Cyber Adversary Infrastructure Explained

Cyber threat actors rely on infrastructure hidden to most people not looking for it. Revealing such frameworks shines a light on how cyber adversaries operate.

Watch our video "Understanding Attacker Infrastructure"

  • Cyber attacks don’t happen in a vacuum: Threat actors require complex infrastructure to deploy malware and ransomware, carry out phishing campaigns, and conduct attacks on supply chains.
  • Cyber adversary infrastructure is hidden to those who don’t know how to look for it. But illuminating this infrastructure is the key to understanding how cyber attacks work.
  • The right kind of cyber protection solution stops threat actors early enough in the kill chain before company-damaging steps occur, rendering the attack futile. To achieve this, organizations must critically ensure their protection addresses the constantly changing and evolving techniques from nefarious actors by addressing their attacks at the source – the infrastructure behind them.

Leading an up-and-coming cybersecurity organization teaches you a few things — such as how cyber adversaries are able to conduct a growing number of cyber attacks.

Three of the Fortune 5 (plus a number of Fortune 500 companies), as well as critical infrastructure around the world use solutions built by HYAS. The reason is because they understand the importance of cybersecurity in a rapidly changing cyber landscape. There are more threats now than there have ever been before — an upward trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Most major threats to individuals, businesses and countries require adversary infrastructure. Cyber attacks ranging from malware and ransomware to phishing and supply chain attacks can cause devastating impact that ripples through society, and they all require communication with adversary infrastructure. Even new malwareless attacks require external communication with adversary infrastructure. Stopping attacks early enough in the kill chain requires both the visibility into this communication combined with a strong understanding of what is, and isn’t, adversary infrastructure.

What Is Cyber Adversary Infrastructure?

Everyone — both professionally and personally — receives phishing emails, which contain links that can cause harm if clicked on. Phishing attacks have been a threat for over two decades. More recently, we’ve all received examples of these on the mobile device as well, commonly called smishing for SMS-phishing.

Behind these simple emails and text messages with malicious links is a domain or some sort of infrastructure whether virtual or physical, and frequently a copycat website. Messages we receive may purport to come from an established bank, but that could be because bad actors have set the website up to look identical to the bank’s actual landing page, so that when someone clicks on the link, they’re none the wiser.

This is adversary infrastructure, and it’s set up in advance of a victim clicking a link to take advantage once they do.

First They’re Walking, Now They’re Talking

Malware, ransomware, and supply chain attacks all follow the same logic: a bad actor plants a digital “spy” inside an enterprise but still requires adversary infrastructure to be setup in advance

The initial infection could be via an email, on a physical USB stick, or through a compromised password, but the intention and outcome are the same: Once the spy has been planted, they can “walk around” the enterprise digitally — a process called lateral motion or movement, look for data to steal, and then escalate their attack.

How are threat actors able to move laterally via these planted spies and ultimately both exfiltrate and encrypt data? They communicate via instructions sent to the digital spy. The spy inside the compromised enterprise is on one end of this communication, and at the other end is the command-and-control (also known as C2) adversary infrastructure set up in advance by the threat actor.

Locating and Uncovering Threat Actor Infrastructure

The right security solution can identify the attack infrastructure as it is being built, providing organizations immediate visibility into what is going to happen. They are then able to take proactive action or otherwise block communication with this adversary infrastructure, perhaps even before the actual attack is launched, to render the eventual attack inert and protect themselves. HYAS solutions are predicated on this thesis. Our solutions collect unique, authoritative, and bespoke data from a variety of different sources, and organizes it into a graph database. This is special in two ways:

While it might sound fanciful, HYAS has data that other organizations — including cybersecurity-focused organizations — don’t have. A demonstration from HYAS will illustrate this. HYAS builds correlations and combinations between all the data points in the graph database which drive intelligence and ultimately decisions that link what has happened to what is happening now and what will happen in the future.

HYAS is fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and our data collection and graph database is underpinned by a targeted understanding of how cyber adversary infrastructure is set up, and therefore from where the data needs to be gathered.

Anyone can detonate a piece of malware and figure out that particular version of malware’s command-and-control, and ultimately update an allow-and-deny list. But only HYAS knows what else that domain may be connected to in the graph database, and thus has the ability to not just update a risk score and verdict for a particular domain, but for a set of interconnected domains and infrastructure across a complete campaign.

HYAS Is Changing the Game

Once you understand the nature of cyber adversary infrastructure, you know how to tackle it. No matter how malware gets into a network, the HYAS solution can detect, identify, and block it before damage can occur.

HYAS gives our clients and partners visibility. Data is power. They gain real-time information — along with improved speed and effectiveness — not just about threat detection, but how to enable true business resiliency.

HYAS is changing the way the market thinks about cyber defense and offense. With HYAS, you can spot telltale signs of attacks early in the kill chain before they explore your organization and cause damage. HYAS stays ahead of bad actors who constantly change their tactics, but whose infrastructure is recognizable, so organizations can stay ahead of threats, preempting attacks with proper protection. They are then able to focus on business operations and resiliency, instead of worrying about the potential damage that could occur.


Don’t wait to protect your organization against cyber threats. Move forward with HYAS today.

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