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Showing posts from September, 2008

Wanted: Incident Handler with Mentoring Skills

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Previously I posted Wanted: Incident Handler with Reverse Engineering/Malware Analysis Skills . That article noted our GE Careers job posting (843369). We received several great candidates with reverse engineering and malware skills, but none in Cincinnati. Therefore, I am shuffling the positions a bit. The RE/malware person does not need to reside in Cincinnati, but now I need a different incident handler definitely located in Cincinnati. The incident handler in Cincinnati should meet the following requirements. Strong incident handling skills. I want this person to be able to speak authoritatively and confidently when dealing with internal business partners. (This is not a job supporting external customers.) Strong mentoring skills. This candidate will interact daily with our Command Center personnel. The Command Center will be the 24x7 component of our Incident Response Center. This incident handler will need to be a mentor and coach for the Command Center analysts, altho

Snort Report 19 Posted

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My 19th Snort Report titled Using SnortSP and Snort 2.8.2 has been posted. From the article: Solution provider takeaway: Solution providers will learn how to set up two Snort 3.0 beta components -- the Snort Security Platform (SnortSP) and the Snort 2.8.2 detection engine on the SnortSP. In the last Snort Report , I discussed the architectural basics of Snort 3.0. The new Snort system consists of the Snort Security Platform (SnortSP) plus an assortment of engines. SnortSP is a foundation that provides traffic-inspection functions, like packet acquisition, traffic decoding, flow management and fragment reassembly. Each engine runs as a module on SnortSP. The first available module is a port of Snort 2.8.2 specifically for running on top of SnortSP. I can never tell when SearchSecurity will post these articles... this one is dated 5 Sep but I just noticed it online.

Why Blog?

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Recently a group of managers at work asked me to explain why I blog. This is a very good question, because the answer might not be intuitively obvious. Perhaps by sharing my rationale here, I might encourage others to blog as well. Blogging organizes thoughts. Recently I nodded in agreement when I heard a prolific author explain why he writes. He said the primary purpose for writing his latest book was to organize his thoughts on a certain topic. Writing an entire book is too much for most of us, but consolidating your ideas into a coherent statement is usually sufficient. Blogging captures and shares thoughts. Once your thoughts are recorded in electronic form, you can refer to them and point others to them. If I am asked for an opinion, I can often point to a previous blog post. If the question is interesting enough, I might write a new post. That satisfies this reason and the previous one. Blogging facilitates public self-expression. This is a positive aspect of the mod

Is Experience the Only Teacher in Security?

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Another reader asked me this question, so I thought I might share it with you: I'm really struggling with... how to communicate risk and adequate controls to the business managers at my employer... To put it bluntly, this is the first time the company has really looked at it [security] at all and they don't really want to deal with it. They have to because of the business we are in though... So while I've got a blazing good example of what doesn't work, I still don't know what does. What are some good resources that you have found in communicating security (or other) risks to business? Are there books, blogs or authors that you would recommend? I've written about this problem in the past, in posts like Disaster Stories Help Envisage Risks and Analog Security is Threat-Centric . I'll be speaking about this problem in my SANS Forensics Summit keynote next month, with the theme of "speaking truth to power." Throughout my career, I've f

Security vs IT at Computerworld

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A long-time blog reader pointed me towards this Computerworld article Making enemies, but needing allies . I must absolutely emphasize that this story is not me, nor does it reflect issues I have. However, my blog reader asked me specifically to ask if any of you share this problem, and if yes, how do you handle it? Our fledgling security organization is starting to run into some significant relationship challenges. As we're beginning to build our information security program from scratch, we're causing some friction. In my company, information security is part of the IT department, but like several other IT disciplines, it reports directly to the CIO. As a result, the infosec and IT support teams are peers, a relationship as uneasy as that of siblings. Over the past couple of weeks, tensions between our teams have been rising sharply ... As we try to bring security to an acceptable level, we are introducing new policies and standards that are being met with hostility by

