Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Signatures of a Cyber Attack

Scouring malware code in search of the hacker’s John Hancock.
May 1, 2017
Malicious code often looks just like ordinary code

Malicious code often looks just like ordinary code, so cyber experts have to dive deep to understand how to detect malware—hopefully before it causes problems.

Instead of just blocking malware, Los Alamos researchers are studying it.

Sophisticated, large-scale cyber attacks on specific organizations—such as Sony Pictures, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Democratic National Committee—have shown the potential for extensive, lasting damage through stealing trade secrets or confidential information. Coordinated attacks like these are called advanced persistent threats (APTs), and to companies and government institutions alike, they are a significant adversary.

APTs are constantly evolving as the hackers are regularly trying new tactics, so cyber experts must learn how to spot them in an ever-changing threat landscape. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, computer scientists are not only working to guard their own information, they have also created a world-class research program to study these types of threats and improve protection strategies for everyone.