Showing posts from July, 2009

Thoughts from Black Hat USA 2009

Black Hat USA 2009 is history. My two classes of TCP/IP Weapons School 2.0 went very well. I should be back to teach in DC, Barcelona, and Las Vegas next year. Thank you to my students for your positive feedback and cooperation in class! Despite your numbers we had little to no problems and I believe everyone learned something useful. For future classes I will add a table of contents, focus the questions, add more on my personal methodologies, and add more consistent page numbers to the class books. I added two of your comments to my Training page, and I'll add one other here: The instructor was great. Very informative and very "in the weeds" for a Director! That made me laugh. I recorded my take-aways from the Briefings using my new account. Moxie Marlinspike delivered my favorite briefing. He completely demolished SSL, and he presented the material in a very understandable story. As one attendee commented to me: "he told a s

What is Cloud?

The slide at left was one of my favorites from Craig Balding's Cloud Security Ghost Story talk from Black Hat EU earlier this year. I like that he shows that a "cloud" does not mean a "VM farm" run by admins who require users to endure lengthy provisioning processes, followed by requests from the IT department for the supposed "customer" to provide information and resources they would expect to get from the Cloud. Real Clouds are provisioned via credit card, are trivial and transparent to extend, and make life easier for the customer, not a hassle!

Notes from OISF Meeting in DC

This month I was pleased to attend a public meeting of the Open Information Security Foundation in Washington, DC. I got a chance to meet several people I have known for many years through their work with Snort, such as Matt Jonkman , Will Metcalf , Victor Julien , Frank Knobbe , and two guys from a federal agency that have extended Sguil way beyond what I knew anyone was doing! The group posted DC Brainstorming Meeting Notes , but I wanted to record a few thoughts here. OISF is a US nonprofit, a 501c(3). Their goal is to produce a new network inspection and filtering engine (IDS/IPS) that will be released under GPLv2. They can not and will not commercialize, sell, patent, copyright, or profit from the engine. Rather, others who participate in the OISF Consortium (listed on their Web site) are donating coders, equipment, and financial support in exchange for the ability to commercialize the engine. OISF works with the Open Source Software Institute , famous for getting FIPS v

Guest Post at

I was asked to write a guest post for the new blog, so I published Threat-Centric Thinking on the Rise . From that post: A lot of people have been discussing denial of service attacks against various Important Sites earlier this month. It struck me that the focus of the discussion, really to the exclusion of anything else, has been one question: "who did it?" Think about that for a second. If this attack had happened in 1996, we would have asked "how did that happen?" In other words, network DoS was new enough to warrant a technical examination of the event. Attribution would be a concern, but most people would want to know how it happened...

Review of Voice over IP Security Posted

Image just posted my four star review of Voice over IP Security by Patrick Park. From the review : The reviews of Voice over IP Security are fairly consistent at 4 stars, and I agree with that consensus. I've read a few books on this topic, and early titles were fairly awful. My favorite remains Hacking Exposed: VoIP, but a comparison with Voice over IP Security shows different audiences for the two books. The HE book is better suited for those assessing VoIP systems, while this book is better for engineers and those implementing VoIP systems.

Direct Financial Cost of Intrusions

Thanks to the blog reader who directed me to the Washington Times story Contractor returns money to Pentagon : Apptis Inc., a military information technology provider, repaid $1.3 million of a $5.4 million Pentagon contract after investigators said the company provided inadequate computer security and a subcontractors system was hacked from an Internet address in China ... Apptis agreed to the repayment after the Defense Criminal Investigative Service concluded the company and a subcontractor failed to provide "proper network security and information assurance services," according to the report, released in June. The subcontractors system under Apptis management was intruded upon "with total access to the root network" from an Internet address in China, the report said. Wow. Can anyone think of another case where a company was "fined" by a customer for an intrusion? Usually we only hear of PCI issues.

SANS Forensics and Incident Response 2009 Summit Round-Up

I'd like to share a few thoughts from the second SANS WhatWorks Summit in Forensics and Incident Response , where I delivered the keynote. I could only attend the first day, but I thought it was definitely worthwhile. I was given a few questions which I promised to answer on this blog, so here they are. With your background with Information Operations and cyber security, what would you advise the new U.S. Cyber Command ? What should their priorities be? I've written a lot on cyber command over the years. I believe their first priority is to create a real career path for cyber operators. Tools, tactics, and procedures are secondary to attracting and retaining talent. You can accomplish amazing feats if you have the right butts in the seats. Without that, you are guaranteed to fail. Part of that will involve identifying all of the people with cyber duties in the military. Once they have that part working, I would advise Cyber Command to think in terms of a Cyber NORA

Free Issue of Linux+ Magazine Posted

A free issue of Linux+ magazine is available -- look for the link to "Free Issue: Linux in Mission Critical". It's 68 pages of Linux information, for free! Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las Vegas registration ends 22 July.

