Revisiting Nuance Detection

The core of nuance detection is to extend alerting capabilities into finding situations that specifically should not exist, and if they happen, would indicate a significant security failure. A simple, elegant example would be a motion sensor on a safe in your home, combined with something like your home alarm system.
 
A significant failure state would be for the motion sensor inside the safe to trigger while the home alarm system is set in away mode. When the alarm is in away mode, there should be no condition that triggers motion inside the safe. If motion is detected, anytime, you might choose to alert in a minor way. But, if the alarm is set to away mode, you might signal all kinds of calamity and flashing lights, bells and whistles, for example.
 
This same approach can apply to your network environment, applications or data systems. Define what a significant failure state looks like, and then create detection and alerting mechanisms, even if conditional, for the indicators of that state. It can be easy. 
 
I remember thinking more deeply about this for the first time when I saw Marcus Ranum give his network burglar alarm speech at Defcon, what seems like a 1000 years ago now. That moment changed my life forever. Since then, I have always wanted to work on small detections. The most nuanced of fail states. The deepest signs of compromise. HoneyPoint™ came from that line of thinking, albeit, many years later. (Thanks, Marcus, you are amazing! BTW.) 🙂
 
I’ve written about approaches to it in the past, too. Things like detecting web shells, detection in depth techniques and such. I even made some nice maturity and deployment models.
 
This month, I will be revisiting nuance detection more deeply. Creating some more content around it, and speaking about it more openly. I’ll also cover how we have extended HoneyPoint with the Handler portion of HoneyPoint Agent. in order to fully support event management and data handling into your security alerting systems from basic scripts and simple tools you can create yourself. 
 
Stay tuned, and in the meantime, drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston) and let me know more about nuance detections you can think of or have implemented. I’d love to hear more about it. 

My Time as a HoneyPoint Client

Prior to joining MicroSolved as an Intelligence Engineer, I was the Information Security Officer and Infrastructure Manager for a medical management company.  My company provided medical care and disease management services to over 2 million individuals.  Throughout my tenure at the medical management organization, I kept a piece of paper on my bulletin board that said “$100,000,000”.

 

Why “$100,000,000”?  At the time, several studies demonstrated that the average “street value” of a stolen medical identity was $50.  If each record was worth $50, that meant I was responsible for protecting $100,000,000 worth of information from attackers.  Clearly, this wasn’t a task I could accomplish alone.

 

Enter: MicroSolved & HoneyPoint

 

Through my membership with the Central Ohio Information Systems Security Association, I met several members of the MicroSolved team.  I engaged them to see if they could help me protect my organization from the aforementioned attackers.  They guided me through HIPPA/HITECH laws and helped me gain a further understanding of how I could protect our customers.  We worked together to come up with innovative solutions that helped my team mitigate a lot of the risks associated with handling/processing 2 million health care records.

 

A core part of our solution was to leverage the use of HoneyPoint Security Server.  By using HoneyPoint, I was able to quickly gain visibility into areas of our network that I was often logically and physically separated from.  I couldn’t possibly defend our company against every 0-day attack.  However, with HoneyPoint, I knew I could quickly identify any attackers that had penetrated our network.

 

Working for a SMB, I wore many hats.  This meant that I didn’t have time to manage another appliance that required signature updates.  I quickly found out that HoneyPoint didn’t require much upkeep at all.  A majority of my administrative tasks surrounding HoneyPoint were completed when I deployed agents throughout our LAN segments that mimicked existing applications and services.  I quickly gained the real-time threat analysis that I was looking for.

 

If you need any assistance securing your environment or if you have any questions about HoneyPoint Security Server, feel free to contact us by sending an email to: info@microsolved.com.

 

This post contributed by Adam Luck.

HPSS Training Videos Now Available

We are proud to announce the immediate availability of HoneyPoint Security Server training videos. You can now learn more about installing and using the Console, Agents, the HPSS Proxy and soon Wasp, HoneyBees and Trojans.

Jim Klun (@pophop)  put the videos together and will continue to build the series over the coming months. Check them out and give Jim some feedback over Twitter. Also, let us know what other videos you would like to see.

You can get access to the videos using the credentials provided to you with your HoneyPoint license. The videos, along with a brand new User Guide, are now available from the distro web site.

Thanks to all HPSS users, and we promise to continue to evolve HPSS and make it even easier and more powerful over the coming year. As always, thanks for choosing MSI as your security partner. We appreciate it and greatly value your input! 

HoneyPoint Security Server Console 4.0 Released

HPSS

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.

HoneyPoint IP Protection Methodology

Here’s another use case scenario for HoneyPoint Security Server. This time, we show the methodology we use to scope a HoneyPoint implementation around protecting a specific set of Intellectual Property (IP). 

If you would like an in-depth discussion of our process or our capability, please feel free to reach out to us and schedule a call with our team. No commitment and no hard sale, guaranteed.

