About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

Drupal Security Best Practices Document

This is just a quick post to point to a great guide on Drupal security best practices that we found recently. 

It was written for the Canadian government and is licensed under the Open Government License platform. 

The content is great and it is available free of charge. 

If your organization uses Drupal, you should definitely check it out and apply the guidance as a baseline! 

Leaking RFC1918 IP Addresses to the Internet

There has been a lot of conversation with clients about exposing internal DNS information to the public Internet lately. 

There are some security considerations, and a lot of the arguments often devolve into security by obscurity types of control discussions. My big problem with the leakage of internal DNS data to the Internet is that I hypothesize that it attracts attacker interest. That is, I know when I see it at a client company, I often immediately assume they have immature networking practices and wonder what other deeper security issues are present. It sort of makes me deeper attention to my pen-testing work and dig deeper for other subtle holes. I am guessing that it does the same for attackers. 

Of course, I don’t have any real data to back that up. Maybe someone out there has run some honeypots with and without such leakage and then measured the aggregate risk difference between the two scenarios, but I doubt it. Most folks aren’t given to obsess over modeling like I am, and that is likely a good thing.

It turns out though, that there are other concerns with exposed internal DNS information. Here are a few links to those discussions, and there are several more on the NANOG mailing list from the past several years.

Server fault, Quora, and, of course, the RFC1918 that says you shouldn’t leak them. 🙂 

So, you might wanna check and see if you have these exposures, and if so, and you don’t absolutely need them, then remove them. It makes you potentially safer, and it makes the Internet a nicer place. 🙂 

If you have an actual use for leaking them to the public Internet, I would love to hear more about it. Hit me up on Twitter and let me know about it. I’ll write a later post with some use scenarios if folks have them. 

Thanks for reading! 

Quick Look at Ransomware Content

Ransomware certainly is a hot topic in information security these days. I thought I would take a few moments and look at some of the content out there about it. Here are some quick and semi-random thoughts on the what I saw.

  • It very difficult to find an article on ransomware that scores higher than 55% on objectivity. Lots of marketing going on out there.
  • I used the new “Teardown” rapid learning tool I built to analyze 50 of the highest ranked articles on ransomware. Most of that content is marketing, even from vendors not associated with information security or security in general. Lots of product and service suggestive selling going on…
  • Most common tip? Have good and frequent backups. It helps if you make sure they restore properly.
  • Most effective tip, IMHO? Have strong egress controls. It helps if you have detective controls and process that are functional & effective.
  • Worst ransomware tip from the sample? Use a registry hack across all Windows machines to prevent VBS execution. PS – Things might break…

Overall, it is clear that tons of vendors are using ransomware and WannaCry as a marketing bandwagon. That should make you very suspicious of things you read, especially those that seem vendor or product specific. If you need a set of good information to use to present ransomware to your board or management team, I thought the Wikipedia article here was pretty decent information. Pay attention to where you get your information from, and until next time, stay safe out there!

State Of Security Podcast Episode 13 Is Out

Hey there! I hope your week is off to a great start.

Here is Episode 13 of the State of Security Podcast. This new “tidbit” format comes in under 35 minutes and features some pointers on unusual security questions you should be asking cloud service providers. 

I also provide a spring update about my research, where it is going and what I have been up to over the winter.

Check it out and let me know what you think via Twitter.

SilentTiger Targeted Threat Intelligence Update

Just a quick update on SilentTiger™, our passive security assessment and intelligence engine. 

We have released a new version of the platform to our internal team, and this new version automatically builds the SilentTiger configuration for our analysts. That means that clients using our SilentTiger offering will no longer have to provide any more information than the list of domain names to engage the process. 

This update also now includes a host inventory mechanism, and a new data point – who runs the IP addresses identified. This is very useful for finding out the cloud providers that a given set of targets are using and makes it much easier to find industry clusters of service providers that could be a risk to the supply chain.

For more information about using SilentTiger to perform ongoing assessments for your organization, your M&A prospects, your supply chain or as a form of industry intelligence, simply get in touch. Clients ranging from global to SMB and across a wide variety of industries are already taking advantage of the capability. Give us 20 minutes, and we’ll be happy to explain! 

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. 

