I often explain that Information Security focuses on Information Assets.
Some day, on the corporate balance sheet, there will be an entry
which reads, "Information"; for in most cases the information is
more valuable than the hardware which processes it.
-- Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, USN Ret.
Some people see this as a binary absolute - they think that there's no need to asses the risks to the physical assets or that somehow this is automatically considered when assessing the risk to information.
The thing is there are differing types of information and differing types of containers for them.
Java 7 Update 10 and earlier contain an unspecified vulnerability
that can allow a remote, unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary
code on a vulnerable system.
By convincing a user to visit a specially crafted HTML document,
a remote attacker may be able to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable
Well, yes .... but.
From the left hand doesn't know what the right hands is doing department:
Ngair Teow Hin, CEO of SecureAge, noted that smaller companies
tend to be "hard-pressed" to invest or focus on IT-related resources
such as security tools due to the lack of capital. This financial
situation is further worsened by the tightening global and local
economic climates, which has forced SMBs to focus on surviving
above everything else, he added.
Well, lets leave the vested interests of security sales aside for a moment.
I read recently an article about the "IT Doesn't matter" thread that basically said part of that case was that staying at the bleeding edge of IT did not give enough of a competitive advantage. Considering that most small (and many large) companies don't fully utilise their resources, don't fully understand the capabilities of the technology they have, don't follow good practices (never mind good security), this is all a moot point.
At one level there's the old argument about disclosure of security holes, but this is also an example of 'driving' security improvement.
- How a trio of hackers brought Google's reCAPTCHA to its knees (arstechnica.com)
- Google's reCAPTCHA briefly cracked (h-online.com)
- How Hackers Nearly Took Down Google's ReCaptcha System (gizmodo.com.au)
- How Hackers Listened Their Way Around Google's Recaptcha (tech.slashdot.org)
- How Hackers Nearly Took Down Google's reCaptcha System (gizmodo.co.uk)
I often get hit on by wannabes who want to - as they put it - "break into security" and get a job as a security consultant. Perhaps the media has something to do with it, making it look glamorous when in fact it is tedious and requires a lot of study and self-discipline. The most often question is about which certification they should get first in order to get a job. Some people seem to view certification as a job ticket because so many job postings have various certifications as a requirement.
What these people are forgetting is that a certification is there to certify you have the experience; you need the experience to get the certification.
But this goes one step beyond that. This person got a job in security though faking an complete ID with all the supporting documentation:
Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole, known to his fellow workers as “Jerry Thomas,” obtained his job as a security guard supervisor at the Newark Liberty International Airport with credentials he’d allegedly stolen in 1992 from a petty criminal who was shot and killed in New York that year, according to CBS.
Authorities say Oyewole, who entered the U.S. illegally in 1989, began using Thomas’ birth certificate and Social Security number three weeks before he was murdered, though there’s no immediate evidence that he was involved in Thomas’ death. He used these documents to obtain a New Jersey driver’s license in Thomas’ name, as well as a state security guard license, airport identification and credit cards.
He used the fraudulent documents to gain employment with several contractors at the Newark airport, most recently with FJC Security Services.
That really inspires confidence in the system, doesn't it?
So what careful vetting and though investigation by the FBI and others uncovered this threat, a threat that could have been practised by a 'sleeper' for a terrorist organization?
Authorities discovered Oyewole wasn’t the man he said he was only after an anonymous letter was sent to the Port Authority of New York, which oversees the region’s main airports, and to the New Jersey’s inspector general’s office. The letter indicated that “Jerry Thomas” was known by other names.
Might we suspect a disgruntled ex-lover?
Oh, right, there are so many of them, that level of investigation is impractical.
- 'Dead Man Walking' Tricks Airport into Giving Him Top Security Job (wired.com)
- Airport worker allegedly had man's ID before death (heraldonline.com)
- Illegal immigrant used stolen ID to work as airport security supervisor for 20 years (EndtheLie.com)
- Congress considers threats from airport employees (cbsnews.com)
- Nigerian Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole was known by his co-workers as Jerry Thomas (luckmeister.typepad.com)
Call me a dinosaur (that's OK, since its the weekend and dressed down to work in the garden) but ...
An interesting list, since it covers issues of public structural security.
I recall reading that the greatest contribution to the health of individuals came about from good public sanitation and clean water, that is civic changes (presumably enabled by legislation) that affected the public in a structural manner.
What would be on your list?
