Countermeasures: Supercharging Threat Intelligence

Costin G. Raiu

In June 2016, Motherboard’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai did an interview with the alleged DNC hacker Guccifer 2.0. When asked about Russian metadata in the documents he leaked, Guccifer 2.0, a self-proclaimed Romanian, said “it is my ‘filigran’”. ‘Filigran’ is an odd word and almost never used in casual conversations; some younger people may have never heard it before. Translated into English however, it means “watermark”. Similarly, translating “watermark” from English into Romanian results in “filigran”. This and other “watermarks” effectively gave Guccifer 2.0 away as not being Romanian but simply using Google Translate to talk to journalists. In the end, it was his usage of “watermarks” that exposed him.

How about the code? Are there such things as “watermarks” for x86 executable code? During 2017, several high profile incidents occurred which had something in common - they were all difficult to attribute or associate with any previously known actor. These include WannaCry, NotPetya, Shadowpad and the CCleaner supply chain attack. Building on our experience from handling WannaCry and NotPetya and combining it with Yara rules and big data, we have been able to associate Shadowpad and CCleaner with an APT group known as Barium, operating under the Axiom umbrella.

This presentation will cover the following points:

  • The information war: from espionage to mass opinion manipulation
  • Supply chain attacks and why they are so difficult to catch
  • WannaCry attribution and linkage
  • Shadowpad and CCleaner code reuse; Winnti, Axiom, APT17 and Aurora
  • Existing technologies for identifying code reuse in APT attacks and beyond
  • Leveraging big data and Yara to find the needle in the haystack

Cambridge Analytica

Erin Kelly

On May 2nd Cambridge Analytica, a company that claimed to use predictive and prescriptive analytics to influence the outcome of the 2016 American election and the BREXIT campaign, among others, closed its doors following a swath of bad press.

Following the scandal, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner promised to study and report on Cambridge Analytica’s activities in Canada. But did Cambridge Analytica actually break any laws in Canada? What power does the Privacy Commissioner have when the CRTC has already ruled that it will not police social media as all posts made online should be considered public by the people who post them? What does the government’s own standing offer for social media monitoring permit?

You've got mail! from: Turla

Mathieu Faou

Turla, also known as Snake, is an espionage group known for targeting governments, diplomats and militaries all around the world. In the past months, we have analyzed two different active campaigns from the Turla group that stand out by their ingenuity.

The first campaign, called Mosquito, aims at infecting users who download Adobe Flash. We found evidence that, from the endpoint perspective, a Turla malware was downloaded over HTTP from a legitimate Adobe domain. The IP addresses belong to Akamai which is the CDN Adobe uses. As the same addresses are also used to distribute legitimate Flash installers, it is not a simple DNS hijacking. We will discuss the different possibilities that could lead to this kind of behavior, one possibility being network interception at the ISP level.

The second one is the Turla Outlook backdoor that was allegedly used to spy on the German government from 2016 to early 2018. This is a full-featured backdoor targeting email clients, especially Microsoft Outlook. The commands are received through specially crafted PDF attachments that are then decoded and interpreted by the backdoor. It also automatically exfiltrates, to an attacker controlled mailbox, all outgoing emails. This unusual way of communication for a backdoor allows the attackers to blend in the normal network traffic and increase its chances to bypass security monitoring solutions. We have traced back the origin of this undocumented plugin to at least 2013. We will present a development timeline highlighting its changes in functionality throughout the years.

A State of the Union on the Canadian Cyber Threat Landscape

Natasha (Sasha) Hellberg

Would you direct air traffic without knowing what else is in the sky? Would you give medical advice without knowing the symptoms? Would you give driving instructions without knowing what is down the road? As a security professional, can you honestly say you know the Canadian landscape of threats?

As Canadian Threat Analysts, one challenge that we face is there are very few threat reports that focus on Canada. It’s been our mission to protect Canadians in Cyberspace, and the very things that make Canada great are the things that make our threat landscape distinct from others. However, how can we tackle the problem if we don’t accurately know what we are dealing with?

We’ll discuss research conducted over the last year on Canadian malware trends, attackers, Internet exposures, and Deepweb components. We’ll map out where Canada is in terms of the current state of cyber security, and then discuss what can be done next.

