Clients Finding New Ways to Leverage MSI Testing Labs

Just a reminder that MSI testing labs are seeing a LOT more usage lately. If you haven’t heard about some of the work we do in the labs, check it out here.

One of the ways that new clients are leveraging the labs is to have us mock up changes to their environments or new applications in HoneyPoint and publish them out to the web. We then monitor those fake implementations and measure the ways that attackers, malware and Internet background radiation interacts with them.

The clients use these insights to identify areas to focus on in their security testing, risk management and monitoring. A few clients have even done A/B testing using this approach, looking for the differences in risk and threat exposures via different options for deployment or development.

Let us know if you would like to discuss such an approach. The labs are a quickly growing and very powerful part of the many services and capabilities that we offer our clients around the world! 

Are you hacking!? There’s no hacking in baseball!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Involved in M&A Activity? MSI has a full M&A Practice

 

MSI’s specialized offerings around Mergers & Acquisitions are designed to augment other business practices that are common in this phase of business. In addition to general security consulting and intelligence about a company from a “hacker’s eye view”, we also offer deeply integrated, methodology-driven processes around:

  1. Pre-negotiation intelligence
    1. This offering is designed to help the purchasing organization do recon on their prospect for purchase. Leveraging techniques like passive assessment, restricted individual tracing, supply chain analysis, key stakeholder profiling and history of compromise research, the potential purchasing company can get deep insights into the security posture and intellectual property integrity of the company they are considering for acquisition. All of this can be done passively and prior to a purchasing approach or offer. Insights from this service can be a useful tool in assessing approach and potential valuation. 
  2. Pre-integration assessments 
    1. Once the ink on the paperwork is dry, the organizations have to learn to live and work together. One of the most critical links, is the joining of the two IT infrastructures. In this service, our experts can perform assessments to analyze the new company’s security posture against the baseline standards of the purchasing organization. A gap analysis and road map for compliance can be provided, and if desired, MSI can serve as oversight for ensuring that the mitigations are completed as a condition for network interconnection and integration. Our team has performed these services across a variety of M&A completions, including multi-national and global Fortune 500 organizations.
  3. Post-purchase threat intelligence 
    1. MSI can also create mechanisms post-purchase to identify and respond to potential threats from inside the newly acquired organization. Our counter-intelligence and operational security techniques can help organizations identify potential internal bad actors or disgruntled new employees that could be seeking to damage the acquirer. We have created these solutions across a myriad of verticals and are quite capable of working in international and other highly complex environments. 

To learn more about these specific offerings, click on the links above. To discuss these offerings in more detail, please contact your account executive for a free consultation.

Plus, we also just added some new capabilities for asset discovery, network mapping and traffic baselining. Check this out for some amazing new ways we can help you!

Operation Hardened Buckeye

MSI is pleased to announce the immediate formation and availability of Operation Hardened Buckeye!

This special program is dedicated to assisting Ohio’s Rural Electrical Cooperatives.

MSI will set up aggregated groups of Electrical Cooperatives and perform services and offer tools to the groups en-masse at discounted rates, as if they were one large company. Essentially, this allows the co-ops to leverage group buying, while still receiving individual reports, software licenses and overall group-level intelligence & metrics.

MSI will offer a package consisting of the following:

  • External Vulnerability Assessment with aggregated executive level reports/metrics & individual technical detail reports
  • An aggregated Targeted Threat Intelligence engagement with individual notifications of critical findings and an aggregated intelligence report for the group
  • 3 HoneyPoint Agent licenses and a console license per co-op that participates
  • Deep discounts to individual co-ops who desire application assessment, internal vulnerability assessments, wireless assessments or other MSI professional services (including MSI::Vigilance & ICS Network Segregation Services)
  • Deep discounts for ongoing assessments and targeted threat intelligence as a service

Caveats: All assessments will be performed at the same time. Co-ops must each sign onto a common MSA. Each co-op will be billed for the total of the package divided by the number of participating co-ops. Co-ops must provide accurate IP address ranges for their external assessment.

This enables the co-ops to have a security baseline of their security posture performed, including aligning their current status against that of their peers. It also allows for each of the co-ops to deploy a HoneyPoint Agent in their DMZ, business network and control network for detection capabilities. The targeted threat intelligence will provide them with an overall threat assessment, as well as identifying individual targets that have either already been attacked or are likely to provide easy/attention raising targets for future attacks.

We will be holding a webinar for those interested in participating on Thursday, May 21, 2015. You can register for this event here. You can also download the flyer about the program here.

For more information, please contact Allan Bergen via the email below or call (513) 300-0194 today! 

Email: sales@microsolved.com

HoneyPoint as a Tool for Device Inventory

Another clever use for HoneyPoint™ Agent, running on a Linux system without SMB components, is to have the system listen on the Windows SMB ports (135-139 & 445). The HoneyPoint will then inventory the Windows machines and other SMB speaking tools that attempt to contact it. Since this traffic is pretty routine, it will serve as an inventory mechanism for these types of systems on the local collision domain, or other “same-as-on-the-LAN” segments.

Running HoneyPoint in this fashion has been very useful to several of our ICS customers and has allowed them a quick, and most importantly, passive way to identify hosts on the same segment. No probes or scans needed! 

