Client Calls HoneyPoint a “No Lose” Deployment

One of the clients we were working with recently wanted me to share their thoughts on deploying HoneyPoint Security Server with the blog audience.

His company recently installed the HoneyPoint Security Server suite into their network. Their management teams were a little nervous, at first, that offering a honeypot to attackers might attract bad people to their networks. But, when the security team explained that these were going to be simply deployed on the INTERNAL networks and not visible from the Internet, so someone would already have to be inside the network to see them, they gained approval. The security team explained that they planned to use HoneyPoint as a supplement to their existing perimeter network IDS, and their log monitoring tools.

The security team convinced their immediate manager of the HoneyPoint product by describing it as a “No Lose” product to deploy. If they dropped in the HoneyPoint Agents and captured bad actors or malware moving in the network, they would win by identifying existing compromises. If they dropped in HoneyPoint and never got a hit at all, they would win, and could tell the management that even upon closer examination with the new detection tools, the network seemed to be clean of malware and overt attacker activity. This, in combination with the other forms of detection and reporting they were doing would further strengthen their position with management that the security team was remaining vigilant. 

In the end, the team observed a few pieces of malware within the first 90 days and quickly eliminated the infections. They then began to plan on deploying HoneyPoint Agent into a malware black hole, in coordination with their internal DNS team. As of this writing, the deployment in the new position should go live within 30 days. In most cases, teams using HoneyPoint in this fashion quickly identify other more deeply hidden malware. The security team looks forward to leveraging the data from the HoneyPoint black hole to clean the environment more aggressively.

So, there you have it. Another client strikes a win with HoneyPoint. You can learn more about this “No Lose” product by getting in touch with your MSI account executive. You can also find more information by clicking here. 

Best Practices for DNS Security

I wanted to share with you a great FREE resource that I found on the Cisco web site that details a great deal of information about DNS and the best practices around securing it. While, obviously, the content is heavy on Cisco products and commands, the general information, overview and many of the ideas contained in the article are very useful for network and security admins getting used to the basics of DNS.

Additionally, there are great resources listed, including several free/open source tools that can be used to manage and monitor DNS servers. 

If you are interested in learning more about DNS or need a quick refresher, check this article out. 

You can find it here.

Several other resources are available around the web, but this seems to be one of the best summaries I have seen. As always, thanks for reading and let me know on Twitter (@lbhuston) if you have other favorite resources that you would like to share.

Guest Post: More on BYOD

As the world of computers, mobile devices, and technology in general, continue to exponentially evolve, so too must our need and desire to secure our communications, our data, and to that end our privacy. There is hardly a day that goes by anymore that we don’t hear of some major security breach of a large corporation, but this also directly impacts the individual. We have to make a concerted effort to protect our information – particularly on our mobile devices. Our mobile devices are inherently difficult to secure because they send their data over WiFi, which is susceptible to man-in-the middle attacks. We must pursue the security of our data on our mobile devices passionately. People nowadays carry so much private and more importantly valuable information on them that we just absolutely have to protect it. Particularly in this age of BYOD (bring your own device) to work. An even more difficult realm for the infosecurity folks trying to protect their networks. How does one protect a device on a network from malicious intent? How does one keep viruses, Trojans and worms off of the networks when everyone seems to be plugged in to their devices? This article intends to describe some steps that one can take to protect their mobile device both locally by encrypting the mobile device itself and also by utilizing apps that help to secure their email and telemobile device conversations from malevolence.  

 

As noted on the previous article on State of Security released on June 17, 2014, Brent recently discussed 3 tips for BYOD, which were to get these devices off of the production networks, teach people about mobile device security, and finally use what you already have to your advantage when it comes to your own architecture when developing BYOD policies and processes.

 

There are numerous steps that the IT folks can take to help secure their networks in this age of BYOD as mentioned in our previous article, but there are also some very simple and usefultips that we can all follow that will help us in protecting our mobile devices too.

 

Every company should have policies in place regarding the use and misuse of BYOD devices. This must include encryption of the data and remote wiping of the data if the device is lost or stolen, (such as Find my iMobile device, Android Lost, Mobile Security, and Autowipe,). Assuming the BYOD device is under the company’s control.  If not then as  mentioned in the previous article getting these devices off of the production network is a must. Every  company should at least require authentication and hopefully two-factor authentication of the device.  This would allow the organization some degree of control when it comes to resetting passwords, locking the device when it’s not in use, logging, etc. If it’s not, then asking employees to adhere and sign a code of conduct with regard to their device is a must, as well as periodic employee education. A quick Google search will reveal apps that can help with two-factor authentication too. Such as RSA Secure Alternative, SMS passcode, and Duosecurity.

