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Malicious Life

Malicious Life

Malicious Life by Cybereason tells the unknown stories of the history of cybersecurity, with comments and reflections by real hackers, security experts, journalists, and politicians.


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Jailbreaking Tractors [ML BSide]

John Deere, an American agricultural machinery manufacturer, has recently enraged many farmers and digital rights activists due to the restrictive fixing policy of its tractors. Now, an Australian white hat hacker named Sick Codes has demonstrated not only how he was able to jailbreak the company?s tractors and run Doom on them (because why not) - but also hack into its global operations center, demonstrating how hackers can easily take over a huge number of farming machines all over the world.
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The Russian Business Network

In 2006 the Russian Business Network pivoted its business: the once legitimate ISP became a ?bullet-proof' hosting service, catering to the needs of cybercriminals. It quickly became the largest player in the Russian cybercrime landscape, with ~60% of all cybercrime activity related to Russia connected to it in some way. Following the Russian government?s years-old tradition of collaborating with organized crime, it's no wonder that the Russian Business Network quickly became Putin?s informal cyber attack arm.
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What can chess grandmasters teach us about Cyber? [ML BSide]

Sports is not something that you usually hear mentioned when people talk about cybersecurity - but Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings, co-founders of Hacker Valley Media, believe that cyber professionals can take inspiration from MMA wrestlers and Chess Grandchampions to get to their own version of Peak Performance.
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LabMD Vs. The FTC

One day in 2008, Michael Daugherty - CEO and owner of LabMD, a cancer detection lab - got a call from an executive of TiVera, a cybersecurity company. The caller said that a file containing private medical data of some 9000 of LabMD's patients has been discovered online. When Michael refused to pay for TiVersa's hefty "consultation fee", it reported the incident to the FTC. This was the beginning of a ten-year-long legal battle that ultimately destroyed LabMD - but cost the Federal Agency dearly.
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What Would Happen if CBS Got Hacked? [ML BSide]

Media companies probably get hacked no more than other, non-media oriented organizations such as hospitals, banks, etc. But these hacks are often more visible and more memorable because? well, media companies are more public facing by their very nature. How can these organizations be hacked, and why should we care about such attacks? Nate Nelson spoke with Joel Molinoff, former chief information risk officer for CBS Corporation, and Dan Vasile, former vice president of information security at Paramount. 
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Hacking Stock Markets, Part 2

Financial markets make good targets for criminals: after all, that's where the big money is. Surprisingly, many of these criminals are not your run-of-the-mill black hat hacker, but brokers registered with the SEC: Genuine finance industry professionals.
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Vishing: Voice Scams [ML BSide]

Authentication has come a long way since the 1980s or 90s. But when it comes to phone calls - we?re still in the Middle Ages. Vishing, or Voice Scams, are probably as old as the Telephone itself, yet it is still very easy to impersonate someone over the phone or spoof a phone call?s origin. Rachel Tobac is a hacker and the CEO of SocialProof Security, where she helps people and companies keep their data safe by training and pen-testing them on social engineering risks. Rachel spoke with Nate Nelson, our Sr. producer, about Vishing: how common is it, where attackers get the information they need to impersonate someone from, and the many many psychological tricks they can employ to fool the person on the other side of the call.
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Hacking Stock Markets, Part 1

In any trading market, at any time in history, no matter where you are, the most important thing you can possess isn?t actually money, or influence, or anything like that. Knowledge -- in particular, knowing something before everybody else -- is far more valuable. Some traders are willing to go to great lengths to get it before anyone else. In some cases, they?ll apply great ingenuity to the problem - but in others, they?ll use manipulation -- hacking into these technologies to gain an unfair advantage, and make a fortune along the way.
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What it?s Like to Fight LulzSec [ML B-Side]

The name Lulzsec is probably very familiar to listeners who were around in 2011, when this hacking group was at the peak of its nefarious activity. As their name implies, Lulzsec was known for trolling their victims: their childish behavior might have fooled some people into thinking that Lulzsec was mostly harmless - but as the story you?re about to hear will show, they were anything but.
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“King Kimble”: Kim DotCom?

