Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bejtlich Teaching at Black Hat Trainings 8-9 Dec 2014

I'm pleased to announce that I will be teaching one class at Black Hat Trainings 2014 in Potomac, MD, near DC, on 8-9 December 2014. The class is Network Security Monitoring 101. I taught this class in Las Vegas in July 2013 and 2014, and Seattle in December 2013. I posted Feedback from Network Security Monitoring 101 Classes last year as a sample of the student commentary I received.

This class is the perfect jumpstart for anyone who wants to begin a network security monitoring program at their organization. You may enter with no NSM knowledge, but when you leave you'll be able to understand, deploy, and use NSM to detect and respond to intruders, using open source software and repurposed hardware.

The first discounted registration deadline is 11:59 pm EDT October 31st. The second discounted registration deadline (more expensive than the first but cheaper than later) ends 11:59 pm EST December 5th. You can register here.

I recently topped the 1,000 student count for my cumulative years of teaching my own material at Black Hat. Since starting my current Black Hat teaching run in 2007, I've completely replaced each course every other year. In 2007-2008 I taught TCP/IP Weapons School version 1. In 2009-2010 I taught TCP/IP Weapons School version 2. In 2011-2012 I taught TCP/IP Weapons School version 3. In 2013-2014 I taught Network Security Monitoring 101.

I have no plans to design a new course for 2015 and beyond. If you want to see me teach Network Security Monitoring and related subjects, Black Hat is your best option.

Please sign up soon, for two reasons. First, if not enough people sign up early, Black Hat might cancel the class. Second, if many people sign up, you risk losing a seat. With so many classes taught at this venue, the conference lacks the large rooms necessary to support big classes.

Several students asked for a more complete class outline. So, in addition to the outline posted currently by Black Hat, I present the following that shows what sort of material I cover in my new class.

OVERVIEW

Is your network safe from intruders? Do you know how to find out? Do you know what to do when you learn the truth? If you are a beginner, and need answers to these questions, Network Security Monitoring 101 (NSM101) is the newest Black Hat course for you. This vendor-neutral, open source software-friendly, reality-driven two-day event will teach students the investigative mindset not found in classes that focus solely on tools. NSM101 is hands-on, lab-centric, and grounded in the latest strategies and tactics that work against adversaries like organized criminals, opportunistic intruders, and advanced persistent threats. Best of all, this class is designed *for beginners*: all you need is a desire to learn and a laptop ready to run a virtual machine. Instructor Richard Bejtlich has taught over 1,000 Black Hat students since 2002, and this brand new, 101-level course will guide you into the world of Network Security Monitoring.

CLASS OUTLINE

Day One

0900-1030
·         Introduction
·         Enterprise Security Cycle
·         State of South Carolina case study
·         Difference between NSM and Continuous Monitoring
·         Blocking, filtering, and denying mechanisms
·         Why does NSM work?
·         When NSM won’t work
·         Is NSM legal?
·         How does one protect privacy during NSM operations?
·         NSM data types
·         Where can I buy NSM?

1030-1045
·         Break

1045-1230
·         SPAN ports and taps
·         Making visibility decisions
·         Traffic flow
·         Lab 1: Visibility in ten sample networks
·         Security Onion introduction
·         Stand-alone vs server plus sensors
·         Core Security Onion tools
·         Lab 2: Security Onion installation

1230-1400
·         Lunch

1400-1600
·         Guided review of Capinfos, Tcpdump, Tshark, and Argus
·         Lab 3: Using Capinfos, Tcpdump, Tshark, and Argus

1600-1615
·         Break

1615-1800
·         Guided review of Wireshark, Bro, and Snort
·         Lab 4: Using Wireshark, Bro, and Snort
·         Using Tcpreplay with NSM consoles
·         Guided review of process management, key directories, and disk usage
·         Lab 5: Process management, key directories, and disk usage

Day Two

0900-1030
·         Computer incident detection and response process
·         Intrusion Kill Chain
·         Incident categories
·         CIRT roles
·         Communication
·         Containment techniques
·         Waves and campaigns
·         Remediation
·         Server-side attack pattern
·         Client-side attack pattern

1030-1045
·         Break

1045-1230
·         Guided review of Sguil
·         Lab 6: Using Sguil
·         Guided review of ELSA
·         Lab 7: Using ELSA

1230-1400
·         Lunch

1400-1600
·         Lab 8. Intrusion Part 1 Forensic Analysis
·         Lab 9. Intrusion Part 1 Console Analysis

1600-1615
·         Break

1615-1800
·         Lab 10. Intrusion Part 2 Forensic Analysis
·         Lab 11. Intrusion Part 2 Console Analysis

REQUIREMENTS

Students must be comfortable using command line tools in a non-Windows environment such as Linux or FreeBSD. Basic familiarity with TCP/IP networking and packet analysis is a plus.

