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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Most Powerful Evidence That PCI Isn’t Meant To Protect Cardholders, Merchants, Or Banks

By Rich

I just read a great article on the Heartland breach, which I’ll talk more about later. There is one quote in there that really stands out:

End-to-end encryption is far from a new approach. But the flaw in today”s payment networks is that the card brands insist on dealing with card data in an unencrypted state, forcing transmission to be done over secure connections rather than the lower-cost Internet. This approach avoids forcing the card brands to have to decrypt the data when it arrives.

While I no longer think PCI is useless, I still stand by the assertion that its goal is to reduce the risks of the card companies first, and only peripherally reduce the real risk of fraud. Thus cardholders, merchants, and banks carry both the bulk of the costs and the risks. And here’s more evidence of its fundamental flaws.

Let’s fix the system instead of just gluing on more layers that are more costly in the end. Heck, let’s bring back SET!

–Rich

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Network Security Podcast, Episode 136

By Rich

I managed to constrain my rants this week, staying focused on the issue as Martin and I covered our usual range of material. I think we were in top form in the first part of the show where we focus on the economics of breaches and discussed loss numbers, vs. breach notification statistics.

Here are the show notes, and as usual the episode is here: Network Security Podcast, Episode 136, January 27, 2009 Time: 27:43

Show Notes:

–Rich

Inherent Role Conflicts In National Cybersecurity

By Rich

I spent a lot of time debating with myself if I should wade into this topic. Early in my analyst career I loved to talk about national cybersecurity issues, but I eventually realized that, as an outsider, all I was doing was expending ink and oxygen, and I wasn’t actually contributing anything. That’s why you’ve probably noticed we spend more time on this blog talking about pragmatic security issues and dispensing practical advice than waxing poetic about who should get the Presidential CISO job or dispensing advice to President Obama (who, we hate to admit, probably doesn’t read the blog). Unless or until I, or someone I know, gets “the job”, I harbor no illusions that what I write and say reaches the right ears.

But as a student of history, I’m fascinated by the transition we, of all nations, face due to our continuing reliance the Internet to run everything from our social lives, to the global economy, to national defense. Rather than laying out my 5 Point Plan for Solving Global Cyber-Hunger and Protecting Our Children, I’m going to talk about some more generic issues that I personally find compelling.

One of the more interesting problems, and one that all nations face, is the inherent conflicts between the traditional roles of those that safeguard society. Most nations rely on two institutions to protect them- the military and the police.

The military serves two roles: to protect the institution of the nation state from force, and to project power (protecting national assets, including lines of commerce, that extend outside national boundaries). Militaries are typically focused externally, even in fascist states, but do play a variable domestic role, even in the most liberal of democratic societies. Militaries are externally focused entities, who only turn internally when domestic institutions don’t have the capacity to manage situations.

The police also hold dual roles: to enforce the law, and ensure public safety. Of course the law and public safety overlap to different degrees in different political systems.

Seems simple enough, and fundamentally these institutions have existed since nearly the dawn of society. Even when it appears that the institutions are one and the same, that’s typically in name only since the skills sets involved don’t completely overlap, especially in the past few hundred years. Cops deal with crime, soldiers with war.

The Internet is blasting those barriers, and we have yet to figure out how to structure the roles and responsibilities to deal with Internet-based threats. The Internet doesn’t respect physical boundaries, and its anonymity disguises actors. The exact same attack by the exact same threat actor could be either a crime, or an act of war, depending on the perspective. One of the core problems we face in cybersecurity today is structuring the roles and responsibilities for those institutions that defend and protect us. With no easy lines, we see ongoing turf battles and uncoordinated actions.

The offensive role is still relatively well defined- it’s a responsibility of the military, should be coordinated with physical power projection capacity, and the key issue is over which specific department has responsibility. There’s a clear turf battle over offensive cyber operations here in the U.S., but that’s normal (explaining why every service branch has their own Air Force, for example). I do hope we get our *%$& together at some point, but that’s mere politics.

The defensive role is a mess. Under normal circumstances the military protects us from external threats, and law enforcement from internal threats (yes, I know there are grey areas, but roll with me here). Many/most cyberattacks are criminal acts, but that same criminal act is maybe national security threat. We can usually classify a threat by action, intent, and actor. Is the intent financial gain? Odds are it’s a crime. Is the actor a nation state? Odds are it’s a national security issue. Does the action involve tanks or planes crossing a border? It’s usually war. (Terrorism is one of the grey areas- some say it’s war, others crime, and others a bit of both depending on who is involved).

