June 27, 2015

Interesting analysis' of US OPM data breach

If you are interested in the recent US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach you'll want to check out the following articles and blog posts.  For those not familiar with this breach, see here.

Richard Bejtlich has a great blog post regarding what Einstein and Continuous Diagnostic Monitoring (CDM) does and does not.  He talks about a debate going on in the Federal govt. about CDM and the misconception they have about it.  Statements are being tossed around that CDM searches for nefarious actors once they are already in networks.  Richard rightly points out that CDM does not do this but rather it is a vulnerability management program which searches for known cyber flaws.  Read more about this here:
http://taosecurity.blogspot.com/2015/06/continuous-diagnostic-monitoring-does.html (link)

Richard has a follow up post to the CDM debate where he talks about the House of Representatives' OPM breach hearings.  One of the witnesses testimony incorrectly talks about CDM providing real-time anomalous behavior detection.  Read more here:
http://taosecurity.blogspot.com/search/label/cdm (link)

Arstechnica article Why the "biggest government hack ever" got past the feds:
http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/06/why-the-biggest-government-hack-ever-got-past-opm-dhs-and-nsa/ (link)

February 8, 2015

Chrome's weird DNS lookups

SANS ISC Handler Bojan Zdrnja has a great post on the ISC diary about how Google Chrome performs DNS prefetching lookups in order to speed up browsing.  I hope you find the post as interesting as I did.


Adding to Bojan's post I found a tip on how to disable the function:

September 19, 2014

Simple routing mistake breaks Internet on 18-SEP-2014

Did you know the Internet broke down for a bit on 18-SEP-2014?  It's true...and all it took was a simple mistake with a routing table.  Just ask VolumeDrive.  At around 06:49 UTC on 18-SEP-2014, VolumeDrive started advertising to one of it's upstream ISPs (Atrato) all the routes it knew from another one of it's ISPs (Cogent).

How big was the mistake you ask?  Well normally it advertises 39 networks (a.k.a. prefixes) but this time it advertised 400,000...that's 400K networks!  The entire global routing table for the Internet is 500K networks, or 80% of the entire Internet.

The impact was traffic was rerouted through the ISP Atrato erroneously.  Whoops.  And this stuff can easily be done.  A much more detailed (and quite good one I might add) can be found on Renesys' website.  Go have a read.


June 15, 2014

US Senate is concerned about Internet 'malvertising'

The US Senate issued a report on the problems with Internet/online ad networks that are distributing malware to unsuspecting consumers.  The investigation was conducted by the Committee on Homeland Security's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which stated the objective was to raise consumer awareness and pressure ad networks to clean up the problems.  The report is called "Online Advertising and Hidden Hazards to Consumer Security and Data Privacy" dated May 15, 2014.  Senator Carl Levin and Senator John McCain led the committee.

At least some attention is being brought to this problem; it's a start.  Now let's see what kind of results they can achieve.  Sorry for my pessimism but I'm not going to be holding my breadth on this.  Unless they are able to exact financial repercussions onto the networks, in my opinion little will be changed.

A PDF of the report is here:

You can also find the transcripts from the associated hearing on May 15, 2014 here:

Citing:  Credit to Spyware Sucks blog who highlighted this report. Go check out his blog, he has interesting posts there.

May 24, 2014

In the category of 'This is News?'

Two recent news stories invoked a 'this is new news?' reaction from me.  More like 'this is OLD news.'

The one article is about Russians perpetrating cyber-espionage against American companies and the other is about online cyber-gangs hacking online companies.  The victim of the latter news story is eBay (link here to story).  Those of us in the information security industry who investigate compromises/breaches and track attackers are not surprised by any of this.  We've seen Chinese and Russian attackers going after American company's systems, applications, data, etc. for many many years.

And it's not getting any better...they aren't letting up and neither are we.  Keep fighting the good fight!

FBI threatens to go after Russian hackers

eBay hacking: online gangs are after you

April 27, 2014

Highlighting Various Articles

Some of these items are a bit dated but I thought I'd showcase them in case you missed them like I did.

10 Most Significant Hacks in 2013 by Nextgov (Jan 2014)

Nextgov website publishes list of what they deem as the "...10 most significant infiltrations reported in 2013 as far as damage to national security, economic security and privacy."(#1)

The titles from their list.  See link to article for details.

1. An unauthorized user gained access to an Army database of U.S. dams that documented the number of people who would be killed in the event of a collapse.

2. A suspected government-sponsored Chinese hacking team allegedly penetrated a decoy U.S. water utility.

3. The prolonged surveillance of New York Times reporters that Bejtlich’s firm helped uncover.

4. During a fall summit in St. Petersburg, G20 heads of state and staff allegedly received tainted thumb drives and smartphone chargers from their Russian hosts.