WHAT STUDENTS NEED TO BRING

NSM101 is a LAB-DRIVEN course. Students MUST bring a laptop with at least 8 GB RAM and at least 20 GB free on the hard drive. The laptop MUST be able to run a virtualization product that can CREATE VMs from an .iso, such as VMware Workstation (minimum version 8, 9 or 10 is preferred); VMware Player (minimum version 5 -- older versions do not support VM creation); VMware Fusion (minimum version 5, for Mac); or Oracle VM VirtualBox (minimum version 4.2). A laptop with access to an internal or external DVD drive is preferred, but not mandatory.

Students SHOULD test the open source Security Onion (http://securityonion.blogspot.com) NSM distro prior to class. The students should try booting the latest version of the 12.04 64 bit Security Onion distribution into live mode. Students MUST ensure their laptops can run a 64 bit virtual machine. For help with this requirement, see the VMware knowledgebase article “Ensuring Virtualization Technology is enabled on your VMware host (1003944)” (http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1003944). Students MUST have the BIOS password for their laptop in the event that they need to enable virtualization support in class. Students MUST also have administrator-level access to their laptop to install software, in the event they need to reconfigure their laptop in class.

WHAT STUDENTS WILL RECEIVE

Students will receive a paper class handbook with printed slides, a lab workbook, and the teacher’s guide for the lab questions. Students will also receive a DVD with a recent version of the Security Onion NSM distribution.

TRAINERS

Richard Bejtlich is Chief Security Strategist at FireEye, and was Mandiant's Chief Security Officer when FireEye acquired Mandiant in 2013. He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a board member at the Open Information Security Foundation, and an advisor to Threat Stack, Sqrrl, and Critical Stack. He is also a Master/Doctor of Philosophy in War Studies Researcher at King's College London. He was previously Director of Incident Response for General Electric, where he built and led the 40-member GE Computer Incident Response Team (GE-CIRT). Richard began his digital security career as a military intelligence officer in 1997 at the Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team (AFCERT), Air Force Information Warfare Center (AFIWC), and Air Intelligence Agency (AIA). Richard is a graduate of Harvard University and the United States Air Force Academy. His fourth book is "The Practice of Network Security Monitoring" (nostarch.com/nsm). He also writes for his blog (taosecurity.blogspot.com) and Twitter (@taosecurity), and teaches for Black Hat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Air Force Leaders Should Read This Book

I just finished reading The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory in the Evolution and Fate of the U.S. Air Force by Carl Builder. He published this book in 1994 and I wish I had read it 20 years ago as a new Air Force second lieutenant. Builder makes many interesting points in the book, but in this brief post I'd like to emphasize one of his concluding points: the importance of a mission statement.

Builder offers the following when critiquing the Air Force's mission statement, or lack thereof, around the time of his study:

[Previous] Air Force of Staff, General John P. McConnell, reportedly endorsed the now-familiar slogan

     The mission of the Air Force is to fly and fight. 

Sometime later, the next Chief, General John D. Ryan, took pains to put it more gruffly:

     The job of the Air Force is to fly and to fight, and don't you ever forget it. (p 266)

I remember hearing "Fly, Fight, Win" in the 1990s as well.

Builder correctly criticizes these mission statements on multiple grounds, none more compelling than this: how are non-flyers supposed to interpret this statement? It's simply a reminder and reinforcement of the second-class status of non-flyers in the Air Force. Furthermore, Builder more or less also notes that "fight" is often eclipsed but non-combat missions, such as airlift or humanitarian relief. Finally, Builder doesn't ask the question explicitly, but how does one define "winning"? Would wars in Iraq or Afghanistan be a "win"? That's a demoralizing way to think in my opinion.

Builder offers a wonkish, but conceptually more useful, mission statement on p 284:

The mission of the Air Force is the military control and exploitation of the aerospace continuum in support of the national interests.

The author immediately notes that one Air Force officer criticized Builder's mission statement as too "academic," but I think this particular policy wonk is on target.

Curious as to what the current Air Force mission statement says, I checked the Our Mission page and read at the top:

The mission of the United States Air Force is to fly, fight and win … in air, space and cyberspace.

