Archive for October, 2007

The Russian Business Network, ShadowCrew, HangUp Team, 76service, “Malware as a Service” (MaaS) and “Hoff is Thirsty.”

October 9th, 2007 6 comments

Scott Berinato posted the first of three installments of an expose highlighting the economics of the malware industry in CSO magazine.  It’s a fascinating read with a blow-by-blow of how Don Jackson of SecureWorks infiltrated a malware distribution cartel and got to witness firsthand the dynamics of the malware marketplace as a functional economy. 

It really demonstrated well the evolution of the stratified distribution system which mimics that of the drug trade.

What really made the story, however, was this incredible quote from yours truly.  Prepare to be awed.  I know I was.

Here’s the setup:

“Do you have a credit card? They’ve got it,” states another researcher who used to write malware for a hacking group and who now works intelligence on the Internet underground and could only speak anonymously to protect his cover. “I’m not exaggerating. Your
    numbers will be compromised four or five times, even if they’re not used yet.”

Here’s my earth-shattering revelation:

“I take for granted everything I do on the Internet is public and everything in my wallet is owned,” adds Chris Hoff, the security strategist at Crossbeam and former CISO of
    Westcorp, a $25 billion financial services company. “But what do I do? Do I pay for everything in cash like my dad? I defy you to do that. I was at a hotel recently and I
    couldn’t get a bottle of water without swiping my credit card. And I was thirsty! What was I gonna do?”

…and now we finish with the closer.   

That’s the thing about this wave of Internet crime.
Everyone has apparently decided that it’s an unavoidable cost of doing business online, a risk they’re willing to take, and that whatever’s being lost to crime online is acceptable loss. Banks, merchants, consumers, they’re thirsty! What are they gonna do?

See what I mean!?  Without that little statement about being parched, the whole malware story just doesn’t hang together.

At all.

Don Jackson and his little sleuthy malware research doesn’t have ANYTHING on my horrific experience trying to extract a bottle of Aqua Fina liquid refreshment from a vending machine on the 23rd floor of a Scottish hotel.

Wait until the second installment when I talk about Mayonnaise.

Journalists:  Please email me immediately as I’m available NOW as your go-to source for non-nonsensical non-sequitirs  that make your editorials just SCREAM!  Need to get to 800 words and got nuthin’?  Call the Hoff.



P.S. I’m not @ Crossbeam anymore.  I was the Chief Security Strategist. It was "WesCorp."  My dad is dead.  The rest is accurate, however…except I keep getting quoted as saying "gotta."  I swear, it’s my accent!  I don’t say "gotta."  Really.

Categories: Malware Tags:

Topps Meat Company: 0157:H7 E.Coli, Breaches & You…

October 9th, 2007 8 comments

A few days ago, Topps Meat company, a 67-year old company and one of the largest producers of frozen meat products in the country, shut its doors for good.


They had a breach of the sanitation persuasion.  From the NY Times:

Topps Meat Company, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of
frozen hamburgers, said today it was going out of business after it
recalled more than 21.7 million pounds of ground beef products last

The company, based in Elizabeth, N.J., said a few of its 87 employees will remain at the plant to help the United States Department of Agriculture investigate how the E. coli bacteria tainted frozen hamburger patties made there.

Anthony D’Urso, the chief operating officer at Topps, said the company
was unable to withstand the financial burden of the recall.

“This is tragic for all concerned,” Mr. D’Urso said in a statement. “In
one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen
hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a
recall this large.”

On Sept. 25, the United
States Department of Agriculture announced a recall of frozen hamburger
patties from Topps, saying that the meat was potentially tainted by E.
coli bacteria. Officials at the agency conceded that they knew that
meat from Topps was contaminated on Sept. 7, when the first positive
test results for E. coli came back.

The financial strain associated with a recall of spoiled meat in a single week killed them.

So what does this have to do with data breaches?

