Thursday, August 20, 2009

Amex II: Ameriprise mishandles disclosure too

Yet another online finance flaw for your consideration.
Remember the American Express issue?
Apparently the negligence and ignorance of the parent has been inherited by the child.
It took me pinging Dan Goodin at The Register and asking him to shake Ameriprise out of their slumber to address the most commonplace, simple, web application bug of all: XSS. Really? Still?
Dan did a bang up job of the task at hand; it was fixed within hours. Ameriprise had ignored my multiple attempts to disclose over five months. Power of the press, eh?
The story is here.
I also owe Laura Wilson at Information Security Resources for alerting me to likely issues with Ameriprise.
I'm tired of having to say it. It's even gotten to the place where readers get pissed at me because I keep stressing the point. But I shouldn't have to.
Major financial providers should not be ignoring reports of common web application vulnerabilities sent in via all their available channels.
Major financial providers should be reviewing their web sites and their code at regular intervals, proactively preventing these issues.
Blah, blah, can't hack a server with XSS.
If you attended BlackHat or Defcon a few weeks ago, you may realize how much less relevant that argument is.
Check out the XAB, Firefox extensions, and evasion discussions.
You can be pwned through XSS.
Do I need to stress compliance again? Amex touts itself as a founding PCI partner, yet here we go again.
Vendors and developers need to get smarter, faster, and more responsive to security related notifications, particularly with regard to their websites.
To that end, keep an eye on the Data Security Podcast. Ira Victor and I have hatched a scheme to promote the use of proper disclosure handling by website operators such as major financial services providers. He'll also be posting podcasted discussions we've had regarding the disclosure issues, as well as the forensic challenges presented by CSRF attacks (another easily avoided, common web application vulnerability).
I'll also be talking about a pending ISO standard for disclosure that I hope will begin to drive enterprise adoption of improved disclosure handling. | digg | Submit to Slashdot

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Linux Magazine: Tools for Visualizing IDS Output

The September 2009 issue (106) of Linux Magazine features a cover story I've written that I freely admit I'm very proud of. Tools for Visualizing IDS Output is an extensive, comparative study of malicious PCAPs as interpreted by the Snort IDS output versus the same PCAPs rendered by a variety of security data visualization tools. The Snort rules utilized are, of course, the quintessential ET rules from Matt Jonkman's This article exemplifies the power and beauty of two disciplines I've long favored: network security monitoring and security data visualization.

The flood of raw data generated by intrusion detection systems (IDS) is often overwhelming for security specialists, and telltale signs of intrusion are sometimes overlooked in all the noise. Security visualization tools provide an easy, intuitive means for sorting through the dizzying data and spotting patterns that might indicate intrusion. Certain analysis and detection tools use PCAP, the Packet Capture library, to capture traffic. Several PCAP-enabled applications are capable of saving the data collected during a listening session into a PCAP file, which is then read and analyzed with other tools. PCAP files offer a convenient means for preserving and replaying intrusion data. In this article, I'll use PCAPs to explore a few popular free visualization tools.For each scenario, I’ll show you how the
attack looks to the Snort intrusion detection system, then I’ll describe how the same incident would appear through a security visualization application.

The article gives DAVIX its rightful due, but also covers a tool to be included in the next DAVIX release called NetGrok. If you're not familiar with NetGrok, visit the site, download the tool and prepare to be amazed.

I'll be presenting this work and research at the Seattle Secureworld Expo on October 28th at 3pm. If you're in the area, hope to see you there.

This issue of Linux Magazine is on news stands now, grab a copy while you can. It includes Ubuntu and Kubuntu 9.04 on DVD so it's well worth the investment.

Grab NetGrok at your earliest convenience and let m know what you think.
Cheers. | digg | Submit to Slashdot

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

AppRiver: SaaS security provider sets standard for rapid response

On July 28th I was happily catching up on my RSS feeds before getting ready to head of to Las Vegas for DEFCON when a Dark Reading headline caught my eye.
Tim Wilson's piece, After Years Of Struggle, SaaS Security Market Finally Catches Fire, drew me in for two reasons.
I'm a fan of certain SaaS Security products (SecureWorks), but I also like to pick on SaaS/cloud offerings for not shoring up their security as much as they should.
The second page of Tim's article described AppRiver, the "Messaging Experts" as one of some smaller service providers who have created a dizzying array of offerings to choose from.
That was more than enough impetus to go sniffing about, and sure enough, your basic, run-of-the-mill XSS vulnerabilities popped up almost immediately.