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

HP_IPProtection

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

Using HoneyPoint to Inventory Windows Boxes on a Segment

For quite some time now, we have been using HoneyPoint Agent and Console to do some passive inventory and mapping exercises for clients, particularly those involved in ICS and SCADA deployments where active scanning to get inventories is often strongly discouraged. We had particular success with a specific client in this space a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to discuss it here, since it has proven itself to be a useful tool and is on the top of my mind at the moment.

To get an inventory of the Windows systems on a collision domain, you simply install the Agent on a Linux box (or I suggest using the virtual appliance we already have built for your ease) and implement it and the Console. Once HoneyPoint is operational, you configure a UDP listener on port 138. From there, all of the NETBios speaking Windows systems will begin to send traffic to the host, as per the usual behavior of those systems. In this case, however, HoneyPoint will capture each source IP and log it to the Console. It will also capture the UDP datagrams from that conversation and place them as event data in the logs. By reviewing the source IPs, you can quickly and easily take stock of the Windows systems on the collision domain without sending any traffic at all to the systems. As a bonus, if you dig into the datagram data, you will also see the names of the hosts and other information.

Most of the time, this technique captures only Windows boxes, but if you have other devices out there running NETBios, they will likely get detected as well. This can include embedded systems, Unix systems running SAMBA, printers and copiers, Windows CE systems (often seen in many field equipment deployments), etc. You might be surprised what you can find.

Try this with a laptop, and move the laptop around your environment. You can pretty quickly and easily get an inventory by collision domain. You can also try dialing other NETBios ports and see if you get traffic that is routed across your switching fabric. Depending on your configuration, you might be able to gather a great deal of inventory data from a single location (especially if your network is flat and switches are poorly configured).

Give this a shot or get in touch if you would like us to come onsite and perform the inventory for you. We think it is a pretty useful technique and one that many folks are enjoying the benefits of. Let us know what you think when you give it a run in your network!

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

PS – You can also do this with HoneyPoint Personal Edition on a Linux system, which makes it very easy and cheap to do if you don’t want to invest in a full blown HoneyPoint Security Server implementation. (You should invest though, it is a FANTASTIC detection tool!)

**(The link above is for HPPE on Windows, but if you purchase a license and contact us, we will send you the Linux build right away. You can’t easily capture port 138/UDP traffic in Windows HPPE because Windows has those ports in use…)

Ask The Experts: Favorite HoneyPoint Component

This time around, we got a question from a client where HoneyPoint was being demoed for the experts.

Q: “What is your favorite component of HoneyPoint and why? How have you used it to catch the bad guys?”

Jim Klun started off with:

My favorite component is the simplest: HoneyPoint Agent. 

It’s ease of deployment and the simple fact that all alerts from an agent are of note – someone really did touch an internal service on a box where no such service legitimately exists – makes it attractive. 
No one will argue with you about meaning. 

I have recently seen it detect a new MSSQL worm (TCP 1433) within a large enterprise – information obtained from my own laptop. The Agent I had deployed on the laptop had a 1433 listener. It captured the payload from an attacking desktop box located in an office in another US state. 

The HoneyPoint Agent info was relayed to a corporate team that managed a global IPS. They confirmed the event and immediately updated their IPS that was – ideally – protecting several hundred thousand internal machines from attack. 

Honeypoint Agent: It’s simple, it works.

Adam Hostetler added his view:

I’m a simple, no frills guy, so I just like the regular old TCP listener component built into Agent. We have stood these up on many engagements and onsite visits and picked up unexpected traffic. Sometimes malware, sometimes a misconfiguration, or sometimes something innocuous (inventory management). I also find it useful for research by exposing it to the Internet.

John Davis closed with a different view:

My favorite HoneyPoint is Wasp. Watching how skilled attackers actually compromise whole networks by initially compromising one user machine gives me the shivers! Especially since most networks we see aren’t properly enclaved and monitored. If I were a CISO, knowing what is on my network at all times would be of primary importance; including what is going on on the client side! Wasp gets you that visibility and without all the traditional overhead and complexity of other end-point monitoring and white listing tools.

Have a question about HoneyPoint? Want to talk about your favorite component or use case scenario? Hit us on Twitter (@lbhuston or @microsolved). We can’t wait to hear from you. Feel free to send us your question for the experts. Readers whose questions we pick for the blog get a little surprise for their contribution. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe out there! 

HoneyPoint Security Server ICS/SCADA Deployment Example

Recently, there have been several questions about potential deployment scenarios for HoneyPoint Security Server in and around ICS and SCADA organizations. Here is a quick, high level view of what a sample deployment might look like in a utility or other ICS environment. Note that the sample environment has fully embraced enclaveing. The network is fully segmented based on function.

In organizations where segmentation or the use of enclaves has not been established, HPSS can still be used and would be deployed in much the same manner.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this diagram or about deploying HPSS in your environment. We would be happy to set up a free consultation with you to discuss how the tool could aid in your detection program and give you increased visibility throughout your enterprise.

PS – If the graphic is difficult to read, right click on it and select view in new tab. The theme for the site is having trouble with this particular graphic.

HighLevelEnclaves