Blog

Revisiting Security Priorities

By Mike Rothman
Yesterday’s FireStarter was one of the two concepts we discussed during our research meeting last week. The other was to get folks to revisit their priorities, as we run headlong into 2010. My general contention is that too many folks are focusing on advanced security techniques, while building on a weak or crumbling foundation: the network and endpoint security environment. With a little tuning, existing security investments can be bolstered and improved to eliminate a large portion of the low-hanging fruit that attackers target. What could be more pragmatic than using what you already have a bit better? Of course,

Mercenary Hackers

By Adrian Lane
Dino Dai Zovi (@DinoDaiZovi) posted the following tweets this Saturday: Food for thought: What if <vendor> didn’t patch bugs that weren’t proven exploitable but paid big bug bounties for proven exploitable bugs? and … The strategy being that since every patch costs millions of dollars, they only fix the ones that can actually harm their customers. I like the idea. In many ways I really do. Much like an open source project, the security community could examine vendor code for security flaws. It’s an incredibly progressive viewpoint, which has the potential to save companies the embarrassment

Database Password Pen Testing

By Adrian Lane
A few years back I worked on a database password checker at the request of my employer. A handful of customers wanted to periodically audit passwords, verifying that they complied with their password policies. As databases can use internal password management – outside the scope of primary access control systems like LDAP – they wanted auditing capabilities across the database systems. The goal was to identify weak passwords for service and general database user accounts. This was purely a research effort, but as I was recently approached by yet another IT person on this subject, I thought it was worth discussing the

FireStarter: The Grand Unified Theory of Risk Management

By Rich
The FireStarter is something new we are starting here on the blog. The idea is to toss something controversial out into the echo chamber first thing Monday morning, and let people bang on some of our more abstract or non-intuitive research ideas. For our inaugural entry, I’m going to take on one of my favorite topics – risk management. There seem to be few topics that engender as much endless – almost religious – debate as risk management in general, and risk management frameworks in particular. We all have our favorite pets, and clearly mine is better than yours. Rather than debating

Friday Summary - January 8th, 2010

By Adrian Lane
I was over at Rich’s place this week while we were recording the network security podcast. When finished we were just hanging out and Riley, Rich’s daughter, came walking down the hall. At 9 months old I was more shocked to see her walking than she was at seeing me standing there in the hall. She looked up at me and sat down. I extended my hand thinking that she would grab hold of my fingers, but she just sat there looking at me. I heard Rich pipe up … “She’s not a dog, Adrian. You don’t need

Google, Privacy, and You

By Rich
A lot of my tech friends make fun of me for my minimal use of Google services. They don’t understand why I worry about the information Google collects on me. It isn’t that I don’t use any Google services or tools, but I do minimize my usage and never use them for anything sensitive. Google is not my primary search engine, I don’t use Google Reader (despite the excellent functionality), and I don’t use my Gmail account for anything sensitive. Here’s why: First, a quote from Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google (the full

Getting Your Mindset Straight for 2010

By Mike Rothman
Speaking as a “master of the obvious,” it’s worth mentioning the importance of having a correct mindset heading into the new year. Odds are you’ve just gotten back from the holiday and that sinking “beaten down” feeling is setting in. Wow, that didn’t take long. So I figured I’d do a quick reminder of the universal truisms that we know and love, but which still make us crazy. Let’s just cover a few: There is no 100% security I know, I know – you already know that. But the point here is that your management forgets. So

Incite - 1/6/2009 - The Power of Contrast

By Mike Rothman
Good Morning: It’s been quite a week, and it’s only Wednesday. The announcement of Securosis “Plus” went extremely well, and I’m settling into my new digs. Seems like the last two days just flew by. As I was settling in to catch some zzzz’s last night, I felt content. I put in a good day’s work, made some progress, and was excited for what the next day had to bring. Dare I say it? I felt happy. (I’m sure I’ve jinxed myself for another 7 years.) It reminds me of a lyric from Shinedown

RSA Treks to Sherwood Forest and Buys the Archer

By Mike Rothman
EMC/RSA announced the acquisition of Archer Technologies for an undisclosed price. The move adds an IT GRC tool to EMC/RSA’s existing technologies for configuration management (Ionix) and SIEM/Log Management (EnVision). Though EMC/RSA’s overall security strategy remains a mystery, they claim to be driving towards packaging technologies to solve specific customer use cases – such as security operations, compliance, and cloud security. This kind of packaging makes a lot of sense, since customers don’t wake up and say “I want to buy widget X today” – instead they focus on solving specific problems. The rubber meets

Password Policy Disclosure

By Adrian Lane
I am no fan of “security through obscurity”. Peer review and open discourse on security have proven essential in development of network protocols and cryptographic algorithms. Regardless, that does not mean I choose to disclose everything. I may disclose protocols and approach, but certain details I choose to remit. Case in point: if I were Twitter, and wanted to reduce account hijacking by ridding myself of weak passwords which can be easily guessed, I would not disclose my list of weak passwords to the user community. As noted by TechCrunch: If you’re on Twitter, that means you registered an
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