 

The next step is to encrypt the mobile device itself upon ending your session. Thereby protecting your information from even the apps that you currently having running on the mobile device itself. All apps go through an approval process where they are tested, validated and checked for security, but there have been times where an app passed through such a process and still contained malicious code that sent back stolen personal information to the attacker. This is a particular issue in the Android market. Companies such as Cryptanium and Arxan offer integrity protection, jailbreak detection, anti-debug detection and reverse engineering protection. So if a attacker does manage to get ahold of your device it makes it much more tamper resistant. 

 

Apps that offer encrypted communication such as voice, video, text and/or file transfers are also a consideration. Silent Circle, Redmobile device and Whisper Systems offer such encrypted communication for a fee. Wickr and Cryptocat do this too, but are free. If you are just interested in encrypted text messages (SMS) then perhaps Babel, Whisper, or Akario is for you.

 

In today’s mobile device market there are a plethora of apps many of which do what they describe when it comes to helping to protect our information. Yet as with anything else if there is a will, there is a way, this is particularly true for those that mean to steal our information. If they have a desire to acquire your information they will make a concerted effort to try to extract it from your device. It is up to us to make it as difficult as possible for them to ever get it. For now there does’t seem to be a lot of apps that actually encrypt all of your information locally to the mobile device. Or if it does offer some degree of encryption then it does so over a potentially vulnerable, networked platform. In short there is no single magic bullet that will encrypt all of your mobile devices data and communications for free, but there are some out there for a fee will offer to do so. The other issue that arises is if you use said company do they have access to the information that you were trying to protect in the first place. What’s to keep a rogue employee from accessing your data? All of this can make your head spin. The moral of the story is to make good choices, use your common sense and don’t put anything on a mobile device that you aren’t willing to share with others. Be safe out there.

 

About Preston:

Preston Kershner is new to the info-security family, where he has a variety of lateral interests in topics such as cybersecurity, information security, incident handling and response, computer forensics and malware analysis. Preston has been in the medical field for over 20 years and is currently transitioning into the infosec community. When not being an information junkie, Preston enoys spending time with his family. He also enjoys learning everything he can about astrobiology (the search for exoplanets that have a potential to habour life). You can follow Preston as he continues to expand his knowledge and experience in these realms at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/preston-kershner/3a/493/965/ & follow him on Twitter (@redman7373).

 

About Brent:

Brent Huston is the Security Evangelist and CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. He spends a LOT of time breaking things, including the tools/techniques and actors of crime. When he is not focusing his energies on chaos & entropy, he sets his mind to the order side of the universe where he helps organizations create better security processes, policies and technologies. He is a well recognized author, surfer, inventor, sailor, trickster, entrepreneur and international speaker. He has spent the last 20+ years dedicated to information security on a global scale. He likes honeypots, obscure vulnerabilities, a touch of code & a wealth of data. He also does a lot of things that start with the letter “s”. You can learn more about his professional background here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lbhuston & follow him on Twitter (@lbhuston).

 

Disclaimer:

It should be noted that some of the apps are free, some apps are cloud-based, some are open source and some are at a cost to the consumer. In no way do we endorse the applications in this article. 


Social Engineering Even Exists in the Animal World

OK, so we have all read about birds that social engineer other birds into raising their young, and maybe you’ve even seen the TV special about it. But, this picture brings to mind a lesson in social engineering, thanks to our friends in the animal world. It all comes down to confidence, doesn’t it? :)

I am pretty sure that one of these things is not like the other. Would your security team spot the difference? How about your users?

Credit: The first time I saw the pic, it was here, just in case you want to use it for awareness training. — Thanks to @robertjbennett for the pic!

NewImage

ATM Attacks are WEIRD

So this week, while doing some TigerTrax research for a client, I ran into something that was “new to me”, but apparently is old hat for the folks focused on ATM security. The attacks against ATMs run from the comical, like when would-be thieves leave behind cell phones, license plates or get knocked out by their own sledge hammers during their capers to the extremely violent – attacks with explosives, firearms and dangerous chemicals. But, this week, my attention caught on an attack called “Plofkraak”. 

In this attack, which is apparently spreading around the world from its birth in Eastern Europe, an ATM is injected with high levels of flammable gas. The attackers basically tape up all of the areas where the gas could easily leak out, and then fill the empty spaces inside the ATM with a common flammable gas. Once the injection is completed, the gas is fired by the attacker, causing an explosion that emanates from INSIDE the ATM.

