Gadi Evron

Gadi Evron

Security Strategist
Joined on February 22, 2006
Total Post Views: 631,822


Gadi Evron is recognized for his work and leadership in Internet security operations and is arguably the world’s top expert on botnets. He is also considered an expert on corporate security, counterespionage and cyber crime (e-fraud and phishing). Previously, Gadi was CISO at the Israeli government ISP (eGovernment project) and founded the Israeli Government CERT. He organizes and chairs worldwide conferences, vetted working groups and task forces. Gadi authored two books on information security and is a frequent lecturer.

Except where otherwise noted, all postings by Gadi Evron on CircleID are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Featured Blogs

Google as DNS, Wikileaks as PoC

Wikileaks is still accessible -- via Google. Does that change anything? For many Internet users IP addresses as well as domain names are completely transparent. Further, Google (and other search engines) and often the first stop when these users wants to find a service, or a web site. Thus, many of us discussed over the years the eventual viability of Google (... and other search engines) as "DNS" (note the "'s). Now, don't jump at my throat quite yet... more

Email Portability Approved by Knesset Committee

The email portability bill has just been approved by the Knesset's committee for legislation, sending it on its way for the full legislation process of the Israeli parliament. While many users own a free email account, many in Israel still make use of their ISP's email service. According to this proposed bill, when a client transfers to a different ISP the email address will optionally be his to take along, "just like" mobile providers do today with phone numbers. more

Chuck Norris Botnet and Broadband Routers

Last week Czech researchers released information on a new worm which exploits CPE devices (broadband routers) by means such as default passwords, constructing a large DDoS botnet. Today this story hit international news... The spread of insecure broadband modems (DSL and Cable) is extremely wide-spread, with numerous ISPs, large and small, whose entire (read significant portions of) broadband population is vulnerable. more

Corporate Espionage in the News: Hilton and the Oil Industry

Is anyone calling espionage by means of computers cyber-espionage yet? I hope not. At least they shouldn't call it cyber war. Two news stories of computerized espionage reached me today. The first, regarding the Oil industry, was sent by Marc Sachs to a SCADA security mailing list we both read. The second, about the hotel industry, was sent by Deb Geisler to science fiction convention runners (SMOFS) mailing list we both read. more

Perhaps It’s Time to Regulate Microsoft as Critical Infrastructure?

My main argument is about the policy of handling vulnerabilities for 6 months without patching (such as the Google attacks 0day apparently was) and the policy of waiting a whole month before patching this very same vulnerability when it first became an in-the-wild 0day exploit (it has now been patched, ahead of schedule). Microsoft is the main proponent of responsible disclosure, and has shown it is a responsible vendor... I simply call on it to stay responsible and amend its faulty and dangerous policies. more

Large Hadron Collider, Nessus, and the InterWebz

CERN put the Large Hadron Collider through some rigorous tests, and apparently at first some of the Siemens manufactured SCADA systems failed. While they are apparently better now, and I am happy to see how serious CERN is about security, this does beg the question... WAIT! You mean it's connected to the Internet? I suddenly don't feel so safe. more

China Hacks Google, Etc.

Many news sources are reporting on how Google and other corporations were hacked by China. The reports, depending on vendor, blame either PDF files via email as the original perpetrator, or lay most of the blame on an Internet Explorer 0day. more

Air Travel Security: Practical Industry Suggestions From Us

I am just a security guy, as are many others who will read this. Perhaps it is time us "simple" security guys got together and wrote some recommendations for air travel security? Get out your voice out there as an organized professional group which can in turn lobby for our professional recommendations... Here are mine, just to get the ball rolling... more

Spymaster Sees Israel As World Cyberwar Leader

HaAretz, an Israeli newspaper, quotes Major-General Yaldin as saying: "Fighting in the cyber dimension is as significant as the introduction of fighting in the aerial dimension in the early 20th century." (my translation) If this statement is to be believed, Israel is active in cyberspace. And yet, why would Israel admit that, regardless of if it really happens? One option is... more

Was the ClimateGate Hacker Justified? Join the Debate!