- Companies slow to react to mobile security threat - InfoWorld (infoworld.com)
And this doesn't actually stop them form making use of 'insider information' they just have to declare it within 30 days.
No, wait, sorry ... you mean that the legislators are saying that legislators shouldn't do something that is illegal anyway? Or that, if they do something that is already illegal, it is OK as long as they declare it within 30 days? ...
It gets worse:
I'd like to claim the system is rigged so 'the rich get richer' but if I did that some people who claim they are right wing would accuse me of being left wing. Indeed, this tells me that their political outlook has not progressed since 20 June 1789. This one-dimensional view fails to describe the rich variety of political attitudes in the Washington, never mind the rest of the USA and points elsewhere on the physical compass.
Just those two show we need more that 4 axes to describe a political stance. But as I mentioned in a previous post, journalists are simple-minded and expect the rest of the world to be as limited in outlook and understanding.
Try this test:
How does this all relate to InfoSec, you ask.
Well part of that Political Compass is a view of 'how authoritarian'.
And that gets back to issues we have to deal with such as Policy and Enforcement, Do We Let Employees have Access to the Internet, and the like.
Hans Eysenk pointed out that the right wing (e.g. Fascism and Nazism) had a lot in common with the left wing (communism). Both are repressive, undemocratic and anti-Semitic. So on these issues, at least, the left-right distinction is meaningless.
How many more such simplistic distinctions such as those foisted on us by journalists are equally meaningless.
Some while ago my Australian fellow ex-pat Les Bell, who apart from being a CISSP is also a pilot, pointed out to me that the method of 'root cause analysis' is no longer used in analysing plane crashes. The reality is that "its not just one thing", its many factors. We all know that applies in most areas of life.
I suspect most people know that too; its not restricted to the digerati.
There is the old ditty that explains how because of a nail an empire was lost, but no-one is proposing that we fix the failing of the "American Empire" by manufacturing more nails.
Except possibly Journalists.
This isn't news. Signature-based (and hence subscription based and hence that whole business model) AV is a wrong headed approach. As Rob Rosenberger points out at Vmyths.Com, we are addicted to the update cycle model and its business premise is very like that of drug pushers.
What's that you say? Other types of AV? Like what?
Well, you could have a front-end engine that checks all downloads and all email and all email attachments and all URL responses by emulating what would happen when they run on any PC or in any browser or any other piece of software such as any of the PDF readers you use, or any of the graphical display software you use or any of the word processors you use
or any of the spreadsheet programs you use or any music players you use ... and so on.
Many people in the industry - myself included - have proposed an alternative whereby each machine has a unique cryptographic ID and the legally and properly installed libraries are all signed with that ID, and the program loader/kernel will only load and execute correctly signed code.
Yes, Microsoft tried something similar with ActiveX, but that was signed by the vendor - which can be a good thing, and used PKI, which can also be a good thing. But both can be a problem as well: go google for details. A local signature had advantages and its own problems.
The local signature makes things unique to each machine so there is no "master key" out there. If your private key is compromised then do what you'd do with PGP - cancel the old one, generate a new one and sign all your software with the new one.
No technical measure can overcome human frailty in this regard.
- Avira antivirus upgrade wreaks 'catastrophic' havoc on Windows PCs (techworld.com.au)
- How can We Detect Viruses Without Antivirus Software? Built In Antivirus in your Browser (shanicomputers.wordpress.com)
- Intel and McAfee unveil plans for unified security future (go.theregister.com)
- John McAfee, antivirus pioneer, arrested by Belize police (networkworld.com)
- GlobalSign Develops Free Tool to Simplify Code Signing Process (prweb.com)
- A Modest Proposal: Please Don't Learn to Code Because It Will Damage Your Tiny Brain (inventwithpython.com)
- Why Authenticity Is Not Security (leviathansecurity.com)
- Certs 4 Less Announces Support For Individual Code Signing Certificates (prweb.com)
- 'Catastrophic' Avira antivirus update bricks Windows PCs (go.theregister.com)
- Avira fixes antivirus update that crippled many PCs (neowin.net)
- Free Anti-Virus Software Fails To Charm Enterprises (informationweek.com)
- Backpack Algorithms And Public-Key Cryptography Made Easy (coding.smashingmagazine.com)
- Cryptography pioneer: We need good code (infoworld.com)
- Contrary to Popular Opinion, Encryption IS the Hard Part (blogs.gartner.com)
- Public Key Cryptography Explained (q-ontech.blogspot.com)