Category Archives: Cybersecurity

Email In Security Hot Seat

As technology evolves with the rise of the cloud and BYOD, so does the debate on keeping corporate information secure.

Many companies also require remote wiping capability on employee devices in case they are lost or stolen, plus communication encryption software. They also require employees not to use a single password for multiple sites, and some are forbidding passwords of a single word.

But Parris, who formerly held technical and sales management positions at Boeing Computer Services and founded Intercede, argues that securing email also requires identity management — a system that creates a digital identity for employees and other third parties connected to an enterprise, which will then track, “who is sending which email and information to whom, when and protecting it in transit and at rest.”

Even that will not ensure protection of the email, he said. “It must also be run on a secure platform that delivers tightly controlled policy to enforce data labeling, digital message signing, encryption and checking of the actual content.”

Jeff Wilson, principal analyst for security at Infonetics, agrees that an email management platform would help, since “most people are getting email on [multiple] mobile devices that could be lost, stolen, or compromised.”

But he noted a more basic problem for many companies: “They don’t even have an accurate inventory of devices connecting to their network or a framework for building a security policy and buying appropriate security solutions.”

Since email is the primary method of information sharing, enterprises must keep it secure, “to protect intellectual property and to compete in the global business environment,” Parris said.

Source: Email in security hot seat with rise of cloud, BYOD | Consumerization Of It – InfoWorld.

Hacking – The Card Game

 

An interesting and fun way to teach ethical hacking.

Control-Alt-Hack is based on Steve Jackson Games’ Ninja Burger, but from the characters to the mission cards to the entropy cards, the demystification of white hat computer security is the name of this game. Game co-designer, security researcher, and University of Washington Computer Security and Privacy Research Lab honorary member Adam Shostack said at the Black Hat 2012 confab here that when it comes to teaching ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking, not enough educators “use carrots, not sticks.”

“Humor creates an open atmosphere,” that helps break down the shyness of learning, he said during the conference session about the game. He explained that people are more likely to ask questions about things that they think they should’ve already learned if it’s part of a game.

Games, he noted, have a spectrum from being as easy to learn as Go or dice games, all the way through Dungeons and Dragons or Settlers of Catan. Choosing a game to base Control-Alt-Hack on that involved humor and a bit of complexity would help keep the subject matter interesting for the target audience of teens and young adults.

In Control-Alt-Hack, you work as a researcher for a computer security company that gets hired to stress-test other companies. The deck of 156 cards includes 16 “person” cards to give you an identity during the game. The characters were given realistic traits, so there are no stereotypes of the obese, unkempt researcher covered in potato chip debris and pizza grease. Instead, you can play as one of eight men or eight women who have interests as varied as martial arts or rock climbing, and all are snazzily dressed in their artwork.

Source: Hacking, the card game, debuts at Black Hat | Security & Privacy – CNET News.

Look for it on store shelves later this year.

 

150 Ways To Bypass Web Application Firewalls In One Tool

 

A tool for testing if Web application firewalls (WAFs) are vulnerable to around 150 protocol-level evasion techniques was released at the Black Hat USA 2012 security conference on Wednesday.

The tool and the research that went into its creation are the work of Ivan Ristic, director of engineering at security vendor Qualys and the original author of the popular ModSecurity Web application firewall.

Web application firewalls are designed to protect Web applications from known attacks, such as SQL injection attacks, that are commonly used to compromise websites. They do this by intercepting requests sent by clients and enforcing strict rules about their formatting and payload.

However, there are various methods for sneaking malicious requests that violate these rules past WAFs by modifying certain parts of their headers or the paths of requested URLs. These are known as protocol-level evasion techniques, and WAFs are not properly equipped to deal with them at the moment because the techniques are not very well documented, Ristic said.

The researcher tested the evasion techniques he found primarily against ModSecurity, an open source Web application firewall, but it’s reasonable to assume that other WAFs are vulnerable to some of them as well.

In fact, Ristic said he shared a few of the techniques with others during the research stage and that they had tested them successfully against some commercial WAF products.

Erwin Huber Dohner, head of research and development at Switzerland-based WAF vendor Ergon Informatik, confirmed after seeing Ristic’s presentation that the evasion methods are a problem for the industry.

Source: Tool released at Black Hat contains 150 ways to bypass Web application firewalls | Security – InfoWorld.

The question is will this public release of research kick-start a discussion as Mr. Ristic hopes?

 

Hacking Alive and Well When It Comes To iOS

 

The dark art of iOS app hacking presented at Black Hat.

