Sunday, 30 November 2008

Ruxcon 1st day

So I am back from the very awesome Ruxcon and its after party. It felt good to be among my own people, I saw at least two other geeks wearing a "There's no place like" T-shirt, and several with other witty, geeky and or security related repartee.
I saw some awesome talks of which I will go into more detail later. I also met the venerable Patrick Gray of the Risky business podcast and Adam Boileau one of his regular knowledgeable guests.
Some standout talks so far have been Enterprise Security, Softer than the foam on my Frappuccino by the LUMC Crew and Ghost Recon: Subverting Local Networks by Berne Campbell, I recommend you download them with slides when/if they become available.
Well peace out all.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Welcome everyone to my Security blog, I will have migrated over previous posts from as we go.
All of the ones from the previous few months have been coppied across, any beyond that will have been indexed by google(and was before I used tags so it will take to long).
I have added RSS and ATOM feeds to both blogs, please subscribe over on the left if it interests you.

Makes the blood boil.

So if I haven't already ranted at you in some way shape or form, you may not know of the Australian government's short-sighted plan to add us to the ranks of oppressive regimes such as Iran and China. In fact that is unfair as Iran's proxy is considered to be looser than the one Senator Conroy wants to implement.
The long and short of it is that Conroy wants to restrict what pages are available to Australian internet users. Sure it is for the kids (won't someone think of the children)… But as I have said to people I would rather my children see the entirety of the disgusting underbelly of the internet than have one single thought provoking site blocked. Not to mention the degradation to performance in a country that is already considered one of the worst in the world for connectivity. In Sweden groups appealed to the government saying 100mbps is welfare. Here most people are still on 1/200th that speed, and with Conroys plan that 1/200th would lose anywhere from 2-80% of its speed, welcome back to dial-up days.
There are a plethora of sites that are likely to be blocked because they aren't "kid" friendly. June next year you will probably see the below when going to user content generated sites such as Youtube and Facebook:

Here is a news flash senator; kids get hold of porn even if you restrict it, even in the pre-internet days. So what your doing will only have negative effects. Parents with no IT knowledge will have a false sense of security and not monitor their kids browsing habits, these same kids will find ways round your precious filter, and these methods that will become popular may even make it harder for parents and educators to monitor their usage.
The filter will slow down internet access and again the people with little IT knowledge will have no idea how to get around it for legitimate sites that are blocked. Then there is the cost which you are expecting ISP's to mostly cover off their own bat, which will increase internet costs in a country that already pays too much for too little.
Way to go Senator you deserve your award:

I feel lost; I don't know what to do. I feel as though someone has decided freedom of information is a bad idea, so let's mandate it. Then what do you do. Once the book burning starts it is hard to stop.
I have emailed the Senator and his opponents, and the letters are in the mail.
I urge everyone to look at the following sites and take action: your silence is all they need to pass this and then you are no better than them.
Peace out all, except Conroy and his supporters who can just unplug their computers, televisions, and burn their books for the same effect they are trying to mandate.

PS: I am starting up a dedicated security Blog as I want to separate the two, this of course crosses both blogs so expect to see it on both. My new Security blog is linked on the left or here:

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Social Engineering

I think possibly the equal first security threat facing all business today is that of Social engineering. I say equal first, because a lot of insider threats would probably fall under this banner. The employee, lets say his name is John calls up the helpdesk, he tells them his name is Sam, and that he has forgotten his password. You of course see where I am going with this, the helpdesk happily resets Sam's password, John knows Sam is out to a long lunch and has access to files he doesn't. He logs in as Sam, gets the files he needs and then logs out, maybe even leaving a post-it on Sams screen saying the helpdesk had to reset his password to blah, so the helpdesk doesn't get another call and get suspicious.
John know has all the files on his cheap USB disk, or in hard copy and does with them whatever it is nefarious people do with data to make a buck.
I have seen mitigation techniques for the one I mentioned above, all users have a password reset word, something they wouldn't have as a password and stored in plain-text for the helpdesk to see. This will mitigate it, unless John says he forgot it and to send someone down, the helpdesk guy may not know John or Sam, and as long as John is in Sam's office still acting like he owns the place he will probably get away with it.
Social Engineering is scary for another reason in that even non-technical users can do it. I remember I had a client once who had a relitively new employee call up asking for some permissions to files he needed for work. I knew his role was to do with those files and I knew his voice over the phone (as funnily enough he had moved from one client to another). Still I decided to call his manager to get the ok. She didn't give it, and was a bit distrubed that he had asked for the access. Horray one for the good guys.
Have a look here at how easily some guys doing a sprite commercial pulled off some non-harmful social engineering.
Here is a very thourough article on the subject.
And here is my first shirt design on cafepress, totally on topic.
Really though combine some social engineering with technical knowledge the smarts to think of the good-guys mitigation techniques and the connections to make money off your exploits and you have a major foe to be reaconed with.
I think in future we will need to audit our people as much as we do our security systems. Having someone who won't suffer the repricussions of the law come in randomly and do spot checks would keep people on their toes, but it also comes down to having the personal touch, knowing people by name, by their voice, by their face. Maybe the solution is smaller decentralised IT departments, say one for each department and at least one at each site, this lessens the body of knowledge but increases the likelyhood of the staff member knowing the other. I don't know, someone will come up with a solution eventually.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Lets get Physical

