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Showing posts from May, 2008

Snort Evasion Vulnerability in Frag3

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I saw this Snort news item reporting a "potential evasion in Snort." This should have been listed in the release notes for 2.8.1, which is said to fix the problem. I found the original iDefense Labs advisory which credits Silvio Cesare , who probably sold the vulnerability to iDefense Labs. From the advisory: Snort does not properly reassemble fragmented IP packets. When receiving incoming fragments, Snort checks the Time To Live (TTL) value of the fragment, and compares it to the TTL of the initial fragment. If the difference between the initial fragment and the following fragments is more than a configured amount [5], the fragments will be silently discard[ed]. This results in valid traffic not being examined and/or filtered by Snort... Exploitation of this vulnerability allows an attacker to bypass all Snort rules. In order to exploit this vulnerability, an attacker would have to fragment IP packets destined for a targeted host, ensuring that the TTL difference is gr

Excellent Schneier Article on Selling Security

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Bruce Schneier wrote an excellent article titled How to Sell Security . This is my favorite section: How does Prospect Theory explain the difficulty of selling the prevention of a security breach? It's a choice between a small sure loss -- the cost of the security product -- and a large risky loss: for example, the results of an attack on one's network... [A]ll things being equal, buyers would rather take the chance that the attack won't happen than suffer the sure loss that comes from purchasing the security product. Security sellers know this, even if they don't understand why, and are continually trying to frame their products in positive results. That's why you see slogans with the basic message, "We take care of security so you can focus on your business," or carefully crafted ROI models that demonstrate how profitable a security purchase can be. But these never seem to work. Security is fundamentally a negative sell. One solution is to stoke fe

NSM vs Encrypted Traffic, Plus Virtualization

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A blog reader sent me the following question, and prequalified me to post it anonymously. For reasons of security and compliance, more and more network connections are becoming encrypted. SSL and SSH traffic are on the rise inside our network. As we pat ourselves on the back for this, the elephant in the room stares at me...how are we going to monitor this traffic? It made me wonder if the future of security monitoring will shift to the host. It appears that the host, provided some centrally managed IDS is installed, would inspect the unencrypted traffic and report back to a HSM (host security monitoring) console. Of course, that requires software (ie an agent) on all of our hosts and jeopardizes the trust we have in our NSMs, because "the network doesn't lie". This is an excellent, common, and difficult question. I believe the answer lies in defining trust boundaries. I've been thinking about this in relation to virtualization. As many of you have probably conside

Response to Is Vulnerability Research Ethical?

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One of my favorite sections in Information Security Magazine is the "face-off" between Bruce Schneier and Marcus Ranum. Often they agree, but offer different looks at the same issue. In the latest story, Face-Off: Is vulnerability research ethical? , they are clearly on different sides of the equation. Bruce sees value in vulnerability research, because he believes that the ability to break a system is a precondition for designing a more secure system: [W]hen someone shows me a security design by someone I don't know, my first question is, "What has the designer broken?" Anyone can design a security system that he cannot break. So when someone announces, "Here's my security system, and I can't break it," your first reaction should be, "Who are you?" If he's someone who has broken dozens of similar systems, his system is worth looking at. If he's never broken anything, the chance is zero that it will be any good. This is a

Bankers: Welcome to Our World

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Did you know that readers of this blog had a warning that the world's financial systems were ready to melt down? If you read my July 2007 (one month before the crisis began) post Are the Questions Sound? , you'll remember me disagreeing with a "major Wall Street bank" CISO for calling one of my Three Wise Men (and other security people) "so stupid" for not having the "five digit accuracy" to assess risk. That degree of arrogance was the warning that the financial sector didn't know what they were talking about. The next month I posted Economist on the Peril of Models and then Wall Street Clowns and Their Models in September. Now I read a fascinating follow-up in last week's Economist titled Professionally Gloomy . I found these excerpts striking: [R]isk managers are... aware that they are having to base their decisions on imperfect information. The crisis has underlined not just their importance but also their weaknesses. Take value-a

FISMA 2007 Scores

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The great annual exercise of control-compliant security , the US Federal government 2007 FISMA report card , has been published. Since I've been reporting on this farce since 2003, I don't see a reason to stop doing so now. If you're the sort of sports fan who judges the success of your American football team by the height of the players, their 40-yard dash time, their undergraduate school, and other input metrics, you'll love this report card. If you've got any shred of sanity you'll realize only the scoreboard matters, but unfortunately we don't have a report card on that. Thanks to Brian Krebs for blogging this news item.

