Treadstone 71 Cyber Intelligence Subscription Program

The Cyber Intelligence 12-Month Online Subscription Program is designed to guide organizations in their cyber and threat intelligence program builds through online lectures, demonstrations, and templates covering a wide range of topics. After years of teaching intelligence courses and delivering intelligence programs to clients, Treadstone 71 now offers the subscription-based, automated program guiding clients through the strategic planning process, goals and objectives creation, maturity assessment, SOP development, threat intelligence platform selection, collection planning, intelligence analysis, analytic writing, and dissemination non-inclusively.

The program includes instructional videos tied to content with periodic direct access to Treadstone 71 for client deliverable reviews. The reviews follow a standard cycle including comments, suggestions, recommendations, and examples of previously finished products. Treadstone71 also offers regular ‘professor’ office hours for Q&A.

The program follows proven methods established over the years while creating intelligence programs. Clients move at a regular pace that corresponds with their internal schedules that Treadstone 71 helps to establish with the client. Clients may choose the entire subscription package or choose modules ala-cart. The subscription also includes the standard Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Certification training and adds a new module assisting clients with the creation of table-top exercises.

An overview of some of the subscription content follows:

  • Strategic Plan development, acceptance, and dissemination
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Guiding Principles
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Roadmap
  • Cyber Intelligence Capability Maturity Model Assessment
  • Standard operating procedures
  •               RACI(S)
  •               Process flow diagrams
  •               Associated metrics
  •               Peer Reviews
  • Intelligence Functions
  • Communications, Responsibilities, Methods
  • Practices and Activities
  • Organizational interfaces
  • SOC and IR
  • Other intelligence groups
  • CISO/CSO and CIO
  • C-Suite
  • Department leadership
  • External groups
  •                            Vendors
  • Cyber Intelligence Lifecycle definition
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Collection Planning
  • Production
  • Structured analytic techniques
  • Analysis
  • Analytic Writing
  • Reporting and Briefing
  • Dissemination
  • Intelligence Information Sharing
  •               Enterprise objectives
  •               Communities of Interest
  •               Your internal ISAC
  • Threat Intelligence Platforms
  •               RFP and Selection process
  •               Maturation
  •               Vendor data feeds
  • Training and Knowledge Transfer
  •               Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Certification
  •                            In-person
  •                            8-week online
  • Treadstone 71 Onsite Assessment and Assistance

Clients subscribing to the program create program content undergoing Treadstone 71 review prior to leadership delivery. The intent is to share our vast expertise in cyber intelligence to assist organizations in the timely building of their programs. Clients may choose to extend their program beyond a year or accelerate their program based upon their acceptance of agreed upon assumptions and requirements. Clients have the ability to speed up or slow down their programs throughout the subscription.


We see this model as an effective and efficient way to extend our knowledge, share our standards-based program information while setting up an industry model rooted in intelligence community tradecraft. That tradecraft follows the International Association for Intelligence Education Standards for Intelligence Analyst Initial Training, intelligence community directives (ICDs), content from the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis and Mercyhurst University as well as boots on the ground experience.

What do you have at the end of the program?

As clients carefully follow the training, timelines, and execute to the deliverables internally, clients will have built a complete cyber threat intelligence program. The program definition, strategy, policies, procedures, process flow diagrams, roles, responsibilities, templates, models, methods, tactics, techniques, reports, dissemination models, briefings, table-top exercises, as well as certified Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft professionals are all core components of the what clients achieve.

Our pricing model will be a fixed price for the core modules with add-on modules priced separately. Treadstone 71 onsite work options will be clear and defined with the ability of clients to purchase onsite and online ‘office hours’ over and above hours provided in the core modules. Clients will have the choice of selecting from several options.

For more information about this new program, contact Treadstone 71 at 888.714.0071 or We will respond to all inquiries as long as they are from corporate and business accounts.

Copyright 2018 Treadstone 71 LLC

Coincidences Take A Lot of Planning – RSA Conference 2018 – San Francisco

The RSA Conference is soon upon us! The expectation to see old friends and make new rsa1800008-buckle-up_augacquaintances. The show will once again be great with new technologies displayed, new ideas bantered about, and phrases around AI used inappropriately and about 5-10 years too soon. The parties will crank at night and many will suffer the cocktail flu come the next morning. 40,000 strong is the estimated number for this event! Huge!

کنفرانس RSA 2018  rsa-конференция 2018  2018 RSA 회의  rsa 2018年会议  مؤتمر rsa 2018

But what of the undercurrent that occurs unmentioned every year? Just beneath the surface are a series of activities generated by scores of foreign agents looking to steal information, intellectual property, or gain an upper hand over someone of importance being caught doing illicit things. How many spies will blanket the city and the shop floor armed with various technologies used to extract information? Cyber and physical espionage activities run amuck at such events. This is common and expected. How will you know when your data is being pilfered? Will your hotel room be secure? Are your 2018-04-05_14-43-31mobile devices secure? What data have you given up already? Flight plans, hotel information, email addresses, phone numbers, social media data, car rental information, events you will attend, arrival and departure times, restaurant reservations, meeting information… Do you think your data is not in the wind already? Will a chance encounter lead to unexpected information sharing? Is the person next to you at the bar there just by coincidence?

All questions you should consider. All questions that are usually forgotten or ignored.



Valery Vasilevich Gerasimov – Валерий Васильевич Герасимов

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation / First Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, General of the Army._64031862_gerasimov

Валерий Васильевич Герасимов

Born      8 September 1955 (age 62)

Kazan, Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

Married – one son

Russian hackers reportedly stole NSA data via Kaspersky Lab software

Born on 8 September 1955 in the city of Kazan. In 1977, he graduated from the Kazan Higher Tank Command School named after the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Tatar ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). He commanded platoon, company, battalion in the Northern Group of Troops and Far Eastern Military District.