When the ChoicePoint scandal hit, we saw Card Services shutter due to direct economic pressure (they could no longer process credit cards) brought about by the fallout from data breaches, but contrast that with the experience of a recent "breacher" such as TJX and some might argue that not only has it not actively impacted their P&L negatively, but it’s made them a better, stronger and more profitable company.  The figures don’t lie:

After the TJX debacle I remember seeing predictions that people will vote with their feet. Of course they didn’t, sales actually went up 9%. The same argument was made for Ruby Tuesdays who lost some credit cards. It just doesn’t happen. Lake Chad and disasters on a global scale continue to plague us due to climate change yet still people refuse to stop buying SUV’s.

Check out the chronology of security breaches from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.  The total
            number of records containing sensitive personal information involved in security breaches:


That number is mounting every day
and some of these breaches you don’t even hear about in the press.
Have we become so
desensitized to this breach fiasco that it’s become just a mild
inconvenience?  Or is it that credit card number losses have been subconsciously classified outside of the scope of "identity theft?"

Think about it.  Having your credit card number stolen is really, in the scope of things, not that big of a deal.  You call the CC company, dispute any charges you didn’t make, they close the account and despite the inconvenience, that’s it.  Then a new card shows up in the mail, sometimes with a larger spending limit!  Sweet!

The liability is minimal.  It’s happened to me twice.  My credit wasn’t impacted, my life didn’t end.  In fact, I got a card with a cool Koi on it that matches one of my tattoos.   I’m not saying it goes that "well" for everyone, but what’s the impetus for consumer outrage?

As soon as the liability is shifted away from the banks who suck it up and take the hit (as do the vendors whose merchandise is stolen,) and moves closer to the consumer,  we’ll see some agitation and consumer outrage.

Until then, I suppose we’re content to just go on eating spoiled meat (as it were) and get a new credit card number every three months until a company like Topps — or rather one that people really care about — goes through the meat grinder and closes its doors.

Where’s the beef?


Categories: PCI Tags:

Poetic Weekly Security Review

October 5th, 2007 1 comment

Security-related news from the week…

Two hundred grand
is what you’ll pay,
for that illegally-scored music
says the RIAA.

Big data breaches make a really bad rap,
Think ABN Amro, eBay and the GAP.
Retailers recovering from a big breach black eye
Tell the Payment Card Council
"We hate PCI"

The Representative’s children
download images of lust
He thrilled some high schoolers
with an eyeful of bust!

The Feds were determined
to save Arnie’s day…
nuked ca dot gov
and the ‘Net went away

Extra screen RC toys,
says the ole TSA
next thing you’ll know
they’ll take your Webkinz away

The poor DHS
they’re feeling quite small
They DDoS’d themselves
with a big "Reply-All"

Microsoft’s looking
to increase their wealth
by putting online
your records of health

You’d think that a government
like that of Big Mass.
wouldn’t send out my social
and show their incompetent ass

The experts are puzzled
they say "Storm’s a bot!"
The one thing they’re sure of
is something it’s not.

It’s not easy to corner
it’s causing us fear
for the nextgen of malware
is already here

The Great Firewall of China
Oy!  Vadda mess!
Now it turns out
they block RSS!

The House Committee on Commerce
probes the wiretapping NSA
While the Air Force tried bombs
to make enemies gay?

And finally a comment
on Ex-czar Richard Clarke
whose ideas on security
leave our rights in the dark

We don’t need any more laws
to control what you can’t,
stick to fiction my friend
I’ll take care of the rants


Categories: Jackassery, Poetry Tags:

IDC Study Suggests Security Drives Open Source Technology Deployment In Asia/Pacific

October 4th, 2007 11 comments

I’m still not sure I’ve fully digested the conclusion that this IDC study suggests and I’m not in a position to currently spend $4500 on the full report to do so.  However, I found the article which summarizes the catalysts of Open Source adoption in APAC countries to be very interesting:

The top most influential factor for deploying open source
technology in Australia, Korea, India and the People’s Republic of
China is better protection against security breaches, according to a
survey by IDC. "The results indicate that organizations perceived open
source technology as providing better security compared to proprietary
products," said Prianka Srinivasan, a software market analyst with IDC

Huh.  Really?  Security is the top reason?  That’s intriguing but makes my right eyebrow curl.

survey results also suggest that organizations in India and the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) deployed open source technology more
than their counterparts in Australia and Korea. Furthermore, as
expected, a larger number of small and medium size businesses (SMBs) in
all four countries were deploying open source technology compared to
large businesses.

