Issues discovering compromised machines

Tuesday, 26 October 2004, 1:29 PM EST

One of the latest security books I read had a fascinating example in the preface. The authors, well-known and trustworthy experts in the field of security, made an outrageous claim that most of the Fortune 2000 companies have already been penetrated by hackers (and have been in that state for years!). Hackers move in and out at will through the backdoors and other covert channels without the security personnel knowing or even suspecting it. Without being able to verify the validity of this, I decided to look at the problem of reliably discovering the compromised machines on corporate networks. Reliability is of key importance here as there are lots of ways to obtain a suspicion that the machine is "owned" or infected, but sadly there are few truly reliable ways to discover that short of full forensic analysis, likely requiring physical access to a machine as well as shutting it down for a potentially long time.

By Anton Chuvakin at SecurityFocus.

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