Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Digital Defenders: Privacy Guide for Kids (Comic)

Check out EDRi's "Digital Defenders guide on privacy". It's a comic directed towards kids about the benefits of privacy and security. It goes into privacy on social media, password security, smartphones and even how to use Signal and Tor all throughout a well drawn comic. Overall, this is an awesome piece of work that drives home a great message to children.

If possible, please donate to their cause here: Donations.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Threat Intelligence Sharing Should Start at the Top

How many vendor phone calls do you dodge every day? One of the most consistent calls that I receive is from vendors selling the latest, greatest “Threat Intelligence” product.  If you are not familiar with threat intelligence, it is the aggregation of suspicious or known malicious information from multiple sources around the world.  This information is then used to warn subscribers of the impending threats.  It is a way for a subscriber of a particular service to achieve “actionable intelligence” about an impending threat.  Sounds neat!

However, I have heard at least one brave webcaster declare that threat intelligence is a steaming pile of dung. This is a bold statement in a world that seems over-run with constant news of cyber-attacks and an even louder tocsin by the public about the urgency to stop it.In a recent meeting with a threat intelligence provider, I too am starting to hold my nose when I am given the pitch about threat intelligence.Most of the threat intelligence vendors will proudly speak of information sharing, that is, when they see a pattern of malicious traffic forming against one of their clients, they will share that information amongst the threat intelligence feed to their other clients.

We are all aware by now of the unprecedented DDoS attack against Brian Krebs In mid- September.  This attack was the largest DDoS ever witnessed on the internet; traffic clocked at 620Gbps was aimed at Brian Krebs’ server. We all felt threatened that such an attack could be so easily carried out by using all of the unsecured IoT devices out there.  We were all equally shocked at Akamai’s initial response to dump Brian, yet we understood the difficult business decision that they had to make to protect their paying customers.

So, why am I all of a sudden holding my nose about threat intelligence?  A vendor was demonstrating their “superior threat intelligence product” and part of their presentation included a boastful commentary about how they saw the attack against Krebs forming before it took place.  Their excellent intelligence gathering capabilities allowed them to see the attack against Akamai in formation.

Allow that to sink in for a moment.

Here are some questions for that vendor: Are you actually boasting that you stood idly by when you witnessed the formation of the greatest attack to date against the entire internet? 
And this model you are selling derives its power from information sharing?

The incongruence of ideology here is somewhat baffling. Sort of like boasting about your superior powers in space defense, yet when an asteroid, capable of an extinction-level event is heading towards the planet, you chose to stand by because it will not impact your country.  What is the logical or ethical sense of that?

I understand business decisions, and how sharing with a competitor is generally considered a poor business decision, but if threat intelligence companies won’t share their information with another intelligence company in the greater interest of the preservation of the internet, why should they expect anyone to subscribe to their sharing and intelligence service? Threat intelligence sharing should start at the top.

Guest Author: Art Logan

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lessons Learned from the DynDNS DDoS


As everyone probably knows, DynDNS was recently hit by a massive DDoS which in turn caused large sites to be either nonresponsive or extremely sluggish. Dyn DNS was hosting records for these organizations when an application layer SYN flood attack against their DNS service brought them to their knees. The attack caused legitimate DNS requests for these sites to be “lost in the mix” with a steady flow of garbage requests saturating Dyn's DNS service. After watching the attack play out, I had a few thoughts on the subject I’d thought I’d share. 

I’ve personally fought DDoS attacks in the past and they’re not fun. To be bluntly honest, they’re a pain in the butt.  Many times they come out of nowhere and it’s an all hands on deck situation when the flood starts. But after seeing the recent attacks on Krebs, OVH and now Dyn, it seems that everyone on Twitter has recently become a DDoS expert. It takes some skill and most importantly experience when dealing with DDoS attacks, so let’s not take this subject lightly. We need to learn from our mistakes and the incidents of others to achieve the best security we can possibly offer. Let’s not just start being a Twitter warrior with nothing to back it up. Okay, I feel better now. 

