Someone I know got a tech support scam popup that said their computer was being hacked. I said to bring the computer over. I wanted to see it.
I found the malicious site in the browser history–I’ll tell you how to do that after I finish my story–and pulled the page back up. The computer played an MP3 file with a scary-sounding message and urged me to call an 888 number. So I called. I got voicemail. I left a message.
In the past, I’ve recommended Secunia PSI as a way to keep your systems up to date. I know from my own experience that it helps, but I also know it doesn’t work 100 percent of the time.
When it comes to security, nothing is more critical than making sure your updates are applying correctly. That’s where my employer comes in, with Qualys Browser Check.
I’ve been asked a few times now for my recommended DD-WRT settings, or at least my good-enough settings. I think that’s a great idea, so I’ll walk through how I configure a DD-WRT router. Follow these steps and I can almost guarantee you’ll have the most secure network on your block.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to assume you are configuring DD-WRT as your primary router.
Every once in a while the NSA or another government agency releases a whitepaper with a lot of really good security advice. This paper on spotting adversaries with Windows event logs is a fantastic example. It’s vendor-neutral, just talking about Windows logs and how to set up event forwarding, so you can use the advice with any log aggregation system or SEIM. I just happen to use and recommend Splunk. But whatever you use, these are the workstation events you want to be logging.
I want to call your attention to a couple of items in the paper. Most breaches begin on workstations, and this paper has the cure.
Microsoft rushed out an out-of-band patch, MS15-078, to deal with active exploits in their font driver yesterday. Since pushing out patches takes time, my boss asked me what we could do to mitigate the issue in the meantime.
The biggest threat, by far, is exploit-bearing fonts being downloaded from web sites. Ideally you only install trusted fonts from trusted sources locally on your workstations, right? If not, I suggest you start that practice as well.
You have a couple of options when it comes to blocking fonts in browsers.
Monthly patches and upgrades don’t always go well, but getting them down is increasingly critical, especially for applications like Flash, Reader, and the major web browsers. This week I called it “the new firewall.”
Twenty years ago, home users almost never bothered with firewalls. My first employer didn’t bother with them either. That changed in the late 1990s, when worms exploiting weaknesses in Microsoft software devastated the nascent Internet. Firewalls soon became commonplace, along with some unfortunate hyperbole that led some people to believe firewalls make you invisible and invincible, a myth that persists in some circles even today.
For this reason I’m a bit hesitant to declare anything a new firewall, but firewalls are necessary. So is protecting key software.
Google released a stable 64-bit Chrome today for Windows. You can download it from the main page by selecting the Windows 64-bit build. It upgrades cleanly over the 32-bit version.
It’s really fast but not always pretty. Read more
I’ve been having problems with Firefox for a while now–crashes and other odd behavior. I’ve put up with it for a while, but I shouldn’t have to. It turns out the fix is very easy, but non-obvious.
Mozilla’s documentation is abysmal. When you move stuff around for no reason, change your docs to reflect the move, so people can find what you’re talking about. Or better yet, leave well enough alone.
If you actually want to fix the problem, don’t fiddle with the menus. Do this:
- Type about:troubleshooting in the address bar
- Click “Reset Firefox” in the upper right corner Read more
I probably ought to know better than the venture into the topic of web browsers by now, but since I stepped into it Friday, I guess there’s no point in staying in the shallow end.
The problem with web browsers is that they all require you to trade one thing for another, and if anything, that’s more true today than it ever has been before. Read more
A week or two ago, Chrome quit working–I would launch it, and EMET would give me a message that it detected Caller Mitigation. It turns out that particular setting isn’t compatible with Chrome 35 and up.
The fix is easy. Launch EMET, click “Apps,” scroll down to Chrome, and uncheck the 10th item from the left.
Google doesn’t recommend EMET because Chrome already does most of the things that EMET forces, and the EMET mitigations that Chrome lacks can be bypassed. To me, that doesn’t make them worthless. It filters out the unsophisticated attackers. And if you make the advanced adversary make the attack more complex, there’s a greater chance of being caught. Security isn’t about preventing everything–you can’t–but you can raise the stakes.
That’s why I disabled Caller Mitigation and keep EMET enabled on Chrome.exe.
I also saw this week that Google is working on a 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows. Finally! Once it comes out of beta, that’s something I’ll be installing. That may be what makes me change allegiances from Firefox.