The IDC survey measured key factors contributing to the deployment
of open source technology. Top factors cited by respondents include:

  • Provides better protection against security
  • Budget constraints
  • Sufficient support from vendors
  • Availability of required functionalities
  • Better management tools and utilities
  • Recommended by fellow industry peers
  • Preference of open standard adoption compared to proprietary products

"Though cost-efficiency remains a key decision factor, the results
also suggest that organizations look forward to leverage open source
technology to primarily fulfill their requirements for specific
functionalities instead of widespread deployment," said Srinivasan.

When segmenting the data by company size, it emerged that SMBs in
all four countries deployed open source technology primarily to ensure
protection from security threats, which is similar to large
organizations in Australia, India and the PRC. Large organizations from
Korea, however, cited better management tools and utilities as the
leading factor.

I get all that and it sounds reasonable if not somewhat out of order.

The part I’m grappling with is that while security is represented here as the number one reason for adoption, I have this funny feeling that in some of these "developing" nations (from an IT perspective) that the word FREE really is the prime motivator and security, management, features, etc. are gravy.  I can’t really argue with the study since I didn’t conduct it, but it just doesn’t jive for me.

I‘m going to (gasp!) step into the role of agent provocateur here and suggest that I’m not convinced that Open Source security software yields a more secure business, especially in the SMB realm.  SMB’s don’t have security experts, so how is it that these folks who can barely install toner cartridges can perform source code analysis? 

I think that perhaps the thought of having many people’s eyeballs on the source code may deliver an advantage as an extended QA function from a security perspective at which point people "feel" more secure but it’s the monkeys configuring and deploying said software one needs to be worried about.

Let’s be real.  Given a choice to download pre-compiled binaries, ISO’s or virtual appliances versus source code that requires library linking and compiling, which route is an SMB going to take?  Right.

The last paragraph from IDC’s tickler really cements my thinking on this matter:

"IDC believes that open source technology and software will appear
in the higher end of the application stack in the coming years.
Commercial vendors of open source software will need to provide
extensive support and training services, as well as address the issues
of interoperability, in order to take advantage of the addressable
market for open source technology in the region," added Srinivasan.

Um, yep.  I’m willing to bet that Open Source will continue to be deployed in these developing countries with SMB’s as a way to offset operational expenditures — at least at first.  Then the issue of long term vendor support will rare its ugly head.   Sometimes the security of "free" is outweighed by the insecurity of "unsupported."

Using the security market as an example, we’ve obviously seen the success of companies like Sourcefire, Tenable and StillSecure with their Open Source and Open Source derivative licensing and support mechanisms.  I guess I’d really need to understand how IDC is defining Open Source in their study because I feel it may have made a difference as to how I reacted.

As we move along, I reckon we’ll see a burgeoning market for companies whose offerings focus on providing general sets open source software support.  They are around today, but the number and type of applications usually prove to be quite small.

From the opposite angle, I think we’ll also see the proliferation of hosted applications in the SaaS realm which are based on OSS and may have tiered levels of usage and support…sort of like GoogleApps but with Open Source.  If it’s hosted, you’ve got a single neck to choke.

What do you think?  If you were in an SMB’s shoes, would you rank security as the number one reason you’d adopt Open Source? 



Read more…

Categories: Open Source Tags:

Follow-up to Amazon MP3 Watermarking

October 3rd, 2007 1 comment

AmazonbustAs a follow-up to my blog entry here regarding and MP3 Watermarking…

Alex Halderman over at the Freedom To Tinker blog yesterday posted an entry that seems to confirm the theory that is not individually tagging each MP3 file purchased and that any file downloaded with the same title is identical to that downloaded by another user:

Last week launched a DRM-free music store.
It sells tracks from two major labels and many independents in the
unprotected MP3 file format. In addition to being DRM-free, Amazon’s
songs are not individually watermarked. This is an important step
forward for the music industry.

Some content companies see individualized watermarks as a
consumer-friendly alternative to DRM. Instead of locking down files
with restrictive technology, individualized watermarking places
information in them that identifies the purchasers, who could
conceivably face legal action if the files were publicly shared. Apple
individually watermarks DRM-free tracks sold on iTunes, but every
customer who purchases a particular track from Amazon receives the
exact same file.

