Instead of its previous system, which gave those organizations the names of elementsa fairly neutral, scientificsounding system as these things goit will now give hacker groups twoword names, including in their description a weatherbased term indicating what country the hackers are believed to work on behalf of, as well as whether they’re statesponsored or criminal.
That means Phosphorous, an Iranian group that Microsoft reported this week has been targeting US critical infrastructure like seaports, energy companies, and transit systems, now has the lessthanfearsome name Mint Sandstorm.
It is all, frankly, a little embarrassingand to the average reader, lends reporting about cyber conflict about as much gravity as the playbyplay of a Pokmon card game.
A few days ago, Microsoft’s cybersecurity division announced it was changing the entire taxonomy of names it uses for the hundreds of hacker groups that it tracks.
They wreck businesses, sow chaos, disrupt critical infrastructure, support some of the world’s most harmful militaries and dictatorships, and help those governments spy on and oppress innocent people worldwide.
So why, when I write about these organized hacker groups as a cybersecurity reporter, do I find myself referring to them with cute pet names like Fancy Bear, Refined Kitten, and Sea Turtle
Why, when I interview different cybersecurity firms about a particular unit of Russian military intelligence hackers, do I have to internally translate that this company refers to Fancy Bear as Pawn Storm, while this one calls them Iron Twilight
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