After his graduation from the Military Academy of Armored Troops named after Marshal of the Soviet Union R.Ya. Malinovsky in the year of 1987, he served as the chief of headquarters and commander of tank regiment, the chief of headquarters of motorized rifle division in the Baltic Military District. From 1993 to 1995 — the commander of motorized rifle division in the North-Western Group of Troops.

After graduating from the Kazan Higher Tank Command School Gerasimov was the commander of a platoon, company, and battalion of the Far Eastern Military District. Later he was chief of staff of a tank regiment and then of a motorized rifle division in the Baltic Military District. From 1993 to 1995 he was the commander of the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division in the Baltic Military District and then the North-Western Group of Forces.

After he graduated from the General Staff’s academy he was First Deputy Army Commander in the Moscow Military District and commander of the 58th Army in the North Caucasus Military District during the Second Chechen War. His involvement in the arrest of Yuri Budanov led to praise from journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

g3In 2006, he became commander of Leningrad Military District and moved to be the commander of Moscow Military District in 2009 and Central Military District in April 2012. On 23 December 2010, he became deputy Chief of the General Staff

In 1997 after his graduation from the Military Academy of the RF Armed Forces’ General Staff, he served as the First Deputy Commander of Army in the Moscow Military District, the Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff and Commander of the 58th Army in the North Caucasian Military District.

From 2003 to 2005 — the Chief of Staff of the Far Eastern Military District. From 2005 — the Chief of the Main Administration of Combat Training and Troops’ Service of the RF Armed Forces, and from December 2006 — the Chief of Staff of the North Caucasian Military District.vg4.png

In December 2006, he was assigned as the Commander of the Leningrad Military District, and in February 2009 — as the Commander of the Moscow Military District.

From December 2010 — the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

From 26 April 2012 — the Commander of the Central Military District.


03-02By the RF Presidential Decree of 9 November 2012, he has been appointed the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation / First Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation. He was appointed by President Vladimir Putin on 9 November 2012. Some authors credit Gerasimov as the person behind a so-called “Gerasimov doctrine” – currently prevalent in Russian military strategy – combining military, technological, information, diplomatic, economic, cultural and other tactics, which are then deployed towards one set of strategic objectives. This “political warfare” is preferred due to its comparatively low cost.


The previous Chief of General Staff, Army General Nikolay Makarov, was seen as close to Serduykov and was seen by commentators as likely to be replaced by new Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu. It has been reported that Makarov resigned, but he was formally dismissed by President Vladimir Putin. Other changes were the dismissal of Alexander Sukhorukov from the position of First Deputy Defence Minister and his replacement by Colonel General Arkady Bakhin, formerly commander of the Western Military District. Aerospace Defence Forces commander Colonel General Oleg Ostapenko was also promoted to Deputy Defence Minister. He was promoted to the highest rank in the Russian Army, General of the Army as of 2014. On September 15, 2016, he and Turkish chief of staff General Hulusi Akar conducted a


meeting on the future of Syria in the Ankara headquarters of the army. That meeting will result in tightened dealings between Russia and Turkey.

There is an old Soviet-era rhetorical device that a ‘warning’ or a ‘lesson’ from some other situation is used to outline intent and plan. The way that what purports to be an after-action take on the Arab Spring so closely maps across to what was done in Ukraine is striking. Presenting the Arab Spring–wrongly–as the results of covert Western operations allows Gerasimov the freedom to talk about what he may also want to talk about: how Russia can subvert and destroy states without direct, overt and large-scale military intervention. However, the assumption that this is a Western gambit primarily does appear genuinely-held.



In April 2014 Gerasimov was added to the list of persons against whom the European Union introduced sanctions “in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine.”

Hero of the Russian Federation.

Personal decorations: Order for Military Merits, Order for Merits to the Fatherland 4th grade, Order for Service to the Homeland in the USSR’s Armed Forces 3rd grade, Order of St. George 4th grade, Order for Merits to the Fatherland with Swords 3rd grade, Order for Honor.

The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness.

For me, this is probably the most important line in the whole piece, so allow me to repeat it: The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness. In other words, this is an explicit recognition not only that all conflicts are actually means to political ends–the actual forces used are irrelevant–but that in the modern realities, Russia must look to non-military instruments increasingly.




We Are in a State of Cyber Cold War?

Wisdom begins with the definition of terms – Socrates

Many believe that we are not in some sort of state of cyber warfare. Many believe that it is only influence operations. These are the same people who are selling you security technologies and services to protect your environment. They believe calling our current state cyber war is hype. They fact that they believe this is demonstrated in their technologies that have double and triple downed on solutions that do not work. Solutions based solely on see, detect, and arrest. A paradigm proven over the past 20 years to be a paradigm of failure. The game of many a vendor (not all) is to generate revenue off your fear. A fear that can be remedied if we fix information security by first starting to fix information technology (see Cyber Security Predictions – Not Reality TV – Just Daytime Entertainment). One of the problems we have is standard taxonomy and glossary. Most do not have an understanding of the basics of intelligence and war. Most feel the need to apply physical characteristics to cyber actions in order for those actions to be taken as some sort of warfare. This is a major misnomer. My request here is for you to read the limited glossary items below. Once you have read these items, think of where we are today with respect to cyber security. If after reading and applying critical thinking to the terms and our current state of cyber security you do not believe we are in a state of cyber cold war, then provide some well thought out comments as to what state we are in fact in.

