Unveiling Hacker Tactics: How do they pivot to infiltrate systems? (59 characters)


I’ve witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of a successful hacker attack. Their tactics are constantly evolving, pivoting around defense systems. In this article, I’ll unveil some of the most common tactics used by hackers to infiltrate systems and how you can protect yourself against them.

How do hackers pivot?

Hackers pivot by employing a compromised system to move between various computers once it is inside the network, thereby mimicking the actions of an actual attacker. Pivoting is a highly effective technique for hackers as it allows them to move laterally across the network, exfiltrate sensitive information, and deploy malware onto different systems.

Here are some ways that hackers pivot:

  • Exploiting vulnerabilities: Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in software applications or operating systems to gain access to a system. Once they gain access to a system, they can use it as a pivot point to move to other systems in the network.
  • Using stolen credentials: Hackers use phishing emails or social engineering techniques to trick employees into disclosing their login credentials. Once they have access to employee credentials, hackers can use the compromised account to move laterally across the network.
  • Utilizing backdoors: Hackers often backdoor systems to maintain persistent access to the network. These backdoors allow hackers to re-enter the network even if the original intrusion was detected and removed.
  • Exploiting trust relationships: Trust relationships are established between systems to ease communication between them. Hackers can exploit these relationships to pivot from one system to another without causing any alarms.
  • Performing reconnaissance: Hackers perform reconnaissance to identify weak entry points in the network. Once they locate these points, they pivot to other systems to deploy malware or exfiltrate sensitive data.
  • In conclusion, hackers use various techniques to pivot from one system to another within a network. The key to mitigating these attacks is to take proactive measures against the vulnerabilities that hackers exploit, such as patching vulnerabilities and training employees to recognize and report suspicious activity.

    ???? Pro Tips:

    1. Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and identify potential entry points that hackers can utilize to pivot. This proactive approach helps to identify and address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
    2. Use network segmentation to contain the potential damage of a hack. Restrict access to different parts of the network and implement firewalls to prevent lateral movement by hackers once they’ve gained access.
    3. Implement strong password policies that include multi-factor authentication and encourage users to create unique and complex passwords to make it harder for hackers to gain access and pivot to other systems.
    4. Keep software and systems up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Hackers often exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems and pivot to other machines.
    5. Train employees on the dangers of phishing attacks and social engineering tactics used by hackers to gain access to sensitive data. By educating employees on these methods, they can become more vigilant and better equipped to identify and avoid them.

    Understanding the Concept of Pivoting in Cyber Security

    Pivoting is a technique that hackers use to move from one system to another within an organization’s network. They use a compromised system as a pathway to other computers, mimicking the methods of a genuine attacker. In many instances, the compromised computer is referred to as “the instance,” “plant,” or “foothold.” For a hacker, pivoting is an essential method for achieving their objective of gaining access to an organization’s sensitive data. As such, understanding how it works is crucial for protecting your company’s cybersecurity.

    Anatomy of a Cyber Attack: Pivoting Strategies Employed by Hackers

    The process of pivoting involves several strategies, each designed to achieve a specific purpose. Hackers learn how to exploit vulnerabilities in an organization’s security systems and move laterally through a network. Here are some common pivoting strategies that hackers use:

    • Proxy / Tunneling

  • attackers can use proxies or tunneling to redirect traffic through a compromised system before accessing target systems.

    • Remote Access Trojans

  • attackers can remotely control compromised systems to gain access to internal networks.

    • Exploitation of Network Devices

  • attackers can exploit routers and switches to gain access to network segments that are intended for secure communication.

    • Compromised Credentials -attackers can use stolen login information to enter and move around an organization’s network unbeknownst to the organization.

  • The Role of Pivoting in the Execution of Coordinated Cyber Attacks

    Pivoting plays a critical role in executing coordinated cyber attacks. Hackers use pivoting as a tool for accessing multiple systems simultaneously, enabling them to control networks and avoid detection while carrying out their objectives. They may exploit several vulnerabilities in the system, using one compromised computer as a foothold to achieve their objectives.