A few days ago a story broke where someone hacked into a global warming research institute and stole all emails from the past 10 years, proving a conspiracy. In the vast amount of emails stolen, some emails were also found with clear-cut lies, showing how some scientists conspired to deceive in scientific research about data that did not fit their agenda of proving global warming. I am opening the subject for debate... more

Announcement: Critical Internet Infrastructure WG is Now Open to Public Participation

ISOTF Critical Internet Infrastructure WG is now open to public participation. The group holds top experts on internet technology, critical infrastructure, and internet governance, from around the globe. Together, we discuss definitions, problems, challenges and solutions in securing and assuring the reliability of the global internet infrastructure, which is critical infrastructure for a growing number of nations, corporations and indeed, individuals -- world wide. more

China: Is It Our Cyber Defense Red Herring?

There are thousands of articles perpetuating the claim that China is out to get us on the Internet. And yet, all these discussions are begging the question, is it China attacking? Also, are they even the "usual suspects"?
While I can point to real facts of China making active use of information warfare, cyber warfare, or whatever else you choose to call it (such as the release of 0 days being patched by Microsoft and originally reported by the Taiwanese government, search Microsoft's site), I can also point to Germany (intelligence Trojan horse), the US (The Farewell Dossier) and other countries such as North Korea (without much detail, so questioned)... more

Security Psychology

I just came across a post telling of the Security and Human Behavior workshop. As some of you may be aware, I've been researching this subject for about two years now, and I am very excited that a conference has now happened! It means I did not waste the last two years of my life after all! more

Phishing Registrar Accounts: eNom is First Target

Criminals are now looking to use established domain names, via phishing targeted at domain registrars. This is possibly related to ICANN finally moving to stop the black hat registrars of the world. According to the first report on the matter sent yesterday to Registrar Operations (reg-ops) mailing list, the attacks seem to be run by gang of child pornography spammers. more

ICANN Sends Termination Notice to Registrar

ICANN has sent EstDomains a termination notice: "BBe advised that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) for EstDomains, Inc. (customer No. 919, IANA No. 943) is terminated..." more

Are You Getting Your News From Spam? My Mother Does

This is a story about my mother and Obama. My mother: "Have you heard about Obama? Really impressive guy." Me: "What about him?" My mother: "x, y and z." Me: "Where did you hear about this?" My mother: "I read email too, you are not the only one who is into technology." Luckily, my mother bases her opinion on more than just spam messages... more

Time for Self Reflection

In case you don't read any of what I have to say below, read this: I have dual citizenship. Along with my homeland citizenship, I am of the Internet, and see it as my personal duty to try and make the Internet safe. Atrivo (also known as Intercage), is a network known to host criminal activity for many years, is no more. Not being sarcastic for once, this is the time for some self reflection. more

Estonian Cyber Security Strategy Document: Translated and Public

The Estonians have a public version of their cyber security strategy translated into English (currently available offline only). The concept of a national strategy for cyber security is one which I am particularly fond of... The following is the Summary section from the document which might be of interest... more

Cyber Crime: An Economic Problem

During ISOI 4 (hosted by Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, California) whenever someone made mention of RBN (the notoriously malicious and illegal bulletproof hosting operation, the Russian Business Network) folks would immediately point out that an operation just as bad was just "next door" (40 miles down the road?), working undisturbed for years. They spoke of Atrivo (also known as Intercage). The American RBN, if you like... more

Public Sharing and a New Strategy in Fighting Cyber Crime

A couple of years ago I started a mailing list where folks not necessarily involved with the vetted, trusted, closed and snobbish circles of cyber crime fighting (some founded by me) could share information and be informed of threats. In this post I explore some of the history behind information sharing online, and explain the concept behind the botnets mailing list... we may not be able to always share our resources, but it is time to change the tide of the cyber crime war, and strategize. One of the strategies we need to use, or at least try, is public information sharing of "lesser evils" already in the public domain. more

Mobilizing Russian Population Attacking Georgia: Similar to the Estonian Incident?