The company has stated as much, and colleagues and I
confirmed this by buying a small number of files with different Amazon
accounts and verifying that they were bit-for-bit identical. (As Wired reports,
some files on Amazon’s store have been watermarked by the record
labels, but each copy sold contains the same mark. The labels could use
these marks to determine that a pirated track originated from Amazon,
but they can’t trace a file to a particular user.)

This is good news and I thank Alex and his friends for doing the dirty work and actually confirming these statements instead of just parroting them back and taking Amazon’s word for it.  The rest of Alex’s blog entry provides good insight as to the risks — legal, security and otherwise — that swirl around the contentious topic of DRM.  Please read the article in its entirety.


Categories: IP/Data Leakage Tags:

On Bandwidth and Botnets…

October 3rd, 2007 No comments

An interesting story in this morning’s New York Times titled "Unlike U.S., Japanese Push Fiber Over Profit" talked about Japan’s long term investment efforts to build the world’s first all-fiber national network and how Japan leads the world’s other industrialized nations, including the U.S., in low-cost, high speed services centered around Internet access.  Check out this illustration:

The article states that approximately 8 million Japanese subscribe to the fiber-enabled service offerings that provides performance at roughly 30 times that of a corresponding xDSL offering.

For about $55 a month, subscribers have access to up to 100Mb/s download capacity.

France Telecom is rumored to be rolling out services that offer 2.5Gb/s downloads!

I have Verizon FIOS which is delivered via fiber to my home and subscribe at a 20Mb/s download tier.

What I find very interesting about the emergence of this sort of service is that if you look at a typical consumer’s machine, it’s not well hardened, not monitored and usually easily compromised.  At this rate, the bandwidth of some of these compromise-ready consumer’s home connectivity is eclipsing that of mid-tier ISP’s!

This is even more true, through anecdotal evidence gathering, of online gamers who are typically also P2P filesharing participants and early adopters of new shiny kit — it’s a Bot Herder’s dream come true.

At xDSL speeds of a few Mb/s, a couple of infected machines as participants in a targeted synchronized fanning DDoS attack can easily take down a corporate network connected to the Internet via a DS3 (45Mb/s.)  Imagine what a botnet of a couple of 60Mb/s connected endpoints could do — how about a couple of thousand?  Hundreds of thousands?

This is great news for some as this sort of capacity will be economically beneficial to cyber-criminals as it reduces the exposure risk of Botnet Herders; they don’t have to infect nearly the same amount of machines to deliver exponentially higher attack yields given the size of the pipes.  Scary.

I’d suggest that using the lovely reverse DNS entries that service providers use to annotate logical hop connectivity will be even more freely used to target these high-speed users; you know, like (fictional): (7x.y4.9z.1)

As an interesting anecdote from the service provider perspective, the need for "Clean Pipes" becomes even more important and the providers will be even more so financially motivated to prevent abuse of their backbone long-hauls by infected machines.

This, in turn, will drive the need for much more intelligent, higher throughput infrastructure and security service layers to mitigate the threat which is forcing folks to take a very hard look about how they architect their networks and apply security.


Opinions Are Like De-Perimeterized Virtualized Servers — Everyone’s Got One, Even Larry Seltzer

October 2nd, 2007 3 comments

Dude, maybe if we put bras on our heads and chant incoherently we can connect directly to the Internet…

Somebody just pushed my grumpy button!  I’m all about making friends and influencing people, but the following article titled "You Wouldn’t Actually Turn Off Your Firewall, Would You?" is simply a steaming heap of unqualified sensationalism, plain and simple. 

It doesn’t really deserve my attention but the FUD it attempts to promulgate is nothing short of Guinness material and I’m wound up because my second Jiu Jitsu class of the week isn’t until tomorrow night and I’ve got a hankering for an arm-bar.

Larry Seltzer from eWeek decided to pen an opinion piece which attempts for no good reason to collapse two of my favorite topics into a single discussion: de-perimeterization (don’t moan!) and virtualization. 

What one really has to do directly with the other within the context of this discussion, I don’t rightly understand, but it makes for good drama I suppose.

