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Incite 4/14/2010: Just Think

By Mike Rothman
As numb as we are to most advertising (since we are hit with thousands of advertising exposures every day), sometimes an ad campaign is memorable and really resonates. No, seeing Danica Patrick on a massage table doesn’t qualify. But Apple’s Think Different campaign really did. At that point, Apple was positioning to the counter-culture, looking for folks who didn’t want to conform. Those who had their own opinions, but needed a way to set them loose on the world. Of course, we all want to think we are more than just cogs in the big machine and

ESF: Controls: Full Disk Encryption

By Mike Rothman
It happens quickly. An end user just needed to pick up something at the corner store or a big box retailer. He was in the store for perhaps 15 minutes, but that was plenty of time for a smash and grab. And then your phone rings, a laptop is gone, and it had information on about 15,000 customers. You sigh, hang up the phone and call the general counsel – it’s disclosure time. Sound familiar? Maybe this has been you. It likely will be, unless you proactively take action to make sure that the customer data on those mobile devices cannot be

ESF: Controls: Firewalls, HIPS, and Device Control

By Mike Rothman
Popular perception of endpoint security revolves around anti-malware. But they are called suites for a reason – other security components ship in these packages, which provide additional layers of protection for the endpoint. Here we’ll talk about firewalls, host intrusion prevention, and USB device control. Firewalls We know what firewalls do on the perimeter of the network: selectively block traffic that goes through gateways by port and protocol. The functionality of a host firewall on an endpoint is similar. They allow an organization to enforce a policy governing what traffic the device can accept (ingress filtering) and transmit (egress filtering).

ESF: Controls: Anti-Malware

By Mike Rothman
As we’ve discussed throughout the Endpoint Security Fundamentals series, adequately protecting endpoint devices entails more than just an endpoint security suite. That said, we still have to defend against malware, which means we’ve got to figure out what is important in an endpoint suite and how to get the most value from the investment. The Rise of Socially-Engineered Malware To state the obvious, over the past few years malware has dramatically changed. Not just the techniques used, but also the volume. It’s typical for an anti-virus companies to identify 1-2 million new malware samples per month. Yes,

ESF: Controls: Secure Configurations

By Mike Rothman
Now that we’ve established a process to make sure our software is sparkly new and updated, let’s focus on the configurations of the endpoint devices that connect to our networks. Silly configurations present another path of least resistance for the hackers to compromise your devices. For instance, there is no reason to run FTP on an endpoint device, and your standard configuration should factor that in. Define Standard Builds Initially you need to define a standard build, or more likely a few standard builds. Typically for desktops (no sensitive data, and sensitive data), mobile employees, and maybe, kiosks.

Incite 4/7/2010: Everybody Loves the Underdog

By Mike Rothman
Come on, admit it. Unless you have Duke Blue Devil blood running through your veins (and a very expensive diploma on the wall) or had Duke in your tournament bracket with money on the line, you were pulling for the Butler Bulldogs to prevail in Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball final. Of course you were – everyone loves the underdog. If you think of all the great stories through history, the underdog has always played a major role. Think David taking down Goliath. Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Pretty sure the betting line had long odds on

ESF: Controls: Update and Patch

By Mike Rothman
Running old software is bad. Bad like putting a new iPad in a blender. Bad because all software is vulnerable software, and with old software even unsophisticated bad guys have weaponized exploits to compromise the software. So the first of the Endpoint Security Fundamentals technical controls is to make sure you run updated software. Does that mean you need to run the latest version of all your software packages? Can you hear the rejoicing across the four corners of the software ecosystem? Actually, it depends. What you do need to do is make sure your endpoint devices are patched within

Anti-Malware Effectiveness: The Truth Is out There

By Mike Rothman
One of the hardest things to do in security is to discover what really works. It’s especially hard on the endpoint, given the explosion of malware and the growth of social-engineering driven attack vectors. Organizations like ICSA Labs, av-test.org, and VirusBulletin have been testing anti-malware suites for years, though I don’t think most folks put much stock in those results. Why? Most of the tests yield similar findings, which means all the products are equally good. Or more likely, equally bad. I know I declared the product review dead, but every so often you still see comparative

ESF: Triage: Fixing the Leaky Buckets

By Mike Rothman
As we discussed in the last ESF post on prioritizing the most significant risks, the next step is to build, communicate, and execute on a triage plan to fix those leaky buckets. The plan consists of the following sections: Risk Confirmation, Remediation Plan, Quick Wins, and Communication Risk Confirmation Coming out of the prioritize step, before we start committing resources and/or pulling the fire alarm, let’s take a deep breath and make sure our ranked list really represents the biggest risks. How do we do that? Basically by using the same process we used to come up with

ESF: Prioritize: Finding the Leaky Buckets

By Mike Rothman
As we start to dig into the Endpoint Security Fundamentals series, the first step is always to figure out where you are. Since hope is not a strategy, you can’t just make assumptions about what’s installed, what’s configured correctly, and what the end users actually know. So we’ve got to figure that out, which involves using some of the same tactics our adversaries use. The goal here is twofold: first you need to figure out what presents a clear and present danger to your organization, and put a triage plan in place to remediate those issues.
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