Suggested Blog Reading – Thursday April 26th, 2007

ReadI’ve got another new CoOp student starting today. That brings my team up to 8 people in total (including two CoOp students). Everything at work is finally starting to fall into place 🙂

Here’s the list for today:

Intro to hackernomics – I wonder if this term will make it into the next Webster’s version?

Hackernomics (noun, singular or plural): A social science concerned with description and analysis of attacker motivations, economics and business risk. It is characterized by five fundamental laws and eight corollaries.

New approaches to malware detection coming into view – Good idea of what’s coming down the pipe.

The traditional signature-based method to detect viruses and other malware is increasingly seen as an insufficient defense given the rapid pace at which attackers are churning out virus and spyware variants. All of which raises the question: What’s next?

SSA 1.5.1 Released – Security System Analyzer an OVAL Based Scanner – Something to test out.

SSA is a scanner based on OVAL, the command line tool provided by MITRE is not very easy to use so the guys at Security Database decided to write a GUI to make it simple to use and understand and then free the security testers community to take advantage of it.

Spam Attack: RARed Trojan – More details on this piece of malware.

Symantec Security Response has seen an increasing number of submissions of Trojan.Peacomm and related malware arriving in emails containing password-protected RAR archives.

White House Task Force Proposes Criminalizing Harmless Hacks – I can’t wait to see who the first person to burn at the stake for this is.

The Identity Theft Task Force appointed by President Bush and headed by embattled attorney general Alberto Gonzales wants to close a loophole in a federal computer crime law that’s letting slick computer intruders escape federal prosecution merely by doing no harm.

Perfect Setup Of Snort + Base + PostgreSQL On Ubuntu 6.06 LTS – Good reference article if you don’t have a Snort sensor and analysis station up and running.

This tutorial describes how you can install and configure the Snort IDS (intrusion detection system) and BASE (Basic Analysis and Security Engine) on an Ubuntu 6.06 (Dapper Drake) system. With the help of Snort and BASE, you can monitor your system – with BASE you can perform analysis of intrusions that Snort has detected on your network. Snort will use a PostgreSQL database to store/log the data it gathers.

Cisco Security Advisory: Default Passwords in NetFlow Collection Engine – “The upgrade to NFC version 6.0 is not a free upgrade” – ya…that makes sense.

Versions of Cisco Network Services (CNS) NetFlow Collection Engine (NFC) prior to 6.0 create and use default accounts with identical usernames and passwords. An attacker with knowledge of these accounts can modify the application configuration and, in certain instances, gain user access to the host operating system.

The upgrade to NFC version 6.0 is not a free upgrade. This default password issue does not require a software upgrade and can be changed by a configuration command for all affected customers. The workaround detailed in this document demonstrates how to change the passwords in 5.0.

Asking Vista for its list of network interfaces

Tenable’s research group recently released plugin ID #24904 which speaks with the Link Layer Topology Discovery protocol. This is an Ethernet “layer 2” scan, so it is something you need to perform against a server within the collision domain of a Nessus scanner. LLTD allows you to enumerate a wide variety of information about the remote host.

Why Risk Management Fails (Or At Least Is Really, Really, Hard For Us) – Everyone has their opinion. I, however, think Risk must be able to be measured. It’s usually a question of “if” not “how” risk can be measured.

What really gets me, though, is when I see folks online and in mailing lists come up with all sorts of nonsense about how risk can’t be measured, or, even worse, that it’s too difficult and should be discarded in favor of their version of witchcraft.

Be Prepared – Just as you’re always prepared for Ninja’s to spring into attack….so should you be prepared for security problems 🙂

As security professionals, shouldn’t we also “Be Prepared?” We need to have a “tool bag of knowledge” that we can open whenever an event occurs. This is a set of resources, instructions or processes that you can use when responding to a security event. An organized and careful reaction to an incident can mean the difference between complete recovery and total disaster.

Battle of the Colored Boxes (part 1 of 2) – Good overview of the “colored box” methods of testing.

Lets look at Black, White, and Gray Box software testing from a high-level as it relates to a website security standpoint and highlight their strong points. I realize that not everyone will agree with my conclusions. So as always, feel free to comment and let me know if anything has been overlooked and should be considered. Also for perspective I’m of the opinion that all three methodologies require tools (scanners) and experienced personnel as part of the process. No exceptions.

Universities highlight IT forensics boom – Where was this kind of stuff when I was in school?

Universities offering postgraduate courses for IT professionals claim to be seeing increasing interest in computer forensics skills, both from employers and from applicants.

Peacomm RARs Its Ugly Head

Just like last time, a lot of this seems to be getting by traditional signature-based AV detection routines.