Larry starts off with a question we answered in this very blog (here, here, here and here) weeks ago:

Opinion: I’m unclear on what deperimeterization means. But if it means putting
company systems directly on the Internet then it’s a big mistake.

OK, that’s a sort of a strange way to state an opinion and hinge an article, Larry. Why don’t you go to the source provided by those who coined the term, here.  Once you’re done there, you can read the various clarifications and debates above. 

But before we start, allow me to just point out that almost every single remote salesperson who has a laptop that sits in a Starbucks or stays in a hotel is often connected "…directly on the Internet."  Oh, but wait, they’re sitting behind some sort of NAT gateway broadband-connected super firewall, ya?  Certainly the defenses at Joe’s Java shack must be as stringent as a corporate firewall, right?  <snore>

For weeks now I’ve been thinking on and off about "deperimeterization,"
a term that has been used in a variety of ways for years. Some analyst talk got it in the news recently.

So you’ve been thinking about this for weeks and don’t mention if
you’ve spoken to anyone from the Jericho Forum (it’s quite obvious you haven’t read their 10 commandments) or anyone mentioned in the article
save for a couple of analysts who decided to use a buzzword to get some
press?  Slow newsday, huh?

At least the goal of deperimeterization is to enhance security.
That I can respect. The abstract point seems to be to identify the
resources worth protecting and to protect them. "Resources" is defined
very, very broadly.

The overreacting approach to this goal is to say
that the network firewall doesn’t fit into it. Why not just put systems
on the Internet directly and protect the resources on them that are
worthy of protection with appropriate measures?

Certainly the network firewall fits into it.  Stateful inspection firewalls are, for the most part today, nothing more than sieves that filter out the big chunks.  They serve that purpose very nicely.  They allow port 80 and port 443 traffic through unimpeded.  Sweet.  That’s value.

Even the inventors of stateful inspection will tell you so (enter one Shlomo Kramer and Nir Zuk.)  Most "firewalls" (in the purest definition) don’t do much more than stateful ACL’s do today and are supplemented with IDS’s, IPS’s, Web Application Firewalls, Proxies, URL Filters, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spam, Anti-Malware and DDoS controls for that very reason.

Yup, the firewall is just swell, Larry.  Sigh.

I hope I’m not misreading the approach, but that’s what I got out of
our news article: "BP has taken some 18,000 of its 85,000 laptops off
its LAN and allowed them to connect directly to the Internet,
[Forrester Research analysts Robert Whiteley and Natalie Lambert]
said." This is incredible, if true.

Not for nothing, but rather than depend on a "couple of analysts," did you think to contact someone from BP and ask them what they meant instead of speculating and deriding the effort before you condemned it?  Obviously not:

What does it mean? Perhaps it just means that they can connect
to the VPN through a regular ISP connection? That wouldn’t be news. On
the other hand, what else can it mean? Whitely and Lambert seem to view
deperimeterization as a means to improve performance and lower cost. If
you need to protect the data on a notebook computer they say you should
do it with encryption and "data access controls." This is the
philosophy in the 2001 article in which the term was coined.

Honestly, who in Sam’s Hill cares what "Whitely and Lambert" seem to view deperimeterization as?  They didn’t coin the term, they butchered its true intent and you still don’t apparently know how to answer your own question. 

Further, you also reference a conceptual document floated back in 2001 ignoring the author’s caution that "The actual concept behind the entire paper never really flew, but you may find that too thought provoking."  Onward.

But of course you can’t just put a system on Comcast and have it
access corporate resources. VPNs aren’t just about security, they
connect a remote client into the corporate network. So unless everyone
in the corporation has subnet mask of there needs to be some
network management going on.

Firstly, nobody said that network management should be avoided, where the heck did you get that!?

Secondly, if you don’t have firewalls in the way, sure you can — but that would be cheating the point of the debate.  So we won’t go there.  Yet.  OK, I lied, here we go.

Thirdly, if you look at what you will get with, say, Vista and Longhorn, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.  You can simply connect to the Internet and using encryption and mutual authentication, gain access to internal corporate resources without the need for a VPN client at all.  If you need a practical example, you can read about it here, where I saw it with my own eyes.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s what they actually want to do. This certainly sounds like the idea behind the Jericho Forum, the minds behind deperimeterization. This New York Times blog echoes the thoughts.