    For instance, an attacker may gain entry through a vulnerable system in a less secure area of a network and move laterally after attaining administrative permissions. Once an attacker has ascended to higher administrative levels, it is much easier for them maneuver within the network to identify other vulnerabilities for exploitation. The attacker could then launch a coordinated cyber attack that aims to inflict significant damage to an organization.

    Avoiding Cyber Threats through Effective Pivoting Detection and Response

    Detecting and responding to pivoting attacks begin with understanding the telltale signs and promptly responding. Organizations should implement a robust detection and response program to avoid such threats. Pivoting attacks often involve repeated logins from multiple sources in a way that appears abnormal on a network. ML and AI-based threat detection systems can track and analyse traffic, allowing cybersecurity professionals to identify the patterns of activity that suggest an attack is happening.

    Moreover, implementing dynamic auditing capabilities and regular penetration testing assessments can provide clear alerts and corresponding response procedures that cut down the attacker’s ability to pivot in company systems.

    Identifying the Telltale Signs of a Pivoting Attack

    Detecting a pivoting attack can be challenging. Here are a few telltale signs that can help organizations identify the start of an attack:

    • Unfamiliar network connections

  • it is not uncommon for a network to see connections from unfamiliar systems, but a sudden growth in such connections raises red flags.
    • Suspect activity patterns -the presence of excessive activity in a particular system suggests a possible attack.
    • Unusual traffic patterns -sudden deviations from regular traffic volume, protocol, source, and destination augment a probable attack.
    • Large amounts of data transfers -when a lot of data is transferred in or out, the probability of an attack increases.
    • Elevated server loads -the sustained and significant increase in server loads might be a sign of a hacker’s exploitation and subsequent pivoting within the network.

  • Developing Robust Countermeasures Against Pivoting Tactics

    Clearly, to reduce the threat of pivoting attacks, cybersecurity teams must develop robust countermeasures. Collaboration with cybersecurity researchers and constant monitoring of an enterprise’s network can help to uncover loopholes that hackers may exploit. Here are a few countermeasures that can be employed:

    • Access Management

  • this involves employing the least-privilege principle that limits the exposure of systems to unnecessary network traffic.
    • Network Segmentation

  • dividing the enterprise network into logical segments with varying levels of security makes it challenging for hackers to move laterally through the system.
    • Intrusion Prevention Systems -TPS can help detect and respond to intrusions.
    • Regular audits and security assessments -networks should undergo frequent tests and re-evaluation for detecting vulnerabilities.
    • Ensuring OS and software security patching

  • minimizing the exploitationable gaps through both external and internal testing and subsequent patching of the identified gaps.

    Moreover, organizations must provide their employees with regular cybersecurity awareness training to empower them to make smarter decisions regarding cyber threats and activities on the network.

  • Best Practices for Mitigating Pivoting Risks in Enterprise Security

    Mitigating pivoting risks on an enterprise security level requires a structured approach involving both technological and human processes. Here are some best practices that can be employed to mitigate pivoting risks:

    • Encrypted communication

  • encrypting traffic can help prevent data interception and mitigates packet sniffing from malwares trying to discover login credentials.
    • Adopting the zero-trust security model

  • applying the zero-trust strategy limits the scope of a pivoting attack and commands greater security awareness for the entire team.
    • Implementing strong passwords.

  • encrypting and applying stronger passwords with periodic password reviews and changes of passwords can prevent compromised login information exploitation.
    • Using Multi-factor authentication -multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to guard against pivoting from externally compromised or trusted systems.
    • Regular Incident Response Plan testing & training -developing an effective incident response plan and routinely testing it with simulations and training minimize the impact of cyberattacks and enhances the team’s effectiveness in responding to possible cyber attacks

  • The Future of Cyber Security and Pivoting: Emerging Threats and Trends

    Pivoting is an evolving threat that organizations face daily. Emerging trends and technologies are expected to escalate the pivoting risk in the future. Although AI, Machine Learning, and Blockchain are currently hailed as the next-gen paradigm shift for cybersecurity and pivoting detection, they will also likely serve as an inspiration for attackers to develop sophisticated new attack strategies that can evade these security measures. The future of cybersecurity and pivoting risks presents challenging outlooks for organizations, but constant vigilance, adaptability and knowledge sharing will help provide a comprehensive solution to this threat.