VizSec and RAID Wrap-Up

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Last week I attended VizSec 2008 and RAID 2008 . I'd like to share a few thoughts about each event. I applaud the conference organizers for scheduling these conferences in the same city, back-to-back. That decision undoubtedly improved attendance and helped justify my trip. Thank you to John Goodall for inviting me to join the VizSec program committee. I enjoyed the VizSec keynote by Treemap inventor Ben Shneiderman. I liked attending a non-security talk that had security implications. Sometimes I focus so strictly on security issues that I miss the wider computing field and opportunities to see what non-security peers are developing. I must admit that I did not pay as much attention to the series of speakers that followed Prof Shneiderman as I would have liked. Taking advantage of the site's wireless network, I was connected to work the entire day doing incident handling. I did manage to speak with Raffy Marty during lunch, which was (as always) enlightening.

CERIAS to CAE: We're Not a Lemon

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Every so often we discuss topics like starting out in digital security on this blog. Formal education is one method, with one approach being a Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education . This program reports "93 Centers across 37 states and the District of Columbia." At first glance it is tough to see a downside to this program. This is why I was surprised to read Centers of Academic... Adequacy , a recent post by Dr Gene Spafford. The core argument appears in this excerpt: [W]e do not believe it is possible to have 94 (most recent count) Centers of Excellence in this field. After the coming year, we would not be surprised if the number grew to over 100, and that is beyond silly. There may be at most a dozen centers of real excellence , and pretending that the ability to offer some courses and stock a small library collection means “excellence” isn’t candid. The program at this size is actually a Centers of Adequacy program . That isn’t intend

Cost of Intellectual Property Theft

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I liked the following excerpt from Tim Wilson's story Experts: US Is Not Prepared to Handle Cyber Attacks : If the bad guys launched a coordinated cyber attack on the United States tomorrow, neither government nor industry would be able to stop it, experts warned legislators yesterday. At a hearing held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, cyber defense experts testified that government agencies are insufficiently coordinated to handle an attack, and that efforts to build a defense have not adequately addressed issues in the private sector... [Paul] Kurtz [a partner with Good Harbor Consulting and a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies's (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity] registered concerns about the theft of intellectual property from U.S. companies, which he said is occurring at a rate of $200 billion a year. "American industry and government are spending billions of dollars to develop new products and technology that are

On Breakership

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Last week Mark Curphey asked Are You a Builder or a Breaker . Even today at RAID 2008 , the issue of learning or teaching offensive techniques ("breakership") was mentioned. I addressed the same issue a few months ago in Response to Is Vulnerability Research Ethical . Mark channels the building architecture theme by mentioning Frank Lloyd-Wright. I recommend reading my previous post for comprehensive thoughts, but I'd like to add one other component. Two years I wrote Digital Security Lessons from Ice Hockey where I made a case for defenders to develop offensive skills in order to be "well-rounded." Why is that? Turning to the building architecture idea Mark mentioned, why don't classical architects learn "offense," i.e., why aren't they "well-rounded"? It turns out that classical architects do learn some "offense," except they limit themselves to the natural physics of their space and less on what an intelligent

Wanted: Incident Handler with Reverse Engineering/Malware Analysis Skills

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I am looking for an incident handler with reverse engineering and malware analysis skills to join a new security organization we are building within General Electric. We are hiring several people, so the generic job description appears on our GE Careers site under job number 843369. This is a GE employee position with great benefits and career prospects. For this specific role, I am looking for the following qualities: Strong incident handling skills. I want this person to be able to speak authoritatively and confidently when dealing with internal business partners. (This is not a job supporting external customers.) If you are a great RE but are not comfortable doing generic incident handling, please do not apply. Intermediate-to-advanced reverse engineering and malware analysis skills. I am looking for someone who can tear apart malicious code that we encounter, determine how it works, and what we can do to resist and detect it. Intermediate coding skills. The ability to m

