VB2014 paper: OPSEC for security researchers

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Jan 19, 2015

Vicente Diaz teaches researchers the basics of OPSEC.

Since the close of the VB2014 conference in Seattle in October, we have been sharing VB2014 conference papers as well as video recordings of the presentations. Today, we have added 'OPSEC for security researchers' by Kaspersky researchers Vicente Diaz and Dani Creus.

As long as you perform your security research in the safe environment of a lab, staring at Wireshark logs or lines of IDA-generated code, you have little to worry about. But almost every security researcher leaves their lab - whether to write about their research, to access malicious resources or sometimes even in an attempt to infiltrate places where cybercriminals hang out.

In their paper, Vicente Diaz and Dani Creus provide a '101' on what is an increasingly important topic for security researchers: Operations Security, or OPSEC for short. Interestingly, this is an area in which security researchers, cybercriminals and intelligence agencies all face the same challenges, and can perhaps even learn from each other's mistakes.

There are many faces to OPSEC, but the golden rule is: if you don't really need to say something, then don't. This goes somewhat against the nature of many security researchers, who tend to like to brag about their discoveries. And then it's good to note the second golden rule: OPSEC doesn't work retrospectively.

OPSEC is hard, but Vicente finished his VB2014 presentation by saying that you don't need to be a fully fledged spy: some OPSEC is better than none. And, importantly, by performing OPSEC you help the community - as the Harvard student who used Tor to email a bomb threat anonymously, but was found out because he was the only one using Tor, can tell you, OPSEC works a lot better if you're not the only one using it.

You can read the paper here in HTML-format, or download it here as a PDF (no registration or subscription required). You can download the presentation slides here. We have also uploaded the presentation to our YouTube channel.

Posted on 19 January 2015 by Martijn Grooten


Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: Operation Soft Cell - a worldwide campaign against telecommunication providers

Today we publish the VB2019 paper by Cybereason researchers Mor Levi, Amit Serper and Assaf Dahan on Operation Soft Cell, a targeted attack against telecom providers around the world.

VB2019 paper: A study of Machete cyber espionage operations in Latin America

At VB2019 in London a group of researchers from the Stratosphere Lab at the Czech Technical University in Prague presented a paper in which they analysed and dissected the cyber espionage activities of an APT group in Latin America through the…

VB2019 paper: The push from fiction for increased surveillance, and its impact on privacy

In a paper presented at VB2019 in London, researchers Miriam Cihodariu (Heimdal Security) and Andrei Bogdan Brad (Code4Romania) looked at how surveillance is represented in fiction and how these representations are shaping people's attitudes to…

VB2019 paper: Oops! It happened again!

At VB2019 in London industry veterans Righard Zwienenberg and Eddy Willems took a detailed look at the relationship between past and current cyber threats. Today, we publish both their paper and the recording of their presentation.

Job vacancy at VB: Security Evangelist

Virus Bulletin is recruiting for a person to be the public face of the company

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.