Information Operations (IO). The integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own. (JP 1-02)

           This includes five core capabilities incorporated into IO

  1. Electronic warfare is any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack of an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum.
  2. Computer Network Operations (CNO)
    1. Comprised of computer network attack, computer network defense, and related computer network exploitation enabling operations (JP 1-02)
  3. Psychological operations
    1. Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator’s objectives. (JP 1-02 and JP 3-13.2)
  4. Military Deception
    1. Actions executed to deliberately mislead adversary military decision makers as to friendly military capabilities, intentions, and operations, thereby causing the adversary to take specific actions (or inactions) that will contribute to the accomplishment of the friendly mission. (JP 1-02)
    2. According to JP 3-13.4, Counterintelligence provides the following for MILDEC planners:
    3. Identification and analysis of adversary intelligence systems to determine the best deception conduits;
    4. Establishment and control of deception conduits within the adversary intelligence system, also known as offensive CI operations;
    5. Participation in counterdeception operations;
    6. Identification and analysis of the adversary’s intelligence system and its susceptibility to deception and surprise; and
    7. Feedback regarding adversary intelligence system responses to deception operations.
  5. Operations Security


Treadstone71 2017 Cyber Intel Courses –


OPSEC is a five-step iterative process that assists an organization in identifying specific pieces of information requiring protection and employing measures to protect them.

  1. Identification of Critical information: Critical information is information about friendly intentions, capabilities and activities that allow an adversary to plan effectively to disrupt their operations. U.S. Army Regulation 530-1 has redefined Critical Information into four broad categories, using the acronym CALI- Capabilities, Activities, Limitations (including vulnerabilities), and Intentions.This step results in the creation of a Critical Information List (CIL). This allows the organization for focus resources on vital information, rather than attempting to protect all classified or sensitive unclassified information. Critical information may include, but is not limited to, military deployment schedules, internal organizational information, details of security measures, etc.
  2. Analysis of Threats: A Threat comes from an adversary – any individual or group that may attempt to disrupt or compromise a friendly activity. Threat is further divided into adversaries with intent and capability. The greater the combined intent and capability of the adversary, the greater the threat. This step uses multiple sources, such as intelligence activities, law enforcement, and open source information to identify likely adversaries to a planned operation and prioritize their degree of threat.
  3. Analysis of Vulnerabilities: Examining each aspect of the planned operation to identify OPSEC indicators that could reveal critical information and then comparing those indicators with the adversary’s intelligence collection capabilities identified in the previous action. Threat can be thought of as the strength of the adversaries, while vulnerability can be thought of as the weakness of friendly organizations.
  4. Assessment of Risk: First, planners analyze the vulnerabilities identified in the previous action and identify possible OPSEC measures for each vulnerability. Second, specific OPSEC measures are selected for execution based upon a risk assessment done by the commander and staff. Risk is calculated based on the probability of Critical Information release and the impact if such as release occurs. Probability is further subdivided into the level of threat and the level of vulnerability. The core premise of the subdivision is that the probability of compromise is greatest when the threat is very capable and dedicated, while friendly organizations are simultaneously exposed.
  5. Application of Appropriate OPSEC Measures: The command implements the OPSEC measures selected in the assessment of risk action or, in the case of planned future operations and activities, includes the measures in specific OPSEC plans. Countermeasures must be continually monitored to ensure that they continue to protect current information against relevant threats.The U.S. Army Regulation 530-1 refers to “Measures” as the overarching term, with categories of “Action Control” (controlling one’s own actions); “Countermeasures” (countering adversary intelligence collection); and “Counteranalysis” (creating difficulty for adversary analysts seeking to predict friendly intent) as tools to help an OPSEC professional protect Critical Information.

Offensive Cyber Operations. Programs and activities that through the use of cyberspace, 1) actively gather information from computers, information systems or networks or 20 manipulate, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy targeted adversary computers, information systems, or networks. (NSPD-38)

Cold War – a state of political hostility between countries characterized by threats, propaganda, and other measures short of open warfare – a conflict or dispute between two groups that does not involve actual fighting.


Cyber War – the use of computer technology to disrupt the activities of a state or organization, especially the deliberate attacking of information systems for strategic or military purposes. Cyber warfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks.

Try this link for more definitions

To repeat. think of where we are today with respect to cyber security. Apply critical thinking to the terms and our current state of cyber security. Assess our relationship with Russia. Provide some well thought out comments as to what state we are in fact in if you believe we are not in a state of cyber cold war with Russia. If we are not, then how would you define our current state?

Treadstone 71




Treadstone 71 Cyber Intelligence and Counterintelligence – Course Overviews and Dates

The below information provide non-inclusive overviews of Treadstone 71 Courses.  The courses are listed in order of suggested training. Courses may be taken separately or as a package. Course requests and modifications acceptable. Courses are based upon intelligence and intelligence analysis tradecraft.

Upcoming Classes

SIGN UP – Next class November 29-December 2 in the DC METRO area for the Cyber CounterIntelligence Tradecraft Course –

For more information: or 888.714.0071

Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Certification

This course is highly specialized following intelligence community tradecraft. If you want purely technical, then this is not the course for you. If you want tradecraft that lays the foundation for a solid program, education that creates a lasting impact, then this is the course for you.

Your enemies scour blogs, forums, chat rooms and personal websites to piece together information that used to harm the government and commercial organizations. Learning about cyber intelligence, OSINT and Cyber-OPSEC effectively equips students with the tools to gather data points, transform these data points into actionable intelligence that prevents target attacks.

