Low Hanging Fruit: Endpoint Security

Getting back to the Low Hanging Fruit series, let’s take a look at the endpoint and see what kinds of stuff we can do to increase security with a minimum of pain and (hopefully) minor expense. To be sure we are consistent from a semantic standpoint, I’m generally considering computing devices used by end users as “endpoints.” They come in desktop and laptop varieties and run some variant of Windows. If we had all Mac endpoints, I’d have a lot less to do, eh? Yes, that was a joke. Run Updated Software and Patch We just learned (the hard way) that running old software is a bad idea. Again. That’s right, the Google hack targeted IE6 on XP. IE6? Really? Yup. A horrifyingly high number of organizations are stuck in a browser/OS time warp. So, if you need to stick with XP, at least make sure you have SP3 running. It seems Windows 7 finally makes the grade, so it’s time to start planning those upgrades. And yes, maybe MSFT got it right this time. Also make sure to use IE7 or IE8 or Firefox (with NoScript). Yes, browsers will have problems. But old browsers have a lot of problems. Also make sure your Adobe software remains up to date. The good news is that Adobe realizes they have an issue, and I expect they’ll make big investments to improve their security posture. The bad news is that they are about 5 years behind Microsoft and will emerge as the #1 target of the bad guys this year. Finally, make sure you tighten patch windows as tightly as possible for the high risk, highly exploitable applications, like browsers and Adobe software. Studies have proven that it’s more important to patch thoroughly, as opposed to quickly. But as seen this past week, it takes one day to turn a proof of concept browser 0-day into a weaponized exploit, so for these high risk apps – all bets are off. As soon as a browser (or Adobe) patch hits, try to get it deployed within days. Not weeks. Not months! Use Anti-Exploitation Technology Microsoft got a bad rap on security and some (OK, most) of it was deserved. But they have added some capabilities to the base OS that make sense. Like DEP (Data Execution Prevention – also check out the FAQ) and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization). These technologies make it much harder to gain control of an endpoint through a known vulnerability. So make sure DEP and ASLR are turned on in your standard build. Make sure your endpoint checks confirm these two options remain selected. And most importantly, make sure the apps you deploy actually use DEP and ASLR. IE7 and IE8 do. IE6, not so much. Adobe’s stuff – not so much. And there you have it. To be clear, anti-exploitation technology is not the cure for cancer. It does help to make it harder to exploit the vulnerabilities in the software you use. But only if you turn it on (and the applications support it). Rich has been writing about this for years. Enforce Secure Configurations I have to admit to spending a bit too much time in the Center for Internet Security’s brainwashing course. I actually believe that locking down the configuration of a device will reduce security issues. Those of you in the federal government probably have a bit of SCAP on the brain as well. You don’t have to follow CIS to the letter. But you do have to shut down non-critical services on your endpoints. And you have to check to make sure those configurations aren’t being messed with. So that configuration management thingy you got through Purchasing last year will come in handy. Encrypt Your Laptops How many laptops have to be lost and how many notifications sent out to irate customers because some jackass leaves their laptop on the back seat of their car? Or on the seat of an airplane? Or anywhere else where a laptop with private information will get pinched? Optimally you shouldn’t allow private information on those mobile devices (right, Rich, DLP lives!), but this is the real world and people take stuff with them. Maybe innocently. Maybe not, but all the same – they have stuff on their machines they shouldn’t have. So you need to encrypt the devices. Bokay? VPN to Corporate Let’s stay on this mobile user riff by talking about all the trouble your users can get into. A laptop with a WiFi card is the proverbial loaded gun and quite a few of your users shoot themselves in the foot. They connect on any network. They click on any emails. They navigate to those sites. You can enforce VPN connections when a user is mobile. So all their traffic gets routed through your network. It goes through your gateway and your policies get enforced. Yes, smart users can get around this – but how many of your users are smart that way? All the same, you probably have a VPN client on there anyway. So it’s worth a try. Training Let’s talk about probably the cheapest of all the things you can do to positively impact on your security posture. Yes, you can train your users to not do stupid things. Not to click on those links. Not to visit those sites. And not to leave their laptop bags exposed in cars. Yes, some folks you won’t be able to reach. They’ll still do stupid things and no matter what you say or how many times you teach, you’ll still have to clean up their machines – a lot. Which brings us to the last of the low hanging fruit… When in doubt, reimage… Yes, you need to invest in a tool to make a standard image of your desktop. You will use it a lot. Anytime a user comes in with a problem – reimage. If the user stiffs you on lunch, reimage. If someone beats you with a pair of aces in the hole, right – reimage. Before you go on a reimaging binge,

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Pragmatic Data Security: The Cycle

Back in Part 1 of our series on Pragmatic Data Security we covered some of the guiding concepts of the process, and now it’s time to dig in and show you the process itself. Before I introduce the process cycle, it’s important to remember that Pragmatic Data Security isn’t about trying to instantly protect everything – it’s a structured, straightforward process to protect a single information type, which you then expand in scope incrementally. It’s designed to answer the question, “How can I protect this specific content at this point in time, in my existing environment?” rather than, “How can I protect all my sensitive data right now?” Once we nail down one type of data, then we can move on to other sensitive information. Why? Because as we mentioned in Part 1, if you start with too broad a scope you dramatically increase your chance of failure. I previously covered the cycle in another post, but for continuity’s sake here it is, slightly updated: Define what information you want to protect (specifically – not general data classification). I suggest something very discrete, such as private customer data (specify which exact fields), or engineering documents for a specific project. Discover where it’s located (using any of various tools/techniques, preferably automated, such as DLP, rather than manually). Secure the data where it’s stored, and/or eliminate data where it shouldn’t be (access controls, encryption). Monitor data usage (various tools, including DLP, DAM, logs, & SIEM). Protect the data from exfiltration (DLP, USB control, email security, web gateways, etc.). For example, if you want to protect credit card numbers you’d define them in step 1, use DLP content discovery in step 2 to locate where they are stored, remove them or lock the repositories down in step 3, use DAM and DLP to monitor where they’re going in step 4, and use blocking technologies to keep them from leaving the organization in step 5. For the rest of this series we’ll walk through each step, showing what you need to do and tying it all together with a use case. Share:

