Lost in the stories of last week was a story I really don’t want to talk about, but I have to: Planned Parenthood got hacked, and a database of its employees was stolen.
I don’t want to talk about it because the risk is this story becoming about abortion rather than about security. But it brings up a real problem: Now we know that political activists have the desire and the ability to hack into organizations they disagree with.
Continue reading Hacktivism is real, and getting more dangerous
Josh Drake, the researcher who discovered the Stagefright vulnerability in Android that lets an attacker hack into an Android device by sending a specially crafted picture or video in a text message, was on the Risky Business security podcast this week to talk about it. What he had to say was interesting.
Patrick Gray, the host, tends to be a pretty outspoken critic of Android and isn’t shy about talking up Apple. He tried to get Drake to say Android is a trainwreck, security-wise, but Drake wouldn’t say it. Drake actually went as far as to say he thinks Android and IOS are fairly close, security wise.
So why do we see so many more Android bugs? Drake had an answer.
Continue reading Droidpocalypse? Josh Drake says no.
Google is moving its corporate applications to the Internet. A year ago I would have said that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Today I’m not so sure.
Sticking stuff in the cloud is the popular answer to everything these days, and I just see the cloud as the new mainframe. It’s not a solution so much as a different take on the same problem, and while I see a couple of potential disadvantages, believe it or not I see some real advantages to the approach as well.
Continue reading Google’s migrating corporate apps to the cloud is less crazy than it sounds
Every year around this time, Verizon releases its Data Breach Investigations Report, referred to in the trade as simply the “DBIR.” Verizon is one of two companies you call if you’ve been breached and you really want to get to the bottom of what happened and try to keep it from happening again. (Mandiant is the other.)
My CISO hates this year’s edition because of its Joy Division-inspired cover and some of the cutesy writing. But it still makes some valid points that I wish everyone would take to heart–and those points remind me why so many people in my field of work listen to Joy Division.
Continue reading Three things to remember from Verizon’s Data Brach Investigations Report
Anthem recently refused to allow the Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to perform an audit of its networks. Coming on the heels of a large breach, there’s been a bit of an uproar about it.
There are a few things to keep in mind, the first being that this isn’t driven by law enforcement–it’s a customer requesting an audit.
Continue reading In defense of Anthem declining the OIG audit
My boss doesn’t think I’m human. His proof: He asks anyone who knows me if he or she has ever seen me eat. No one has.
They’ve seen evidence of me eating. But actually taking a bite? No. Not even the time we went out for BBQ.
Continue reading Dave Farquhar, lunch ninja
You may have heard people like me talk about watering-hole attacks. It’s an indirect attack on someone by compromising a third party and using that to get in.
In this case, back in November, attackers got a Forbes ad server, and from there, attacked visitors from government and bank networks.
Here’s the logic: Since ad servers tend to be much less secure than your target company, you compromise an ad server from a site someone on the target network is likely to visit, then infect them from there.
Continue reading The Forbes Flash hack is a good example of a watering hole attack
I got an innocent question last week. We’d been scanning an AIX server with Nexpose, a vulnerability scanner made by Rapid7, and ran into some issues. The system owner then asked a question: The server is behind a firewall and has no direct connection to the Internet and no data itself, it’s just a front-end to two other servers. Is there any reason to scan a server like that?
In my sysadmin days, I asked a similar question. Nobody could give me an answer that was any better than “because reasons.” So I’ll answer the question and give the reasons.
Continue reading Yes, we need to run vulnerability scans inside the firewall
So, CNN/Money ran a story on the best 100 jobs in the United States, based on pay, projected job growth over the next 10 years, and quality of life ratings. And there was my job title, at #9.
The field desperately needs more of us, so I’m happy to share with you how to become someone like me. Continue reading How to become an Info Assurance Analyst
Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Anthem wasn’t encrypting the database containing tens of millions of health records that were stolen by sophisticated hackers.
There are numerous problems with that story, the first being that we don’t know yet whether the data was encrypted. There are other unconfirmed reports that say the attackers used a stolen username and password to get at the data, which, if that’s true, likely would have allowed them to decrypt the data anyway.
Still, I’m seeing calls now for the government to revise HIPAA to require encryption, rather than merely encourage it. And of course there are good and bad things about that as well.
Continue reading Anthem, HIPAA, and encryption