Microsoft Making 2FA Easier with New App

Make sure you check this out if you use any of the Microsoft 2 factor authentication tools – they just released a new app for mobile devices to make their previously very painful mishmash of authentication tools easier!

I know a lot of clients and readers use the existing Microsoft authentication tools, so I will be eager to play with this and see just how much easier they have made it. Do you think it stands up to their claims of simplification? Let me know on Twitter (@lbhuston) what you come up with when you try it… 

3 Tools Security Teams Need to Look at Today

I would urge most security teams to hit pause for an hour and take a moment to look at these three tools that may add leverage to the work you are doing.

1. Python LogTools – This is an excellent python library that makes parsing web logs, primarily Apache logs, easy and useful. The capability also can be trivially expanded to analyze other types of logs and system outputs with a little bit of text hacking. Seriously, we know you aren’t reading the logs – find a way to use programatic tools – even if that just means you are parsing for specific issues. I know, I know – you have the SEIM – but honestly, parse the logs. You’ll likely be amazed what you find…

2. Open Source Web Task Manager – Taskfreak – Nearly every team we talk to asks about coordinating task and resource management on other security teams. Here is a free tool set that you can you can use, apart from the more difficult enterprise tools and bloatware. Get a team server or instance and share tasks and resources. Done! 

3. Nmap – yeah, we said it – NMAP! – Oh, I know – you’ve used it. It comes on Kali and nearly every distro – but forget using it for pen-testing and auditing. Now, with a clear mind – begin to think about how you can use nmap to know what’s out there. Inventory of systems and services, done. Ongoing runs to detect new devices, done. Ongoing runs to find new services on known network segments, done. Periodic runs to test network speeds and connectivity for routing issues, done. Gateway checks, done. Detection of new devices by parsing DHCP logs and launching runs – a poor man’s NAC tool, done. There are so many things you can do with nmap other than pen-testing that I am thinking of just becoming an nmap consultant. C’mon – learn the basics and then use the basic tool in new ways to solve problems you already have. Nmap and some simple scripting can up your security team’s game. Give it a shot… 

Got other ideas? Let us know on Twitter (@microsolved). See you there! 

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! 

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. 


Great article on File Crypto Tools

I saw this excellent article this morning that covers 5 basic tools for doing file cryptography across platforms. Many of these tools are great solutions and we use them frequently with clients. In particular, we find True Crypt to be a very powerful and useful tool. Many client have embraced this solution for laptop encryption, leveraging the free price and benefit for compliance.

You can read more about these tools here.

Check them out and use the ones that fit your needs in your organization. They are great tools for keeping your business, your business.

Cisco Vulns, OS X DoS, SWFIntruder

A cross site scripting vulnerability has been found in CiscoWorks. The XSS is present in the initial login page. Attackers could use this to steal cookies or execute arbitrary html or script code on a remote user. CiscoWorks versions 2.6 and prior are vulnerable, and Cisco has released a patch for this issue.

The Cisco 7940 SIP Phone is vulnerable to an interesting denial of service. Sending malformed SIP INVITE messages to a 7940 phone can cause the device to reboot, or be put under the DoS condition. If INVITE packets are then sent at certain intervals, the DoS condition will persist. The phone will be in a seemingly working condition, where it continues to send REGISTER commands to the server, but will ring busy on incoming calls and return busy on any calls made by the user. There was no patch or update listed with the advisory.

Cisco Security Agent (CSA) for Windows and Cisco Security Manager are vulnerable to a remote buffer overflow attack. This can be exploited by sending a specially crafted TCP message to port 139 or 445 on a system running the CSA. This could result in a stop error (blue screen) or remote code execution. Cisco has released a free software update to address this vulnerability.

Two Denial of Service attacks for MacOS X have had their exploit code released. The first is in the vpnd which has been tested in Apple MACOS X 10.5.0. The second DoS in a local one in the kernel. This has been testing in Apple MACOS X 10.4 (xnu-792.22.5~1/RELEASE_I386), Apple MACOS X 10.5.1 (xnu-1228.0.2~1/RELEASE_I386) and Apple MACOS X 10.5.1 (xnu-1228.0.2~1/RELEASE_PPC).

WabiSabi Labs (the online exploit auction group), reportedly has a QuickTime vulnerability that could result in remote code execution that is different from the one we mention in “QuickTime 7.2/7.3 RTSP Exploits” ( We have no way to accurately verify this information though.

A new tool has been released yesterday. The tool, SWFIntruder, is “the first tool specifically developed for analyzing and testing security of Flash applications at runtime.” [1] This looks to be a powerful tool to test flash implementations for the presence of XSS of XSF issues in a semi automated manner. If you are responsible for testing web applications, this may be a tool you’ll want to have a look at.