Wow. That's even worse than before. Not only does it still insult non-flyers, but now the mission involves "flying" in "cyberspace."

I strongly suggest Air Force leaders read Builder's book. It's as relevant today as it was 20 years ago.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

On the Twenty Years Since My USAFA Graduation


Twenty years ago today, on 1 June 1994, 1024 of us graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, commissioned as brand new second lieutenants. As of September 2012, over 600 members of the class of 1994 were still in uniform. I expect that number is roughly the same today. Reaching the 20 year mark entitles my classmates still in uniform to retire with lifetime benefits, should they choose to do so. I expect some will, but based on patterns from earlier classes I do not expect a massive exodus. The economy is still in rough shape, and transitioning from the military to the private sector after a lifetime in uniform is a jarring experience.

I remember 1994 being a fairly optimistic year, but the personnel situation was precarious for those who wanted to fly. After graduation we found ourselves in the middle of a drawdown, with no undergraduate pilot training (UPT) slots available. One jody (marching song) of the time went as follows:

Oh there are no fighter pilots in the Air Force...(repeat)
Because there is no UPT for 94 or 93
Oh there are no fighter pilots in the Air Force...

I stayed in the Air Force until early 2001, at which point I brought my military intelligence and computer network defense skills to the private sector. I've stayed in the private world since then.

I do not regret my time in uniform, from 1990 to 2001, although I would not repeat the time I spent at the Air Force Academy. Many people are surprised to hear me say that. Upon reflection I believe those four years consisted of a mental, physical, and spiritual endurance test, and I wonder if I could have found a better match for my personality and interests elsewhere.

From an academic perspective, I made the most of my "free" education, graduating 3rd in my class with degrees in history and political science, and minors in French and German. From a leadership perspective I enjoyed my roles as an element leader during my junior year and as a flight commander my senior year. I also met some of the finest young people this nation could have produced, as well as some of the most dedicated professors I've ever known.

After 20 years of consideration, however, I've begun to realize that I endured that four year experience because I thought others expected it of me. I didn't do it for myself, and coincidentally the message the Air Force ingrained into me -- "Service Before Self" -- did nothing to balance my younger personality. In my 40s, I've managed to realize that it's ok to determine and pursue personal interests, but I wish I had figured that out in my late teens.

In a matter of weeks the class of 2018 will report for basic training. Would I tell them to go home? Of course not. My hope is that they are there because they believe their personal goals match the needs of the service. I do not believe they should be there only because they expect their country needs them. The Air Force and the nation needs the best this country can provide, but they should not expect those who serve to do so at the expense of their souls.

This fall is my 20 year reunion, and I plan to attend the event with my family. I hope to see some of my former classmates there, likely with their families. My wife and I attended the 10 year reunion in 2004, and it was a powerful and memorable experience. Today though, I would like to thank all of the class of 1994, especially those still in uniform, for their service. I also extend my best wishes to the brave men and women of the inbound class of 2018. You can do it, but do it only if you really want to be there.

Fly, fight, win!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Video of Bejtlich at Cyber Crime Conference 2014

On Tuesday the 29th of April I delivered a keynote at the US Cyber Crime Conference in Leesburg, VA.

The video is online although getting to it is more complicated than clicking on a link to YouTube.

Here's what I did to access the video.

First, visit this link for a "SabreCity" account. Fill in your "information" and click Register.

You will then see a rude message saying "Registration for this conference is now closed."

That's no problem. From the same browser now visit this link to go to the SabreCity "lobby."

Click the "On Demand" button on the right side of the screen. Now you can access all of the videos from the conference.

Mine is called "State of the Hack: 2014 M-Trends - Beyond the Breach." Click the green arrow to the left of the title to start the video.

You may be interested in several of the other interesting speakers listed as well. Thank you to Jim Christy and his team for organizing the conference, inviting me to speak, and for providing these videos for free online.

Update: You might want to know what I discuss. For the first part of the talk I summarize three key findings from the 2014 M-Trends Report. In the second part I discuss strategic security using a Civil War example then turn to a network security monitoring example. In the final minutes I answer audience questions.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Brainwashed by The Cult of the Quick

Faster is better! Those of us with military backgrounds learned that speed is a "weapon" unto itself, a factor which is "inherently decisive" in military conflict. The benefit of speed was so ingrained into my Air Force training that I didn't recognize I had been brainwashed by what Dr. Thomas Hughes rightly identified as The Cult of the Quick.

