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Hack avoidance tactics

Laura DiDio offers advice for repelling internal and external hack attacks.

Hack avoidance tactics
By Laura DiDio

If you've been the target of a hack, there are specific actions you should take to repel the invader(s). The first step is to determine whether or not the hack originated from within or outside of your organization.

For Internal Hacks

  • Keep regular audit trails. Make a copy of all logs, both electronic and hand-written notes.
  • Pause the server service.
  • Immediately kill/suspend the offending user's connection to the server(s).
  • Do NOT delete the connection. You will need it to access resources that the rogue user created or took control of. Some network services will recognize this disabling immediately, and cut off access to the user - even while connected.
  • Use the SHUTDOWN or SHUTGUI utilities found in the Windows NT/W2K Resource Kit. This will buy you valuable time and disrupt the hacker's invasion by precious minutes. That may not sound like much, but it gives you time to troubleshoot and track. And, more importantly with the account disabled, the malicious user will be unable to log back onto the domain.
  • Call management. Confront the perpetrator; escort them to Human Resources and formally charge them with violation of company policy. Depending on individual corporate security policy, you may also want to notify the appropriate law enforcement authorities, press charges and have the user reprimanded/escorted from the building. This of course, depends on the severity of the infraction and whether or not it was a first time offense.
  • Review audit trails. This will give you a history of the hack and help you identify any accomplices.
  • Close the loophole that allowed the hack.

For External Hacks

  • Monitor and record all activities. Track the hacker and determine the point of entry.
  • Pause the server service.
  • Disable/but do not delete the connection.
  • Continue to follow the steps outlined above for internal hackers.
  • Maintain audit trail logs and take detailed notes of the properties of the attack. This will be used as evidence if/when your organization decides to prosecute. If you don't have evidence you can't prosecute.
  • Immediately notify management, as well as, appropriate law enforcement and security professionals.
  • Block the hacker's IP address at the port or router until you can gain control.

DiDio is a Giga Group analyst who covers Windows 2000 and third-party products and utilities.

Related book

Halting The Hacker, A Practical Guide To Computer Security, Hewlett Packard Professionals
Author: Donald L. Pipkin
Publisher: Prentice Hall
ISBN/CODE: 013243718X
Cover Type: Soft Cover
Pages: 224
Published: Jan. 1997
When it comes to computer security, your livelihood and your company's future are on the line. It's not enough to simply follow a security "cookbook"; you need to get into the mind of your adversary, the hacker. In Halting the Hacker, a leading Fortune 500 security consultant shows you the approaches and techniques hackers use to gain access, privileges and control of your UNIX system. You'll learn to look at your system the way a hacker does, identifying potential vulnerabilities. You'll learn what specific countermeasures to take now. Even more important, you'll learn how to recognize and respond to future security concerns before they become catastrophes.

This was last published in November 2000

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