It seems like the online Russian population is getting mobilized. Like a meme spreading on the blogosphere, the mob is forming and starting to "riot", attacking Georgia. This seems very similar to the Estonian incident, only my current guess is natural evolution rather than grass-roots implanted -- but I am getting more and more convinced of the similarities as more information becomes available. Determining exactly when the use of scripts by regular users started, is key to this determination. more

Georgians Use Spam to Explain Their Situation

Call it outreach, call it propaganda or call it brilliance or even desperate measures, spammers (people) who favour the Georgian side in the recent conflict have been spamming using email, to get their point across. Depending on where in the world you are from, your ideological standpoint on Russia and your beliefs, when it comes to what email should be like, can be different and you may judge the action as you will. I call it spam. An Estonian colleague Viktor Larionov was quoted saying that whether there is a cyber war in Georgia or not, we know there is in fact a media war in play... more

Updates on the Georgian Cyber Attacks

This is an update of my previous post on the subject. To be honest here, no one truly knows what's going on in Georgia's Internet except for what can be glimpsed from outside, and what has been written by the Georgians on their blog (outside their country). They are probably a bit busy avoiding kinetic bombing... more

Internet Attacks Against Georgian Websites

In the last days, news and government web sites in Georgia suffered DDoS attacks. While these attacks seem to affect the Georgian Internet, it is still there... Up to the Estonian war, such attacks would be called "hacker enthusiast attacks" or "cyber terrorism" (of the weak sort). Nowadays any attack with a political nature seems to get the "information warfare" tag. When 300 Lithuanian web sites were defaced last month, "cyber war" was the buzzword. Running security for the Israeli government Internet operation and later the Israeli government CERT such attacks were routine... more

Email Portability, DKIM, and Socio-Political Implications on Tech Development

A few years ago, cell phone portability was introduced in the United States which caused a major shift in the market. The same thing happened this past year in Israel, following a major battle involving the cell carriers, consumer groups and the Israeli parliament (The Knesset). What if the same happened with email addresses? Ridiculous, you say? May be so, but there is chatter here in Israel to create a law which forces the local service providers hands to do just that. more

An Account of the Estonian Internet War

About a year ago after coming back from Estonia, I promised I'd send in an account of the Estonian "war". A few months ago I wrote an article for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, covering the story of what happened there. This is the "war" that made politicians aware of cyber security and entire countries scared, NATO to "respond" and the US to send in "help". It deserved a better understanding for that alone, whatever actually happened there. more

An Internet Security Operations Viewpoint of IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an annual UN conference on Internet governance which was held this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The topics discussed range from human rights online to providing Internet access in developing countries. A somewhat secondary topic of conversation is Internet security and cyber-crime mostly limited to policy and legislative efforts. Techies and Internet security industry don't have much to do there, but I have a few updates for us from the conference. more

More on Broadband Router Insecurity and Being Proactive

Fergie replied on NANOG to my recent post on the subject of broadband routers insecurity: "I'll even go a step further, and say that if ISPs keep punting on the whole botnet issue, and continue to think of themselves as 'common carriers' in some sense -- and continue to disengage on the issue -- then you may eventually forced to address those issues at some point in the not-so-distant future..." He is right, but I have a comment I felt it was important - to me - to make. Not just on this particular vulnerability, but on the "war"... more

Broadband Routers and Botnets: Being Proactive

In this post I'd like to discuss the threat widely circulated insecure broadband routers pose today. We have touched on it before. Today, yet another public report of a vulnerable DSL modem type was posted to bugtraq, this time about a potential WIRELESS flaw with broadband routers being insecure at Deutsche Telekom. I haven't verified this one myself but it refers to "Deutsche Telekom Speedport w700v broadband router"... more

