Tag Archives: breaches

The Endpoint Is Dead To Me

Another day, another vulnerability. This month the big non-event was Badlock, following the recent trend of using a splashy name to catch the media’s attention so they could whip the management meat puppets into a paranoid frenzy. Many in the security community seem unperturbed by this latest bug, because let’s face it, nothing can surprise us after the last couple of really grim years.

But then more Java and Adobe Flash bugs were announced, some new iOS attack using Wi-Fi and NTP that can brick a device, followed by an announcement from Apple that they’ve decided to kill QuickTime for Windows instead of fixing a couple of critical flaws. All of this is forcing  me to admit the undeniable fact that trying to secure the endpoint is a waste of time. Even if you’re using a myriad of management tools, patching systems, vulnerability scanners, and DLP agents; you will fail, because you can never stay ahead of the game.

The endpoint must be seen for what it truly is: a limb to be isolated and severed from the healthy body of the enterprise at the first sign of gangrene. It’s a cootie-ridden device that while necessary for our users, must be isolated as much as possible from anything of value. A smelly turd to be flushed without remorse or hesitation. No matter what the user says, it is not valuable and nothing of value to the organization should ever be stored on it.

This doesn’t mean I’m advocating removing all endpoint protection or patching agents. But it’s time to get real and accept the fact that most of this corporate malware is incapable of delivering what the vendors promise. Moreover, most often these applications negatively impact system performance, which infuriates our users. But instead of addressing this issue, IT departments layer on more of this crapware on the endpoint, which only encourages users to find ways to disable it. One more security vulnerability for the organization. A dedicated attacker will figure out a way to bypass most of it anyway, so why do we bother to trust software that is often more harmful to business productivity than the malware we’re trying to block?  We might as well give out “Etch A Sketches” instead of laptops.

google_on_my_etch_a_sketch_by_pikajane-d3846dy

Tagged , , , , , ,

Malware Analysis and Incident Response Tools for the Frugal and Lazy

I confess: I covet and hoard security tools. But I’m also frugal and impatient, so often look for something free and/or quick. And yes, that frequently means using an online, hosted service. Before the security-purists get their panties in a wad, I’d like to offer this disclaimer: you may mock me for taking shortcuts, but it’s not always about having the best tool, but the one that gets the job done.

Here’s a list that I frequently update. You’ll notice that sometimes I have the same tool in more than one section, but this is because it has multiple functions. If you know of others and would like to contribute or if you think the tool is outdated or bad, please let me know and I’ll adjust the list accordingly.

Many thanks to @grecs for his additions and helping me to organize it. Also to Lenny Zeltzer, author of the REMnux malware analysis and reverse engineering distro, who I’ve borrowed shamelessly from. You’ll find many of these tools and others on his own lists, so I encourage you to check his posts on this topic as well.

Online Network Analysis Tools

Network-Tools.com offers several online services, including domain lookup, IP lookup, whois, traceroute, URL decode/encode, HTTP headers and SPAM blocking list.

Robtex Swiss Army Knife Internet Tool

CentralOps Online Network tools offers domain and other advanced internet utilities from a web interface.

Shadowserver Whois and DNS lookups check ASN and BGP information. To utilize this service, you need to run whois against the Shadowserver whois system or DNS queries against their DNS system.

Netcraft provides passive reconnaissance information about a web site using an online analysis tool or with a browser extension.

Online Malware Sandboxes & Analysis Tools

Malwr: Malware analysis service based on Cuckoo sandbox.

Comodo Instant Malware Analysis and file analysis with report.

Eureka! is an automated malware analysis service that uses a binary unpacking strategy based on statistical bigram analysis and coarse-grained execution tracing.

Joe Sandbox Document Analyzer checks PDF, DOC, PPT, XLS, DOCX, PPTX, XLSX, RTF files for malware.

Joe Sandbox File Analyzer checks behavior of potentially malicious executables.

Joe Sandbox URL Analyzer checks behavior of possibly malicious web sites.

ThreatTrack Security Public Malware Sandbox performs behavioral analysis on potential malware in a public sandbox.

XecScan Rapid APT Identification Service provides analysis of unknown files or suspicious documents. (hash search too)

adopstools scans Flash files, local or remote.

ThreatExpert is an automated threat analysis system designed to analyze and report the behavior of potential malware.

Comodo Valkyrie: A file verdict system. Different from traditional signature based malware detection techniques, Valkyries conducts several analyses using run-time behavior.

