Learn the skills needed for effective dark web threat hunting and cryptocurrency investigations. Level up!
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The Cyber Threat Landscape continues to rapidly evolve due to technological advancements, increased investments in offensive cyber operations from Nation-States, and a cybercriminal ecosystem that breeds new Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors every day. "The cybercriminal underground plays a big part in the overall threat landscape as it has lowered the barriers to entry for less-sophisticated criminals to collaborate with advanced ones” says SANS FOR589 author and course lead Sean O’Connor. This is especially true in the case of ransomware, which in recent years has seen an explosion in adoption due to Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) operations and the massive increase in cryptocurrency ransom payments by victims.” Although there are many legitimate use cases for the dark web, cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain, this course will focus exclusively on the criminal use cases and how to hunt for them. This course will cover how to collect dark web intelligence passively (scrapers, forum lurking, CTI vendors, etc.) and how to collect dark web intelligence actively through structured Human Intelligence (HUMINT) engagements with threat actors.
Authored by Sean O'Connor, Will Thomas & Trevor Giffen, the new FOR589: Cybercrime Intelligence course will teach you how to hunt for threat intelligence within the cybercriminal underground using Human Intelligence (HUMINT) elicitation techniques and blockchain analytics tools to trace criminal cryptocurrency transactions. Following the completion of the course, each student will be prepared to social engineer cybercriminals, produce dark web intelligence, provide unique intelligence support to incident response cases, extract cryptocurrency artifacts from mobile and computer devices, negotiate with ransomware operators on behalf of a client, support Law Enforcement partners with attribution efforts, and investigate Anti-Money Laundering (AML) cases involving cryptocurrency transactions on and off the Blockchain.
Course Days At-A-Glance
Day One prepares the students for the more advanced topics covered later by providing them an introduction to Criminal Intelligence (CRIMINT), with a focus on cybercrime, cryptocurrency crime, and the fundamentals of investigating these crimes using analytic models and frameworks. This day is paramount to the students’ success in the rest of the course because without understanding how to think like an intelligence analyst, the student will not be able to fully grasp how to be an intelligence operator. Day one will also cover a digital forensics refresher, an introduction to the blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and several Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) tools and techniques that are applicable to the rest of the course.
Day Two covers the Deep and Dark Web (DDW), also referred to as the cyber underground, darknet, etc. This will not be the typical high level Iceberg view that only touches on how to stay anonymous by using the Tor browser. We will be differentiating the various sites and sources that threat actors use for public advertisements, private chats, and criminal business operations which will be classified to the students in our defined Areas of Operations (AO) Matrix. The students will then learn about the typology of threat actors they will encounter, how they operate, and their motivations, which will be classified to the students in our defined Personas of Interest (POI) Matrix. The purpose of these Matrices is to help the students map to their Intelligence Dossiers, which they will be updating throughout the course. We will teach the students about open-source tools that they can use to automate dark web collection, as well as how to use various hunting techniques that we call Dark Web Dorking.
Day Three the students will learn how to collect intelligence from cybercriminals through advanced virtual HUMINT tradecraft. Every human source possesses exploitable characteristics that, if recognized by the HUMINT collector, can be used to facilitate the collection of intelligence. Through a combination of rapport, elicitation techniques via conversational approaches that exploit the source’s individual characteristics, and the HUMINT collector’s ability to maintain structured control of the conversation, the collector will ensure that the source covers topics that are relevant to their Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIR). This day will also cover Operational Security (OPSEC) and how to build, manage, and leverage sock puppet accounts for covert HUMINT operations such as gaining access into adversary infrastructure.
Day Four covers how cybercriminals launder their on-chain cryptocurrency transactions through a number of obfuscation techniques, and how to detect this through Blockchain Forensics (aka Blockchain Analytics) by following the money. Digital Forensic examiners can use Blockchain Intelligence (BLOCKINT) visualization tools to look at adversarial Financial Intelligence (FININT) providing useful evidence that can be used by Law Enforcement to disrupt threat actor operations through arrests and seizures. Following this day, the students will understand the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, and the mechanics of on and off chain transactions. We will also be covering cryptocurrency/blockchain security, vulnerabilities, famous exchange hacks and how to trace the transactions of those funds.
Day Five will teach the students how to detect, analyze, and extract cryptocurrency artifacts in mobile (iOS and Android) and computer (Mac and Windows) forensics investigations using open source and commercial tools. The students will learn how to find hidden cryptocurrency wallet files in memory and disk, and how to recover an encrypted wallet. The students will also learn how to analyze cryptocurrency hardware (cold storage), how to extract private and public keys, and how to legally seize a suspect’s wallet.
FOR589: Cybercrime Intelligence will help you understand:
- How to support Incident Response client engagements by addressing their Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIRs) through Dark Web and Blockchain intelligence
- How to collect Human Intelligence (HUMINT) directly from adversaries to generate, complement, and enrich cyber threat intelligence
- How to map threat actor financial relationships through tracing adversarial cryptocurrency transactions on and off the blockchain
- How to use Dark Web Dorking to hunt for hidden services and sites and how to analyze threats using stylometry, victimology, and other structured analytic techniques
- How to identify what is actionable and what is noise on the Dark Web
- How to generate business operational intelligence through monitoring of illicit blockchain transactions to corroborate alternative sourced evidence
- How to understand, extract, and analyze blockchain evidence and other cryptocurrency metadata through blockchain analytics and traditional forensics
- How to approach OPSEC like a covert agent (Privacy vs Anonymity)
- How to legally build credibility within underground networks so your sock puppet accounts can infiltrate invite-only groups, forums, and adversarial infrastructure
- How to vet HUMINT sources by measuring their level of competence, access, and credibility
- How to investigate cryptocurrency artifacts using commercial and open-source tools
- How cryptocurrency transactions are obfuscated and laundered through techniques such as mixing/tumbling
- How to build sock puppets for active and passive intelligence collection use cases
- How to properly document intelligence collected into new and existing Dossiers (Threat Profiles) to support future HUMINT engagements
- How to create effective proposals to leadership, including Intelligence Collection Funds (ICF) requests, which are measurable by their Intelligence Value - Return on Investment (IV-ROI) to business cases
- How to build, hack and secure your own Tor onion site on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) to understand Dark Web infrastructure security
- How technology paved the way for Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) and Propaganda to scale through online Influence Operations (i.e. Disinformation, Misinformation, etc.)
- How traditional intelligence collection disciplines (SIGINT, GEOINT, HUMINT, MASINT, FININT etc.) have adapted to today’s modern cyber-centric landscape
- How the cybercriminal underground ecosystem has expanded and evolved lowering the barrier to entry allowing unsophisticated actors to conduct advanced operations