HoneyPoint Trojans Overview

Here’s another quick overview graphic of how HoneyPoint Trojans work. We have been using these techniques since around 2008 and they are very powerful. 

We have incorporated them into phishing exercises, piracy studies, incident response, intrusion detection, intelligence gathering, marketing analysis and even privacy research. To hear more about HoneyPoint Trojans, give us a call.

If the graphic below is blurry on your device, you can download a PDF version here.

HPTrojanOverview

HoneyPoint in a Point of Sale Network

We have been getting a LOT of questions lately about how HoneyPoint Security Server (HPSS) fits into a Point of Sale (POS) network.

To make it pretty easy and as a high level overview, below is a use case diagram we use to discuss the solution. If you would like a walkthrough of our technology, or to discuss how it might fit into your specific use cases, please let us know.

As always, thanks for reading and for partnering with MicroSolved, Inc.

PS - If the graphic below is difficult to read on your device, you can grab a PDF version here.

HP POSNetworks

New Podcast: Threats from the Net – Starring Jim Klun

You can find the newest podcast for public consumption, MicroSolved’s Threats from the Net online now. The new podcast will be a monthly release and stars Jim Klun as the host. 

Tune in often and check it out. The Kluniac has some elder geek insights to share, and it is ALWAYS informative and entertaining!

You can grab this month’s edition by clicking here

Incident Response: Are You Ready?

All of us suffer from complacency to one extent or another. We know intellectually that bad things can happen to us, but when days, months and years go by with no serious adverse incidents arising, we tend to lose all visceral fear of harm. We may even become contemptuous of danger and resentful of all the resources and worry we expend in aid of problems that never seem to manifest themselves. But this is a dangerous attitude to fall into. When serious problems strike the complacent and unprepared, the result is inevitably shock followed by panic. And hindsight teaches us that decisions made during such agitated states are almost always the wrong ones. This is true on the institutional level as well.

During my years in the information security industry, I have seen a number of organizations founder when struck by their first serious information security incident. I’ve seen them react slowly, I’ve seen them throw money and resources into the wrong solutions, and I’ve seen them suffer regulatory and legal sanctions that they didn’t have to incur. And after the incident has been resolved, I’ve also seen them all put their incident response programs in order; they never want to have it happen again! So why not take a lesson from the stricken and put your program in order before it happens to your organization too? Preparing your organization for an information security incident isn’t really very taxing. It only takes two things: planning and practice.

When undertaking incident response planning, the first thing to do is to examine the threat picture. Join user groups and consult with other similar organizations to see what kinds of information security incidents they have experienced. Take advantage of free resources such as the Verizon Data Breach Reports and US-CERT. The important thing is to limit your serious preparations to the top several most credible incident types you are likely to encounter. This streamlines the process, lessens the amount of resources you need to put into it and makes it more palatable to the personnel that have to implement it. 

Once you have determined which threats are most likely to affect your organization, the next step is to fully document your incident response plan. Now this appears to be a daunting task, but in reality there are many resources available on the Internet that can help guide you through the process. Example incident response plans, procedures and guidance are available from SANS, FFIEC, NIST and many other reputable organizations free of charge. I have found that the best way to proceed is to read through a number of these resources and to adapt the parts that seem to fit your particular organization the best. Remember, your incident response plan is a living document and needs to reflect the needs of your organization as well as possible. It won’t do to simply adopt the first boiler plate you come across and hope that it will work.

Also, be sure that your plan and procedures contain the proper level of detail. You need to spell out things such as who will be on the incident response team, their individual duties during incidents, where the team will meet and where evidence will be stored, who should be contacted and when, how to properly react to different incidents and many other details. 

