Three Reasons To Trust SECURE TARGET

Articles will be revealing in many aspect of information security and information technology in general, but why would you trust SECURE TARGET?
Being blunt by default and straightforward about root causes of tech insecurities is not common at all. You will soon experience (if have not already) how the Computer Security business is not different from any other market. This is a business, why would you think market leaders do not want more profit and how they are able to make more profit without compromising some aspects of Real Security and pushing something to the market, not as a real ‘Need’ but more as a fake ‘Want’?
This has been one of the challenges of security products’ market in terms of customer acquisition, and the conflict between stakeholders and market drivers will always have its dark shadow over Security Initiatives, making consumer doubtful and uncertain about right solution.
Here you will be told about how to simply and effectively forever take care of the security of your computers and other information technology elements. You will realize which part of the market is real and which part is fake (and only for sake of making more money), but you should not be shocked as this is the reality of almost all businesses. Also it does not mean market is pushing something useless or necessarily insecure, it just might not necessary be what you need at the moment, it may be a waste of money, or may not be what your security program really demands, and yes sometimes it may totally put your security program in an insecure posture! Hence, jeopardizing Security with security!
In the other words, considering rule of “Complexity Equal Insecurity”, you generally pay more for something which not only is not more secure, but also downgrades your current quality of your security posture!
With many years of experience, transparency has been my first byproduct of IT business: I did not sell a single PC while it was possible to tune up the old one better than the current one, and I revealed all security details of a given IT element during my dedicated-focused-professional training without fear of having an student better than teacher! In the meantime, Questioning every aspect of computer technology without affiliation to any product or even any specific Trend put me in a neutral position where the metric would be measuring effectiveness, not what is possible at the moment according to market. So here’s why you can trust my judgment:

1) Member of both communities
I am an advocate to both communities of security and hackers. In order to stop Cybercrime we have to be virtually undercover and there is no way we can feel the heat of this battle unless being a front liner in security side.
Active learning from both communities is the key to help maintaining a healthy and secure cyberspace, something that is prone to turn to a myth! Defending a society is not possible unless knowing your enemy, and I am not talking about ridiculous hands-on training courses on ethical hacking. This is about social engineering of hackers community, that’s what they do with us every single minute of interaction. In opposite side, secure community, the most secluded introvert group of people who think that they can conquer a land before knowing the location of in on the map!

2) Research
knowing what is happening with the fastest-pace-industry-of -all -times (IT) is crucial but it is not enough for handling the unleashed horse of Cyber insecurities. Continuous Research is the key to maintain a level of balance between different individual cyber world entities: what is entering (or better say Penetrating) into world of cyber will bring its own insecurities to the equation which may totally change the current state of insecurities or magnitude of catastrophic outcome of other entities which were totally secure before introducing the new entity! It means we need to constantly research the current equation of cyber elements and assess different factors to manage ongoing changes in a secure manner. This requires research on all aspect of cyberspace not just those topics compiled with the word ‘security’.

3) Result oriented
Judge based on result and outcome not personal preferences, that’s the basic tool and logic of evaluation. Whether you prefer hot or cold coffee, does not change the state of hot and cold coffee! Simply every single security solution is good as long as the result is convincing and satisfying, and every single security solution is a waste of time and money as long as the outcome is not favorable. You could use this analogy with what SECURE TARGET offers as well: if the result is not superior and significantly positive then there is no reason to back up a solution.

Why Environment Constantly Faces Insecurities?

There is no doubt that security is not a project, there is no end and we need to constantly evolve but does it seem to you that you may put more effort you expect? You would sense some doubt about why you are constantly running after fixing issues, but is this the way security works? 

No, although you may get bombed with market elements that you have to run but it is not true, the problem is in a different area… the choice is yours:

Gaining “Security” via constant “fire fighting” vs. “guaranteed security” via adequate system and network administration!