Review of vi(1) Tips Posted

Image just posted my five star review of vi(1) Tips by Jacek Artymiak. From the review : I agree with just about everything that appeared in KN's review. Jacek Artymiak has written a sort of "vi(1) for the Desperate" covering all of the aspects of vi I would like to see addressed. I could see this book used in an introductory Unix class where the students are expected to try all of the examples. Jacek posted the sample files used in the book examples at, so you can easily follow along. Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las Vegas registration ends 22 July.

Cisco Routers for the Desperate, 2nd Ed

A little over four years ago I reviewed the first edition of Michael W. Lucas' Cisco Routers for the Desperate . A second edition has been published, but since my first review is still posted at I can't post another. Also, Michael asked me to tech-edit the second edition, and I don't formally rate books in which I play a part. (Authors and others who are involved in books -- it's bad form to give your own product five stars!) I gave the first edition four stars because it missed a few areas I thought were important. I'd give the new edition five stars if I were not involved. Michael literally fixed the areas I found in the first edition (like p 20 in the new edition reminding users to issue the "no shutdown" command) and added a new chapter on basic switch administration. If you are one of the "poor bastards who are awake at oh-dark-thirty trying to get their router working," you should keep a copy of this book nearby. Michael

White Hat Budgeting

After publishing Black Hat Budgeting last month, several readers asked me how to spend the same $1 million on defense. This is a more difficult question. As I wrote in the previous post, for $1 million per year an adversary could fund a Western-salaried black hat team that could penetrate and persist in roughly any target it chose to attack. That does not hold true for defense, i.e., for $1 million per year a defender could not fund a Western-salaried white hat team that could plan, resist, detect, and respond to any $1 million black hat team. So, if you had $1 million to spend on defense, how could you spend it? I turned to my 2008 post Defensible Network Architecture 2.0 as a guide. One interesting aspect of the eight DNA 2.0 tenets is that half of them are IT responsibilities (or at least I would strongly argue they are): inventoried, claimed, minimized, current. All of that is just "good IT." Security can provide inputs, but IT should own those aspects. That

FreeBSD Pf and Tftp-proxy

Several IP-enabled devices in the lab use TFTP to retrieve configuration files from various locations on the Internet. This pains me. You can probably imagine what these devices are. Unfortunately I don't control how these devices work. I run Sguil at my lab gateway to the Internet. I watch traffic right before the gateway, before it is NAT'd. I really don't care what's on the other side. I mostly care what is leaving the network, so I concentrate my NSM activities there. I noticed one of these TFTP-enabled devices trying to retrieve a file repeatedly. I looked closer at the traffic (thanks to Sguil I keep a record of traffic leaving for the Internet) and noticed I never saw any replies. Simultaneously I received an email from tech support for this device. They told me to unplug all Internet devices from my cable modem and plug the troublesome device into the cable modem overnight (!) My answer to that: "heck no." I decided to run an experiment

Review of Practical Intrusion Analysis Posted

Image just published my three star review of Practical Intrusion Analysis by Ryan Trost. From the review : I must start this review by stating the lead author lists me in the Acknowledgments and elsewhere in the book, which I appreciate. I also did consulting work years ago for the lead author's company, and I know the lead author to be a good guy with a unique eye for applying geography to network security data. Addison-Wesley provided me a review copy. I did not participate in the writing process for Practical Intrusion Analysis (PIA), but after reading it I think I know how it unfolded. The lead author had enough material to write his two main sections: ch 10, Geospatial Intrusion Detection, and ch 11, Visual Data Communications. He realized he couldn't publish a 115-page book, so he enlisted five contributing authors who wrote chapters on loosely related security topics. Finally the lead author wrote two introductory sections: ch 1, Network Overview, and ch 2, Inf

Must-Read Verizon Post Demolishes More Myths

I'm a big fan of the 2009 Verizon Data Breach Report . Today I read Compromised Assets & Data: But our company doesn’t handle credit cards... by Verizon's Bryan Sartin. It's an excellent post. I'd like to post several excerpts, emphasizing and expanding on certain points. I find it fascinating that no matter where in the world you go, what type of company you talk to, public or private sector, you find two very common beliefs: 1. All data stolen in security breach is a result of lost assets, not systems-related intrusions. 2. I don’t handle payment cards (credit or debit) - so this stuff does not apply to me. If you could only understand how outrageous these sound from the standpoint of the computer forensic investigator. Both thought processes couldn’t be more wrong. I hear these refrains as well, or at least I see the effects of devoting resources to other projects. Bryan continues: Pretty much everyone I speak to firmly believes that in the r

Review of Security Monitoring Posted

Image just posted my four star review of Security Monitoring by Chris Fry and Martin Nystrom. From the review : I must start this review by noting that the authors of Security Monitoring (SM) cite my blog and books several times, which is appreciated. I must also mention that their boss Gavin Reid, who posted a review below, has offered to sponsor my company's application to the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST). O'Reilly kindly provided a review copy of SM. I think SM should be positioned as an Introduction to Basic Security Monitoring. At just over 200 pages, it's not written to be much more than that. I'm not sure I will change the mind of the reviewer who considers my first book to be "introductory," but it might help to remember that my first book is just shy of 800 pages and covers every aspect of Network Security Monitoring. SM is technically correct, but its approach to incident detection will fall far short of what is ne

You Down with APT?

