The 2013 Securosis Guide to RSA

We have to admit, this year’s Securosis Guide to RSA is a little over the top. A lot over the top. You know how sometimes you start something, and then you start amusing yourself, and things go just a little too far? This is like that, except we loaded it with a ton of useful information… and no alcohol was involved. That includes key themes, breakdowns of trends and vendors by major coverage areas, and a version of the show floor vendor list with websites so you can look them up later. We hope you find it useful. From the introduction: Over the 15+ years we’ve been going to the show, it has gotten bigger and harder to navigate as the security industry has grown bigger and harder to navigate. This guide should give you a good idea of what to expect at the show – laying out what we expect to be key themes of the show, diving into the major technology areas we cover, and letting you know where to find us. Like last year, we have done our best to break out vendors by tech areas, and added a more comprehensive vendor list including web addresses, so you track down your favorite vendors after the show, since they probably won’t be hammering your phone 10 minutes after you get back to the office. We’d also like to thank all our Contributing Analysts – David Mortman, Gunnar Peterson, Dave Lewis, and James Arlen – for helping keep us honest and contributing and reviewing content. And we definitely need to acknowledge Chris Pepper, our stalwart editor and Defender of Grammar. Enjoy the show. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco. Rich, Mike and Adrian The 2013 Securosis Guide to RSA (PDF)  Share:

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Mandiant Verifies, but Don’t Expect the Floodgates to Open

Unless you have been living in a cave, you know that earlier today Mandiant released a report with specific intelligence on the group they designate as APT1. No one has ever released this level of detail about state-sponsored Chinese hackers. Actually, “state-employed” is probably a better term. This is the kind of public report that could have political implications, and we will be discussing it for a long time. The report is an excellent read, and I highly recommend any infosec professional take the time to read it top to bottom. In information security we often repeat the trope “trust, but verify”. Mandiant has received a fair bit of criticism for pointing fingers at China without revealing supporting information, so this time they laid out their cards with a ton of specifics. They also released a detailed appendix (ZIP file) with specific, actionable data – such as domain names, malware hashes, and known malicious digital certificates.   Seriously – read the entire thing. Do not rely on the executive summary. Do not rely on third-party articles. Do not rely on this blog post. I can’t express how big a deal it is that Mandiant released this information. In doing so they reduced their ability to track the attackers as APT1 (and possibly other teams) adjust their means and operational security. I suspect all the official PLA hackers will be sitting in an OpSec course next week. I’m generally uncomfortable with the current line between intelligence gathering and common defense. I believe more information should be made public so a wider range of organizations can protect themselves. By the same token, this data is Mandiant’s work product, and whatever my personal beliefs, it is their data to share (or not) as they see fit. Mandiant states APT1 is the most prolific of over 20 APT groups they track in China. In other words, this is big, but just the tip of the iceberg, and we cannot necessarily expect more reports like this on other groups, because each one impacts Mandiant’s operations. That’s the part of this game that sucks: the more information is made public, the less valuable the intelligence to the team that collected it, and the higher the cost (to them) of helping their clients. I hope Mandiant shares more detailed information like this in the future, but we aren’t exactly entitled to it. Now if it was financed with public funding, that would be a different story. Oh, wait! … (not going there today). I strongly believe you should read the entire report rather than a summary, so I won’t list highlights. Instead, below are some of the more interesting things I personally got out of the report. The quality of the information collected is excellent and clear. Yes, they have to make some logical jumps, but those are made with correlation from multiple sources, and the alternatives all appear far less likely. The scale of this operation is one of the most damning pieces tying it to the Chinese government. It is extremely unlikely any ad hoc or criminal group could fund this operation and act with such impunity. Especially considering the types of data stolen. Mandiant lays out the operational security failures of the attackers. This is done in detail for three specific threat actors. Because Mandiant could monitor jump servers while operations were in progress, they were able to tie down activities very specifically. For example, by tracking cell phone numbers used when registering false Gmail addresses, or usernames when registering domains. It appears the Great Firewall of China facilitates our intelligence gathering because it forces attackers to use compromised systems for some of these activities, instead of better protected servers within China. That allowed Mandiant to monitor some of these actions, when those servers were available as part of their investigations. Soldiers, employees, or whatever you want to call them, are human. They make mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes. There is no perfect operational security when you deal with people at scale, which means no matter how good the Chinese and other attackers are, they can always be tracked to some degree. While some data in the report and appendices may be stale, some is definitely still live. Mandiant isn’t just releasing old irrelevant data. From page 25, we see some indications of how data may be used. I once worked with a client (around 2003/2004) who directly and clearly suffered material financial harm from Chinese industrial espionage, so I have seen similar effects myself – Although we do not have direct evidence indicating who receives the information that APT1 steals or how the recipient processes such a vast volume of data, we do believe that this stolen information can be used to obvious advantage by the PRC and Chinese state-owned enterprises. As an example, in 2008, APT1 compromised the network of a company involved in a wholesale industry. APT1 installed tools to create compressed file archives and to extract emails and attachments. Over the following 2.5 years, APT1 stole an unknown number of files from the victim and repeatedly accessed the email accounts of several executives, including the CEO and General Counsel. During this same time period, major news organizations reported that China had successfully negotiated a double-digit decrease in price per unit with the victim organization for one of its major commodities. Per page 26, table 3, APT1 was not behind Aurora, Nitro, Night Dragon, or some other well-publicized attacks. This provides a sense of scale, and shows how little is really public. Most of the report focuses on how Mandiant identified and tracked APT1, and less on attack chaining and such that we have seen a lot of before in various reports (it does include some of that). That is what I find so interesting – the specifics of tracking these guys, with enough detail to make it extremely difficult to argue that the attacks originated anywhere else or without the involvement of the Chinese government. Also of interest, Aviv Raff correlated