 

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There are three ways to hack an iOS app. One involves a zero-day exploit, a previously-unknown security hole. These are rare but not unheard of for iOS apps. The other two involve getting physical access to the phone, Zdziarski said.

“You can infect the phone without a passphrase. The virus or bit of code sits on the phone, waiting for the user to unlock it.” Or, he explained, “Give me two minutes with somebody’s phone and I can dump the entire file system from it.” From there, he said he could look at apps for an exploit to take advantage of remotely.

He argued that this could become a serious problem as iPhones and iPads continue to increase in popularity. Enterprise use of iOS is growing, he said, as is government use.

 

All due to a double-edged sword.

 

The problem, Zdziarski explained, comes from the double-edged sword that is the iOS monoculture. It has benefits, he said, including a reduced attack surface, rapid prototyping, and fewer holes to blame on the developer. But, he added, its homogeneous attack surface means that if you can hack one iOS device, you can hack nearly all. (While it’s true that there are different versions of iOS in use, there are significantly fewer than the different flavors of Android.)

Zdziarski noted that security has become an afterthought for iOS app developers, since they’re trusting Apple’s iOS Keychain and runtime to be secure. Keychain is the iOS feature that stores passwords, certificates, and other security-related items under encryption. “Anybody with freely available open source tools can get around that encryption now,” said Zdziarski, who said the encryption has been busted for two years. Zdziarski also showed how he didn’t even have to have the passcode to an iPhone to break its encryption. With a phone in his possession, he was able to drop a small piece of code from his computer onto the otherwise-locked phone. The code sits on the iPhone idle until the owner enters in the passcode, decrypting the file system and giving the malicious code access to the entire file system. “Developers are not turning on the encryption for most of their apps, and most users defer to a four-digit PIN, or a simple keyboard friendly passphrase.” So, although the phone’s operating system may be protected, the level of data security on the phone presumes that iOS won’t be hacked.

Source: iOS app hacking alive and well | The Download Blog – CNET Download.com.

 

A great illustration of how developers need to understand the need for security trumps all.

 

 

 

Easy Cracking of Microsoft Crypto

Another day, another set of cracking tools.

Cryptography specialist Moxie Marlinspike released tools at Defcon today for easily cracking passwords in wireless and virtual private networks that use a popular encryption protocol based on an algorithm from Microsoft called MS-CHAPv2, news that will no doubt worry many a network administrator.The tools crack WPA2 Wi-Fi Protected Access and VPN passwords used by corporations and organizations running networks that are protected by the PPTP Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, which uses MS-CHAPv2 for authentication.ChapCrack captures the MS-CHAPv2 handshakes, or SSL Secure Sockets Layer negotiation communications, and converts them to a token that can be submitted to CloudCracker.It takes less than a day for the service to return results in the form of another token that is plugged back into ChapCrack where the DES Data Encryption Standard keys are cracked. With that data, someone can see all of the information traveling across the Wi-Fi network, including sensitive corporate e-mails and passwords, and use passwords that were revealed to log in to corporate networks.The tools are designed for penetration testers and network auditors to use to check the security of their WPA2 protected networks and VPNs, but they may well be used by people who want to steal data and get unauthorized access to networks.

Source: Tools boast easy cracking of Microsoft crypto for businesses | Security & Privacy – CNET News.

Yet another reason for businesses that haven’t done so yet to move beyond PPTP and Windows XP

When Making a Wi-Fi connection …

Some great advice and tips to follow when connecting your computer via Wi-Fi.

It’s a good idea to connect to public networks that require passwords when possible, as they tend to be more secure. Many public networks have a legal disclaimer stating network use and security. It pays to read these before connecting.

Turn Wi-Fi off We don’t mean you should turn your Wi-Fi off permanently, rather, when you’re not using your device, or are connected to another network, e.g., mobile data, turn your Wi-Fi connection off. If you have Wi-Fi on while connected to another network, your device can and will actively search for networks to connect to and often connect to an unsecure network, unintentionally exposing your information.

Use HTTPS when possible HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol with Secure Sockets Layer SSL. In layman’s terms this is a website that has been built with security of user’s data in mind. Many popular websites have a HTTPS version that can be accessed by typing in https://www.sitename.com. Using HTTPS makes websites a lot harder to hack, and it’s a good idea to get into the habit of using them when on a public network or connected to Wi-Fi outside of the office.

Use data not public hotspots Hotspots are public Wi-Fi connections usually provided by a company e.g., many coffee shops have Wi-Fi, this is a hotspot. These can be unsafe, so it’s much better to invest in a data connection for your device, or a mobile Internet stick, which are considerably safer as the data is encrypted before it’s transferred from the cell tower to your device.

