A Tomorrow Unlocked original that recaps the most notorious cybercrime cases of the recent years.
Cashing In
Marcus Hutchins
Hackc1ne
Olympic Destroyer

Into the hackers’ trap: Where Olympic Destroyer really came from

The final instalment of our series hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer examines how Pyeongchang winter Olympics hackers put smokescreen to misdirect cybersecurity analysts. But through the fog, analysts realized the culprit wasn't who you might expect.


“Like placing someone else’s fingerprints at the crime scene.”

If successful, the 2018 Pyeongchang cyberattack could have cost billions of dollars, leaving a canceled Olympics and a geopolitical disaster in its wake. Their deceptive methods meant the cybercriminals nearly got away with it. Why did they want to point the analysts at another group? And who was behind it all?

Threat attribution – what is it?

Cybercriminals don't leave a calling card, but they do leave evidence. The art of finding and using that evidence to find the culprit is known as threat attribution.

Threat attribution is forensic analysis for advanced persistent threats (APTs). It analyzes the attackers' 'fingerprints,' such as the style of their code, where they attack and what kinds of organizations they target. Attacks can be matched with the fingerprints of other attacks attributed to specific groups.

Cybercriminals carry special ‘fingerprints’

Hackers have their own set of tactics, techniques and procedures. Cybersecurity experts can identify threat actors by studying these elements.

In February 2016, hackers attempted to steal $851 million US dollars and siphoned $81 million US dollars from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. The attack was linked to notorious cyber espionage and sabotage group Lazarus Group. Lazarus attacks casinos, financial institutions, and investment and cryptocurrency software developers.

Lazarus has certain targets and ways of attacking: Infecting a website employees of a targeted organization often visit or finding a vulnerability in one of their servers. These are the 'fingerprints' used in threat attribution.

Finding a needle within in a needle in a haystack

Crucially, Lazarus Group is long thought to be linked to North Korea. Olympic Destroyer included a piece of Lazarus's malware code, but the type of attack didn't fit. Its fingerprints better matched a cluster of attacks by another group with a very different agenda.

Watch the full video to see if you knew who the hacker was all along.

This APT might not have worked, but over the years, others have. To see what a successful APT looks like, watch Chasing Lazarus: A hunt for the infamous hackers to prevent big bank heists.

NextAutoplay

False flags and confusion bombs: Inside the 2018 Olympics malware

Security researchers described the code used to attack the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics as 'Frankenstein-like.' In part two of our video series, hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer, they explain how the malware was designed to point in multiple directions.


Who would dare to hack the Olympics?

The designer of an extraordinary piece of code lodged it in a system where it remained undetected for months. Part two of hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer explores the nature of the attack, its process and why 'Frankenstein-like' code made it one of the most mysterious advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks in history.

Olympic Destroyer was the perfect example of an APT. What are they, and why are they so harmful?

APTs attack over time

APTs are sophisticated hacks that often wait for the perfect time to strike to create maximum damage. They lodge themselves in a system and steal critical data over weeks, months or years. Those behind these attacks build complex software for intentional damage – from espionage and sabotage to data theft.

Highly organized groups use APTs

APTs are notoriously associated with highly organized groups. They attack high-status targets like countries or large corporations, notably in manufacturing and finance, aiming to compromise high-value information like intellectual property, military plans and sensitive user data.

Their high-profile targets will have secure networks and defenses, so threats must stay undetected as long as possible. The longer the attack goes on, the more time attackers have to map the system and plan to steal what they want.

Motives behind attacks vary, from harvesting intellectual property to gaining advantage in an industry, to stealing data for use in fraud. One thing is clear: APTs cause severe damage.

The ‘perfect’ APT

Olympic Destroyer was the perfect APT. A highly-organized group attacked a national Olympic committee, and it worked.

The 'confusion bomb' had been undetected in the computer system for four months, biding its time to strike. Being in the system gave them time to find weak spots and pain points to make the attack more devastating. When it finally surfaced, all hell broke loose.

Crippling the whole IT system

By directly attacking the Olympics' data centers in Seoul, South Korea, Olympic Destroyer cut employees' access to network computers. Because Wi-Fi was out, Olympic building security gates stopped working, coverage stopped, and the whole infrastructure went offline. The Pyeongchang IT team was staring down the barrel of a potential geopolitical disaster.

Stay tuned for episode three, where we unravel the IT team's ingenious response and find out who did it. Any guesses? Go to hacker:HUNTER to stay up to speed.

