Cатсн²² (in)sесuяitу / ChrisJohnRiley

Because we're damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't!

Tag Archives: offensive countermeasures

{Book Review} Offensive Countermeasures: The Art of Active Defense

A few months back at Blackhat, John and Paul were nice enough to give me a copy of their book “Offensive Countermeasures: The Art of Active Defense” to read. It’s been a whirlwind few months since then, but the quiet of Christmas has given me a chance to really sit down and soak up the contents.

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Active Defense has been getting a bit of a bashing after all the “hack back” bullsh*t that people have been throwing around. John and Paul make a good effort to put some of this to rest by really discussing the things that an enterprise really can achieve without getting into the revenge of hacking the hackers business. Some of people’s main concerns in active defense have been the lack of information on what you can and can’t do in the eyes of the law. The first section of the book puts a spotlight on a few court cases that deal with differing degrees of hacking back or active defense… and not all successful ones. This section helps to put the books content in focus and aims to really explain the whys and whatfors to come in the sections that follow.

The main section of the book is split up into the 3 A’s. Annoyance, Attribution and Attack. Each section goes into depth on some of the options enterprises have to more actively defend their networks. Each section has a number of example tools, mostly focused around the ADHD distribution, that people can use to perform some of the actions discussed.

I found it particular interesting that the book finished off with a section dedicated to core concepts. Far too many companies think they can jump from 0 straight to 100 without building a secure base to build from. Active defense isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t have your basics all in-hand, then anything you do is more likely to backfire than help.

The book itself is compact, but is a good starting point for meaningful discussions about active defense that don’t devolve into legal arguments from moment one. Because of the compact size of the book, there are a few things that aren’t really discussed although they fall into the active defense category. These omissions where a little disappointing, but keeping true to the core of active defense makes sense for what has to be seen at the first introductory text on the subject. Here’s hoping that future revisions expand on the base and start covering fun things like honeytokens. Overall the information that is presented is useful for people looking for a quick schooling in how they can use active defense to improve their overall level of security, and as an education for people who jump straight to hacking back without considering any other options.

If this book is anything to go by, the discussion on what really is possible in defending your networks intelligently from attackers should be a very interesting one to follow. The time for standing still and just taking punch after punch is over. Time to duck and dodge, and make it harder for attackers!

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