Security Leadership – I couldn’t agree more.

In my opinion the security industry is in need of leadership. It is a industry that is widely varied in scope and objective. You have many different disciplines that often doesn’t communicate with each other and often even openly criticizes or looks down on each other. If we are all fighting against a common enemy then why can’t and don’t we work together. Why should we each fight our own battles also fight each other?

URGENT: Unconfirmed Reports QuickTime Exploit Capture Is Circulating – UhOh…..

Remember what I said about “living dangerously”? Stop living dangerously, right now. Turn Java off in your browser. Watch this space for more details.

Default Deny All Applications (Part 1) – Good article on on SRP.

Software Restriction Policy (SRP) was introduced in October 2001 with the launch of Microsoft Windows XP Professional. Since then it has lived a pretty silent life – much too silent you could say. The purpose of this article series is to bring SRP ‘back to life’ out there in the real world, to encourage administrators around the world to re-think their software policies and maybe even implement SRP in its strongest setup: by the use of Whitelisting.

Hardware Key Logging Part 2: A Review Of Products From KeeLog and KeyGhost – A good review of some products out there.

As stated in the first article, installation of these sorts of devices is simple. Just plug the keylogger inline with the keyboard. From there it should start logging key strokes. Retrieval and configuration, on the other hand, varies somewhat from model to model.

Suggested Blog Reading – Wednesday April 25th, 2007

ReadI went to my first HTCIA meeting last night and got to hear an interesting presentation on “The Importance of E-Mail Preservation in Litigation”. I’m not sure if I can post it or not but I’ll find out.

Here is today’s list:

Social Engineering Gets a Big Diamond Heist

It just goes to show, sometimes the simple things are the most effective. A box of chocolates can defeat all the most hi-tech security systems if you add a little charm.

Optical link hacking unsheathed – I guess my Windows NT 4 networking books were wrong 🙂

Instead of breaking a fibre and installing a device (splicing), an approach that might easily be detected, off-the shelf equipment makes it possible to extract data from an optical link without breaking a connection.

MS’ New Malware Protection Center to Go Global with Fighting e-Threats – I’m interested to see how this turns out.

Microsoft has unveiled what’s it’s calling its Malware Protection Center: a new think tank comprising security and threat experts that will provide global malware research, response and protection capabilities in order to help protect customers from new or existing threats.

The Good, The Bad, And The Risk Assessment

RAs can be conducted internally, however a RA conducted by an external third-party typically carries more weight should the information within the RA be questioned. It’s that whole impartiality thing, ya know?

0wning Vista from the boot – Interesting interview with the guys who wrote the VBootkit.

Federico Biancuzzi interviews Nitin and Vipin Kumar, authors of VBootkit, a rootkit that is able to load from Windows Vista boot-sectors. They discuss the “features” of their code, the support of the various versions of Vista, the possibility to place it inside the BIOS (it needs around 1500 bytes), and the chance to use it to bypass Vista’s product activation or avoid DRM.

Analyzing Mac OS X Applications 101: CrashReporter and Malloc – Very good article from the guys at Matasano…but if you read it then they get to keep your laptop.

For the most part, these tips apply to both GUI and command line apps. This isn’t rocket science, but is a good primer for people looking to dive into OSX vulnerability analysis. I am going to use Safari as an example, since it is somewhat topical. It isn’t the best example since enough of it is opensource that you can gain a lot more insight via debug builds.

NSA Attacks Student Soldiers in … Cyber War!

The NSA held its annual Cyber Defense Exercise last week in Annapolis, pitting the agency’s elite Red Team against Air Force cadets and Navy midshipmen in all out simulated cyber war. Can the NSA’s crusty electronic warriors slip the bulwark of firewalls and anti-virus products erected by the fresh-faced, tech savvy recruits, or will they be blockaded by the elite skills of the student defenders?

Companies Are Waking Up to the Reality of Data Theft

I was at my usual Starbucks this morning and saw a well-dressed guy using the Wi-Fi hotspot. For all I know he might have been a struggling author trying to write the next great novel. Or maybe not. Maybe he was a claims administrator for the hospital up the street—with a few thousand very personal records on his laptop, and with absolutely no idea that during his morning coffee he could end up having his most valuable data maliciously copied over the Wi-Fi network.

How can I change the default size of an inode when I create an ext2/ext3 filesystem? – Never hurts to have a refresher on some Linux commands

It is possible to define a non-standard sized inode by using the mke2fs tool with an undocumented option, -I. The size of the inode has to be a power of two and between the size of EXT2_GOOD_OLD_INODE_SIZE (128 bytes) and size of blocks in bytes. One reason for doing this could be that user is going to use extended attributes. Extended attributes are arbitrary name/value pairs used to store system objects like Access Control Lists (ACL). If the size of the inodes is larger than the default size, then sufficiently small attributes can be stored in inode. However, use this option with caution because of compatibility issues. It may render the filesystem unusable on most systems.

