Whether they’re investigating financial crime, terrorism, or high-profile fraud, intelligence analysts bear the responsibility of unraveling digital threads, identifying threat actors, and ensuring the safety and security of critical systems. One invaluable tool in their arsenal is managed attribution, or the ability to control how the details of their devices, browsers, and browsing behavior are projected to websites they visit while gathering intelligence.
The question is, have your analysts been empowered to leverage managed attribution to its full potential? There are key differences between basic anonymization tools and true managed attribution, which allows organizations to blend in and conceal their work while performing sensitive research and investigations. To avoid being detected or exploited by your adversaries, understanding those differences is crucial.
Read on to learn more about the technical underpinnings of managed attribution, why many providers fall short of a truly effective managed attribution solution, and how ECS Argos empowers you to take control of your digital footprint and get the right information without revealing your organization’s intentions.
What is Managed Attribution?
Managed attribution refers to the deliberate control and manipulation of digital breadcrumbs, the virtual footprints everyone leaves behind when using the internet. Analysts may employ managed attribution to conduct investigations, to protect sensitive operations, sources, and methods, or to gather intelligence to attribute cyber threats accurately. In essence, it’s a finely tuned orchestration of technical maneuvers involving the strategic manipulation of indicators, such as IP addresses, domain registrations, and malware signatures, to create confusion and mislead cyber adversaries. Techniques like traffic shaping, virtual private networks (VPNs), and the deployment of decoy servers all help analysts strike a delicate balance — revealing just enough to gather intelligence while obscuring critical operational details.
Managed attribution serves as a linchpin for analysts, providing a shield behind which they can carry out their operations without fear of compromise. By effectively disguising their origin, analysts can infiltrate hostile digital environments, gather intelligence, and thwart cyber adversaries, all while preserving the integrity of their operations. For federal agencies in particular, this controlled veil of attribution empowers them to respond proactively to evolving cyber threats, safeguarding national security interests.
Is Your ManagedAttribution
One critical challenge that organizations seeking to implement managed attribution often face is the fact that, while many providers claim to offer effective managed attribution, the reality is more complicated.
Many off-the-shelf anonymization tools lack the sophistication required for true managed attribution. If your use of a managed attribution tool results in easily identifiable patterns that observant threat actors will notice and exploit, then it becomes self-defeating. Threat actors continually refine their techniques, meaning managed attribution providers must remain agile and continually adapt their tactics to counter emerging threats.
True managed attribution is multidimensional, going beyond just technical manipulation to encompass operational and strategic considerations, as well as an understanding of how threat actors think, behave, and react to digital cues. Disregarding these nuances risks undermining the effectiveness of managed attribution.
True Managed Attribution With ECS Argos
At ECS, we understand that intelligence research and analysis require exceedingly complex tradecraft. With ECS Argos — a secure platform for anonymously leveraging publicly available information, data science, and advanced analytics to produce actionable open-source intelligence — your analysts can perform sensitive research safely, securely, and effectively. Whether they’re conducting passive research into the surface-level web or accessing the deep web, they’ll be free to operate without revealing your organization’s identity or intent.
Argos managed attribution provides true camouflage within petabytes of internet traffic per day from thousands of private sector companies across the globe. Your analysts:
Are empowered to operate virtually and securely from more than 60 global egress points worldwide.
Take advantage of points-of-presence control menus, audit capabilities, advanced oversight/monitoring, and persistent data storage/index.
Operate within a customized proprietary browser with snip and notes capabilities.
See devices destroyed after sessions.