Use a VPN A Virtual Private Network – VPN – connects multiple computers in different locations to the same network via the Internet. Many companies use this to connect and share data with satellite offices, as the data is encrypted and secure. The main benefit to VPNs is that you can connect to a public Wi-Fi network, and transfer data securely using the network’s bandwidth. Many businesses use some form of VPN, which makes it easy for you to keep your business data secure while out of the office.

There are also VPNs that allow you to securely access the Internet via a public Wi-Fi connection, while encrypting all data sent and making your computer anonymous.

Source: Beware when connecting to Wi-Fi – Wausau, Eau Claire, Green Bay | Network Solutions of Wisconsin.

The key is to make it as difficult as possible for someone to hack into your computer.

NIST Updates Guidelines for Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices allow workers, including government employees, to work in multiple locations and to improve their efficiency. But the same features that make these devices desirable make them a security challenge. Mobile

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devices can easily be lost or stolen, and users may be tempted to download nonsecure apps that might conceal “malware” that could be used to steal confidential data. Since security is minimal for mobile devices, a thief can retrieve sensitive data directly from the device, or use the phone or tablet to access an organization’s computer network remotely.

The revised guidelines recommend using a software technology that centralizes device management at the organization level to secure both agency-issued and personally owned devices that are used for government business. Centralized programs manage the configuration and security of mobile devices and provide secure access to an organization’s computer network. They are typically used to manage the smart phones that many agencies issue to staff. The new NIST guidelines offer recommendations for selecting, implementing, and using centralized management technologies for securing mobile devices.

“Mobile devices need to support multiple security objectives: confidentiality, integrity and availability, so they need to be secured against a variety of threats,” explains co-author and NIST guest researcher Karen Scarfone.

Source: NIST Updates Guidelines for Mobile Device Security | DFI News.

What are your thoughts on the proposed update? 

“Do you need a honeypot?”

An interesting argument on how honeypots are an important key in the security arsenal.

Let’s start at the beginning, what is a honeypot? Put simply, it is a machine that is designed to tempt any unknowing attacker to target it, whilst being configured to trace the origins of the attacker and identify them. However, this can lead to the perception that honeypots can be a quagmire of risk and liability, as well as raising understandable concerns about willingly allowing an attacker to access your system under your control.

However, there are many forms of honeypots, and they can be used in many different ways. The idea of the honeypot as merely a host designed to be breached; sitting on the perimeter of your network is far from the whole picture. Let’s take a look over some different uses of honeypot style systems and consider their place in a well-equipped enterprise security program.

Building a fully-functional and interactive honeypot that resembles a real production system can be a daunting task, replete with risk (you would be, after all, building a machine with the intention of it falling
under the control of an attacker) but there are many other levels of honeypots before this level of complexity, and all of them present value to security monitoring.

Source: Do you need a honeypot?.

Very informative descriptions of some of the honeypot methods that are out there for use by organizations. As Conrad Constantine points out:

The use of honeypots, like everything in information security, is always evolving and the technique has a lot of potential to disrupt attackers by wasting their time and resources, directing them away from their true targets and forcing them to reveal themselves.

How to Break Into Security

Excellent interview over at “Krebs on Security” with security rock star, Christian Schneier.

First, know that there are many subspecialties in computer security. You can be an expert in keeping systems from being hacked, or in creating unhackable software. You can be an expert in finding security problems in software, or in networks. You can be an expert in viruses, or policies, or cryptography. There are many, many opportunities for many different skill sets. You don’t have to be a coder to be a security expert.

In general, though, I have three pieces of advice to anyone who wants to learn computer security:

Read the entire interview:  How to Break Into Security, Schneier Edition — Krebs on Security.

“Cybercrime moves to the cloud”

Proof that there is always risk with technology despite advances.

The same flexibility and freedom companies get from having their software and services hosted in the cloud is enabling cybercriminals to conduct highly automated online banking theft — without doing much of the necessary information processing on their victims’ own computers.Security and privacy experts have long worried that criminals would launch attacks on the servers storing the data in cloud environments. But, a report released this week from McAfee and Guardian Analytics shows that criminals are now using the cloud infrastructure itself to get more capability out of their campaigns.”They are leveraging the cloud,” Brian Contos, senior director of emerging markets at McAfee, said in an interview. “This is the first time we’ve ever seen this.”

Read all the details:  Cybercrime moves to the cloud | Security & Privacy – CNET News.

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