The US government says that Kim Schmitz, better know as Kim DotCom, is the leader of a file sharing crime ring. He sees himself as a an internet freedom fighter: a fugitive on the run from vindictive overly-powerful governments. Can King Kimble escape the wrath of the USA?
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Hacking Multi-Factor Authentication [ML B-side]

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is usually considered a better solution for authentication than just using passwords. But Roger Grimes, a veteran security professional, and a Data-Driven Defense Evangelist claims that the sense of security current MFA solutions provides us - is false.
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Hacking Language Models

Language models are everywhere today: they run in the background of Google Translate and other translation tools; they help operate voice assistants like Alexa or Siri; and most interestingly, they are available via several experiential projects trying to emulate natural conversations, such as OpenAI?s GPT-3 and Google?s LaMDA. Can these models be hacked to gain access to the sensitive information they learned from their training data?
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Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) [ML B-side]

In May 2021, Following the Solarwinds and the Colonial Pipeline attacks, the Biden administration published a presidential Executive Order mandating the use of SBOMs - Software Bill of Materials - in all government agencies. What are SBOMs and how useful are they in cybersecurity? Nate Nelson talks to two experts: Allan Friedman (CISA) and Chris Blask (Cybeats).
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Leo Kuvayev? The Czar of Spammers

Criminals, particularly cyber criminals, aren?t ?good? people; in most cases, they do have their own personal boundaries. Every once in a while, you encounter a criminal who?s different. Someone who seems not to have limits at all. A ruthless person, for whom the goal truly justifies the means. Leo Kuvayev is that kind of a person - and that made him so successful as a cyber-criminal. But even a genius criminal can go just one step too far.
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“A CISO’s Nightmare”: Israel Baron on Railway Security [ML B-side]

Railway systems are a mess of old systems built on top of older systems, running ancient operating systems and exposing their most sensitive inner workings to commuters via WIFI. Why are railway systems so difficult to defend, and what are the most probable attack vectors against them? Nate Nelson, our senior producer, speaks with Israel Baron, Israel Railway's first ever CISO.
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?Designed by criminals, for criminals?: Operation Trojan Shield

The Anom was the holy grail of dark, illegal communication: a mobile phone that could send encrypted messages, and even included a secret Kill-Switch to foil attempts by law enforcement agents to get to its contents. Thousands of criminals used the Anom, certain that they were completely safe from the police... They were wrong.
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Andrew Ginter: A 40-Year-Old Backdoor [ML B-Side]

Ken Thompson is a legendary computer scientist who also made a seminal contribution to computer security in 1983, when he described a nifty hack that could allow an attacker to plant an almost undetectable malicious code inside a C compiler. Surprisingly, it turns out a very similar hack was also used in the Solarwinds attack.
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Silk Road: The Amazon of drugs, Part 2

Silk Road?s success did more than bring the site more sellers and buyers, it also brought it more attention from law enforcement agencies as well as malicious hackers and other shady characters. Some of these shady characters, it turns out, were part of the task force aiming to shut down Silk Road...
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Kurtis Minder: Ransomware Negotiations [ML B-Side]

Your organization was hit by ransomware, and it is now time to reach out to the hackers and negotiate the terms of a deal that will bring back your data, and (hopefully) won?t leave the company?s coffers empty. But before you sit down in front of your computer and fire off a message to the hackers - stop. Are you sure that you know what you?re doing? Are you certain that you won?t screw up the negotiations and do more harm than good? 
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Silk Road: The Amazon of drugs, Part 1

Ross Ulbricht always had a thing with testing his limits. He was also an avid libertarian who wanted to change the world. And so, in 2010, he came up with the idea to build a truly free market: a website where anybody can buy and sell anything - including illegal drugs - anonymously: the ultimate experiment in individual freedom.
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Jacob Goldstein: The Future Of Bitcoin [ML B-Side]

Will BitCoin and the other cryptocurrencies be able to replace money as we know it today? will governments embrace a future where they have no control over their currencies? Jacob Goldstein (Planet Money, What's Your Problem) talks to Nate Nelson about what the future holds for BitCoin.
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The ?Cypherpunks? Who Invented Private Digital Money

Years before credit cards transactions gave banks and data-brokers free access to our private financial information, a man named David Chaum became the first person to really, materially grapple with the problem of privacy in money. His ideas inspired a movement of "Crypto Anarchists" who aspired to change money, forever.
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Malicious LIVE: Celebrating 5 Years of Malicious Life

A recording of last week's special Malicious Live Ask Us Anything event: How did Malicious Life come to be? How do we choose the stories we tell, who was Ran's most memorable guest - and why does Nate keep inserting weird names into the scripts?...
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Hackers vs. Spies: The Stratfor Leaks, Pt. 2

In June 2011, a Con Edison truck was parked outside of Hector Monsegur's New York apartment, every day for over a week. But Hector - better known as Sabu, the ringleader of the LulzSec hacking group -wasn't fooled: he guessed, correctly, that the FBI was on to him. But it turned out that of all the people who broke or disregarded the law in this particular story, only one man had a reason to worried: Jeremy Hammond.
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Hackers vs. Spies: The Stratfor Leaks, Pt. 1

