RSA Guide 2011: Application Security

When we say application security, for we generally mean web application security. We probably could have cheated and simply reposted last year’s guide to application security and still been close. Yes, application security is still a nascent market. Last year the focus was anti-exploitation to prevent code injection attacks, and the value provided by integrating assessment and web application firewall technologies. While the threats remain the same, there are some new twists which deserve attention. What We Expect to See Code Review Services: Strapping security onto the network layer and hoping it catches your application vulnerabilities is a band-aid at best, and companies that produce applications know this. With HP’s acquisition of Fortify a few months ago, Microsoft’s announcement of Attack Surface Analyzer, and IBM’s acquisition of Ounce Labs in 2009, it’s clear that the world’s major software providers know this as well. And they are looking to capitalize on the movement. Third party source code review services are on the rise, and most web development teams now use either white-box or black-box testing in their certification processes. “Building security in” is an increasingly common mantra for development teams, and there is tremendous opportunity to sell security products and services into this nascent market. Most development teams are just now learning about secure coding techniques, threat modeling, and how to build unit-based security tests to run alongside their functional tests. We expect to see many vendors offering tools, education, and services that foster secure code everywhere from design to post-deployment. Not just pre-and-post deployment checkers and firewalls, but security offerings for every single step in the development lifecycle. Buyer Shift: “What?” you say. I am not selling to the IT manager? Not here you are not. IT plays a part, but the buying center is shifting to the development team for web application security technologies. And that’s a very different conversation, with a much different set of requirements and use cases the vendor needs to address. OWASP As the Guiding Light: Publicity concerning application security issues is growing. OWASP — the Open Web Application Security Project — provides a Top 10 list of the most common threats to applications. And it’s a good rundown of sneaky, underhanded tricks attackers use to compromise web applications for fun and profit. Even better, it’s backed by measurable statistics so it’s not all conjecture and innuendo. This list is driving many companies’ marketing campaigns, and the alignment of their service offerings as well. How well any given vendor protects applications from these threats is open for debate, but the fact that they are responding to the most common threat vectors we see today is very good news. Web application vulnerabilities represent a significant threat to organizations as web services are an integral part of business operations, and the push for more SaaS and cloud based services means attackers have an increasing number of potential targets. As if you haven’t had enough cloud on a stick, up next are our thoughts on endpoint security, and then virtualization and cloud security in the RSA Guide. I know, you can’t wait. Share:

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RSA Guide 2011: Virtualization and Cloud

2010 was a fascinating year for cloud computing and virtualization. VMWare locked down the VMSafe program, spurring acquisition of smaller vendors in the program with access to the special APIs. Cloud computing security moved from hype to hyper-hype at the same time some seriously interesting security tools hit the market. Despite all the confusion, there was a heck of a lot of progress and growing clarity. And not all of it was from the keyboard of Chris Hoff. What We Expect to See For virtualization and cloud security, there are four areas to focus on: Innovation cloudination: For the second time in this guide I find myself actually excited by new security tech (don’t tell my mom). While you’ll see a ton of garbage on the show floor, there are a few companies (big and small) with some innovative products designed to help secure cloud computing. Everything from managing your machine keys to encrypting IaaS or SaaS data. These aren’t merely virtual appliance versions of existing hardware/software, but ground-up, cloud-specific security tools. The ones I’m most interested in are around data security, auditing, and identity management. Looking SaaSy: Technically speaking, not all Software as a Service counts as cloud computing, but don’t tell the marketing departments. But this is another area that’s more than mere hype- nearly every vendor I’ve talked with (and worked with) is looking at leveraging cloud computing in some way. Not merely because it’s sexy, but since SaaS can help reduce management overhead for security in a bunch of ways. And since all of you already pay subscription and maintenance licenses anyway, pure greed isn’t the motivator. These offerings work best for small and medium businesses, and reduce the amount of equipment you need to maintain on site. They also may help with distributed organizations. SaaS isn’t always the answer, and you really need to dig into the architecture, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well some of these services can work. VMSafe cracking: VMWare locked down its VMSafe program that allowed security vendors direct access to certain hypervisor functions via API. The program is dead, except the APIs are maintained for any existing members in the program. This was probably driven by VMWare wanting to control most of the security action, and they forced everyone to move to the less-effective VShield Zones system. What does this mean? Anyone with VMSafe access has a leg up on the competition, which spurred some acquisitions. Everyone else is a bit handcuffed in comparison, so when looking at your private cloud security (on VMware) focus on the fundamental architecture (especially around networking). Virtual appliances everywhere: You know all those security vendors that promoted their amazing performance due to purpose-built hardware? Yeah, now they all offer the same performance in virtual (software) appliances. Don’t ask the booth reps too much about that though or they might pull a Russell Crowe on you. On the upside, many security tools do make sense as virtual appliances. Especially the ones with lower performance requirements (like management servers) or for the mid-market. We guarantee your data center, application, and storage teams are looking hard at, or are already using, cloud and virtualization, so this is one area you’ll want to pay attention to despite the hype. And that’s it for today. Tomorrow will wrap up with Security Management and Compliance, as well as a list of all the places you can come heckle me and the rest of the Securosis team. And yes, Mike will be up all night assembling this drivel into a single document to be posted on Friday. Later… Share:

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Incite 2/9/2011: Loose Lips Sink Ships

I think we’ve taken this instant gratification thing a bit too far. Do you remember in the olden days, when you didn’t know what you were getting for your birthday? Now we get no surprises, pretty much as a society. The combination of a 24-hour media cycle, increasingly outsourced manufacturing, and loose lips ensures that nothing remains a secret for long. I remember the day IBM announced the hostile acquisition of Lotus back in 1994. I was at META at the time, and we were hosting a big conference of our clients. No one knew the deal was coming down and there was genuine surprise. We had a lot to talk about at that conference. Nowadays we hear about every big deal weeks before it hits. Every layoff. Every divestiture. It’s like these companies have their board rooms bugged. Or some folks in these shops have loose lips. And what about our favorite consumer gadgets? We already know the iPad 2 isn’t going to be much of an evolution. It’ll have a camera. And maybe a faster processor and more memory. How do we know? Because Apple has to make millions of these things in China ahead of the launch. Of the 200,000 people who work in that factory, someone is going to talk. And they do. Probably for $20. Not to mention all the companies showing off cases they needed a head-start on. So there is no surprise about anything in consumer electronics anymore. But this weekend I hit my limit. You see, I love the Super Bowl. It’s my favorite day of the year. I host a huge party for my friends and I like the commercials. You always get a chuckle when you see a great commercial. It’s a surprise. Remember the Bud Bowl? Or Jordan and Bird’s shooting contest? Awesome. But no more surprises. I saw a bunch of the commercials on YouTube last week. You have to love VW’s Darth Vader commercial, but the novelty had worn off by the time the game started. I know you try to create buzz by moving up your big reveal (it’s been happening at the RSA Conference for years), but enough is enough. We try to teach the kids the importance of keeping secrets. We talk freely in our house (probably a bit too freely) and we’ve gotten bitten a few times when one of the kids spill the beans. But they are kids and we used those experiences to reinforce the need to keep what someone tells you in confidence. But they are in the middle of a world where no one can keep a secret. Which once again forces us to hammer home the age-old refrain: “Do as we say, not as they do…” And no, I’m not telling you about our super sekret project. Unless you are from the WSJ, that is. -Mike Photo credits: “Loose Lips” originally uploaded by fixedgear Big Head Alert Well, it wasn’t enough for me to offer up free refreshments to those meeting up at the Security Blogger’s Party at RSA, in exchange for a vote for most entertaining blog. But the accolades keep rolling in. Yours truly has been nominated for the Best Security Blogger award by the fine folks at SC Magazine. I’m listed with folks like Hoff (does he even blog anymore?) and Bruce Schneier, so I can’t complain. Although the Boss did call the handyman this morning – it seems we need a few doors expanded in the house for my expanding head. Yes, I’m kidding. I’m fortunate to surround myself with people who remind me of my place on the totem pole every day. Yeah, the bottom. I’ll be the last guy to say I’m the best at anything, but I certainly do appreciate being noticed for doing what I love. You can vote. And no, I haven’t contracted with RSnake to game the vote. Not yet, anyway. Incite 4 U PR writing a check your defenses can’t cash: That title came from a Twitter exchange I had earlier this week about the HBGary Federal hack. Basically the CEO of this company talked smack about penetrating and exposing a hacker group and… wait for it… lo and behold they eviscerated him. As Krebs describes, it was a good hack. These Anonymous guys don’t screw around. And that’s the point. Just like our friend the World’s #1 Hacker, if you talk smack you will get hurt. The folks from HBGary are very smart. And even if they could detonate malware (using their own damn device), a determined attacker will find your weak spot. And more often than not it’s the human capital who drinks your coffee, uses your toilet paper, and maybe even gets something done, sometimes. So basically here is a message to everyone out there: STFU. These stupid PR games and testosterone-laden boasts of hacking this or hacking that show you as nothing more than a “big hat, no cattle” hacker. The folks who really can don’t have to talk about it. And odds are they’ll stay anonymous. – MR The Endpoint Is the Network: One of the wacky things about cloud computing is that it royally screws up so many of the existing security controls. Network monitors, firewalls, vulnerability assessment, and even endpoint agent management all sort of go nuts when you start moving machines around randomly in the fluff of the cloud. To work consistently your security controls need to track the virtual machines, no matter where they pop up. I’m just getting caught up, but CloudPassage looks interesting. It uses an agent and security management plane to consistently apply controls as machine instances move around, even in hybrid models. Yes, we now have to dump everything back into the endpoint we built all that ASIC-based hardware for. Sorry. – RM Looking in the Mirror: Rocky DeStefano posted a nice table of common SIEM evaluation criteria on the visiblerisk blog. This is a handy set of RFI questions that companies looking to