But a cyberattack? Even if it’s from China it might not be China acting. Even if it’s theft of intellectual property, it might not be a mere crime. And just who the heck is responsible for protecting us? Through all of history the military responds through use of force, but you don’t need me to point out how sticky a situation that is when we’re talking cyberspace. Law enforcement’s job is to catch the bad guys, but they aren’t really designed to protect national borders, never mind non-existent national borders. Intelligence services? It isn’t like they are any better aligned. And through all this I’m again shirking the issues of which agencies/branches/departments should have which responsibilities.

This we need to start thinking a little differently, and we may find that we need to develop new roles and responsibilities and we drive deeper into the information age. Cybersecurity isn’t only a national security problem or a law enforcement problem, it’s both. We need some means to protect ourselves from external attacks of different degrees at the national level, since just telling every business to follow best practices isn’t exactly working out. We need a means of projecting power that’s short of war, since playing defense only is a sure way to lose. And right now, most countries can’t figure out who should be in charge or what they should be doing. I highly suspect we’ll see new roles develop, especially in the area of counter-intelligence style activity to disrupt offensive operations ranging from taking out botnets, to disrupting cybercrime economies, to counterespionage issues relating to private business.

As I said in the beginning, this is a fascinating problem, and one I wish I was in a position to contribute towards, but Phoenix is a bit outside the Beltway, and no one will give me the President’s new Blackberry address. Even after I promised to stop sending all those LOLCatz forwards.

–Rich

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Business Justification for Data Security: Information Valuation Examples

By Rich

In our last post, we mentioned that we’d be giving a few examples for data valuation. This is the part of the post where I try and say something pithy, but I’m totally distracted by the White House press briefing on MSNBC, so I’ll cut to the chase:

As a basic exercise, let”s take a look at several common data types, discuss how they are used, and qualify their value to the organization. Several of these clearly have a high value to the organization, but others vary. Frequency of use and audience are different for every company. Before you start deriving values, you need to sit down with executives and business unit managers to find out what information you rely on in the first place, then use these valuation scenarios to help rank the information, and then feed the rest of the justification model.

Credit card numbers

Holding credit card data is essential for many organizations – a common requirement for dispute resolution; because most merchants sell products on the Internet, card data is subject to PCI DSS requirements. In addition to serving this primary function, customer support and marketing metrics derive value from the data. This information is used by employees and customers, but not shared with partners.

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p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Credit Card Number

4

2

3

Healthcare information (financial)

Personally Identifiable Information is a common target for attackers, and a key element for fraud since it often contains financial or identifying information. For organizations such as hospitals, this information is necessary and used widely for treatment. While the access frequency may be moderate (or low, when a patient isn”t under active treatment), it is used by patients, hospital staff, and third parties such as clinicians and insurance personnel.

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p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Healthcare PII

5

3

4

Intellectual property Intellectual Property can take many forms, from patents to source code, so the values associated with this type of data vary from company to company. In the case of a publicly traded company, this may be project-related or investment information that could be used for insider trading. The value would be moderate for the employees that use this information, but high near the end of the quarter and other disclosure periods, when it’s also exposed to a wider audience.

<

p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Financial IP (normal)

3

2

1

Financial IP (disclosure period)

5

2

2

Trade secrets Trade secrets are another data type to consider. While the audience may be limited to a select few individuals within the company, with low frequency of use, the business value may be extraordinarily high

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p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Trade Secrets

5

1

1

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p>

Sales data
The value of sales data for completed transactions varies widely by company. Pricing, customer lists, and contact information, are used widely throughout and between companies. In the hands of a competitor, this information could pose a serious threat to sales and revenue.

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p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Sales Data

2

5

4

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p>


Customer Metrics
The value of customer metrics varies radically from company to company. Credit card issuers, for example, may rate this data as having moderate value as it is used for fraud detection as well as sold to merchants and marketers. The information is used by employees and third party purchasers, and provided to customers to review spending.

<

p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Customer Metrics

4

2

3

You can create more more categories, and even bracket dollar value ranges if you find them helpful in assigning relative value to each data type in your organization. But we want to emphasize that these are qualitative and not quantitative assessments, and they are relative within your organization rather than absolute. The point is to show that your business uses many forms of information. Each type is used for different business functions and has its own value to the organization, even if it is not in dollars.