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Cars, Babes, and Money: It’s RSAC Time

Now that we have posted our RSA Conference Guide, we can get back to lampooning the annual ritual of trying to get folks to scan their badges on the show floor. Great perspective here from Ranum on the bad behavior you’ll see next week, all in the name of lead generation. I’m not sure if I should be howling or repulsed by this idea: “this afternoon I was standing in my studio looking at some high-heeled stripper shoes (in my size) some fishnet stockings, and a knife-pleated Japanese Schoolgirl skirt (also in my size) and thinking “It’s too cold to do this …” Or something like that. My plan was to take a photograph of myself in “booth uniform” from the waist down, and my normal business-casual-slacker from the waist up. Because I threatened my boss that I’d work our booth at the conference wearing high heels and stockings.” Ranum in high heels and stockings is probably a pretty effective way to get out of jury duty as well. Marcus figures booth babes with platform shoes establish solid security credibility, right? What about vehicles? I also wanted to see if we could get an old WWII Sherman Tank to park by our booth, because apparently having a ridiculously irrelevant vehicle parked at your booth says a great deal about how well your products work. I wonder how much the union workers at Moscone would charge to place a Sherman tank on the show floor? But more seriously, what do these irrelevant vehicles have to do with security? Damn Ranum, asking these kinds of questions: How does dollars spent, length of inseam, or miles per hour, correlate to telling us something useful about: The quality of the product? How well it meets customers’ needs? How easy the product is to use? The company’s ability to innovate? Actually – it tells me quite a lot. It tells me I’m looking at a company that has a marketing organization that’s as out of touch as the management team that approved that booth set-up. Here’s a good idea: replace the Ferrari with a cardboard cut-out of a Ferrari and use the money you just saved to hire a new marketing team. But evidently there is another way: And I remember how, last year, I went by Palo Alto’s booth and Nir Zuk, the founder, was doing the pitches to a massive crowd – and answering some pretty crunchy technical question, too. (No: Nir was not in a miniskirt) That’s the kind of performance that would impress me if I were shopping for a company to invest in on their IPO. That’s the kind of performance that might interest me enough to take a look at their product – instead of their founder’s butt. Though if a security company founder has a butt worth looking at, well I’m probably OK with that… Yes, I’m kidding. See you next week at RSAC… Share:

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