It is all about the way we manage and configure our tech environment, from infrastructure to end-user’s machines, from software to processes. That is the most observed cause of general failure with cyber security: tech team (usually IT department) is not well managing the system and network! 

The way we administer technology is the main driver of our security program, it can fail us or take us to the next level. If we are running all the time to catch up, if we are struggling with a smooth patch management process, if we do not know where are the risk at any given time, if we constantly introducing risk and insecurities to our system…all are because we do not manage our system and network properly. 

The simplest examples would be how we setup a software or hardware with default configuration and hoping that works! How we leave systems and network nodes unattended until they start screaming by indirectly breaking some elements and we always blame technology; we never ask ourselves how we manage the technology! 

Default configuration is not the only example but it happens more frequently because teach team is configuring a new system, software, hardware, script…sooner or later and this usually happens with no security in mind!

The Fine Art of Network Security Configuration: Micro Segmentation

Micro segmentation is the particle of an effective network segregation

Network security administration barely leverages a concept which basically has been there forever and could literally saves them forever when dealing with security of network services, and that is nothing but micros segmentation. 

I usually bring practical examples to my workshops so students are able to see and feel MS in real scenarios but as a brief explanation, micros segmentation is the technique of limiting a network node presence with only needed services and to the limited audience. 

Get rid of the flat network but simple techniques around Micro Segmentation!

This simple technique is so away from majority of network configurations these days where nodes are all connected together to a switch and the most segmentation is done via virtual LAN segmentation. Micro segmentation takes care of nodes within their micro virtual world of services and clients. 

MS turns most insecure network protocols to even more secure than a natively-secure-protocol, improve performance, and forever saves network from unknown attacks or malicious actors. Again, no specific tools is needed to implement this concept on a network of any kind, Linux, Windows, Mac… it fits with any infrastructure or technology, the only thing needed is the clear understanding of nodes, network services and their clients’ needs.

How to effectively audit any ISO 27001 process?

First of all, auditor needs to be a SME, not only to the security management system, but also specifically in regards to ISO 27001. The reason is related to the fact that “terminology” or “particular definition” of terms is important. 

Then there are three simple aspects of any process or policy document which should have been adequately addressed by piece of documentation, so we need to focus on those aspect to have an effective audit: 

  • Purpose 

Everything starts with statements regarding purpose of a policy, guideline, work instruction or procedure. There has to be clear definition of the purpose of any given process and as an auditor, one need to fully understand and even criticize it. 

  • Scope 

That is where the context comes in which is usually in deliberately overlooked by auditors! Focus on the scope but never criticize it. Always have the scope in your mind when trying to define the border of a process. 

  • Records 

Evidence is the main result of a process and must be addresses during audit. A survey without evidence does not have any values and it is not effective to the whole process evaluation, measurement or critic. 

By focusing on above 3 simple aspects of any ISO 27001 documentation, you will have an effective ISMS audit, whether internal or external. 

ISO 27001 Audit Tips and Tricks

the easy way to maintain an effective, low cost and smart ISO 27001 security management system

ISO27001/ISO27002: A Pocket Guide
Information is one of your organisation’s most important resources…

Even though there is no magic behind auditing a system based on ISO 27001, there are simple tricks which help you handle ISO 27001 or many other similar standards and frameworks, both as and auditor and auditee.

I would point only at one single tip if I wanted to direct you to just one important aspect of ISO 27001, and that is “Links”. The connection between different parts of standard is the key to kingdom! Understanding this key makes you super strong either as an auditor or as an auditee.

There are certain connections between different Clauses or even different Controls. Majority of ISO 27001 standard element are linked together and this simple means, as long as you follow links, you will reach a final destination for sure which is the flawless system with no broken links.

Main links are from relationship between SoA, Risk, Asset and Access

Links are important because if Clauses, Documents, Policies, Controls…are not connected and consistent, you will be noncompliance ultimately. No matter how hard you try to have a comprehensive, beautiful, technical…set of policies, ignoring links is a reg flag for any experienced auditor, they simply see the effect right away and after that all system looks synthetic!