The Role of Cyber Security in Digital Transformation

Imraan Bashir

The increased focus on digital transformation, coupled with the rapid evolution of technology, has made cyber security even more of a key strategic priority for business.  However, in an era where “digital” is synonymous with words like agility, adaptability and speed, traditional risk-averse approaches to cyber security are no longer acceptable.

This session will focus on how cyber security practices need to evolve to enable successful digital transformation, including some examples of what the Government of Canada is doing in an effort to change its culture of cyber security.

The “Hunt-able” Network – A Practical Approach to Executing a Threat Hunting Program

Paul Kivikink and Ian Redden - RSA

This session will explore a practical approach for enabling Threat Hunting as a practice within organizations of any size. We will talk about finding the right people, getting the tools and visibility in place, and techniques for how to strategically approach hunting in both network and endpoint environments. We will also share our proven hunting methodology along with real-world examples to get you started.

Top Priorities for Cloud Application Security

Teri Radichel

How can organizations create and maintain secure applications in the cloud? Is it really any different than hosting applications in a data center? Yes and no. The cloud presents both new challenges and opportunities for security, IT, software, and operations staff. Given the complexity of cloud, rapid pace of change, and security skills gap, organizations need to consider new ways to achieve security objectives. By leveraging technical and human resources in new and different ways, companies can create security strategies that offer a more holistic approach to preventing data breaches in the cloud.

AI's Role in the New Cyber Security Frontier

Jeff Crume - IBM

In February 2011 an historic event took place. IBM’s Watson computer competed against the two biggest winners of the TV quiz show Jeopardy! — and the Watson won. Since that time artificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into increasingly more and different types of applications ranging from cancer treatment to cyber security. This session will provide an overview of some of the various AI technologies and how they are being used to give the good guys an unfair advantage in the cyber war.

Human-Led. Technology Accelerated.

Mike Morris - root9B

Cybersecurity continuously attempts to evolve as a necessary response to cyberattacks and agile adversaries in the space. As soon as cyber adversaries understand defensive measures and technologies, they can (and do) find ways around them. One example of a well-subscribed but now outmoded approach to security is “defense in depth.” For years, organizations have been layering security solutions on top of security solutions. That includes appliances, software, processes, and services. In the end, this results in increasingly complex security networks that necessitate significant attention and maintenance, while increasing the amount of data and the resulting number of false positives. Often, data simply goes ignored. Unfortunately, defense in depth can actually increase the number of vulnerabilities in a network while distracting analysts from detecting network compromise and the presence of an adversary. This situation is clearly illustrated and highlighted at security vendor shows where it is commonplace to see dozens of different endpoint and network-based automation products falsely claiming to defeat human adversaries who are still proving to successfully defeat all of this technology. None of this is to say that defense in depth should be abandoned outright. Instead, we must reimagine defense in depth and develop new and innovative ways to integrate human defenders into a more effective and usable technology stack. Threat hunting brings this type of innovative approach to cybersecurity. Rather than adding one more piece of hardware or installing one more program, a trained human operator is introduced to an enterprise environment with a mandate to find adversaries that other solutions have missed. Put simply, threat hunting is the proactive search for and elimination of cyber adversaries within proprietary networks.

An Approach to Embedded Device Analysis for Network Defense

Kyle O’Meara

Analysis and defense of embedded devices, which includes the Internet of Things (IoT), is not always straightforward for network defenders and incident responders. Embedded devices are found in networks big, small, new, or established, which is changing the threat ecosystem of a network. The CERT Coordination Center proposed an initial methodology, the first of its kind, for vulnerability analysis that can be applied to any embedded device, to understand the threat and impacts to a network, and to best defend these devices on a network. This presentation will walk through our methodology, which includes embedded device list curation and identification, information gathering, firmware analysis, web application analysis, mobile application analysis, hardware analysis, and concluding with vulnerability analysis. In addition to the methodology, we also created an open source tool, called TROMMEL, to help incident responders, network defenders, and researchers during firmware analysis. This presentation
will discuss a streamlined and repeatable methodology to produce more comprehensive and actionable results when analyzing and defending embedded devices.