The course includes:

CYBINT1 – Collection Methods and Techniques, Collection Planning, PIRs, Collection Process Flow, Collection Tools and Targeting, Alignment with Hunt and Detect Needs, Ties to CSIRT, TTPs, IoCs, Threat Intelligence, Open Source Intelligence, All-Source Intelligence, Standard Glossary and Taxonomy – (Case Study 1)

CYBINT2 – Organization, Production, and Structured Analytic Techniques, Use of Techniques, Production Management, Critical Thinking, Process Flow, Metrics, Intake forms, and templates – (Case Study 2)

CYBINT3 – Types and Methods of Analysis, Decomposition, Recomposition, Methods for Fusion, Case Studies in Analysis, Cognitive Bias, Credibility and Reliability of Sources, Confidence Levels, Analysis of Competing Hypothesis, Flow into Hunt, Detect, CSIRT, TTPs, IoCs, Inductive/Abductive/Deductive Reasoning, Historic trending and campaign analysis, Intelligence for organizational resilience.

CYBINT4 – Table Top Exercises (TTXs), Identifying Your Consumers, Stakeholder Identification, and Analysis, Standing Orders from Leadership, Analytic Writing, BLUF, AIMS, Types of Reports, Product Line Mapping / Report Serialization, and Dissemination, Cyber and Threat Intelligence Program Strategic Plan, Goals, Objectives. Case Study Presentations

Lecture, Hands-on, Apprenticeship, in class exercises, student presentations, analytic products, templates, course material—40 CPEs (5-days – 40 hours)

All Case Studies use all methods, techniques, and tools referenced in the course material. The Case Studies used are straight from the headlines giving students real world experience during the class.

Cyber Counterintelligence

This course presents the student with foundational concepts and processes in the discipline of cyber counterintelligence with a focus on cyber counterintelligence missions, defensive counterintelligence, offensive counterintelligence, and counterespionage as these realms apply to traditional tradecraft, and how they are or will evolve into the cyber domain. By starting with traditional counterintelligence and progressing to cyber counterintelligence, the student will develop an appreciation for collection efforts, exploitation of potential threats, insider concerns, and the risks and benefits of counterintelligence.

With the expanding importance of the comprehensive and timely need for intelligence for nations as well as businesses, the student will explore the essential elements that make up the intelligence cycle with a focus on how these pivotal points are exploited. As part of this class, the exploration of the continued importance of critical thinking as well as out-of¬the-box analysis will be heavily leveraged to improve the critical-thinking skills of the students.  As cyber topics continue to evolve, the increased importance of cyber intelligence is growing and as such the protection of our intelligence cycles will expand as well; emphasizing the growing need to ensure our processes are not compromised in a cyber-dominated landscape.  Cyber Counterintelligence is one aspect and possibly one of the most crucial topics at the core of protecting our collection efforts. The potential for active defense or offensive cyber counterintelligence operations will be covered.
The course will rely heavily on individual research and group discussion to explore the world of cyber counterintelligence, and where applicable, make use of the student’s ability to do independent thinking and analysis of in-class problems assigned through weekly discussion threads. This course focuses on open source intelligence and adversaries while creating online personas to assist in data collection and information extraction. This introductory course examines open source intelligence collection as well as the availability and use of OSINT tools. Students will be able to understand the use methods of only anonymity, the fundamentals behind cyber persona development, enrollment in various social media sites and applications, and how these current methods can be employed in their organizations to assist in operational cyber security, their defense against adversaries, and passive data collection.  The establishment of cyber personas takes patience and time to create a credible resource. Parallel activities occur through the outline above. Treadstone 71 maintains separation from the client as required maintaining confidentiality of methods and processes.

Sitreps and current intelligence may redirect activities. The intent is to establish a program of cyber and open source intelligence that creates data streams for analysis. Data streams take the time to develop to establish links, trends, tendencies and eventually, anticipatory and predictive analysis. The desire is to move from a detective approach to one that is preventive while moving too predictive.






Active Defense – Strike, CounterStrike, Mercenary or Vigilante?

The opponent lands combination after combination to the head, ribs, and kidneys. This barrage continues until the defender boxer is knocked out, dragged off the mat to hopefully fight another day. The fighter cannot continue. (Bardin, 2011)

This picture is much like our cyber defenses today. Culturally trained to block every punch, cyber defenses attempt to detect where the next punch will hit. Standing toe-to-toe with an adversary that is much more devious, much more innovative and completely offensive in nature (Bardin, 2011).  Corporate information security programs are uniquely designed to detect and defend. The programs organized to prevent malware from penetrating corporate information systems. This foundation is not designed to perform intelligence collection, execute cyber espionage actions or organize cyber operations activities.


The United States Department of Defense (DOD) is only responsible for the .mil domain name environment. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with defending the .gov domain name environment. There is no defensive or offensive body defending corporate or civilian networks. Security operations centers (SOCs) are purely reactive in nature. Several organizations are trying to change this model but still cling to the see, detect, and arrest mentality upon which the SOC is built. Even the much vaunted ‘kill chain’ is built upon this model. The kill chain contains elements that may be considered to contain offensive methods, but it is truly not aggressive in nature or intended to represent an offensive model.

Within lies the problem.  One boxer stands against multiple opponents all in the ring at the same time.

activeD2All cyber defenses today are just that – defensive.  What we know drives how we deploy cyber defenses. Largely, this means that any nuance or change by the attacker goes unnoticed until the blood is already running from your infrastructure. Data is hemorrhaging before detection.