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RSA Guide 2011: Endpoint Security

In 2010, there was broad acknowledgement that most of the endpoint protection deployed was more about passing PCI (yes, it’s still a requirement) than actually stopping attacks. Unfortunately, at the show we’ll continue to hear about all the advances happening in malware detection, and we’ll laugh again. The traditional signature-based model is broken, no matter how many clouds we see inserted into the mix. But with the AV cash cow continuing to moo uncontrollably, the industry will continue trying to convince customers to maintain their investments. So the real question is: who will show some type of innovation in terms of endpoint malware detection. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? What We Expect to See There are some areas of interest at the show for endpoint security: You get what you pay for (or do you?): Given the clear issues around endpoint malware detection, we’ll be hearing a lot from the Free AV crowd. They’ll be talking about the hundreds of millions of folks who use the free engines, just before they try to upsell you to their paid offerings. The reality is that you need management, because these tools involve deploying software agents to many endpoints. But you should pay the least amount possible. So see who seems the hungriest on the show floor. If they aren’t foaming at the mouth, they likely aren’t hungry enough to win your business. Cloudy with a chance of hyperbole: You will also hear a lot about cloud signatures and crowd sourcing to address the limitations of the traditional AV signature model. To be clear, moving a lot of signatures to the cloud is a good thing. But it’s not an answer. The model of matching bad stuff is still broken, and no amount of cloudy stuff will change that. The idea of crowd sourcing is interesting so check out the folks, like Sourcefire/Immunet and Webroot/PrevX, who are doing this in practice. Ask them how they shorten the window from the time an issue is discovered to distributing an update to the rest of the network. This is yet another option to keep the broken AV model running a bit longer. AWL MIA: What you probably won’t see a lot of is application white listing (AWL). Why? Because the technology remains a niche. It is a core aspect of our Positivity security model, but both perception and reality are still slowing deployment of AWL. Not that the handful of vendors offering these solutions won’t be trying to make some noise. But they have no chance to stand out against the status quo, which represents billions in revenue and spends like drunken sailors at RSA. But this remains an important technology, so you should search out the vendors who offer it and learn how they are working to address the deployment and scaling issues. Signs of the iPocalypse: You will see a lot of vendors giving away iPads and iPhones. Why not? If you don’t have one, you want one. If you already have one, you want another one. Or ten. But the reality is these devices are big, and consumerization is taking root. That means you need to figure out how to control them. OK, maybe not control, but at least manage. So check out the configuration management folks and those with specific mobile technologies to reign in the chaos. OK, maybe not reign in, but at least ensure that when they get lost (and they will), you won’t be in career jeopardy. Man(ning) up: One of the other major stories in 2010 was WikiLeaks, spearheading by Bradley Manning, your friendly neighborhood data leaker. So you’ll hear a lot of vendors talking about the importance of controlling USB ports and doing content control/analysis on the endpoint. Try to figure out how they scale. Try to understand how they classify sensitive data and actually do anything without killing the performance of the endpoint. Yeah, it would be good to figure out whether and how they can play nice with any DLP/device control technologies you already have implemented. We’ve hit the halfway point in our RSA Guide posts. I know you are waiting with baited breath for the Virtualization and Cloud section, but patience is a virtue. That post will be up later today. Share:

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