The next, and possibly the most important step in effective incident response is to practice the plan. You can have the most elegantly written security incident response plan in the world, and it is still doomed to fail during an actual incident if the plan is not practiced regularly. In all my years of helping organizations conduct their table top incident response practice sessions, I have never failed to see the process reveal holes in the plan and provide valuable lessons for the team members who participate. The important thing here is to pick real-world incident scenarios and to conduct the practice as close to the way it would actually occur as possible. We like to only inform a minimum number of response personnel in advance, and surprise the bulk of responders with the event just as it would happen if it were real. Of course there is much more to proper incident response planning and practice than I have included here. But this should start your organization along the right path. For more complete information and help with the process, don’t hesitate to contact your MSI representative. 

Thanks to John Davis for writing this post.

Digital Images and Recordings: How Can We Deal with the Loss of Trust?

For many decades now the human race has benefitted from the evidentiary value of surveillance videos and audio recordings. Human beings cannot be relied on to give accurate accounts of events that they have witnessed. It is a frustrating fact that eye witness testimony is highly inaccurate. More often than not, people are mistaken in their recollections or they simply fail to tell the truth. But, with some reservations, we have learned to trust our surveillance recordings. Sure, analog videos and audio recordings can be tampered with. But almost universally, analysis of such tampered material exposes the fraud. Not so anymore!

Virtually every camera, video recorder and audio recorder on the planet is now digital. And it is theoretically possible to manipulate or totally forge digital recordings perfectly. Every year now, computer generated images and sounds used in movies are becoming more seamless and convincing. I see no reason at all why we couldn’t make totally realistic-appearing movies that contain not a single human actor or location shot. Just think of it: Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne, in their primes, with their own voices, starring in a brand new western of epic proportions! Awesome! And if Hollywood can do it, you can bet that a lot of other less reputable individuals can do it as well.

So what are we going to do about surveillance recordings (everything from ATMs and convenience store videos to recordings made by the FBI)? We won’t be able to trust that they are real or accurate anymore. Are we going to return to the old days of relying on eye witness testimony and the perceptiveness of juries? Are we going to let even more lying, larcenous and violent offenders off scot free than we are today? I don’t think we as a society will be able to tolerate that. After all, many crimes don’t produce any significant forensic evidence such as finger prints and DNA. Often, video and audio recordings are our only means of identifying the bad guys and what they do.

This means that we are going to have to find ways and means to certify that the digital recordings we make remain unaltered. (Do you see a new service industry in the offing)? The only thing I can think of to solve the problem is a service similar in many ways to the certificate authorities and token providers we use today. Trusted third parties that employ cryptographic techniques and other means to ensure that their equipment and recordings remain pristine.

But that still leaves the problem of the recordings of events that individuals make with their smart phones and camcorders. Can we in all good faith trust that these recordings are any more real than the surveillance recordings we are making today? These, too, are digital recordings and can theoretically be perfectly manipulated. But I can’t see the average Joe going through the hassle and spending the money necessary to certify their private recordings. I can’t see a way out of this part of the problem. Perhaps you can come up with some ideas that would work?

Thanks to John Davis for writing this post.


The First Five Quick Wins

The Top 20 Critical Controls for Effective Cyber Defense have been around for half a decade now, and are constantly gaining more praise and acceptance among information security groups and government organizations across the globe. One of the main reasons for this is that all of these controls have been shown to stop or mitigate known, real-world attacks. Another reason for their success is that they are constantly being updated and adjusted to fit the changing threat picture as it emerges. 

One of these recent updates is the delineation of the “First Five” from the other “Quick Wins” category of sub-controls included in the guidance (Quick Wins security controls are those that provide solid risk reduction without major procedural, architectural or technical changes to an environment, or that provide substantial and immediate risk reduction against very common attacks – in other words, these are the controls that give you the most bang for the buck). The First Five Quick Wins controls are those that have been shown to be the most effective means yet to stop the targeted intrusions that are doing the greatest damage to many organizations. They include:

