HoneyPoint Security Server Console 4.0 Released


MSI is proud to announce the immediate availability of the HoneyPoint Console version 4.0!

The new version of the Console for HPSS is now available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. In addition to the Console, new installer tools and documentation is also available.

The new Console finally includes operation as a service/daemon WITHOUT the need to have the GUI running. That’s right, finally headless consoles that work immediately with SEIM and other monitoring tools. Configuration of the Console and management is still available through the GUI, but headless operation is now at the core of the Console product line!

Other improvements include bug fixes, increased error handling, better memory management, improved installers and installation tools and much much more. If you haven’t upgraded your Console or seen the new 4.0 Console yet, we think you will find it much improved.

To obtain the new Console, refer to your QuickStart Guide. It is now available through the HoneyPoint distribution site. No changes to the database or license key are required, however, you must have a current license to qualify for the upgrade. Please back up your Console databases prior to upgrading, though we have experienced no issues with the upgrade process.


Thanks, as always, for choosing HoneyPoint Security Server and MSI. We value your partnership and trust.

Tool Review: Lynis

Recently, I took a look at Lynis, an open source system and security auditing tool. The tool is a local scanning tool for Linux and is pretty popular.

Here is the description from their site:
Lynis is an auditing tool for Unix/Linux. It performs a security scan and determines the hardening state of the machine. Any detected security issues will be provided in the form of a suggestion or warning. Beside security related information it will also scan for general system information, installed packages and possible configuration errors.

This software aims in assisting automated auditing, hardening, software patch management, vulnerability and malware scanning of Unix/Linux based systems. It can be run without prior installation, so inclusion on read only storage is possible (USB stick, cd/dvd).

Lynis assists auditors in performing Basel II, GLBA, HIPAA, PCI DSS and SOx (Sarbanes-Oxley) compliance audits.

Intended audience:
Security specialists, penetration testers, system auditors, system/network managers.

Examples of audit tests:
– Available authentication methods
– Expired SSL certificates
– Outdated software
– User accounts without password
– Incorrect file permissions
– Configuration errors
– Firewall auditing 

As you can see, it has a wide range of capabilities. It is a pretty handy tool and the reporting is pretty basic, but very useful.

Our testing went well, and overall, we were pleased at the level of detail the tool provides. We wouldn’t use it as our only Linux auditing tool, but is a very handy tool for the toolbox. The runs were of adequate speed and when we tweaked out the configs with common errors, the tool was quick to flag them. 

Overall, we would give it a “not too shabby”. 🙂 The advice is still a bit technical for basic users, but then, do you want basic users administering a production box anyway? For true admins, the tool is perfectly adequate at telling them what to do and how to go about doing it, when it comes to hardening their systems.

Give Lynis a try and let me know what you think. You can give me feedback, kudos or insults on Twitter (@lbhuston). As always, thanks for reading! 

Operation Lockdown Update ~ Xojo Web App Security

Just a quick note today to bring you up to date on Operation Lockdown. As many of you may know, MSI began working with Xojo, Inc. a year or so ago, focusing on increasing the security of the web applications coded in the language and produced by their compiler. As such, we gave a talk last year at XDC in Orlando about the project and progress we had made. 

Today, I wanted to mention that we have again begun working on OpLockdown, and we remain focused on the stand-alone web applications generated by Xojo. 

Last week, Xojo released Xojo 2014R3 which contains a great many fixes from the project and our work.

The stand-alone web apps now use industry standard HTTP headers (this was true for the last couple of releases) and have the ability to do connection logging that will meet the compliance requirements for most regulatory guidelines.

Additionally, several denial-of-service conditions and non-RFC standard behaviors have been fixed since the project began.

My team will begin doing regression testing of the security issues we previously identified and will continue to seek out new vulnerabilities and other misbehaviors in the framework. We would like to extend our thanks to the folks at BKeeney Software who have been helping with the project, and to Xojo for their attention to the security issues, particularly to Greg O’Lone, who has been our attentive liaison and tech support. Together, we are focused on bringing you a better, safer and more powerful web application development platform so that you can keep making the killer apps of your dreams!

