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Showing posts from 2020

New Book! The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 3

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  Introduction  I published a new book! The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 3: Current Events, Law, Wise People, History, and Appendices is the third title in the TaoSecurity Blog series .  It's in the Kindle Store , and if you have an Unlimited account, it's free.  I also published a print edition , which is 485 pages.  Book Description The book features the following description on the back cover: Since 2003, cybersecurity author Richard Bejtlich has been publishing posts on TaoSecurity Blog, a site with 15 million views since 2011. Now, after re-reading over 3,000 stories and approximately one million words, he has selected and republished the very best entries from 17 years of writing, along with commentaries and additional material.  In the third volume of the TaoSecurity Blog series, Mr. Bejtlich addresses the evolution of his security mindset, influenced by current events and advice from his so-called set of "wise people." He talks about why speed is not the

Security and the One Percent: A Thought Exercise in Estimation and Consequences

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There's a good chance that if you're reading this post, you're the member of an exclusive club. I call it the security one percent, or the security 1% . This is shorthand for the assortment of people and organizations who have the personnel, processes, technology, and support to implement somewhat robust digital security programs, especially those with the detection and response capabilities and not just planning and resistance/"prevention" functions.  Introduction  This post will estimate the size of the security 1% in the United States. It will then briefly explain how the security strategies of the 1% might be irrelevant at best or damaging at worse to the 99%. A First Cut with FIRST It's difficult to measure the size of the security 1%, but not impossible. My goal is to ascertain the correct orders of magnitude.  One method is to review entities who are members of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, or FIRST . FIRST is an organization to whi

MITRE ATT&CK Tactics Are Not Tactics

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Just what are "tactics"? Introduction MITRE ATT&CK  is a great resource, but something about it has bothered me since I first heard about it several years ago. It's a minor point, but I wanted to document it in case it confuses anyone else. The MITRE ATT&CK Design and Philosophy document from March 2020 says the following: At a high-level, ATT&CK is a behavioral model that consists of the following core components: • Tactics, denoting short-term, tactical adversary goals during an attack; • Techniques, describing the means by which adversaries achieve tactical goals; • Sub-techniques, describing more specific means by which adversaries achieve tactical goals at a lower level than techniques; and • Documented adversary usage of techniques, their procedures, and other metadata. My concern is with MITRE's definition of "tactics" as "short-term, tactical adversary goals during an attack," which is oddly recursive. The key word in the tacti

Greg Rattray Invented the Term Advanced Persistent Threat

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  I was so pleased to read this Tweet yesterday from Greg Rattray: " Back in 2007, I coined the term “Advanced Persistent Threat” to characterize emerging adversaries that we needed to work with the defense industrial base to deal with ... Since then both the APT term and the nature of our adversaries have evolved. What hasn’t changed is that in cyberspace, advanced attackers will persistently go after targets with assets they want, no matter the strength of defenses." Background First, some background. Who is Greg Rattray? First, you could call him Colonel or Doctor. I will use Col as that was the last title I used with him, although these days when we chat I call him Greg.  Col Rattray served 21 years in the Air Force and also earned his PhD in international security from Tufts University. His thesis formed the content for his 2001 book Strategic Warfare in Cyberspace , which I reviewed in 2002 and rated 4 stars . (Ouch -- I was a bit stingy with the stars back then. I was

The FBI Intrusion Notification Program

The FBI intrusion notification program is one of the most important developments in cyber security during the last 15 years.  This program achieved mainstream recognition on 24 March 2014 when Ellen Nakashima reported on it for the Washington Post in her story  U.S. notified 3,000 companies in 2013 about cyberattacks .  The story noted the following: "Federal agents notified more than 3,000 U.S. companies last year that their computer systems had been hacked, White House officials have told industry executives, marking the first time the government has revealed how often it tipped off the private sector to cyberintrusions... About 2,000 of the notifications were made in person or by phone by the FBI, which has 1,000 people dedicated to cybersecurity investigations among 56 field offices and its headquarters. Some of the notifications were made to the same company for separate intrusions, officials said. Although in-person visits are preferred, resource constraints limit the bureau

New Book! The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 2

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  I published a new book! The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 2: Network Security Monitoring, Technical Notes, Research, and China and the Advanced Persistent Threat It's in the Kindle Store , and if you're Unlimited it's free. Print edition to follow. The book lists as having 413 pages (for the Kindle edition at least) at it's almost 95,000 words. I started working on it in June after finishing Volume 1 . Here is the book description: Since 2003, cybersecurity author Richard Bejtlich has been writing posts on TaoSecurity Blog, a site with 15 million views since 2011. Now, after re-reading over 3,000 posts and approximately one million words, he has selected and republished the very best entries from 17 years of writing.  In the second volume of the TaoSecurity Blog series, Mr. Bejtlich addresses how to detect and respond to intrusions using third party threat intelligence sources, network data, application and infrastructure data, and endpoint data. He assesses govern

One Weird Trick for Reviewing Zeek Logs on the Command Line!

Are you a network security monitoring dinosaur like me? Do you prefer to inspect your Zeek logs using the command line instead of a Web-based SIEM? If yes, try this one weird trick! I store my Zeek logs in JSON format. Sometimes I like to view the output using jq. If I need to search directories of logs for a string, like a UID, I might* use something like zgrep with the following syntax: $ zgrep "CLkXf2CMo11hD8FQ5" 2020-08-16/* 2020-08-16/conn_20200816_06:00:00-07:00:00+0000.log.gz:{"_path":"conn","_system_name":"ds61","_write_ts":"2020-08-16T06:26:10.266225Z","_node":"worker-01","ts":"2020-08-16T06:26:01.485394Z","uid":"CLkXf2CMo11hD8FQ5","id.orig_h":"192.168.2.76","id.orig_p":53380,"id.resp_h":"196.216.2.24","id.resp_p":21,"proto":"tcp","service":"ftp",&quo

I Did Not Write This Book

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Fake Book  Someone published a "book" on Amazon and claimed that I wrote it! I had NOTHING to do with this. I am working with Amazon now to remove it, or at least remove my name. Stay away from this garbage! Update: Thankfully, within a day or so of this post, the true author of this work removed it from Amazon. It has not returned, at least as far as I have seen.