  1. Application white listing: Application white listing technology only allows systems to run software applications that are included in the white list. This control prevents both external and internal attackers from implementing malicious and unwanted applications on the system. One caveat that should be kept in mind is that the organization must strictly control access to and modifications of the white list itself. New software applications should be approved by a change control committee and access/changes to the white list should be strictly monitored.
  2. Secure standard images: Organizations should employ secure standard images for configuring their systems. These standard images should utilize hardened versions of underlying operating systems and applications. It is important to keep in mind that these standard images need to be updated and validated on a regular basis in order to meet the changing threat picture.
  3. Automated patching tools and processes: Automated patching tools, along with appropriate policies and procedures, allow organizations to close vulnerabilities in their systems in a timely manner. The standard for this control is patching of both application and operating system software within 48 hours of release.
  4. Removal or replacement of outdated software applications: Many computer networks we test have outdated or legacy software applications present on the system. Dated software applications may have both known and previously undiscovered vulnerabilities associated with them, and are consequently very useful to cyber attackers. Organizations should have mechanisms in place to identify then remove or replace such vulnerable applications in a timely manner just as is done with the patching process above.
  5. Control of administrative privileges and accounts: One of the most useful mechanisms employed by cyber attackers is elevation of privileges. Attackers can turn simple compromise of one client machine to full domain compromise by this means, simply because administrative access is not well controlled. To thwart this, administrative access should be given to as few users as possible, and administrative privileged functions should be monitored for anomalous behavior. MSI also recommends that administrators use separate credentials for simple network access and administrative access to the system. In addition, multi-part authentication for administrative access should be considered. Attackers can’t do that much damage if they are limited to isolated client machines!

Certainly, the controls detailed above are not the only security controls that organizations should implement to protect their information assets. However, these are the controls that are currently being implemented first by the most security-aware and skilled organizations out there. Perhaps your organization can also benefit from the lessons they have learned.

Thanks to John Davis for writing this post.

Touchdown Task for January: Audit Your News Feeds

This month, our suggested Touchdown Task is for the security team to do an “audit” of their news/RSS feeds and the other mechanisms by which you get advisories, patch and upgrade alerts, breakout information and details about emerging threats.

Since RSS feeds and account names and such can change, it’s a good idea to review these sources occasionally. Are the feeds you depend on timely and accurate? Have you added new technology to your organization since you last reviewed your advisory feeds? Maybe you might need to add a vendor or regulator feed.

Have a discussion with all of your team members and understand who monitors what. Make sure you have good cross communication, but aren’t struggling with a lot of duplicated efforts.

Once you get your news and threat feeds in order, trace how the information is shared and make sure it is getting to the system and network admins who might need it. Do you have the right people getting the right information? If not, adjust. 

Most teams can do this review in less than an hour. So focus, communicate and create a robust way to handle the flow of information.

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there! 

How Risky is the Endpoint?

I found this article quite interesting, as it gives you a heads up about the state of endpoint security, at least according to Ponemon. For those who want to skim, here is a quick summary:

“Maintaining endpoint security is tougher than ever, security professionals say, thanks largely to the huge influx of mobile devices.

According to the annual State of the Endpoint study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Lumension, 71 percent of security professionals believe that endpoint security threats have become more difficult to stop or mitigate over the past two years.

…More than 75 percent said mobile devices pose the biggest threat in 2014, up from just 9 percent in 2010, according to Ponemon. Some 68 percent say their mobile devices have been targeted by malware in the past 12 months, yet 46 percent of respondents say they do not manage employee-owned mobile devices.

…And unfortunately, 46 percent of our respondents report no efforts are in place to secure them.”

…While 40 percent report they were a victim of a targeted attack in the past year, another 25 percent say they aren’t sure if they have been, which suggests that many organizations don’t have security mechanisms in place to detect such an attack, the study says. For those that have experienced such an attack, spear-phishing emails sent to employees were identified as the No. 1 attack entry point.

…The survey found that 41 percent say they experience more than 50 malware attacks a month, up 15 percent from those that reported that amount three years ago. And malware attacks are costly, with 50 percent saying their operating expenses are increasing and 67 percent saying malware attacks significantly contributed to that rising expense.