The force of the explosion tears the ATM apart, and if the attackers are lucky, cracks open the safe that holds the money, allowing them to make off with the cash and deposits. Not all attackers are lucky though, and some get injured in the blast, fail to open the safe and even torch the money they were seeking. However, the attack is cheap, fast, and if the ATM doesn’t have adequate safeguards, effective.

The collateral damage from an attack of this type can be pretty dangerous. Fires, other explosions and structural damages have been linked to the attack. Here is an example of what one instance looked like upon discovery. 

Some ATM vendors have developed counter measures for the attack, including gas sensors/neutralizing chemical systems, additional controls to prevent injection into the core of the machine, hardening techniques for the safe against explosions and other tricks of the trade. However, given the age of ATM machines in the field and their widespread international deployment, it is obvious that a number of vulnerable systems are likely to be available for the criminals to exploit.

While this is a weird and interesting technique, it did give me some reminders about just how creative and ambitious criminals can be. Even extending that into Information Security, it never ceases to amaze me how creative people will get to steal. Spend some time today thinking about that. What areas of your organization might be vulnerable to novel attacks? Where are the areas that a single failure of a security control could cause immense harm? Make a note of those, and include them in your next risk assessment, pen-test or threat modeling exercise.

Don’t forget, that just like the inventors of Plofkraa”, attackers around the world are working on the odd, novel and unexpected attack vector. Vigilance is a necessary skill, and one we need more of, in infosec. As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe out there! 

Spend Your First Hour Back the Right Way – Go Malware Hunting!

So, you’ve been out of the office for a quick holiday break or vacation. Now you face a mountain of emails and whole ton of back-logged tasks. Trust me, put them aside for one hour.

Instead of smashing through emails and working trouble tickets, spend an hour and take a look around your environment – go hunting – target malware, bots and backdoors. At a macro level, not a micro level. Were there an abnormal number of trouble tickets, outbound connections, AV alerts, IDS and log entries while you were gone? What does egress look like during that period? Were there any abnormal net flows, DNS anomalies or network issues that would indicate scans, probes or tampering on a larger scale?

Spend an hour and look for high level issues before you dig into the micro. Read some logs. See what might be getting lost in your return to work overwhelm. It is not all that uncommon for attackers to use holidays and vacations as windows of opportunity to do their nasty business.

Don’t fall victim to the expected overwhelm. Instead, use it as a lens to look for items or areas that correlate to deeper concerns. You might just find that hour invested to be the one that makes (or breaks) your career in infosec.

Good luck and happy hunting!

PS – Thanks to Lee C. for the quick edits on 7/4/14.

CMHSecLunch is July 14th @ Tuttle Mall

Just a quick reminder to save the date for CMHSecLunch this month. It is July 14th at 11:30am at the Tuttle Mall Food Court. We are usually pretty close to the giant germ ball fountain, and the Tuttle event is usually pretty well attended. 

Come out and beat the summer heat, hang out, meet old and new friends and have some food.

We hope to see you there! 

As always, you can RSVP if desired (not needed) or learn more by clicking here. 

Bring a friend, attendance is FREE and open to everyone!

Touchdown Task for June: Document Cleanup

With the beginning of a new fiscal year on the immediate horizon for many, it reminds us that it’s time to clean up our books and our filing. And by that we mean both our digital and physical files! If you don’t already have a written document retention policy, one needs to be drafted. It should be tailored to your business needs and meet the requirements identified in local, state or federal laws and regulations that apply to your particular industry. 

As a part of your document retention plan, you will establish a document retention schedule of what to keep and for how long. Once you have this identified, it’s time to dive into the files, both paper and electronic, to see what should be properly destructed. 

It is critical that paper documents are either incinerated or shredded. Electronic files must be properly sanitized and purged. Purging can be accomplished a variety of secure erasing tools. A quick Google will turn up several free or low cost solutions. Clearing electronic data is often accomplished by overwriting existing data using software that incorporates a fixed sequence of characters. 
Whatever the processes are that you elect to perform, it is imperative that you stick to the schedule and destroy your documents per your written guidelines in your document retention policy.

Thanks to Teresa West for this post.

The Big Three Part 2: Incident Detection

Did you know that less than one out of five security incidents are detected by the organization being affected? Most organizations only find out they’ve experienced an information security incident when law enforcement comes knocking on their door, if they find out about it at all, that is. And what is more, security compromises often go undetected for months and months before they are finally discovered. This gives attackers plenty of time to get the most profit possible out of your stolen information, not to mention increasing their opportunities for further compromising your systems and the third party systems they are connected to.