On the way back from a very interesting an informative Microsoft Security Summit the other day and I noticed something that caught my eye.
Too many people concentrate on the hardware and software, and leave gaps. Gaps in the physical security, or gaps in the training of staff.
This photo shows off both.
Seems a cleaner at the train station near me had left the door open to the area that she kept her cleaning supplies, the same area that had a rack with server, fibre switch, ethernet switch, patchpanel and other miscelania. Whats that you spy, yep the rack door is unlocked too. Click click and a bad guy is on the network, just plug in a wireless router and see what traffic you can capture, doesn't matter if this network is firewalled the best in the world, or even airgapped, game over.
Back on the security conference I attended it was very interesting, it was all covered under an NDA, except the bit at the end which I already talked about. I am starting a security group in Sydney, sponsored by Microsoft. So Jeff Alexander let everyone know, I had a heap of business cards handed over for people that wanted to be kept in the loop, it is very exciting that we have this much interest already.
Well Peace out all, and please lock your racks and don't put them in a room with a sink for the cleaner to use.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sydney IT Security Group

So I had a chat with Jeff about starting up a Security group in Sydney similar to counterparts in Canberra,Melbourne, and Brisbane.
It is really a great opportunity and I have been looking for a security group in Sydney for years now, making do with going to security topics at other groups. I don't think it will detract from these other groups just expand on the security theme, going places other groups may not want to go as they are too focussed.
I'd like to get some comments here on what people would like to see and what night etc, but people rarely comment on my blog. So I will setup a site for the group shortly and we can duke it out there.
Peace out all.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Pretty lights

More on DNS I know. May as well be another person beating a dead horse. But I give you pretty:
It is a video of the patched and not patched world wide. It intrigues me that there is a blinking light on the map of Australia about 3 hours north of Adelaide, I doubt it is Alice Springs, to south, maybe Coober Peadie if my geography serves.
Onto some more supposition by me (mainly in reply to Dan [the guy who discovered the Researched the DNS flaw] here);
I agree with what has been said, that we need more security on an inherintly in-secure network. But some (percieved) anonymity and some plain text is good, and what the internet is all about.
Could you imagine every site moving to https, for starters what is the point, who needs to read my blog through an encrypted channel? Really why, I don't really have any direct post functionality, and only a handful of readers, it is not like I am directing them to blindly do anything either.
Onto DNS, I was thinking the other day of another way to fix the issue. Deploy a port knocking technique on the reply based on the query, so that ports would have to be knocked in the correct order on the DNS server pre accepting back the lookup. Similar to the way a person gets into a safe, knowing the numbers isn't good enough you need to know the sequence. This would stop NAT being an issue as the DNS server can make the request out on all ports getting an auto map back on these ports. And would be more secure as the attacker would have to guess the right ports to knock on the way back, or read the request and then generate the reply and reply back, but if they can do that they are already in the middle and its game is over.
What do you think?
Peace out all, especially Dan, good job.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

DNS woes continue... sorta

So as I said, and the original discoverer Dan said, it was just a patch. Not a fix, not a be-all and end all solution. A temporary patch. We already know some nat devices break the patch's fix. But from the looks here and here it can be broken. The first link even details how, but there is a caveat. It is not easy, and a lot of bandwidth with low latency is required.
The first article explains how they did it over Gige in 10 hours. So most DNS servers that are doing resolves for clients, are probably not even on 20mbs of bandwidth, and latency 10+ times that of ethernet, not including the clients themselves causing some load. So you could say it would take 10+ times longer to do this over the internet, so 100hours. Someone will hopefully notice at around hour 20… But it isn't that simple, what if some baddie hits a server with a mere 100 clients... (Most botnets are 10 times this size). Chaos again. We need a better fix. I mentioned before some kind of signed DNS, I am the first to admit I have gaps in my knowledge as I have never heard of DNSSEC, now I that have listened to the Blackhat talk I have heard about it. I had a quick look at wikipedia and the official site and it is interesting. Of course windows servers only support it as a secondary, also the glaring-hole of non NSEC3 servers allowing enumeration of sites is just plain silly. Seriously just hash The users request domain "Not Found" and add it to the RFC, done.
I think it should include the option for encrypting replies, may as well, could be useful for higher secure organisations.
This is a very real and very now threat, there are at least two pieces of software out there to attack it, one being the very good, but very newbie friendly metasploit.
Well I am pretty much just re-iterating and expanding on my comments on darknet but there you go.