Trying Gigamon

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I believe I first learned of Gigamon at the 2006 RSA show. I mentioned their appliance 1 1/2 years ago in my post Pervasive Network Awareness via Interop SpyNet . Today I finally got a chance to cable a GigaVUE 422 in my lab. Gigamon describes their appliance as a "data access switch," but I prefer the term "traffic access switch." You can think of the GigaVUE as an advanced appliance for tapping, accepting tap or SPAN output, and filtering, combining, separating, and otherwise manipulating copies of that traffic for monitoring purposes. The device I received contained one fixed panel (far left in the image), plus four configurable daughter cards. This model has fixed fiber ports. At the extreme left of the image you'll see two RJ-45 ports. The top one is a copper network management port, while the lower is a console cable. The first daughter card, to the right of the fixed panel, is a GigaPORT 4 port copper expansion module. That card also has four SF

"Security": Whose Responsibility?

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I assume readers of this blog are familiar with the "CIA" triad of information security: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Having spent time with many companies in consulting and corporate roles, it occurred to me recently that two or even all three of these functions are no longer, or may never have been, the responsibility of the "security" team. The diagram at left depicts this situation, so let's examine each item in turn. Availability is probably the defining aspect of IT. If the resource isn't available, no one cares about much else. Availability problems are almost exclusively the responsibility of IT, with "uptime" being their primary metric. One would expect confidentiality to be fairly central to any "security" team's role. Exfiltration of data is partly a confidentiality problem. However, the biggest headache in the confidentiality world has been disclosure of customer personally identifiable information

MySQL Bug Fix Pace Impresses Me

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I just wanted to note that the MySQL bug I mentioned in my post First Issue of BSD Magazine Release will be fixed in MySQL 5.1.25 and 6.0.6, according to the bug report. I am really impressed by the developers' speedy reaction and resolution of the problem. When the code is available I plan to test it.

Mutually Assured DDoS

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Thanks to several of you for asking for my opinion of the article Carpet bombing in cyberspace: Why America needs a military botnet by Col. Charles W. Williamson III. I'd like to cite a few excerpts and comment directly. The world has abandoned a fortress mentality in the real world, and we need to move beyond it in cyberspace. America needs a network that can project power by building an af.mil robot network (botnet) that can direct such massive amounts of traffic to target computers that they can no longer communicate and become no more useful to our adversaries than hunks of metal and plastic. America needs the ability to carpet bomb in cyberspace to create the deterrent we lack... This is interesting. Why do we need to project force in cyberspace to deter our enemies? Cyberwar is usually cited as a means of conducting asymmetric warfare, meaning one side is much weaker than other in conventional means. Cyberwar is expected to be conducted against US assets (critical infras

Seats Filling for Black Hat and One Week Left for Techno

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I just checked the sign-up page for TCP/IP Weapons School (TWS) at Black Hat USA 2008 on 2-3 and 4-5 August 2008, at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV. Apparently (according to the color coding) there are only a few seats left in the weekday class, but more seats in the weekend class. These are my last scheduled training classes in 2008. The cost for each two-day class is now $2400 until 1 July, $2600 until 31 July, and $2900 starting 1 August. (I don't set the prices.) Register while seats are still available -- both of my sessions in Las Vegas last year sold out. Also, there's only one week left to register for my Network Security Operations (NSO) class at Techno Security 2008 on Saturday 31 May 2008 at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes , a great family vacation spot. This is the only planned offering of NSO in 2008. I'll attend the conference after the one day class. I can accommodate 25 students and each seat costs $995 for the one day class. Th