Of the Big Three strategies for fighting modern cyber-crime, (incident detection, incident response and user education and awareness), incident detection is by far the hardest one to do well. This is because information security incident detection is not a simple process. No one software package or technique, no matter how expensive and sophisticated, is going to detect all security events (or even most of them to be completely honest). To be just adequate to the task, incident detection requires a lot of input from a lot of systems, it requires knowledge of what’s supposed to be on your network and how it works, it requires different types of security incident detection software packages working together harmoniously and, most importantly, it requires human attention and analysis.

First of all, you need complete sources of information. Even though it can seem to be overwhelming, it behooves us to turn on logging for everything on the network that is capable of it. Many organizations don’t log at the workstation level for example. And you can see their point; most of the action happens at the server and database level. But the unfortunate reality is that serious security compromises very often begin with simple hacks of user machines and applications.

Next, you need to be aware of all the software, firmware and hardware that are on your network at any given time. It is very difficult to monitor and detect security incidents against network resources that you aren’t even aware exist. In fact, I’ll go a step further and state that you can improve your chances of detection significantly by removing as much network clutter as possible. Only allow the devices, applications and services that are absolutely necessary for business purposes to exist on your network. The less “stuff” you have, the fewer the attack surfaces cyber-criminals have to work with and the easier it is to detect security anomalies.

The third thing that helps make information security incident detection more manageable is tuning and synchronizing the security software applications and hardware in your environment. We often see organizations that have a number of security tools in place on their networks, but we seldom see one in which all of the output and capabilities of these tools have been explored and made to work together. It is an unfortunate fact that organizations generally buy tools or subscribe to services to address particular problems that have been brought to their attention by auditors or regulators. But then the situation changes and those tools languish on the network without anyone paying much attention to them or exploring their full capabilities. Which brings to the most important factor in security incident detection: human attention and analysis.

No tool or set of tools can equal the organizational skills and anomaly detection capabilities of the human brain. That is why it is so important to have humans involved with and truly interested in information security matters. It takes human involvement to ensure that the security tools that are available are adequate to the task and are configured correctly. It takes human involvement to monitor and interpret the various outputs of those tools. And it takes human involvement to coordinate information security efforts among the other personnel employed by the organization. So if it comes down to spending money on the latest security package or on a trained infosec professional, I suggest hiring the human every time! 

—Thanks to John Davis for this post!

3 Tips for BYOD

I wanted to take a few moments to talk about 3 quick wins you can do to help better deal with the threats of BYOD. While much has been said about products and services that are emerging around this space, I wanted to tack back to 3 quick basics that can really help, especially in small and mid-size organizations.

1. Get them off the production networks - an easy and often cheap quick win is to stand up a wireless network or networks that are completely (logically and physically) separated from your production networks. Just giving folks an easy and secure way to use their devices at the office may be enough to get keep them off of your production networks. Back this up with a policy and re-issue reminders periodically about the “guest network”. Use best practices for security around the wifi and egress, and you get a quick and dirty win. In our experience, this has reduced the BYOD traffic on production segments by around 90% within 30 days. The networks have been built using consumer grade equipment in a few hours and with less than $500.00 in hardware.

2. Teach people about mobile device security – I know, awareness is hard and often doesn’t produce. But, it is worth it in this case. Explain to them the risks, threats and issues with business data on non-company owned devices. Teach them what you expect of them, and have a policy that backs it up. Create a poster-child punishment if needed, and you will see the risks drop for some time. Keep at it and it just might make a difference. Switch your media periodically – don’t be afraid to leverage video, audio, posters, articles and emails. Keep it in their face and you will be amazed at what happens in short term bursts.

3. Use what you already have to your advantage – There are hundreds of vendor white papers and configuration guides out there and it is quite likely that some of the technologies that you already have in place (network gear, AD Group Policy Objects, your DHCP & DNS architectures, etc.) can be configured to increase their value to you when considering BYOD policies and processes. Quick Google searches turned up 100’s of Cisco, Microsoft, Aruba Networks, Ayaya, etc.) white papers and slide decks. Talk to your vendors about leveraging the stuff you already have in the server room to better help manage and secure BYOD implementations. You might save money, and more importantly, you might just save your sanity. :)

BYOD is a challenge for many organizations, but it is not the paradigm shift that the media and the hype cycle make it out to be. Go back to the basics, get them right, and make rational choices around prevention, detection and response. Focus on the quick wins if you lack a long term strategy or large budget. With the right approach through rapid victories, you can do your team proud!