Friday Summary: February 25, 2011

In the relatively short period of time I have been on this planet, there are three time periods that really stand out to me as watershed moments in computing technology. The first was the dawn of the personal computing era that conveniently overlapped with the golden age of video arcades. For me it started the day my elementary school teacher introduced us to a Commodore PET, through the first Mac, and tapered off in the late 80s when home computers stopped being an anomaly. I don’t think the excitement I felt was merely the result of being an enthusiastic young male. ASCII porn didn’t really cut it, even for a 14 year old geek. Next was the dot-com era: around the time I should have graduated college if I hadn’t dragged out my undergrad a solid 8 years. In my memories it started when I signed up with my first dial-up ISP and played with Gopher and newsgroups – through the emergence of Mosaic, Netscape, and my first web sites (ugly) – and faded with the dot-com crash and crappy TV studio websites (which still, mostly, suck). Personally I went from paramedic, to PC tech, to sysadmin, to network admin, to developer in these short years. (Fast learner, I guess). The third era? Right now. It started with the dual emergences of the iPhone and Amazon Web Services, and it’s years away from ending. For me the bellwether moments were my first Intel-based MacBook Pro running Parallels (I converted the official Gartner image into a VM to run it there), followed by the iPhone, with a little Dropbox mixed in. The overlapping models of mobility and cloud computing are creating one of the most exciting times to be in technology I can remember. With lower barriers to entry in terms of costs and hardware, and near-ubiquitous accessibility (even accounting for AT&T wireless), I’m more psyched today than even when I built my first little company to make doinky web apps and do a little security consulting. I seriously wish I was out there doing startups, but it’s not quite the time for a career change. When I can spin up 5 different servers, on 5 different operating systems, in 5 minutes for under $5? From my iPad? That kicks so much more ass than making a crappy embossed background for my old ‘professional’ looking site. As for security? Oh my god, is this a freaking awesome time to do what we do. The threats matter, the assets are important, and the opportunities are nearly endless. I realize a lot of people are depressed about the whole industry game and compliance cycle, but that’s a small penalty to pay for the excitement and meaning of our work. You don’t get a seat at the table unless the stakes are high. Life is good. On to the Summary: Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences Video of Rich on MSNBC. He apologizes for the eyebrow thing. Mort cited talking about cloud security at Bsides. Rich quoted at SearchSecurity on cloud. RSA Podcast on Agile development, Security Fail. Protegrity calls Securosis one of their favorite blogs. Data is Safe – Until It’s Not. Apparently Adrian telling the retail sector they suck at security has legs. And fortunately for us WhiteHat Security published data to back up his claim. Clearing The Air On DAM. Adrian’s Dark Reading post. Favorite Securosis Posts Rich: FireStarter: The New Cold War. There seems to be lots of naivete out there. Guess what – they hack us, we hire people to hack them. The world goes on. Mike Rothman & Adrian Lane: What You Really Need to Know about Oracle Database Firewall. Rich calls out marketing buffoonery. FTW. Other Securosis Posts React Faster and Better: Respond, Investigate, and Recover. Could This Be WikiLeaks for the Criminal Computer Underground?. What I Learned at RSAC. Incite 2/23/2011: Giving up. RSA: the Only Difference Between a Rut and a Grave Is the Depth. RSA: We Now Go Live to Our Reporters on the Scene. How to Encrypt Block Storage in the Cloud with SecureCloud. RSA 2011: A Few Pointers. The Securosis Guide to RSA 2011: The Full Monty. Favorite Outside Posts Rich: Gunnar follows the Heartland cash. I haven’t seen anyone else track the financials of a company involved in a major breach so closely. Before we start talking “dollars per record lost”, we need more of this kind of work. Mike Rothman: The obsession with next. Given that next is all we saw at RSA, this was a timely post on the 37Signals blog. Adrian Lane: Russian Cops Crash Pill Pusher Party. Oddly no arrests have been reported, but a great story. Research Reports and Presentations The Securosis 2010 Data Security Survey. Monitoring up the Stack: Adding Value to SIEM. Network Security Operations Quant Metrics Model. Network Security Operations Quant Report. Understanding and Selecting a DLP Solution. White Paper: Understanding and Selecting an Enterprise Firewall. Understanding and Selecting a Tokenization Solution. Security + Agile = FAIL Presentation. Top News and Posts Zeus malware integrating SMS for hacking out of band authentication. More on HBGary Hack. Lion Watch. With new FileVault. When to implement that is an open question. SSDs resistant to erasure. Updated SAFEcode Development Practices. Oracle Releases Database Firewall. Blog Comment of the Week Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to Shrdlu, in response to What I Learned at RSAC. Nice piece, Adrian–and it was good to meet you too. The general sentiment I heard from vendors I talked to was that the overall mood was better at RSA this year and there were more end-users (as opposed to vendors and partners selling to one another). I can’t form an opinion, as this was my first RSA, but I’ve been to a lot of other conferences and I really didn’t see much difference between this one and other “commercial” ones. That being said, I did see some interesting stuff going on, and I think it’s our job to seek it out and

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Could This Be WikiLeaks for the Criminal Computer Underground?