The see, detect and arrest methods of cyber security only serve as an after-the-fact solution.  All too often, security leadership uses this method as a demonstration of heroism (Bardin J. , 2011). Like the fictional figure Rocky, security leadership believes they can take the body blows and headshots while eventually knocking out their opponent. The fighter is a hero to the organization. In the meantime, highly sensitive data has flowed through organizational defenses, and while eroding customer confidence.

Upon data breach, all the issues identified in your information technology (IT) environment as high risk are in vogue for remediation.  The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is paying attention, finally realizing the gravity of the risk. Money flows across your desk like a plague of locusts.  How long will this last?  Will organizational leadership realize the protection of their assets requires different thinking? How long will the organization employ security professionals who thrive on the pain associated with see, detect and arrest? How will you educate them otherwise?

Cyber espionage is the virtual manifestation of the physical tradecraft. A tradecraft represented by the cycle of intelligence, counterintelligence and espionage now translated to cyberspace. Cyber espionage incorporates cyber power with methods to influence, manipulate, and shutdown adversary cyber infrastructures.  It includes people, process and technology weaknesses while using dynamic methods that focuses effort and emphasis on weakest areas. Cyber espionage includes:

  • Human Intelligence (HUMINT)
  • Information Security (INFOSEC)
  • Communications Intelligence (COMINT)
  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)
  • Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
  • Culturonomics non-inclusively(Bardin, 2011).

activeD3Cyber espionage is opportunistic in nature but only as sophisticated as it needs to be. A sophistication determined and dictated by aggressors after performing intelligence gathering on the intended targets.  The intelligence leads to the exploitation of technological and human vulnerabilities.

The attackers establish repeatable processes and use metrics to determine targets. They are adept at using denial and deception to obfuscate and misdirect (Bardin, 2011). They remain hidden and resident in your environments while extracting information of value for monetization, economic advantage, military and strategic advantage.

Many SOCs employ either staff or vendors to assist in scanning for vulnerabilities, updating firewall rules and patching systems. This model is part of the failed defensive foundation. This model is nothing more than an attempt at a blocking action. Organizations need to examine other options. Those options include passive data collection for analysis to intelligence, methods of either mitigative or retributive counterstriking or outright cyber operations to counter and weaken the threat.

Passive Data Collection

Passive data collection is an active method to gather information about adversaries without disrupting, hacking, or violating law. Passive data collection includes structured methods of open source data collection. Open source data is:

Raw print, broadcast, podcasts, vodcasts, webinars, images, websites, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, radio, TV, budgets, demographics, legislative debates, conferences, speeches, academic sources, symposia, professional associations, dissertations, experts, imagery, trip reports, working and discussion papers, surveys, proceedings, research reports, briefs, studies, publically available unofficial government or corporate documents.

Passive data collection creates Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). OSINT is the only discipline that is both a necessary foundation for effective data collection and analysis, and a full multi-media discipline in its own right. OSINT combines:

  • Overt human intelligence from open sources,
  • Commercial imagery,
  • Foreign broadcast monitoring, and
  • Numerous other direct and localized information sources and methods not now properly exploited by the secret intelligence community.

There are a great number of tools available for use to collect open source data. Dozens may be found at the Internet Tools and Resources for Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) website at  Organizations should develop a strategy and program that uses passive data collection efforts. Planning for the production of unstructured data ensures proper use. Many organizations collect data without priority intelligence or information requirements. This leads to unfulfilled expectations and inappropriate collection methods.

Mitigative counterstriking is method of actively fighting back against an adversary during a cyberattack. Mitigative counterstriking may be construed as active defense. Active defense is a method of attacking back against an adversary during an actual attack. The idea is to get the attacker to cease and desist relative to the attack. The goal is reduce the amount of damage related to the current attack (Hayes, 2011).

Retributive counterstriking is an extension of mitigative counterstriking. Retributive counterstriking not only works to mediate the damage to an existing attack but also seeks to inflict some level of damage upon the attacker (Hayes, 2011).

Both mitigative and retributive counterstriking may be deemed legal based upon Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. Article 51 discusses the right of self-defense prior to, during and after a physical attack upon a sovereign nation.

The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Application to Cyber Warfare discusses many of the same issues. One area of note refers to civilian organizations. Civilians retain civilian status regardless their level of participation in hostile cyber actions (Experts, 2012).  The manual states that civilians are not covered by the Geneva Conventions and may be targeted. Of interest is the fact that civilian organizations are already targeted serving as a great source of intellectual property loss and data loss for monetization. The manual continues to state that civilians may be prosecuted under local laws of the country that captures them (Experts, 2012).

evwOf further interest in the Tallinn Manual are definitions associated with the concept of an attack. The Tallinn Manual based upon the International Group of Experts does not consider cyber espionage as an attack. What is very interesting is that the dropping of leaflets from aircraft is not considered illegal. Would then the dropping of virtual leaflets on the sovereign virtual websites of a country or corporate entity be considered illegal? Would the modification of a website to communicate information in a cyber-leaflet qualify as an attack?

Civilian populations are not to be attacked under the Tallinn Manual. If this is to be adopted, then wouldn’t most commercial organizations fit the civilian model?

The bottom line is that no government organization is prepared to defend corporate organizations or civilians in the case of an attack. Corporations and civilians are attacked daily for information. Corporations and civilians are directed not to counterstrike. Corporations and civilians are not protected online by their governments. Who then will protect you? Organizations need to retool their SOC environments to address the changing threat environment. Current information security technologies continue to offer defensive protections. Protections that do not work. Vendors need to retool their products to incorporate methods of active defense or mitigative counterstriking.