Storm Worm vs. IDS – Do we really need a new Gartner category?

The technology is ready for 0day viruses, the problem is that the market still isn’t. The technology I describe above doesn’t fit within any easy market category, it’s neither precisely what people understand as “intrusion-prevention” nor “anti-virus”. It’s like a thousand other bits of technology that languish in our industry because there is no neat category for them. I created the first IPS (BlackICE Guard aka. Proventia), but it was a just an IDS feature until Intruvert showered money on Gartner to create a new category for it.

Put your OpenSSH server in SSHjail – Lock it up for life (‘life’ being 2 years with good behavior in some States)

Jailing is a mechanism to virtually change a system’s root directory. By employing this method, administrators can isolate services so that they cannot access the real filesystem structure. You should run unsecured and sensitive network services in a chroot jail, because if a hacker can break into a vulnerable service he could exploit your whole system. If a service is jailed, the intruder will be able to see only what you want him to see — that is, nothing useful. Some of the most frequent targets of attack, which therefore should be jailed, are BIND, Apache, FTP, and SSH. SSHjail is a patch for the OpenSSH daemon. It modifies two OpenSSH files (session.c and version.h) and allows you to jail your SSH service without any need for SSH reconfiguration.

Building application firewall rule bases

During the past decade, most enterprises have made significant investments in network and perimeter security. Organizations have tightened their controls and moved toward a defense posture that dramatically limits the effectiveness of hackers’ network-scanning attacks. Unfortunately, while security professionals were busy building up network controls, attackers spent their time developing new techniques to strike at the next Achilles’ heel: the application layer.

Anti-debugging techniques of the past – Most of this stuff pre-dates me but it’s still a good history lesson 🙂

Most targeted anti-debugger techniques rely on exploiting shared resources. For example, a single interrupt vector cannot be used by both the application and the debugger at the same time. Reusing that resource as part of the protection scheme and for normal application operations forces the attacker to modify some other shared resource (perhaps by hooking the function prologue) instead.

Bastille for OS X? – Finally!

Apple customers ought to know that the OS is not secured as it is delivered to them, but is secureable (sounds like MS Windows). There is a great script to assist in securing OS X available as part of the Bastille project. This script is still in Beta, though I saw it demonstrated last year at DefCon and was very impressed. More can be found at:

Two New Books to Review

The good people at Syngress, with the help of Harlan Carvey and Jeremiah Grossman, have sent me too new books to review. I can’t wait to tear into both of these titles!

windowsforensicWindows Forensic Analysis Including DVD Toolkit

From Syngress:

One thing that many computer forensic examiners have noticed is an over reliance by investigators on what forensic analysis tools are telling them, without really understanding where this information is coming from or how it is being created or derived.

The age of “Nintendo forensics” (i.e., loading an acquired image into a forensic analysis application and pushing a button) is over. As analysts and examiners, we can no longer expect to investigate a case in such a manner. Cybercrime has increased in sophistication, and investigators need to understand what artifacts are available on a system, as well as how those artifacts are created and modified. With this level of knowledge, we come to understand that the absence of an artifact is itself an artifact. In addition, more and more presentations and material are available regarding anti-forensics, or techniques used to make forensic analysis more difficult. Moreover, there have been presentations at major conferences that discuss the anti-forensic technique of using the forensic analysts’ training and tools against them.

This book is intended to address the need for a more detailed, granular level of understanding. It attempts not only to demonstrate what information is available to the investigator on both a live Windows system and in an acquired image but also to provide information on how to locate additional artifacts that may be of interest.

xssCross Site Scripting Attacks: Xss Exploits and Defense

From Syngress:

Cross Site Scripting Attacks starts by defining the terms and laying out the ground work. It assumes that the reader is familiar with basic web programming (HTML) and JavaScript. First it discusses the concepts, methodology, and technology that makes XSS a valid concern. It then moves into the various types of XSS attacks, how they are implemented, used, and abused. After XSS is thoroughly explored, the next part provides examples of XSS malware and demonstrates real cases where XSS is a dangerous risk that exposes internet users to remote access, sensitive data theft, and monetary losses. Finally, the book closes by examining the ways developers can avoid XSS vulnerabilities in their web applications, and how users can avoid becoming a victim. The audience is web developers, security practitioners, and managers.


Devastatingly handsome CISO @DataGravityInc.

Security, DFIR, DevOps, cloud, business, and BBQ renaissance man of most trades (master of some).