Episode 10 is now available!
This time around, we get to learn from the community, as I ask people to call in with their single biggest infosec lesson from 2015. Deeply personal, amazingly insightful and full of kindness to be shared with the rest of the world – thanks to everyone who participated!
- The “3 Legged Model” or “single firewall” – where the DMZ segment(s) are connected via a dedicated interface (or interfaces) and a single firewall implements traffic control rules between all of the network segments (the firewall could be a traditional firewall simply enforcing interface to interface rules or a “next generation” firewall implementing virtualized “zones” or other logical object groupings)
- The “Layered Model” or “dual firewall”- where the DMZ segment(s) are connected between two sets of firewalls, like a sandwich
Earlier this week, I heard an awesome speech at Columbus BSides about the economics of Exploit Kits and E-Crime. As a follow-up, I thought it would be worthwhile to ask my fellow MSI co-workers if they felt there was a way to devalue 0day vulnerabilities.
Jim Klun responded with…
I don’t think you can ever really – given how Internet/computer usage has been universally adopted for all human activity – devalue the worth of a 0-day. The only thing I can imagine is making the chance of a 0-day being discovered in an area of computing that really matters as small as possible. So that means forcing – through law – all sensitive infrastructure (public or private) and comm channels to subscribe to tight controls on what can be used and how things can work. With ongoing inspection and fines/jail time for slackers. Really.. don’t maintain your part of the Wall properly, let the Mongols in and get some villages sacked, and its your head.
I would have techs who are allowed to touch such infrastructure (or develop for it) uniformly trained and licensed at the federal level. Formal process would exist for them doing doing 0-day research and reporting. Outsiders can do same…. but if they announce without chance for defensive response, jail. And for all those who do play the game properly and find 0-days within the reduced space of critical infrastructure/software – money and honor.
Brent Huston added his view…
Thats a tough question. Because you are asking to both devalue something, yet make it valuable for a different party. This is called market transference.
So for example, we need to somehow change the “incentive” to a “currency” that is non-redeemable by bad guys. The problem with that is – no matter how you transfer the currency mechanism, it is likely that it simply creates a different variant of the underground market.
For example, let’s say we make 0-days for good guys redeemable for a tax credit, so they can turn them into the IRS and get a tax credit in $ for the work… Seems pretty sound…Bad guys can’t redeem the tax credits without giving up anonymity. However – it reenforces the underground market and turns potential good guys into buyers.
Plus, 0days still have intrinsic value – IE other bad guys will still buy them for crime as long as the output of that crime has a value. Thus, you actually might increase the number of people working on 0day research. This is a great example of where market transference might well raise the value of 0days on the underground market (more bidders) and the population attackers looking for them (to sell or leverage for crime).
Lisa Wallace also provided her prospective…
Create financial incentives for the corporations to catch them before release. You get X if your product has no discovered 0-days in Y time.
Last but not least, Adam Hostetler weighed in when asked if incentives for the good guys would help devalue 0days…
That’s the current plan of a lot of big corporations, at least in web apps. I don’t think that really devalues them though. I don’t see any reasonable way to control that without strict control of network traffic, eavesdropping etc, or “setting the information free”.
For the last couple of decades industrial concerns, including public utilities such as power and gas providers, have been incorporating IP networks into their industrial control systems; apparently with very little awareness of the security problems this could cause. One of the reasons for this is that ICS/SCADA systems had always been fairly safe from tampering. They were “dumb” systems that had their own protocols, and were not connected to public networks. System administrators never had to think in terms of hackers and remote attacks. They were more concerned with things like physical break-ins and theft at that time, and hackers were mainly computer-savvy kids that weren’t really out to hurt anyone.
Another reason is that security almost always takes a back seat to greater efficiency and profitability. Couple this with the fact that public utilities were increasingly strapped with budgetary cutbacks, and it’s a no-brainer from their point of view. IP protocols were already in place and off-the-shelf hardware and software applications were relatively cheap.
Embracing expediency in this way is really costing the industry now, though. Public utilities are often guilty of failing to adequately segregate their control networks from their business networks, and even if they do, it is very difficult to fend off a persistent and talented attacker. Malware and social engineering techniques become more clever every day.
Factors such as these have made the security industry increasingly antsy for years. We have been warning that these vulnerabilities exist, and have been expecting a concrete example to crop up – and now it has!
Late last month, hackers caused what is believed to be the world’s first power outage using malware. It occurred in the Ukraine and knocked out regional power for several hours. The malware family used to perpetrate this outage is known as “BlackEnergy” and has been on the radar for some time.
Luckily, this was a relatively minor, short lived incident, and nothing like this has occurred (yet) in the United States. However, the fact that this outage was possible should be a wake-up call for all of us. Hopefully, the industry will pay attention to this incident and redouble their efforts to update, secure and monitor their systems.
Knock knock! Who’s there? The FBI….
This is never the way you’d like your day to play out. Last week, Time Warner was notified by the FBI that a cache of stolen credentials that appear to belong to Time Warner customers had been discovered.
At this point, the origination of the usernames and passwords is a bit of a mystery. Time Warner states:
“We have not yet determined how the information was obtained, but there are no indications that TWC’s systems were breached.
The emails and passwords were likely previously stolen either through malware downloaded during phishing attacks or indirectly through data breaches of other companies that stored TWC customer information, including email addresses.
