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This is not the IoT you want.

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.cnet.com/products/quirky-outlink/

If I plug in an IDE drive or a SATA drive or a USB drive or device my mobo or system recognizes what it is. The connection protocol tell the mobo or system.

My digital camera uses exif to convey a vast amount of contextual information and imprint it on each photo: date, time, the camera, shutter, aperture, flash. I have GPS in the camera so it can tell the location, elevation. The exif protocol also allows for vendor specific information and is extensible and customizable.

Unless and until we have an 'exif' for IoT its going to be lame and useless.

What is plugged in to that socket? A fan, a PC, a refrigerator, a charger for your cell phone? What's the rating of the device? How is it used? What functions other than on/off can be controlled?

Lame lame lame lame.
Unimaginative.

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Another Java bug: Disable the java setting in your browser

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/625617

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
system.

Well, yes .... but.

Image representing XMind as depicted in CrunchBase

Are we fighting a loosing battle?
The New York Times is saying out loud what many of us (see Vmyths.com and Rob Rosenberger have known in our hearts for a long time. AV products don't work.

If Customers Ask for More Choice, Don’t Listen

Posted by Anton Aylward

Customers are Ignoring You

Customers are Ignoring You (Photo credit: ronploof)

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/05/customers_arent_as_savvy_as_yo.html

Perhaps the reason that Apple is ahead with the iPod, iPhone and iPad is that the competitors are offering too much choice.

That being said, 'competitive advantage' can lead to paralysis.

In the auto world, each badge, each product line has an 'advantage'.
But what many customers want is a blend.

Suppose you had

  • the hydropnumatic suspension of Citroen
  • the crash survivability of Volvo
  •  the fantastic new six speed high efficiency automatic gearbox that Chrysler is soon to release
  •  the BOSE sound system of a BMW
  •  the capacity of a Dodge minivan
  •  the fuel efficiency of a Prius
  •  the twin camera automatic following/crash avoidance system of a Subaru

all rolled into one ....

The problem is that you can't.

For a while, the IBM-style PC chassis offered that kind of 'blend'.
As the saying went ...

Be very glad that your PC is insecure --it means that after you buy it,
you can break into it and install whatever software you want. What YOU
want, not what [content providers] want.
-- John Gilmore of the EFF

But the majority of consumers are the "lemmings". In reality its like the stage magician fanning a pack of cards and saying "pick a card, any card you want". You don't really have freedom of choice, you can only pick what's offered to you, by the stage magician or the vendor.

And sometimes the constraint of choice, as Apple is doing, says "focus, focus, focus" and play to the Big Brother Knows What's Best For You.
Sometimes it nice not to be stressed by having to make decisions, decisions that might not be optimal (even if the optimization curve is flat and the risk/return ratio is close to zero).

 

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The Death of Antivirus Software

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.infosecisland.com/blogview/19386-The-Death-of-Antivirus-Software.html

The real issue here isn't Ubuntu, or any other form of Linux.
Its that AV software doesn't work.
PERIOD.

There are over 50,000 new piece of malware developed and released daily. The very nature of the AV software models that John McAfee foisted on the industry simply can't cope.

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.

The real problem, though, is not in having the key compromised but is the problem that has always existed - its the user. Right now, we have many remote code execution blockers. Your browser might be able to block the execution of Java or JavaScript, but does it? Most people either don't bother setting their defaults to "no execution" or just say "yes" to the pop-up asking them to permit execution.

No technical measure can overcome human frailty in this regard.

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”My dog knows you don’t look like me”

Posted by Anton Aylward

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/identity/darpa-authentication-project-focuses-on-humans-as-secrets/157

So do my cats. But so what?

Does this mean that DARPA/USGov will finance the supply of advanced biometrics with every PC from Microsoft or Apples and every Tablet and smartphone? Perhaps eyeball recognition like in "Minority Report".

And I'm sure there are _other_ ways to hack that than the one mentioned in the movie.

 

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Doubts about “Defense in Depth”

Posted by Anton Aylward

 So to have great (subjective) protection your layered protection and controls have to be "bubbled" as opposed to linear (to slow down or impede a  direct attack).

I have doubts about "defence in depth" analogies with the military that many people in InfoSec use.

Read what they are really talking about in those military examples: its "ablation": that means burning up resources, like land (the traditional defence the Russian Empire used) or manpower (the northern states used in the US civil war) and resources (the USA in WW2).  They try to slow down a direct and linear attack, hopefully to a standstill.

As the Blitzkrieg showed in dealing with the Maginot Line, if you "go around it" the defence isn't a lot of use.

Through the ages of war and politics and empire-hood and nation-hood and tribalism we've seen many threats and attacks and subversions used.

The reality is that many InfoSec defences are more like umbrellas, the assume that the attack in coming from a particular direction in a particular form.  What's needed is more like an all-enclosing "bubble" rather than something linear with the 'defence in depth' model.  But that gets back to the problem of the perimeter.

Many wifi enabled devices are really "spies inside the defensive perimeter".

There was a scare a while ago that various networking equipment was made by companies or fabricators in places that were or might be inimical or economic competitors and as such have subversive code hidden in them.  No doubt this will come around again when journalists have nothing better to write about or the State Department need to wave a big stick and scare the public -- its form of showing that "its doing something".

But how can we tell? The reality is that "security specialists" are finding errors - never mind deliberately malicious code - in all manner of devices: pacemakers, insulin pumps, automobile throttle controllers. Will they find "errors" that allow subversion in mainstream IT deceives like home wifi routers (aka the next generation of spambots), home PC software (that's a no-brainer isn't it!) never mind commercial databases.

I dedicate this to the memory of Ken Thompson
http://cm.bell-labs.com/who/ken/trust.html

Risk Models that hide important information

Posted by Anton Aylward

Some people seem to be making life difficult for themselves with risk models such as "Impact * Probability" and as such have lead themselves into all manner of imponderable ... since this model hides essential details.

I discuss the CLASSICAL risk equation in my blog
http://infosecblog.antonaylward.com/2010/05/19/the-classical-risk-equation/

There is a good reason for, no make that MANY good reasons, for separating out the threat and the vulnerability and asset rather that just using "impact".

Any asset is going to be affected by many

  • threats
  • vulnerabilities
  • controls

Any control will almost certainly address many assets and in all likelihood deal with many threats and vulnerabilities.

Any reasonable approach will try to optimise this: make the controls more effective and efficient by having them cover as many assets, threats or vulnerabilities as possible.

As such, the CLASSICAL risk equation can then be viewed as addressing residual risk - the probability AFTER applying the controls.