EUREKA Malware Analysis Internet Service

MalwareViz: Malware Visualizer displays the actions of a bad file by generating an image. More information can be found by simply clicking on different parts of the picture.

Payload Security: Submit PE or PDF/Office files for analysis with VxStream Sandbox.

VisualThreat (Android files) Mobile App Threat Reputation Report

totalhash: Malware analysis database.

Deepviz Malware Analyzer

MASTIFF Online, a free web service offered by KoreLogic Inc. as an extension of the MASTIFF static analysis framework.

Online File, URL, or System Scanning Tools

VirusTotal analyzes files and URLs enabling the identification of malicious content detected by antivirus engines and website scanners. See below for hash searching as well.

OPSWAT’s Metascan Online scans a file, hash or IP address for malware

Jotti enables users to scan suspicious files with several antivirus programs. See below for hash searching as well.

URLVoid allows users to scan a website address with multiple website reputation engines and domain blacklists to detect potentially dangerous websites.

IPVoid, brought to you by the same people as URLVoid, scans an IP address using multiple DNS-based blacklists to facilitate the detection of IP addresses involved in spamming activities.

Comodo Web Inspector checks a URL for malware.

Malware URL checks websites and IP addresses against known malware lists. See below for domain and IP block lists.

ESET provides an online antivirus scanning service for scanning your local system.

ThreatExpert Memory Scanner is a prototype product that provides a “post-mortem” diagnostic to detect a range of high-profile threats that may be active in different regions of a computer’s memory.

Composite Block List can check an IP to see if it’s on multiple block lists and it will tell you if blocked, then who blocked it or why.

AVG LinkScanner Drop Zone: Analyzes the URL in real time for reputation.

BrightCloud URL/IP Lookup: Presents historical reputation data about the website

Web Inspector: Examines the URL in real-time.

Cisco SenderBase: Presents historical reputation data about the website

Is It Hacked: Performs several of its own checks of the URL in real time and consults some blacklists

Norton Safe Web: Presents historical reputation data about the website

PhishTank: Looks up the URL in its database of known phishing websites

Malware Domain List: Looks up recently-reported malicious websites

MalwareURL: Looks up the URL in its historical list of malicious websites

McAfee TrustedSource: Presents historical reputation data about the website

MxToolbox: Queries multiple reputational sources for information about the IP or domain

Quttera ThreatSign: Scans the specified URL for the presence of malware

Reputation Authority: Shows reputation data on specified domain or IP address

Sucuri Site Check: Website and malware security scanner

Trend Micro Web Reputation: Presents historical reputation data about the website

Unmask Parasites: Looks up the URL in the Google Safe Browsing database. Checks for websites that are hacked and infected.

URL Blacklist: Looks up the URL in its database of suspicious sites

URL Query: Looks up the URL in its database of suspicious sites and examines the site’s content

vURL: Retrieves and displays the source code of the page; looks up its status in several blocklists

urlQuery: a service for detecting and analyzing web-based malware.

Analyzing Malicious Documents Cheat Sheet: An excellent guide from Lenny Zeltser, who is a digital forensics expert and malware analysis trainer for SANS.

Qualys FreeScan is a free vulnerability scanner and network security tool for business networks. FreeScan is limited to ten (10) unique security scans of Internet accessible assets.

Zscaler Zulu URL Risk Analyzer: Examines the URL using real-time and historical techniques

Hash Searches

VirusTotal allows users to perform term searches, including on MD5 hashes, based on submitted samples.

Jotti allows MD5 and SHA1 hash searches based on submitted samples.

Malware Hash Registry by Team Cymru offers a MD5 or SHA-1 hash lookup service for known malware via several interfaces, including Whois, DNS, HTTP, HTTPS, a Firefox add-on or the WinMHR application.

Domain & IP Reputation Lists

Malware Patrol provides block lists of malicious URLs, which can be used for anti-spam, anti-virus and web proxy systems.

Cisco SenderBase Reputation data about a domain, IP or network owner

Malware Domains offers domain block lists for DNS sinkholes.

Malware URL not only allows checking of websites and IP addresses against known malware lists as described above but also provides their database for import into local proxies.

ZeuS Tracker provides domain and IP block lists related to ZeuS.

Fortiguard Threat Research and Response can check an IP or URL’s reputation and content filtering category.

CLEAN-MX Realtime Database: Free; XML output available.