Dr. Hughes published his article of this title in the Winter 2001 issue of the Aerospace Power Journal. His main point is the following:

At a time when the American military has global commitments arrayed at variable threats, both real and potential, the Pentagon’s single-minded view of speed leaves the nation’s defenders poorly prepared for the range of military opposition and enemies they may face.

Although Dr. Hughes wrote his article in 2001, his prescription is as accurate as ever. I found his integration of Edward Luttwak's point very telling:

In the 1990s, the quest for swift war, replete with exit strategies and premature cease-fires, has led to less, not more, decisive war, as Edward Luttwak argues. For him, wars nowadays rarely “run their natural course” to “burn themselves out and establish the preconditions for a lasting settlement.” Instead, they “become endemic conflicts that never end because the transformative effects of both decisive victory and exhaustion are blocked.” The present struggle against terrorism may well prove an acid test for Luttwak’s point.

These points resonated with me because they reflected what I am learning about the US Civil War. Scott, Grant and Lincoln knew that a quick, early strike against Richmond, whereby the Union seized the capital of the Confederacy, would not decisively end the Civil War and bring the rebels back to the Union. Sad as it may seem, the rebels had to believe that there was no further point in fighting the war. If Richmond had fallen in 1861, only months after the attack on Fort Sumter, it's likely the Confederacy would have transferred their capital and kept fighting. Following the advice of the "cult of the quick" would have been a poor strategy during the Civil War. (That doesn't necessarily justify fighting a four year conflict, but I believe a strategy of quickly capturing Richmond to the exclusion of other objectives would have resulted in Civil War 2, and so on, similar to World War II.)

On the cyber side, the article reminded me of an area where speed is often paramount: detection and response. However, I remembered that my guidance on "fast" containment has always integrated one exception, as I noted on page 199 of my newest book, The Practice of Network Security Monitoring:

The speed with which a CIRT and constituent take containment actions is the subject of hot debate in the security world. Some argue for fast containment in order to limit risk; others argue for slower containment, providing more time to learn about an adversary. The best answer is to contain incidents as quickly as possible, as long as the CIRT can scope the incident to the best of its capability.

Scoping the incident means understanding the intruder’s reach. Is he limited to interacting with only the one computer identified thus far? Does he control more computers, or even the entire network by virtue of exploitation of the Active Directory domain controllers?

The speed with which a CIRT can make the containment decision is one of the primary ways to measure its maturity. If the CIRT regularly learns of the presence of advanced (or even routine) threats via notification by external parties, then rapid containment is less likely to be effective. A CIRT that cannot find intrusions within its own environment is not likely to be able to rapidly scope an incident. “Pulling the plug” on the first identified victim will probably leave dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other victims online and available to the adversary.

On the other hand, if the CIRT develops its own threat intelligence, maintains pervasive visibility, and quickly finds intruders on its own, it is more likely to be able to scope an incident in a minimum amount of time. CIRTs with that sort of capability should establish the intruder’s reach as rapidly as possible, and then just as quickly contain the victim(s) to limit the adversary’s options. (emphasis added)

I highly recommend reading The Cult of the Quick. You may find you have also been brainwashed!

Gunfight picture credits: Popular Mechanics

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Five Thoughts on New China Article

I just read a thoughtful article by Michael O'Hanlon and James Steinberg, posted at Brookings and Foreign Policy titled Don't Be a Menace to South (China Sea).

It addresses thorny questions regarding China as President Obama visits South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

I wanted to share five quick thoughts on the article, fully appreciating I don't have all the answers to this complex strategic problem.

1. "Many in China see the U.S. rebalance as ill-disguised containment, while many in the United States see Chinese military modernization and territorial assertiveness as strong indications that Beijing seeks to undermine Washington's alliances and drive the United States from the Western Pacific."

I agree with these statements as being perceptions by both sides, but I also think they are closer to the truth than what the authors believe. I recommend Dr Ashley Tellis' monograph Balancing Without Containment: An American Strategy for Managing China as the best strategy I've seen for handling this aspect of the problem.

2. "Compounding this challenge, the long-term intentions of both sides are inherently unknowable. The inclination in the face of such uncertainty is to prepare for the worst -- which all too frequently becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

I disagree that long-term intentions are inherently unknowable. Building on the first point, the Chinese want to project regional power without US interference, and the US wants to maintain the ability to protect power globally. That means the two sides will be in conflict in the South China Sea and other regional Chinese waters.

