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 theirpasswords – 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.
A vulnerability has been discovered in the GRUB2 boot loader that affects versions dating back to 2009. GRUB2 is the default boot loader for a variety of popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Red Hat and Debian. The vulnerability can be exploited by pressing the backspace button 28 times when the boot loader asks for your username. This sequence of keys places the user into a “rescue shell”. An attacker could leverage this shell to access confidential data or install persistent malware.
It’s worth noting that the vulnerability requires access to the system’s console. Even if your organization has proper physical security controls in place, this issue should still be addressed as soon as possible. Ubuntu, RedHat and Debian have already released patches for this vulnerability.
One of the most frustrating phrases I’ve heard as an IT professional is, “We’re not a target.”
Using HoneyPoint, I have created “fake companies” and observed how they are attacked. These companies appear to have social media profiles, web pages, email servers and all of the infrastructure you would expect to find within their industry. The companies are in a variety of verticals including but not limited to Financial, Energy, Manufacturing and after analyzing the data collected during this process, I can definitively state that if your company has an internet connection, you’re being targeted by attackers.
Within hours of creating a HoneyPoint company, we typically begin to see low-level attacks against common services. These often involve brute-force attacks against SSH or Telnet. Regardless of the fake company’s industry, we’ve noticed that more complicated attacks begin within days of exposing the services and applications to the internet. These have ranged from the attackers attempting to use complicated exploits to the installation of malware.
During our “fake companies” testing, we even “accidentally” exposed critical services such as MSSQL and LDAP to the internet. The attackers were always vigilant, they often attempted to take advantage of these exposures within hours of the change taking place. One of my favorite moments that occurred during this test was watching how quickly attackers started to use an exploit after it was released. In some cases, we noticed the exploit being used within hours of it becoming public. These are both great examples of why it’s worthwhile to have 3rd parties review your infrastructure for vulnerabilities or misconfigurations on a regular basis.
Even if you don’t think your company has anything to “steal”, you still need to take measures to protect your systems. You might not be protecting PHI or Social Security Numbers but you can’t underestimate the bad guys desire to make money. Even if attackers don’t find any data worth stealing, they’ll always find a way to profit from the exploitation of a system. A great example of this occurred last year when it was discovered that attackers were hacking SANs to install software to mine for cryptocurrency. It’s even been reported that attackers are exploiting MySQL servers just to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. So, even if your bare metal is worth more than the data it hosts, it doesn’t mean that attackers won’t attempt to use it to their advantage.
I just wanted to give everyone a quick example of why you should always exercise caution when modifying an application’s privacy settings.
Facebook is rolling out a feature in the US that allows people to automatically identify and share things they’re listening to or watching. It’s important to keep in mind that this leveraging this feature requires that you grant Facebook access to your iPhone’s microphone. This means that Facebook will turn on your microphone every time you write a status update. It is worth considering the sacrifice in privacy compared to the convenience that you gain by leveraging this feature. Is it really worth allowing an organization to hear your conversations just so you can gain the ability to easily share what TV show you’re watching?
Facebook has stated that they do not record or archive these transmissions. However, using this feature requires that you trust that a 3rd-party (Facebook) will handle your data appropriately. Do you really need to provide them with this data? Does it really save you that much time to have your background noise automatically analyzed? These are questions you should ask yourself prior to providing Facebook with this level of access.
This time around we riff on Ashley Madison (minus the morals of the site), online privacy, OPSec and the younger generation with @AdamJLuck. Following that, is a short with John Davis. Check it out and let us know your thoughts via Twitter – @lbhuston. Thanks for listening!
Lately, I’ve been amazed at how quickly the Internet of Things (IoT) has become a part of my life. Everything from speakers to a Crock-Pot (yes, a Crock-Pot) has been connected to my home wireless network at some point. As much as I enjoy all the conveniences that these devices provide me, I always consider the security implications prior to purchasing an Internet-connected device. It’s worthwhile to weigh the convenience of installing new Internet-connected equipment vs. the privacy issues that can occur if the device is compromised.
There have already been a variety of security issues stemming from the widespread adoption of IoT devices. Last fall, a website published links to over 73,000 unsecured camera throughout the world. These cameras monitored everything from shopping malls to people’s bedrooms. Without implementing proper controls around IoT devices, we will continue to see similar issues arise.
I don’t intend for this blog to scare people away from purchasing IoT devices. In fact, I will provide you with a few simple changes you can make to your IoT configurations that will reduce the privacy issues that can occur by installing an IoT system. These changes won’t necessarily diminish the conveniences you can gain by buying an Internet-connected thermostat or installing the latest IoT security camera. However, they will significantly reduce the risk associated with installing an IoT system.
A few recommendations for your new gadget:
Change the default password – A majority of the aforementioned cameras were compromised because the owners did not change the system’s default password. By simply setting the password to something that will be difficult for an attacker to guess, you can reduce the risk of someone compromising your device.
Segment – Try to isolate your IoT devices from the rest of your home network. It is very possible that an attacker would use an IoT system as an entry-point to gain access to other systems.
Check for software updates – Make a routine to check for software/firmware updates for all of your IoT devices. These updates will often contain a security patch that can protect your system from being exploited.
