Tag Archives: security

Danger: Stunt Hacking Ahead

On 4/18, Ars Technica reported on a recent 60 Minutes stunt-hacking episode by some telecom security researchers. During the episode, US representative Ted Lieu had a cell phone intercepted via vulnerabilities in the SS7 network. I’m no voice expert*, but it’s clear that both the 60 Minutes story and the Ars Technica article are pretty muddled attempts to dissect the source of these vulnerabilities. This is probably because trying to understand legacy telephony protocols such as SS7 is only slightly less challenging than reading ancient Sumerian.

Since I was dubious regarding the “findings” from these reports,  I  reached out to my VoIP bestie, @Unregistered436.

Screenshot 2016-04-20 11.33.19

 

While we can argue over how useful media FUD is in getting security issues the attention they deserve, I have other problems with this story:

  • This isn’t new information. Researchers (including the ones appearing in 60 Minutes) have been reporting on problems with SS7 for years. A cursory Google search found the following articles and presentations, including some by the Washington Post.

German Researchers Discover a Flaw That Could Let Anyone Listen to Your Cell Calls 12/18/14

Locating Mobile Phones Using Signalling System #7 1/26/13

For Sale: Systems that Can Secretly Track Where Cellphone Users Go Around the Globe 8/24/14

Toward the HLR, Attacking the SS7 & SIGTRAN Applications H2HC, Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 2009

  • If you’re going to reference critical infrastructure such as the SS7 network, why not discuss how migration efforts with IP convergence in the telco industry relate to this issue and could yield improvements? There are also regulatory concerns which impact the current state of the telecommunications infrastructure as well. Maybe Ted Lieu should start reading all those FCC documents and reports.
  • Legacy protocols don’t get ripped out or fixed overnight (IPv4 anyone?), so the congressman’s call to have someone “fired” is spurious. If security “researchers”  really want things to change, they should contribute to ITU, IEEE and IETF working groups or standards committees and help build better protocols. Or *shudder* take a job with a telecom vendor. We all need to take some ownership to help address these problems.

*If you want to learn more about telecom regulation, you should definitely follow Sherry Lichtenberg. For VoIP and SS7 security, try Patrick McNeil and Philippe Langlois.

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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.

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Fear and Loathing in Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management – the security program that everyone loves to hate, especially those on the receiving end of a bunch of arcane reports. Increasingly, vulnerability management programs seem to be monopolizing more and more of a security team’s time, mostly because of the energy involved with scheduling, validating and interpreting scans. But does this effort actually lead anywhere besides a massive time suck and interdepartmental stalemates? I would argue that if the core of your program is built on scanning, then you’re doing it wrong.

The term vulnerability management is a misnomer, because “management” implies that you’re solving problems. Maybe in the beginning scanning and vulnerability tracking helped organizations, but now it’s just another method used by security leadership to justify their every increasing black-hole budgets. “See? I told you it was bad. Now I need more $$$$ for this super-terrific tool!”

Vulnerability management programs shouldn’t be based on scanning, they should be focused on the hard stuff: policies, standards and procedures with scans used for validation. If you’re stuck in an endless cycle of scanning, patching, more scanning and more patching; you’ve failed.

You should be focused on building processes that bake build standards and vulnerability remediation into a deployment procedure. Work with your Infrastructure team to support a DevOps model that eliminates those “pet” systems. Focus on “cattle” or immutable systems that can and should be continuously replaced when an application or operating system needs to be upgraded. Better yet, use containers. Have a glibc vulnerability? The infrastructure team should be creating new images that can be rolled out across the organization instead of trying to “patch and pray” after finally getting a maintenance window. You should have a resilient enough environment that can tolerate change; an infrastructure that’s self-healing because it’s in a state of continuous deployment.

I recognize that most organizations aren’t there, but THIS should be your goal, not scanning and patching. Because it’s a treadmill to nowhere. Or maybe you’re happy doing the same thing over and over again with no difference in the result. If so, let me find you a very large hamster wheel.

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Introducing: Security SOC Puppets

Gert and Bernie

Please join Gert, Bernie and friends in their wild adventures through cyberspace! In episode one, our woolen friends explore the frustrating topic of email encryption.