3. "That does not mean Washington must immediately unsheathe the sword if tensions escalate over China's actions near the Senkakus or disputed islands in the South China Sea, but it must make clear that it is prepared to impose significant costs if red lines are crossed -- which is why the response to Russia's actions in Ukraine is so salient to the situation in East Asia."

I believe many commentators and policymakers cringe at the term "red lines" when applied to the current administration. The President's use of the term with respect to Syrian weapons of mass destruction has weakened his position. Perhaps more importantly, just what are the "red lines" in the South China Sea? The authors recommend meeting alliance commitments, but what does that mean?

4. "U.S. allies in Asia worry that China's ability to impose economic costs against the United States might deter Washington from acting -- a concern exacerbated by U.S. and European caution in imposing costs on Russia. The late March expansion of sanctions against Russia should help reassure U.S. allies of Washington's willingness to accept the risks of economic retaliation in order to impose costs on those who cross red lines."

There are few similarities between the US-Russia and US-China economic relationships. The risks of economic retaliation from Russia are far smaller than those that could be applied by China. US allies should worry about China's ability to impose economic costs against the US, but that is tempered somewhat by the effects those sanctions could have against China itself.

5. "The United States and its allies also have an interest in reassuring China that if Beijing acts responsibly, they will not seek to thwart its future prosperity and security... These might include "Open Skies" reconnaissance agreements, where both sides allow territorial overflights to reduce concerns about concealment...

Just as important as formal agreements is the willingness of both sides to exercise restraint in defensive actions that might appear threatening; to enhance transparency to dispel misunderstandings; and to reciprocate positive actions to stimulate a virtuous circle of enhanced confidence. This might mean Chinese willingness to slow the rate of its military buildup rather than race for parity." (emphasis added)

What does "act responsibly" mean? In US eyes, it probably means the Chinese allow the US to project power globally, including in the South China Sea. As I mentioned above, the Chinese don't want this to be the case in the medium and long term.

"Open skies" agreements and "enhanced transparency" are non-starters for China, just as they were non-starters for the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Strategic theory explains why. China is militarily weaker than the United States. They fear that the more the US learns about Chinese capabilities, the more accurately and effectively the US will be able to target and neutralize those capabilities. The Chinese follow this approach with nuclear weapons and cyber weapons, as we saw with the latter recently (see Adam Segal's What Briefing Chinese Officials On Cyber Really Accomplishes.)

I see few situations where China would slow its military buildup, with the exception of nuclear weapons. With nuclear weapons, the important feature is a first-strike-survivable retaliation capability. The Chinese don't need to match the US warhead-for-warhead if the US knows we can't get away with a first strike against China. (To learn more about this dynamic, see Strategic Stability: Contending Interpretations.)

On the conventional side, the Chinese are more likely to try to outbuild the US, because they still lack a qualitative advantage compared to US forces. Given declining US budgets, the Chinese should be able to out-spend and out-build the US Navy and Air Force, the two most critical services for a future US-China conflict.

Overall, this is a very tough problem, but I recommend reading the piece by Dr Tellis for the best answer I've read concerning strategic approaches to the US-China issue in the South China Sea.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are Nation States Responsible for Evil Traffic Leaving Their Networks?

During recent talks to various audiences, I've mentioned discussions within the United Nations. One point from these discussions involved certain nation states agreeing to modes of behavior in cyber space. I found the document containing these recent statements: A/68/98, Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (pdf). This document is hosted within the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, in the developments in the field of information and telecommunications section.

Fifteen countries were involved in producing this document: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, China, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

Within the section titled "Recommendations on norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour by States," I found the following noteworthy:

19. International law, and in particular the Charter of the United Nations, is applicable and is essential to maintaining peace and stability and promoting an open, secure, peaceful and accessible ICT environment...

23. States must meet their international obligations regarding internationally wrongful acts attributable to them. States must not use proxies to commit internationally wrongful acts. States should seek to ensure that their territories are not used by non-State actors for unlawful use of ICTs.

The first statement is important because it "imports" a large body of external law and agreements into the cyber field, for good or ill.

The second statement is important because, if States obey these principles, it has interesting effects upon malicious activity leaving State networks. Collectively these sentences imply that States are responsible for their networks. States can't claim that they are only innocent intrusion victims, and that any malicious activity leaving their State isn't their fault or problem.

Whether States try to meet these obligations, and whether others call them out for not meeting them, is another matter.