Main links are between SoA, Risk, Asset and Access. These are foundations and without proper linkage, there is no way to maintain a healthy, consistent, auditable ISO 27001 security management system. Start with SoA, that document is not an index or table of contents! Flow from SoA to Risk Assessment, vice versa and multiple times until all controls has justification. Never compile Asset policies without conducting demonstrating and understanding the links with higher SoA and Risk, and then jump into Access as the baby and outcome of first 3 document.

As an auditor you should always look for broken links because also analysing and accepting a subject without finding conceptual link with other topic is nothing more than ignoring the main purpose of standard, which is a solid management system, not a set of individual files and unclear processes.

As an auditee try to find your broken links prior to audit. This does not require internal audit at all. This is more and more reviewing your key documents by someone who understand the links and concepts, not just memorizing Clauses.

Remember after having a system flawless of broken links, you have already started the easy way to maintain an effective, low cost and smart ISO 27001 security management system, something which has the potential to make money for your business rather than a hassle and expense.

About SECURETARGET

Once Upon A Time . . .

first logo SECURE TARGET

SECURE TARGET was one of the first independent group of professional freelancers in field of IT security, founded 1996 in Islamic Republic of Iran, when even using Internet in the country was a dream!

The freelance group directed by its founder, Kaveh Mofidi and initially named ‘Iran Security Consulting Group’, the first and the last mission of those cybersecurity entrepreneurs was delivering the right and accurate knowledge of computer security towards having a safe and secure CyberSpace. That objective made the foundation to disclosing security vulnerabilities through intensive research and active discovery. The result was compiling numerous hands-on training courses on ethical hacking by the motto “Security through hacking”, from internet portal security, to system, application and network security and hacking essentials. This strategy was replaced later by a new approach as non-disclosure or traditional “Security through obscurity” policy when group found out knowledge could be easily end up in hands of malicious users.

logo SECURETARGET

Members with decades of experience in principles of computer security and as a rare collection of IT professionals who worked so hard and relied on constant learning to enhance the quality of service, finally departed from the group due to lack of financial support; the effect of a extremely depressed economy at the top of technological sanctions on Iran which forced IT industry into its struggling mode, particularly and severely “Security” as an IT luxury.

Microsoft Windows Huge Text Processing Instability

SECURE TARGET (Security Advisory October 17, 2004)

Topic: Microsoft Windows Huge Text Processing Instability
Discovery Date: October 14, 2004
Original Advisory
External Links: VULDB, Full-Disclosure, BugTraq, SICHERHEITSLüCKEN, Addict3d, Ls, Der Keiler, Seifried, NetSys, Mail Archive, SecLists, Neohapsis, Checksum, Network Security, Virus, DoddsNet, ReadList, Mega Security, Security Trap, Virovvch, DevArchives

Affected applications and platforms:
Notepad, NotePad2 and MetaPad (Seems like all Text Processing Apps) / Microsoft Windows (All Versions)

Introduction:
It is not important, the limitation of opening large text file with “notepad” or similar products like NotePad2 (http://www.flos-freeware.ch) and MetaPad (http://liquidninja.com/metapad/); the point is just the way these tiny text processing apps open and handle large text files (talking about over the 200MB).
The way they handle huge text files, it is near possible for a fast modern PC to be completely unstable. This Instability may path to process injection because you cannot even kill the processes of these apps and they will remain “up and running” even when you logged off. So, it’s possible for a unprivileged user to simply hook to the remaining process of a privilege user and this lead to information disclosure (simply reading the content of the memory before swapping a large file which happens time after time, based on the file size) but may even lead to running privileged tasks based on the app they used for processing text.

Exploit:
It is different to exploit based on the application you choose for text processing; for windows default notepad.exe, it’ll be some like a huge DoS but for NotePad2.exe and MetaPad.exe it is possible to doing process injection (information disclosure and/or running privileged tasks).