Unravelling the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic cyberattack mystery

One of the most deceptive hacks in history led to one of the greatest cyber defenses. The story of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics cyberattack will amaze you.

A cyber winter

It is February 9, 2018. The stage is set for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics' opening ceremony. But the organizers didn't realize one of the most deceptive cyberattacks in history was afoot.

This three-part series looks at the background to the Pyeongchang cyberattack, the Olympics IT team's stunning response and why it was so hard (and so risky) to find out who did it.

COVID-Hacking: Healthcare under attack

On September 9, in a hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany, a patient died from a virus. It wasn't what you might think: the hospital was hit by ransomware, infecting 30 servers before causing a total system shutdown, leading to the loss of her life. Yet this was a random act of chaos: the hackers misfired, they intended to infiltrate a nearby university.

This attack was fatal, but not unexpected. Attacks on hospitals and other health organizations have dramatically increased during the pandemic. When they hit, they can cost lives. Hospitals often have limited cybersecurity, making them vulnerable to attacks. In March, the University Hospital Brno, Czech Republic, faced a similar attack, fortunately, with no casualties.

For the latest hacker episode:HUNTER, we spoke to hospital staff to understand how ransomware attacks could harm patients.



Where there’s panic, there’s cybercrime

During the peak of pandemic information overload, COVID-19-themed cyberattacks spiked to a million a day in early March. Attacks targeting people access systems remotely – such as phishing, malicious websites, and malware - increased by a staggering 300 times during 2020.

Craig Jones, Director of Cybercrime at Interpol, explains: "Since March, the levels of work have ramped up. I've never known a period like it, not just at Interpol but also during my law enforcement experience." Check out Interpol's advice to protect yourself against Covid-19 cyberthreats.

So what can we do in a world where cybercriminals seem to be one step ahead of us? Hunting down the hackers is no easy task, but as the heroes in the second season of hacker:HUNTER shows, we can protect everyone by taking a stand against cybercrime.

COVID fake news and false hope

How hackers are exploiting the pandemic

"Cybercriminals were quick to realize many years ago that people fall prey to hot topics," says Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research & Analysis, Kaspersky. And today's hottest topic is the pandemic.

Chapter 2 of hacker:HUNTER ha(ck)c1ne explores COVID-related phishing attacks, known as spear-phishing. These attacks skyrocketed by nearly seven times between February and March this year.


When the virus took force, and we were all frantic trying to help each other, cybercriminals found a way to wreak havoc. In September, Facebook announced an aid program of $100 million for small business owners affected by the pandemic. When the story was picked up by the media, hackers started fishing (or, more accurately, phishing) with the bait.




Hack the news

Cybercriminals published fake news saying Facebook would be handing out free money to everyone affected by COVID-19. On a site cleverly disguised to look like Facebook, you fill out a form that shares personal data like your address, social security number or a photo of your ID. You get a confirmation message that your application has been accepted and sit back and wait for the money to arrive. It never will.

The worst part? It's not the false hope, but what cybercriminals can do with this information: tricking friends and family members into sending money, credit card fraud or even identity theft

.

You've got mail

It's not just people like us who criminals are targeting - organizations are hit too. At work, you get sent an email you think is from someone you know or your manager. But when you click on a link or open an attachment, it downloads malicious software opening the door for hackers to access the corporate network. They download data to sell on the dark web, or encrypt it via ransomware and force the business to pay the ransom to stop it from being leaked.

Keep it safe

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Criminals have the resources to hit everyone, from society's most vulnerable people to lucrative targets like big businesses and government. "Clearly the world is not as safe as we would like it to be. We're surrounded by all kinds of new and different threats," explains Zak Doffman, Founder and CEO of Digital Barriers. "The access to COVID treatments is a nation-state wide competitive advantage."

In the face of this influx of threats, more kudos to the people keeping us and our data safe, like the Cyber Volunteers 19. To keep yourself safe, Kaspersky Daily serves up advice on spotting and protecting yourself from the Facebook grants scam.

hacker:HUNTER WannaCry - Chapter 1

How WannaCry hit the world and how it suddenly stopped

One day in May 2017, computers all around the world suddenly shut down. A malware called WannaCry asks for ransom. The epidemic suddenly stops, because a young, British researcher found a killswitch, by accident.

From the Web:

What is WannaCry ransomware, how does it infect, and who was responsible?

WannaCry cyber attack cost the NHS £92m as 19,000 appointments cancelled

Wannacry on securelist.com

hacker:HUNTER WannaCry, Chapter 2

A star is born - and soon arrested

His random act of heroism makes security researcher Marcus Hutchins famous overnight. Being celebrated by media around the world, he spends a week in Las Vegas. When he wants to leave, the FBI arrests him. They suspect him of creating malware.