Segmenting With MSI MachineTruth

Many organizations struggle to implement network segmentation and secure network enclaves for servers, industrial controls, SCADA or regulated data. MicroSolved, Inc. (“MSI”) has been helping clients solve information security challenges for nearly twenty-five years on a global scale. In helping our clients segment their networks and protect their traffic flows, we identified a better approach to solving this often untenable problem.

That approach, called MachineTruth™, leverages our proprietary machine learning and data analytics platform to support our industry leading team of experts throughout the process. Our team leverages offline analysis of configuration files, net flow and traffic patterns to simplify the challenge. Instead of manual review by teams of network and systems administrators, MachineTruth takes automated deep dives into the data to provide real insights into how to segment, where to segment, what filtering rules need to be established and how those rules are functioning as they come online.

Our experts then work with your network and security teams, or one of our select MachineTruth Implementation Partners, to guide them through the process of installing and configuring filtering devices, detection tools and applications needed to support the segmentation changes. As the enclaves start to take shape, ongoing oversight is performed by the MSI team, via continual analytics and modeling throughout the segmentation effort. As the data analysis and implementation processes proceed, the controls and rules are optimized and transitioned to steady state maintenance.

Lastly, the MSI team works with the segmentation stakeholders to document, socialize and transfer knowledge to those who will manage and support the newly segmented network and its various enclaves for the long term. This last step is critical to ensuring that the network changes and segmentation initiatives remain in place in the future.

This data-focused, machine learning-based approach enables segmentation for even the most complex of environments. It has been used to successfully save hundreds of man-years of labor and millions of dollars in overhead costs. It has reduced the time to segment international networks from years to months, while significantly raising the quality and security of the new environments. It has accomplished these feats, all while reducing network downtime, outages and potentially dangerous misconfiguration issues.

If your organization is considering or in the process of performing network segmentation for your critical data, you should take a look at the MachineTruth approach from MSI. It could mean the difference between success and struggle for this critical initiative.


Network Segmentation Month

February is Network Segmentation Month at MSI. During February, our blog and social media content will focus on network segmentation initiatives. A how, why, when, what and who –  kind of look at creating secure enclaves within your network.

These enclaves could be based on risk zones, types of systems, types of access, business process, regulatory requirements or many other meta factors. 

We will discuss different reasons for segmenting, approaches to segmentation, some of the lessons we’ve learned from segmenting some of the largest and most complex environments in our 25 year history. It won’t all be positive – we’ll also share some of the ways that segmentation fails, some of the challenges and some of the drawbacks of segmenting networks.

So, strap in and stay tuned for a month of content focused on using segmentation to better secure your environment.

As always, if you have stories to share or want to discuss a specific segmentation question, you can do that via email (info@microsolved.com) or via Twitter to @microsolved or to me personally. (@lbhuston) MSI is always available to help you with segmentation projects, be that planning, implementation, oversight or attestation. We have a proprietary, data-centric approach to this work which we have been using for several years. You can learn more about it here – MachineTruth. We look forward to hearing from you!

Last Quick and Dirty Log Tip for the Week

OK, so this week I posted two other blog posts about doing quick and dirty log analysis and some of the techniques I use. This one also covers converting column logs to CSV.

After the great response, I wanted to drop one last tip for the week. 

Several folks asked me about re-sorting and processing the column-based data in different ways and to achieve different analytical views. 

Let me re-introduce you to my friend and yours, sort.

In this case, instead of using the sort -n -r like before (numeric sort, reverse order), we can use:

  • sort -k# -n input_file (where # is the number of the column you’d like to sort by and the input file is the name of the file to sort)
    • You can use this inline by leveraging the pipe (|) again – i.e.: cat input.txt | sort -k3 -n (this types the input file and sends it to sort for sorting on the third column in numeric order) (-r would of course, reverse it…)
    • You can write the output of this to a file with redirects “> filename.txt”, i.e.: cat input.txt | sort -k3 -n -r > output.txt
      • You could also use “>>” as the redirect in order to create a file if it doesn’t exist OR append to a file if it does exist… i.e..:  cat input.txt | sort -k3 -n -r >> appended_output.txt

That’s it! It’s been a fun week sharing some simple command line processing tips for log files. Drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston) and let me know what you used them for, or which ones are your favorite. As always, thanks and have a great weekend!