–Rich

The Business Justification For Data Security: Data Valuation

By Rich

Man, nothing feels better than finishing off a few major projects. Yesterday we finalized the first draft of the Business Justification paper this series is based on, and I also squeezed out my presentation for IT Security World (in March) where I’m talking about major enterprise software security. Ah, the thrills and spills of SAP R/3 vs. Netweaver security!

In our first post we provided an overview of the model. Today we’re going to dig into the first step- data valuation. For the record, we’re skipping huge chunks of the paper in these posts to focus on the meat of the model- and our invitation for reviewers is still open (official release date should be within 2 weeks).

We know our data has value, but we can”t assign a definitive or fixed monetary value to it. We want to use the value to justify spending on security, but trying to tie it to purely quantitative models for investment justification is impossible. We can use educated guesses but they”re still guesses, and if we pretend they are solid metrics we”re likely to make bad risk decisions. Rather than focusing on difficult (or impossible) to measure quantitative value, let”s start our business justification framework with qualitative assessments. Keep in mind that just because we aren”t quantifying the value of the data doesn’t mean we won”t use other quantifiable metrics later in the model. Just because you cannot completely quantify the value of data, that doesn’t mean you should throw all metrics out the window.

To keep things practical, let”s select a data type and assign an arbitrary value to it. To keep things simple you might use a range of numbers from 1 to 3, or “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” to represent the value of the data. For our system we will use a range of 1-5 to give us more granularity, with 1 being a low value and 5 being a high value.

Another two metrics help account for business context in our valuation: frequency of use and audiences. The more often the data is used, the higher its value (generally). The audience may be a handful of people at the company, or may be partners & customers as well as internal staff. More use by more people often indicates higher value, as well as higher exposure to risk. These factors are important not only for understanding the value of information, but also the threats and risks associated with it – and so our justification for expenditures. These two items will not be used as primary indicators of value, but will modify an “intrinsic” value we will discuss more thoroughly below. As before, we will assign each metric a number from 1 to 5 , and we suggest you at least loosely define the scope of those ranges. Finally, we will examine three audiences that use the data: employees, customers, and partners; and derive a 1-5 score.

The value of some data changes based on time or context, and for those cases we suggest you define and rate it differently for the different contexts. For example, product information before product release is more sensitive than the same information after release.

As an example, consider student records at a university. The value of these records is considered high, and so we would assign a value of five. While the value of this data is considered “High” as it affects students financially, the frequency of use may be moderate because these records are accessed and updated mostly during a predictable window – at the beginning and end of each semester. The number of audiences for this data is two, as the records are used by various university staff (financial services and the registrar”s office), and the student (customer). Our tabular representation looks like this:

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p style=”font: 12.0px Helvetica; min-height: 14.0px”>

Data

Value

Frequency

Audience

Student Record

5

2

2

In our next post (later today) we’ll give you more examples of how this works.

–Rich

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Credit Card (Paper) Security Fail

By Rich

I’m consistently impressed with the stupidity of certain financial institutions. Take credit card companies and the issuing banks. We’re in the middle of a financial meltdown driven by failures in the credit system and easy credit, yet you still can’t check out at Target (or nearly anyplace else) without the annoying offer for your 10% discount if you just apply for a card on the spot.

I also hate the “checks” they are always mailing me to transfer balances or otherwise use a credit for something I might use cash for. Any fraudster getting his or her hands on them can have a field day.

That’s why I’m highly amused by the latest offer to my wife. The envelope arrived with her name and address on the outside, and some else’s pre-printed checks on the inside.

I guess the sorting machine ended up, and hopefully her checks went to someone trustworthy.

–Rich

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday Summary- January 23, 2009

By Rich

Warning- today’s introduction includes my political views.

History

Whatever your political persuasion, there’s no denying the magnitude of this week. While we are far from eliminating racism and bias in this country, or the world at large, we passed an incredibly significant milestone in civil rights. My (pregnant) wife and I were sitting on the couch, watching a replay of President Obama’s speech, when she turned to me and said, “you know, our child will never know a world where we didn’t have a black president”.

