Thursday, June 30, 2011

You can't patch stupid...

The only thing this incredibly witty site is lacking is a McAfee Secure or Scanless PCI badge. ;-)

Watching mailing lists debate if it's legit or not? Priceless...

In other breaking news, “There’s no device known to mankind that will prevent people from being idiots,” said Mark Rasch, director of network security and privacy consulting for Falls Church, Virginia-based Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC).
Woot! To the fuzzy, neural networks behind the keyboards, step back.

What would life be without users?


Friday, June 03, 2011

APT: anti-hype, reality checks, and resources

This post is my 200th for HolisticInfoSec, and I mark it with particular consideration for the topic, coupled with profound recognition of the process that lead to this discussion.
As a graduate student enrolled in the SANS Technology Institute's MSISE program, I recently completed the Joint Written Project requirement.
My partners and I were assigned the topic Assessing Outbound Traffic to Uncover Advanced Persistent Threat.
Of my partners, I hold the highest regard; participating in this project with Beth Binde and MAJ TJ O'Connor was quite simply one of the most rewarding efforts of my professional career. The seamless, efficient, tactful, and cooperative engagement practiced throughout the entire 30-day period allowed for completion of the assignment resulted in what we hope readers will consider a truly useful resource in the battle against APT.

Amongst positions taken for this paper is a simple premise: there are tactics that can be applied in the enterprise to detect and defend against APT that do not require expensive, over-hyped, buzzword-laden vendor solutions.
Think I'm kidding about buzzwords and hype?
Following are real conversations overheard in the aisles at (ironically) the RSA Conference.
1) What is the ROI on your SEM, and will it detect any APTs on my LAN?
2) Does the TCO justify spend for a SaaS/cloud solution; you know, an MSSP?
3) Wait, what about APT in the cloud? If I use a Saas-based SEM to manage events on my cloud-based services, will it still find APTs?
All opportunities for chastisement and disdain aside, commercial solutions clearly are an important part of the puzzle but are far from preemeninent as the only measure of detection and defense.

Instead, Assessing Outbound Traffic to Uncover Advanced Persistent Threat, proposes that:
"Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) exhibits discernible attributes or patterns that can be monitored by readily available, open source tools. Tools such as OSSEC, Snort, Splunk, Sguil, and Squert may allow early detection of APT behavior. The assumption is that attackers are regularly attempting to compromise enterprises, from basic service abuse to concerted, stealthy attempts to exfiltrate critical and high value data. However, it is vital to practice heightened operational awareness around critical data and assets, for example, card holder data, source code, and trade secrets. Segment and wrap critical data within the deeper protection of well monitored infrastructure (defense in depth). Small, incremental efforts, targeted at protecting high value data value (typically through smaller and protected network segments), provide far greater gains than broader, less focused efforts on lower value targets. In a similar vein, layered defensive tactics (multiple layers and means of defense) can prevent security breaches and, in addition, buy an organization time to detect and respond to an attack, reducing the consequences of a breach."

This perspective is shared by Jason Andress, in his ISSA Journal cover article, Advanced Persistent Threat Attacker Sophistication Continues to Grow?
Jason's article fortuitously hit the wire at almost exactly the same time our paper went live on the STI site, as if to lend its voice the arguement:
"This paper discusses what exactly APT is, whether or not it is a real threat, measures that can be implemented in order to mitigate these attacks, and why running out to buy the latest, greatest, and most expensive security appliance might not be the best use of resources."

You will find consistent themes, similarly cited references, and further useful resource material in Jason's excellent work. I look forward to seeing more of Jason's work in the ISSA Journal in the future.

In closing, from our paper:
"Even the best monitoring mindset and methodology may not guarantee discovery of the actual APT attack code. Instead, the power of more comprehensive analysis and correlation can discover behavior indicative of APT-related attacks and data exfiltration."

If APT worries you as much as it seemingly does everyone, give the papers a read, take from them what suits you, and employ the suggested tactics to help reduce attack vectors and increase situational awareness.

Cheers and good luck.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

toolsmith: Xplico

Those of you who make use of Network Forensic Analysis tools (NFAT) such as NetworkMiner or Netwitness Investigator will certainly appreciate Xplico.
June's toolsmith covers Xplico, a project released under GPL that decodes packet captures (PCAP), extracting the likes of email content (POP, IMAP, and SMTP protocols), all HTTP content, VoIP calls (SIP), IM chats, FTP, TFTP, and many others.
If you'd like a breakdown on the protocols you can grapple with check out the Xplico status page.
You can imagine how useful Xplico might be for policy enforcement (spot the pr0n), malware detection (spot the Renocide), or shredding IM traffic (spot the data leak).
Experimenting with Xplico is also a great chance to check out Pcapr, Web 2.0 for packets. ;-)
Xplico inlcudes a highly functional Web UI with great case and session management as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1

With a resurgence of discussion of APT given the recent bad news for RSA, as well as all the FUD spawned by Sony's endless woes, I thought a quick dissection of an Aurora attack PCAP would be worth the price of admission for you (yep, free) as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 2

You'll note the beginning of a JavaScript snippet that has only the worst of intentions for your favorite version of Internet Explorer as tucked in an HTML page.
Copy all that mayhem to a text file (in a sandbox, please), then submit it to VirusTotal (already done for you here) and you'll note 26 of 42 detections including Exploit:JS/Elecom.D.
Want to carve off just that transaction? Select the pcap under Info from the Site page under the Web menu selction as seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3

Ping me via russ at holisticinfosec dot org if you'd like a copy of the above mentioned Aurora PCAPs.

Also, stand by for more on APT detection in outbound traffic in the next day or two.

Your gonna like this tool, I guarantee it.
Check out the article here and Xplico here .


Moving blog to

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