VMWare Doubles Down on SDN

VMWare is pushing hard on the virtual datacenter concept this week at VMWorld, with the first release of their new SDN networking approach based on the Nicira acquisition. Greg Ferro has a good take (hat tip to @beaker/Hoff for the link): VMware NSX is a solution for programmable and dynamic networking service that interoperates with VMware vCloud director, OpenStack or Hyper-V–this is where the real value is derived. In the near future, servers will no longer be “operating systems” but “application containers.” Instead of installing an application onto a operating system, the application will part of a service template that will do most or all of these: Three things: I don’t think it is a game changer itself, but it is a (sort of new) entry by a major player into an area of growing interest. It will certainly create a lot more dialogue. Oh crap, now I need to brush up on networking again. And you networking types need to brush up on programming and APIs. SDN coupled with the cloud can enable seriously cool security capabilities. Like a couple API calls to identify every server on every network segment, every path to said servers, and all the firewall rules around them. In real time. Share:

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Ecosystem Threat Intelligence: Assessing Partner Risk

As we discussed in the introduction post of our Ecosystem Threat Intelligence series, today’s business environment features increasing use of an extended enterprise. Integrating systems and processes with trading partners can benefit the business, but dramatically expands the attack surface. A compromised trading partner, with trusted access to your network and systems, gives their attackers that same trusted access to you. To net out the situation, you need to assess the security of your partner ecosystem; and be in a position to make risk-based decisions about whether the connection (collaboration) with trading partners makes sense, and what types of controls are necessary for protection given the potential exposure. To quote our first post: You need to do your due diligence to understand how each organization accessing your network increases your attack surface. You need a clear understanding of how much risk each of your trading partners presents. So you need to assess each partner and receive a notification of any issues which appear to put your networks at risk. This post will discuss how to assess your ecosystem risks, and then how to quantify the risks of partners for better (more accurate) decisions about the levels of access and protection appropriate for them. When assessing risks to your ecosystem, penetration tests or even vulnerability scans across all your partners are rarely practical. You certainly can try (and for some very high-profile partners with extensive access to your stuff you probably should), but you need a lower-touch way to perform ongoing assessments of the vast majority of your trading partners. As with many other aspects of security, a leveraged means of collecting and analyzing threat intelligence on partners can identify areas of concern and help you determine whether and when to go deeper and to perform active testing with specific partners. Breach History Investors say past performance isn’t a good indicator of future results. Au contraire – in the security business, if an organization has been compromised a number of times, they are considerably more likely to be compromised in the future. Some organizations use publicly disclosed data loss as a catalyst to dramatically improve their security posture… but most don’t. There are various sources for breach information, and consulting a few to confirm the accuracy of a breach report is a good idea. Besides the breach disclosure databases, depending on your industry you might have an ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center) with information about breaches as well. Although there are some limitations in this approach. First of all, many of the public breach reporting databases are volunteer-driven and can be a bit delayed in listing the latest breaches, mostly because the volume of publicly disclosed breaches continues to skyrocket. Some organizations (think military and other governmental organizations) don’t disclose their breaches, so there won’t be public information about those organizations. And others play disclosure games about what is material and what isn’t. Thus checking out public disclosures is not going to be comprehensive, but it’s certainly a place to start. Mapping Your Ecosystem The next step is to figure out whether the partner has current active security issues, which may or may not lead to data loss. The first step will be to associate devices and IP addresses with specific trading partners, because to understand a partner’s security posture you need an idea of their attack surface. If you have the proverbial “big bat” with a partners – meaning you do a lot of business with them and they have significant incentive to keep you happy – you can ask them for this information. They may share it, or perhaps they won’t – not necessarily because they don’t want to. It is very hard to keep this information accurate and current – they may not have an up-to-date topology. If you can’t get it from your partner you will need to build it yourself. That involves mining DNS and whois among other network mapping tactics, and is resource intensive. Again, this isn’t brain surgery, but if you have dozens (or more) trading partners it can be a substantial investment. Alternatively you might look to a threat intelligence service specializing in third party assessment, which has developed such a map as a core part of their offering. We will talk more about this option under Quick Wins in our next post. Another question on network mapping: how deep and comprehensive does the map need to be. Do you need to know every single network in use within a Global 2000 enterprise? Because that would be a large number of networks to track. To really understand a partner’s security posture you should develop as comprehensive a viewpoint as you can, within realistic constraints on time and investment. Start with specific locations that have access to your networks, and be sure to understand the difference between owning a network and actually using it. Many organizations have large numbers of networks, but use very few of them. Public Malaise Now that you have a map associating networks with trading partners, you can start analyzing security issues on networks you know belong to trading partners. Start with Internet-accessible networks and devices – mostly because you can get there. You don’t need permission to check out a partner’s Internet-facing devices. In-depth scanning and recon on those devices is bad form, but hopefully attackers aren’t doing that every day, right? If you find an issue that is a good indication of a lack of security discipline. Especially if the vulnerability is simple. If your partner can’t protect stuff that is obviously be under attack (Internet-facing devices), they probably don’t do a good job with other security. Yes, that is a coarse generalization, but issues on public devices fail the sniff test for an organization with good security practices. So where can you get this information? Several data sources are available: Public website malware checking: There are services that check for malware on websites – mostly by rendering pages automatically on vulnerable devices and seeing whether bad stuff happens. Often a trading partner will buy these services themselves

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China Suffers Large DNS DDoS Attack

From the Wall Street Journal (via The Verge): The attack began at 2 a.m. Sunday morning and was followed by a more intense attack at 4 a.m., according to the China Internet Network Information Center, which apologized to affected users in its statement and said it is working to improve its “service capabilities.” The attack, which was aimed at the registry that allows users to access sites with the extension “.cn,” likely shut down the registry for about two to four hours, according to CloudFlare No idea on the motivation yet, which is interesting. China has one of the most sophisticated filtering systems in the world and analysts rate highly the government’s ability to carry out cyber attacks. Despite this, China is not capable of defending itself from an attack, which CloudFlare says could have been carried out by a single individual. Dear mass media, offense isn’t defense. They come out of different budgets with different motivations. China has IT silos just like we do, get over it. Share:

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