From the Web:

FBI arrest of Marcus Hutchins (@MalwareTechBlog) has chilling effect

Bad news for WannaCry slayer Marcus Hutchins

What Happens When a Hacker Hero is Arrested by the FBI? | Freethink Coded

hacker:HUNTER WannaCRY, Chapter 3

Jail forever or a free man?

Stuck in the US, free on bail, Marcus Hutchins considers his options and decides to plead guilty. He faces up to 10 years in jail.

From the web:

Marcus "MalwareTech" Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware

Marcus Hutchins spared US jail sentence over malware charges

Hutchins pleaded guilty, The Verge

Money-spitting ATMs - watch the whole story!

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In, Episode One

"ATMs hold cash, and that makes them attractive for criminals." The opening statement of this episode sums up what the whole mini-series is about. While criminals around the world try to get to the money in cash-machines with hammers, explosives, excavators or other heavy gear, the Carbanak gang found a more elegant and stealth way. They would hack into bank networks and monitor the activities there until they understood how to trigger the machines remotely to spill out all the money.

Episode 1 explains how security researchers were alerted to it, how they brought international police forces into the investigation and why the method of attacking ATMs is called Jackpotting after a researcher named Barnaby Jack.

More about the series here.

Welcome to Taiwan!

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In, Episode Two

The Carbanak Group attacks a bank in Taiwan and sends 22 money mules into the country. What they didn't anticipate: within a few hours the Taiwanese police publish surveillance pictures of all the money mules. The hunt begins.

Bags full of cash!

hacker:HUNTER "Cashing In" Episode Three

19 money mules flee Taiwan, the rest are left in Taipei with several million dollars. The police get closer and closer.

Arrest by the sea

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In: Episode Four

The Taiwanese police finds clues to the whereabouts of the head of the Carbanak group and coordinates with Europol. Can the group be stopped?

Money-spitting ATMs - watch the whole story!

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In, Episode One

"ATMs hold cash, and that makes them attractive for criminals." The opening statement of this episode sums up what the whole mini-series is about. While criminals around the world try to get to the money in cash-machines with hammers, explosives, excavators or other heavy gear, the Carbanak gang found a more elegant and stealth way. They would hack into bank networks and monitor the activities there until they understood how to trigger the machines remotely to spill out all the money.

Episode 1 explains how security researchers were alerted to it, how they brought international police forces into the investigation and why the method of attacking ATMs is called Jackpotting after a researcher named Barnaby Jack.


More about the series here.

NextAutoplay

Welcome to Taiwan!

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In, Episode Two

The Carbanak Group attacks a bank in Taiwan and sends 22 money mules into the country. What they didn't anticipate: within a few hours the Taiwanese police publish surveillance pictures of all the money mules. The hunt begins.

Bags full of cash!

hacker:HUNTER "Cashing In" Episode Three

19 money mules flee Taiwan, the rest are left in Taipei with several million dollars. The police get closer and closer.

Arrest by the sea

hacker:HUNTER Cashing In: Episode Four

The Taiwanese police finds clues to the whereabouts of the head of the Carbanak group and coordinates with Europol. Can the group be stopped?

hacker:HUNTER WannaCry - Chapter 1

How WannaCry hit the world and how it suddenly stopped

One day in May 2017, computers all around the world suddenly shut down. A malware called WannaCry asks for ransom. The epidemic suddenly stops, because a young, British researcher found a killswitch, by accident.

From the Web:


What is WannaCry ransomware, how does it infect, and who was responsible?

WannaCry cyber attack cost the NHS £92m as 19,000 appointments cancelled

Wannacry on securelist.com

NextAutoplay

hacker:HUNTER WannaCry, Chapter 2

A star is born - and soon arrested

His random act of heroism makes security researcher Marcus Hutchins famous overnight. Being celebrated by media around the world, he spends a week in Las Vegas. When he wants to leave, the FBI arrests him. They suspect him of creating malware.

From the Web:

FBI arrest of Marcus Hutchins (@MalwareTechBlog) has chilling effect

Bad news for WannaCry slayer Marcus Hutchins

What Happens When a Hacker Hero is Arrested by the FBI? | Freethink Coded

hacker:HUNTER WannaCRY, Chapter 3

Jail forever or a free man?

Stuck in the US, free on bail, Marcus Hutchins considers his options and decides to plead guilty. He faces up to 10 years in jail.

