Research, NIST Speaks

Over the past week some researchers have published new methods and tools for embedded device hacking and ways to improve blind SQL injection. It will be interesting to see the scope of where embedded device hacking goes, as more devices are getting additional capabilities, that may be coming in exchange for security. Also, the NIST says the feds are keeping up on their own penetration testing and will release new guidelines in March required third party testing for federally controlled facilities.

A new version of Nipper has been released. This handy tool performs configuration auditing for various network devices and can make limited security recommendations. When was the last time you went through your firewall rules? This should be happening at some regular occurrence, however dull it may be.

Another worm, Nugache, has recently been covered in an article by Bruce Schneier, where he talks about some interesting stuff. No direct C&C server, encrypted packets all around, and the ability for any node to become the “leader”. Bot development is becoming more sophisticated, and funded. Expect to see some serious Trojans in the coming future.

MS07-065 PoC, Scam Warning

A proof of concept has been released for one of the vulnerabilities announced in Decembers Microsoft Update. The vulnerability in Message Queuing Service (ms07-065) now has a working proof of concept exploit available to the public. If you have not updated, or do not have automatic updates enabled, please do so.

Also, with the recent death of a foreign former prime minister, be on the lookout for emails or website attempting to lure you there as most of these will likely been social engineering/scam attempts.

0wned By a Picture Frame & Other Digital Errata

First it was Trojan firmware on network routers, firewalls and other network appliances. That was followed by attackers installing trojans and malware on USB keys and then dumping them back into those sale bins by the registers. Now, SANS is reporting that a number of digital picture frames sold by retailers were pre-infected with malware, just waiting to be mounted on a PC during the picture loading process.

As we have been predicting in the State of the Threat presentations for more than a year, the attackers have found new and insidious ways to turn the newest and seemingly most benign technologies into platforms of attack. Now that just about everything from refrigerators to washing machines and from toasters to picture frames have memory, CPU and connectivity – the vectors for malware introduction and propagation are becoming logarithmically more available. As computers, mesh networks and home automation continue to merge, we have to think differently about risk, threats and vulnerabilities.

Until we as security folks can get our head around overall strategies for securing the personal networks and tools we become more dependent upon each day, we have to rely on point tactics like wiping drives when we get them, reloading firmware on all devices – even new ones – from trusted vendor sources and doing the basics to secure home and business networks and systems. Hopefully, one day soon, we can build better, more proactive solutions like integrated hashing, malware identification and other mechanisms for alerting users to basic tampering with our devices. While we geeks are getting the wired world we always dreamed of, we are learning all too quickly that it comes with some unexpected risk…

Novell Identity Manager, Groove Office

Groove Virtual Office is reported to have a vulnerable ActiveX control. The vulnerability is a buffer overflow which could potentially allow code execution if an exploit were successful. This vulnerability applies to Groove Virtual Office 3.x, and does not affect the newest version included in Office 2007. At this time there’s no patch, so it is recommended to disable the ActiveX control.

A vulnerability has also been reported in Novell Identity Manager. This vulnerability could be exploited by a remote attacker to cause a Denial of Service condition. It’s reported that version 3.5.1 is affected, but may also affect other versions. Novell has issued a patch for this issue.

Commentary on Security Assessment/PCI Scanning RFP Processes

Since MSI is a PCI scanning vendor, we are often included in various RFP/RFQ processes for the purchase of network scanning and assessment services. Over the last couple of years, one problem continually seems to raise its ugly head in RFP after RFP.

That issue is the lack of clarity in the RFP. Usually, the RFP issuer does not want to clarify the number of systems, applications, IP addresses or other relevant materials to the vendors. They want to keep that information private until after they award a contract. Below is a response I wrote this morning to a particular RFP issuer who is following this same pattern. Please read it and feel free to comment on the process, my response or any other items. I truly believe that only through communication, debate and eventual education can we find ways to take the customer and vendor pain out of these processes. Here is what I wrote in response to their posting about not wanting to reveal the number of IP addresses, except to the winner after the contract is awarded:


While I appreciate your process, I would suggest to you that your approach is not likely to achieve the best value for your organization.

Since you are choosing not to disclose the number of IP addresses to be assessed until after the winner is chosen, you essentially remove the very metric that the majority of scanning vendors use to create pricing models.

Thus, you force vendors to either respond with an hourly rate, or you force them to estimate the work and resources required. There is a risk to them and you in this estimation process. Their risk is that they could under estimate, thus causing themselves undue financial burdens. Your risk is that they will consistently overestimate, thus raising the prices that you get for a comparison and increasing the overall cost of the services you receive.

Of course, another possibility exists – that some vendors with ethical issues might respond to your lack of information by attempting to footprint your network and IP spaces to gather the relevant information themselves. Depending on their skills, tools and moral compass could cause a myriad of problems ranging from network congestion to denial of service attacks (inadvertent) as the various vendors who fit this model identify and map your visible Internet presence.

