If we’re going to succeed in defending against bad guys, we should admit we are in a cyberwar. We are at odds with people who want to steal, corrupt, and destroy. To succeed against these cyber enemies, let’s draw from the words of Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military strategist: “Hold out baits to entice the enemy.”

Many people believe government network defenders only need to make one mistake before they are “pwned” and the bad guys steal sensitive data. As a network defender in this cyberwar, you have to be right 100% of the time; attackers only need to be right once. A missed vulnerability, a misconfigured router, or an overlooked Indicator Of Compromise (IOC) gives attackers the opening they need to cause damage.

To arm yourself in this cyberwar, find a way to flip the script. Do you remember the movie, “Home Alone?” Its message is applicable here: Even if you’re at a disadvantage when you’re defending your “home,” if you prepare for the bad guys, you can flip things to your advantage.

This creates a new category of “deception” technology. To capture the bad guys, this can be anything from basic virtual fake systems to confuse bad actors, to full networks with elaborate fake data, alarms, and traps.

More mature solutions go past simple virtual machines that look like juicy targets. To alert SOCs of potential breaches, they include deception inside Active Directory structures and at real endpoints and servers. By planting worthless administrative-looking credentials inside endpoints and Active Directory, a SIEM can easily alert SOC analysts to illicit behavior.

These solutions create a web of alarms and traps like the ones the “Home Alone” kid set up in his house. When the bad guys find and try to use credentials or scan or log into these fake systems, a spotlight is immediately illuminated on the activity. This shows the SOC that someone is attempting to do something bad; however, instead of a thief screaming about his head being on fire like in the movie, a simple SIEM rule about the use of a non-working credential or deception created system burns a hole in the bad guy.

Instead of fumbling around a network, the bad guys make one mistake and they are caught. This changes the game from the penetrator’s advantage to the defender’s advantage. They must tiptoe around and be careful about what they touch and where they go.

So let’s follow the best ideas from Sun Tzu to Churchill, Po-Ch’eng and even the Hittites and use deception to reshape the battlefield of cyberwar in our favor. Remember, as cliché as it may be, “The best defense is an offense.”


About GuidePoint Security

GuidePoint Security LLC provides innovative and valuable cybersecurity solutions and expertise that enable organizations to successfully achieve their mission. By embracing new technologies, GuidePoint Security helps clients recognize the threats, understand the solutions, and mitigate the risks present in their evolving IT environments. Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, GuidePoint Security is a small business, and classification can be found with the System for Award Management (SAM). Learn more at: http://www.guidepointsecurity.com.