When Brian Krebs sent me a link to his latest article on illegal pharmacy networks my only response was: Holy friggin’ awesomesauce!!! Brian got his hands on 9GB of financial records for what is likely the world’s biggest online spammer/illegal pharmacy network: In total, these promoters would help Glavmed sell in excess of 1.5 million orders from more than 800,000 consumers who purchased knockoff prescription drugs between May 2007 and June 2010. All told, Glavmed generated revenues of at least $150 million. Brian told me this is merely the first of a lengthy series he is putting together as he digs through the data and performs additional research. This is true investigative reporting, folks. Here’s why I think this could be a watershed moment in computer crime. While this may only be the books for a big criminal pharmacy, it shows all the linkages to other corners of the global criminal networks. Spammers, black hat hackers, SEO, money launderers… it’s probably in there. Especially once Brian correlates with his other sources. He did answer one little question I’ve always had… do they actual send people the little blue pills? Yep. And Brian has the shipping records to prove it. Share:

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React Faster and Better: Respond, Investigate, and Recover

After you have validated and filtered the initial alert, then escalated to contain and respond to the incident, you may need to escalate for further specialized response, investigation, and (hopefully) recovery. This progression to the next layer of escalation varies more among organizations we have talked with than the others – due to large differences in available resources, skill sets, and organizational priorities, but as with the rest of this series the essential roles are fairly consistent. Tier 3: Respond, Investigate, and Recover Tier 3 is where incident response management, specialized resources, and the heavy hitters reside. In some cases escalation may be little more than a notification that something is going on. In others it might be a request for a specialist such as a malware analyst for endpoint forensics analysis. This is also the level where most in-depth investigation is likely to occur – including root cause analysis and management of recovery operations. Finally, this level might include all-hands-on-deck response for a massive incident with material loss potential. Despite the variation in when Tier 3 begins, the following structure aligns at a high level with the common processes we see: Escalate response: Some incidents, while not requiring the involvement of higher management, may need specialized resources that aren’t normally involved in a Tier 2 response. For example, if an employee is suspected of leaking data you may need a forensic examiner to look at their laptop. Other incidents require the direct involvement of incident response management and top-tier response professionals. We have listed this as a single step, but it is really a self-contained response cycle of constantly evaluating needs and pulling in the right people – all the way up to executive management if necessary. Investigate: You always investigate to some degree during an incident, but depending on its nature there may be far more investigation after initial containment and remediation. As with most steps in Tier 3, the lines aren’t necessarily black and white. For certain kinds of incidents – particularly advanced attacks – the investigation and response (and even containment) are carried out in lockstep. For example, if you detect customized malware, you will need to perform a concurrent malware analysis, system forensic analysis, and network forensic analysis. Determine root cause: Before you can close an incident you need to know why it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Was it a business process failure? Human error? Technical flaw? You don’t always need this level of detail to remediate and get operations back up and running on a temporary basis, but you do need it to fully recover – and more importantly to ensure it doesn’t happen again. At least not using the same attack vector. Recover: Remediation gets you back up and running in the short term, but in recovery you finish closing the holes and restore normal operations. The bulk of recovery operations are typically handled by non-security IT operations teams, but at least partially under the direction of the security team. Permanent fixes are applied, permanent holes closed, and any restored data examined to ensure you aren’t re-introducing the very problems that allowed the incident in the first place. (Optional) Prosecute or Discipline: Depending on the nature of the incident you may need to involve law enforcement and carry a case through to prosecution, or at least discipline/fire an employee. Since nothing involving lawyers except billing ever moves quickly, this can extend many years beyond the official end of an incident. Tier 3 is where the buck stops. There are no other internal resources to help if an incident exceeds capabilities. In that case, outside contractors/specialists need to be brought in, who are then (effectively) added to your Tier 3 resources. The Team We described Tier 1 as dispatchers, and Tier 2 as firefighters. Sticking with that analogy, Tier 3 is composed of chiefs, arson investigators, and rescue specialists. These are the folks with the strongest skills and most training in your response organization. Primary responsibilities: Ultimate incident management. Tier 3 handles incidents that require senior incident management and/or specialized skills. These senior individuals manage incidents, use their extensive skills for complex analysis and investigation, and coordinate multiple business units and teams. They also coordinate, train, and manage lower level resources. Incidents they manage: Anything that Tier 2 can’t handle. These are typically large or complex incidents, or more-constrained incidents that might involve material losses or extensive investigation. A good rule of thumb is that if you need to inform senior or executive management, or involve law enforcement and/or human resources, it’s likely a Tier 3 incident. This tier also includes specialists such as forensics investigators, malware analysts, and those who focus on a specific domain as opposed to general incident response. When they escalate: If the incident exceeds the combined response capabilities of the organization. In other words, if you need outside help, or if something is so bad (e.g., a major public breach) that executive management becomes directly involved. The Tools These responders and managers have a combination of broad and deep skills. They manage large incidents with multiple factors and perform the deep investigations to support full recovery and root cause analysis. They tend to use a wide variety of specialized tools, including those they write themselves. It’s impossible to list all the options out, but here are the main categories: Network (full packet capture) forensics: You’ve probably noticed this category appearing at all the levels. While the focus in the other response tiers is more on alerting and visualization, at this level you are more likely to dig deep into the packets to fully understand what’s going on for both immediate response and later investigation. If you don’t capture it you can’t analyze it, and full packet capture is essential for the advanced incident response which provides the focus here. Once data is gone you can’t get it back – thus our incessant focus on capturing as much as you can, when you can. Endpoint

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