Review: The Bus Pirate

We have been playing with the Bus Pirate for a while now in the lab. And, while overall, we love the tool and the functionality it brings, there is one thing we hate about it too. We love the open source architecture and just the fact that it exists, in general. It is quite a useful tool for exploring electronic systems and dumping data from embedded devices.

The tutorials and documentation around the web make it a widely useable device. You can find detailed configuration data and connection scenarios in the forums for the product and in the general documentation as well. We recently spent a good deal of time playing with the Pirate and connecting it up to known and unknown equipment. The wide variety of modes took a lot of the complication out of the manual work that used to be required before the Pirate became available.

There is really only ONE thing NOT to like about the Bus Pirate. That specific thing is the flashing process to upgrade or downgrade the firmware. It requires physically manipulating the device pins with jumper wire and running an application to specifically install the version you desire. Given how easy using the device is normally, we hope to see this mature into something more along the lines of the update process for a router or the like. The main gripe about the current process is the time it takes to do the upgrade/downgrade. In a classroom environment, it takes quite a bit of time to make these changes, though among our team there is currently a discussion about the inherent value of the lessons learned from doing it. 

Overall, even with the tedium of the upgrade process in mind, the Bus Pirate is a wonder. Dangerous Prototypes have pulled off an amazing feat to bring this thing to life. It makes hardware hacking so much easier than the “bad old days” and gives more people more access to the circuitry level for hacking. It makes grabbing data from chips and systems significantly easier. At the same time, it means that vendors of products that need to protect data against attacks at this level have to get better too. More eyes and more brains focusing on this level, means the race is on at a heated pace…

Tool Review: Synalyze It! Pro for OS X

Rounding out this week with another tool review for the Mac under OS X. Earlier this week, we reviewed our favorite disassembler, Hopper for OS X. Synalyze It! Pro is another invaluable tool that we depend on. This tool is a hex editor with some very very useful features in the GUI. Namely, it lets you “lasso” different bits of text and highlight them in different colors. While this might sound basic, it is amazingly useful for performing reverse engineering of protocols and other deep-level analysis tasks of textual data.

Recently, we have been doing quite a bit of protocol testing in the lab and this tool has proven itself again and again as invaluable. My favorite feature of the tool is available by highlighting some piece of data and right clicking to bring up a menu, then selecting “compare code pages”. This brings up a window in which the highlighted data is run through a bunch of encoding/decoding schemes and presented to you both as ASCII and as hex. This makes reversing simple encoding on text as easy pie and as quick as swatting a fly. In my recent protocol work, this was a feature I used over and over again to identify various components of the data stream and figure out how each was encoded as a part of a bigger puzzle.

Another feature we have come to love is the “Show Checksums” feature. This feature displays a wide variety of checksums for the data that is highlighted and updates the checksums in realtime. This makes it pretty easy to figure out if different fields are included in the protocol’s checksum activities and leads to faster, cleaner reversing. However, I do have a couple of things I would like to see as future features for this capability. For one, I would like to see additional checksum mechanisms added and perhaps even an interface for creating your checksum scripts or equations. Additionally, I would really like it if you could get realtime updates, but with a mechanism for selecting multiple data elements and not just single strings. I really thought this would work, but could not seem to selections to “stick” so that I could add multiples. 

The real power of the tool is in the creation of the “grammar files”. This is an easy to use, intuitive and powerful mechanism for reversing. I still need to practice a bit more with the grammar definition mechanisms, but I can see where this will grow the product’s usefulness rapidly. The grammar definition could lend itself to a better toolbox in the GUI. It might be easier for beginners to learn to master this capability if an set of quick and easy tools were easily available without a bunch of menu navigation. However, the feature is still excellent and the tool remains a very powerful addition to our toolbox. 