Seed the movement

If an organization makes the decision to counterstrike, the changes in organizational risk must accompany changes in information security structure. In fact, information security as a function itself may not be the best location for a cyber operations function. If the decision to launch a cyber attack comes, execute the attack correctly. The need to purchase or steal botnets covertly from criminal networks to launch attacks, feed ‘patriotic’ blogs to incite attacks and list targets, must be considered as options depending upon the level of risk acceptance and understanding. Assume you have made these decisions. Past adversary activities included the attempt to take over a highly enhanced DNS sinkhole capability of an information security vendor.  If the adversary had succeeded, they would have increased their ability to:

  • Further mine organizational networks for sensitive information
  • Monetize stolen information for personal and professional gain
  • Use new found wealth to build greater virtual and physical capabilities
  • Potentially redirect botnet activities as a distributed denial of service
  • Enhance the existing code and protocols with new navigational functions, advanced payloads and more stealthy and powerful delivery mechanisms
  • Deceive organizations or nation-states into thinking another is attacking their critical infrastructures.

Many adversaries use the free/libre/open source software (FLOSS) model he Open Source Warfare concept takes the developmental model for FLOSS and applies it to how Internet-based proxy organizations learn and expand (Robb, 2005).  The bazaar model within the open source software community uses methods and a high level of sophistication. The model may seem to be ad hoc and disorganized. Yet the model is highly effective. This model could be a foundational capability for organizations looking to build an offensive capability. The bazaar examines how several small and adverse groups would crowdsource their efforts to conduct mitigative and retributive counterstriking.

Here are the factors that apply (from the perspective of the guerrillas) and as developed by Eric Raymond (Raymond, 2001):

  1. Release early and often. Try new forms of attacks against different types of targets early and often. Don’t wait for a perfect plan.
  2. Given a large enough pool of co-developers, any difficult problem will be seen as obvious by someone, and solved. Eventually some participant of the bazaar will find a way to disrupt a particularly difficult target. All you need to do is copy the process they used.
  3. Your co-developers (beta-testers) are your most valuable resource. The other guerrilla networks in the bazaar are your most valuable allies. They will innovate on your plans, swarm on weaknesses you identify, and protect you by creating system noise.
  4. Recognize good ideas from your co-developers. Simple attacks that have immediate and far-reaching impact should be adopted.
  5. Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to take away (simplicity). The easier the attack is, the more easily it will be adopted. Complexity prevents swarming that both amplifies and protects.
  6. Tools are often used in unexpected ways. An attack method can often find reuse in unexpected ways.
  7. Release early and often. Try new forms of attacks against different types of targets early and often. Don’t wait for a perfect plan.

Raymond’s theories may serve as the basis for goals and objectives within a cyber intelligence strategic plan.

We all face Hackers, Hacktivists and Virus Writers that are driven by ego or a technical challenge. We also deal with disgruntled employees or customers seeking revenge. Each organization faces crooks interested in personal financial gain or covering criminal activity knock at our virtual doors daily. Organized crime is seeking to launder money or traffic in humans using cyber means to drive effective command and control of their operations. Organized terrorist groups focused on breaking public will use cyberspace for command, control, communication, recruitment, infiltration, surveillance and radicalization (Bardin J. , Cyber Shafarat 2012: Cyber Warfare, OPSEC and Intelligence, 2012).

Nation-states use cyber espionage seeking to exploit information for economic, political or military purposes. They use tactical countermeasures intended to disrupt specific military weapons or command systems are tested frequently and periodically used. They also target corporations and civilian organizations. Multifaceted tactical information warfare is applied in a broad, orchestrated manner to disrupt major military missions while facing future actions against large organized groups or nation states who are intent on overthrowing target countries. The need for expanding beyond a defensive posture is clear. Doing so may lead to unintended consequences. Dr. Joe St.   of the University of Oregon states it this way:

Let’s not overlook the “shifting wind” or “boomerang” problem: computer malware, like traditional chemical or biological warfare agents, can potentially “get away from you,” drifting off course or “boomeranging back,” accidentally hitting one’s own forces or allies or hitting uninvolved third parties, rather than the enemy (Sauver, 2008).

However, if malware can learn to distinguish “friends” from “foes,” unintended potential side effects may be able to be contained, and inhibitions (which might otherwise deter potential use) may be lowered or eliminated.

In a 2003 report (Klare M. , 2011) at least 1,134 companies in 98 countries worldwide were involved in some aspect of the production of small arms and/or ammunition.

In addition, massive exports of small arms by the US, the former Soviet Union, China, Germany, Belgium, and Brazil during the Cold War took place commercially and to support ideological movements. These small arms have survived many conflicts and many are now in the hands of arms dealers or smaller governments who move them between conflict areas as needed.

Past activities of Anonymous demonstrate the same type of small arms proliferation albeit in a virtual plane.  Driven largely by ideological activities, Anonymous distributes a revamped version of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) tool used in mass Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.  LOIC was the primary weapon used by Anonymous in its ongoing “Operation Payback” DDoS campaign against film and recording industry associations, as well as other organizations involved in anti-piracy efforts. The application was originally created by a user named Praetox and was used in several mass attacks over the years, including Anonymous’ campaigns against the Church of Scientology or the Australian government or the Iranian election protests last year. In January 2009 the code of the Windows program was released on SourceForge as an open source project and a cross-platform Java version was later created. This release allows for the proliferation of code that can be enhanced, improved, and utilized in low intensity conflicts with the potential for significant media coverage.

In past years another developer branched off the code and added a new feature called “Hive Mind” to the tool. This feature allows users to relinquish control over the application after installation and makes it act as a botnet client, which can be controlled from an IRC channel. This method of virtual small arms proliferation allows like-minded individuals to participate in DDoS activities based upon their ideology while giving up control to centralized resources.

