E6 - Ghost in the Machine - No Longer Fun and Games

Mar 22, 2016 | by RSA

Dave Reinhardt, gritty, determined, wizard of MagnaCorp security, arranged his notes on the conference room table once more. He sat alone briefly while the team took a break. As he arranged the pages for his upcoming briefing to his fellow executives, he paused to look around the room. The whiteboards of the breach war room were covered in diagrams, notes and other scribbling. Marty's quick darting letters; Erin's precise flowery script; Greg's bold defined notes. The largest whiteboard had a large timeline drawn across it. Milestones and important facts dotted the board - all documented down to the exact date, time, hour, minute. He felt a surge of pride. It wasn't just about tracking down an illusive hacker. His hunters had tracked down an almost invisible foe.

He smiled at the thought of his hunters. This wasn't a normal hunt. A normal hunter can follow hoof prints in the mud. A normal hunter can spy broken branches in the woods. These hunters tracked a prey that could erase that trail with a single keystroke. These hunters tracked a prey that could disappear, reappear, transport across globe in an instant and hide between the tiniest of spaces between the magnetic state of a hard drive.

But there was one last prey to find. One last hunt.


The King's Council gathered quickly around the dim light cast by a few candles placed on the large round table. Torches lit the edges of the room. Neither the light from the candles, nor the pall cast by the torches, illuminated their faces fully. Their bright, intelligent eyes flashed in the shadows. A breeze would pass across the candles and the shadows shifted quickly morphing their expressions, giving the briefest of hints to their emotions.

The late night call to meet had stirred the council members but none had to be roused from their sleep for the threat to the Kingdom was understood by all. Slumber had been illusive for them these last few days. The Wizard had called the meeting suddenly sending swift messengers into the night to gather the council.

The Wizard stood. "All, I have good news. We have been successful in our hunt. The King's guards have been hard at work. We have denied access to many attempts to breach our borders in the last few days. And we have rounded up several treacherous members of the Guild who now bide their time in the King's dungeon."

The group collectively let out a sigh of relief. Chatter instantly started between the relieved cadre of counselors.

"But..." The Wizard's voice rose to immediately intercept the celebration. "I have some bad news."

The Wizard paused to ensure complete attention.

"The Hunter has discovered an even more dangerous foe in our midst. We believe that an agent of Natiostatia has infiltrated the Kingdom."

Immediately the tension rose to a fevered pitch. The questions rang out quickly.

"How can we be certain?"

"What has been taken?"

"When did that happen?"

The Wizard raised his hands. "Let me explain..."

The Wizard explained the Hunter's fanatical inspection of the castle. He expounded on the rigorous review of entry logs and the time and effort put in by The Gate Keeper and her staff. After a thorough explanation of the hunt, he revealed the honeypot constructed to draw in this mysterious foe - the wagon, loaded with iron bars painted gold and meaningless, false treaty documents.

"The final drop of honey - thanks to the visit by the Trademaster - was too much for this fiend to resist. He has taken the bait and the Hunter has finally located our enemy. As we speak, he is laying the final trap."

"Then the threat is over, right?" The Governess asked breathlessly.

"Ha!" The Advisor laughed. "And he has only taken meaningless iron bars painted as gold."

The rest of the council joined in the laughter.

"Wait, wait." The Wizard pounded on the table. "Yes, he has made off with a few bars of painted iron. But we also discovered today, he has accessed the King's vault using a golden badge credential. The threat is beyond serious. He has made off with copies of our military fortifications and plans."

The last statement drew a gasp from each of the King's most closest confidantes. They knew that once Natiostatia had those plans, the Kingdom was in greater peril than ever in its long, long history. Silence choked the room.

The Wizard continued, his eyes narrowing into slits. "We have also received reports that Natiostatia has begun amassing a huge force on our border. With the plans that this villain has stolen, we may not be able to defend ourselves."

Author: RSA

Category: Research and Innovation, Blog Post

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