Quick thoughts on the iOS and OS X security updates

I am in the airport lounge after attending the WWDC keynote, and here are some quick thoughts on what we saw today: The biggest enhancement is iCloud Keychain. Doesn’t seem like a full replacement for 1Password/etc. (yet), but Apple’s target is people who won’t buy 1Password. Once this is built in, from the way it appears designed, it should materially help common folks with password issues. As long as they buy into the Apple ecosystem, of course. It will be very interesting to see how the activation lock feature works in the real world. Theft is rampant, and making these devices worthless will really put a dent in it, but activation locking is a tricky issue. Per-tab processes in Safari. I am very curious about whether there is more additional sandboxing (Safari already has some). My main concern these days is Flash, and that’s why I use Chrome. If either Adobe or Apple improve Flash sandboxing I will be very happy to switch back. For enterprises Apple’s focus appears to be on iOS and MDM/single sign on. I will research the new changes more. Per-app VPNs also looks quite nice, and might simplify some app wrapping that currently does this through alternate techniques. iWork in the cloud could be interesting, and looks much better than Google apps – but collaboration, secure login, and sharing will be key. Many questions on this one, and I’m sure we will know more before it goes live. I didn’t see much else. Mostly incremental, and I mainly plan to keep an eye on what happens in Safari because it is the biggest point of potential weakness. Nothing so dramatic on the defensive side as Gatekeeper and the Java lockdowns of the past year, but integrating password management is another real-world, casual user problem that hasn’t been cracked well yet. Share:

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Groupthink Kills Your Security Layers

As I continue working through my reading backlog I find interesting stuff that bears comment. When the folks over at NSS Labs attempted to poke holes in the concept of security layers I got curious. Only 3% of over 606 combinations of firewall, IPS, and Endpoint Protection (EPP) actually successfully blocked their full suite of attacks? There is only limited breach prevention available: NSS looked at 606 unique combinations of security product pairs (IPS + NGFW, IPS + IPS, etc.) and only 19 combinations (3 percent) were able to successfully detect ALL exploits used in testing. This correlation of detection failures shows that attackers can easily bypass several layers of security using only a small set of exploits. Most organizations should assume they are already breached and pair preventative technologies with both breach detection and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions. No kidding. It not novel to say that exploits work in today’s environment. Instead of just guessing at optimal combination of devices (which seems to be a value proposition NSS is pushing in the market now), what about getting a feel for the incremental effectiveness of just using a firewall. And then layering in an IPS, and finally looking at endpoint protection. Does IPS really make an incremental difference? That would be useful information – we already know it is very hard to block all exploits. NSS’s analysis of why layering isn’t as effective as you might think is interesting: groupthink. Many of these products are driven by the same research engines and intelligence sources. So if a source misses all its clients miss. Clearly a recipe for failure, so diversity is still important. Rats! Dan Geer and his monoculture stuff continue to bite us in the backside. But of course diversity adds management complexity. Usually significant complexity, so you need to balance different vendors at different control layers against the administrative overhead of effectively managing everything. And a significant percentage of attacks are successful not due to innovative exploits (of the sorts NSS tests), but because of operational failures implementing the technology, keeping platforms and products patched, and enforcing secure configurations. Photo credit: “groupthink” originally uploaded by khrawlings Share:

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