George Friedman and Jeremy Hammond are two very different people: the former is a capitalist middleman, the latter an anarchist-communist hacker. A spy - and a hacker. But in certain respects, they?re actually quite similar: in what lines are they willing to cross to get to their goal.
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Catching A Cybercriminal [ML B-Side]

AbdelKader Curnelius, a German Threat Researcher and an expert on the cybercrime ecosystem in German-speaking countries - shares a story about how he helped the German police put a sophisticated local cybercriminal behind bars, by uncovering tiny mistakes that this hacker did in the past.
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What The LinkedIn Hack Taught Us About Storing Passwords

In June 2012, an anonymous hacker posted a list of 6.5 Million encrypted passwords belonging to LinkedIn users on a Russian hacker forum. It was soon discovered that these passwords were hashed using an outdated and vulnerable hashing algorithm - and were also unsalted. The lawsuits followed suit shortly? what is 'hashing' and 'salting', and can we trust big organizations to keep our secrets safe?
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Operation CuckooBees [ML B-Side]

Assaf Dahan, Threat Research Lead at Cybereason's Nocturnus team, describes a recently discovered cyber-espionage campaign targeting the Defense, Energy, Aerospace, Biotech and Pharma industries conducted by APT 41, AKA Winnti Group - a Chinese state-sponsored APT group known for its stealth and sophistication.
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How to Russia-Proof Your Democracy [ML B-Side]

In 2007, Estonia - then already a technologically advanced country - suffered a large-scale DDoS attack which crippled many organizations and digital services. Joseph Carson, a Security Scientist and an adviser to several governments and conferences, talks with Nate Nelson about the lessons learned from that event, and how Estonia became what he calls 'A Cloud Country'."
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Operation Sundevil and the Birth of the EFF

In May 1990, officials from several law enforcement agencies gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, to announce a nationwide crackdown on illegal computer activity. This massive operation, carried out by hundreds of Secret Service and FBI agents, was focused on a new type of crime: Hacking. Yet as Isaac Newton said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and the reaction to Operation Sundevil was the birth of a new power in the cybersphere: the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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MITRE Attack Flow [ML B-Side]

The MITRE Attack Flow Project is essentially a new way to visualize, analyze and share knowledge about sequences of adversary behavior. Ingrid Skoog, Ass. Director of R&D at the Center for Threat-Informed Defense, and Israel Barak - Cybereason's CISO, spoke with Nate Nelson about the benefits of the MITRE Attack Flow project to defenders and executives alike.
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The Aaron Swartz Story

When 24-year-old Aaron Swartz was caught scraping millions of science articles off of JSTOR, he faced up to 35 years in prison plus a fine of up to 1 million dollars. Did Aaron's crime justify such a harsh punishment?
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The Russia-Ukraine Cyberwar [ML B-Side]

Before it invaded Ukraine, Russia was considered - and rightfully so - a cyber superpower. But a month and a half into the war, the lights in Ukraine are still on, as well as cellular communications and other important infrastructure. Lior Div (Cybereason's CEO), Yonatan Striem-Amit (CTO & Co-founder), and Sam Curry (CSO), talk about what we learned so far about the conflict - and what we might see in the future.
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DIE – A New Paradigm for Cybersecurity [ML B-Side]

It?s not every day that we have a guest who?s suggesting a new paradigm for cybersecurity. Sounil Yu, CISO and Head of Research at JupiterOne, talks about a new framework for designing secure systems, a framework he calls D.I.E: acronym for Distributed, Immutable and Ephemeral. Sounil asks us to treat our precious data less like Pets, and more like Cattle. Sounds confusing? New paradigms always are.
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Cyber PTSD

We usually count the damage from a cyberattack in Dollars and Euros, but the psychological damage to the victims is rarely discussed, if at all. So, what is the psychological and emotional toll from cyberattacks? Can scams, hacks, and breaches lead to Cyber Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
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How Resilient Is Our Banking System? [ML B-Side]

What is the most critical of all critical infrastructure? Is it Electricity? Water Supply? According to Jeff Engles, CEO of Conquest Cyber, it's our Banking and Finance systems. Jeff spoke with Nate Nelson, our Senior Producer, about the resilience of our financial system, worst-case scenarios, and will backups be able to save our butts if and when?
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Crypto AG, Part 3: The Truth Is Revealed

By the 1970s, Crypto AG was a large and thriving company, employing over 400 people. This final episode of the series is going to explore how a spying operation affecting over 100 countries, for 70 years, was kept secret the whole time -- from governments, from militaries and intelligence services, and even the company?s own personnel.
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Quantum Cyber Security [ML B-Side]

Quantum Computing is a fascinating and revolutionary technology that has been gaining significant ground in the past decade, with researchers from both academia and the commercial sector - such as Google and IBM - announcing major breakthroughs every few weeks. Mike Redding, CTO of Quantropi, a company specializing in Quantum Encryption - claims that this revolution is even closer than most of us think.
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Crypto AG, Part 2: The Death of Bo Jr.