  • Defining Embedded Devices
  • Motivation
  • Introduction
  • Embedded Device Vulnerability Analysis Methodology
  • Applying this Methodology to Network Defense
  • Budget Concerns
  • Current Work
  • Conclusion

IT Security vs. Defensive Cyber Operations: The Evolution of CAF Cyber

Master Warrant Officer Alex Arndt

This presentation will explain the impact of the establishment of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security (CCCS) on the CAF and explain how the CAF is evolving in response. The difference between IT Security and Defensive Cyber Operations will be laid out, emphasizing how the Canadian Forces Network Operation Centre integrates into Government of Canada IT Security initiatives while fulfilling its mission. An update on the progress made on Cyber-related initiatives in the latest Canadian Defence Policy will also be provided.

Evolution of Computer Emergency Response Teams

Moderator: Chris Hallenbeck

Panelists: Nguyen Trong Duong, Pat Clow

This panel will discuss the evolving role of computer emergency response teams in the context of the changing cyber threat landscape faced by both government and private sector organizations. The panel will discuss the challenges of information sharing under the different legislative and legal frameworks the sectors work within and potential solutions that can be implemented within policy, response teams’ SOP’s, as well as opportunities for co-operation between organizations.

Topics to be discussed include new issues posed by technologies such as cloud computing, IoT and ICS threats as more organizations adapt to smart building accommodations, and threat vectors such as supply chain management attacks which are being increasingly exploited by threat actors for long term access to high value victims.

Securing Self-Driving Cars

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek

In the not too distant future, we'll live in a world where computers are driving our cars. Soon, cars may not even have steering wheels or brake pedals. But, in this scenario, should we be worried about cyber attack of these vehicles? In this talk, two researchers who have headed self-driving car security teams for multiple companies will discuss how self driving cars work, how they might be attacked, and how they can ultimately be secured.

How Stealthier Attacks are Blurring the Lines Between Cybercrime and Statecraft

Ken Lemay

Join CrowdStrike as we reveal some of the most alarming tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) being employed by today’s highly sophisticated adversaries. This session addresses the enhanced risks companies face, how organizations should leverage security capabilities and resources to best defend their assets and how a robust intelligence program separates the strong from the weak in operational security.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. The current global threat landscape and some of the latest cyber trends that have been uncovered by a team of elite intelligence professionals
  2. Some of the most advanced tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) utilized by nation-state actors, which are finding their way into mainstream criminality – these are an indicator of what to prepare for
  3. Best practice strategies you can implement to best protect your organization from increasingly sophisticated attacks

Advanced Russian Threat Actors Targeting the Financial Sector: The Sound of Silence

Dmitry Volkov and Nicholas Palmer

Silence is an advanced threat actor group which is constantly learning new tactics and techniques. Applying knowledge learned from security reports, other threat actors and potentially with a connection to the security industry, this group has proven to be a worthy adversary. In this talk, Dmitry Volkov, CTO and Co-Founder of Group-IB will provide a detailed overview of this group's TTP, how they were modified over time as well as what we can expect in the future from this group.

Artificial Intelligence versus Malware

Keith Rayle

Due to the wide range of readily-available resources for creating malicious payloads, such as coders for hire and Software as a Service, malware is an exponentially growing issue. Threat actors are able to rapidly assemble and deploy high volumes and varieties of malicious code to unsuspecting users. Current malware management models are simply overwhelmed or incapable of providing complete protection while reducing false positives toward that magical zero rate. During this session we will examine the history and workings of artificial intelligence. We will also explore a system comprised of highly efficient deep machine learning neural networks that are currently deployed to proactively defeat malware attacks against enterprises. We will then discuss the future of these systems and how they will be further leveraged into fighting cybercrime. AI is not just a concept or marketing buzz word - it is a functioning, operational game changer.

From the Trenches and Beyond: How NOT to do Intel Sharing

Chris Hallenbeck

Information sharing isn't as simple as telling what you know to others. When during an investigation should you share even if it might hurt your response efforts? Should you shout it from the rooftops, or only share with tight knit, trusted communities? Should you call out indicators as being specific to a given intrusion or attacker, or simply mix them in with other indicators of badness?

Starting with the US-CERT EWIN-11-077A in early 2011 we'll talk about vetting of information, circles of trust, timeliness, and appropriate(?) use of shared information. We'll touch on efforts to improve on information sharing during the NASDAQ and RSA responses. We'll pivot to the OPM intrusion, and wrap up by discussing GRIZZLY STEPPE and the DHS Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) program.