The link to the App Store has a variety of screenshots of the product if you want to check it out. The product retails for $25 in the App Store and a non-Pro version is available for $5 – however, note that it lacks many features of the Pro version that make it such a useful tool. 

PS – MSI has no affiliation or relationship with the product and/or the developers. 

Tool Review: Hopper Disassembler for OS X



I have recently been playing with Hopper, a disassembler for Mac OS X, quite a bit. The tool is essentially a mid-line tool for working to reverse engineer code. It is more accessible on the mac than firing up a VM and using the venerable OllyDbg and the interface is quite a bit more elegant and user friendly. It is even mid-line in price, coming in between Olly, which is free, and IDA Pro which can run over a thousand dollars per license. If you hack stuff, reverse stuff or study malware on the Mac, the $60 price point is likely to make this a big winner for your budget. The app store link for the tool, in case you want to check it out, is here

In terms of use, the tool does exactly what you expect from the description – it disassembles binaries into assembler and makes exploration of the deeper nuances of the code accessible. The newest release supports ARM, 32 & 64 bit ELF and iOS Mach-O. These add to the existing support for the standard Intel platforms of Mac OS X and Windows binaries, making this an all around useful tool for doing the basics. The flow control graphing, colorized interface and intuitive controls make the tool use less complex than Olly and IDA Pro. 

One of things I would like to see in future versions of the tool would be a detector for encoded binaries and support for some of the basic decoding tools to make analysis of obfuscated applications a bit quicker, easier and more intuitive. This a common issue among disassemblers and shows that we have a way to go to improve these products as the reverse engineering and malware study tool sets improve and mature over time. Overall though, that’s about the ONLY complaint I have about Hopper. It’s an amazingly versatile and useful tool at an incredible price. Truly, it is a worthwhile investment if you want to learn more about assembler, the inner workings of code and beginning malware analysis. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Lastly, I would like to thank the author of Hopper, Vincent Benony for his work on this tool and for his engagement with the infosec community on Twitter. Seriously, he is great. He responds quickly to questions and requests, plus provides great insights into where he is taking the product next. 

PS – If you want to see what the GUI looks like, there are a wide variety of screenshots in the App Store at the link above.

PSS – MSI has no affiliation or relationship with the product and/or the developers. 

Ask The Experts: Favorite Tools

This question came in via Twitter:
“Hey Security Experts, what are your favorite 3 information security tools?” –@614techteam

John Davis responds:

I’m in the risk management area of information security; I don’t know enough about technical information security tools to give an informed opinion about them. However, my favorite information security ‘tool’ is the Consensus Audit Group’s Twenty Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense (which is very similar to MicroSolved’s own 80/20 Rule of Information Security). The ‘CAG’ as I call it gives me as a risk manager clearer, more proactive, and detailed information security guidance than any of the other standards such as the ISO or NIST. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find it on the SANS website. I highly recommend it, even (and especially) to technical IT personnel. It’s not terribly long and you’ll be surprised how much you get out of it.

Adam Hostetler adds:

I’ll do some that aren’t focused on “hacking”

OSSEC – Monitor all the logs. Use it as a SIEM, or use it as an IPS (or
any other number of ways). Easy to write rules for, very scalable and
it’s free.
Truecrypt – Encrypt your entire hard drive, partition, or just make an
encrypted “container” to hold files. Again, it’s free, but don’t be
afraid to donate.
OCLhashcat-plus – Chews through password hashes, cracking with GPU
accelerated speed. Dictionary based attacks, and also has a powerful
rule set to go after non-dictionary based passwords.

And Phil Grimes wrote:

NMap is probably one of my favorite tools of all time. It’s veristile and very good at what it does. Using some of the available scripts have also proven to be more than useful in the field.

NetCat – This tool is extremely well rounded. Some of my favorite features include tunneling mode which allows also special tunneling such as UDP to TCP, with the possibility of specifying all network parameters (source port/interface, listening port/interface, and the remote host allowed to connect to the tunnel. While NMap is my go to port scanner, there is built-in port-scanning capabilities, with randomizer, and dvanced usage options, such as buffered send-mode (one line every N seconds), and hexdump (to stderr or to a specified file) of trasmitted and received data. 

