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Innovation in Information Security

Coverage of important Information Security and Information Technology news and events from the research team at S?nnet Beskerming.

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The Art of Seeing What's Not There

On days when it appears that there is very little new Information Security news and other data available our researchers are still busy watching and searching, using the opportunity to hone one of the stranger skills in Information Security (and Intelligence gathering) - the art of seeing what's not there.

Once a sufficient body of knowledge has been built up about a particular topic, the sudden absence of a concept from general discussion about that topic should be enough to trigger a warning that something out of the ordinary is taking place.

Some of the time, it is just people getting sick of a particular topic, but when discussion is rapidly halted in a topic, it may point to something taking place out of sight that people don't want to risk discovery of. When it happens in a very public manner, it will attract the attention of many people who otherwise would have had no interest in the subject. When Cisco moved to suppress the release of information into vulnerabilities in their IOS hardware operating system, it highlighted to many security researchers that the software was a lot weaker than people originally thought and that targeting those weaknesses could have significant benefits for an attacker.

Other times the reverse can be true. When a topic or series of events significantly increases in frequency, it can point to a future series of events. The significant build up of troops in the Middle East prior to the invasion of Iraq was carried out under the auspices of several regional exercises in the preceding months.

Regional exercises are not out of the ordinary, but when multiple nations are openly sending large bodies of troops and significant military hardware into a single region at the same time, where they don't tend to normally be, it is an escalation of force without actually harming anyone.

Similar patterns of increased movement can be seen with other conflicts where one of the warring parties has needed to move hardware and personnel across great distances, whether by air, land, or sea. In terms of Information Security, a swell in network traffic, attacks, or other behaviour can help identify that a network is under attack.

16 June 2007

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