How did Boris Hagelin succeed in selling compromised cipher machines to half the world, for more than 50 years? Some have speculated that it was some kind of backdoor. But, no - it was more clever than that... but Bo Jr., Hagelin's son, who became an important part of his father's company, did not approve of the secret deal with the NSA...
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Why Do APTs Use Ransomware? [ML B-Side]

Assaf Dahan, Head of Threat Research with the Cybereason Nocturnus Team, discusses new discoveries about Iranian APTs Moses Staff and Phosphorus that blur the line between state-sponsored attacks and criminal activity.
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Crypto AG – The Greatest Espionage Operation Ever, Part 1

General McArthur, Egpyt's Anwar Sadat, and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini: These are just a few of the dozens, likely hundreds of targets of arguably the biggest, most ambitious hacking operation ever. A secret mission that lasted nearly a century, and influenced the course of so many of the most important events of history. The history you thought you knew.
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Why aren’t SMBs investing in Cyber Security? [ML B-Side]

Attacks against Small-to-Medium size businesses currently represent roughly 40% to 50% of all data breaches. Josh Ablett, founder and CISO of Adelia Risk, speaks with Nate Nelsn about the kind of security he usually finds in SMBs when he?s called in to make an initial security assessment - spoiler: not a pretty picture - the impact of data breaches on SMBs, and what role do insurance companies play in improving the state of security in that often overlooked segment of the industry.
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The Bloody Origins of Israel’s Cyber Security Industry

Israel is a small country - yet its cyber security industry is exceptionally successful. In this episode, we go back to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, to discover how a national trauma and an Intelligence failure paved the way for Israel to become a cyber security mini-empire.
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Hacker Highschool: Pete Herzog [ML BSide]

Pete Hertzog is a security expert and an educator with a vision: he wants our kids to learn about cybersecurity, and not just about not talking to strangers online - he wants them to learn even more advanced stuff, such as security analysis and hacking. Pete spoke with Nate Nelson about his Hacker Highschool initiative, and the lessons he learned from it.
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The Mystery of Cicada 3301

"Hello. We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test." These words, found in a message posted on 4Chan in January 2012, started a global 'treasure hunt' - with thousands of puzzle-loving and curious individuals desperately competing with one another to be the first to crack the devilish puzzles created by the mysterious Cicada 3301. Who is Cicada, and what are their goals?
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How the Internet Changed the NSA [ML BSide]

In the late ?80s to early 2000s, the NSA transitioned from being a hardware-first organization - that is, creating and operating physical spying devices - to software-first: excelling in hacking networks, tracking people online, etc. That transition was by no means easy: the NSA, by that point, was a huge organization - and big organizations are notorious for being very resistant to change. Jeff Man, our guest today, was one of the first people at the NSA to make the transition from hardware to software, and he shares with us his experiences from that period.
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Does Code === Free Speech?

When the FBI asked Apple, following the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, to write code that would give the FBI access to a suspect's iPhone - Apple refused, arguing that forcing it to write code goes against the First Amendment. Apple's claim wasn't the first time that this highly controversial claim was invoked in judicial proceedings?
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A digital ‘vaccine’ for Log4Shell [ML BSide]

A digital 'vaccine' was released to address Log4Shell, which has been called 'the single biggest, most critical vulnerability ever.' Nate Nelson talks to Yonatan Striem-Amit, CTO & Co-Founder of Cybereason (our sponsor) about the vulnerability, and about Cybereason's unusual vaccine: software that uses the same vulnerability to close the breach.
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Shawn Carpenter: A Cyber Vigilante

In 2003, Shawn Carpenter - an employee of Sandia National Laboratory - was at a crossroads: should he ignore a Chinese attack against U.S. targets, as his superiors ordered him to do - or do what he thinks is right, and continue investigating the case on his own?
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“Ransomware Attackers Don?t Take Holidays” [ML BSide]

Last month, in November of 2021, Cybereason - our show?s sponsor - released a special report titled: ?Organizations at Risk: Ransomware Attackers Don?t Take Holidays?, focusing on the threat of ransomware attacks during weekends and holidays. Nate Nelson, our Sr. producer, talked with Ken Westin, Cybereason?s Director of Security Strategy, about why attackers love holidays and weekends, and why ransomware attacks during these times are so effective and dangerous.
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