CYMRU Bogon List A bogon prefix is a route that should never appear in the Internet routing table. These are commonly found as the source addresses of DDoS attacks.

DShield Highly Predictive Blacklist: Free but registration required.

Google Safe Browsing API:  programmatic access; restrictions apply

hpHosts File:  limited automation on request.

Malc0de Database

MalwareDomainList.com Hosts List

OpenPhish: Phishing sites; free for non-commercial use

PhishTank Phish Archive: Free query database via API

ISITPHISHING is a free service from Vade Retro Technology that tests URLs, brand names or subnets using an automatic website exploration engine which, based on the community feeds & data, qualifies the phishing content websites.

Project Honey Pot’s Directory of Malicious IPs: Free, but registration required to view more than 25 IPs

Scumware.org

Shadowserver IP and URL Reports: Free, but registration and approval required

SRI Threat Intelligence Lists: Free, but re-distribution prohibited

ThreatStop: Paid, but free trial available

URL Blacklist: Commercial, but first download free

Additional tools for checking URLs, files, IP address lists for the appearance on a malware, or reputation/block list of some kind.

Malware Analysis and Malicious IP search are two custom Google searches created by Alexander Hanel. Malware Analysis searches over 155 URLS related to malware analysis, AV reports, and reverse engineering. Malicious IP searches CBL, projecthoneypot, team-cymru, shadowserver, scumware, and centralops.

Vulnerability Search is another custom Google search created by Corey Harrell (of Journey into Incident Response Blog). It searches specific websites related to software vulnerabilities and exploits, such as 1337day, Packetstorm Security, Full Disclosure, and others.

Cymon Open tracker of malware, phishing, botnets, spam, and more

Scumware.org in addition to IP and domain reputation, also searches for malware hashes. You’ll have to deal with a captcha though.

ISC Tools checks domain and IP information. It also aggregates blackhole/bogon/malware feeds and has links to many other tools as well.

Malc0de performs IP checks and offers other information.

OpenMalware: A database of malware.

Other Team Cymru Community Services  Darknet Project, IP to ASN Mapping, and Totalhash Malware Analysis.

viCheck.CA provides tools for searching their malware hash registry, decoding various file formats, parsing email headers, performing IP/Domain Whois lookups, and analyzing files for potential malware.

AlienVault Reputation Monitoring is a free service that allows users to receive alerts of when domains or IPs become compromised.

Web of Trust: Presents historical reputation data about the website; community-driven. Firefox add-on.

Shodan: a search engine that lets users find specific types of computers (routers, servers, etc.) connected to the internet using a variety of filters.

Punkspider: a global web application vulnerability search engine.

Email tools

MX Toolbox  MX record monitoring, DNS health, blacklist and SMTP diagnostics in one integrated tool.

Threat Intelligence and Other Miscellaneous Tools

ThreatConnect: Free and commercial options.

Threatminer Data mining for threat intelligence.

IBM X-Force Exchange  a threat intelligence sharing platform that you can use to research security threats, to aggregate intelligence, and to collaborate with peers.

Recorded Future: Free email of trending threat indicators.

Shadowserver has lots of threat intelligence, not just reputation lists.

The Exploit Database: From Offensive Security, the folks who gave us Kali Linux, the ultimate archive of Exploits, Shellcode, and Security Papers.

Google Hacking Database: Search the database or browse GHDB categories.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Data breach database.

Breach Level Index: Data breach database.

AWStats: Free real-time log analyzer

AlienVault Open Threat Exchange

Tagged , , , , , ,

OPM Hack: What We Can Learn

I frequently write for actual publications and my latest article is an analysis of the OPM breach. What I hope makes mine different is that I tried to avoid the schadenfreude so common in the industry and focus on what we could all learn and correct in our own organizations.

From TechTarget SearchNetworking

When Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta gave her cringe-worthy testimony before Congress earlier this summer, it felt like a nightmare from the IT collective unconscious. A series of embarrassing appearances revealed she didn’t seem to know essential details of the OPM hack or understand the problems that allowed OPM to be compromised twice in one year. Her resignation seemed a forgone conclusion and a relief for the .GOV crowd.

So what went wrong?

It would be a mistake to categorize the compromise as simply a failure in OPM’s security strategy, because the agency’s entire information technology program was a management catastrophe — a guidebook in what not to do. In watching testimony and reading reports from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), it isn’t only the security failures that stand out, but clueless leadership that flunked at basic strategy and risk management. This kind of negligence is all too familiar to those of us with any tenure in IT. Reading those OIG reports feels like déjà vu, because they could be about almost any enterprise.