5. North Korea was blamed for paralyzing the networks running South Korean banks and television stations.

6. Ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed a cache of government secrets documenting mass domestic surveillance and intercepts of foreign allies' emails and phone calls.

7. A hijacked Associated Press Twitter feed describing explosions at the White House briefly -- but significantly -- affected financial markets.

8. The Energy Department's inspector general lambasted officials for sluggishness in responding to a breach that ultimately affected 104,000 federal employees.

9. Adobe acknowledged the theft of 2.9 million customer records as well as valuable software code. The targeted goods included many software tools used by federal agencies, such as Adobe Acrobat and ColdFusion.

10. During the height of the holiday shopping season, cyber thieves nicked credit and debit card data from up to 40 million in-store Target customers.

Article link:

#1 - This quote and titles in 1-10 items above quoted from article called "Ten Worst Hacks of 2013" by Nextgov.com; Link: above

Neiman Marcus Hackers Set Off Thousands of Alerts While Bagging Credit Card Data (Feb 2014)

The Neiman Marcus attackers set off 60,000 security alerts during their attack.  That number is HUGE.  This occurred during the 3.5 month attack timeline.  IMO, this is why you need people monitoring logs along with machines, and not just depending on machines only.

Article link:

Microsoft opens new Cybercrime Center in Redmond, WA USA (Nov 2013)

Quotes from the articles:
"Advancing the fight against cybercrime to protect consumers and make the Internet safe"
"It's a world-class laboratory where a seasoned team of cybercrime investigators engage in a high-stakes game of chess, trying to stay a move or two ahead of the world’s most odious Internet criminals in an effort to make the web a safer place."

Article link: (with a good number of pictures including cybercrime heat maps)

Article Highlight: Q1-2014 SPAM study by Sophos shows interesting results

Every quarter Sophos studies spam and releases the results. This years title is "The Dirty Dozen Spampionship: Who's who in the global spam-sending league?"

The study shows the amount of spam sent by country. It's important to note that this does not necessarily correlate to the bad actor's physical location.  Most of these actors don't send it directly from their networks but rather utilizes resources, usually infected PCs (aka zombies), on other networks many times in countries other the one they reside in.  A couple tidbits I found interesting...

  • By volume the United States tops the list at 16.4% of total spam.  This is a huge lead as the next offending country, Spain, comes in at 5.0% of all spam volume followed by Russia (4.4%), Italy (4.3%), and China (4.1%).
  • Israel, who in the past spawns off information security start-up companies, is #3 in the list by population.  That's surprising to me.
  • I expected Russia, China, and India to be higher based on some of the data I've personally seen

Link to article:
(short link)

November 26, 2013

Anti-DDoS protection added to BIND DNS

A new version of BIND DNS has added a mechanism which will help combat against reflected Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, or specifically against a DNS amplification attack.  This module was introduced into version 9.9.4.

What is a DNS amplification attack?  It's an attack where, using the UDP transport, the attacker uses a large group of open resolvers to execute a DNS lookups with the source address spoofed to look like it's coming from the victim/target.  Usually the lookup is for all records ("ANY" in DNS speak) of a particular domain (or zone) so that large amounts of response traffic is sent to the victim/target which consume large amounts of bandwidth and/or CPU of the target.  This will keep the target busy and potentially make it unavailable.  More details about how the attack works can be found here:
Anatomy of a DNS DDoS Amplification Attack

So how can RRL help mitigate these attacks?  In essence, RRL examines the pattern of DNS requests and throttles the response to the requests when it detects an attack.  According to the documentation, it's highly configurable to combat against many types of attacks.  An important note is that incoming requests cannot be throttled by RRL.

While the attacks are not new, there has been an increase of them recently.  I recommend considering deploying this feature.

More information about BIND and RRL:
Using RRL to Prevent DNS Amplification Attacks
Quick introduction to Response Rate Limiting
How to enable Response Rate Limiting (RRL) on BIND 9.9.4
Download BIND from here

August 24, 2013

Retail thefts parallel to infosec

I just re-discovered a great post by Richard Bejtlich about the parallels of retail crime and computer crime.  I read this writing by Richard a few years ago (2010) when it was posted and while it is dated, I thought it is worthy of highlighting again because in my opinion it's still relevant.

Maybe retailers should band together to share information about the criminals and losses similarly to how the casinos operate.  Collectively they might be able to fight this crime more effectively.  Sounds kind of similar to what we in the infosec community have been trying to do doesn't it?

Richard's blog post on taosecurity.blogspot.com.

Where you'll get hacked stats

I found this graphic showing where you'll get hacked.  Some interesting statistics in there.

Link to graphic on Softpedia.com