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Russian security agencies are sharing advanced hacking tools

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April 16, 2015

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Ray Boisvert, former assistant director and head of intelligence for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) says that Russian security agencies are sharing advanced hacking tools and malware with organized crime gangs.

Specifically, Russian intelligence is sharing specialized malware developed for cyber-espionage functions with cyber-criminals and professional hackers.

And rapidly worsening relations between the West and Russia over the ongoing Ukraine conflict have intensified these cyber threaths, and they appear to be increasing both in volume and in strenght.

"Russian nationalism and organized crime are being assisted by Russian state security," Boisvert said. "The traditional red lines dividing the two countries have simply disappeared because of Ukraine. Organized crime is being told they can disrupt Western interests."

Boisvert is due to deliver his opening keynote, entitled 'Abyss or Turning Point: Strategy, Skills and Tradecraft in the Age of 21st Century Warfare' at the Infiltrate security conference in Miami Beach today.

The former spy director, who describes himself as an expert in threat, rather than technology, added that the trust model of the internet is simply broken and has been for several years.

Part of the reason is that "IT security is sub-divided, outsourced or simply ignored at the outset", while at the same time more and more countries are getting involved in cyber-espionage.

Additionally, the sophistication of other critical threat actors, such as “hacktivists and terrorist entities, is rapidly growing”, he added.

"For example, hijacks were a manageable cost for the airline industry, until about the late 1980s where they began to destroy aircraft after the highjacking and certainly prior to 9/11 but not after," according to Boisvert, who argues that cyber-security may be on the brink of a comparable abyss in the very near term.

Boisvert agrees with estimates from Eric Rosenbach, U.S. assistant secretary of defence for Homeland Defense and Security, that up to 60 nations are engaged in cyber-espionage associated with the development of so-called APT (advanced persistent threat) style attacks.

"Even Hezbollah has an internet inteligence capability," Boisvert noted. "Cybercrime and cyberespionnage is a weapon of war," Boisvert said. "The Nasdaq, Target and Home Depot hacks are recent examples of this."

Cyber-attacks are a "soft, scalable tool" during conflicts, and they almost don't make any noise, according to Boisvert, who added that "difficulties in attribution mean that cyber-attacks can be done in stealth mode".

The former Canadian spy recently founded I-Sec Integrated Strategies (ISECIS), which advises clients in a variety of industries, including insurance to transportation, on security and intelligence matters.

Source: I-Sec Integrated Strategies Inc.

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