Full article continued here.

Tagged , , ,

Are You There Business? It’s Me, Information Security

Are you there Business? It’s me, Information Security. We need to talk. I know you’re busy generating revenue and keeping the lights on, but we’ve got some critical matters to discuss. I feel like everyone hates me and thinks I’m a nag. Every time I want to talk to you about patching and vulnerabilities, I’m ignored. I’m so scared, because I’m always trying to secure the network so the bad guys don’t get into it, but no one wants to help me make sure that doesn’t happen. Honestly, I don’t feel heard. It seems like everything is about you all the time. I get it. I wouldn’t have a job without you, but I really need to feel respected in this relationship. Because let’s be honest with each other for once, if you’re breached, I’m probably the one that’s getting fired.

I understand that you don’t always remember passwords, which is why you write them down or use your pet’s name. I know that it’s takes a lot of time to follow rules that don’t always make sense. But this is important, so could you find a way to work with me?  I’d really appreciate it, because I feel so frightened and alone.

Yours Truly,

Infosec

P.S. Could you please stop using the word “cyber”in everything? I really hate that term.

P.P.S. And yes, I’m blocking porn because it really does have malware. But also because HR told me to. So please don’t get mad at me.i-wonder-if-9jgrq0

Tagged , , , ,

Cognitive Dissonance and Incident Response

“In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. California: Stanford University Press.

For your consideration, what follows is the hypothetical discussion between a Pointy Haired Fearless Leader and a Security Analyst regarding the possibility of an organization’s large, web application having been breached. The Frankenapp in question was creatively duct-taped together around the same time that dinosaurs roamed the earth. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead, is because truth is often much funnier than fiction.

SA: There’s a possibility our Super Amazing Custom Web Application has been breached.

PHFL: (Breathes into paper bag as starts to hyperventilate. In between breaths) How did this happen?!

SA: Same way it always does. A user was phished.

PHFL: But why didn’t our Extraordinarily Powerful Security Tools that cost $$$$$ stop this?!

SA: Because they don’t always work. Especially when they don’t have all the data necessary to identify malicious activity.

PHFL: But we paid $$$$$ because the vendor said it would stop APTs!

SA: This isn’t an APT.

PHFL: But we have Super Powerful Web Application Firewalls!

SA: They’re still in learning mode, because the web developers won’t work with us to identify false positives. And a WAF won’t detect phished credentials. We need multi-factor authentication to prevent this.

PHFL: But MFA annoys the users. What about the network firewalls?!

SA: Our firewalls wouldn’t have caught this and our web filtering system hasn’t worked for months.

PHFL: Do we know what accounts were compromised?

SA: We don’t have enough data. We don’t really have many application logs and the ones we do have aren’t being sent to the  SOC to be correlated.

PHFL: Why wasn’t I told about this tragic and desperately horrible situation?!

SA: I’ve been telling you every week since I took the job. I even hired someone to sky-write it twice. I’m also working on an off-Broadway musical called, We’re About to be Pwned Because Our Visibility Stinks and Our Security Tools Are Broken.

PHFL: Well, this is clearly your fault.

Dilbert On Incident Response

Tagged , , , , , ,

Security Karma

The Hacking Team debacle continues to make life miserable for defenders everywhere. Any vestige of organizational good will I  may have built up over the last year, is gone after issuing five emergency patch requests over ten days. I’m exhausted and still wondering how many more 0-days are lurking around the corner.

The compromise was epic, with hackers releasing approximately 400GB of data, including thousands of internal emails and memos which were posted on Wikileaks. Reuters reported that all this mayhem was caused by six disgruntled former employees who also released Hacking Team source code.  Frankly, I don’t have much sympathy for David Vincenzetti and his circle of douchery that includes government clients using Hacking Team’s brand of malware to spy on dissidents. While following the story, a Confucian proverb came to mind. “When you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off.”

And so it has been for The Hacking Team, now bitten by that proverbial tiger and broken, a casualty of their own hubris. Whether they can recover from this disaster is questionable. Their arrogance only surpassed by that other sad sack of the security industry, HBGary, taken down by Anonymous.