This being said, now that we all know DDoS is a huge issue (because the media doesn’t lie, of course!) those who work in the security field can’t plead ignorance anymore. Just because your industry doesn’t normally see DDoS attacks doesn’t mean they won’t pop up and smack you in the face now. With the tools and vulnerable systems to create massive botnets we might only be seeing the beginning of what’s in store. Everyone in charge of security needs to start the process of creating a DDoS runbook today. This needs to become a table top within your incident response plan. Incident handlers and groups outside of security need to understand how to handle DDoS attacks when they occur. The last thing you want is an attack to occur without any preparation. The Dyn DNS team did a great job explaining to the public how the attack was being handled and gave frequent updates through this site: www.dynstatus.com. This is important during an attack that knocks you off the grid. Communication is key during this time, especially to your customers. 

Another thing to consider is how a DDoS attack will be mitigated. With attacks cranking in at over 1Tbps there is no on-premise DDoS mitigation appliance in the world that’s going to handle the load right off the bat. Not only will they not physically handle the load, but the ISP’s will have issues fulfilling traffic of this magnitude. The current infrastructure just isn’t designed to handle this amount of traffic traversing its network. The best method of mitigating these services isn’t with onsite DDoS appliances, but with cloud providers like Akamai (formerly Prolexic), Cloudflare, or Google Jigsaw. They’ve positioned their network to be resilient, with multiple scrubbing centers throughout the world to absorb and filter the malicious traffic as close to the source as possible. By using anycast and having traffic from customers directed to them via BGP, these cloud providers make sure they don’t become a bottleneck and allow customers to receive large amounts of bandwidth via proxy. I personally feel this is the only way to efficiently defend against the volumetric  attacks we’ve seen this past month.  Also, Colin Doherty was announced as the new CEO of Dyn this October 6th. He was the former CEO of Arbor Networks (a company selling and specializing on premise DDOS solutions). I don’t know if this had anything to do with the situation, but it’s interesting. If anything, hopefully his experience in the industry helped with the mitigation.

For the cloud providers who are absorbing and mitigating DDoS traffic on their networks, they’re going to have to expand their available bandwidth quickly. Many cloud based DDoS mitigation providers need to have bandwidth increased by a certain percentage each time they see an attack increase. They all want to be a particular percentage higher than the largest DDoS attack on record. This is because they too have to scale towards the attacks as they come in. They’re not only dealing with the one large attack occurring today, but possibly three more like it tomorrow at the same time. These providers need to keep a close eye on bandwidth utilization and attack size monthly to keep up with the growing botnet sizes. 

I’m not sure what happened with the Dyn DNS attack from a mitigation standpoint, but it’s a good opening for customers to start speaking with their third party vendors on incident response; especially on DDoS. Many third parties say they have DDoS prevention, but how? Is it home grown? On-premise? In the cloud? These questions need to be answered.  Also, if a DDoS hits a SAAS provider will all clients go down? These and similar questions need to be asked of your cloud providers to validate your hosted services will be available when needed. 

IoT will continually be an issue going forward when it comes to DDoS. I don’t see anything in the near future putting a stop to the abuse of IoT systems on the internet.  In Brian Krebs latest article he mentions Underwriters Laboratories and how they’ve been used in the past to become a sign of approval for devices going to market in the electronics field. I think there does have to be something similar in the future that assist with reviewing the code of appliances before being put onto the internet. At this point I’d settle for standard OWASP top 10 type scans, but would to see static analysis testing done for vulns. I don’t know how this will work with systems overseas, since most of the Miria botnet infected DVR and IP cams from a Chinese company named XiongMai Technologies. Either way, we need to at least follow standard security practices of password management, patching and secure coding when it comes to IoT devices. This isn’t rocket science, especially when many of these systems were using default hardcoded passwords and being logged remotely with telnet. Sigh.

My concern with botnets of this size is that someone’s going to create multiple IoT botnets quietly and unleash something with traffic limits that can’t be stopped. There are other vulnerable IoT systems on the web which will eventually be found, but what if this time they weren’t used right away. What if the creator keeps finding other vulns in different systems and ends up with a botnet-of-botnets with enough power to overwhelm even the largest DDoS cloud providers. Now take this a step further: What if this was then used for political or terrorism?  I know this sounds like fear mongering, but it’s a valid concern. In this case, people would die or be hurt in the process. This is a concern of mine with the amount of insecure IoT devices being connected to the internet today. It might seem farfetched, but it’s no longer outside the scope of reality. The Miria botnet was seen as being used in the Dyn DNS attack (by Flashpoint, L3 and Akamai), but it seems that there were other systems being controlled in the botnet too. It just seems that there a never-ending pool of IoT devices that attacker can select form at this point. 

