Tom Olzak

Archive for the ‘Data Security’ Category

They have the tools, just not the will…

In Application Security, Computers and Internet, Content Filtering, Cyber-warfare, Cybercrime, Data Security, Detection Controls on July 10, 2015 at 12:44

As the number of government records stolen increases, we continue asking why so much data was stolen over the past year without detection.  The answer seems to lie in an article by Michael Cooney.  It seems the U.S. government has a detection tool called EINSTEIN, but it is only partially implemented across scattered government networks.

One of the weaknesses in the EINSTEIN implementation is the lack of any behavior analysis.  For the most part, the government is only using signature-based detection.  This is a huge controls vulnerability.

What will it take for our bureaucratic quagmire of a government to implement the right controls.  Yes, all organizations are viable targets for attack.  However, detecting the attacks (e.g., anomalous network/system behavior, unexpected movement of data, etc.) is paramount to a good defense.  Looks like much of the U.S. government either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care.

Another Encryption Perspective

In Access Controls, Application Security, Cyber-warfare, Cybercrime, Data Security on July 9, 2015 at 14:36

Hacking Team solutions aren’t the only ways government has to access encrypted information.  Most large government agencies have their own tools that perform the same tasks: capturing encrypted data when it’s not encrypted.  All data must be decrypted to be used or processes.  That is when it is most vulnerable.  So why the debate?  Ii discuss this in a blog entry posted today.

CryptoWall continues to spread

In Computers and Internet, Content Filtering, Cybercrime, Data Security, Ransomware on July 3, 2015 at 04:00

CryptoWall, an instance of ransomware, is a growing threat.  Attackers use it to hold an organization’s resources hostage until they get something of value.  This costs Americans millions… and it’s getting worse (FBI, 2015).

Ransomware, like CryptoWall and Cryptolocker, encrypts media on the infected machine and all media attached to the machine.  It then demands hundreds or thousands of dollars before the attackers agree to decrypt the hostage data.

Defense against this attack method is getting harder, as attackers find new ways to deploy CryptoWall and Cryptolocker.  Advanced attack techniques often leverage human vulnerabilities to bypass security controls.

The FBI provides a long list of defensive measures.  However, businesses should begin by implementing a short list of controls that protect against all types of advanced malware, not just ransomware:  Web filtering, spam filtering, email malware filtering, and (likely most important) deny users local administrator access.  This is in addition to best practices that should already be in place, including network segmentation with an application server abstraction layer (end-user device-to-application servers-to-database servers) to help isolate critical data from infected end-user devices.

Android malware not yet a real problem, but…

In Android Security, Mobile Device Security on July 1, 2015 at 13:52

Malware targeting Android devices is growing, likely hitting 2 million instances by the end of 2015 according to the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report.  And while the number of devices actually infected is small, the potential for large scale mobile attacks is not.  See by Toolbox blog about this here…

Facebook employees should know better

In Business Continuity, Cloud Computing, Computers and Internet, Data Security, Insider risk, Java on February 15, 2013 at 20:27

While I believe that posting any private information to a social networking site is… well… nuts, I also believe we should have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  This means companies like Facebook must do a good job of protecting themselves from potential attacks.  So why were laptops used by Facebook employees targets of a recent zero-day attack?

Yes, it was zero-day.  We can’t foresee all possible attack vectors.  The threat agent used a hole in Java to infect the laptops.  Further, the Java exploit was setting on a developer site.  Doh!  Didn’t see that coming, Facebook?  You should have.

Java is full of holes.  It is an exploit waiting to happen, and it is not the first time attackers circumvented the Java sandbox to get at the underlying platform.  Some, like Andrew Storms at nCircle Security, believe Java needs a complete overhaul (via Gregg Keizer, Computerworld).

 “Oracle should just take a mulligan and redesign Java before everyone completely loses faith in it…”

Apparently, Facebook didn’t get the memo.  Why would a social network company allow its employees to visit risky sites and then connect back to a network where customer and other sensitive data reside?  Why would any organization?

For more information on end-user device security, see Chapter 6 – End-user Device Security.

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