Maybe…but we’re just dreamers.  I dare say, Larry, that Bill Cheswick has forgotten more about security than you and I know.  It’s obvious you’ve not read much about information assurance or information survivability but are instead content to myopically center on what "is" rather than that which "should be."

Not everyone has this cavalier attitude towards deperimeterization. This article from the British Computer Society
seems a lot more conservative in approach. It refers to protecting
resources "as if [they were] directly exposed to the Internet." It
speaks of using "network segmentation, strict access controls, secure
protocols and systems, authentication and encryption at multiple

Cavalier!?  What’s so cavalier about suggesting that systems ought to be stand-alone defensible in a hostile environment as much as they are behind one of those big, bad $50,000 firewalls!? I bet you money I can put a hardened host on the Internet today without a network firewall in front of it and it will be just as resistant to attack. 

But here’s the rub, nobody said that to get from point A to point B one would not pragmatically apply host-based hardening and layered security such as (wait for it) a host-based firewall or HIPS?  Gasp!

What’s the difference between filtering TCP handshakes or blocking based on the 4/5 tupule at a network level versus doing it at the host when you’re only interested in scaling to performance and commensurately secured levels of a single host?  Except for tens of thousands of dollars.  How about Nada?  (That’s Spanish for "Damn this discussion is boring…")

And whilst my point above is in response to your assertions regarding "clients," the same can be said for "servers."  If I use encryption and mutual authentication, short of DoS/DDoS, what’s the difference?

That sounds like a shift in emphasis, moving resources more
towards internal protection, but not ditching the perimeter. I might
have some gripes with this—it sounds like the Full Employment Act for
Security Consultants, for example—but it sounds plausible as a useful

I can’t see how you’d possibly have anything bad to say about this approach especially when you consider that the folks that make up the Jericho Forum are CISO’s of major corporations, not scrappy consultants looking for freelance pen-testing.

When considering the protection of specific resources, Whitely and
Lambert go beyond encryption and data access controls. They talk
extensively about "virtualization" as a security mechanism. But their
use of the term virtualization sounds like they’re really just talking
about terminal access. Clearly they’re just abusing a hot buzzword.
It’s true that virtualization can be involved in such setups, but it’s
hardly necessary for it and arguably adds little value. I wrote a book
on Windows Terminal Server back in 2000 and dumb Windows clients with
no local state were perfectly possible back then.

So take a crappy point and dip it in chocolate, eh?   Now you’re again tainting the vision of de-perimeterization and convoluting it with the continued ramblings of a "couple of analysts."  Nice.

Whitely and Lambert also talk in this context about how updating in
a virtualized environment can be done "natively" and is therefore
better. But they must really mean "locally," and this too adds no
value, since a non-virtualized Terminal Server has the same advantage.

What is the security value in this? I’m not completely clear
on it, since you’re only really protecting the terminal, which is a
low-cost item. The user still has a profile with settings and data. You
could use virtual machines to prevent the user from making permanent
changes to their profile, but Windows provides for mandatory (static,
unchangeable) profiles already, and has for ages. Someone explain the
value of this to me, because I don’t get it.

Well, that makes two of us..

And besides, what’s it got to do with deperimeterization? The
answer is that it’s a smokescreen to cover the fact that there are no
real answers for protecting corporate resources on a client system
exposed directly to the Internet.

Well, I’m glad we cleared that up.  Absolutely nothing.  As to the smokescreen comment, see above.  I triple-dog-dare you.  My Linux workstation and Mac are sitting on "the Internet" right now.  Since I’ve accomplished the impossible, perhaps I can bend light for you next?

The reasonable approach is to treat local and perimeter security as
a "belt and suspenders" sort of thing, not a zero sum game. Those who
tell you that perimeter protections are a failure because there have
been breaches are probably just trying to sell you protection at some
other layer.

…or they are pointing out to you that you’re treating the symptom and not the problem.  Again, the Jericho Forum is made up of CISO’s of major multinational corporations, not VP’s of Marketing from security vendors or analyst firms looking to manufacture soundbites.

