What Worked In the Past May Not Work Soon

We are always enthralled with technology and how it changes the status quo, but we also need to be aware of tactics that use technology may need to get updated.

In 2017 we are obsessing over online sales and how the smart phone is changing our world.  Now there are grumblings over automated cars and quantum computers which will upend encryption technologies and how we defend our networks.

Do you remember this headline?

“SSL security is no longer PCI compliant”

The encryption technologies become obsolete once a method is developed by wily people to circumvent the technologies (in this case SSL)”

Yes, when quantum computing starts to crack our current ‘unbreakable’ encryption it will make us change how we try and secure data, but until then are we just worrying about nothing?

What about more effective Windows Kernel exploitation? Like in this BlackHat 2017 presentation:

The paper  shows that it is possible even with all of hte Windows10 mitigations built-in by Microsoft to bypass the kernel-mode read primitives. I.e. even the new Microsoft operating system is vulnerable to attacks.

I bring this topic up as we are not sure how the future will be, and thus we do  not know which part of our current life to change so as to ‘fix’ future problems.

Here is a very old “change decision” I am sure you know by now that the dutch had the land of what is currently called Manhatten (NY) and called it New Amsterdam (year of 1660 map below)

only 4 years after this map the city was called New York as the Dutch governor surrendered to an English expedition. The whole history is on this website: History.com. 

I am sure the Dutch going on the first expedition and creating the colony in 1626 did not think in just 34 years it will be English. Circumstances were such that the Dutch lost possession or thought it was in their interest to trade/give away what they painstakingly created.

Things change quickly, all those plans for many years and in a heartbeat all changed. Now over 300 years later we do not even remember the dutch in america (except for historians and quirky IT people).

So lets take it back to 2017… We need to plan contingencies for many different situations before they happen, otherwise events will overcome our actions and actions become reactionary and we are just trying to keep our heads above water. Or what we think is above water. What am I talking about in specific?

  1. Ransomware attacks
  2. Social media and email phishing employees of companies

Let’s keep it simple and try and devise strategies to defend against both 1 (ransomware) and 2 (phishing) attacks.

What can prevent a ransomware attack if attackers are constantly improving themselves and sometimes errors occur in your network? Maybe prevent is a bad word. Keep you in business are better words: A well designed backup strategy will make you survive all attacks even if they take your computers out. Or if a disaster occurs.

If you are a person in charge of your business what is the reasonable assumption of knowing 100% that your business will be alive next year no matter what?

Your business must have security procedures which have to include backup and recovery strategies.

Make sure that your IT department has the wherewithal to handle this new world by auditing it and receiving  reports for the future occurrences. Don’t be a standard business with no cybersecurity budget or have not backed up your files.

Since I am CISA Certified I can audit your network and computers to give you some peace of mind to.  Contact me to get peace of mind.  https://fixvirus.com/about-us-full-story/

 

Cybersecurity: Challenging Onerous Tough

 

Overview of Cybersecurity challenges :

David Kennedy is in the above youtube video first 25 min and he has a good overview of where we are in Cybersecurity, a single employee can take down your company. It is not just the technical details, but also includes people learning best practices to defend from hacking type activities by the bad guys(black hat hacker). David also ‘hacks’ a person that came up from audience and finds her social security number in a few minutes.

 

The Harvard Business Review also has an article on “Why is Cybersecurity so Hard?”

The Differing Rules in Cyberspace paragraph explains why this is such a difficult subject:

Physical-world models do not work in cyberspace – you cant assign a local police department for a network that connects the whole world.

What about responsibility between government and private sector? Who is responsible for a virus infection that infected your own company and another company (due to address list emails being sent)?

When the NSA has specific bugs/hacks so that they can use to keep track and see enemies of the state that may be good for national goals, but it becomes bad when the enemy steals these hacks…

Wannacry was an NSA exploit.

Who is responsible for this software flaw in the first place? Is it Microsoft that should have known better?

The problem with Cybersecurity is that security flaws sometimes are not found until later in the software development cycle.

The flaw is found and then the vulnerability is introduced to the world, the exploit is released somehow it always is. The wannacry vulnerability was found by the NSA first, then stolen by the Russians before actually being released. But the vulnerability was there nonetheless for anyone with a unique computing talent to find.

This is actually the crux of the Cybersecurity issue: there are unique hacking computer talents that can take advantage of our computing infrastructure. Somehow there are flaws in various aspects of the operating systems or other pieces of the information technology puzzle and these computer whizkids (we call them hackers) find these flaws and create exploits so that they can make some money. The criminal underground has built a method of monetizing this phenomena with ransomware.

Here is another interesting issue that just arose:

gSOAP Flaw Leaves thousands of IoT devices vulnerable to remote code execution.

gSOAP is used in many applications and products including IoT devices (apparently as many as 34 different kinds), although this is a unique vulnerability which requires some doing to exploit it, the exploit would likely veer more towards using devices without permission such as the Mirai event as David Krebs notes.

The Mirai event was a DDOS attack, by using these IoT devices online to make the cyberattacks on various infrastructures. In this case the criminal element sells time on these illegally obtained usage rights to attack systems.

So this is another reason of the difficult problem, as the complexity of software and understanding of what happens is not trivial. The very nature of this problem then causes some confusion, or apathy. The problem only rears its ugly head when it is your software being attacked or being used.

