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Silent Battles: Towards Unmasking Hidden Cyber Attack

: Koch, R.; Golling, M.


Minárik, T. ; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers -IEEE-; NATO, Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Tallinn:
11th International Conference on Cyber Conflict: silent battle, CyCon 2019. Proceedings : 28 - 31 May 2019, Tallinn, Estonia
Piscataway, NJ: IEEE, 2019
ISBN: 978-9949-9904-5-0
ISBN: 978-9949-9904-4-3
ISBN: 978-1-72811-724-9
International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon) <11, 2019, Tallinn>
Conference Paper
Fraunhofer FKIE ()

When looking at the media, it can easily be seen that new cyber attacks are reported on a regular basis. The corresponding effects of these attacks can be manifold, ranging from downtime of popular services affected by a rather trivial Denial-of-Service attack, to physical destruction based on sophisticated cyber weapons. This can also range from single affected systems up to an entire nation (e.g., when the cyber incident has major influence on a democratic election). Some of these attacks have gained broader public attention only by chance. This raises the fundamental question: do some cyber activities remain hidden, even though they have a significant impact on our everyday lives, and how can such unknown cyber involvements be unmasked? The authors investigate this question in depth in this paper. The first part of the paper analyzes the characteristics of silent battles and hidden cyber attacks - what needs to be considered on the way towards a better detection of hidden cyber attacks? After that, an evaluation of the current cyber security landscape is provided, summarizing what developments we can see and what we can expect. Based on this, the complexity of detecting hidden cyber attacks is discussed and we ask the question: why does detection fail and how can it be improved? To investigate this question, the capabilities of the attackers are examined and are reflected in a 3-Layer Vulnerability Model. It is shown that a traditional Cyber Kill Chain is not sufficient to detect complex cyber attacks. Therefore, to improve the detection of hidden cyber attacks, a new detection model based on combining the 3-Layer Vulnerability Model and the Cyber Kill Chain is proposed.