Wireshark – Sharking the wires is one of my favorite things to do. It allows you to examine data from a live network or from a capture file on disk. You can interactively browse the capture data, delving down into just the level of packet detail you need.

What’s your favorite tool? Let us know in the comments or via Twitter (@lbhuston). Thanks for reading! 

Terminal Services Attack Reductions Redux

Last week, we published a post about the high frequency of probes, scans and attacks against exposed Windows Terminal Services from the Internet. Many folks commented on Twitter to me about some of the things that can be done to minimize the risk of these exposures. As we indicated in the previous post, the best suggestions are to eliminate them altogether by placing Terminal Services exposures behind VPN connections or through the implementation of tokens/multi-factor authentication. 

Another idea is to implement specific firewall rules that block access to all but a specific set of IP addresses (such as the home IP address range of your admins or that of a specific jump host, etc.) This can go a long way to minimizing the frequency of interaction with the attack surfaces by random attacker tools, probes and scans. It also raises the bar slightly for more focused attackers by forcing them to target specific systems (where you can deploy increased monitoring).

In addition, a new tool for auditing the configuration of Terminal Services implementations came to our attention. This tool, called “rdp-sec-check”, was written by Portcullis Security and is available to the public. Our testing of the tool showed it to be quite useful in determining the configuration of exposed Terminal Services and in creating a path for hardening them wherever deployed. (Keep in mind, it is likely useful to harden the Terminal Services implementations internally to critical systems as well…)

Note that we particularly loved that the tool could be used REMOTELY. This makes it useful to audit multiple customer implementations, as well as to check RDP exposures during penetration testing engagements. 

Thanks to Portcullis for making this tool available. Hopefully between this tool to harden your deployments and our advice to minimize the exposures, we can all drive down some of the compromises and breaches that result from poor RDP implementations.

If you would like to create some threat metrics for what port 3389 Terminal Services exposures might look like for your organization, get in touch and we can discuss either metrics from the HITME or how to use HoneyPoint to gather such metrics for yourself

PS – Special thanks to @SecRunner for pointing out that many cloud hosting providers make Terminal Server available with default configurations when provisioning cloud systems in an ad-hoc manner. This is likely a HUGE cause for concern and may be what is keeping scans and probes for 3389/TCP so active, particularly amongst cloud-hosted HITME end points.

PSS – We also thought you might enjoy seeing a sample of the videos that show entry level attackers exactly how to crack weak passwords via Terminal Services using tools easily available on the Internet. These kinds of videos are common for low hanging fruit attack vectors. This video was randomly pulled from the Twitter stream with a search. We did not make it and are not responsible for its content. It may not be safe for work (NSFW), depending on your organization’s policies. 


Quick Pointer to a Very Cool Tool

I recently was made aware of a very cool tool for analyzing netflow data that may you may be collecting from around your network. I’d seen netflow and visual analysis tools like this before, but in this case, the product performed very nicely, was very robust and starts at the low price of FREE for real time analysis. The tool is called Scrutinizer and you can find it for download and purchase here.

The free version works well for real time analysis and is nice complement to your health checks and the like if you have a network monitoring team. It is also pretty useful in digging into real-time netflow data to identify compromised hosts and components of bot nets in your network. With some careful attention, the low hanging bot net zombies will stand out from the data streams. Pretty useful to find the easy pickings…

With the commercial version, you can also add historical netflow data analysis, which opens the tool up to being very useful for over time analysis, forensics and deep anomaly detection, not to mention the network monitoring work the tool was originally designed for. MicroSolved has no relationship with the company who makes the product, but we thought it was worth it to point out a useful tool when we saw it.

