Chapter 2The Attacker

You're gonna need a bigger boat.

—Jaws

The offense is routinely underestimated. When companies are hacked, they react as if they had only done this one thing or avoided this one mistake everything would have been okay. The adversary is treated as if they just got lucky. So another hole is patched, another finger put into the dike, and the exploited company continues onward, utterly surprised the next time it is hacked.

The offense is routinely overestimated. When companies are hacked, they react as if it was inevitable, that no amount of effort could have prevented it. They resign themselves to cleaning up the mess and waiting for the next time, secure in the hopeless certainty there will be a next time.

The truth is that the offense is neither lucky nor invincible, but they are successful. To break their winning streak, you must step back and understand the attacker and the nature of operations. The same is true for the opposite motivation: If people want to extend the winning streak and attack more effectively, they must understand how they are guided and restricted by the first principles of Computer Network Exploitation (CNE).

Principle of Humanity

CNE is grounded in human nature.

The attacker is a person or a group of people. The attacker may be a lone actor, a well-ordered hierarchy, or a loose conglomeration of thousands, but regardless the attacker is human. For this reason, from now on this book uses the proper noun “Attacker” as a reminder ...

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