Blog Archives

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.

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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

logo of National Institute of Standards and Te...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Computer Security Tips

Some great basic tips for the average user to protect your computer:

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English: A candidate icon for Portal:Computer security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Firstly, the most important computer security tip is to have anti virus software. These programs will not let your data be lost in case some viruses enter your system. They make backup files as well which allows you to retrieve any files that you lose. However, make sure that the anti virus you use is good software. Do not settle for any substandard program for it may harm your PC instead of doing any good to it.

Another very important point pertaining to computer security is that you should not open attachments with emails which you receive from unknown senders. Many of these emails are intended with the purpose of transferring viruses into your system. They can damage your files or the entire computer so better not open them.

Using strong passwords is also a very important tip to secure your computer. You should use long passwords with a mixture of digits and alphabets so that they cannot be easily hacked.

via it’s all About Computers

One major addition to this list that I would make is:

Change your user account so that it is NOT an Administrator account.

“Top sites are covertly cramming cookies down users’ throats”

If you don’t like cookies …

“The number of websites that allow visitors to be tracked by third parties may be surprising to some, but as consumers begin to understand that their online behavior can be recorded, enterprises will have to work even harder to ensure that consumers’ privacy expectations are met,” said Ray Everett, Keynote’s director of privacy services.

According to Keynote, much of the data that companies collect via cookies is used for behavioral advertising. Third-party trackers place cookies to track a user’s clicks and path through the Web and to know what a visitor buys at any given site.

The problem here is, users don’t have a clear way of knowing which third parties are planting cookies, how they’re using the data they collect (beyond, say, providing more expensive travel offers to Mac users), or how well those third parties are protecting potentially sensitive data. Given that users are becoming increasingly concerned about their online privacy, site operators may feel greater pressure from customers, advocacy groups, and the feds to do a better job.

Consider this:

Looking at the 2,500 most popular websites, the researchers discovered that 87 percent had cookies and found a total of 442,055 cookies in all.

In other words there’s lots of baking and distributing of cookies going on.

Read more:  Top sites are covertly cramming cookies down users’ throats | Internet privacy – InfoWorld.

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.

“The firewall threat you don’t know”

Are you placing active filters on data leaving?

Simulação da participação de um Firewall entre...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The purpose of a firewall has been burned into the head of just about every person who uses the Internet, and the thought of functioning without protection from the bad people is sheer lunacy.

However, nearly all firewalls are unidirectional. They may protect you from nefarious pokes and prods from the nether regions of the Internet, but they’ll happily ship out any data you send from the inside. Only at the higher levels of enterprise IT do you see active filters for data leaving the network.

Paul Venezia makes a great point at the end:

As in so many facets of IT, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The
quest for true network security and visibility is an ongoing struggle,
and even with all the notice in the world, there’s no winning this arms
race. But that doesn’t mean we can just quit. If you’re not watching
your outbound traffic now, plan on doing so as soon as possible. Whether
you start with something as “simple” as NTop or go for the big guns like the NIKSUN device, it’s a worthwhile investment of time and money — kinda like firewalls.

Read more at:  The firewall threat you don’t know | Data Center – InfoWorld.

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