From the web:

Marcus "MalwareTech" Hutchins Pleads Guilty to Writing, Selling Banking Malware

Marcus Hutchins spared US jail sentence over malware charges

Hutchins pleaded guilty, The Verge

Healthcare on the Edge

hacker:HUNTER goes into Season 2 with a look at how cybercriminals attacked healthcare during the pandemic

The next episode of hacker:HUNTER reveals the shocking surge in cyberattacks on healthcare during the Covid-19 global pandemic. We take our audience on the frontlines of targeted cyberattacks on the vaccine researchers, hospitals and World Health Organisation who have reported a fivefold increase in attacks on its systems since March.

Launching on September 25th on YouTube!


NextAutoplay

COVID-Hacking: Healthcare under attack

On September 9, in a hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany, a patient died from a virus. It wasn't what you might think: the hospital was hit by ransomware, infecting 30 servers before causing a total system shutdown, leading to the loss of her life. Yet this was a random act of chaos: the hackers misfired, they intended to infiltrate a nearby university.

This attack was fatal, but not unexpected. Attacks on hospitals and other health organizations have dramatically increased during the pandemic. When they hit, they can cost lives. Hospitals often have limited cybersecurity, making them vulnerable to attacks. In March, the University Hospital Brno, Czech Republic, faced a similar attack, fortunately, with no casualties.

For the latest hacker episode:HUNTER, we spoke to hospital staff to understand how ransomware attacks could harm patients.



Where there’s panic, there’s cybercrime

During the peak of pandemic information overload, COVID-19-themed cyberattacks spiked to a million a day in early March. Attacks targeting people access systems remotely – such as phishing, malicious websites, and malware - increased by a staggering 300 times during 2020.

Craig Jones, Director of Cybercrime at Interpol, explains: "Since March, the levels of work have ramped up. I've never known a period like it, not just at Interpol but also during my law enforcement experience." Check out Interpol's advice to protect yourself against Covid-19 cyberthreats.

So what can we do in a world where cybercriminals seem to be one step ahead of us? Hunting down the hackers is no easy task, but as the heroes in the second season of hacker:HUNTER shows, we can protect everyone by taking a stand against cybercrime.

COVID fake news and false hope

How hackers are exploiting the pandemic

"Cybercriminals were quick to realize many years ago that people fall prey to hot topics," says Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research & Analysis, Kaspersky. And today's hottest topic is the pandemic.

Chapter 2 of hacker:HUNTER ha(ck)c1ne explores COVID-related phishing attacks, known as spear-phishing. These attacks skyrocketed by nearly seven times between February and March this year.


When the virus took force, and we were all frantic trying to help each other, cybercriminals found a way to wreak havoc. In September, Facebook announced an aid program of $100 million for small business owners affected by the pandemic. When the story was picked up by the media, hackers started fishing (or, more accurately, phishing) with the bait.




Hack the news

Cybercriminals published fake news saying Facebook would be handing out free money to everyone affected by COVID-19. On a site cleverly disguised to look like Facebook, you fill out a form that shares personal data like your address, social security number or a photo of your ID. You get a confirmation message that your application has been accepted and sit back and wait for the money to arrive. It never will.

The worst part? It's not the false hope, but what cybercriminals can do with this information: tricking friends and family members into sending money, credit card fraud or even identity theft

.

You've got mail

It's not just people like us who criminals are targeting - organizations are hit too. At work, you get sent an email you think is from someone you know or your manager. But when you click on a link or open an attachment, it downloads malicious software opening the door for hackers to access the corporate network. They download data to sell on the dark web, or encrypt it via ransomware and force the business to pay the ransom to stop it from being leaked.

Keep it safe

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

Criminals have the resources to hit everyone, from society's most vulnerable people to lucrative targets like big businesses and government. "Clearly the world is not as safe as we would like it to be. We're surrounded by all kinds of new and different threats," explains Zak Doffman, Founder and CEO of Digital Barriers. "The access to COVID treatments is a nation-state wide competitive advantage."

In the face of this influx of threats, more kudos to the people keeping us and our data safe, like the Cyber Volunteers 19. To keep yourself safe, Kaspersky Daily serves up advice on spotting and protecting yourself from the Facebook grants scam.

Unravelling the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic cyberattack mystery

One of the most deceptive hacks in history led to one of the greatest cyber defenses. The story of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics cyberattack will amaze you.

A cyber winter

It is February 9, 2018. The stage is set for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics' opening ceremony. But the organizers didn't realize one of the most deceptive cyberattacks in history was afoot.

