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January 30, 2013
Small businesses around the world tend to be more innovative and cost-conscious. Most often, the owners tend to be younger and therefore more attuned to being online. The efficiencies that come from being computerized and connected are more obvious and attractive to them. But we know that if you are online then you are vulnerable to attack. Are these small businesses too small for hackers to care?
Two recent reports say no.
The UK the Information Security Breaches survey 2012 survey results published by PWC shows:
From the US, the 2012 Verizon data breach report shows:
Lesson learned? Small may be beautiful, but in the interconnected world we live in, not too small to be hacked. Protect thyself – start simple by changing remote access credentials and enabling a firewall, monitor and mine your logs. ‘Nuff said.
January 23, 2013
Is this true for you? That your smartphone has merged your private and work lives. Smartphones now contain—by accident or by design—a wealth of information about the businesses we work for.
If your phone is stolen, the chance of getting it back approaches zero. How about lost in an elevator or the back seat of a taxi? Will it be returned? More importantly, from our point of view, what about the info on it – the corporate info?
Earlier this year, the Symantec HoneyStick project conducted an experiment by “losing” 50 smartphones in five different cities: New York City; Washington D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Ottawa, Canada. Each had a collection of simulated corporate and personal data on them, along with the capability to remotely monitor what happened to them once they were found. They were left in high traffic public places such as elevators, malls, food courts, and public transit stops.
The corporate related apps included remote access as well as email accounts. What is the lesson for corporate IT staff?
See our webinar, ‘Using Logs to Deal With the Realities of Mobile Device Security and BYOD.’
January 17, 2013
The headlines are ablaze with the news of a new zero-day vulnerability in Java which could expose you to a remote attacker.
The Department of Homeland Security recommends disabling Java completely and many experts are apparently concurring. Crisis communications 101 says maintain high-volume, multi-channel communications but there is a strange silence from Oracle, aside of the announcement of a patch for said vulnerability.
Allowing your opponents to define you is a bad mistake as any political consultant will tell you. Today it’s Java, tomorrow, some other widely used component. The shrillness of the calls also makes me wonder why the hullabaloo? Upset by the Oracle stewardship of Java, perhaps?
So what should you make of the “disable Java” calls echoing across Cyberia? Personally I think it’s bad advice, assuming you can even take the advice in the first place. Java is widespread in server side applications (usually enterprise software) and embedded devices. There is probably no easy way to “upgrade” a heart pump or elevator control or a POS system. As far as server side, this may be easier but spare a thought to backward compatibility and business applications that are “certified” on older browsers. Pause a moment, the vulnerability becomes exposed when you visit a malicious website which can then take advantage of the flaw and get on your machine.
Instead of disabling Java and thereby possibly breaking critical functionality, why don’t you limit access to outside websites instead? This is easily done by configuring proxy servers (good for desktops or mobile situations) or limiting devices to a subnet that only has access to the trusted internal hosts (this can work for bar code scanners or manufacturing equipment). This limits your exposure. Proxy server filtering at the internet perimeter is done by matching the user agent string. This is also a good way to limit those older insecure browsers that must be present for internal applications from accessing the outside and potentially being equally a source of infection in the enterprise.
This is a serious issue that merits a thoughtful response, not a panicked rush to comply and cripple your enterprise.
January 09, 2013
I often encounter a dangerous misconception about the Windows Security Log: the idea that you only need to monitor domain controller logs. Domain controller security logs are absolutely critical to security but they are only a portion of your overall audit trail. Member server and workstation logs are really just as important and I’m going to focus this article on the top 4 questions you can only answer with workstation logon/logoff events.
For your workstations to generate these events you need to enable at least the following audit policy. Remember that XP is configured with the legacy 9 audit categories while Windows 7 and 8 should be configured with audit subcategories under Advanced Audit Policy in group policy objects:
January 08, 2013
A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.
Here are mine:
1) Shed those extra pounds of logs:
Log retention is always a challenge — how much to keep, for how long? Keep them too long and they are just eating away storage space. Pitch them mercilessly and keep wondering if you will need them. For guidance, look to any regulation that may apply. PCI-DSS says 365 days, for example; NIST 800-92 unhelpfully says “This should be driven primarily by organizational policies” and then goes on to classify logs into system, infrastructure and application levels. Bottom line, use your judgment because you know your environment best.
2) Exercise your log analysis muscles regularly
As the Verizon Data Breach report says year in and year out, the bad guys are hoping that you are not collecting logs, and if you are, that you are not reviewing them. More than 96% of all attacks were not highly difficult and were avoidable (at least in hindsight) without difficult or expensive countermeasures. Easier said than done, isn’t it? Consider co-sourcing the effort.
3) Play with existing toys before buying new ones
Know what configuration assessment is? It’s applying secure configurations to existing equipment. Agencies such as NIST, CIS and DISA provide detailed guidelines. Vendors such as Microsoft provide hardening guides. It’s a question of applying them to existing hardware. This reduces attack surface and contributes greatly to a more secure posture. You already have the equipment, just apply the secure configuration. EventTracker can help measure results.
Happy New Year.