Change

One thing I think we here in the US forget is just how much we change with the transition to each new administration, especially when control changes hands between parties. We see it as the usual continuity of progress, but it’s very different to the outside world. In my travels to other countries I’m amazed at their amazement at just how quickly we, as a nation, flip and flop. In the matter of a day our approach to foreign policy completely changes- never mind domestic affairs. We have an ability to completely remake ourselves to the world. It’s a hell of a strategic advantage, when you really think about it.

In a matter of 3 days we’re seeing some of the most material change since the days of Nixon. Our government is reopening, restoring ethical boundaries, and reintroducing itself to the world.

Faith

When Bush was elected in 2000 I was fairly depressed. He seemed so lacking in capacity I couldn’t understand his victory. Then, after 9/11, I felt like I was living in a different country. An angry country, that no longer respected diversity of belief or tolerance. A country where abuse of power and disdain for facts and transparency became the rule of our executive branch, if not (immediately) the rule of law.

I was in Moscow during the election and was elated when Obama won, despite the almost surreal experience of being in a rival nation. When I watched the inauguration I felt, for the first time in many years, that I again lived in the country I thought I grew up in- my faith restored.

Talking with my friends of all political persuasions, it’s clear that this is also a transition of values. Transparency is back; something sorely lacking from both the public and private sector for far longer than Bush was in office. Accountability and sacrifice are creeping their heads over the wall. And lurking along the edges of the dark clouds above us is self sacrifice and unity of purpose. I’m excited. I’m excited more about what this mean to our daily and professional lives than just our governance. Will my hopes be dashed by reality? Probably, but I’d rather plunge in head first than cower at home, shopping off Amazon.

Oh- and there was like this really huge security breach this week, some worm is running rampant and taking over all our computers, and some idiots keep downloading pirated software with a Mac trojan.

Here is the week’s security summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences:

Favorite Securosis Posts:

Favorite Outside Posts:

  • Adrian: Hoff’s ruminating on Cloud security of Core services. The series of posts has been interesting. I follow many of these blog posts made on dozens of different web sites, but only for the occasionally humorous debate. Not because I care about the nuts and bolts of how Cloud computing will work, how we define it, or where it is going. The CIO in me loves the thought of minimal risk for trying & adopting software and services. I am interested in the flexibility of adoption. I do not need to perform rigorous evaluations of hardware, software, and environmental considerations- just determine how it meets my business needs, how easy is it to use, and does the pricing model work for me. After a while if I don’t like it, I switch. Stickiness is no longer an investment issue, but a contract issue. And I am only afraid of these services not being in my core if I run out of choices in the vendor community. I know there are a lot more things I do need to consider, and I cannot assume 100% divestiture of responsibilities for compliance and whatnot, but wow, the perception of risk reduction in platform selection drops so much that I am likely to jump forward without a full understanding of other risks I may inherit because of these percieved benefits. Not that it’s ideal, but it is likely.
  • Rich: Sharon on Wwll the Real PII Stand Up? He raises a great issue that there are a bunch of definitions of PII in different contexts, and an increasingly complex regulatory environment with multiple standards.

Top News and Posts:

Blog Comment of the Week:

We didn’t post much, but the comments were great this week. Merchantgrl on the Heartland Breach post:

They were breached a while ago and they just happened to pick that day to finally announce it?

Several people have brought up the Trustwave audit of April 2008. To be compliant, they need ‘REGULAR’ testing. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/security_standards/pci_dss.shtml

Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes. What was there schedule for testing? audits?

Rafal is right- the financial implications are huge. Given the magnitude, and the lack of information being released on their new 2008breach.com site, it makes you wonder.

–Rich

How Much Security Will You Tolerate?

By Adrian Lane

I have found a unique way to keep anyone from using my iMac. While family & friends love the display, they do not use my machine. Many are awed that they can run Windows in parallel to the Mac OS, and the sleek appearance and minimal footprint has created many believers- but after a few seconds they step away from the keyboard. Why? Because they cannot browse the Internet. My copy of Firefox has NoScript, Flashblock, cookie acknowledgement, and a couple of other security related ad-ons. But having to click the Flash logo, or to acknowledge a cookie, is enough to make them leave the room. “I was going to read email, but I think I will wait until I fly home”.

I have been doing this so long I never even notice. I never stopped to think that every web page requires a couple extra mouse clicks to use, but I always accepted that it was worth it. The advantages to me in terms of security are clear. And I always get that warm glow when I find myself on a site for the first time and see 25 Flash icons littering the screen and a dozen cookie requests for places I have never heard of. But I recognize that I am in the minority. The added work seems to so totally ruin the experience and completely turn them off to the Internet. My wife even refused to use my machine, and while I think the authors of NoScript deserve special election into the Web Security Hall of Fame (Which given the lack of funding, currently resides in Rich’s server closet), the common user thinks of NoScript as a curse.