As of right now I haven’t seen any official motive for the attack, but there doesn’t always have to be one. I saw people mention that it’s a test for the Unites States election, WikiLeaks took credit for it due to America pulling Assange’s internet, internet activists blaming Russia, etc. Either way, everyone in security needs to be prepared for these attacks and if you’re not already planning now, at least start thinking about it. We’re no longer given the luxury of being comfortably numb.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

WikiLeaks and the Dead Man's Code

No matter how you personally feel about Julian Assange and his organization Wikileaks, the silencing of his internet access is a clear attempt into pressuring him not to release the information he's in possession of. At this point, the cutting of his internet in the Ecuadorian embassy seems to be the action of a state actor who's attempting to quite WikiLeaks. I think it would foolish to think that this would stop WikiLeaks from moving on with their mission of transparency and is more of a power move by those concerned about what he might have.

WikiLeaks as an organization has proven to be resilient against attacks in the past (either by the financial blockade of denying VISA, Mastercard and PayPal the ability to process donations flowing to their site, Amazon dropping them off their service, constant DDoS attacks against their site, etc), but this particular attempt was more personal. I'm not sure what the mindset was of removing his internet access, but I would have to think those who orchestrated this outage would know he'd have contingency plans in effect for something of this nature.

Yesterday there were multiple tweets from the WikiLeaks Twitter account which people called a "Dean Man's Code". This started rumors that Assagne had been killed and that these were decryption codes for sensitive information about to be released. They have since been deleted, but are being considered per-commitment codes or a way to prove authenticity of any downloads of the dumps of documentation WikiLeaks has in their possession. After his latest dumps against Hilary Clinton there has been rumors that the documents were being edited, or that they were fake. Maybe this is Wikileaks attempt to validate them before being downloaded.
Either way, it's a difficult place for both parties involved. Assange has been holed up in the embassy for years and is supposedly in bad health. For someone that contains potential damaging information against another party it would be dangerous to think he'd be pressured into following along. He's cornered right now and that makes him even more dangerous to his opposition.

It's should also be mentioned that WikiLeaks only publishes what they're given. There's a fair amount of editing down to the documents themselves, but they're being given to this organization because people feel the need to shed light on what they deem inappropriate behavior. If there's damaging information to people within these leaks it wasn't this group that went out and "stole" them, they were given the documents and WikiLeaks has made it their duty to attempt to bring transparency to a situation they deem important.

We need to consider all things in perspective when thinking about WikiLeaks. Many people don't like the organization because of Assange's ego, the way they seem to be attacking certain individuals, or the damage to a group these documents may shed. At the end of the day it's my opinion that by trying to intimidate WikiLeaks into going quite also intimidates whistleblowers from having a voice. This in my opinion, is bigger than Julian and Hiliary's ego combined. There needs to be a place people can alert of wrong doing (after multiple attempts to take make the problem known through standard channels) and for the time being that place seems to be WikiLeaks.

Monday, October 17, 2016

OpenSSL vulnerabilities allow DDoS-attacks

On September 22nd, 2016 OpenSSL announced the elimination of more than a dozen vulnerabilities in it's cryptographic library. Among the bugs was a mistake which allowed attackers to carry out DoS-attacks within their software.

What's the problem

OpenSSL is a popular open-source cryptographic library which allows for the creation of encrypted internet connections using SSL or TLS. It's also used by the vast majority of websites and networks today. A critical vulnerability (CVE-2016-6304) is contained in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2 and 1.1.0 and has been fixed in the new versions 1.1.0a, 1.0.2i b 1.0. The vulnerability within these older versions lies in the fact that in successive TLS renegotiations, the server doesn't release the memory allocated for one of the TLS protocol extensions - status request, but "frays" a pointer to it, essentially causing a memory leak.

TLS Renegotiations - a mechanism that allows a client or server to change TLS connection settings on the fly without interrupting the current session. The parties exchange Hello messages and certificates as in conventional handshakes, but in here it uses an already established secure channel. A status request extension assists with speeding up the server certificate status checking, if the latter provides a mechanism OCSP Stapling. By abusing this method, an attacker can cause a memory leak each time a TLS renegotiation is requested. The size of the memory leak ranges from 16 to 64 kilobytes (depending on the version of OpenSSL in use).