InfoWorld Reviews Honey Pots and HoneyPoint

MicroSolved, Inc. was recently featured in InfoWorld’s article, “Intrusion detection honeypots simplify network security,” by Roger A. Grimes.

It’s a great review of MSI’s HoneyPoint technology, along with two other honey pot software solutions. The article is very thorough, testing everything from features and logging capability to ease-of-use and value. As Roger stated, intrusion detection is a complicated business, which is why we continue to strive to increase the visibility of the security team within an ever-increasingly insecure world. His use cases are very specific and the article presents a powerful argument for honey pots and their role in modern information security. We commend the author for his work and very much appreciate HoneyPoint’s inclusion in the solution set.

Some of HoneyPoint’s features, namely defensive fuzzing (HornetPoint behavior) and port mining appear to have been misunderstood by the reviewer. He mistakenly compares it to “tarpitting”, which is a technique used to slow down scans by tampering with the TCP packets in the 3 way handshake to delay connections. HornetPoints do not perform any actions at the packet layer, but instead, apply fuzzing routines within the specific emulated protocol (HTTP, SMTP, etc.) to attempt to cause the scanner or worm to fault on the attacking system, a form of self-defense. Port mining simply shoves a large binary file at attacker tools, again with the intent of crashing them, not simply slowing them down. These differences did not seem to be communicated well in the review when we read it.

We completely agree with the author that HoneyPoint has a large feature set and that our reporting and event tracking make it a powerful enterprise tool. We also appreciate his coverage of the plugin capability that allows users to extend and automate their alerting and response capabilities with HoneyPoint. We designed the product to be easy to use and most customers learn to install, configure and manage the product in a simple 2-4 hour virtual session included in every purchase. Our customer’s experience and rating for ease of use varies from what is presented in the review. Customers continually praise HoneyPoint as being one of the easiest enterprise products they have deployed and used.

Lastly, the author’s review makes the point that honey pot tools cannot bind to ports already in use, making them essentially blind to attack traffic on those services already installed on the hosts on which the tool is running. This is a valid truth and represents one of the core reasons why we felt it was important to design HoneyPoint to run across platforms. If a honey pot product can only run in Windows, it cannot bind to ports like 135-139 and 445, which are the common ports used for Windows CIFS. It also cannot bind to ports, and thus provide detection on Windows RPC ports that are in use. As such, a low interaction honey pot deployed only on a stock Windows workstation cannot perform detection of threats like Conficker and other traditional Windows-centric attacks. This leaves an organization using a Windows-constrained detection tool unable to emulate these services and detect these attacks. HoneyPoint, on the other hand, can just as easily be deployed on Linux as on Windows. Using a simple liveCD install (such as Puppy, DSL or the Ubuntu, etc.) you can deploy HoneyPoint on these ports, emulating Windows and thus gaining detection and visibility not available with a Windows-constrained product. We feel, as do many of our clients, that this is a powerful difference between our product and others and that it gives our clients the ability to stud their environment with detection decoys, even at the Windows protocol level, where others are blind.

We designed HoneyPoint not as an academic tool for laboratory use or for those folks wishing to capture packets of the attack tools and write papers about them, but as a real-life, deploy and forget, enterprise threat management system for businesses interested in breaking the attacker life cycle. We are quite proud that the tool is functional, flexible and simplistic. That was the goal from the beginning. We are as proud of the things that our product DOESN’T do to maintain that core focus as we are of the things it DOES do and how it accomplishes them.

Overall, we are in full agreement with InfoWorld: the impact of honey pots in the corporate environment is best understood by serving as an early-warning system. When honey pots are utilized in this way, they are economical and efficient, yet meet the need to identify threats in the network environment. We extend kudos to Roger for his review and for the hard and complex work he did reviewing and comparing the three products.

MSI welcomes this type of review, because our quest to make you safer is what drives us. Clients tell us that we’re good listeners and we love to hear feedback from the community. We will not stop improving our efforts to protect our clients because frankly, the attackers will not stop searching for vulnerabilities. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there!