Consider the case where a set of independent servers is used to implement redundancy for some important data. The data is lost e.g. when all the servers lose their copy, but a redundancy procedure is in place so that whenever too many copies of the data are lost, new copies are made.

Now, say that an attacker has a slow way of infiltrating each server. It would be counterproductive to cause the loss of data on one server at a time, as it would be recovered and would make the owner of the data aware that an attack is ongoing. The best solution would rather be to stay silent until control of a sufficient amount of servers has been gained, and then deliver the attack simultaneously everywhere.

An example of this strategy can be seen in Season 1 of the series Mr. Robot.

I was wondering: does this strategy (infiltrating a system one component at a time until enough control has been gained to deliver a serious attack to the system) have a name? Is there any literature discussing it?

  • 1
    How about a "Sleeper Virus"? The term isn't specifically for taking over redundant servers working together, but instead represents the concept of infiltrating and "lying in wait" for further instructions or conditions to be met. This is what the attack you describe is essentially doing. – TTT Mar 23 '17 at 14:05

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