Bejtlich to Judge NYU-Poly CSAW Forensics Challenge

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Dr. Nasir Memon was kind enough to ask me to be a judge at the Forensics Challenge component of the 5th annual Cyber Security Awareness Week , held by the Information Systems and Internet Security Lab within the Polytechnic Institute of New York University . NYU-Poly's ISIS lab is an NSF-funded lab and a NSA designated Center of Excellence that provides focus for multidisciplinary research and hands-on education in emerging areas of information security. Anyone can participate in the challenge, which ISIS designed. (I have no knowledge of it, so I am considered "impartial.") Review the instructions on the Forensics Challenge Web site, and be sure to submit your analysis no later than Thursday 25 September 2008 . I will not be able to attend the awards ceremony on 14 October, since I will be speaking at the SANS Forensics event that day. However, I will help judge the submissions.

Internal Security Staff Matters

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I read Gunter Ollmann 's post in the IBM ISS blog with interest today. Gunter is "Director Security Strategy, IBM Internet Security Systems," so he is undoubtedly pro-outsourcing. Here is his argument: [S]ecurity doesn’t come cheap. While individual security technologies get cheaper as they commoditize, the constant influx of new threats drives the need for new classes of protection and new locations to deploy them... If you were to examine a typical organizations IT security budget, you’d probably see that the majority of spend isn’t in new appliances or software license renewals, instead it’ll lie in the departments staffing costs... This is at odds with the way most organizations normally deal with specialized and professional skill requirements... Just about every organization I deal with (including some of the biggest international companies) relies upon external agencies to provide these specialist services and consultancy – as and when required – it’s more c

The Analyzer Charged Again

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I read a name I hadn't seen in years today when I read Kim Zetter's story Israeli Hacker Known as "The Analyzer" Suspected of Hacking Again : Canadian authorities have announced the arrest of a 29-year-old Israeli named Ehud Tenenbaum whom they believe is the notorious hacker known as "The Analyzer" who, as a teenager in 1998, hacked into unclassified computer systems belonging to NASA, the Pentagon, the Israeli parliament and others. Tenenbaum and three Canadians were arrested for allegedly hacking the computer system of a Calgary-based financial services company and inflating the value on several pre-paid debit card accounts before withdrawing about CDN $1.8 million (about U.S. $1.7 million) from ATMs in Canada and other countries. The arrests followed a months-long investigation by Canadian police and the U.S. Secret Service. The Analyzer was the "mastermind" behind Solar Sunrise , one of the original " so easy a Caveman could do it &q

Bejtlich Keynote at 1st ACM Workshop on Network Data Anonymization

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Brian Trammell and Bill Yurcik were kind enough to ask me to deliver the keynote at the 1st ACM Workshop on Network Data Anonymization (NDA 2008). The one day event takes place 31 October 2008 at George Mason University in northern VA. My talk will discuss the trials and tribulations of OpenPacket.org , and changes planned for the project.

Request for Feedback on Deny by Default

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A friend of mine is working on digital defense strategies at work. He is interested in your commentary and any relevant experiences you can share. He is moving from a "deny bad, allow everything else" policy to an "allow good, deny everything else" policy. By policy I mean a general approach to most if not all defensive strategies. On the network, define which machines should communicate, and deny everything else. On the host, define what applications should run, and deny everything else. In the browser, define what sites can be visited, and deny everything else. That's the central concept, although expansions are welcome. My friend would like to know if anyone in industry is already following this strategy, and to what degree. If you can name your organization all the better (even if privately to me, or to him once the appropriate introductions are made). Thank you.

Bejtlich Keynote at SANS Forensics Summit

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Rob Lee was kind enough to ask me to deliver the keynote on the second day of the SANS WhatWorks in Incident Response and Forensic Solutions Summit . The two-day event takes place 13-14 October 2008 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. The conference agenda looks great, with training classes available before and after the summit. The tuition fee is $1,595 if paid by 10 Sep or $1,845 thereafter. I am very much looking forward to attending this event. Rob also pointed out the new SANS Computer Forensics and E-discovery Community and SANS Forensics Blog .