The only way to combat this is to elevate your game and to perform audits of your IT infrastructure and software. The audits must be done to further understanding and the end result (which is to deny criminals).

Contact us to review and audit your environment.

We are CISA Certified Informations Systems Auditor

 

Disaster Recovery – Backups – also a Cybersecurity must

Why discuss backups and Disaster Recovery on a Cybersecurity topic?

Because what is the worst thing that can happen to your  computer data?

Oh yes ransomware will encrypt data and the only way to unencrypt is to pay the criminals. Of course there is no guarantee that after you pay the criminals the unencryption will happen without any flaws.

So what is your only solution? If you ask me the criminals with their Ransomware are forcing us to use proper IT processes and activities.  Make sure and use your Backup that you have with the backup written process so that way you are not creating something new, just recovering from a standard IT problem with data a backup is required.

So really we should have a backup and recovery process and procedure no matter what, and especially since more and more ransomware is making the pain of failure so much higher.

And ransomware is not going away, criminals are making more of them, more sophisticated with affecting more PC’s (Petya ransomware story at digitaltrends.com). After petya notpetya was developed to make more money for the criminal enterprise.

The bottom line is you better create a disaster recovery process with backups and more for a real disaster and not just a ransomware disaster.

In my eyes the ransomware stories that are out there are creating more need for the disaster recovery procedures you should have.

What exactly are you waiting for? Why take the chance every day that you are going to click on something that will inevitably  link you to one of the ransomware outbreaks in the world?

Imagine revolving a gun barrel of a number of barrels (like a 100 or 500) depends on your risk and impact level. 500barrel RiskGun   If something happens out of your control the RiskGun fires and you get ransomware.

Contact me to discuss how I can review your processes and procedures to ensure your business will whether any storm.

The Old FUD – Fear Uncertainty Doubt

The FUD techniques are certain to come up again and again as they are effective (to a degree).

FUD is a marketing technique to sow fear into cost conscious customers that are thinking of going to a competitor. Pushing safety in numbers and other uncertainty creates FUD in the mind of potential customers. Thus it is not so easy to go with a competitor unless one is armed with knowledge.

the first FUD campaign happened when IBM mainframes finally receive some competition with Amdahl mainframe company.

Above picture is an Amdahl mainframe (with red-hued panels instead of the familiar IBM blue). Newcastle university in picture)

So obviously Newcastle University did not pay attention to FUD by IBM

Why do I mention this FUD business? Because it is an old tactic and is being used by competitor Firewalls in the security firewall market space.  Palo Alto is muscling into a larger marketshare (due to developing and running a good firewall operation)

So the competitors have developed a youtube video 

First one selects an exploit 

Then configure the test environment which means setting up what kind of attack will be ‘tested’.

then conveniently one can Run the attack.

So the competitor ran the Evader software with specific evasion techniques to see if they can evade the Palo Alto firewall they have set up so they can evade it.

 

This is exactly why FUD works, make future Palo Alto customers(or current ones) see that they can have a firewall that is not bullet proof.

Yes we know that – no firewall is bulletproof no matter how well you configure it, there is always one item that is missed over the days and years. Since we are assaulted day after day and all the hackers have to do is get one attack to work. We have to be cognizant to not be complacent and invincible (it will not happen to me attitude).

It is true we have better firewalls and the only thing to combat FUD no matter your industry is massive amounts of information, thus knowing what you have backwards and forwards.

Contact us to review your environment so that you don’t worry about FUD.

To Measure Risk, Measure Impact : Major Threats and Effects

To Measure Risk means to measure impact and threats(likelihood)

(R=L*I) Risk = Likelihood * Impact

 

So what does that mean? What are the threats and their effects to your environment? Answering this will give the true impact of the problem figuring out what risk one really has.

(Above image was copied from @ipfconline1 twitter images)

So let’s assume these are the major threats and Major concerns (from image)

  • Unauthorized Access  53%
  • Hijacking Accounts  44%
  • Insecure interfaces / APIs  39%
  • External sharing of data

Major Concerns

  • Data Loss/leakage  49%
  • Data Privacy  46%
  • Confidentiality  42%
  • Legal and regulatory compliance   39%

The threat is one portion of risk, the impact is another.

The idea is to view all of the threats coming at you and review where you should spend your time.

The problem with this methodology is one has to have a decent understanding of the impact and likelihood of various threats. Some of these items need to be also taken into context.

If you have 100 computers and they are all running Windows Operating systems (different versions 7,8,Server, 10) then a threat to your Windows base for MS17-10 is not as dangerous for all computers.

But what if a virus/trojan attacked and affected 20 computers?  Now the impact would be higher. So the Risk to your organization is higher from a relatively minor Microsoft vulnerability.

So one thing you will find is that even minor vulnerabilities can grow into major problems. So the potential effect of an exploited vulnerability  is the issue. Every month new patches are released and at the same time criminal hackers are trying to exploit the patch exploitability.

Unfortunately every vulnerability has an attack timeline.

Here is the crux of the issue, what is the impact for each separate vulnerability to your environment? As criminals develop better attacks you have to keep the threats in mind and do proper patching so as to defend your network.


By performing an audit of your environment and  reviewing impacts and likelihood you will hopefully be able to evaluate your risk properly.

Contact Us to help you with this process.