Word Notes 1.19.21
Ep 33 | 1.19.21

APT side hustle (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: APT side hustle.

Rick Howard: Spelled: APT as in nation state hacking group; side as in secondary activity; and hustle as in a con or a swindle.

Rick Howard: Definition: A nation state hacking group's practice of funding its own activities through cybercrime or cyber mercenary work.

Rick Howard: Example sentence: The advisory group Pioneer Kitten, also known as Fox Kitten and Parasite, is running an APT side hustle: their day gig is spying for Iran, but they fund their operations by selling access to compromised networks.

Rick Howard: Origin and context: It is unknown when the first nation state hacking group used a side hustle to fund its own operations, but one of the first was the Lazarus Group out of North Korea, also known as APT37, Hidden Cobra, Zinc and many other colorful names, this group is thought to be behind the hacks of Sony Pictures, WannaCry, and lesser known attacks against South Korea. But they have also gone after financial targets like stealing $81 million dollars from the Bangladesh Central Bank, extorting hospitals with ransomware, compromising digital currency exchanges like Bitcoin and Monero, and according to John Hultquist at FireEye, have become cyber mercenaries for hire, but they are not alone. To fund the command and control infrastructure used to support the cyber campaign against the U.S. Democratic National Committee in 2016, Unit 26165 of the Russian GRU's 85th Main Special Service Center, also known as Fancy Bear, mined $95,000 dollars of Bitcoin, which is not illegal, but according to the FBI indictment, attempted to launder the money through a web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies. China plays in the side hustle box, too. APT27, also known as Bronze Union and Emissary Panda, conducted ransomware attacks in 2020 that targeted at least five companies in the online gambling sector.

Rick Howard: Nerd Reference: In the 2012 James Bond movie "Skyfall," Daniel Craig reprises his role as 007 with a host of other award winning actors like Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. The bad guy Silva, played by Javier Bardem, an Academy Award winner for his best supporting role in "No Country for Old Men," explains the APT side hustle this way,

Javier Bardem: “If you wanted, you could pick your own secret missions, as I do, hmm, name it. Name it. Destabilize a multinational by manipulating stocks, but easy. Interrupt transmissions from a spy satellite over Kabul. Done. Rig an election in Uganda, all to the highest bidder. Or a gas explosion in London.”