And for the first time I think I fully understand their perspective, which is the motivation for this post. I too have discovered my tolerance limit. I was reading rsnake’s post on RequestPolicy Firefox extension. This looks like a really great idea, but acts like a major work inhibitor. For those not fully aware, I will simply say most web sites make requests for content from more than just one site. In a nutshell you implicitly trust more than just the web site you are currently visiting, but whomever provides content on the page. The plugin’s approach is a good one, but it pushed me over the limit of what I am willing to accept.

For every page I display I am examining cookies, Flash, and site requests. I know that web security is one of the major issues we face, but the per-page analysis is not greater than the time I spend on many pages looking for specific content. Given that I do a large percentage of research on the web, visiting 50-100 sites a day, this is over the top for me. If you are doing any form of risky browsing, I recommend you use it selectively. Hopefully we will see a streamlined version as it is a really good idea.

I guess the question in my mind is how much security will we tolerate? Even security professionals are subject to the convenience factor.

–Adrian Lane

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Business Justification For Data Security

By Rich

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve been a little quieter than usual here on the blog. After blasting out our series on Building a Web Application Security Program, we haven’t been putting up much original content.

That’s because we’ve been working on one of our tougher projects over the past 2 weeks. Adrian and I have both been involved with data security (information-centric) security since long before we met. I was the first analyst to cover it over at Gartner, and Adrian spent many years as VP of Development and CTO in data security startups. A while back we started talking about models for justifying data security investments. Many of our clients struggle with the business case for data security, even though they know the intrinsic value. All too often they are asked to use ROI or other inappropriate models.

A few months ago one of our vendor clients asked if we were planning on any research in this area. We initially thought they wanted yet-another ROI model, but once we explained our positions they asked to sign up and license the content. Thus, in the very near future, we will be releasing a report (also distributed by SANS) on The Business Justification for Data Security. (For the record, I like the term information-centric better, but we have to acknowledge the reality that “data security” is more commonly used).

Normally we prefer to develop our content live on the blog, as with the application security series, but this was complex enough that we felt we needed to form a first draft of the complete model, then release it for public review. Starting today, we’re going to release the core content of the report for public review as a series of posts. Rather than making you read the exhaustive report, we’re reformatting and condensing the content (the report itself will be available for free, as always, in the near future). Even after we release the PDF we’re open to input and intend to continuously revise the content over time.

The Business Justification Model

Today I’m just going to outline the core concepts and structure of the model. Our principle position is that you can’t fully quantify the value of information; it changes too often, and doesn’t always correlate to a measurable monetary amount. Sure, it’s theoretically possible, but practically speaking we assume the first person to fully and accurately quantify the value of information will win the nobel prize.

Our model is built on the foundation that you quantify what you can, qualify the rest, and use a structured approach to combine those results into an overall business justification. 200901221427.jpg We purposely designed this as a business justification model, not a risk/loss model. Yes, we talk about risk, valuation, and loss, but only in the context of justifying security investments. That’s very different from a full risk assessment/management model.

Our model follows four steps:

  1. Data Valuation: In this step you quantify and qualify the value of the data, accounting for changing business context (when you can). It’s also where you rank the importance of data, so you know if you are investing in protecting the right things in the right order.
  2. Risk Estimation: We provide a model to combine qualitative and quantitative risk estimates. Again, since this is a business justification model, we show you how to do this in a pragmatic way designed to meet this goal, rather than bogging you down in near-impossible endless assessment cycles. We provide a starting list of data-security specific risk categories to focus on.
  3. Potential Loss Assessment: While it may seem counter-intuitive, we break potential losses from our risk estimate since a single kind of loss may map to multiple risk categories. Again, you’ll see we combine the quantitative and qualitative. As with the risk categories, we also provide you with a starting list.
  4. Positive Benefits Evaluation: Many data security investments also contain positive benefits beyond just reducing risk/losses. Reduced TCO and lower audit costs are just two examples.

