E5 - The Flies and the Hornet - The Hornet's Sting

Feb 16, 2016 | by RSA

The Ghost waited patiently on a hill overlooking the castle and contemplated his last few days. His journey from the Frontier had been eventful. Hiding from shadow to shadow, he had traversed the miles with deliberation and an overabundance of caution from his first entry into the Kingdom. Abandoned hunting shacks, ancient caves, run down barns, desolate, forgotten paths...all had harbored the Ghost as he prudently travelled across country.

Each checkpoint that he could not avoid had fallen to his constant use of new credentials. He never used the same one twice and had left a trail of burned credential books in his wake. He could tell as he got closer to the castle the stakes were higher. The guards were plentiful. Their vigilance, though annoying, was no match for the Ghost's skill. They had other things on their minds. The citizens of the Kingdom passed by him without a second thought. He could hide in their midst, blend into the crowd in an instant.

He had the unique advantage of a singular motive. He had patience; he had persistence; he had a burning desire that fueled his focus. He understood how to hide in the shadows. He appreciated every nook and cranny in the complex landscape. He was the Ghost - the thief, the undenied, the ultimate menace.

At times he felt the presence of something different than the run of the mill guards. Something was stalking him. He could feel it. He could sense a different set of eyes that passed over his shadow. Those eyes had not spied his existence but he knew they were there. Searching. Inspecting. He knew the Hunter was out there. Every step could be his last with this threat hanging over his head but the Ghost accepted it as part of his challenge. Beating the Hunter was part of the thrill. And he relished it.

The Ghost now squatted in the darkness cast by the massive fir trees ringing the castle and planned his next move. He broke from his reverie as a stirring at the gate snatched his attention.

The soldiers by the gate were tiredly organizing themselves for the changing of the guards. The clip clop of boots could be heard ringing out from the interior of the castle. The Ghost readied himself by the edge of the trees. A line of fresh troops exited the castle and gathered in front of the massive drawbridge. As the guards assembled, the Ghost crossed the grassy field, his grey cloak blending perfectly into the night air. By the time the captain of the guards had performed his inspection, the Ghost had already worked his way down the wall towards the open gate. The captain of the guards gave final instructions to the newly arrived soldiers. An apparition swept through the gate - nothing more than a whisper during a storm. The Ghost was inside the gate and within minutes hidden in the bowels of the King's abode.


Marty hunched down to tie his shoelace. He had been putting in long hours and at this point was playing his ace in the hole - his lucky Converse sneakers. The sneakers had seen better days. The threadbare canvas was faded into a non-descript grey, blue, greenish tint and several eyelets had disappeared over the years. The rubber soles, scuffed and abused, were still intact - barely. Marty deft fingers pulled the shoelace tight. With a snap, it broke. Marty groaned. This is a bad sign, he thought.

Marty limped into Greg's cubicle nursing his broken shoe.

"What's the word?" Greg greeted Marty.

"The bird." Marty retorted.

"The bird?"

"The bird is the word..."

Greg's quizzical look morphed from a frown to a grimace.

"Nevermind. It's a joke." Marty slumped into a chair in the corner.

"This isn't exactly a joking time, Marty." Greg admonished.

"I know. Thank you, Captain Obvious. I just broke a shoe lace."

"That's not what I meant and you know it. Have you figured out anything new regarding our unwanted visitors?"

"I keep finding indicators. Weird logins. Files being accessed. The network restrictions we have put in are driving the users crazy. The help desk keeps getting calls about the web filtering we implemented."

"I know but I am handling that. You just need to figure out if we have swatted all of the flies."

"Right. Well, I do know one thing - we haven't gotten all of them. I just know there is something out there that we haven't found yet. But they say - you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

Greg, reading Marty's mind, smiled, "I like the way you think."

A sinister, mischievous grin spread across Marty's face.

Author: RSA

Category: Research and Innovation, Blog Post

Keywords: Advanced Persistent Threats, Advanced Threats, APT, Enterprise Security, Incident Response, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Risk Management, Security Management, Security Mini-Series, Security Short Stories