Today I had shared a phone call with a very knowledgable and respected security industry analyst. During the course of the conversation he made a few statements which puzzled me, so I asked him "do you know what APT means?" He might have thought I was referring to the Debian Advanced Package Tool or apt, but that's not what I meant. When I said Advanced Persistent Threat, it still didn't ring any bells with him. I decided to do some searching on the Web to see what was available regarding APT. Helpfully, BusinessWeek just published Under Cyberthreat: Defense Contractors this week. The article begins like this: Northrop Grumman's info security chief addresses the "well-resourced, highly sophisticated" attacks against makers of high-tech weaponry... The defense industry faces "a near-existential threat from state-sponsored foreign intelligence services" that target sensitive IP, according to a report by the Internet Security Alliance , a

Traffic Talk 6 Posted

My 6th edition of Traffic Talk , titled Wireshark 1.2 tutorial: Open source network analyzer's new features has been posted. From the article: Wireshark is a staple of any network administrator's toolkit, and it can be equally useful for any network solution providers or consultants who troubleshoot business networks. Most of the readers of this tutorial have probably used Gerald Combs' open source protocol analyzer for years. In this edition of Traffic Talk, I'd like to discuss a few new features of Wireshark as present in the 1.2 version released on June 15, 2009. I use Windows XP SP3 as my test platform. If you have any questions on the article, please post them here. Thank you. Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las Vegas registration ends 22 July.

Still Blogging

When I announced I would join General Electric as Director of Incident Response in June 2007, I had to post a follow-up titled I'm Not Dead . That issue even made it onto Bill Brenner's radar . Two years later I'm still at GE, glad that as of 1 January this year we have a functional and growing Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) manned by the best incident handlers and support staff you'll find anywhere. Sometimes work occupies time I would have previously spent blogging, reading, or writing. That's why you'll often see a flurry of blog posts when I have time on a weekend (or now, before a Company holiday). I've fallen far behind in my reading , and my writing is limited to articles. However, I will be collaborating with Keith Jones and team for Real Digital Forensics Volume 2 , which should be cool. I don't have a schedule for other books beyond RDF2 at the moment. Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las

Bejtlich on Black Hat Briefings Panel

The registration process for my TCP/IP Weapons School 2.0 class at Black Hat USA 2009 continues to be active, with seats almost gone in the weekday version. The weekend version has open seats. If you'd like more details, please see my post Black Hat Class Outline Posted . I was invited to be a panelist for The Laws of Vulnerabilities Research Version 2.0: Comparing Critical Infrastructure Industries , a description of which is posted at the Black Hat Briefings speaker list . Because I'm busy during the 10 am panel time on day 1, I won't have to make the decision about which great talk I'll miss at that time! I mean, Billy Hoffman, FX, Rod Beckstrom, Dino Dai Zovi, and Chris Gates all at the same time? Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las Vegas registration ends 22 July.

Review of Hacking Exposed: Windows, 3rd Ed Posted

Image just posted my four star review of Hacking Exposed: Windows, 3rd Ed . Better late than never! From the review : I've been reading and reviewing Hacking Exposed (HE) books since 1999, and I reviewed the two previous Windows books. Hacking Exposed: Windows, 3rd Ed (HEW3E) is an excellent addition to the HE series. I agree with Chris Gates' review, but I'd like to add a few of my own points. The bottom line is that if you need a solid book on Windows technologies and how to attack and defend them, HEW3E is the right resource. Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Late Las Vegas registration ends 22 July.

NSA to "Screen" .gov Now, I Predict .com Later

In my Predictions for 2008 I wrote Expect greater military involvement in defending private sector networks. Today I read a great Washington Post story titled Obama Administration to Involve NSA in Defending Civilian Agency Networks . It says in part: The Obama administration will proceed with a Bush-era plan to use National Security Agency assistance in screening government computer traffic on private-sector networks, with AT&T as the likely test site... President Obama said in May that government efforts to protect computer systems from attack would not involve "monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic" and Department of Homeland Security officials say that the new program will only scrutinize data going to or from government systems ... Under a classified pilot program approved during the Bush administration, NSA data and hardware would be used to protect the networks of some civilian government agencies. Part of an initiative known as Einstein 3, t