A little background on OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol) - This protocol is supported by all modern web browsers, it's designed to ensure verification of the digital certificate installed on the site. OCSP is divided into both client and server responsibilities. When an application or a web browser attempts SSL-certificate validation the client sends a HTTP-request to an online database which returns the status of the certificate. However, to speed up the validation mechanism for the client, the server itself can access the OCSP servers and then return the OCSP responses to the client within the handshake step. This mechanism is called OCSP stapling and allows the customer to avoid the waste of resources to appeal to the OCSP servers.
That's not all

The OpenSSL Foundation security bulletin from September 22nd also describes another vulnerability CVE-2016-6307 (it has a low priority vulnerability rating). An error in the code library version 1.1.0 could allow an attacker to carry out DoS-attacks by sending large tls_get_message_header() header. Later it became clear that a patch for the vulnerability CVE-2016-6307 spawned yet another vulnerability (CVE-2016-6309). As a result of applying the patch to fix the DoS issue a buffer processing error was generated causing applications to execute arbitrary code. After this was deteremined another patch was released to fix this defect.

How to protect yourself

Servers that use the OpenSSL version to 1.0.1g are non-affected by the CVE-2016-6304 vulnerability when working in standard configuration. Administrators of vulnerable resources should use the no-ocsp option to mitigate the chances of DDoS against their systems. In addition to this DDoS fix, the OpenSSL Foundation team has also fixed another vulnerability (CVE-2016-6305) in the library version 1.1.0, which could be used to carry out DoS-attacks. Staying current on patches, as always, will help remediate the risks within the OpenSSL libraries.

Guest Author: Written by Alex Bod, Information Security Researcher and the founder of Gods. He runs the penetration testing services provided by Gods Hackers Team.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

United States vs Russia: Cyber-Saber Rattling Reachs All Time High

The cyber-saber rattling has reached an all-time high between the United States and Russia. According to the NBC News and other media outlets: 

“Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation say the CIA has been asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging "clandestine" cyber operation designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership.” 

While America is “choosing targets”, or as Joe Biden recently said in the link above, preparing to “send a message to Putin” which will be “at a time of our choosing” is falling directly into what our adversary’s want. They’re goading us into creating another cold war, except this time its cyber related.

What America, or honestly anyone under attack, needs to do first it establish a solid defense of their own networks and systems. We’re worrying too much about attacking other nations, or showing who has the biggest cyber muscles, that we’re continually leaving ourselves vulnerable to attack. A nation under the microscope, especially during an election year, needs to hunker down and protect itself before anything else. We keep hearing questions about how our leaders will increase cyber security and their first response to this question is to go on the attack. Today’s cyber-elephant is Russia, yesterday it was China, next month it will be someone else, but we’re still not fixing the problem. This problem is combined with everyone sucking at security to begin with and having the ol’ cyber beer muscles when they’re offended/hacked. What makes a nation with its new found cyber toys think going on the offense with a weak defense will succeed? Not good.  

We’re taking the bait Russia is throwing at us and we’re being drawn into another fight for no reason. If we put the same focus on protecting our data that we did trying to exploits someone else, we might not be in this mess. Our attackers are going to change and by trying to pummel them into submission will only increase the attacks towards us. We need to clean our house first before we even consider going on the offensive. I’m not saying we should sit back and let other nations bully us from afar, but there needs to be real wisdom on when we should initiate an offense. We surely shouldn’t engage because we’re embarrassed or because our pride is hurt. Lord knows we’ve attempted similar attempts ourselves. Hopefully, we’ll realize this before it’s too late.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Universities Get an "F" in Cyber Security

In a recent article by “The Institute”, it brings up the topic that students and schools are both shying away from Cyber Security education. Within their article it goes on to say:

“Only three of the top 50 university computer science programs in the United States require students to take a cybersecurity course, and many don’t even offer a class on the subject, according to a recent study by CloudPassage, a cloud computing security company.”

They happen to quote our friends at Cloudpassage and the study they did regarding the same subject. Within their study, they have a few Key Findings, but this one stands out:

“None of the top 10 U.S. computer science programs require a cybersecurity course for graduation. In fact, three of the top 10 university programs don’t even offer an elective course in cybersecurity.”

This finding shows that the leaders in charge of education aren't taking cyber security seriously. It's still seen as an afterthought and not a skill that can be applied to all industries of academia. This limited mindset has helped cause a gap in knowledge and is lead employers left scrambling when it comes to hiring real talent. Consider this quote from their article: 

“The skills gap is so wide, he says, that employers are recruiting from other fields, like biology and law, to find talent. People in such fields, he points out, have learned skills required of cybersecurity professionals, such as problem-solving and finding flaws in human and legal systems, which can translate to computer systems.”