Put Security Alongside .XXX

Isn't security as important to discuss as .XSS? The DNS has become an abuse infrastructure, it is no longer just a functional infrastructure. It is not being used by malware, phishing and other Bad Things [TM], it facilitates them. Operational needs require the policy and governance folks to start taking notice. It's high time security got where it needs to be on the agenda, not just because it is important to consider security, but rather because lack of security controls made it a necessity. more

Ongoing Internet Emergency and Domain Names

There is a current ongoing Internet emergency: a critical 0day vulnerability currently exploited in the wild threatens numerous desktop systems which are being compromised and turned into bots, and the domain names hosting it are a significant part of the reason why this attack has not yet been mitigated. This incident is currently being handled by several operational groups. This past February, I sent an email to the Reg-Ops (Registrar Operations) mailing list. The email, which is quoted below, states how DNS abuse (not the DNS infrastructure) is the biggest unmitigated current vulnerability in day-to-day Internet security operations, not to mention abuse. more

How Many Bots? How Many Botnets?

We touched on this subject in the past, but recently Rich Kulawiek wrote a very interesting email to NANOG to which I replied, and decided to share my answer here as well: I stopped really counting bots a while back. I insisted, along with many friends, that counting botnets was what matters. When we reached thousands we gave that up. We often quoted anti-nuclear weapons proliferation sentiments from the Cold War, such as: "why be able to destroy the world a thousand times over if once is more than enough?" we often also changed it to say "3 times" as redundancy could be important... more

Web Server Botnets and Server Farms as Attack Platforms

Are file inclusion vulnerabilitiess equivalent to remote code execution? Are servers (both Linux and Windows) now the lower hanging fruit rather than desktop systems? In the February edition of the Virus Bulletin magazine, we (Kfir Damari, Noam Rathaus and Gadi Evron (me) of Beyond Security) wrote an article on cross platform web server malware and their massive use as botnets, spam bots and generally as attack platforms. Web security papers deal mostly with secure coding and application security. In this paper we describe how these are taken to the next level with live attacks and operational problems service providers deal with daily. more

Google, Service Providers and the Future of P2P

In a non-operational NANOG discussion about Google bandwidth uses, several statements were made. It all started from the following post by Mark Boolootian: "Cringley has a theory and it involves Google, video, and oversubscribed backbones..." The following comment has to be one of the most important comments in the entire article and its a bit disturbing... more

P2P as a New Spam Medium, Moving From PoC to Full Operations

Spam on P2P networks used to be mainly with advertising inside downloaded movies and pictures (mainly pornographic in nature), as well as by hiding viruses and other malware in downloaded warez and most any other file type (from zip archives to movie files). Further, P2P networks were in the past used for harvesting by spammers. Today, P2P has become a direct to customer spamvertizing medium. This has been an ongoing change for a while. As we speak, it is moving from a proof of concept trial to a full spread of spam, day in, day out... more

ICANN Issues a Statement on the Spamhaus Case

ICANN issued a statement on the Spamhaus case: "...ICANN is not a party to this action and no order has been issued in this matter requiring any action by ICANN. Additionally, ICANN cannot comply with any order requiring it to suspend" more

ICANN Ordered by Illinois Court to Suspend

Apparently, at this stage, it is only a proposed ruling. But I am no lawyer. This story has been discussed before, when Spamhaus, which is located in the UK, was sued in the US by a spammer. They refused to come before the court as "they do no business in Illinois, and are located in the UK...After this court ruling, was under a DDoS attack, in my opinion for the purpose of preventing users from reaching the information it provided about the court ruling. This was done along-side a Joe Job, sending fake email appearing to come from Spamhaus's CEO... more

.MS: Alternate Root and Monoculture as Good Things

Why shouldn't there be a .gadi TLD? Why not one for Microsoft? This post is not about alternate roots or why they are bad, this post is about something else. We do need to go over some background (from my perspective) very quickly though. ICANN has a steel-fist control over what happens in the DNS realm. They decide what is allowed, and who gets money from it. Whether it's VeriSign for .com or any registrar for the domains they sell. They decide if .gadi should exist or not. ...What I am here to discuss is why Microsoft, as a non-arbitrary choice this time, indeed, of all the world, should kick it aside, creating an alternate root while at the same time not disturbing the world's DNS. more