Now I have to set a reminder for myself in Outlook for about
two years from now to write a column on the emerging trend towards

Actually, Larry, set that appointment back a couple of months…it’s already been said.  De-perimeterization has been called many things already, such as re-perimeterization or radical externalization.

I don’t really give much merit to what you choose to call it, but I call it a good idea that should be discussed further and driven forward in consensus such that it can be used as leverage against the software and OS vendors to design and build more secure systems that don’t rely on band-aids.

…but hey, I’m just a dreamer.


Interviewed for Information Security Magazine – Security 7 Award Winners Article

October 2nd, 2007 2 comments

This month’s Information Security Magazine features the 2007 Security 7 Award Winners.  This year’s winners represent an excellent cross-section of security professionals in seven industries, each with very diverse and interesting backgrounds, approaches and career paths:

  • Michael Assante, Infrastructure Protection Strategist, Idaho National Labs
  • Kirk Bailey, CISO, University of Washington
  • Michael K. Daly, Director Enterprise Security Services, Raytheon
  • Sasan Hamidi, CISO, Interval International
  • Timothy McKnight, VP&CISO, Northrup Grumman
  • Mark Olson, Manager of IS Security and DR, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Simon Riggs, Global Head of Security, Reuters

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!  I know four of them and they’re all excellent representatives of our profession.

I was one of the inaugural Security 7 award winners back in 2005 in the financial services category when I was a CISO and was interviewed over the phone recently by Michael Mimoso from the magazine as a "catching up with…" piece that complimented the profiles of this year’s winners. 

Please forgive the rather colloquial nature of the transcription of the discussion, it was very much a stream of consciousness as part of a 20 minute conversation that has been edited down for size.  Some of the concatenated sentences seem to contradict one another…I didn’t get to see it before it went to press ;(  Nonetheless, I appreciate the opportunity, Michael.

You can find the entire story here and my blurb hereShimmy, as big as a pain in the ass as you are, you’ll notice that I appropriately state that I owe my blogging to you.  Thanks, pal.

For reference, here is a listing of the 2005 and 2006 winners:

    Edward Amoroso (Telecommunications)
  Hans-Ottmar Beckmann (Manufacturing)

  Dave Dittrich (Education)

  Patrick Heim (Health care)

  Christofer Hoff (Financial services)

  Richard Jackson (Energy/utilities)

  Charles McGann (Government)

  Stephen Bonner (Financial services)
  Larry Brock (Manufacturing)
  Dorothy Denning (Education)
  Robert Garigue (Telecommunications)
  Andre Gold (Retail)
  Philip Heneghan (Government)
  Craig Shumard (Health care)

I’d also like to call out and pay tribute to one of the 2006 award winners, Robert Garigue, who passed away in January.  May he rest in peace.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Virtualization Security Training?

October 1st, 2007 10 comments

I just read an interesting article written by Patrick Thibodeau from Computerworld which described the difficulties IT managers are having finding staffers with virtualization experience and expertise:

As more organizations adopt server virtualization software, they’re
also looking to hire people who have worked with the technology in live

But such workers can be hard to find, as Joel Sweatte, IT
manager at East Carolina University’s College of Technology and
Computer Science, recently discovered when he placed a help-wanted ad
for an IT systems engineer with virtualization skills.

Sweatte received about 40 applications for the job at the
Greenville, N.C.-based university, but few of the applicants had any
virtualization experience, and he ended up hiring someone who had none.
“I’m fishing in an empty ocean,” Sweatte said.

To give his new hire a crash course in virtualization,
Sweatte brought him to market leader VMware Inc.’s annual user
conference in San Francisco last month. “That’s a major expenditure for
a university,” Sweatte said of the conference and travel costs. “[But]
I wanted him to take a drink from the fire hose.”

If the industry is having trouble finding IT generalists with training in virtualization security, I can only imagine the dearth of qualified security experts in the hopper.  I wonder when the first SANS course in virtualization security will surface?

I’m interested in understanding how folks are approaching security training for their server ops, audit, compliance and security teams.  If you wouldn’t mind, please participate in the poll below.  This is the first time I’ve used Visu Polls, and you’ll need to enable scripting/Flash to make this work:

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