Hackery Tools," 103
     passive fingerprint database table, 301n
Army, U.S., 309
ASCII files, 37-38, 60, 64-65, 69, 73, 81, 83, 121
assembler, 130
ath0, 172, 220
attacks. See also denial-of-service attacks
     compromised system example, 75-93, 83
     DDOS (distributed denial of service), 132-133
     IDS (intrusion detection system) role in, 54, 63
     NOP, 75
     NT, 66
     predicting future, 268
     probing, 77-78, 125-126, 129-130
     reacting to, 54
     trends in, 59
     Unicode, 66n68
     worms, 139-150, 149
Australian Unix Users Group, 305
automated blocking, 25, 26, 27
automated programs, 129, 130-131, 133, 136, 139, 146, 149, 156
autorooter, 127, 131
B backdoors, 31, 63, 65, 66, 121, 125, 129, 136, 297-298
     compromised system example and, 78, 84-88, 89, 90, 92
     HOWTO and, 283
     Solaris example and, 153, 154, 161, 197
bash, 40
B2B (business-to-business) sites, 269
Bellovin, Steve, and Bill Cheswick ("An Evening with Berferd"), 9
binaries, Trojan, 161
binary logs, 36-37, 38, 60, 63, 67, 73
     analyzing, 69, 78, 81, 121, 153
/bin/bash, 53, 54
bind, 202, 281, 283
bj.c, 85, 88, 92, 197, 297-298
Black Hat Briefings, 305, 312
BlackHat 2000 Conferences, 307
blackhats, 1-8, 123, 125-126
     bragging by, 134, 250
     cohesiveness of, 264
     communication among, 14, 151, 162, 163-260
     controlling activity of, 22-23
     definition of, 5
     derogatory statements used by, 263-264
     "eliteness" among, 223, 225, 263
     "entrapment" of, 16-17
     interwarfare (feuds/warfare) among, 186, 205, 257
     leader, determining, 165
     motives of, 132-134, 137, 151, 180-181, 191, 206, 261, 265
     process example, 156
     profiling of, 261, 262, 264
     sharing of skills and techniques, 188
     skill sets, 230, 261-262
     social structure of, 262-263
     status of, 263-264
     tactics of, 126-130, 137, 163, 265, 270
     tools used by, 130-132, 137, 163, 265
     tracing, 133, 142
     trends of, 134-137
blists (broadcast amplifier networks), 171
blocking, automated, 25, 26, 27
BNC, 133, 162
bots, 133
broadcast amplifier networks (blists), 171
Brumley, David ("Tracking Hackers on IRC"), 134
buffer overflows, 38, 61, 63, 75, 152, 281
Bugtraq, 38, 132
building Honeynets, 45-54
     architecture, 45-47
     attacks, reacting to, 53-54
     data capture, 51-53
     data control, 47-51
     maintenance, 53-54
business-to-business (B2B) sites, 269
C cable, risk in using, 140
caching, 153
Canonical Name (CNAME), 280
CanSecWest, 305, 306
Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, 307
CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), 306
CCSE, 313
Center for Information Technology Integration, University of Michigan, 305
Central Intelligence Agency, 306
CERT, 152, 305
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), 306, 312, 313
chat network (Undernet), 228
CheckPoint FireWall-1, 24, 26, 27, 33, 49
checksum, MD5, 105n106, 113-114, 142-143
Cheswick, Bill, and Steve Bellovin ("An Evening with Berferd"), 9
CIA, 309, 311
Cisco, 309
     routers, 46, 99
     system logs, 70
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), 306
Cisco Information Security, 307
CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), 306, 312, 313
Clarkson University, 310
cleartext, 37, 54, 65, 69, 81, 83, 155


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