Insights on modern adversaries and their tactics, techniques, and procedures

In today’s ever-evolving cyber landscape, speed is essential for effective cyber defense. CrowdStrike’s Global Threat Report reveals “breakout time” – the critical window between when an intruder compromises the first machine and when they can move laterally to other systems on the network – for top cyber adversaries.

This ranking offers organizations unprecedented insight into how fast they need to be at detecting, investigating and remediating intrusions (also known as the 1-10-60 rule) to thwart adversaries they are most likely to face targeting their networks.

modern adversaries

Based on more than 30,000 breach attempts stopped in 2018:

  • Russian nation-state actors, tracked by CrowdStrike as “Bears,” are the fastest adversaries with an average breakout time of 18:49 minutes.
  • North Korean nation-state actors, tracked as “Chollimas,” are the second fastest with an average breakout time of 2:20:14 hours.
  • Chinese nation-state actors, or “Pandas,” average 4:00:26 hours.
  • Iranian nation-state actors, or “Kittens,” average 5:09:04 hours.
  • eCrime actors, or “Spiders,” have the slowest average breakout time of all adversaries: 9:42:23 hours, although some of the eCrime actors can move very rapidly and rival even the fastest nation-states.

“With the powerful combination of our massive cloud-based endpoint security dataset, threat intelligence and insights from more than 30,000 intrusions investigated by our OverWatch and Services teams in 2018, CrowdStrike has a unique understanding of adversary activity and provides the first industry ranking of adversary tradecraft,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s CTO. “This year’s report underscores the importance of speed of response in cybersecurity and provides valuable insights into how to defeat some of the most destructive and capable nation-state and eCrime threat actors.”

Notable findings

  • One of the most significant trends in eCrime for 2018 was the continued rise of “Big Game Hunting,” the practice of combining targeted, intrusion-style tactics for the deployment of ransomware across large organizations.
  • Another identified trend was the increased collaboration between highly sophisticated eCrime threat actors. The use of geo-targeting to support multiple eCrime families was observed through a variety of tactics.
  • The industries at the top of the target list for malware-free intrusions include media, technology and academia, highlighting the need to aggressively strengthen their defenses against more sophisticated, modern attacks.
  • Researchers identified several targeted intrusion campaigns by China, Iran and Russia, focused on the telecommunications sector and likely supporting state-sponsored espionage activities. Subsequent lures to drive more effective social engineering campaigns resulted in compromising telecom customers, including government entities.
  • CrowdStrike observed an increasing operational tempo from China-based adversaries, which is only likely to accelerate as US-China relations continue to be strained.

modern adversaries

“The threat landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and with every breach, a company’s survival may be put on the line. Organizations can’t afford a passive approach to securing their assets,” said Adam Meyers, vice president of Intelligence at CrowdStrike. “As we continue to see highly sophisticated nation-state and eCrime actors elevate the level and complexity of daily threats, this report should serve as a resource for business leaders and security professionals to better understand the threat environment and make informed decisions that protect business-critical data.”

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Insights on modern adversaries and their tactics, techniques, and procedures