InfoSec News

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Another diary compliments of Handler in training Russ McRee:

Penetration testers and red teamers rejoice! We have a control for you: Critical Control 17: Penetration Tests and Red Team Exercises (hereafter referred to as PT RT for brevity).
A few thoughts in support of your efforts:

1) Before taking on this activity, formalize it with management (in writing) to include vision, mission statement, and statements of work (SOW) in order to set clear expectations (and keep you from being fired or jailed. Prepare to write reports, and present findings. PT and RT activity is only as good as the dissemination of results and the subsequent remediation. Sure the fun part is going after systems and resources with permission, but the documented follow-up is just as important.

2) A formalized process inclusive of best practices and documentation also supports PT RT on behalf of compliance requirements (PCI, etc.). Trust me when I say, its a lot easier to win the argument for a PT RT program when you can tell your leadership that it supports meeting compliance requirements. Yes, compliance is often a min bar but if it helps get your program underway, youre winning right?

3) A great resource and good starting point: Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual 3.0

4) If youre going to red team, then blue team while youre at it. A well-devised, concerted offensive engagement against your enterprise is also an ideal opportunity for your defenders to validate their monitoring and hardening practices.

5) While its nice to have resident expertise, its hard to imagine that every organization has the resources to dedicate personnel exclusively to PT how better to tune red team/blue team chops.

6) The social engineering (SE) aspect of PT RT activity inevitably includes an organizational political component you should be sensitive to. Ill cut to the chase, people fall for SE tactics all the time and there is always shame associated with it. Making enemies will not help your cause. Devise SE tactics (educational intranet sites, metrics generators) that dont necessarily automatically relegate people to the wall of shame/sheep. If you must actually compromise someone, dot your Is and cross your Ts. Non-invasive recon for likely or ideal targets for whom management signs off before total pwnzorship is in your best interest. Again, your get out of jail free card is very important here. Malfeasance or anomalous behavior from systems belonging to your victims can then potentially be attributed to you.

7) Virtual environments, while not ideal, make for an inexpensive test bed for PR BT5 or Samurai WTF anyone?) and victim VMs (unpatched Windows, vulnerable LAMP, etc)

Have fun, but be careful.

What successes have you had structuring penetration testing and red teaming as a repeatable, sustained activity in your organizations? Let us know via the comment form.

-- Rick Wanner - rwanner at isc dot sans dot org - http://namedeplume.blogspot.com/ - Twitter:namedeplume (Protected) (c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has issued for public review and comment two draft guides to securing wireless communication networks. NIST is requesting comments on the two publicationsamp-one on Bluetooth ...
After years in the works and 15 drafts, the National Institute of Standards and Technologys (NIST) working definition of cloud computing, the 16th and final definition has been published as The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing (NIST ...
Quantum's new NDX-8 NAS appliance delivers 8TB of capacity with built-in backup software and deduplication technology, offering to reduce storage requirements by up to 90%.
A federal appeals court has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit to proceed against grocery chain Hannaford Bros. over a 2007 data breach that exposed millions of customers' credit and debit cards.
Looking beyond graphics processors, Nvidia is looking to push future Tegra chips into servers as the chip maker tries to break Intel's dominance in that market.
Zions Bancorporation has set up a massive repository for proactively analyzing a combination of real-time security and business data in order to identify phishing attacks, prevent fraud and ward off stealthy hacker incursions known as advanced persistent threats.
Researchers in Germany have demonstrated weaknesses in the W3C XML encryption standard used to secure websites and other Web applications.

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QEMU 'scsi_disk_emulate_command()' Function Local Denial of Service Vulnerability
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Most of us have to generate recurring reports for the state of security, system uptime or general performance at our respective work places.

Solid, clear reports many not appear to be one of the foundations that security is built on, but many voices would strongly disagree and management is usually one of them. You have to clearly report on data, trends, issues and events from reasons ranging from simple best practice diligence to justifying the reason IT security is critical the your business and everything in between. Good reporting won these were all from the private sector, so I haven't reviewed any government or public sector reports but the theory is hopefully the same.
Rather than suggest some sort of universal template to fit every situation, I've observed applying the concepts of these four words to reporting. Using these concepts correctly just made being able to effectively understand and absorb the information so much easier:


Heres my interpretation, from hours of wading through those reports, to avoid your next report being used to test the speed of the office shredder.
Know you audience and write the report for them so apply the correct level of terminology, detail and as general groups think: your peer group, your boss, management or the general public.

No weird or wacky fonts. I have no issue with standard bolding, italics or large cases but gothic or super fancy fonts are distracting and slow the flow of reading.

Try to avoid jargon and the dreaded, unexplained three-letter acronym (TLA) as well. I spent an hour attempting to work out what ARE, ARM, POP and HIS meant and despite some pretty good guesses was completely wrong. The author had some team-only terminology of bespoke systems, so I may have well played on a lottery instead.

Avoid complex language and stick to plain language and terms, if possible. I do enjoy attempting to slip defenestration in to certain reports, but if the reader has to look up the word it loses that wit Reports arent about showing off, so keep the language practical and uncomplicated.
How can someone review previous or future reports without the same points of reference? Using the same template, with the same headings for the same recurring report makes it a breeze to see trends and the reader gets use to what to expect to see.

If you are using tables or charts keep using the same data, not random facts and figures. Keeping people guess what might be on next month report is an interest approach, but one that much force them to form a that doesnt make any sense and but, but the last report does mention this lynch mobs.
As technical people we love the details, but those recurring reports many not want every bit of detail, so summarise. You can refer to data, but sixteen pages of eight point, densely compresses text of server alerts messages is hard to read, let alone understand.

Keep away from using opening statements that could come from a novel It was a dark and cold night. The winds were howling. Lightening forked wickedly across the skies, spearing the landscape surrounding the datacentre. With a final, silence choked gasp the UPS failed, mere seconds before the haggard night shift crew took their seats. UPS failure at datacentre X 23:45 really covers that more effectively.
This isnt a reference to fruity language, although a smattering of four letter words will get the readers attention butfor all the wrong reasons. Im, of course, meaning those eye catching images stuffed in to reports to make assimilating complex data simple and quick. Have to be a bit careful with this, but good use of colour in tables or charts can draw in the reader. Well executed charts and tables can make absorbing complex data much easier and get across points very quickly. Use clashing colours or, just as bad, tones that blend in together making impossible to work out whats happening are annoying and distract from the readers ability to understand the report ordrain thewill to continue through it.

Wrapping up, take pity on those youre writing a report for and try to avoid making it one of those government forms Ph.Ds struggle to comprehend. A book that I really enjoyed reading was from Jon Moon [1], an English author, who is determined to rid the world of confusing, poorly written paper work of all ilks.

For those wondering well what should they could be writing these reports on have a look through SANS critical security controls [2], which my fellow handlers have spent this month expanding on and turn the points in to items to report back on about your environment.

As always, if you have any suggestions, insights or tips please feel free to comment.

[1] http://www.jmoon.co.uk/book.cfm

[2] http://www.sans.org/critical-security-controls/
Chris Mohan --- Internet Storm Center Handler on Duty (c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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