Answering Reader Questions

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Thanks to the patient readers who submitted questions while I've been on the road for work. I'd like to post a few questions here, along with my answers. Identities of those asking questions have been preserved unless noted otherwise, as is my policy. How does something like Sguil relate to something like OSSIM ? I find that I would love to use Sguil for analysis, but it doesn’t deal with HIDS, and I feel if I run both on the same network, I am overlapping a bit of things, as well as using a bit of resources redundantly? I see Sguil and OSSIM as different products. Sguil is primarily (and currently) an analyst console for network security monitoring. OSSIM (from what I have seen, and from what I have heard speaking directly with developers) is more of an interface to a variety of open source tools. That sounds similar but it is somewhat different. I don't see a reason why you have to choose between the two. I think it is important to realize that although OSSIM has

Offense Kills Pirates

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I just finished watching a great program on my favorite channel ( The History Channel ) called True Caribbean Pirates . It traces the story of piracy in the Caribbean from the 16th through the early 18th centuries. I was mostly interested in learning how the great powers of the day dealt with this problem, since I blogged about modern Pirates in the Malacca Strait and 18th and 19th century pirates off the Barbary Coast . If many modern information security practitioners had been tasked with protecting commerce in the face of piracy, they would probably have bought ever more elaborate but largely ineffective defensive measures. Instead, the royal navies of the area decided to hunt down pirates and hang them. Sure, the pirates continued their raids for a long time, but eventually the main players (England, France, Spain, Holland) stopped warring amongst themselves and directed their offensives against the pirates. We're not going to see any fundamental changes in information

Snort Report 15 Posted

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My 15th Snort Report titled Justifying Snort has been posted. I really like this post. The staff (Crystal Ferraro) at SearchSecurity did a great job editing my original submission, cutting the text but enhancing it too. Prospective book authors should judge their publishers by the quality of the editing and copyediting/proofing staffs. From the article: Service provider takeaway: Service providers will learn how to communicate the value of Snort to customers. There's a good chance that as a value-added reseller (VAR) or security service provider, you believe Snort and similar tools are valuable. However, there are plenty of technical folks that believe Snort is a waste of time. The goal of this Snort Report is to help you communicate the value of Snort to those customers whose IT departments are resistant to the open source tool. Although I focus on the value of Snort, you can apply this approach to any similar product. IDS vs. IPS I believe the majority of objections to the

Traveling Wilbury Security

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Sorry for the 20-year-old song reference, but I couldn't help myself after seeing the lines in Greg Shipley's diagram from his recent InformationWeek security article. I like what he shows but I think it can be radically more simple. The technology world can be boiled down to two camps: those who trust their products to operate as expected and those who do not. You can guess into which camp I muster. I believe the first camp is naive and detached from the real world. (The real world is the place where intruders constantly violate assumptions, subvert logic, and make a mess of well-intentioned offerings.) The first camp spends more time talking about "enabling business" and "elevating the infosec conversation" while the second camp deals with the mess caused by the first world's ignorance of security problems. Using this simple and intentionally provocative model I can propose two sets of lines. The first set could be labelled "compute"

Reminder: Bejtlich Teaching at Techno Security 2008

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As a reminder, I'll be back at Techno Security 2008 teaching Network Security Operations (NSO) on Saturday 31 May 2008 at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes , a great family vacation spot. This is the only planned offering of NSO in 2008. I'll attend the conference after the one day class. I can accommodate 25 students and each seat costs $995 for the one day class. The great news about registering for NSO is that if you sign up for the class, you get a free ticket to the entire Techno Security 2008 conference. Early registration for Techno ended 31 March 2008, so registration for the conference alone is $1295. Take my class and you get the class plus the conference for $995! In other words, if you still want to attend Techno, take my class and it's cheaper. Sounds crazy, but it's true. If you'd like to register for my NSO class, please check out the details here and return the registration form (.pdf) to me as quickly as you can. The de