Small arms and light weapons have been responsible for the majority of the combat deaths in recent wars and figure in much of the crime and civil violence visited upon vulnerable societies around the world (Klare). Virtual small arms are currently responsible for all the malware activities around the world today.  This will continue for the foreseeable future and be the bane of most governments and anyone who disagrees with a group capable of extracting virtual revenge, censorship, and elimination of the right to disagree or have a different ideology.

Virtual small arms are ideal methods for online disruption. They are widely available, low in cost if there is even a cost at all, they deliver a strong payload, simple to use, highly portable, easily concealed, and potentially possess legitimate military, police, and civilian uses (Klare). These virtual weapons are light in footprint, and so can be used by the very young yet technically astute who have played such a significant role in recent virtual conflicts.

But once the virtual conflict is over, virtual small arms still exist in the hands of the participants. Virtual small arms can easily be used to start other conflicts that may be more personal.  It creates a surplus of virtual small arms establishing a culture of hacktivism and an endless circle of virtual conflicts.

The latest concern is the revelation that Anonymous acquired much of the code related to Stuxnet.  According to some ‘experts’ malware is largely uncharted territory for Anonymous, “which has built its notoriety on crippling the websites of governments and multinational corporations, such as Visa and MasterCard, which it deems a threat to freedom of speech (Halliday, 2011).”  The problem is that no one really knows the capabilities of Anonymous since it is such a loose knit group who come together to crowdsource their targets and attacks based upon a shared ideology or belief. Anonymous uses Web 2.0 technologies to establish a community-based design for their focused efforts. They even use Web 2.0 as a method to propel their payload to new levels.

Regardless, the residual virtual small arms left over by Stuxnet provides a foundation for melding together new attacks that can be leveraged in much the same way that LOIC has been leveraged and matured over time.

The asymmetrical methods of cyber hacktivism used by Anonymous and other such organizations make it extremely difficult for nation-states. Governments are struggling to create their own cyber defenses based upon outdated laws while asymmetrical attacks are increasing in scope, frequency and lethality.

The response is to create and leverage cyber mercenary forces. These are civilian-based organizations and/or individuals who have the skill, moxie and risk appetite to combat those who participate in illegal activities against commercial entities, individuals and governments.  Currently personified by the lone wolf Th3J35t3r (The Jester), the single-mindedness of such individuals and/or groups combined with technical skill, cyber counter intelligence capabilities and a penchant for offensive action (taking the fight to the adversary’s doorstep) is what is required.  Cyber mercenaries have the same asymmetrical capabilities as their adversaries.  If contracted by commercial and/or government entities, cyber mercenaries could acquire the funding and technology to rapidly increase their cache of virtual small arms. Access to the technical repositories, financial resources and knowhow of government and non-government organizations (NGOs) could enable cyber mercenaries to expand offensive activities with maximum lethality, quickly and efficiently. But what of the potential for virtual arms to be left behind?  Would this parallel the same activities we have seen over and over again in the physical world with respect to the proliferation of small arms?

Cyber mercenaries are already being employed by the US government and have been for several years. The cyber mercenaries of today though are in place as a defensive measure.  They analyze malware, reverse engineer malware and examine penetration attempts, attacks, and deal with incident response and handling. What needs to be leveraged and organized are small teams of cyber mercenary groups with offensive capabilities and the will to strike at a moment’s notice.

The days of the virtual aircraft carrier operating in small corridors attacked by a multitude of speed boats each packed with enough explosives to immediately disable the vessel is upon us. Until such time governments figure out how to deal with such fast moving, guerilla-style, virtual asymmetrical attacks, they should rely upon cyber mercenaries.  It is time to organize.

It is not illegal to use offensive-based cyber mercenary groups to drop cyber jihadist sites.  We are at war with Daesh (ISIS), Al-Qa’eda, and the Taliban in terms of physical action. We should be at war with them as well in the virtual world. We know where their sites are; we know their vulnerabilities; we have those like Th3J35t3r who temporarily remove them from their virtual perches acting in the interests of the US government even though not condoned or authorized by the US government to do so. Regardless, this hacktivism is correct and just. It carries the war to the doorstep of our enemies. It disrupts their communications which is a core tenet of offensive warfare.

The capabilities of such people should be leverage creating cyber mercenary organizations to combat the oncoming tide and virtual onslaught that is at our doorstep.

Certainly, cybersecurity will never get better until we are able to curb cybercrime. However, there is much more we need to do to improve cybersecurity. These center around building security into every function of business and IT planning. If we build security into every function and facet of every bit of software and hardware that we create implement and deploy, then our levels of risk will be reduced significantly. This means regardless the level of attempts at cybercrime our data is protected. If we encapsulate our sensitive data upon inception, much like the creators of Gauss encrypted the payload we significantly reduce risk.

The legal issues surrounding cyber operations notwithstanding, offensive cyber actions are the only way organization are going to get our adversaries to pay attention. Whether they are cyber criminals, foreign intelligence services, cyber proxies, hackers, hacktivists, or some other such adversary, organizations need to do more than just stand and take a beating.  Organizational intellectual property and client data is being stolen.

When organizations attack the attackers (and this is not active defense), the attackers are not attacking back but defending. Most cyber criminals have no defensive posture whatsoever. When hit with an offensive attack, they quickly shift their targets since it is not cost effective and their whole intent is economic in nature.