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Security Threat Levels with a Side of FUD

Today the SANS Internet Storm Center raised it’s Infocon Threat Level to “yellow” due to the recently announced backdoor in Juniper devices. I wouldn’t have even known this if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me and then I felt like I was in an episode of Star Trek. I kept waiting for the ship’s computer to make an announcement so I could strap myself into my chair.

While the level names are different, the colors seem to mirror the old Homeland Security color-coded advisory system, which was eliminated in 2011 due to questions over it’s usefulness.

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According to a story on CNN.com:

“The old color coded system taught Americans to be scared, not prepared,” said ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi. “Each and every time the threat level was raised, very rarely did the public know the reason, how to proceed, or for how long to be on alert. I have raised concerns for years about the effectiveness of the system and have cited the need for improvements and transparency. Many in Congress felt the system was being used as a political scare tactic — raising and lowering the threat levels when it best suited the Bush administration.”

I have a similar experience with SANS’ Infocon and the reactions from management.

Pointy-haired Fearless Leader: OMG, the SANS Infocon is at YELLOW!!! The end of the Internet is nigh!

Much Put-Upon Security Architect: Please calm down and take a Xanax. It’s just a color.

I’d like to propose a simpler and more useful set of threat levels with recommended actions. Let’s call it the Postmodern Security Threat Action Matrix:

Level Description Action
Tin Foil Hat Normal levels of healthy paranoia You can still check your email and watch Netflix. But remember they’re always watching….
Adult Diaper It’s damn scary out there. Trust no one. Remember to update your Tor browser. Have your “go bag” ready.
Fetal Position Holy underwear Batman, it’s the end. Destroy all electronic devices and move into a bomb shelter. The Zombie Apocalypse is imminent.
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Don’t Let the Grinch Ruin Your Credit

Believe it or not, I actually like to educate my friends and acquaintances about technology. It makes my skeptical, shriveled, infosec heart grow a few sizes larger when I solve even the simplest problems, making someone’s life a little easier. So I was ecstatic to create and teach a free online-safety webinar for one of my favorite programs, AARP Tek Academy. While not as exciting as chasing down hackers or fighting a DDoS attack, it was a very rewarding experience.  And I didn’t have to argue with anyone about budgets or risk. So please share it with your Luddite friends this holiday season.

You can access the webinar here.

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Security Training for Cheapskates

During a recent webinar I gave, someone asked how soon I would be doing another one. I was flattered, but responded that because of a full-time job as an architect, my time was limited. “Besides,” I said, “you don’t need to wait for me, there’s plenty of free or inexpensive security training available online.”

Security professionals love to share and show off what they’ve learned. Some of us crave the warm fuzzy of helping our colleagues, while others do it to demonstrate their wicked skills or build their resume. Regardless of the motivation, that means there’s always abundant content to help you learn and grow.

Here’s a list of useful sites that I’ll try to keep updated. If you know of others and would like to contribute or if you think the training is outdated or bad, please let me know and I’ll adjust the list accordingly.

Securitytube.net – a project of security researcher, Vivek Ramachandran.

Hak5.org – Online security show produced by Darren Kitchen (of Pineapple WiFi router fame) and a collection of nerds who demo security tools and hacks. Includes Metasploit Minute with the awesome @Mubix.

OWASP – The Open Web Application Security Project has lots of “how to” guides and videos.

Offensive Security’s Vimeo Channel

Metasploit Unleased, Made for Hackers for Charity, an ethical hacking course provided free of charge to the InfoSec community in an effort to raise funds and awareness for underprivileged children in East Africa.

Georgia Weidman:Bulb Security – creator of the Smartphone Pentest Framework, researcher and author of Penetration Testing: A Hands-on Introduction to Hacking. She offers inexpensive online training in pentesting.

Adrian Crenshaw’s site, Irongeek, with conference and training videos.

Official BlackHat Conference Youtube Channel 

Defcon Youtube Channel 

Chaos Communication Congress videos

OpenSecurityTraining.info – CreativeCommons licensed security training site

Cyber Kung Fu for the Eight (8) Domains of CISSP – Training videos from Larry Greenblatt, a CISSP training guru.