How to Succeed at Multinational Cyber Engagements

Christopher Spirito

Providing support to US partner nations and international agencies such as the UN and IAEA on developing cybersecurity capabilities and establishing multinational relationships requires addressing a special set of challenges. The central set of challenges that drive the success of these capacity building projects include: establishing a shared vocabulary and taxonomy that incorporates culture, language, and operational idiosyncrasies; understanding how to take overwhelmingly resource intensive best practices and apply them in severely resource constrained environments; and navigating how to establish healthy, productive relationships, with both friendly partners and with frenemies who we may need to work with in one domain (Nuclear) and compete with in another domain (Military).

Outsmarting Email Hackers Using AI and Machine Learning

Albert Kramer

Email hacking is a commonly used malicious tactic in our increasingly connected world. Cybercriminals compromise email accounts to enter the IT premises of an organization and carry out attacks ranging from fraud and spying to information and identity theft. Without effective security measures to stop email hacks, potential victims can suffer serious consequences.

Defending against threats in an encrypted world

William Young

In this session I will cover the trends and challenges regarding the use of encryption in enterprise and public networks, and how these trends align with the increased use of encryption by threat actors and malicious behavior. Current methods of traffic decryption will be described, along with the challenges these methods face with the advancement of TLS and non HTTP transport standards. Finally, an overview of new capabilities that can be brought to bear inside the network, cloud, and endpoint that can facilitate a new approach to these challenges.

Are You Ready for the Worst? Application Security Incident Response

Tanya Janca

No matter the size of your IT shop, if the first time you think about the security of the software is during a major incident, it’s not going to go well. I will teach developers and security teams to prepare for, manage, and hopefully prevent, application security incidents. Starting with preparation; do you have a proper application inventory? How do you manage your technology stack? Disaster Recover? Backup strategy? Do you have a WAF? Monitoring? Tools that are at the ready when the s* hits the fan? During an incident; who’s managing the incident? Do you know? What is triage? Who does the investigation? Do you have a “safe” place to do potentially destructive testing? This talk outlines an immediate plan for the audience to get started, with a list of open source tools the security team and/or developers will use to ensure that they are ready, for the worst.

The Unbearable Lightness of Failure

Dave Lewis

The 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche gave us his doctrine of the “eternal return”. This was the concept that everything in the universe is recurring and will continue to do so in perpetuity. But, what if we could step off that return? While Nietzsche was dealing with the meaning of existence, we can apply this to information security. We continue to witness failures recurring in the guise of data breaches and the like yet, we seem to accept it as the fabric of reality. We need to take the flat circle of time and put it on it’s edge and learn from our failures in such a way as to leverage them and embrace them to change the narrative.

Recent News

October 9th 2018

Cloud security issues are a key focus at this year’s COUNTERMEASURE IT Security Conference, with in depth training as well as key presentation from industry leaders. Graham Thompson, who participated in our 2017 cloud security panel discussion, leads an intensive three day training course, Cloud Security Fundamentals & FedRAMP. IBM’s Jeff Crume will be giving a keynote presentation on Security in the Clouds, and Teri Radichel will present on Top Priorities for Cloud Application Security. For institutions with a cloud infrastructure, these sessions should not be missed.

September 20th 2018

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek join our growing list of speakers at COUNTERMEASURE 2018.  Their presentation on Security Self-Driving Cars will explore the future security issues of this emerging sector. 

In the not too distant future, we'll live in a world where computers are driving our cars. Soon, cars may not even have steering wheels or brake pedals. But, in this scenario, should we be worried about cyber attack of these vehicles? In this talk, two researchers who have headed self-driving car security teams for multiple companies will discuss how self driving cars work, how they might be attacked, and how they can ultimately be secured.
You can view their presentations and those of our other speakers here.

Cancellation Policy

Substitutions can be made at any time. Unfortunately we cannot refund registration fees. Each course is subject to a minimum number of students. In the unlikely event that a course must be cancelled due to low enrolment, full refunds will be provided to registered students.

For more information on COUNTERMEASURE 2018, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or our office line at 613-725-2079.