When an organization counter attacks or openly attacks an adversary, it is going to be just as difficult for the adversary to identify the organization as it is for the organization to identify them if not more difficult. The means, motives and methods of our adversaries are well known. We have been watching their methods, identifying and tracking their tools and tendencies to the point where we (in our efforts to counter attack) have the ability to look and smell just like our enemies. They may not realize that a cyber-proxy is virtually standing right next to them. They believe it is their brother in arms. The usage of sock puppets, anonymity, methods of misinformation, disinformation, cyber Psyops, and cyber espionage greatly diminishes their capabilities and forces the adversary to invest defensive measures.  It forces them to defend their environments.  When doing this, they are certainly not attacking your organization.

Organizations must look at host country current cyber legal and military environments as they relate to defending their virtual boundaries. Government cyber operations are highly immature with limited vision and strategic foresight for creating a cyber National Guard and cyber police force to protect civilian organizations.

We are living in a world much like the times of the American French and Indian War (Seven Years War).  The military secured protected locations such as Albany, Fort Edward, and Fort William Henry.                                 Corporations are like the frontiersmen and women depicted in the movie “Last of the Mohicans,” where we have carved out a virtual living for ourselves in potentially hostile area. Corporations live amongst the enemy and understand their methods and indicators. Corporations know the enemy and are able to fight them on the same level yet choose otherwise. The opportunity to change this paradigm is upon us.

The legal doctrine of self-defense is fine in the physical world but it does not apply in the virtual world. At least not yet. Corporations are still on that proverbial frontier. There is positive outcome when attacking your cyber adversaries. It disrupts their command and control. If forces them off their mission. If forces the adversary to invest in measures they have never invested in.

Many worry that companies may suffer reputational issues, stock price drops or financial loses should they be caught executing counterstrikes.  This is exactly what has been happening for years as companies lose data and suffer all the above.  Individuals may be more inclined to invest in a company that protects data through any means as opposed to one that continues to lose it. Is it more risky to continue the same methods of cyber defense (stand in the ring with multiple opponents just bobbing and weaving never throwing a punch) or more risky to start fighting back with jabs, combinations, head and body blows?

judgedbyMany worry that companies may suffer reputational issues, stock price drops or financial loses should they be caught executing counterstrikes.  This is exactly what has been happening for years as companies lose data and suffer all the above.  Individuals may be more inclined to invest in a company that protects data through any means as opposed to one that continues to lose it. Is it more risky to continue the same methods of cyber defense (stand in the ring with multiple opponents just bobbing and weaving never throwing a punch) or more risky to start fighting back with jabs, combinations, head and body blows?

Are mitigative and retributive cyber actions reckless? Every country in the world has been hit with cyber-attacks and malware for years. Isn’t it time organizations used their capabilities to attack adversaries in a virtual mode? Do we really think that establishing a convention on cybercrime is going to stop our adversaries? They do not recognize virtual borders or virtual sovereignty. Why would they recognize a convention on cybercrime that creates a document much like the Geneva Conventions? All this does is force offensive cyber forces to establish an unwieldy ‘rules of engagement’ that ties the hands of those who can execute offensive cyber actions. These actions started in the United States years ago (Titan Rain, Moonlight Maze and Operation Aurora to name a few).  The problem is that all organizations are in the ring with several fighters at one time.

We must maintain defensive capabilities but there needs to be parallel offensive action to protect organizational assets while waiting for those courses of action to take effect. Organizations cannot afford to stand idly by while intellectual property, sensitive information and wealth is pilfered on a daily basis.

At its core, counterstriking is about two things: deterring attackers, and ensuring that organizations are not deprived of the inherent right to defend themselves and their property. There are many views of deterrence, but deterrence is generally accomplished through the existence of one or both of the following elements: punishing the attacker through the infliction of unacceptable costs, or denying the attacker success. When will your organization begin to punish the attacker?


Treadstone 71

Bardin, J. (2011, April 4). Cyber Defenses – Bloodied, Battered and Bruised. Retrieved from CSO Online:—bloodied–battered-and-bruised.html

Bardin, J. (2011, September 16). When to Strike Back. Retrieved from CSO Online:

Bardin, J. (2012, February 1). Cyber Shafarat 2012: Cyber Warfare, OPSEC and Intelligence. Retrieved from CSO Online:–cyber-warfare–opsec-and-intelligence.html

Experts, I. G. (2012). Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halliday, J. (2011, February 14). Anonymous claims to have Stuxnet access. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from

Hayes, J. P. (2011). Mitigative Counterstriking: Self Defense and Deterrence in Cyberspace. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois .

Klare, M. (2011, February 14). Small Arms. Retrieved from Small Arms Proliferation and Interational Security:

Klare, M. (n.d.). Small Arms. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from Small Arms Proliferation and International Security:

Raymond, E. (2001). The Cathedral and The Bazaar. O’Reilly Media.

Robb, J. (2005, July 26). Open Source Warfare. Retrieved from Open the Future:

Sauver, J. S. (2008, October 21). Cyberwar, Cyber Terrorism and Cyber Espionage. Retrieved from Cyberwar:,d.eXY

Education on Honeypots – Sharif University Courses on Honeypot Detection

There are many documents available on honeypot detection. Not too many are found as a Master’s course at University levels. Sharif University as part of the Iranian institutionalized efforts to build a cyber warfare capability for the government in conjunction with AmnPardaz, Ashiyane, and shadowy groups such as Ajax and the Iranian Cyber Army is highly focused on such an endeavor. With funding coming from the IRGC, infiltration of classes and as members of academia with Basij members, Sharif University is the main driver of information security and cyber operations in Iran. Below is another of many such examples.  Honeypots and how to detect them is available for your review.

Treadstone 71

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