After walking through these steps we show how to match the potential security investment to these assessments and evaluate the potential benefits, which is the core of the business justification. A summarized result might look like:

- Investing in DLP content discovery (data at rest scanning) will reduce our PCI related audit costs by 15% by providing detailed, current reports of the location of all PCI data. This translates to $xx per annual audit. - Last year we lost 43 laptops, 27 of which contained sensitive information. Laptop full drive encryption for all mobile workers effectively eliminates this risk. Since Y tool also integrates with our systems management console and tells us exactly which systems are encrypted, this reduces our risk of an unencrypted laptop slipping through the gaps by 90%. - Our SOX auditor requires us to implement full monitoring of database administrators of financial applications within 2 fiscal quarters. We estimate this will cost us $X using native auditing, but the administrators will be able to modify the logs, and we will need Y man-hours per audit cycle to analyze logs and create the reports. Database Activity Monitoring costs %Y, which is more than native auditing, but by correlating the logs and providing the compliance reports it reduces the risk of a DBA modifying a log by Z%, and reduces our audit costs by 10%, which translates to a net potential gain of $ZZ. - Installation of DLP reduces the chance of protected data being placed on a USB drive by 60%, the chances of it being emailed outside the organization by 80%, and the chance an employee will upload it to their personal webmail account by 70%.

We’ll be detailing more of the sections in the coming days, and releasing the full report early next month. But please let us know what you think of the overall structure. Also, if you want to take a look at a draft (and we know you) drop us a line…

We’re really excited to get this out there. My favorite parts are where we debunk ROI and ALE.

–Rich

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heartland Payment Systems Attempts To Hide Largest Data Breach In History Behind Inauguration

By Rich

Brian Krebs of the Washington Post dropped me a line this morning on a new article he posted. Heartland Payment Systems, a credit card processor, announced today, January 20th, that up to 100 million credit cards may have been disclosed in what is likely the largest data breach in history. From Brian’s article:

Baldwin said 40 percent of transactions the company processes are from small to mid-sized restaurants across the country. He declined to name any well-known establishments or retail clients that may have been affected by the breach. Heartland called U.S. Secret Service and hired two breach forensics teams to investigate. But Baldwin said it wasn’t until last week that investigators uncovered the source of the breach: A piece of malicious software planted on the company’s payment processing network that recorded payment card data as it was being sent for processing to Heartland by thousands of the company’s retail clients. “The transactional data crossing our platform, in terms of magnitude… is about 100 million transactions a month,” Baldwin said. “At this point, though, we don’t know the magnitude of what was grabbed.”

I want you to roll that number around on your tongue a little bit. 100 Million transactions per month. I suppose I’d try to hide behind one of the most historic events in the last 50 years if I were in their shoes.

“Due to legal reviews, discussions with some of the players involved, we couldn’t get it together and signed off on until today,” Baldwin said. “We considered holding back another day, but felt in the interests of transparency we wanted to get this information out to cardholders as soon as possible, recognizing of course that this is not an ideal day from the perspective of visibility.”

In a short IM conversation Brian mentioned he called the Secret Service today for a comment, and was informed they were a little busy.

We’ll talk more once we know more details, but this is becoming a more common vector for attack, and by our estimates is the most common vector of massive breaches. TJX, Hannaford, and Cardsystems, three of the largest previous breaches, all involved installing malicious software on internal networks to sniff cardholder data and export it.

This was also another case that was discovered by initially detecting fraud in the system that was traced back to the origin, rather than through their own internal security controls.

–Rich

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Summary - Jan 16, 2009

By Adrian Lane

It has been a very trying week, between all our current projects- both Rich and I have had untimely home repair work, Rich is recovering from the flu, and we are both scrambling to get work done before deadlines. We have been focused on a series for security spending justification, which we will be mostly posting in blog entries. This is one of the tougher projects I have ever worked on, especially when your goal is to provide pragmatic advice that does not require dusting off calculus. While I was never particularly comfortable with many of the economic models that have been bastardized adapted for security spending justification, I had never spent this much time examining them closely. Having now done so, wow, what a crock of s^&! ROI, NPV, IRR, ALE, ROSI: these things are worthless in terms of security justification. They just completely miss the concept of the value of information, and the careful balancing act between risk and security. Many concepts treated as orthogonal are not, and some of the loss calculations are non-linear. Typically half the relevant data cannot be quantified, and some is simply unavailable. I am happy to say that both Rich and I have had a few ‘ah ha!’ moments, and a few areas where we have disposed of some BS, and I look forward to posting and getting some comments on the subject.

