We started Module 7 of C1b3rWall Academy 2021/2022 “Incident management. Good practices during a cybercrisis: a study of Ransomware” with a lecture given by Alberto Sánchez del Monte, head of operations at the Cybersecurity Coordination Office. The objective of the lecture was to analyze the impact of cyber-attacks on essential services and critical infrastructures, and specifically those of the ransomware type based on the encryption of information.

The Cybersecurity Coordination Office (OCC) is a body within the General Directorate for Coordination and Studies of the Secretary of State for Security. It is made up of members of the National Police and the Civil Guard. Its headquarters are at the Cybersecurity Technology Center (El Pardo).

Ransomware and frameworks

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files unless a ransom is paid for them.

There are several frameworks that explain each of the phases of a cyberattack. Some of the most famous frameworks are the CyberkillChain, which consists of seven phases, and the Diamond model, in which four different variables are considered. However, the one most commonly used in the OCC is the MITRE ATT&ACK model.

By analyzing the trail left in a cyberattack, it is possible to attribute authorship to a certain group on the basis of their modus operandi.

Essential service

A service that is provided through information networks and is essential for the functioning of basic social needs. That is, hydroelectric power plants, water purification plants, hospitals, and others.

NIS Directive

In Europe we are increasingly aware of this type of attacks and in 2016 we welcomed the NIS directive that entails an obligation of transposition to the national legislation of each member country and includes three main points:

  • Identification of operators of essential services in each country (OSE).
  • Supervision of obligations (security scheme).
  • Incident reporting.

In Spain we use the national notification guide. This is a very technical document with a homogeneous European taxonomy. It analyzes the level of impact and the level of danger and it is mandatory to make an initial, intermediate and final notification, and to do so when certain thresholds are exceeded.

The most targeted sector has been the financial sector as it handles huge sums of money and are very tempting for cyber criminals. In 2020, attacks on the healthcare sector increased dramatically.

Areas of origin and destination of attacks

It can be seen that a large number of attacks originate from China and focus on financial services. As for Russia, a large number of IPs originate from there, also targeting the financial sector. Iran carries out much more punctual and diversified attacks.

The ransomware as a service model tends to predominate, and depending on the organization, they may have different names, but are in the same groups.

These groups usually send messages that warn the victims they will be under serious threat if they report the crime to the authorities. They usually operate as a cartel and the top of the pyramid usually keeps 30-35% of the profits. They are usually located in Russia or China and are IT professionals who switch to a form of crime that they find easy.

Everything that Alberto said was very interesting, but this is just an introduction to all the information he provided in his lecture. I share the link with you so you can watch it.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.