…While 65 percent say they prioritize endpoint security, just 29 percent say their budgets have increased in the past 24 months.” — Dark Reading

There are a couple of things I take away from this:

  • Organizations are still struggling with secure architectures and enclaving, and since that is true, BYOD and visiblility/prevention efforts on end-points are a growing area of frustration.
    • Organizations that focus on secure architectures and enclaving will have quicker wins
    • Organizations with the ability to do nuance detection for enclaved systems will have quicker wins
  • Organizations are still focusing on prevention as a primary control, many of them are seriously neglecting detection and response as control families
    • Organizations that embrace a balance of prevention/detection/response control families will have quicker wins
  • Organizations are still struggling in communicating to management and the user population why end-point security is critical to long term success
    • Many organizations continue to struggle with creating marketing-based messaging for socialization of their security mission
If you would like to discuss some or all of these ideas, feel free to ping me on Twitter (@lbhuston) or drop me an email. MSI is working with a variety of companies on solutions to these problems and we can certainly share what we have learned with your organization as well. 

October Touchdown Task: Phone System Review

This month’s Touchdown Task is to take an hour and give your phone system security a quick review. PBX hacking, toll fraud and VoIP attacks remain fairly common and many organizations don’t often visit the security of their phone systems. Thus, a quick review might find some really interesting things and go a long way to avoiding waste, fraud and abuse.

If you have a traditional PBX/analog phone system, here are some ideas for you to check out.

If you have a VoIP-based system, here are some checks to consider. (Note that this is a STIG in a  zip file). 

Generally speaking, you want to check passwords on voice mail boxes, give a look over to make sure that the phone system has some general logging/alerting capability and that it is turned on. Pay attention to out going dialing rules and test a few to make sure arbitrary calls can’t be made remotely. On the personnel side, make sure someone is actively monitoring the phone system, auditing the bill against “normal” and adding/deleting entries in the system properly.

Give the phone system a bit of your time. You never know what you might learn, and you might avoid tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud and abuse.

Thanks for reading and I hope you are enjoying the season! 

Blast From the Past: D-Link Probes in the HITME

We got a few scans for an old D-Link router vulnerability that dates back to 2009. It’s interesting to me how long scanning signatures live in online malware and scanning tools. This has lived for quite a while. 

Here are the catches from a HoneyPoint Personal Edition I have deployed at home and exposed to the Internet. Mostly, this is just to give folks looking at the scans in their logs an idea of what is going on. (xxx) replaces the IP address… 

2013-10-02 02:46:13 – HoneyPoint received a probe from 71.103.222.99 on port 80 Input: GET /HNAP1/ HTTP/1.1 Host: xxxx User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Win32) WebWasher 3.0 Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5 Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate Referer: http://xxxx/ Authorization: Basic YWRtaW46dWA+NXhZQlU1d2VR Connection: keep-alive

2013-10-02 03:22:13 – HoneyPoint received a probe from 71.224.194.47 on port 80 Input: GET /HNAP1/ HTTP/1.1 Host: xxxx User-Agent: Opera/6.x (Linux 2.4.8-26mdk i686; U) [en] Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8 Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5 Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate Referer: http://xxxx/ Authorization: Basic YWRtaW46InkwYi4qMF5wL05G Connection: keep-alive

This probe is often associated with vulnerable D-Link routers, usually older ones, those made between 2006 and mid-2010. The original release and proof of concept exploit tool is here. The scan has also been embedded into several scanning tools and a couple of pieces of malware, so it continues to thrive.

Obviously, if you are using these older D-Link routers at home or in a business, make sure they are updated to the latest firmware, and they may still be vulnerable, depending on their age. You should replace older routers with this vulnerability if they can not be upgraded. 

The proof of concept exploit also contains an excellent doc that explains the HNAP protocol in detail. Give it a read. It’s dated, but remains very interesting.

PS – As an aside, I also ran the exploit through VirusTotal to see what kind of detection rate it gets. 0% was the answer, at least for that basic exploit PoC.