Do not expose the device directly to the Internet – There shouldn’t be a need to expose an IoT device directly to the Internet. This will provide an attacker a much larger surface to attempt to exploit your device. If the system requires that configuration, it is worthwhile to consider another option.
Windows Server 2003 has officially reached it’s end-of-life date. Does this mean that all of your Windows Server 2003 servers will be hacked on July 16th? Probably not. However, it is worthwhile to ensure that your organization has a plan in place to migrate all of your applications and services off of this legacy operating system. This is especially true if you have any Windows Server 2003 systems that are exposed to the internet. It is only a matter of time until a new vulnerability is discovered that affects this operating system.
As a former Windows Systems Administrator, I understand how difficult it can be to convince an application owner to invest the time and resources into migrating a system or service to a new operating system. Despite the fact that these systems have a heightened risk of being compromised, it’s very possible that your organization doesn’t have the financial resources to migrate your applications and services to a new operating system. You’re not alone. I found over 1.3 million servers running IIS 6.0 in Shodan. Over 688,000 of these servers are in the United States. However, there are still ways to reduce the risk of hosting these legacy operating systems until a migration plan is put into place.
A few ways to reduce the risk of hosting an application on a legacy operating system are:
Discover and document – You can’t protect a system if you don’t know it exists. Take some time to identify and document all of the legacy and unsupported operating systems in your network.
Learn about the application – Take some time to learn some details about the application. Is it still even being accessed? Who uses it? Why is it still hosted on an unsupported operating system? Are there other options available?
Educate the business users – If financial resources are an issue, take some time to explain the risks of hosting this application to the business users. Once they gain an understanding of the risk associated with hosting their application on a legacy OS, they can help secure funding to ensure that the application is upgraded.
Isolate – Segmenting the legacy system can reduce the risk that it is accessed by an attacker. It also can decrease the likelihood that a compromise of the legacy system will spread to other servers.
Update and secure – Install all available patches and updates. Not only for the operating system, but the hosted applications as well.
Perform thorough log analysis – Implement some sort of centralized logging platform to ensure you have the ability to detect any anomalies that occur within these systems.
Plan for the worst – Be prepared. Have a plan in place for responding to an incident involving these systems.
My Dad called me earlier this week to ask if I heard about the FBI’s investigation of the St. Louis Cardinals. My initial reaction was that the investigation must be related to some sort of steroid scandal or gambling allegations. I was wrong. The Cardinals are being investigated for allegedly hacking into the network of a rival team to steal confidential information. Could the same team that my Grandparents took me to see play as a kid really be responsible for this crime?
After I had time to read a few articles about the alleged hack, I called my Dad back. He immediately asked me if the Astros could have prevented it. From what I have read, this issue could have been prevented (or at least detected) by implementing a few basic information security controls around the Astros’ proprietary application. Unfortunately, it appears the attack was not discovered until confidential information was leaked onto a pastebin site.
The aforementioned controls include but are not limited to:
Change passwords on a regular basis – It has been alleged that Astros system was accessed by using the same password that was used when a similar system was deployed within the St. Louis Cardinals’ network. Passwords should be changed on a regular basis.
Do not share passwords between individuals – Despite the fact that creating separate usernames and passwords for each individual with access to a system can be inconvenient, it reduces a lot of risk associated with deploying an application. For example, if each member of the Astros front office was required to have a separate password to their proprietary application, the Cardinals staff would not have been able to successfully use the legacy password from when the application was deployed in St. Louis. The Astros would also have gained the ability to log and track each individual user’s actions within the application.
Review logs for anomalies on a regular basis – Most likely, the Astros were not reviewing any kind of security logs surrounding this application. If they were, they might have noticed failed login attempts into the application prior to the Cardinals’ alleged successful attempt. They also might have noticed that the application was accessed by an unknown or suspicious IP address.
Leverage the use of honeypot technology – By implementing HoneyPot technology, the Astros could have deployed a fake version of this application. This could have allowed them to detect suspicious activity from within their network prior to the attackers gaining access to their confidential information. This strategy could have included leveraging MSI’s HoneyPoint Security Server to stand up a fake version of their proprietary application along with deploying a variety of fake documents within the Astros’ network. If an attacker accessed the fake application or document, the Astros would have been provided with actionable intelligence which could have allowed them to prevent the breach of one of their critical systems.
Do not expose unnecessary applications or services to the internet – At this point, I do not know whether or not the Astros deployed this system within their internal network or exposed it to the internet. Either way, it’s always important to consider whether or not it is necessary to expose a system or service to the internet. Something as simple as requiring a VPN to access an application can go a long way to securing the confidential data.
Leverage the use of network segmentation or IP address filtering – If the application was deployed from within the Astros internal network, was it necessary that all internal systems had access to the application? It’s always worthwhile to limit network access to a particular system or network segment as much as possible.
Honestly, I hope these allegations aren’t true. I have fond memories of watching the Cardinals win the World Series in 2006 and 2011. I would really hate to see those victories tarnished by the actions of a few individuals. However, it’s important that we all learn a lesson from this..whether it’s your email or favorite team’s playbook…don’t overlook the basic steps when attempting to secure confidential information.