E6 - Ghost in the Machine - Phantom Tracks

Mar 15, 2016 | by RSA

The Ghost exited the massive wagon nodding at the Guard as he passed. His trips to the wagon had been spaced out such that he knew each Guard had only seen him minimally. Once he had figured out the rotation of the guards' schedules, it took only patience and time to determine the frequency and timings for his visit. His air of confidence helped considerably as he flashed his gold stamped credential each time. The fact that everything about the Ghost, from his face, to his clothes, to his walk, to his voice was completely forgettable was also very helpful. He was confident that every guard thought it was their first meeting - no matter how many times he passed through the checkpoints. Such was the way of the Ghost. He was a rumor of a vague memory of a shadow cast by a puff of smoke.

It had taken several days of observation before the Ghost had decided that the wagon housed something of tremendous value. The guards were consistently changed. The routine hadn't changed but there was quite a bit of activity at the building site. In fact, the Trade Master himself had visited the site escorted by an intimidating figure in a flowing cloak. The Ghost, although he remembered everyone he saw, was especially intrigued by this new figure. A large black cat had accompanied the mysterious stranger. The Ghost surmised this new adversary was someone of importance and he felt a strange sense that he was something of a kindred spirit. However, even if the dark cloaked figure was an extra security precaution, the Ghost was not worried.

Within the small satchel affixed to his waist under his flowing coat, he had been secreting out the gold and documents from the wagon. The gold had been replaced by worthless ingots of iron; the documents with empty pages. His work here was almost done. He had only one last task - exit the Kingdom with his loot and get back to Natiostatia.

The Ghost calmly walked through the streets with the last load of treasure. He stopped in front of a decrepit barn. Looking from side to side to ensure he wasn't followed, he entered the musty barn. A strong horse harnessed to an old wagon waited for him. The horse paused from munching on hay and whinnied as he approached.

The Ghost climbed up onto the wagon and lovingly caressed an iron crate that was the only cargo on the wagon. He unlocked the box with a key hung on a string around his neck. The lid of the strongbox flopped open revealing packages wrapped in coarse linen. The Ghost ceremoniously dropped his last package into the strongbox, locked it and clambered into the driver's seat. He took the reins, clucked at the horse and smiled to himself.

Marty entered the Security Operations Center of MagnaCorp with a heavy sense of nostalgia. If the data center had been the cocoon to start his transformation, the SOC had been where the butterfly had emerged. After Carl's tutelage, Marty found himself on the front lines of the security battles being waged within MagnaCorp. As one of the largest corporate entities in the world, MagnaCorp had a large target painted on its back - both from competitors in every industry to criminal adversaries of all shapes and sizes. That trickled down to every skyscraper they owned, every product they sold and every server they hooked to the wire. In the SOC, Marty had traversed the globe countless times tracking down everything from minor virus infections to failing hardware and human errors that mimicked malicious intent to full blown attacks. He cut his security 'teeth' as eyes on glass and transformed in to the Hunter he was today.

He walked up behind the analysts sitting in front of their monitors and intently clicking through screens as various windows popped up. Marty scanned the large NASA like screens depicting the overall state of the operations center at the front of the room.

"Tony, what do you have for me?"

Tony, a young tech at one of the monitors, swung around in his chair.

"You know those systems you had me watching. We had more activity on them last night."

"Yes, I know. I have been pulling apart the traffic. I know we are on to something. So far it has only been poking and prodding."

"Well, we had one of the canary tokens set off a DLP alert five minutes ago. That was when I called you."

"Really?" Marty exclaimed. He jumped over to one of the empty consoles and logged in.

Tony and the other tech in the room, a short stocky guy named Paul sporting a Mohawk and nose ring, glanced at each other and smiled. In concert, they both nodded, jumped out of their chairs and hustled to look over Marty's shoulder.

Marty's fingers flew over the keyboard. Logs were parsed. His mouse frantically danced across the screen. Packets were dissected. He pivoted from one data view to the next. Protocols were inspected.

Tony and Paul looked at each other again. Pure, unadulterated artistry, they both thought. Their gazes drilled into the screen as the Hunter went to work.

Author: RSA

Category: Research and Innovation

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