Why Senator Stevens is Right on Net Neutrality

Several people emailed me about the actual things the senator said and why he is off-base. I decided to listen to his speech again, and write down the points I believe are critical. Senator Stevens who everyone is dissing on for his speech on Net Neutrality in my book spoke nothing less than brilliant. I will also tell you, in my opinion, exactly why... He nailed down the subject into the point that matters: Business. It's about profit. more

Net Neutrality Is As Silly As So-Called Internet Governance

From the perspective of Internet security operations, here is what Net Neutrality means to me. I am not saying these issues aren't important, I am saying they are basically arguing over the colour of bits and self-marginalizing themselves. For a while now I tried not to comment on the Net Neutrality non-issue, much like I didn't comment much on the whole "owning the Internet by owning the Domain Name System" thingie. Here it goes anyway. Two years ago I strongly advocated that consumer ISP's should block some ports, either as incident response measures or as permanent security measures... more

Phishing Moving to the Web Channel

Today we received one of the first phish attempts to be made as a web spam (comment spam/blog spam) attempt. I wasn't convinced, and thought that perhaps it was a way to gather and verify RELEVANT online identities. Someone put me straight. It's phishing. I've often in the past had run-ins with the good folks in the anti virus realm back between 1996 and 2005 who thought Trojan horses and then spyware were not part of their business. Years later the AV business people ruled it is part of their business and ran to catch up. Same with botnets. more

Phishing: Competing on Security

The UK today is one of the main attack targets by phishing organized crime groups, globally. Phishing damages will amount to about two billions USD in 2006 worldwide -- not counting risk management measures such as preventative measures, counter-measures, incident response and PR damages. In most cases, phishing is caused by the fault of the users, either by entering the wrong web page, not keeping their computers secure or falling for cheap scams. Often this is due to lack of awareness or ability in the realm of Internet use rather than incompetence by the users... more

Black Frog: Next Generation Botnet, No Generation Spam Fighting

Black Frog -- a new effort to continue the SO-CALLED Blue Security fight against spammers. A botnet, a crime, a stupid idea that I wish would have worked -- News items on Black Frog. Blue Frog by Blue Security was a good effort. Why? Because they wanted to "get spammers back". They withstood tremendous DDoS attacks and abuse reports, getting kicked from ISP after ISP. ...The road to hell is filled with good intentions. Theirs was golden, but they got to hell, quite literally, non-the-less. ...When Blue Security went down, some of us made a bet as to when two bored guys sitting and planning their millions in some café would show up, with Blue Security's business plan minus the DDoS factor. Well -- they just did. more

Chinese Alternate Root as a New Beginning and Real Internet Governance

I suppose not many have been listening to Paul Vixie or surfing from China, I have done both. The Chinese "alternate root" has been going on for a while. China is creating an alternate root, which it can control while using the Chinese language. I doubt I need to tell any of you about ICANN, VeriSign, Internet Governance, alternate roots or the history of these issues. Everyone else will. Unlike most of my colleagues, I hold a different opinion on the subject and have for some time. China launches an alternate root? It's about time they do, too! more

Behind the Smoke Screen of Internet and International Infrastructure

In my recent write-up I start by discussing some recent threats network operators should be aware of, such as recursive DNS attacks. Then, a bit on the state of the Internet, cooperation across different fields and how these latest threats with DDoS also relate to worms and bots, as well as spam, phishing and the immense ROI organized crime sees. I try and bring some suggestions on what can be done better, and where we as a community, as well as specifically where us, the "secret hand-shake clubs" of Internet security fail and succeed. Over-secrecy, lack of cooperation, lack of public information, and not being secret enough about what really matters. more