New Book! The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 1

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I'm very pleased to announce that I've published a new book! It's  The Best of TaoSecurity Blog, Volume 1: Milestones, Philosophy and Strategy, Risk, and Advice . It's available now in the Kindle Store , and if you're a member of Kindle Unlimited, it's currently free. I may also publish a print version. If you're interested, please tell me on Twitter . The book lists at 332 pages and is over 83,000 words. I've been working on it since last year, but I've used the time in isolation to carry the first volume over the finish line. The Amazon.com description says: Since 2003, cybersecurity author Richard Bejtlich has been writing posts on TaoSecurity Blog, a site with 15 million views since 2011. Now, after re-reading over 3,000 posts and approximately one million words, he has selected and republished the very best entries from 17 years of writing. In the first volume of the TaoSecurity Blog series, Bejtlich addresses milestones, phi

If You Can't Patch Your Email Server, You Should Not Be Running It

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CVE-2020-0688 Scan Results, per Rapid7 tl;dr -- it's the title of the post: "If You Can't Patch Your Email Server, You Should Not Be Running It." I read a disturbing story today with the following news: "Starting March 24, Rapid7 used its Project Sonar internet-wide survey tool to discover all publicly-facing Exchange servers on the Internet and the numbers are grim. As they found, 'at least 357,629 (82.5%) of the 433,464 Exchange servers' are still vulnerable to attacks that would exploit the CVE-2020-0688 vulnerability. To make matters even worse, some of the servers that were tagged by Rapid7 as being safe against attacks might still be vulnerable given that 'the related Microsoft update wasn’t always updating the build number.' Furthermore, 'there are over 31,000 Exchange 2010 servers that have not been updated since 2012 ,' as the Rapid7 researchers observed. ' There are nearly 800 Exchange 2010 servers that have

Seeing Book Shelves on Virtual Calls

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I have a confession... for me, the best part of virtual calls, or seeing any reporter or commentator working for home, is being able to check out their book shelves. I never use computer video, because I want to preserve the world's bandwidth. That means I don't share what my book shelves look like when I'm on a company call. Therefore, I thought I'd share my book shelves with the world. My big categories of books are martial arts, mixed/miscellaneous, cybersecurity and intelligence, and military and Civil War history. I've cataloged about 400 print books and almost 500 digital titles. Over the years I've leaned towards buying Kindle editions of any book that is mostly print, in order to reduce my footprint. For the last many years, my book shelving has consisted of three units, each with five shelves. Looking at the topic distribution, as of 2020 I have roughly 6 shelves for martial arts, 4 for mixed/miscellaneous, 3 for cybersecurity and intelligence, a

Skill Levels in Digital Security

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Two posts in one day? These are certainly unusual times. I was thinking about words to describe different skill levels in digital security. Rather than invent something, I decided to review terms that have established meaning. Thanks to Google Books I found this article in a 1922 edition of the Archives of Psychology that mentioned four key terms: The novice is a (person) who has no trade ability whatever, or at least none that could not be paralleled by practically any intelligent (person). An apprentice has acquired some of the elements of the trade but is not sufficiently skilled to be trusted with any important task. The journey(person) is qualified to perform almost any work done by members of the trade. An expert can perform quickly and with superior skill any work done by (people) in the trade. I believe these four categories can apply to some degree to the needs of the digital security profession. At GE-CIRT we had three levels -- event analyst, incident ana

When You Should Blog and When You Should Tweet

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I saw my like-minded, friend-that-I've-never-met Andrew Thompson Tweet a poll , posted above. I was about to reply with the following Tweet: "If I'm struggling to figure out how to capture a thought in just 1 Tweet, that's a sign that a blog post might be appropriate. I only use a thread, and no more than 2, and hardly ever 3 (good Lord), when I know I've got nothing more to say. "1/10," "1/n," etc. are not for me." Then I realized I had something more to say, namely, other reasons blog posts are better than Tweets. For the briefest moment I considered adding a second Tweet, making, horror of horrors, a THREAD, and then I realized I would be breaking my own guidance. Here are three reasons to consider blogging over Tweeting. 1. If you find yourself trying to pack your thoughts into a 280 character limit, then you should write a blog post. You might have a good idea, and instead of expressing it properly, you're falling into

COVID-19 Phishing Tests: WRONG

Malware Jake Tweeted a poll last night which asked the following: "I have an interesting ethical quandary. Is it ethically okay to use COVID-19 themed phishing emails for assessments and user awareness training right now? Please read the thread before responding and RT for visibility. 1/" Ultimately he decided : "My gut feeling is to not use COVID-19 themed emails in assessments/training, but to TELL users to expect them, though I understand even that might discourage consumption of legitimate information, endangering public health. 6/" I responded by saying this was the right answer. Thankfully there were many people who agreed, despite the fact that voting itself was skewed towards the "yes" answer. There were an uncomfortable number of responses to the Tweet that said there's nothing wrong with red teams phishing users with COVID-19 emails. For example: "Do criminals abide by ethics? Nope. Neither should testing." "Ye