Information Security Basics ARE Sexy

It all begins with a headline such as: “Hackers hack [insert new thing hacked]” Obviously, you change “insert new thing hacked” with whatever has just been demonstrated at the latest hacking convention, be that an ATM, fridge, sniper rifle, car, baby monitor, etc. Following this news, two camps will emerge. The first is the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) group characterised by doomsaying. The second is the junk-hacking group, which is characterised by being unimpressed with what they call ‘junk hacking’ (junk I found around my house and scared you by hacking it). Both groups probably have their merits. One thing Read More

Insider threat PSYOPs – know thy employees

Following on from a previous post, in which I noted that a recent security survey revealed that 31% of all information security incidents were employee-related, I wanted to spend a little time on the insider threat. In as many different ways as the inside threat can manifest – from sabotage to theft – there are as many reasons and personality types engaging in such activity. Thus, this is not an examination of insider-threat criminology, but given we expend so much of our time keeping the bad actor out of our networks, this is an exploration of what might be done to prevent the potential bad actor Read More

GCHQ – Moving Out From the Shadows

Noun: Smart Home Definition: Mini data center minus admin and security staff. This is of course tongue-in-cheek, although some will recognise truth in this. As consumers we are reliant on manufacturers of our “smart appliances” being cognisant of security and engineering safeguards. But can we trust them? Yesterday we learned that despite £11bn being spent on new smart energy meters due to be installed in every UK home, GCHQ had to intervene as every meter had the same encryption key. We saw a similar problem in Spain in 2014 with poorly protected credentials. Aside from miscreants leveraging these weaknesses to lower their own energy bills, there Read More

It’s time to patch our human firewall

In light of a recent article on IT Governance blog entitled “What exactly is Social Engineering?”, I’d like to take a step back and explore what precedes a successful social engineering attack. I recently asked an expert in social engineering, deception and negotiation the following question: Would you say that underpinning social engineering would be a process of reconnaissance, perhaps using social media? She responded: Almost always these days, Stu! Many articles focus on the attack methods that ultimately give rise to a breach but neglect to mention the single most important aspect of these successful breaches: reconnaissance. The importance of Read More

Securing the Internet of Things

People talk of the coming Internet of Things (IoT) but what is it and when is it coming? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thusly: The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Okay, so when is it coming? The truth is, it’s already here. Gartner estimates that there will be 4.9 billion connected devices this year, up 30% on last year, rising to 25 billion in 2020. With the plethora of news relating to IoT application vulnerabilities, coupled with IoT applications’ increasing demand for user-device information, which is Read More

DDoS attacks strike hard over the festive period

With Grinch-like predictability, DDoS attacks have almost become part of the Christmas and New Year festive period. Last year saw Microsoft and Sony gaming networks swamped and taken offline much to the chagrin of players worldwide. I’m not entirely sure what the “hacktivists’” motives were and I’m not convinced they feel they need one. This year was no different except for this particular DDoS attack on Steam, which allowed users to view other users’ private information: In response to this specific attack, caching rules managed by a Steam web caching partner were deployed in order to both minimize the impact on Steam Read More

Anatomy of a Spear Phishing attack

Competent IT network admins have upped their security game. They’re constantly on the lookout for news on vulnerabilities, implementing necessary vendor patches and updates with gusto, and even scanning their own systems for open doorways and weaknesses. This is all good and necessary stuff. The upshot is that perimeter defences are strong, there’s a diminishing attack surface and criminals are finding it increasingly difficult to locate low-hanging fruit. THE FLIP SIDE As with the famous Maginot Line, criminals are going around the wall and targeting the ‘meatware’ or ‘human OS’. Every single day, grim news headlines confirm the above assertion. Given Read More

2015: The year of collaboration against online crime

In 2015, news of data breaches – ever larger in size and grimmer in nature – hit the mainstream media in a seemingly never-ending wave. It’s no wonder many within the information security industry feel beset on all sides; adopting a siege mentality is forgivable. I won’t bore you with in-depth discussion of the psychology of negativity bias – suffice to say, we are wired to be drawn more towards bad news than good. As a result, media outlets cater to our proclivity and we, in turn, focus ever more on the negative over the positive news in a self-reinforcing cycle. This Read More

Service Principal Name Scanning Active Directory

Dropping these notes here as a reminder for myself and might be useful for you: Scanning for services within Active Directory is best done utilising existing functionality to avoid detection. This is best achieved through Service Principal Names. Sean created a resource page of useful SPNs: His Active Directory recon code is here. And this is a talk given by Sean earlier this year entitled: Red vs. Blue: Modern Active Directory Attacks & Defense

Don’t be distracted by the DDoS flashbang

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are on the rise and have been for some time. Report after report show not only the growth in such attacks, but the scale, multi-vector nature and complexity is on the increase. The above is of no surprise when you consider the advent of a new acronym: ‘DDoSaaS’ or DDoS-as-a-service. Put simply, rent a bot from a bad guy, complete with a considerable number of already compromised ‘zombie’ machines, and aim it at your target. DEFENDING AGAINST A DDOS ATTACK These attacks are notoriously difficult to defend against. With a ‘zombie army’ of IP addresses, IP blocking Read More