Friday, 25 July 2008

DNS Vulnerability...again

There has been some speculation and even backlash on the internet about the recent DNS vulnerability, I posted about it here. Interestingly some people are saying that the vulnerability should have been disclosed when discovered.
This is plain silly. To put it in simple terms with a car analogy (I love car analogies); if a saftey tester discovers that every single Toyota Corolla on the market (the number one selling car, 35million world wide) bursts into flames (props to fight club, note: Corollas don't afaik) if you crash at exactly 35 kilometers per hour. If he just posts this on his blog a few things will happen; everyone will know in about two seconds. The next day 35million Corolla owners will demand a refund, either destroying or severly damaging Toyota and its employees, and hooligans will wander around car parks with sledghammers hoping to hit one with the lucky 35kph speed. Basically what I am saying in a rather confused and overly long analogy is if this had been disclosed pre-vendor patch-release their would have been lost confidence in the whole internet, there would be lost jobs and money from the lost
confidence alone. Then the real fun would begin, prior to the patch being released someone would write a script to take advantage of the vulnerability, this script would then be morphed into several gui tools, and every script kiddie and his bot army would take down sites worldwide for fun and profit.
I am not saying it would have been an internet dooms-day, it could have, but the internet is pretty robust. But it would have been very damaging had the vendor patch not been released, there would have been loss of income and loss of jobs.
I agree with the way it was done, but maybe it could have been done a little sooner if you do a google search DNS cache poisoning is not new in the slightest, have a look at the wiki article. Birthday attacks are a common similar variant, I have even been involved with a cache poisoning issue a couple of times, first back in 2003. Both times I couldn't capture the culprit, there was just too many packets to wade through, but the problems were solved.
I do agree with what I have now read, maybe we need to move across to some kind of signed DNS, either SSL Dns or some kind of signed cert, like gpg and its signed keys.
We could setup the root servers all with a cert or signed key that all DNS servers are set to trust, just roll it into an update or new DNS installs then slowly cut over, then if you want to say use your ISP's servers as forwarders you could simply implictly trust the key or they could buy a signed cert (I can hear Verisign/Thawte licking there lips from here).
Supposedly due to some disclosure there maybe a script kiddie tool out soon to exploit this vulnerability, and with most NAT devices (see routers) turning patched servers into vulnerable ones and some of these routers not being patched/patchable it is only a matter of time. So everyone PATCH your servers please.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Here be dragons

If you haven't seen this yet have a look. Yes the brilliant webcomic xkcd sometime ago did a Map of the internet, I used to have this posted on my wall at work so the newer employees could come have a look when they were visiting to ask a question, it really shows how immense it all is.
But then while looking at one of my bookmarks on network security using darknets for a post on an internet forum I found this: a map of malisciousness. Awesome. It really is interesting to see the concentrations of either compromised machines or general evil-doers in the world. The thing that gets me and got me when I first looked at it was why is the range have so many hits, its a private range, then I looked closer. Why are a few of the "bogan" address ranges getting hits. The only thing I can think is IP spoofing, and if so who would spoof a 10 address. Why not spoof (fun) or something else, everyone knows 10 is internal... anyway post your thoughts.
Oh yeah we haven't quite won the DNS thing yet either. The multi-vendor patch was just that a patch, there are still inherent flaws in the system. Like the new one disclosed with DNS that passes through NAT (see most DNS servers as NAT means some decent IP sharing) it is annoying but it is a fight we have to keep on. See here for the article. It is basically NAT routers being lazy and not letting the port be the random one that the DNS server wants it to be. This randomness doesn't make DNS invulnerable to the poisoning attack I mentioned earlier, it just makes it much, much harder. So to have some routers (people like netgear don't release patches after it is 5+ years old) destory the hard work must be really annoying.

Monday, 14 July 2008

DNS vulnerabilites and Sydney IT Security Group.

As you may or may not have heard there was a big update released for basically the whole internet. See here and here for a test of your own dns.
Basically it boils down to a bad guy being able to put incorrect entries into your ISP or works DNS cache that would point you to the wrong site. So instead of going to it could take you to a hackers version, or whatever. This would also effect email.
Now this kind of thing does happen occasionally, but this was seen as such a big issue (it could basically destroy the internet if unchecked and unpatched), that CERT who handles these issues let all the Vendors and developers know. Giving them time to write a patch for release on the same day. Very, very impressive.
Not only Microsoft but Unix, Linux, BSD , Cisco, Checkpoint, all of them released a patch for their varied DNS implementations. Yahoo who uses an older *nix implementation of DNS, Bind8 managed to simply comit to abandoning it in favour of the newer patched Bind9.
The question I put forward, is this finally a time of security as an institution. Security how it should be done, globablly. Sure it is still relying on Admins at the other end, but with Auto updates being the norm, it should be fine. This to me seems a step in the right direction, and I am sure even a couple years ago this wouldn't have happened. Will this one day lead us to a security utopia free of vulnerabilites and insecurites, no. But it may lead to sharing and assistance cross platform.
Speaking of security, there is talk of an IT Security group being started up in Sydney, and I maybe taking the reigns. It will be sponsored by Microsoft but if I take the reigns I plan on being vendor neutral, all-be-it Microsoft has some nice claims to fame, and even with all their foibles and hatred that is flung at them, they do try and do some stuff right. Operating systems are tools, you should use the right tool for the right job.

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