Thought for today: APT is a racist term – #security #apt /cc @kevinmitnick

From discussion with friends, an extract:

If the definition or example that somehow APT is a ‘newer, better and prolonged method of attack and stealth to obtain the crown jewels’ then what was Kevin Mitnick’s attack on Sun Microsystems?

It’s because Mitnick was an American – not “a Red” – and the net was not infrastructure back then.

In short: since the threat model has moved on from “Commies” now, APT is essentially a racist/jingoistic term for “foreign hacker who is other than us”.

My friend Jon Care says that ‘cloud’ is an irregular noun:

  • I have a Private Cloud
  • You have a Botnet
  • They have a Cyberwarfare Capability / Cyberweapon

…and I am basically thinking that APT is the equivalent third term for government pentester – the second being the eternally-slightly-tarnished Hacker, of course.

ps: obligatory tip for decyber

2 Replies to “Thought for today: APT is a racist term – #security #apt /cc @kevinmitnick”

  1. Mmm. Mitnick’s attacks were definitely APTs in their day, being unusual (and probably novel) in using a mix of techniques and vectors to achieve the desired result; they should rightly be considered APTs, if “APT” is to be subject to less abuse as a term than it currently is.

    For many more recent APTs, I prefer the term BPT, or “Bloody Persistent Threat”, to reflect the now more common technique of gently knocking on bits of exposed infrastructure over time, and looking at responses in such a way that heuristic IDSes are highly unlikely to go off in response; the same goes for low data rate exfiltration in the event of making a successful compromise. These days, looking up director names in Companies House records and figuring out email address formats or other contact details so as to engage in spear-phishing, doesn’t cut it as “Advanced” – though it certainly was, when Mitnick was engaging in criminal activity.

    The “Cloud irregular noun” meme deserves a place in the general geek vernacular; I think it’s a classic in the making :-).

  2. Incidentally, I’ve started re-reading an excellent book by a currently-topical author, and I notice she was an early user of the term “cyber-warfare”. I wonder if readers have seen it used prior to 2002? I found it on page 47 of “Statecraft” by Margaret Thatcher…

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