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Friday Summary: April 9, 2010

By Rich
So I’m turning 39 in a couple of weeks. Not that 39 is one of those milestone birthdays, but it leaves me with only 365 days until I can not only no longer trust myself (as happened when I turned 30), but I supposedly can’t even trust my bladder anymore. I’m not really into birthdays with ‘0’ at the end having some great significance, but I do think they can be a good excuse to reflect on where you are in life. Personally I have an insanely good life – I run my own company, have a great family, enjoy my (very flexible)

Database Security Fundamentals: Auditing Transactions

By Adrian Lane
I am now switching gears to talk about some of the ‘detective’ measures that help with forensic analysis of transactions and activity. The preventative measures discussed previously are great for protecting your system from known attacks, but they don’t help detect fraudulent misuse or failure of business processes. For that we need to capture the events that make up the business processes and analyze them. Our basic tool is database auditing, and they provide plenty of useful information. Before I get too far into this discussion, it’s worth noting that the term ‘transactions’ is an arbitrary choice on

ESF: Controls: Secure Configurations

By Mike Rothman
Now that we’ve established a process to make sure our software is sparkly new and updated, let’s focus on the configurations of the endpoint devices that connect to our networks. Silly configurations present another path of least resistance for the hackers to compromise your devices. For instance, there is no reason to run FTP on an endpoint device, and your standard configuration should factor that in. Define Standard Builds Initially you need to define a standard build, or more likely a few standard builds. Typically for desktops (no sensitive data, and sensitive data), mobile employees, and maybe, kiosks.

Incite 4/7/2010: Everybody Loves the Underdog

By Mike Rothman
Come on, admit it. Unless you have Duke Blue Devil blood running through your veins (and a very expensive diploma on the wall) or had Duke in your tournament bracket with money on the line, you were pulling for the Butler Bulldogs to prevail in Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball final. Of course you were – everyone loves the underdog. If you think of all the great stories through history, the underdog has always played a major role. Think David taking down Goliath. Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Pretty sure the betting line had long odds on

ESF: Controls: Update and Patch

By Mike Rothman
Running old software is bad. Bad like putting a new iPad in a blender. Bad because all software is vulnerable software, and with old software even unsophisticated bad guys have weaponized exploits to compromise the software. So the first of the Endpoint Security Fundamentals technical controls is to make sure you run updated software. Does that mean you need to run the latest version of all your software packages? Can you hear the rejoicing across the four corners of the software ecosystem? Actually, it depends. What you do need to do is make sure your endpoint devices are patched within

Who to Recruit for Security, How to Get Started, and Career Tracks

By Rich
Today I read two very different posts on what to look for when hiring, and how to get started in the security field. Each clearly reflects the author’s experiences, and since I get asked both sides of this question a lot, I thought I’d toss my two cents in. First we have Shrdlu’s post over at Layer 8 on Bootstrapping the Next Generation. She discusses the problem of bringing new people into a field that requires a fairly large knowledge base to be effective. Then over at Errata Security, Marisa focuses more on how to get a job

Anti-Malware Effectiveness: The Truth Is out There

By Mike Rothman
One of the hardest things to do in security is to discover what really works. It’s especially hard on the endpoint, given the explosion of malware and the growth of social-engineering driven attack vectors. Organizations like ICSA Labs, av-test.org, and VirusBulletin have been testing anti-malware suites for years, though I don’t think most folks put much stock in those results. Why? Most of the tests yield similar findings, which means all the products are equally good. Or more likely, equally bad. I know I declared the product review dead, but every so often you still see comparative

ESF: Triage: Fixing the Leaky Buckets

By Mike Rothman
As we discussed in the last ESF post on prioritizing the most significant risks, the next step is to build, communicate, and execute on a triage plan to fix those leaky buckets. The plan consists of the following sections: Risk Confirmation, Remediation Plan, Quick Wins, and Communication Risk Confirmation Coming out of the prioritize step, before we start committing resources and/or pulling the fire alarm, let’s take a deep breath and make sure our ranked list really represents the biggest risks. How do we do that? Basically by using the same process we used to come up with

Database Virtualization and Abstraction

By Adrian Lane
When you think of database virtualization, do you think this term means: a) Abstracting the database installation/engine from the application and storage layers. b) Abstracting the database instance across multiple database installations or engines. c) Abstracting the data and tables from a specific database engine/type, to make the dependent application interfaces more generic. d) Abstracting the data and tables across multiple database installations/engines. e) Moving your database to the cloud. f) All of the above. I took a ‘staycation’ last month, hanging around the house to do some spring cleaning. Part of the cleaning process was cutting

ESF: Prioritize: Finding the Leaky Buckets

By Mike Rothman
As we start to dig into the Endpoint Security Fundamentals series, the first step is always to figure out where you are. Since hope is not a strategy, you can’t just make assumptions about what’s installed, what’s configured correctly, and what the end users actually know. So we’ve got to figure that out, which involves using some of the same tactics our adversaries use. The goal here is twofold: first you need to figure out what presents a clear and present danger to your organization, and put a triage plan in place to remediate those issues.
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