This three-part series looks at the background to the Pyeongchang cyberattack, the Olympics IT team's stunning response and why it was so hard (and so risky) to find out who did it.

NextAutoplay

False flags and confusion bombs: Inside the 2018 Olympics malware

Security researchers described the code used to attack the 2018 Pyeongchang winter Olympics as 'Frankenstein-like.' In part two of our video series, hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer, they explain how the malware was designed to point in multiple directions.


Who would dare to hack the Olympics?

The designer of an extraordinary piece of code lodged it in a system where it remained undetected for months. Part two of hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer explores the nature of the attack, its process and why 'Frankenstein-like' code made it one of the most mysterious advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks in history.

Olympic Destroyer was the perfect example of an APT. What are they, and why are they so harmful?

APTs attack over time

APTs are sophisticated hacks that often wait for the perfect time to strike to create maximum damage. They lodge themselves in a system and steal critical data over weeks, months or years. Those behind these attacks build complex software for intentional damage – from espionage and sabotage to data theft.

Highly organized groups use APTs

APTs are notoriously associated with highly organized groups. They attack high-status targets like countries or large corporations, notably in manufacturing and finance, aiming to compromise high-value information like intellectual property, military plans and sensitive user data.

Their high-profile targets will have secure networks and defenses, so threats must stay undetected as long as possible. The longer the attack goes on, the more time attackers have to map the system and plan to steal what they want.

Motives behind attacks vary, from harvesting intellectual property to gaining advantage in an industry, to stealing data for use in fraud. One thing is clear: APTs cause severe damage.

The ‘perfect’ APT

Olympic Destroyer was the perfect APT. A highly-organized group attacked a national Olympic committee, and it worked.

The 'confusion bomb' had been undetected in the computer system for four months, biding its time to strike. Being in the system gave them time to find weak spots and pain points to make the attack more devastating. When it finally surfaced, all hell broke loose.

Crippling the whole IT system

By directly attacking the Olympics' data centers in Seoul, South Korea, Olympic Destroyer cut employees' access to network computers. Because Wi-Fi was out, Olympic building security gates stopped working, coverage stopped, and the whole infrastructure went offline. The Pyeongchang IT team was staring down the barrel of a potential geopolitical disaster.

Stay tuned for episode three, where we unravel the IT team's ingenious response and find out who did it. Any guesses? Go to hacker:HUNTER to stay up to speed.

Into the hackers’ trap: Where Olympic Destroyer really came from

The final instalment of our series hacker:HUNTER Olympic Destroyer examines how Pyeongchang winter Olympics hackers put smokescreen to misdirect cybersecurity analysts. But through the fog, analysts realized the culprit wasn't who you might expect.


“Like placing someone else’s fingerprints at the crime scene.”

If successful, the 2018 Pyeongchang cyberattack could have cost billions of dollars, leaving a canceled Olympics and a geopolitical disaster in its wake. Their deceptive methods meant the cybercriminals nearly got away with it. Why did they want to point the analysts at another group? And who was behind it all?

Threat attribution – what is it?

Cybercriminals don't leave a calling card, but they do leave evidence. The art of finding and using that evidence to find the culprit is known as threat attribution.

Threat attribution is forensic analysis for advanced persistent threats (APTs). It analyzes the attackers' 'fingerprints,' such as the style of their code, where they attack and what kinds of organizations they target. Attacks can be matched with the fingerprints of other attacks attributed to specific groups.

Cybercriminals carry special ‘fingerprints’

Hackers have their own set of tactics, techniques and procedures. Cybersecurity experts can identify threat actors by studying these elements.

In February 2016, hackers attempted to steal $851 million US dollars and siphoned $81 million US dollars from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. The attack was linked to notorious cyber espionage and sabotage group Lazarus Group. Lazarus attacks casinos, financial institutions, and investment and cryptocurrency software developers.

Lazarus has certain targets and ways of attacking: Infecting a website employees of a targeted organization often visit or finding a vulnerability in one of their servers. These are the 'fingerprints' used in threat attribution.

Finding a needle within in a needle in a haystack

Crucially, Lazarus Group is long thought to be linked to North Korea. Olympic Destroyer included a piece of Lazarus's malware code, but the type of attack didn't fit. Its fingerprints better matched a cluster of attacks by another group with a very different agenda.

Watch the full video to see if you knew who the hacker was all along.

This APT might not have worked, but over the years, others have. To see what a successful APT looks like, watch Chasing Lazarus: A hunt for the infamous hackers to prevent big bank heists.

Latest Stories