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Using Social Media to Thwart Cyberattackers

Level 12

Federal IT professionals spend much time and money implementing sophisticated threat management software to thwart potential attackers, but they often forget that one of the simplest methods hackers use to access sensitive information is through social media. The world’s best cybersecurity tools won’t help if IT managers inadvertently share information that may appear to be innocuous status updates, but in reality, could reveal details about their professions that could serve as tasty intel for disruptors.

On LinkedIn®, for example, attackers can view profiles of network and system administrators and learn what systems targets are working on. This approach is obviously much easier and more efficient than running a blind scan trying to fingerprint a target.

However, federal IT professionals can actually use social media networks to block attackers. By sharing information amongst their peers and colleagues, managers can effectively tag hackers by using some of their own tactics against them.

Most attackers are part of an underground community, sharing tools, tactics, and information faster than any one company or entity can keep up.

Federal IT professionals can use threat feeds for information gathering and defense. Threat feeds are heralded for quickly sharing attack information to enable enhanced threat response. They can be comprised of simple IP addresses or network blocks associated with malicious activity, or could include more complex behavioral analysis and analytics.

While threat feeds will not guarantee security, they are a step in the right direction. They allow administrators to programmatically share information about threats and create mutual defenses much stronger than any one entity could do on its own. There’s also the matter of sharing data across internal teams so that all agency personnel are better enabled to recognize threats, though this is often overlooked.

An easy way to share information internally is to have unified tools or dashboards that display data about the state of agency networks and systems. Often, performance data can be used to pinpoint security incidents. The best way to start is to make action reports from incident responses more inclusive. The more the entire team understands and appreciates how threats are discovered, the more vigilant the team can be overall in anomaly detection and in raising red flags when warranted.

Federal IT professionals could use the Internet Storm Center as a resource on active attacks, publishing information about top malicious ports being used by attackers and the IP addresses of attackers. It’s a valuable destination.

The bottom line is that while all federal IT professionals must all be diligent and guarded about what they share on social media, that doesn’t mean they should delete their accounts. Used correctly, social media and online information sharing can effectively help them unite forces and gain valuable insight to fight a common and determined enemy.

Find the full article on GovLoop.

18 Comments
MVP
MVP

Good article

Level 13

you also have to be careful as social media can help cyber attackers and other types of attackers...

i.e., posting on facebook "We're going to Mexico for the week!"

Great, your house is empty!

MVP
MVP

Those who live their lives on social media tend to broadcast things that unknowingly open themselves or their business up for exploit...

"It's knowin' that'cher door is always open, and your furniture is gone . . ."

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Seriously, we're social animals with predators circling us.  To reduce our strength and effectiveness, isolate us from each other.  Then cut us out of the herd one at a time . . .

I imagine a day when profit & greed isn't a motivation, when power isn't all-important, when folks start paying attention to properly educating children so they grow into responsible and trustworthy adults.  This only takes time & money & patience.  It's the ounce of prevention we've all heard about, and ensuring everyone's got enough to eat, and a safe place to live & sleep, and access to good jobs and great health care are the building blocks for that happy future.  Don't vote solely for those who promise to cut taxes, since those taxes provide services like health care and education.  Vote for improvement, even if it means there might be a couple of dollars less in your pocket at the end of the year.  The benefits of so many people contributing a little bit are potentially enormous.  Be an altruist first, and you'll have found your own reward.

MVP
MVP

social media is ok for somethings, but sharing security information probably isn't one I'd be too keen on.

That ends up making the feed into something with a small number of inputs and lots of readers - but the social aspects makes trust a huge issue.

Mixed feelings on this one

Level 20

This is why social media accounts without your name on them is good!  I also only use web versions and NEVER install the apps anymore.

MVP
MVP

what if we were to feed false info via social media...info to lead them astray and mix things up so don't know what is real or not....not unlike all the fake news and clickbait mayhem that exists.

The Following 10 Concerts I have Been To. 1 Is a Lie...

So apparently this a method for bad people to hack your identity now? Joke's on them I did go see the Wiggles Live without my kids! HA!  (Did I just admit that out loud?

Anyway, I don't see this as anything new, but only as a wrinkle. Get off the grid and you'll be somewhat safe.

Level 13

for those that are click happy...that's a great strategy...

Level 14

Great read.  The folks at the ISC have some interesting tales to tell.  It's the same concept as sharing Intel in the military.

Makes me wonder about using social media for spreading counter intel.  Set the trap and watch for intrusions.  Just my inner Gray Hat thinking out loud.

Then we'd be politicians and agenda-leaning "news" agencies and governments and security organizations . . .

Sadly, there's too much true information out there, along with too much false info.

Some folks apparently will stop at nothing to gain money and power, and possibly fame.  How sad . . .

Level 14

Nice article... Every time I open my FB account and see what people I know post .... my first thoughts are: 1. TMI and 2. do you keep anything private?

Level 13

I agree...people don't have a filter...

MVP
MVP

Seems everything we do in the information field is a two-edged sword. Social media has positives and negatives. The convenience of the web is also a bastion of evil.

Level 15

Nice. very nice.

Level 14

good article.  There is more than a few uses for social media.  Although I unfortunately use it, I am not a big fan of it.

MVP
MVP

Social media is that genie you can't put back in the bottle.  Those posts are out there...for eternity.  Longer, in Google's case.

MVP
MVP

Getting your kids to understand that is challenging.  One day they will get it..

About the Author
I have been in IT since the dawn of time, even before IBM made personal computers. Working on CPM in the 80's and learning something new every day since then. Now running Virtualization, Server, Network, Storage, Application and Collaboration support team in a modern, forward looking corporate world.