Dynamic Modeling of the Cyber Security Threat Problem: The Black Market for Vulnerabilities

Dynamic Modeling of the Cyber Security Threat Problem: The Black Market for Vulnerabilities

Jaziar Radianti (University of Agder, Norway) and Jose J. Gonzalez (University of Agder and Gjøvik University College, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-326-5.ch001
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This chapter discusses the possible growth of black markets (BMs) for software vulnerabilities and factors affecting their spread. It is difficult to collect statistics about BMs for vulnerabilities and their associated transactions, as they are hidden from general view. We conduct a disguised observation of online BM trading sites to identify causal models of the ongoing viability of BMs. Our observation results are expressed as a system dynamic model. We implement simulations to observe the effects of possible actions to disrupt BMs. The results suggest that without interventions the number and size of BMs is likely to increase. A simulation scenario with a policy to halt BM operations results in temporary decrease of the market. The intervention ultimately meets policy resistance, failing to neutralize a reinforcing feedback. Combining the policy with efforts to build distrust among BM participants may cause them to leave the forum and inhibit the imitation process to establish similar forums.
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The vulnerability black market (VBM) discussions surfaced almost as the same time as the increasing public debates on the emergence of legitimate markets where vulnerability researchers can sell vulnerability information. The existence of black hat hackers has long been known; however, a recent trend is that they are becoming profit-seeking (Itzhak, 2006). In the past, they searched vulnerabilities mainly to improve their opportunity for financial gain through successful exploitation. Lately the black hat hackers are developing easy-to-use attack tools and selling them underground. However, most of the research on VBMs is scattered, with limited systematic studies.

Several security company’s reports, such as from IBM ISS X-Force (2007), PandaLabs (2007), and Symantec (2008) note the growth of malicious attacks, some of which may be the result of the limited circulation of zero-day vulnerability information. Symantec has been observing the black market forums operating in underground economy. According to Symantec’s report, the forums are likely to be used by criminals and criminal organizations to trade various goods and services for identity theft purposes. Therefore, Symantec’s report considers the emergence of black markets for zero-day vulnerabilities as a serious threat. However, it is premature to connect an increase in malicious attacks solely to the presence of VBM’s. The IBM report links underground sales and markets for Web-browser exploits to the obvious growth in targeted attacks against specific customers and sites. PandaLab’s report even reveals the price of malware kits sold underground. These data indicate indirectly that there are software developers and black hat attackers exchanging information about targets and tools. Such information exchange would be the core of a VBM. Basic questions emerge: Is the number of black markets increasing and how do the black markets spread?

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Merrill Warkentin
Kenneth J. Knapp
Kenneth J. Knapp
Chapter 1
Jaziar Radianti, Jose J. Gonzalez
This chapter discusses the possible growth of black markets (BMs) for software vulnerabilities and factors affecting their spread. It is difficult... Sample PDF
Dynamic Modeling of the Cyber Security Threat Problem: The Black Market for Vulnerabilities
Chapter 2
Somak Bhattacharya, Samresh Malhotra, S. K. Ghosh
As networks continue to grow in size and complexity, automatic assessment of the security vulnerability becomes increasingly important. The typical... Sample PDF
An Attack Graph Based Approach for Threat Identification of an Enterprise Network
Chapter 3
Robert F. Mills, Gilbert L. Peterson, Michael R. Grimaila
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the insider threat and discuss methods for preventing, detecting, and responding to the threat. Trusted... Sample PDF
Insider Threat Prevention, Detection and Mitigation
Chapter 4
Richard T. Gordon, Allison S. Gehrke
This chapter describes a methodology for assessing security infrastructure effectiveness utilizing formal mathematical models. The goal of this... Sample PDF
An Autocorrelation Methodology for the Assessment of Security Assurance
Chapter 5
Ken Webb
This chapter results from a qualitative research study finding that a heightened risk for management has emerged from a new security environment... Sample PDF
Security Implications for Management from the Onset of Information Terrorism
Chapter 6
Yves Barlette, Vladislav V. Fomin
This chapter introduces major information security management methods and standards, and particularly ISO/IEC 27001 and 27002 standards. A... Sample PDF
The Adoption of Information Security Management Standards: A Literature Review
Chapter 7
Peter R. Marksteiner
Information overload is an increasingly familiar phenomenon, but evolving United States military doctrine provides a new analytical approach and a... Sample PDF
Data Smog, Techno Creep and the Hobbling of the Cognitive Dimension
Chapter 8
John W. Bagby
The public expects that technologies used in electronic commerce and government will enhance security while preserving privacy. These expectations... Sample PDF
Balancing the Public Policy Drivers in the Tension between Privacy and Security
Chapter 9
Indira R. Guzman, Kathryn Stam, Shaveta Hans, Carole Angolano
The goal of our study is to contribute to a better understanding of role conflict, skill expectations, and the value of information technology (IT)... Sample PDF
Human Factors in Security: The Role of Information Security Professionals within Organizations
Chapter 10
Nikolaos Bekatoros HN, Jack L. Koons III, Mark E. Nissen
The US Government is moving apace to develop doctrines and capabilities that will allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to exploit Cyberspace for... Sample PDF
Diagnosing Misfits, Inducing Requirements, and Delineating Transformations within Computer Network Operations Organizations
Chapter 11
Rodger Jamieson, Stephen Smith, Greg Stephens, Donald Winchester
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An Approach to Managing Identity Fraud
Chapter 12
Alanah Davis, Gert-Jan de Vreede, Leah R. Pietron
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A Repeatable Collaboration Process for Incident Response Planning
Chapter 13
Dean A. Jones, Linda K Nozick, Mark A. Turnquist, William J. Sawaya
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Pandemic Influenza, Worker Absenteeism and Impacts on Critical Infrastructures: Freight Transportation as an Illustration
Chapter 14
Preeti Singh, Pranav Singh, Insu Park, JinKyu Lee
We live in a digital era where the global community relies on Information Systems to conduct all kinds of operations, including averting or... Sample PDF
Information Sharing: A Study of Information Attributes and their Relative Significance During Catastrophic Events
Chapter 15
Gregory B. White, Mark L. Huson
The protection of cyberspace is essential to ensure that the critical infrastructures a nation relies on are not corrupted or disrupted. Government... Sample PDF
An Overview of the Community Cyber Security Maturity Model
Chapter 16
Doug White, Alan Rea
In this chapter the authors present essential server security components and develop a set of logical steps to build hardened servers. The authors... Sample PDF
Server Hardening Model Development: A Methodology-Based Approach to Increased System Security
Chapter 17
Jeff Teo
Computer attacks of all sorts are commonplace in today’s interconnected, globalized society. A computer worm, written and released in one part of... Sample PDF
Trusted Computing: Evolution and Direction
Chapter 18
Miguel Jose Hernandez y Lopez, Carlos Francisco Lerma Resendez
This chapter discusses the basic aspects of Honeypots, how they are implemented in modern computer networks, as well as their practical uses and... Sample PDF
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