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Friday Summary: January 22, 2010

One of the most common criticisms of analysts is that, since they are no longer practitioners, they lose their technical skills and even sometimes their ability to understand technology. To be honest, it’s a pretty fair criticism. I’ve encountered plenty of analysts over the years who devalue technical knowledge, thinking they can rely completely on user feedback and business knowledge. I’ve even watched as some of them became wrapped around the little fingers (maybe middle finger) of vendors who took full advantage of the fact they could talk circles around these analysts. It’s hard to maintain technical skills, even when it’s what you do 10 hours a day. Personally, I make a deliberate effort to play, experiment, and test as much as I can to keep the fundamentals, knowing it’s not the same as being a full time practitioner. I maintain our infrastructure, do most of the programming on our site, and get hands on as often as possible, but I know I’ve lost many of the skills that got me where I am today. Having once been a network administrator, system administrator, DBA, and programmer, I was pretty darn deep, but I can’t remember the last time I set up a database schema or rolled out a group policy object. I was reading this great article about a food critic spending a week as a waiter in a restaurant she once reviewed (working for a head waiter she was pretty harsh on) and it reminded me of one of my goals this year. It’s always been my thought that every analyst in the company should go out and shadow a security practitioner every year. Spend a week in an organization helping deal with whatever security problems come up. All under a deep NDA, of course. Ideally we’d rotate around to different organizations every year, maybe with an incident management team one year, a mid-size “do it all” team the next, and a web application team after that. I’m not naive enough to think that one week a year is the same as a regular practitioner job, but I think it will be a heck of a lot more valuable than talking to someone about what they do a few times a year over the phone or at a conference. Yep – just a crazy idea, but it’s high on my priority list if we can find some willing hosts and work the timing out. And don’t forget to RSVP for the Securosis and Threatpost Disaster Recovery Breakfast! On to the Summary: Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences Adrian’s Dark Reading post on What Data Discovery Tools Really Do. Rich and Adrian on Enterprise Database Security (video). Rich, Martin, and Zach on this week’s Network Security Podcast. Mike on Amrit’s Beyond the Perimeter Podcast. Favorite Securosis Posts Rich: I’m picking one of my older posts, going back to March 2008 on the Principles of Information-Centric Security. Not that our newer stuff is bad, but I like going back and highlighting older material every now and then. Mike: Pragmatic Data Security: Groundwork. We spend so much time focused on trying to stop the attackers to no avail, Rich’s point about making the data harder to access and/or blocking the outbound path really resonated with me. Adrian: Rich and my post on Project Quant for Database Security: Monitoring. Mort: FireStarter: Security Endangered Species List. Faster pussycat, kill, kill! Meier: The Rights Management Dilemma – I agree with Rich it has a place in the future, it’s just when and what it actually looks like that are the big questions for me. Other Securosis Posts Pragmatic Data Security: The Cycle Low Hanging Fruit: Endpoint Security Data Discovery and Databases The Rights Management Dilemma Incite 1/20/2010 – Thanks Mr. Internet RSVP for the Securosis and Threatpost Disaster Recovery Breakfast ReputationDefender Favorite Outside Posts Rich: Brian Krebs’ Top 10 Ways to Get Fired as a Money Mule. It’s awesome to see Brian’s stuff without the editorial filters of a dead-tree publication, and he’s clearly going strong. Mike: Bejtlich on APT – Richard had two great posts this week helping us understand the advanced persistent threat. First, What is APT and What Does It Want? and then the follow-up, Is APT After You? Great stuff about a threat we all need to understand. Adrian: Oracle TNS Rootkit. Well done. Mort: Why I Don’t Like CRISC by Alex Hutton, and his excellent followup, Why I Don’t Like CRISC, Day Two, call out ISACA on why it’s not time for a risk based certification. Meier: Tor Project Infrastructure Updates in Response to Security Breach. While the Tor service itself wasn’t compromised, this just goes to show it can happen to anyone. And, well, update your Tor software to get the new authority keys. Project Quant Posts Project Quant: Database Security – Audit Project Quant: Database Security – Monitoring Quant for Databases: Open Question to Database Security Community Project Quant: Database Security – Shield Top News and Posts Microsoft issues emergency patch for the Internet Explorer 0day. Apple issues critical security update. Microsoft Confirms Unpatched Windows Kernel Flaw. Elsewhere in the news: The Danger of Open APIs RockYou breach leaks passwords. In an ironic way, RockYou just provided some value to the community by providing a good pentest dictionary and showing weak passwords are common. But then again, if you are using RockYou, do you care? FireFox 3.6 includes some security goodies – especially nice is detecting outdated plug-ins, such as Flash. The D-List interview with Jack Daniels. Adrew Jaquith at Forrester with our most amusing post of the week. Network Solutions customers hacked and defaced with a remote file inclusion vulnerability. Blog Comment of the Week Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment comes from Fernando Medrano in response to Mike’s FireStarter: Security Endangered Species List. While I do agree with many of the posts and opinions on this site, I disagree in this case. I believe AV and HIPS are still important to the overall protection in depth architecture. Too many enterprises still run legacy operating systems or unpatched software where upgrading could mean significant time and

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