I’m glad that security is becoming integrated into schools, but it’s concerning that it’s more of an afterthought, instead of a requirement. Hopefully, as time goes by we’ll continue to see the awareness of cyber security pushed into all disciplines during the education process and beyond.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Are Inside Your Company

This may come as a shock to the majority of the public but the amount of threats (as defined by CSOs, IT managers and security specialists) are found within the confines of the company itself.  Yes, hackers do still exist and there are times when they succeed in their nefarious deeds and penetrate security measures and cause a breach.  And, while this type of cyberthreat is the kind to be highlighted in the front pages of newspapers and magazines, it represents but a small fraction of cybersecurity threats to a company.

Whether they want to believe it or not, the biggest threat to the overwhelming majority of companies comes from within.  Whether their actions were intentional or not, employees not hackers are considered to be larger threats to a company’s security.  Most alarming is that these incidents of error are not decreasing, but are increasing steadily.

In a recent study by IBM, it was found that a third of all cyberattacks that a company faces can be directly linked to the actions of (or lack thereof) its employees.  Disgruntled employees who often have access to sensitive, and even classified, data are a likely cause.  These employees simply copy the data to a flash drive or upload it to a third party cloud service, and just like that the company’s security measures have been breached.  These types of offenders are usually trained and know the ins-and-outs of the system enough to bypass its security protocols.  These employees are methodical and act with deliberate intent, often having planned the heist for week or months ahead of time.

Then there are opportunists.  These bad apples often stumble across a weak link in the security fence, quickly exploit it and harvest any and all data made available to them.  They often do not know what to do with the data they just pilfered.  If the data contains money that can be easily liquidated then that is the most likely course of action, however another likely event is that they would sell the information on the black market, which in this day and age is easily accessible via the Dark Web.

Finally, there is the last category which is a catch all for errors of omission.  These can include anything from poor email handling strategies to bad decision making and phishing strategies.  Basically, in this category employees do not intend to expose their company to a cyberthreat, but because they failed to pursue the correct course of action, they have basically let the fox in the hen house.

The bad news is that these are very real scenarios and the roles that insiders play in putting the company in danger is has been on a steep uptick.  The good news, is that strategies can be implemented to decrease such incidents and even eliminate them altogether (in some cases).  Errors of omission, while broader, may be the easiest to tackle, that is because there are protocols that can be created to plug the leaks and fortify the wall of security that surrounds a company’s systems.  Email handling, web surfing and download protocols should be created and enforced throughout the organisation without exception.  And yes, that includes the C-suite of executives.

The human component is a bit harder to deal with, as you never know when the “switch” will be flung in the minds of people.  What may be a great and stalwart employee one day, may very well be a malicious hacker the next day.  Compartmentalisation of systems and restricting access to those that have been cleared to do so will definitely decrease the amount of intrusions and internal hacks that occur.  Furthermore, making things just a little bit harder to access is often all it takes to deter or hinder the opportunist from going through with the crime.  By creating a blacklist of sharing software and cloud services that can be run on company devices, you are effectively decreasing the number of outlets with which a disgruntled employee can smuggle out company data.  Employ deep analytics that are able to track who has accessed what files and directories, and it should be able to send out a warning if file transfers are taking place.

It should go without saying, but it is still worth to mention that the easiest way to prevent a lot of intrusions and cybersecurity threats is to implement a data security plan.  Many would be surprised at how the implementation of even the most minimal of security measures is effective at deterring a great deal of threats, both externally and internally.  The amount of threats your company is exposed to just gets smaller, the more layers of security are added.  While this last piece of advice may seem like a “no-brainer”, the sad fact is that more often than not businesses choose to operate without even the most basic of cybersecurity measures. 