Most of the other stuff going on here at the Lane household is related to ergonomics and comfort. Since I returned from San Jose, it has felt like one long moving project. With more fu iture than could fit into two houses, let alone one, there was a lot of packing and organizing. Yes, it has been 6 months since I got back to Phoenix full time, and the move project is just now winding down. We packed the closets and third garage space with stuff, and gave away a lot as well. Slowly and surely we have rearranged the fu iture to make things comfortable. New desk, new computers, new chairs. And four years of back-logged home repair projects: “fix this, paint that, move everything around. No, move it back”. I can now say I feel like I am done, and I am finally concentrating on having a little fun. That is what got me started on the Music rant (see link below) about FM radio. I was trying to get music into the kitchen, the office and the car, which is when I was confronted with the hideous reality that is FM radio. So it is time to get a music server in the house, and transfer 500 or so CDs into Apple Lossless format. And then start the search for new music to fill it up, and find some online stations worth listening to.

There was a LOT of interesting stuff in the news this week and we compiled a lot of links.

Here is the week’s security summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences:

  • In the Network Security Podcast this week, Martin & Rich discuss phishing, compliance costs, programming errors, and “How to suck at security”.
  • Adrian quoted in eWeek article on DAM and SIEM integration.
  • Rich’s TidBITS article on protecting yourself in Safari

Favorite Securosis Posts:

Favorite Outside Posts:

  • Adrian: Martin’s PCI related blog list.
  • Rich: This is a VERY impressive workflow for managing potentially controversial blog posts, and understanding the different categories of bloggers. I’m shocked this came out of the Air Force, not because they aren’t capable, but because it looks more attuned to the business world than the military. If you are a blogger, or work with bloggers, or read blogs, take the 2 minutes to read this. If you don’t fit any of those categories, what the hell are you doing on our blog? Get off our lawn!

Top News and Posts:

Blog Comment of the Week:

We did not get any security related comments this week, but we did get several good observations on music. Rob’s comment on Phil Collins is the Mel Torme of my generation:

Radio? Are there still radio stations? I’m never out of internet range when I’m working, and if I’m not listening to my music I’m on Pandora (free subscription with my Squeezebox) or Radio Paradise. No commercials. Pandora does a good job of giving me the music I pick, and Radio Paradise has lots of good, new music. FM radio is so last century. :)

Now, time for a beer and a a few hours of frantic editing.

–Adrian Lane

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Network Security Podcast, Episode 134

By Rich

It’s just Martin and myself on the podcast this week. Originally Martin sent out a bunch of stories and we figured, knowing our verbosity, that we would only get through about 3. But totally against our normal natures we managed to roll through them with nary a non-sequitur.

I suppose people really can change.

We think we’ve finally figured out our end of year audio problems, but please let me know if anything sounds off to you. Network Security Podcast, Episode 134, January 13, 2009 Time: 32:27

Show Notes:

–Rich

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oracle January 2009 CPU

By Adrian Lane

Just finished a review of the Oracle January 2009 Critical Patch Update/advisory (CPU).

There are two issues that you need to pay attention to with this release: If you are using Oracle Secure Backup or Weblogix Server plugins, you will want to download and patch ASAP. Here is why:

In the former case, it appears that the Fortinet team discovered a few bugs within the Oracle Backup Server that can be exploited by buffer overflow, resulting in a server crash or worse. I have not seen any specific exploits for this, but I have heard that this could result in the hacker being able to execute arbitrary code on the backup server for the Windows platform. That is bad news as not only can you tapes be overwritten, but he backup server could be used to launch attacks against other services. I am making the assumption that you are blocking port 10,000, but regardless, patch ASAP.

The second issue has to to with the Weblogic plug-in for Apache/IIS. I have asked a couple people if they understand the scope of the exploit, but none of my contacts know the specifics. If you know, please send me an email. As a matter of course I am really wary of threats to the web application stack as an attacker has many different methods to exercise vulnerabilities, and will, as soon as they learn about the vulnerability. If you are using the plug-in, patch ASAP.

The core database server does not seem to suffer any significant vulnerabilities. One of the bugs that is patched allows a user to execute certain functions and circumvent the auditing functions, so if you are using Oracle’s native audit for regulatory efforts, or to seed a Database Activity Monitoring solution, consider the patch a little higher priority. Otherwise I recommend that you patch according to your established deployment cycles.