Pentester Academy – video training site available for monthly or yearly subscription fee. Some free content.

Pentester Lab – Free online pentesting courses with practice images.

Penetration Testing Practice Lab – A mindmap of available vulnerable applications and systems practicing pentesting.

ENISA(European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) incident handling training

Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute (SEI) training – low-cost security training from a research, development and training center involved in computer software and network security.

Cybrary – free online IT and security training that grew out of a Kickstarter project.

Udemy, Coursera, edX and many universities offer MOOCs in computer science and information security. You can get a list from MOOC-Online.

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Security Vs. Virtualization

Recently, I wrote an article for Network Computing about the challenges of achieving visibility in the virtualized data center.

Security professionals crave data. Application logs, packet captures, audit trails; we’re vampiric in our need for information about what’s occurring in our organizations. Seeking omniscience, we believe that more data will help us detect intrusions, feeding the inner control freak that still believes prevention is within our grasp. We want to see it all, but the ugly reality is that most of us fight the feeling that we’re flying blind.

In the past, we begged for SPAN ports from the network team, frustrated with packet loss. Then we bought expensive security appliances that used prevention techniques and promised line-rate performance, but were often disappointed when they didn’t “fail open,” creating additional points of failure and impacting our credibility with infrastructure teams.

So we upgraded to taps and network packet brokers, hoping this would offer increased flexibility and insight for our security tools while easing fears of unplanned outages. We even created full network visibility layers in the infrastructure, thinking we were finally ahead of the game.

Then we came face-to-face with the nemesis of visibility: virtualization. It became clear that security architecture would need to evolve in order to keep up.

You can read and comment on the rest of the article here.

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Is Your Security Architecture Default-Open or Default-Closed?

One of the most significant failures I see in organizations is an essential misalignment between Operations and Security over the default network state. Is it default-open or default-closed? And I’m talking about more than the configuration of fail-open or fail-closed on your security controls.

Every organization must make a philosophical choice regarding its default security state and the risk it’s willing to accept. For example, you may want to take a draconian approach, i.e. shooting first, asking questions later. This means you generally validate an event as benign before resuming normal operations after receiving notification of an incident.

But what if the security control detecting the incident negatively impacts operations through enforcement? If your business uptime is too critical to risk unnecessary outages, you may decide to continue operating until a determination is made that an event is actually malicious.

Both choices can be valid, depending upon your risk appetite. But you must make a choice, socializing that decision within your organization. Otherwise, you’re left with confusion and conflict over how to proceed during an incident.

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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

ThreatPinch Lookup Creates informational tooltips when hovering oven an item of interest on any website. It helps speed up security investigations by automatically providing relevant information upon hovering over any IPv4 address, MD5 hash, SHA2 hash, and CVE title. It’s designed to be completely customizable and work with any rest API. Chrome and Firefox extensions.

ThreatConnect: Free and commercial options.

Censys: A search engine that allows computer scientists to ask questions about the devices and networks that compose the Internet. Driven by Internet-wide scanning, Censys lets researchers find specific hosts and create aggregate reports on how devices, websites, and certificates are configured and deployed.

RiskIQ Community Edition: comprehensive internet data to hunt for digital threats.

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

REMnux: A Linux Toolkit for Reverse-Engineering and Analyzing Malware: a free Linux toolkit for assisting malware analysts with reverse-engineering malicious software.

Detection Lab: collection of Packer and Vagrant scripts that allow you to quickly bring a Windows Active Directory online, complete with a collection of endpoint security tooling and logging best practices.

SIFT Workstation: a group of free open-source incident response and forensic tools designed to perform detailed digital forensic examinations in a variety of settings.

Security Onion: free and open source Linux distribution for intrusion detection, enterprise security monitoring, and log management.

Kali Linux: Penetration testing and security auditing Linux distribution.

Pentoo: a security-focused livecd based on Gentoo

Tails:live operating system with a focus on preserving privacy and anonymity.

Parrot: Free and open source GNU/Linux distribution designed for security experts, developers and privacy aware people.

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