While it may seem normal, even natural, for companies to keep their vigilant eyes looking outwards.  They should pay an equal attention, if not greater, to the on-goings and threats that may come from within.  So why then does it seem that only external attacks make the headlines?  Well that’s because no company ever wants to admit that it hires criminals or those that can be perceived as criminals.  There are public relations and optics to worry about after all.  Now more than ever, companies must know or should know their employees on a much deeper level in attempt to discern their motives, intent and whether or not they are seeking to harm the company.  This is not to say that company’s should not trust its employees, indeed doing so may very well lead to that company’s demise.  However, the figures do not lie.  Attacks are coming from within, and since companies are already investing in security to prevent attacks from without, it should not take that much more to implement measures from internal cyberattacks.
Guest Author - David Share
Director at Amazing Support
http://www.amazingsupport.co.uk/

David has held positions as Operations Director and Head of IT in legal and professional firms for more than 10 years. He is a Director and co-owner of Amazing Support, a Microsoft Silver accredited and specialist Managed IT Support and IT Services company. David actively helps SME businesses receive better Managed IT Support and IT Services in the London and Hertfordshire areas. He also assists overseas companies who are looking to expand their business operations into the UK and helps with their inward investment IT process. A professional member of The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) and an event speaker promoting business start-ups and technology awareness. Married with a son, you will often see him riding his bicycle around the Hertfordshire towns! David regularly participates in charity bike rides for the British Heart Foundation.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Strategies to Defend Against Ransomware Today

Here's an article I contributed towards for Tripwire with some advice on defending against
ransomware. At the end of the day, if we don't pay the ransom these attacks will go away. Here are some steps from David Balaban, Travis Smith and myself on the precautions needed to defend against ransomware today.

http://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/cyber-security/a-three-pronged-strategy-to-help-organizations-defend-against-ransomware-attacks-2/


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election is: Cybersecurity! (sorta)

Watching the train wreck, which is this year’s race for President of the Unite States of America, has shown me that the true winner of these debates is Cybersecurity (yeah that’s corny, but seriously read on). Never have I personally seen cybersecurity, or the lack of security, play such a large part in an election year. No matter who becomes President next month, it’s been interesting to see the effects that security has played in both campaigns. This is both encouraging, since there has been some major light shown on some serious issues, and disappointing, because these are the same concerns being brought up year after year. Either way, here are some keystone moments (and links) from this year that highlight cyber security as the clear winner of this year’s election:

E-voting insecurity
We’ve all known for quite some time that e-voting security has been a disaster. This election cycle is the first time that I’ve seen such attention brought up regarding it (which is awesome). I’m expecting to have both sides blame it as a potential reason that they really lost to the other (you don’t think they’d actual accept defeat do you?). But, seriously, this is a big deal. I completely agree for adding additional regulation within this area and whole heartedly concur that this technology should be deemed as critical infrastructure. I don’t freely like to adding regulation to technology, but in this case I think it’s important. When hackers, or nation states, have the capability to influence the election of a country the citizen of that nation have their voices silenced and democracy is no longer present. This is a big deal and probably the biggest issue I’ve seen come from this election from a cybersecurity perspective.  

Russians and WikiLeaks
It’s interesting to see how easy it is to shift blame when needed, but it’s happened to both sides already. At this point the DNC and the RNC have had to comment on whether or not Russia is attempting to influence the debates by hacking into the DNC and dumping data to WikiLeaks. There was some dirty laundry released by Wikileaks showing a few issues occurring within the DNC during the election process that eventually lead to the resignation of the DNC party leader. This has been the year of doxing where no information is considered safe! Hopefully, this sheds light on the way data is handled and how other countries and organizations can use it if not. I really think this is just the beginning on the way foreign powers will attempt to sway elections using hacking as their tool for disruption.  

Securing messages with Signal
It was found that anyone within Hillary Clinton’s campaign who was going to speak about Donald Trump, in a disparaging way, was to use Signal for their communication. Signal is an encryption app for mobile devices that’s been vetted via open source. This shows that people are now putting thought behind what they’re sending and is increasing awareness and the usability of encryption.  

Bleach Bit
Hillary Clinton’s tech team used a tool called Bleachbit in order to wipe her mail server. Over the past couple months due to security issues the Clinton campaign has turned to cybersecurity tools to defend, or hide depending on your party affiliations (LOL), data that’s been communicated through her campaign. Whatever way you lean, just the mention of these tools in the media shows how far we’ve come.  

Guccfier 2.0
The original Guccfier made a name for himself for admittedly saying he hacked Hillary Clinton’s mail server. After being held in custody his namesake came through again and someone is purportedly releasing information regarding the DNC that was compromised. This has been reported to be the Russians, but it shows the anonymity of the internet and how old methods of dealing with political issues has now become irrelevant.  