Microsoft Network Monitor 3.2 Beta for Tracking Traffic Origination

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I'm always looking for a tool to map the traffic to or from a host with the process receiving or sending it. Today I noticed that Microsoft Network Monitor offers a beta that appears to have the functionality, according to this Netmon blog post . I visited the Netmon site on Microsoft Connect (registration required) to download beta 3.2. I ran two live capture tests to see what Netmon 3.2 beta would report. As you can see in this first screen capture, the vast majority of traffic is considered "unknown." I tried using ping.exe in a cmd.exe terminal. I tried using ftp.exe in the same cmd.exe terminal. I used Firefox to watch a YouTube video, and I used Microsoft Media Player to view some video. It seemed that the more time an activity occupied, the more likely Netmon would associate it with the right process. For example, downloading a FreeBSD .iso through Firefox appeared associated with Firefox, but visiting most Web sites did not. I tried a second sessio

Schneier Agrees: Security ROI is "Mostly Bunk"

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I know a lot more people pay attention to Bruce Schneier than they do to me, so I was thrilled to read his story on Security ROI (also in CSO Magazine ): Return on investment, or ROI, is a big deal in business. Any business venture needs to demonstrate a positive return on investment, and a good one at that, in order to be viable. It's become a big deal in IT security, too. Many corporate customers are demanding ROI models to demonstrate that a particular security investment pays off. And in response, vendors are providing ROI models that demonstrate how their particular security solution provides the best return on investment. It's a good idea in theory, but it's mostly bunk in practice. Before I get into the details, there's one point I have to make. "ROI" as used in a security context is inaccurate. Security is not an investment that provides a return , like a new factory or a financial instrument. It's an expense that, hopefully, pays for itself

Enterprise Users Should Not Be Records Managers

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I found J. Timothy Sprehe's FCW article Seeking the records decider interesting. The whole article is worth reading, and it's short, but I'll post some excerpts to get the point across: Like everyone else — including NARA — GAO assumes and accepts that employees will decide whether e-mail messages are federal records. It is fundamentally wrong to lodge decision-making for records management at the desktop PC level. It means the agency has as many records managers as it has e-mail users — a patent absurdity. Managing e-mail at the desktop level is failing everywhere... Records management works best when it happens in the background in a way that is transparent to employees... Conventional wisdom says the technology for making e-mail management decisions at the software or server level is not yet mature. In my judgment, that mindset demonstrates a lack of imagination and an unwillingness to tackle old questions in new ways... The Air Force is moving even further with

Standards for System Administration

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My favorite article from the August ;login: magazine is online: "Standard Deviations" of the Average System Administrator (.pdf) by Alva Couch. I'd like to highlight some excerpts: System administrators have a surprising amount in common with electricians. Both professions require intensive training. Both professions are plagued by amateurs who believe (erroneously) that they can do a good job as a professional. Both professions are based upon a shared body of knowledge. But electricians can call upon several resources that system administrators lack. Electricians have a legally mandated mentorship/apprenticeship program for training novices. They have a well-defined and generally-accepted profession of job grades, from apprentice to journeyman to master. They advance in grade partly through legally mandated apprenticeship and partly through legally mandated certifications. These certifications test for knowledge of a set of standards for practice—again, mandated

NetworkMiner

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Thanks to the great Toolsmith article by Russ McRee, I decided to try Eric Hjelmvik's NetworkMiner , a Windows-based network forensic tool. You might think that Wireshark is the only tool you need for network forensics, but I maintain that Wireshark (while a great tool) is best used for packet-by-packet analysis. 95% of network forensics investigations are mostly concerned with the application layer data passed during a transaction, not the value of the initial sequence number sent in a SYN segment. I intend to keep an eye on NetworkMiner because it's free and very easy to use. It would be great to see functionality in NetworkMiner merged into Wireshark. For example, I don't see any reason to implement feature requests for parsing any protocol that Wireshark already supports (which is basically every protocol that matters). NetworkMiner should focus on content extraction and perhaps leverage Wireshark where it can.