Give us a call today at (614) 351-1237 or email us at info@microsolved.com if you want to discuss how HoneyPoint might be used in your environment. We look forward to talking with you, and as always, thanks for reading! 

Telnet!? Really!?

I was recently analyzing data from the HITME project that was collected during the month of January. I noticed a significant spike in the observed attacks against Telnet. I was surprised to see that Telnet was being targeted at such a high rate. After all, there can’t be that many devices left with Telnet exposed to the internet, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. I discovered that there are still MILLIONS of devices with Telnet ports exposed to the internet. Due to Telnet’s lack of security, be sure to use SSH as opposed to Telnet whenever possible. If you absolutely must control a device via Telnet, at least place it behind a firewall. If you need to access the device remotely, leverage the use of a VPN. Finally, be sure to restrict access to the device to the smallest possible IP range.

The map below shows the geographical locations and number of attacks against Telnet that we observed last month. If you need any help isolating Telnet exposures, feel free to contact us by emailing info <at> microsolved.com.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 11.28.10 AM

 

Spike in HITME NTP Probes Following Recent Exploits

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the HITME project, it is a set of deployed HoneyPoints that gather real-world, real-time attacker data from around the world. The sensors gather attack sources, frequency, targeting information, vulnerability patterns, exploits, malware and other crucial event data for the technical team at MSI to analyze. We frequently feed these attack signatures into our vulnerability management service to ensure that our customers are tested against the most current forms of attacks being used on the Internet.
 
On a monthly basis, we have been taking a step back and looking at our HITME data from a bird’s eye view to find common attack patterns.  Throughout December, we observed a significant increase in attacks against Port 123 (NTP).  This is due to the recent discovery of a vulnerability within NTP.
 
A majority of the attacks we observed against Port 123 appeared to originate out of the United States of America, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and China. 
 
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This vulnerability should be addressed as soon as possible as exploits are publicly available.  All NTP Version 4 releases prior to Version 4.2.8 are vulnerable and need to be updated to Version 4.2.8.  Do not hesitate to contact us at info@microsolved.com if you require any assistance in responding to this vulnerability.

This blog post by Adam Luck.

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.

Here’s Why You Don’t Want RDP on the Internet

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the HITME project, it is a set of deployed HoneyPoints that gather real-world, real-time attacker data from around the world. The sensors gather attack sources, frequency, targeting information, vulnerability patterns, exploits, malware and other crucial event data for the technical team at MSI to analyze. We frequently feed these attack signatures into our vulnerability management service to ensure that our customers are tested against the most current forms of attacks being used on the Internet.

It’s also important that we take a step back and look at our HITME data from a bird’s-eye view to find common attack patterns. This allows us to give our customers a preemptive warning in the event that we identify a significant increase in a specific threat activity. We recently analyzed  some of the data that we collected during the month of November. We found that over 47% of the observed attacks in the public data set were against the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)(often also known as Microsoft Terminal Services). This was more than attacks against web servers, telnet servers and FTP servers combined!

Be sure that all recommended security measures are applied to RDP systems. This should include requiring the use of RDP clients that leverage high levels of encryption. If you need any assistance verifying that you are protected against attacks against your terminal servers, feel free to contact us by sending an email to info(at)microsolved(dot)com.

This post by Adam Luck.

Interested in What We Do? Join MSI Now!

We are thrilled to announce the immediate availability for a new position at MSI. Yes, if you have what it takes, you can join our team! We are seeking a very talented, motivated individual who can come aboard and help us with tasks related to HoneyPoint and TigerTrax. The new position is detailed below. The successful candidate will be local to the Central Ohio area (must be able to be work from the Columbus HQ) and will be motivated, engaging and capable of self-directed work. Primarily, the position will be focused on helping clients with scoping and installation of HoneyPoint and performing TigerTrax engagements.

Future career options for the position would be a choice between pursuing a future position on the technical security team (including pen-testing, etc.) or to grow into the deeper intelligence/research team that currently is embodied by TigerTrax. While the initial position will expose you to both, together, we can help scope where your interests and talents lie. Management and team leadership are also possible in either career path, as well.

This is a full time salary position, with benefits and a wide range of flexible working arrangements once the proper skills and trust are built. It also includes profit sharing, 401K with match and a variety of other benefit packages.

Successful candidates will present a resume, cover letter and a sample of their professional writing. You can apply for the position by emailing these items (PDF format) to info <at> microsolved <dot> com. No calls or placement/recruiters, please.

Further details of the position:

The information technology analyst is a key member of the MicroSolved, Inc. team who specializes in our software and research tool set. This team member must be: 

  • proficient with research skills
  • knowledgeable of social media networks and formats
  • knowledgeable of basic networking skills
  • proficient with Windows, Mac OS/X and Linux at the command line
  • proficient with command line scripting (shell/Python) and be a power-user of the Internet 

The successful analyst should be detail oriented, enjoy reading, solving logic and language puzzles and be proficient with technical writing and technical reports. Occasional travel, including internationally, is required. 

This team member is responsible for research projects beginning with data generation through report preparation and delivery to the client. This team member is also responsible for the scoping and deployment of MicroSolved, Inc’s threat detection platform – HoneyPoint Security Server (HPSS). 

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on the team very soon!