Workaround:
The best way to work around this situation is just not to open large text files in windows! or wait a long time for completion of task.

Tested on:
Microsoft Windows XP SP1/SP2RC2/SP2 on Intel P4 2.4 with 1GB of RAM

Feedback:
Kaveh Mofidi [ Admin (at) SecureTarget [dot] net ]
Head of Secure Target Network

PerfectNav Crashes IE

Secure Target Network (Security Advisory February 25, 2004)

Topic: PerfectNav Crashes IE
Discovery Date: February 24, 2004
Original Advisory
External: Full-Disclosure, BugTraq, Security Tracker, xforce, SANS

Affected applications and platforms:
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 and older versions

Introduction:
PerfectNav is designed to redirect your URL typing errors to PerfectNav’s web page. Bundled with the Free Ad Supported version of Kazaa Media Desktop 2.6. Likely to be found in software supplied by eUniverse sites, such as thunderdownloads.com, myfreecursors.com, cursorzone.com and mycoolscreen.com. Likely to slow performance of Internet Explorer. Can download and execute arbitrary code as directed by its controlling server, as an update feature.
All of us knew about Hijackers/Browser Helper Objects; some of them may hijack your sessions but do you care crashing your web browser by a single blink?
When you use PerfectNav it is easy to crash your Internet Explorer (iexplore.exe) by any malformed URL like any thing you like: ? /? …
Run “iexplore.exe ?” or type “?” in your IE address bar and simply get the error message:
“An error has occurred in Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer will now close. If you continue to experience problems, please restart your computer.”

Exploit:
Easier to exploit than this bug? Just point out any malformed URL on your target and it will be crashing her/his IE.

Workaround:
The easiest way to work around this vulnerability is just removing PerfectNav from your computer. For information that may help you prevent this problem from reoccurring, click on the link below.
http://www.pestpatrol.com/msperfectnavsupport.asp
If the problem persists, please contact eUniverse.com Inc. and alert them of the problem.
Note: To have PestPatrol automatically detect and remove PerfectNav and its components from your computer, you have to buy PestPatrol!

Tested on:
Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (6.0.2800.1106) on Windows XP Service Pack 1a

Feedback:
Kaveh Mofidi ( Admin (at) SecureTarget [dot] net)
Secure Target Network (Security Consulting/Training Group)

New IE Thread crashes by WU

Secure Target Network (Security Advisory December 31, 2003)

Topic: New IE Thread crashes by WU
Discovery Date: December 30, 2003
Original Advisory
External: Full-Disclosure

Affected applications and platforms:
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1

Introduction:
Any time you open your Windows Update (WU / wupdmgr.exe) and go to “Scan for Updates”; it takes a couple of minutes (based on your system and Net performances) for Microsoft scripting tasks to gather information from your fixing/patching data on your machine.
A security bug exist because when you are in the period which WU scanning your host, you cannot open any New IE windows from some applications and opening this new window just takes time, as long as WU ending its scanning, and it means hanging.
First, it is a security bug because it faces with availability of a component on a windows box. Second, it happens when you open a new IE window from these two situations below:
1. Opening a new IE window by clicking on a hyper link in OE.
2. Opening a new IE window by clicking on a hyper link in IE.
Remember that for facing with this issue, you shouldn’t have an old IE Thread opened from OE or IE before.

Exploit:
This bug may not provide an opportunity to threat a windows box machine with attacks and exposures but it may cause DoS anyway.

Workaround:
The easiest way to work around this vulnerability is just let WU finishing its scanning and then work with IE and OE as usual.

Tested on:
Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (6.0.2800.1106) and Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1123 on Windows XP Service Pack 1

Feedback:
Kaveh Mofidi ( Admin (at) SecureTarget [dot] net )
Secure Target Network (Security Consulting/Training Group