Edward Snowden Pardon
Edward Snowed and others are making the case that he should be granted a Presidential pardon from Obama before he leaves office. It’s of my personal opinion that Edward Snowden did America, actually the entire global, a service by unmasking the issue of mass surveillance. What he did was illegal, but it was needed to bring reform. Revolutions are never legal and it will be interesting to see if President Obama assists with coming through with his promise of protecting whistleblowers.  

Lost Emails and Mail Servers
This is has been discussed at nausea, but it’s really what started the debate of cybersecurity in this years election. The debate of hosting a personal mail server and determining which messages to be deleted by that user is still raging. Clinton has admitted that it was a mistake and hopefully this stops others from being careless in the future with sensitive information.  

Phishing Attacks
Not to pick on the DNC, but it seems that many of these cyber issues have been related to their party, it was reported that there were many phishing attempts generated towards Clintons site and email, some on which she seems to have fallen for. This shows that phishing is still an attack vector that attackers are going to fall back on as their default tool, because people will eventually fall for it.  

Presidential Debates
Throughout the year cybersecurity has become a speaking point to the candidates. From talking about offense attacks, Snowden, how to handle the complex problem of security going forward, etc. it shows that his is something not only on the candidate’s minds, but the people’s minds. This is proof cyber security is an epidemic if it’s being brought up between the Syria crisis, budget issues and unemployment. 

So, with all these cyber related issues being brought up during this year’s election, it’s a major win for security. I’m that these these issues being brought up will continue the conversation and assist with awareness, not only with the government, but with other organizations and people. At this point if Trump, Clinton get elected or giant meteorite destroys earth (third option is looking good right now), cyber security has taken center stage the past couple months and I’m optimistic it could bring about positive change.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why the Mirai IoT Botnet Changed the DDoS Game

Over the weekend the Mirai code for the IoT botnet was released on the internet. Essentially, this allows copy cats and borderline script kiddies to adjust the code as needed for their own misguided use. The Mirai botnet was the botnet that took down both Krebs and OVH last week and there’s been debate as to the number of hosts commanded by it. Either way, it ended up throwing two of the largest DDoS attacks ever seen. The OVH attack tipped the scales at around 1 tbps, which is like wielding your own personal Death Star across the internet. 

This being said, I think we’ll see the Mirai botnet start declining, but that they’ll be an uptick in IoT related DDoS attacks. This was only one botnet, made mostly from small cameras attached to the internet, but what happens when someone goes out and starts creating a botnet from multiple IoT related devices? What if they slowly harvest vulnerabilities within the plethora of insecure IoT devices? An attacker could slowly command an army of soda machines, thermostats, cars, DVRs, etc that when combined will be larger than anything we’ve ever seen before. This like a botnet-of-botnets (BoB) making one mega-botnet to rule them all (okay, now there’s LOTR references in here too, sorry).

Either way, the Mirai IoT botnet has shown that DDoS is about to turn it up to 11 real soon and hopefully the Akamai’s, Cloudflares, Google, etc are going to be ready for it. These providers are always looking to have N-size the amount of bandwidth from the largest known DDoS attack on record, so this might leave have them scrambling to determine bandwidth sizes for the future. I also think the ISPs need to start playing a bigger role here when it comes to botnets of this size, but regulation and corporation from other countries would also need to be involved and this has always historically been difficult.

So this is why Mirai changed the game. It almost completely brought down a DDoS mitigation network, which means if there were two botnets of equal size it would be difficult to maintain. This also means if they can’t support multiple attacks of this size their other customers will be left unprotected and vulnerable to attack, or even leaving their “always on” customers with a potential internet outage.  Lastly, this starts the herding of an untapped market of IoT devices ripe for the picking and I think we’ll see copy cats using similar code on different IoT devices real soon. Things are about to get interesting.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Shine Your Light on the Dark Web

Here's an article I wrote about using the dark web as a monitoring tool. Honestly, we should be using every tool at our disposal in order get a step up when it comes to defending against attackers. If attackers are using the dark web as a tool for malicious activity, then we need to flip the tables on them and use it for our advantage. This is pure intelligence which can be used as an early warning sign that "bad crap is coming". Either you do nothing and wait, or you attempt to infiltrate the lion's den. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Wanted: Conversation with forensic psychologist to assit with security research

I'm looking for introductions to behavioral or forensic psychologists in regards to a cyber security research project I'm working on. I'd like to setup a conversation and pick their brains on a couple of topics. Anyone you guys recommend?

If so, please contact me at mpascucci [at] frontlinesentinel.com.