Not likely an issue a SaaS security provider wants to leave unresolved, and here's where the story brightens up in an extraordinarily refreshing way.
If I tried, in my wildest imagination, I couldn't realize a better disclosure response than what follows as conducted by AppRiver AND SmarterTools.
Simply stunning.

Let me provide the exact time line for you:
1) July 28, 9:49pm: Received automated response from support at after disclosing vulnerability via their online form.

2) July 28, 9:55pm: Received a human response from support team lead Nicky F. seeking more information "so we can look into this".

3) July 28, 10:27pm: Received a phone call from Scott at AppRiver to make sure they clearly understand the issue for proper escalation.

4) July 29, 6:35am: Received an email from Scottie, an AppRiver server engineer, seeking yet more details.

5) July 29, 8:51 & 8:59am: Received a voicemail and email from Scottie to let me know that one of the vulnerabilities I'd discovered was part of 3rd party (SmarterTools) code AppRiver was using to track support requests.

6) July 29, 2:08pm: Received email from Steve M., AppRiver software architect, who stated that:
a) "We deployed anti-XSS code today as a fix and are using scanning tools and tests to analyze our other web applications to ensure nothing else has slipped through the cracks. We do employ secure coding practices in our development department and take these matters seriously. We appreciate your help and are going to use this as an opportunity to focus our development teams on the necessity and best practices of secure coding."
b) "Regarding XSS vulnerabilities you detected in the SmarterTrack application (the above mentioned 3rd party tracking app) from SmarterTools, one of our lead Engineers and myself called them this morning explaining the vulnerability and requesting an update to fix the problem. We also relayed to them that a security professional had discovered the vulnerability and would be contacting them to discuss it further."

NOTE: Less than 24 hours after my initial report, the vulnerabilities that AppRiver had direct ownership of were repaired.

7) July 29, 4:17pm: Received an email from Andrew W at SmarterTools (3rd party tracking app vendor) who stated "thank you for pointing this out to us... we will be releasing a build within the next week to resolve these issues."

8) August 4, 8:02am: Received another email from Andrew W at SmarterTools who stated "we plan to release our next build tomrrow morning. (Wednesday GMT + 7) I will let you know as soon as it becomes available for download on our site."

9) August 5, 9:37am: Received another email from Andrew W at SmarterTools stating that "a new version of SmarterTrack is now available via our website. (v 4.0.3504) This version includes a fix to the security issues you reported."

10) The resulting SmarterTools SmarterTrack vulnerability advisory was released yesterday on my Research pages: HIO-2009-0728

I must reiterate.
This is quite simply the new bar for response to vulnerability disclosures.
It is further amazing that such a process was followed by not one, but two vendors.
I am not a customer of either of these vendors but can clearly state this: if I required services offered by AppRiver and SmarterTools, I would sign up without hesitation.

AppRiver and SmarterTools, yours is the standard to be met by others. Should other vendors utilize even a modicum of your response and engagement process, the Internet at large would be a safer place.
Well done to you both. | digg | Submit to Slashdot

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

toolsmith: AIRT-Application for Incident Response Teams

My monthly toolsmith column in the August 2009 edition of the ISSA Journal features AIRT.
"AIRT is a web-based application that has been designed and developed to support the day to day operations of a computer security incident response team. The application supports highly automated processing of incident reports and facilitates coordination of multiple incidents by a security operations center."
Kees Leune had pointed me to his excellent offering after I'd sent him MIR-ROR for his consideration.
Incident response teams will find this app very useful for case management.
The article PDF is here.
Thanks to Kees for all his time and feedback while I was writing this month's article.
Cheers. | digg | Submit to Slashdot

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

DEFCON 17 Presentation and Videos Now Available

Mike and I presented CSRF: Yeah, It Still Works to a receptive DEFCON crowd, where we took specific platforms and vendors to task for failing to secure their offerings against cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks.

Dan Goodin from The Register did a nice write-up on the talk wherein he cleverly referred to some of the above mentioned as the Unholy Trinity. ;-) See if you can spot in the presentation slides why that reference is pretty funny.

For those of you who are interested in the talk but weren't able to attend, the presentation slides are here, and links to the associated videos are embedded in the appropriate slides. The videos are big AVI files so you'll be a lot happier downloading them.

I'll be following up on some very interesting questions that arose during Q&A after this talk, so stay tuned over the next few weeks for posts regarding sound token implementation, CSRF mitigation and Ruby, and the implications of CSRF attacks on forensic investigations.

Cheers. | digg | Submit to Slashdot

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Moving blog to

toolsmith and HolisticInfoSec have moved. I've decided to consolidate all content on one platform, namely an R markdown blogdown sit...