For those customers whose account information was stolen, we are contacting them individually to make them aware and to help them reset their passwords.”
Time Warner customers who have not yet been contacted should still consider changing their passwords – there is no indication at this point if this is new or previously compromised password data, and a new password is never a bad idea.
Please share with anyone who is using Time Warner systems – friends, co-workers, weird relatives and neighbors as well. Remember that any password that is used twice isn’t a safe password – unique passwords are always the best practice. Password managers (LastPass, KeePass, etc.) are often a good idea to help maintain unique, difficult to decipher passwords.
It seems like every year there is another phishing scam using the name of the Internal Revenue Service. Well, this year is no exception. This version claims to be a refund notification and contains an attachment for the unwary to click on. Don’t do it! For one thing, you should be aware that the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information.
This scam and other, similar scams also are perpetrated by telephone. Callers may say you have a refund due and try and get you to disclose private information to them. They may also call, say you owe them money, and demand immediate payment; they may even threaten to send the police to your home! Don’t panic. The more serious and immediate their demands seem, the more likely they are to be fakes. It will never hurt you to take the time to call the IRS and see if the call, text or email you have received is legitimate. Also, if you do happen to lose money to one of these scams, you can file a complaint with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The IRS website has resources in place to help taxpayers with this problem. This information is not particularly easy to find, but is accessible in a couple of areas of the website. If you click on the “News & Events” tab of the website there is a hyperlink to “Tax Scams”. This will get you started. You can also go to the “Help & Resources” tab. This area has links for reporting suspicious emails and scams, as well as a link to report tax fraud activity. For more information about past scams of this type, there is a page entitled “Phishing and Other Schemes Using the IRS Name.”
The important thing to take away from this is that Phishing and other types of social engineering techniques are becoming more prevalent every day, and are not about to go away. This is because as firewalls, SIEM solutions and other information security mechanism have become more effective, cyber criminals have had to find new ways to worm their way into your networks. So stay wary and avoid being credulous. Never open an attachment or click on a link anywhere without checking it out first. Also, never give unsolicited or suspicious callers any kind of private information. The old adage “Look Before You Leap” has never been more true and appropriate than it is right now!
OK, so by now most folks know that we spent the last few years building out our own analytics platform, called TigerTrax™. Some folks know that we have been using it as a way to add impressive value to our traditional security offerings for the last couple of years. If you are a traditional assessment client, for example, you are likely seeing more threat data that is pinpoint accurate in your reports or you have been the beneficiary of some of the benefits of our passive technologies based on the platform, perhaps. If your organization hasn’t been briefed yet on our new capabilities and offerings, please let us know and we will book a time to sit down and walk you through what we believe is a game changing new approach to information security!
But, back to the message at hand. TigerTrax is already benefitting our clients in three very specific ways, and I wanted to take a moment to discuss them.
- First, as I alluded to above, many clients are now leveraging our Targeted Threat Intelligence (TTI) offerings in a variety of ways. TTI engagements come in two flavors, Comprehensive and Baseline. You can think of this as a passive security assessment that identifies threats against your organization based on a variety of meta data analysis, tracks your brand presence across the online world and identifies where it might be present in a vulnerable state, correlates known and unknown attack campaigns against your online presence, and has been hugely successful in finding significant risks against networks/applications and intellectual property. The capability extends to findings across the spectrum of risks, threats and vulnerabilities – yet does the work without sending a single packet to the target network environments! That makes this offering hugely popular and successful in assisting organizations with supply chain, vendor management security validation and M&A research. In fact, some clients are actively using this technique across vendors on a global scale.
- Second, TigerTrax has enabled MSI to offer security-focused monitoring of key employees and their online behaviors. From professional sports to futures/stock traders and even banking customer support teams – TigerTrax has been adapted to provide code of conduct monitoring, social media forensics and even customized mitigation training in near-real-time for the humans behind the keyboard. With so much attention to what your organization and your employees do online, how their stories spread and the customer interactions they power – this service has been an amazing benefit to customers. In some cases, our social media forensics have made the difference in reputational attacks and even helped defend a client against false legal allegations!
- Thirdly, TigerTrax has powered the development of MachineTruth™, a powerful new approach to network mapping and asset discovery. By leaning on the power of analytics and machine learning, this offering has been able to organize thousands of machine configurations and millions of lines of log files and a variety of other data source to re-create a visual map of the environment, an inventory of the hosts on the network, an analysis of the relationships between hosts/network segments/devices and perform security baselining “en masse”. All offline. All without deploying any hardware or software on the network. It’s simply amazing for organizations with complex networks (we’ve done all sizes – from single data centers to continent-level networks), helps new CIOs or network managers understand their environment, closes the gap between “common wisdom” of what your engineers think the network is doing and the “machine truth” of what the devices are actually doing, aids risk assessment or acquisition teams in their work and can empower network segmentation efforts like no other offering we have seen.
Those are the 3 key ways that TigerTrax customers are benefiting today. Many many more are on the roadmap, and throughout 2016 we will be bringing new offerings and capability enhancements to our clients – based on the powerful analytics TigerTrax provides. Keep an eye on the blog and our website (which will be updated shortly) for news and information. Better yet, give us a call or touch base via email and schedule a time to sit down and discuss how these new capabilities can best assist you. We look forward to talking with you!
— info (at) microsolved /dot/ com will get you to an account rep ASAP! Thanks for reading.