In our experience, the more information and clarity you can achieve in your requests for pricing information, the better. The clearer the scope of work, the more focused and relevant the responses will be and the more “real world” the costs. In every situation where we have seen prospects use the RFP process as a veil, the resulting engagements are damaged by scope creep, misunderstandings, miscommunications and higher than average costs in money AND relevant resources.

The most often quoted reason for RFP ambiguity that we have heard over the last 15 years is that the issuer did not want to “expose details to attackers”. After more than a decade and a half in this business, I have learned from experience that attackers already have exposure information. If they want it, they will simply map the network and gather it. They will also do so in ways that have little to no respect for your business processes, customer uptime commitments, maintenance schedules and other potential impacts to your business.

All of this said, again I respect your process and your right to proceed however you choose. Perhaps your intentions or requirements are not as presented above – which is fine. I simply wanted to address RFP/RFQ processes at large and I hope this information sparks discussion and comment among vendors and end-customers of security services alike.

*End Paste*

I went on to thank them for their inclusion in the process and to invite them to comment on this blog about the content. I hope they, and others do so. Please let me know your thoughts on this and other issues around RFP ambiguity. I would love to create a discussion between both vendors and customers about their ideas and feelings on the process!

Flash and Web 2.0

A new book due to be released, details vulnerabilities within Web “2.0” content. We expect this to create a rise in general knowledge among these web applications. One specific area within the book details , as of yet, unpatched Adobe Flash XSS vulnerabilities. It is speculated that there are thousands of Flash apps out there that are potentially vulnerable to these issues. It’s also known that many Flash authoring tools generate code with these bugs. It’s recommended that end users disable Flash for the time being. Adobe is expected to release updates for these issues within the coming weeks.

** Reminder ** – New Systems Should Be Patched Before Use

Please remind teens, kids and adults who might receive computers for the holidays this year to patch them before general use. They should ensure that software and network firewalls are in place before connecting them to ANY network.

They should also ensure that they have anti-malware software that is up to date for any and all operating systems (even Linux and OS X) and that they follow other general guidelines of safe computing.

Remember, fight the urge to save the safety speech for another time. If the system gets compromised while they are using it for a test drive – being safe later will likely not help them be protected against bots, identity theft and other illicit computing dangers. It only takes one moment of exposure to compromise the system on an irreparable scale.

Happy and safe holidays to everyone. Have a joyous, peaceful and wonderful holiday season!

Storm Worm Goes Active Again and Odd Port 56893/TCP Probes

Two fairly interesting items tonight:

1) SANS is getting reports that the Storm worm is active again. This time sending messages attempting to draw victims to the “merry” <take out the space> domain. As of 10:30 PM Eastern tonight, the domain is being flooded with traffic, but appears to be functional. SANS is suggesting applying domain blocks to the domain, and it would probably be good to add mail and other content filtering rules as well, if you are still using the blacklist approach. Here is the whois for the domain:

Creation Date: 2007.11.27
Updated Date: 2007.12.17
Expiration Date: 2008.11.27
Registrant ID: P4DHBN0-RU
Registrant Name: John A Cortas
Registrant Organization: John A Cortas
Registrant Street1: Green st 322, fl.10
Registrant City: Toronto
Registrant Postal Code: 12345
Registrant Country: CA
Administrative, Technical Contact
Contact ID: P4DHBN0-RU
Contact Name: John A Cortas
Contact Organization: John A Cortas
Contact Street1: Green st 322, fl.10
Contact City: Toronto
Contact Postal Code: 12345
Contact Country: CA
Contact Phone: +1 435 2312633
Contact E-mail:
Registrar: ANO Regional Network Information Center dba RU-CENTER
Last updated on 2007.12.24 06:17:35 MSK/MSD

2) Also, on a secondary note, we are getting a rapid increase in probes to TCP 56893. This port has been a known port for an SSH trojan and botnet deployment in the past. This may be related to the Storm worm activity or may be another bot group gearing up for activity.

It looks like the holiday is likely to bring a high level of increase in bot activity and as always, attackers will be looking for new machines received as gifts that will suddenly appear online and may be missing a patch or two. Make sure you give some advice to new techies and computer owners this holiday – patch early, patch often and make sure you build layers of defense against today’s emerging threats!

Bricked HP Notebooks, IBM BoF, Cisco DoS

IBM Lotus Domino Web Access is vulnerable to a buffer overflow. An ActiveX control (dwa7.dwa7.1) is responsible for this error. This can be exploited remotely and successful exploitation could result in the execution of arbitrary code. The vulnerability is reported in dwa7W.dll version Users should set the kill bit for this ActiveX control until an update is made available.

More issues with HP notebooks. Another buffer overflow has been discovered in the HP Software Update that could result in the modification of system files resulting in a non bootable system. Every HP machine containing the HP Software Update is vulnerable. A working POC exploit has been released to the public. At this time there is no update available.

Finally, there is a Denial of Service in Cisco Firewall Services Module. This is a result of an error processing data with Layer 7 application inspections. The vulnerability is reported in FWSM System Software version 3.2(3). Cisco has made an update and workaround available at