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Motivations... (was Re: IE now on-topic
From: Valdis.Kletnieks () vt edu
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 16:05:15 -0400

On Tue, 20 Jul 2004 12:36:06 PDT, Andrew Latham said:

1. Boredom - more brains than hobbies
2. Needs 
- burstable bandwidth - downloads
- knowledge
- bragin rights
3. Challenges
4. Other

You're equating "black hat" with one subset thereof, more or less.  It's a lot
more complicated in the real world...

I'd posit that the goals and motivations of the black hat can be classified in
three wide ranges, with totally different threat models:

1) "type of target" - you don't care who's box it is - you want "any suitable
zombie", "any suitable Windows/IIS server", "any suitable Solaris box".

2) "identity of target" - The target has been selected because it's a server
for company X, or you want to deface the webpage for organization Y, or it's
payback time for black-hat Z.

3) "monetary/related gain" - you really don't care who the target is, it's all
about the paycheck - whether it's 500K zombies created by a virus-for-pay, or a
hacking run against a server that has credit card numbers on it...

Notice that there can be overlap - a black hat engaging in (2) or (3) may very
well want to pick up a collection of type (1) stepping-stone machines to launch
the attack from.

Also, a target can be in different categories at the same time - it can be
probed by a script kiddie looking for zombies, while at the same time it's
being targeted by a disgruntled ex-employee and a professional criminal.

Understanding the differences is important - a defense sufficient to stop the
random probing (1) won't slow down either of the other two.  However, the
professional criminal is more likely to nail you with a 0-day - but will move
along if they decide the risk/payoff ratio is bad (they see you have enough
network monitors to nail their ass in court, they're outta there ;).  The
disgruntled ex-staffer may not have a 0-day - but they may well decide it's a
personal issue and *keep* attacking when a professional would move on...

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