–Adrian Lane

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Phil Collins is the Mel Torme of my generation

By Adrian Lane

This post is deeply off topic, has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with my personal realizations about music.

My calendar says that it is 2009. My radio says it is 1978. The radio must be right because I just listened to ‘Warewolves of London’ each and every day for the last three days.

It’s just weird, because I like music, but I am also getting tired of itl. I like to have the radio in the background pretty much all the time. I am what is called a ‘Stereophile’ as well. I love music and I love the intricacies of the technology used to reproduce music, so playing with stereo equipment is nirvana for me. When not writing white papers and blogging, I am reading about and listening to my stereo systems. 3 systems in all, plus a radio in the kitchen, car and garage. My musical tastes vary, but tend to listen to rock during the day, jazz/ragtime/blues at night. The latter has been great as I am not saturated with it, and I am constantly finding new stuff that I like (while I am on the subject, James Brown was a bad-ass!). But it’s the rock and roll on the Radio that’s got me really vexed. Why?

On the Radio it is 1987. I know this because I have heard ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ each and every day for the last 8 days.

Did our brains somehow imprint an image of what music was supposed to be when we were young, and now we cannot move away from that? It never thought as a child that when I became an adult I would be listening to the same music I was listening to at 4, 8, 12, 15, every day, day after day for eternity. Bad when you grow tired of songs you like, awful when you still hear the songs you grew weary of in high school. I always assumed that there would continually be new music that I liked, from the bands that I liked, and the radio stations would progress as the musicians did. Not so! AC/DC and Aerosmith may have the odd hit, most new music flops horribly. Chinese Democracy can’t get half the air time of Appetite for Destruction. Sure, that’s a blessing, but one is new and the other is a tired 22 years old. A couple new bands offer the interesting song or two, but the rock & roll stations continue to play the same music, over and over and over. It appears that every major rock band in the world wrote three songs and the reminder of their recordings were burned so that we could focus all our time and energy on a handful of ‘important’ (re: safe) songs.

Oh, listen, it’s Aqualung. Just like yesterday.

This is what prompted me to try and diversify from Rock a bit, but with very little success. Old school Hip Hop gets my occasional attention when I run across something like ‘You Be Illin’, but I have never been able to really enjoy Rap. Tried real hard with classical; even accepted the 1200 classical albums to see if my musical tastes somehow ‘matured’ enough to listen to these composers. Boredom forced me to give the collection away to someone who would appreciate it. Country and Western makes me feel like life is not worth living and I want to slash my wrists. There are plenty of popular mexican music stations that are somewhat entertaining, but after a while, especially when you do not understand the words, the same ‘da da da dat dat dah’ accordion bridge grows very fatiguing.

So I tune back to one of the 6 rock stations I get here in Phoenix, where it’s 1985, and I am listening to this fresh cut of Sussudio.

In my teens I would never have dreamt that Phil Collins would be on the radio, every day, as if he was a first run artist that everyone listed to - with a new top 10 hit every week. But just listen a few minutes and there he is, as if we just loved his stuff. He gets more air time than Kanye West. A competent singer, songwriter & drummer, I really have no problem with Phil Collins. OK to listen to, say, once a month. 4 times a day on the radio makes me want to hurl. And now I know why Phil Collins is the Mel Torme of my generaiton. Good enough to make the favored radio station play list, but if you were a non-fan of the art, you would think this guy is a Louis Armstrong or Mozart-esque musical genius.

What can you do? Keep singing along I guess … “Aaahoo, Werewolves of London”.

At least I LIKE that song.

–Adrian Lane

There Are No Trusted Sites: Paris Hilton Edition

By Rich

While not on the scale of Amex or BusinessWeek, I just find this one amusing.

Paris Hilton’s official website was hacked and is serving up a trojan (the malware kind, not what you’d expect from her*). From Network World:

The hack was discovered by security vendor ScanSafe, which said that Parishilton.com (note: this site is not safe to visit as of press time) had apparently been compromised since Friday. Visitors to the site are presented with a pop-up window urging them to download software in order to enhance their viewing of the site. Whether they click “yes” or “no” on this window, the site then tries to download a malicious program, known as Trojan-Spy.Zbot.YETH, from another Web site.

The best part? Only 12 of 37 tested AV vendors catch the trojan. All of you that give me crap for hammering on AV can go away now.

  • sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

–Rich