How Can We Expose Cyber Criminals Through Identity Attribution

Author profile picture

@rebecca-jRebecca James

Enthusiastic Cybersecurity Journalist, A creative team leader, editor of privacycrypts.com.

As we approach the dawn of another year, the cybersecurity world faces a strange dilemma- organized crime. Throughout the course of recent years, cybercrimes have grown increasingly sophisticated, primarily because of the rise in prominence of technologies such as machine learning, and the growing amalgamation of artificial intelligence within enterprises. 
As businesses and enterprises continue on the path to digitalization, the alarming pace at which cyber crimes continue to evolve leave a lot to be desired from a cybersecurity perspective. Perhaps even more unnerving is the fact that the inclusion of certain “flawed” technologies, such as cloud computing opens up new avenues for cybercriminals to indulge in- which makes the job of identifying and exposing malicious agents within the network all the more tedious and difficult. 
Taking the fast-paced nature of cybercrime into account, along with the massive cyber attack surface available to cybercriminals today, it becomes blatantly obvious that the security measures we have in place today are extremely inadequate in fighting cybercrime. 
In spite of time playing a crucial part in solving cybercrime, a great, yet often neglected portion of fighting cybercrime is through the effective identification of “bad” agents within a network. Simply put, one of the key steps to minimizing the damage wreaked by cybercrime is through identity attribution. 
In order to explain to our readers the notion of unveiling and attributing identities, and the leverage it can give enterprises in reducing breaches- we’ve compiled an article that dives deep into identity attribution and its importance. 

Why Does Identity Attribution Matter In An Ever-Evolving Threat Landscape? 

Right off the top of our heads, the most significant reason as to why identity attribution matters in the current cybersecurity world are simple- we’re running out of options. 
When it comes to curing the world of digital crime, all the measures we’ve taken up to this point have failed to hit the mark. One of the fundamental reasons why cybersecurity specialists need to place a special emphasis on the many perks offered by identity attribution is that the nature of crimes has changed. 
Previously, cybercriminals used to rely on a “boots on the ground” approach, which had an acute focus on breaking into conventional hierarchical structures and favored crimes that allowed for on-location activity. 
More recently, however, these types of crimes have become less popular with cybercriminals, since hackers and breachers rely on advancements in technology for the execution of their attacks. These days, the trend seen in the cybercrime market suggests that hackers go after ‘smaller’ targets, which explains why small businesses are at the greatest risk for breaches. 
An even more worrisome trend, that increases the divide between the conventional and modern models of the execution of cybercrime, is the fact that hackers prefer to work in smaller and more loosely structured groups instead of a large group of people. A possible explanation for hackers preferring to work in smaller groups is that cybercrimes require less manpower these days, primarily because of the backing of technological advancements. 
Taking all of this into account, the need for cybersecurity specialists to derive new solutions in the face of the rising sophistication of cybercrimes becomes blatantly obvious. Not only have cybercriminals switched to the chapter and sophisticated ways of wreaking damage on an enterprise, but they’ve also gathered the experience needed to breach into complex infrastructure and steal information quite easily. And if, for some naive reason, you weren’t sure of the extent to which hackers can g0- a cursory glance at the biggest breaches of the past decade might be enough to change your mind. 
The evolving nature of cyber crimes, combined with advancements made in technology being exploited by criminals, elevates the status of identity attribution from yet another “IT expense” to a staple in the cybersecurity diets of many. 
However, when it comes to switching to a cybersecurity approach that tends to focus on identifying malicious vectors and agents, most CSOs and CISOs are cynical, since they believe that identity-centric security infrastructure is impractical and only proves effective for a short time. 

How Does Identity Attribution Foster Security? 

To clear the air of any doubts that our readers might be harboring about identity attribution and how that correlates to promoting cybersecurity, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to explain how identity attribution works. 
Simply put, cybercriminals and hackers (as seen in recent cyberattacks) have used the ability to deceive security systems and enter into an enterprise’s network, by simply posing to be someone with authorization access. 
So far, cybersecurity specialists have never really prioritized identity attribution, and have chosen to opt for a more assumption-based approach. Contrary to popular belief, however, as threat agents rely on more sophisticated ways to protect their identities- a silver lining appears in the increasing number of attribution analysis experts, who formulate effective countermeasures for enterprises to integrate into their security infrastructures. 
A common practice that we’ve observed in the cybersecurity world, which walks the fine line between being careful and being stupid- is the notion that cybercriminals and hackers are these larger than life figures, whose only purpose in life is to hack into networks, and be the “bad guy.” 
As much as Hollywood would like us to believe in the generic idea of what a hacker is, the truth that most people tend to forget, is that just like the rest of us, hackers are also real people. No matter how malicious, and dangerous a hacker might seem, there’s an actual person behind the facade- which brings into light several opportunities through which cybersecurity and identity experts can find the identity of the criminal. 
Usually, cybersecurity experts try to follow the breadcrumb trail left behind by the hackers- through the snippets of data they leave behind on the dark and deep web- and once the identity has been compromised; execution of the rest of the attack quickly falls apart. 
By prioritizing identity attribution, and actually making the effort to understand the attack methods employed by cybercriminals- cybersecurity teams can use collected and available intelligence to their benefit, which results in the effective neutralization of the threat posed by cybercriminals. 

How Can Enterprises Ensure Security After Identity Attribution is Complete? 

In addition to identity attribution being a tedious task to execute, ensuring the longevity of an enterprise’s security infrastructure is an equally important aspect of staying on top of the cybersecurity game. 
Although enterprises face minor difficulties in transitioning to an identity-centric security approach, the steepness of the learning curve can be bypassed by taking the following measures: 
Protecting sensitive data: Although the point of keeping data obsolete might seem redundant to some of our cynical readers- we feel it be a duty upon ourselves to urge enterprises to secure customer and employee data as much as they can. One way to protect sensitive data is to use certain antivirus software like total AV that provides real-time protection.
Timeliness is key: When it comes to combating cybercrime, one of the biggest steps that enterprises can take is to respond in a timely manner. As is the case with identity intelligence, you’re more likely to find valuable data on the hacker in the immediate aftermath, or during the cyber attack. 
Report, report, report! Once the process of identity attribution has been completed, it is vital to ensure security in the cybersecurity world by reporting the malicious agents and vectors you have identified. An even more beneficial aspect of cybersecurity is the fact that enterprises can also report if they suspect that they’re network is under attack. 
Collaboration: When we take into account the web woven around the cybersecurity world, it becomes obvious that without collaborating with the law and governmental agencies- there is no point in fighting against the joint nemesis of cybercrime. Moreover, companies and enterprises can also collaborate and communicate with each other, share the valuable insights that they’ve discovered- which in turn works towards the promotion of increased cybersecurity. 

So, Where Does Cybersecurity Go From Here?

It’s not exactly the world’s best-kept secret that the cybersecurity world has gone through a significant change, ever since the integration of modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing into the computing hemisphere. 
Although, cybersecurity specialists have formulated several AI-centric approaches to solving cybercrime- the ever-evolving nature of the threat landscape demands that we come up with new approaches that help progress development in the cybersecurity industry as a whole. One such development is in the field of browser fingerprinting. 
It might be too presumptuous of us to assume that identity attribution might alter the very definition of cybersecurity- but we are still firm in our faith, that if done correctly, identity attribution could play a major role in catching hackers, and combating cybercrime!
Author profile picture

@rebecca-jRebecca James

Read my stories

Enthusiastic Cybersecurity Journalist, A creative team leader, editor of privacycrypts.com.

Tags

The Noonification banner

Subscribe to get your daily round-up of top tech stories!