Threatpost on Active Defense

Mike Mimoso has a very good article on active defense at Threatpost. (Yes, we are linking to them a lot today). While every corporate general counsel, CIO and anyone with a CISSP will tell you that hacking back against adversaries is illegal and generally a bad thing to do, there are alternatives that companies can use to gain insight into who is behind attacks, collect forensic evidence and generally confound hackers, perhaps to the point where they veer away from your network. The one thing the article doesn’t spend enough time on is how useful these approaches can be for triggering alerts in your security monitoring. Especially if you correlate two or more events, which are highly unlikely to be a false positive. I wrote about this last June with some definitions. Finally, the CrowdStrike guys need to get their messaging lined up. Mixed messages aren’t great when you are in pretend-stealth mode. Share:

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The Inside Story of SQL Slammer

A first person account at Threatpost by David Litchfield, who discovered the vulnerability which was later exploited. Looking at my phone, I excused myself from the table and took the call; it was my brother. “David, it’s happened! Someone’s released a worm.” “Worm? Worm for what?” “Your SQL bug” My stomach dropped. Telling Mark I’d call him back later I rejoined the table. Someone, I can’t remember who, asked if everything was alright. “Not really,” I replied, “I think there’s going to be trouble.” Microsoft was going down the security path before this, but it clearly helped reinforce their direction and paid massive dividends on SQL Server itself. The first major flaw to be found in SQL Server 2005 came over 3 years after its release – a heap overflow found by Brett Moore, triggered by opening a corrupted backup file with the RESTORE TSQL command. So far SQL Server 2008 has had zero issues. Not bad at all for a company long considered the whipping boy of the security world. Oracle would prefer you not read that paragraph. Share:

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Java Moving from Ridiculous to Surreal

Adam Gowdiak in [SE-2012-01] An issue with new Java SE 7 security features: That said, recently made security “improvements” to Java SE 7 software don’t prevent silent exploits at all. Users that require Java content in the web browser need to rely on a Click to Play technology implemented by several web browser vendors in order to mitigate the risk of a silent Java Plugin exploit. This was via Ed Bott who has also been covering the deceptive installs included with nearly all Java updates: When you use Java’s automatic updater to install crucial security updates for Windows , third-party software is always included. The two additional packages delivered to users are the Ask Toolbar and McAfee Security Scanner. With every Java update, you must specifically opt out of the additional software installations. If you are busy or distracted or naive enough to trust Java’s “recommendation,” you end up with unwanted software on your PC. I have checked, and (so far) I cannot correlate kitten deaths with Java installs, so we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice. Share:

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Marketers take the path of least resistance

Rich constantly reminds us that “correlation does not imply causation,” relevant when looking at a recent NetworkWorld article talking about the decrease in spam, which concludes that botnet takedowns and improved filtering have favorably impacted the amount of spam being sent out. Arguably, the disruption of botnets – the platform used to send most spam – has probably had a larger effect, with the downing of several large distribution networks coinciding with the start of spam’s decline in 2010. Meh. Of course, that makes better headlines than all the various botnet chasing efforts paying off. But if you dig into Kaspersky’s research you get a different take. Ads in legal advertising venues are not as irritating for users on the receiving end, they aren’t blocked by spam filters, and emails are sent to target audiences who have acknowledged a potential interest in the goods or services being promoted. Furthermore, when advertisers are after at least one user click, legal advertising can be considerably less costly than advertising through spam. Based on the results from several third-party studies, we have calculated that at an average price of $150 per 1 million spam emails sent, the final CPC (cost per click, the cost of one user using the link in the message) is a minimum of $.4.45[sic]. Yet the same indicator for Facebook is just $0.10. That means that, according to our estimates, legal advertising is more effective than spam. Our conclusion has been indirectly confirmed by the fact that the classic spam categories (such as fake luxury goods, for example) are now switching over to social networks. We have even found some IP addresses for online stores advertising on Facebook that were previously using spam. Duh. Spam was great for marketers of ill repute because it was cheaper than any other way of reaching customers. If that changes marketers will move to the cheapest avenue. They always do – that’s just good business. So we can all pat ourselves on the back because our efforts to reduce spam have been effective, or we can thank places like Facebook that are changing the economics of mass online marketing. For now anyway. Share:

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