There is a story of a soldier who went to see a famous Buddhist Monk, Ajahn Chah, to ask why he had been shot on the battlefield. Why had he been chosen to suffer, was it something he had done in a past life? Ajahn Chah answered that it was the karma of a soldier to be wounded. The real meaning of karma isn’t punishment, it’s simple cause and effect. With the Hacking Team it’s a case of security karma: they chose to enter the arena of offensive security and use the tools of attackers for questionable purposes. By doing so, they increased the odds that they would themselves become an object of retaliation.

Tagged , , ,

Mythology and the OPM Hack

Seems like every security “thought leader” on the planet has commented on the OPM hack, so I might as well join in.

Although the scope of the breach is huge, there’s nothing all that new here. In fact, it’s depressing how familiar the circumstances sound to those of us who work as defenders in an enterprise. For the moment, ignore attribution, because it’s a distraction from the essential problem. OPM was failing security kindergarten. They completely neglected the basics of rudimentary security: patching vulnerabilities, keeping operating systems upgraded, multi-factor authentication for accessing critical systems, intrusion detection.

Being on a security team in an organization often means that your cries of despair land on deaf ears. Much like a mythical figure named Cassandra. She was the daughter of the Trojan king Priam and greatly admired by Apollo, who gave her the gift of prophecy. When she spurned his affections, he converted the gift into a curse. While her predictions were still true, no one would believe them.

As a recent Washington Post story reminded us, many in security have been predicting this meltdown since the 90’s. Now that IT has become a critical component of most organizational infrastructures, there’s more at stake and we’re finally getting the attention we’ve been demanding. But it may be too late in the game, leaving worn out security pros feeling like the Trojan War’s patron saint of “I told you so’s,” Cassandra.

Cassandra on TVM

Tagged , , , , , ,

Failing Security Kindergarten

Now with APT detection and automated analysis to instantly identify cyber attacks!*

I’m fascinated by the continuously evolving hype-fest surrounding the latest “innovations” in security products. Not that our current methods couldn’t use some creative approaches, but the problem is that security leadership often gets dazzled by feature road maps that have as much substance as the wisps of smoke from a genie’s bottle. The media isn’t much help, often accepting the industry’s claims with little to no validation. Inevitably, organizations surrender to the glittering new toy, sinking their precious cash into something they thought would magically restore their faith in security. Then the harsh reality hits and they realize that the only impact the tool had was on their budget, failing to improve their security posture by even an angstrom. This is how organizations fail security kindergarten.

Most enterprises would be better served by investing in the ABCs of security: documentation, policy, procedures, and essential controls. I’m mystified by organizations that will invest over 500k in fancy breach detection systems, but won’t spend a dime on centralized log correlation. The sad truth is that the basics aren’t sexy. It’s hard to “sell” critical security controls such as account monitoring, data classification and handling standards when the news is filled with stories of China hacking health insurance companies. Maybe security professionals could make more of an impact by dropping the FUD and educating leadership about the necessity of having a solid foundation. Sprinkles are great, but they don’t mean much without a tasty doughnut underneath. Besides, sprinkles are for winners.donut

*An actual line from a security vendor’s web site.

Tagged , , ,

Security Theater of the Absurd

“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.”  – Waiting for Godot

In Samuel Beckett’s infamous absurdist play, Waiting for Godot, characters engage in pointless dialog and activity while waiting for an eponymous fellow who never arrives.  I’ve always found it a tedious piece of literature, barely staying awake through the second act, which seems to exist solely for the purpose of torturing its audience. But isn’t despair the point of Theater of the Absurd?

Recently, I’ve come to realize that this play represents a perfect analogy for the daily grind of information security work. Lots of preparation for that big breach that may or may not arrive during your tenure. It often feels like the height of absurdity, going through the motions just like the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon. Often, being in information security feels like a slow simmer of stress, sapping your energy and engagement, overwhelming you with the minutia of operational tasks: malware remediation, vulnerability management, compliance initiatives. It’s an endless exercise of cycling through superstitious behaviors that may or may not result in the reduction of risk, like throwing salt over your shoulder to keep the Devil away.

Theatrical critics have spent decades bickering over the play’s meaning, which only pales in comparison to how much information security professionals argue about how to accomplish their goals. In the end, it doesn’t really seem to matter. Organizations continue to disagree about the implementation of security controls to reduce risk; they’re breached, blaming the current leadership. A fresh team is brought in and the cycle begins again, like some reincarnation of Sisyphus rolling a stone up the hill only to be crushed by the weight of inevitable failure.

“There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet.”Waiting for GodotDirty_boots

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: