Archive for the ‘Punditry’ Category

Breaking News: Successful SCADA Attack Confirmed – Mogull Is pwned!

December 13th, 2007 31 comments

A couple of weeks ago, right after I wrote my two sets of 2008 (in)security predictions (here and here), Mogull informed me that he was penning an article for Dark Reading on how security predictions are useless.  He even sent me a rough draft to rub it in.

His Dark Reading article is titled "The Perils of Predictions – and Predicting Peril" which you can read here.  The part I liked best was, of course, the multiple mentions that some idiot was going to predict an attack on SCADA infrastructure:

Oh, and there is one specific prediction I’ll make for next year:
Someone will predict a successful SCADA attack, and it won’t happen.
Until it does.

So, I’m obviously guilty as charged.  Yup, I predicted it.  Yup, I think it will happen.

In fact, it already has…

You see, Mogull is a huge geek and has invested large sums of money in his new home and outfitted it with a complete home automation system.  In reality, this home automation system is basically just a scaled down version of a SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.)  Controlling sensors and integrating telemetry with centralized reporting and control…

Rich and I are always IM’ing and emailing one another, so a few days ago before Rich left town for an international junket, I sent him a little email asking him to review something I was working on.  The email contained a link to my "trusted" website.

The page I sent him to was actually trojaned with the 0day POC code for the QT RTSP vulnerability from a couple of weeks ago.  I guess Rich’s Leopard ipfw rules need to be modified because right after he opened it, the trojan executed and then phoned home (to me) and I was able to open a remote shell on TCP/554 right to his Mac which incidentally controls his home automation system.  I totally pwn his house.

CctvSo a couple of days ago, Rich went out of town and I waited patiently for the DR article to post.  Now that it’s up, I have exacted my revenge.

I must say that I think Rich’s choice of automation controllers was top-shelf, but I think I might have gone with a better hot tub controller because I seem to have confused it and now it will only heat to 73 degrees.

I also think he should have gone with better carpet.

I’m pretty sure his wife is going absolutely bonkers given the fact that the lights in the den keep blinking to the beat of a Lionel Ritchie song and the garage door opener keeps trying to attack the gardener.  I will let you know that I’m being a gentleman and not peeking at the CCTV images…much.

Let this be a lesson to you all.  When it comes to predicting SCADA attacks, don’t hassle the Hoff!


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And Now Some Useful 2008 Information Survivability Predictions…

December 7th, 2007 1 comment

So, after the obligatory dispatch of gloom and doom as described in my
2008 (in)Security Predictions, I’m actually going to highlight some of
the more useful things in the realm of Information Security that I
think are emerging as we round the corner toward next year.

They’re not really so much predictions as rather some things to watch.

Unlike folks who can only seem to talk about desperation, futility
and manifest destiny or (worse yet) "anti-pundit pundits" who try to
suggest that predictions and forecasting are useless (usually because
they suck at it,) I gladly offer a practical roundup of impending
development, innovation and some incremental evolution for your

You know, good news.

As Mogull mentioned,
I don’t require a Cray XMP48, chicken bones & voodoo or a
prehensile tail to make my picks.  Rather I grab a nice cold glass of
Vitamin G (Guiness) and sit down and think for a minute or two,
dwelling on my super l33t powers of common sense and pragmatism with just a
pinch of futurist wit.

Many of these items have been underway for some time, but 2008 will
be a banner year for these topics as well as the previously-described
"opportunities for improvement…"

That said, let’s roll with some of the goodness we can look forward to in the coming year.  This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but some examples I thought were important and interesting:

  1. More robust virtualization security toolsets with more native hypervisor/vmm accessibility
    it didn’t start with the notion of security baked in, virtualization
    for all of its rush-to-production bravado will actually yield some
    interesting security solutions that help tackle some very serious
    challenges.  As the hypervisors become thinner, we’re going to see the
    management and security toolsets gain increased access to the guts of
    the sausage machine in order to effect security appropriately and this
    will be the year we see the virtual switch open up to third parties and
    more robust APIs for security visibility and disposition appear.
  2. The focus on information centric security survivability graduates from v1.0 to v1.1
    to secure the network and the endpoint is like herding cats and folks
    are tired of dumping precious effort on deploying kitty litter around
    the Enterprise to soak up the stinky spots.  Rather, we’re going to see
    folks really start to pay attention to information classification,
    extensible and portable policy definition, cradle-to-grave lifecycle
    management, and invest in technology to help get them there.

    the current maturity of features/functions such as NAC and DLP have
    actually helped us get closer to managing our information and
    information-related risks.  The next generation of these offerings in
    combination with many of the other elements I describe herein and their
    consolidation into the larger landscape of management suites will
    actually start to deliver on the promise of focusing on what matters —
    the information.

  3. Robust Role-based policy, Identity and access management coupled with entitlement, geo-location and federation…oh and infrastructure, too!
    getting closer to being able to affect policy not only based upon just
    source/destination IP address, switch and router topology and the odd entry in active directory on
    a per-application basis, but rather holistically based upon robust
    lifecycle-focused role-based policy engines that allow us to tie in all of the major
    enterprise components that sit along the information supply-chain.

    Who, what, where, when, how and ultimately why will be the decision
    points considered with the next generation of solutions in this space.
    Combine the advancements here with item #2 above, and someone might
    actually start smiling.

    If you need any evidence of the convergence/collision of the application-oriented with the network-oriented approach and a healthy overlay of user entitlement provisioning, just look at the about-face Cisco just made regarding TrustSec.  Of course, we all know that it’s not a *real* security concern/market until Cisco announces they’ve created the solution for it 😉

  4. Next Generation Networks gain visibility as they redefine the compute model of today
    as there exists a Moore’s curve for computing, there exists an
    overlapping version for networking, it just moves slower given the
    footprint.  We’re seeing the slope of this curve starting to trend up
    this coming year, and it’s much more than bigger pipes, although that
    doesn’t hurt either…

    These next generation networks will
    really start to emerge visibly in the next year as the existing
    networking models start to stretch the capabilities and capacities of
    existing architecture and new paradigms drive requirements that dictate
    a much more modular, scalable, resilient, high-performance, secure and
    open transport upon which to build distributed service layers.

    networks and service layers are designed, composed, provisioned,
    deployed and managed — and how that intersects with virtualization and
    grid/utility computing — will start to really sink home the message
    that "in the cloud" computing has arrived.  Expect service providers
    and very large enterprises to adapt these new computing climates first
    with a trickle-down to smaller business via SaaS and hosted service
    operators to follow.

    BT’s 21CN
    (21st Century Network) is a fantastic example of what we can expect
    from NGN as the demand for higher speed, more secure, more resilient and more extensible interconnectivity really
    takes off.

  5. Grid and distributed utility computing models will start to creep into security
    really interesting by-product of the "cloud compute" model is that as
    data, storage, networking, processing, etc. get distributed, so shall
    security.  In the grid model, one doesn’t care where the actions take
    place so long as service levels are met and the experiential and
    business requirements are delivered.  Security should be thought of in
    exactly the same way. 

    The notion that you can point to a
    physical box and say it performs function ‘X’ is so last Tuesday.
    Virtualization already tells us this.  So, imagine if your security
    processing isn’t performed by a monolithic appliance but instead is
    contributed to in a self-organizing fashion wherein the entire
    ecosystem (network, hosts, platforms, etc.) all contribute in the
    identification of threats and vulnerabilities as well as function to
    contain, quarantine and remediate policy exceptions.

    Sort of sounds like that "self-defending network" schpiel, but not focused on the network and with common telemetry and distributed processing of the problem.

    Check out Red Lambda’s cGrid technology for an interesting view of this model.

  6. Precision versus accuracy will start to legitimize prevention as
    the technology starts to allow us the confidence to start turning the
    corner beyond detection

    In a sad commentary on the last few
    years of the security technology grind, we’ve seen the prognostication
    that intrusion detection is dead and the deadpan urging of the security
    vendor cesspool convincing us that we must deploy intrusion prevention
    in its stead. 
    Since there really aren’t many pure-play intrusion detection systems
    left anyway, the reality is that most folks who have purchased IPSs
    seldom put them in in-line mode and when they do, they seldom turn on
    the "prevention" policies and instead just have them detect attacks,
    blink a bit and get on with it.

    Why?  Mostly because while the
    threats have evolved the technology implemented to mitigate them hasn’t
    — we’re either stuck with giant port/protocol colanders or
    signature-driven IPSs that are nothing more than IDSs with the ability
    to send RST packets.

    So the "new" generation of technology has
    arrived and may offer some hope of bridging that gap.  This is due to
    not only really good COTS hardware but also really good network
    processors and better software written (or re-written) to take
    advantage of both.  Performance, efficacy and efficiency have begun to
    give us greater visibility as we get away from making decisions based
    on ports/protocols (feel free to debate proxies vs. ACLs vs. stateful
    inspection…) and move to identifying application usage and getting us
    close to being able to make "real time" decisions on content in context
    by examining the payload and data.  See #2 above.

    precision versus accuracy discussion is focused around being able to
    really start trusting in the ability for prevention technology to
    detect, defend and deter against "bad things" with a fidelity and
    resolution that has very low false positive rates.

    We’re getting closer with the arrival of technology such as Palo Alto Network’s solutions
    — you can call them whatever you like, but enforcing both detection
    and prevention using easy-to-define policies based on application (and
    telling the difference between any number of apps all using port
    80/443) is a step in the right direction.

  7. The consumerization of IT will cause security and IT as we know it to die radically change
    I know it’s heretical but 2008 is going to really push the limits of
    the existing IT and security architectures to their breaking points, which is
    going to mean that instead of saying "no," we’re going to have to focus
    on how to say "yes, but with this incremental risk" and find solutions for an every increasingly mobile and consumerist enterprise. 

    We’ve talked about this before, and most security folks curl up into a fetal position when you start mentioning the adoption by the enterprise of social
    neworking, powerful smartphones, collaboration tools, etc.  The fact is that the favorable economics, agility , flexibility and efficiencies gained with the adoption of consumerization of IT outweigh the downsides in the long run.  Let’s not forget the new generation of workers entering the workforce. 

    So, since information is going to be leaking from our Enterprises like a sieve on all manners of devices and by all manner of methods, it’s going to force our hands and cause us to focus on being information centric and stop worrying about the "perimeter problem," stop focusing on the network and the host, and start dealing with managing the truly important assets while allowing our employees to do their jobs in the most effective, collaborative and efficient methods possible.

    This disruption will be a good thing, I promise.  If you don’t believe me, ask BP — one of the largest enterprises on the planet.  Since 2006 they’ve put some amazing initiatives into play:

    like this little gem:

    Oil giant BP is pioneering a "digital consumer" initiative
    that will give some employees an allowance to buy their own IT
    equipment and take care of their own support needs.

    project, which is still at the pilot stage, gives select BP staff an
    annual allowance — believed to be around $1,000 — to buy their own
    computing equipment and use their own expertise and the manufacturer’s
    warranty and support instead of using BP’s IT support team.

    to the scheme is tightly controlled and those employees taking part
    must demonstrate a certain level of IT proficiency through a computer
    driving licence-style certification, as well as signing a diligent use

    …combined with this:

    than rely on a strong network perimeter to secure its systems, BP has
    decided that these laptops have to be capable of coping with the worst
    that malicious hackers can throw at it, without relying on a network

    Ken Douglas, technology director of BP, told the UK
    Technology Innovation & Growth Forum in London on Monday that
    18,000 of BP’s 85,000 laptops now connect straight to the internet even
    when they’re in the office.

  8. Desktop Operating Systems become even more resilient
    The first steps taken by Microsoft and Apple in Vista and OS X (Leopard) as examples have begun to
    chip away at plugging up some of the security holes that
    have plagued them due to the architectural "feature" that providing an open execution runtime model delivers.  Honestly, nothing short of a do-over will ultimately mitigate this problem, so instead of suggesting that incremental improvement is worthless, we should recognize that our dark overlords are trying to makethings better.

    Elements in Vista such as ASLR, NX, and UAC combined with integrated firewalling, anti-spyware/anti-phishing, disk encryption, integrated rights management, protected mode IE mode, etc. are all good steps in a "more right" direction than previous offerings.  They’re in response to lessons learned.

    On the Mac, we also see ASLR, sandboxing, input management, better firewalling, better disk encryption, which are also notable improvements.  Yes, we’ve got a long way to go, but this means that OS vendors are paying more attention which will lead to more stable and secure platforms upon which developers can write more secure code.

    It will be interesting to see how the intersection of these "more secure" OS’s factor with virtualization security discussed in #1 above.

    Vista SP1 is due to ship in 2008 and will include APIs through which third-party security products can work with kernel patch protection on Vista
    x64, more secure BitLocker drive encryption and a better Elliptical Curve Cryptography PRNG (pseudo-random number generator.)  Follow-on releases to Leopard will likely feature security enhancements to those delivered this year.

  9. Compliance stops being a dirty word  & Risk Management moves beyond buzzword
    we typically see the role of information security described as blocking and tackling; focused on managing threats and
    vulnerabilities balanced against the need to be "compliant" to some
    arbitrary set of internal and external policies.  In many people’s
    assessment then, compliance equals security.  This is an inaccurate and
    unfortunate misunderstanding.

    In 2008, we’ll see many of the functions of security — administrative, policy and operational — become much more visible and transparent to the business and we’ll see a renewed effort placed on compliance within the scope of managing risk because the former is actually a by-product of a well-executed risk management strategy.

    We have compliance as an industry today because we manage technology threats and vulnerabilities and don’t manage risk.  Compliance is actually nothing more than a way of forcing transparency and plugging a gap between the two.  For most, it’s the best they’ve got.

    What’s traditionally preventing the transition from threat/vulnerability management to risk management is the principal focus on technology with a lack of a good risk assessment framework and thus a lack of understanding of business impact.

    The availability of mature risk assessment frameworks (OCTAVE, FAIR, etc.) combined with the maturity of IT and governance frameworks (CoBIT, ITIL) and the readiness of the business and IT/Security cultures to accept risk management as a language and actionset with which they need to be conversant will yield huge benefits this year.

    Couple that with solutions like Skybox and you’ve got the makings of a strategic risk management strategy that can bring the security more closely aligned to the business.

  10. Rich Mogull will, indeed, move in with his mom and start speaking Klingon
    ’nuff said.

So, there we have it.  A little bit of sunshine in your otherwise gloomy day.


2008 Security Predictions — They’re Like Elbows…

December 3rd, 2007 6 comments

Yup.  Security predictions are like elbows.  Most everyone’s got at least two, they’re usually ignored unless rubbed the wrong way but when used appropriately, can be devastating in a cage match…

So, in the spirit of, well, keeping up with the Jones’, I happily present you with Hoff’s 2008 Information (in)Security Predictions.  Most of them are feature attacks/attack vectors.  A couple are ooh-aah trends.  Most of them are sadly predictable.  I’ve tried to be more specific than "cybercrime will increase."

I’m really loathe do these, but being a futurist, the only comfort I can take is that nobody can tell me that I’m wrong today 😉

…and in the words of Carnac the Magnificent, "May the winds of the Sahara blow a desert scorpion up your turban…"

  1. Nasty Virtualization Hypervisor Compromise
    As the Hypervisor gets thinner, more of the guts will need to be exposed via API or shed to management and functionality-extending toolsets, expanding the attack surface with new vulnerabilities.  To wit, a Hypervisor-compromising malware will make it’s first in-the-wild appearance to not only produce an exploit, but obfuscate itself thanks to the magic of virtualization in the underlying chipsets.  Hang on to yer britches, the security vendor product marketing SpecOps Generals are going to scramble the fighters with a shock and awe campaign of epic "I told you so" & "AV isn’t dead, it’s just virtualized" proportions…Security "strategery" at it’s finest.

  2. Major Privacy Breach of a Social Networking Site
    With the broadening reach of application extensibility and Web2.0 functionality, we’ll see a major privacy breach via social network sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn or Facebook via the usual suspects (CSRF, XSS, etc.) and via host-based Malware that 0wns unsuspecting Millenials and utilizes the interconnectivity offered to turn these services into a "social botnet" platform with a wrath the likes of which only the ungoldly lovechild of Storm, Melissa, and Slammer could bring…

  3. Integrity Hack of a Major SaaS Vendor
    Expect a serious bit of sliminess to occur with real financial impact to occur from a SaaS vendor’s offering.  With professional cybercrime on the rise, the criminals will go not only where the money is, but also after the data that describes where that money is.  Since much of the security of the SaaS model counts on the integrity and not just the availability of the hosted service, a targeted attack which holds hostage the (non-portable) data and threatens its integrity could have devastating effects on the companies who rely on it.  SalesForce, anyone?
  4. Targeted eBanking Compromise with substantial financial losses
    Get ready for a nasty eBanking focused compromise that starts to unravel the consumer confidence in this convenient utility; not directly because of identity abuse (note I didn’t say identity theft) but because of the business model impact it will bring to the banks.   These types of direct attacks (beyond phishing) will start to push the limits of acceptable loss for the financial institutions and their insurers and will start to move the accountability/responsibility more heavily down to the eBanker.  A tiered service level will surface with greater functionality/higher transaction limits being offered with a trade-off of higher security/less convenience.  Same goes for credit/debit cards…priceless!
  5. A Major state-sponsored espionage and cyberAttack w/disruption of U.S. government function
    We saw some of the more noisy examples of low-level crack attacks via our Chinese friends recently, but given the proliferation of botnets, the inexcusably poor levels of security in government systems and network security, we’ll see a targeted attack against something significant.  It’ll be big.  It’ll be public.  It’ll bring new legislation…Isn’t there some little election happening soon?  This brings us to…
  6. Be-Afraid-A of a SCADA compromise…the lunatics are running the asylum!
    Remember that leaked DHS "turn your generator into a roman candle" video that circulated a couple of months ago?  Get ready to see the real thing on prime time news at 11.  We’ve got decades of legacy controls just waiting for the wrong guy to flip the right switch.  We just saw an "insider" of a major water utility do naughty things, imagine if someone really motivated popped some goofy pills and started playing Tetris with the power grid…imagine what all those little SCADA doodads are hooked to…
  7. A Major Global Service/Logistics/Transportation/Shipping/Supply-Chain Company will be compromised via targeted attack
    A service we take for granted like UPS, FedEx, or DHL will have their core supply chain/logistics systems interrupted causing the fragile underbelly of our global economic interconnectedness to show itself, warts and all.  Prepare for huge chargebacks on next day delivery when all those mofo’s don’t get their self-propelled, remote-controlled flying UFO’s delivered from

  8. Mobile network attacks targeting mobile broadband
    So, you don’t use WiFi because it’s insecure, eh?  Instead, you fire up that Verizon EVDO card plugged into your laptop or tether to your mobile phone instead because it’s "secure."  Well, that’s going to be a problem next year.  Expect to see compromise of the RF you hold so dear as we all scramble to find that next piece of spectrum that has yet to be 0wn3d…Google’s 700Mhz spectrum, you say? Oh, wait…WiMax will save us all…
  9. My .txt file just 0wn3d me!  Is nothing sacred!?  Common file formats and protocols to cause continued unnatural acts
    PDF’s, Quicktime, .PPT, .DOC, .XLS.  If you can’t trust the sanctity of the file formats and protocols from Adobe, Apple and Microsoft, who can you trust!?  Expect to see more and more abuse of generic underlying software plumbing providing the conduit for exploit.  Vulnerabilities that aren’t fixed properly combined with a dependence on OS security functionality that’s only half baked is going to mean that the "Burros Gone Wild" video you’re watching on YouTube is going to make you itchy in more ways than one…

  10. Converged SensorNets
    In places like the UK, we’ve seen the massive deployment of CCTV monitoring of the populous.  In places like South Central L.A., we have ballistic geo-location and detection systems to track gunshots.  We’ve got GPS in phones.  In airports we have sniffers, RFID passport processing, biometrics and "Total Recall" nudie scanners.  The PoPo have license plate recognition.  Vegas has facial recognition systems.  Our borders have motion, heat and remote sensing pods.  start knitting this all together and you have massive SensorNets — all networked — and able to track you to military precision.  Pair that with GoogleMaps/Streets and I’ll be able to tell what color underwear you had on at the Checkout counter of your local Qwik-E-Mart when you bought that mocha slurpaccino last Tuesday…please don’t ask me how I know.

  11. Information Centric Security Phase One
    It should come as no surprise that focusing our efforts on the host and the network has led to the spectacular septic tank of security we have today.  We need to focus on content in context and set policies across platform and transport to dictate who, how, when, where, and why the creation, modification, consumption and destruction of data should occur.  In this first generation of DLP/CMF solutions (which are being integrated into the larger base of "Information" centric "assurance" solutions,) we’ve taken the first step along this journey.  What we’ll begin to see in 2008 is the information equivalent of the Mission Impossible self-destructing recording…only with a little more intelligence and less smoke.  Here come the DRM haters…
  12. The Attempted Coup to Return to Centralized Computing with the Paradox of Distributed Data
    Despite the fact that data is being distributed to the far reaches of the Universe, the wonders of economics combined with the utility of some well-timed technology is seeing IT & Security (encouraged by the bean counters) attempting to reel the genie back in the bottle and re-centralize the computing (desktop, server, application and storage) experience back into big boxes tucked safely away in some data center somewhere.  Funny thing is, with utility/grid computing and SaaS, the data center is but an abstraction, too.  Virtualization companies will become our dark overlords as they will control the very fabric of our digital lives…2008 is when we’ll really start to use the web as the platform for the delivery of all applications, served through streamed desktops on thinner and thinner clients.

So, that’s all I could come up with.  I don’t really have a formulaic empirical model like Stiennon.  I just have a Guiness and start complaining.  This is what I came up with.

In more ways than one, I hope I’m terribly wrong on most of these.


[Edit: Please see my follow-on post titled "And Now Some Useful 2008 Information Survivability Predictions" which speak to some interesting less gloomy things I predict to happen in 2008]

I Know It’s Been 4 Months Since I Said it, but “NO! DLP is (Still) NOT the Next Big Thing In Security!”

August 24th, 2007 5 comments

Nope.  Haven’t changed my mind.  Sorry.  Harrington stirred it up and Chuvakin reminded me of it.

OK, so way back in April, on the cusp of one of my normal rages against the (security) machine, I blogged how Data Leakage Protection (DLP) is doomed to be a feature and not a market

I said the same thing about NAC, too.  Makin’ friends and influencin’ people.  That’s me!

Oh my how the emails flew from the VP’s of Marketing & Sales from the various "Flying V’s" (see below)  Good times, good times.

Here’s snippets of what I said:

Besides having the single largest collection of vendors that begin with
the letter ‘V" in one segment of the security space (Vontu, Vericept,
Verdasys, Vormetric…what the hell!?) it’s interesting to see how
quickly content monitoring and protection functionality is approaching
the inflection point of market versus feature definition.

The "evolution" of the security market marches on.

Known by many names, what I describe as content monitoring and
protection (CMP) is also known as extrusion prevention, data leakage or
intellectual property management toolsets.  I think for most, the
anchor concept of digital rights management (DRM) within the Enterprise
becomes glue that makes CMP attractive and compelling; knowing what and
where your data is and how its distribution needs to be controlled is

The difficulty with this technology is the just like any other
feature, it needs a delivery mechanism.  Usually this means yet another
appliance; one that’s positioned either as close to the data as
possible or right back at the perimeter in order to profile and control
data based upon policy before it leaves the "inside" and goes "outside."

I made the point previously that I see this capability becoming a
feature in a greater amalgam of functionality;  I see it becoming table
stakes included in application delivery controllers, FW/IDP systems and
the inevitable smoosh of WAF/XML/Database security gateways (which I
think will also further combine with ADC’s.)

I see CMP becoming part of UTM suites.  Soon.

That being said, the deeper we go to inspect content in order to
make decisions in context, the more demanding the requirements for the
applications and "appliances" that perform this functionality become.
Making line speed decisions on content, in context, is going to be
difficult to solve. 

CMP vendors are making a push seeing this writing on the wall, but
it’s sort of like IPS or FW or URL Filtering…it’s going to smoosh.

Websense acquired PortAuthority.  McAfee acquired Onigma.  Cisco will buy…

I Never Metadata I Didn’t Like…

I didn’t even bother to go into the difficulty and differences in classifying, administering, controlling and auditing structured versus unstructured data, nor did I highlight the differences between those solutions on the market who seek to protect and manage information from leaking "out" (the classic perimeter model) versus management of all content ubiquitously regardless of source or destination.  Oh, then there’s the whole encryption in motion, flight and rest thing…and metadata, can’t forget that…

Yet I digress…let’s get back to industry dynamics.  It seems that Uncle Art is bound and determined to make good on his statement that in three years there will be no stand-alone security companies left.  At this rate, he’s going to buy them all himself!

As we no doubt already know, EMC acquired Tablus. Forrester seems to think this is the beginning of the end of DLP as we know it.  I’m not sure I’d attach *that* much gloom and doom to this specific singular transaction, but it certainly makes my point:

  August 20, 2007

Raschke_2EMC/RSA Drafts Tablus For Deeper Data-Centric Security
The Beginning Of The End Of The Standalone ILP Market

Thomas Raschke

Jonathan Penn, Bill Nagel, Caroline Hoekendijk


EMC expects Tablus to play a key role in
its information-centric security and storage lineup. Tablus’ balanced
information leak prevention (ILP) offering will benefit both sides of
the EMC/RSA house, boosting the latter’s run at the title of
information and risk market leader. Tablus’ data classification
capabilities will broaden EMC’s Infoscape beyond understanding
unstructured data at rest; its structured approach to data detection
and protection will provide a data-centric framework that will benefit
RSA’s security offerings like encryption and key management. While
holding a lot of potential, this latest acquisition by one of the
industry’s heavyweights will require comprehensive integration efforts
at both the technology and strategic level. It will also increase the
pressure on other large security and systems management vendors to
address their organization’s information risk management pain points.
More importantly, it will be remembered as the turning point that led
to the demise of the standalone ILP market as we know it today.

So Mogull will probably (still) disagree, as will the VP’s of Marketing/Sales working for the Flying-V’s who will no doubt barrage me with email again, but it’s inevitable.  Besides, when an analyst firm agrees with you, you can’t be wrong, right Rich!?



The 4th Generation of Security Devices = UTM + Routing & Switching or New Labels = Perfuming a Pig?

June 22nd, 2007 5 comments

That’s it.  I’ve had it.  Again.  There’s no way I’d ever make it as a Marketeer.  <sigh> Pig_costume1_2

I almost wasn’t going to write anything about this particular topic because my response can (and probably should) easily be perceived as and retorted against as a pissy little marketing match between competitors.  Chu don’t like it, Chu don’t gotta read it, capice?

Sue me for telling the truth. {strike that, as someone probably will}

However, this sort of blatant exhalation of so-called revolutionary security product and architectural advances disguised as prophecy is just so, well, recockulous, that I can’t stand it.

I found it funny that the Anti-Hoff (Stiennon) managed to slip another patented advertising editorial Captain Obvious press piece in SC Magazine regarding what can only be described as the natural evolution of network security products that plug into — but are not natively — routing or switching architectures.

I don’t really mind that, but to suggest that somehow this is an original concept is just disingenuous.

Besides trying to wean Fortinet away from the classification as UTM devices (which Richard clearly hates
to be associated with) by suggesting that UTM should be renamed as "Flexible Security Platform," he does a fine job of asserting that a "geologic shift" (I can only assume he means tectonic) is coming soon in the so-called fourth generation of security products.

Of course, he’s completely ignoring the fact that the solution he describes is and has already been deployed for years…but since tectonic shifts usually take millions of years to culminate in something noticeably remarkable, I can understand his confusion.

As you’ll see below, calling these products "Flexible Security Platforms" or "Unified Network Platforms" is merely an arbitrary and ill-conceived hand-waving exercise in an attempt to differentiate in a crowded market.  Open source or COTS, ASIC/FPGA or multi-core Intel…that’s just the packaging and delivery mechanism.  You can tart it up all you want with fancy marketing…

It’s not new, it’s not revolutionary (because it’s already been done) and it sure as hell ain’t the second coming.  I’ll say it again, it’s been here for years.  I personally bought it and deployed it as a customer almost 4 years ago…if you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet, read on.

Here’s how C.O. describes what the company I work for has been doing for 6 years and that he intimates Fortinet will provide that nobody else can:

We are rapidly approaching the advent of the fourth generation
security platform. This is a device that can do all of the security
functions that are lumped in to UTM but are also excellent network
devices at layers two and three. They act as a switch and a router.
They supplant traditional network devices while providing security at
all levels. Their inherent architectural flexibility makes them easy to
fit into existing environments and even make some things possible that
were never possible before. For instance a large enterprise with
several business units could deploy these advanced networking/security
devices at the core and assign virtual security domains to each
business unit while performing content filtering and firewalling
between each virtual domain, thus segmenting the business units and
maximizing the investment in core security devices.

One geologic
shift that will occur thanks to the advent of these fourth generation
security platforms is that networking vendors will be playing catch up,
trying to patch more and more security functions into their
under-powered devices or complicating their go to market message with a
plethora of boxes while the security platform vendors will quickly and
easily add networking functionality to their devices.

generation network security platforms will evolve beyond stand alone
security appliances to encompass routing and switching as well. This
new generation of devices will impact the networking industry it
scrambles to acquire the expertise in security and shift their business
model from commodity switching and routing to value add networking and
protection capabilities.

Let’s see…combine high-speed network processing whose routing/switching architecture was designed by the same engineers that designed Bay/Welfleet’s core routers, add in a multi-core Intel processing/compute layer which utilizes virtualized, load-balanced security applications as a  service layer that can be overlaid across a fast, reliable, resilient and highly-available network transport and what do you get?


Up to 32 GigE or 64 10/100 switching ports and 40 Intel cores in a single chassis today…and in Q3’07 you’ll also have the combination of our NextGen network processors which will provide up to 8x10GigE and 40xGigE with 64 MIPS Network Security cores combined with the same 40 Intel cores in the same chassis.

By the way, I consider that routing and switching are just table stakes, not market differentiators; in products like the one to the left, this is just basic expected functionality.

Furthermore, in this so-called next generation of "security switches," the customer should be able to run both open source as well as best-in-breed COTS security applications on the platform and not constrain the user to a single vendor’s version of the truth running proprietary software.


But wait, it only gets better…what I found equally as hysterical is the notion that Captain Obvious now has a sidekick!  It seems Alan Shimel has signed on as Richard’s Boy Wonder.  Alan’s suggesting that again, the magic bullet is Cobia and that because he can run a routing daemon and his appliance has more than a couple of ports, it’s a router and a switch as well as a multi-function UTM UNP swiss army knife of security & networking goodness — and he was the first to do it!  Holy marketing-schizzle Batman! 

I don’t need to re-hash this.  I blogged about it here before.

You can dress Newt Gingrich up as a chick but it doesn’t mean I want to make out with him…

This is cheap, cheap, cheap marketing on both your parts and don’t believe for a minute that customers don’t see right through it; perfuming pigs is not revolutionary, it’s called product marketing.


Redux: Liability of Security Vulnerability Research…The End is Nigh!

June 10th, 2007 3 comments

I posited the potential risks of vulnerability research in this blog entry here.   Specifically I asked about reverse engineering and implications related to IP law/trademark/copyright, but the focus was ultimately on the liabilities of the researchers engaging in such activities.

Admittedly I’m not a lawyer and my understanding of some of the legal and ethical dynamics are amateur at best, but what was very interesting to me was the breadth of the replies from both the on and off-line responses to my request for opinion on the matter. 

I was contacted by white, gray and blackhats regarding this meme and the results were divergent across legal, political and ideological lines.

KJH (Kelly Jackson Higgins — hey, Kel!) from Dark Reading recently posted an interesting collateral piece titled "Laws Threaten Security Researchers" in which she outlines the results of a CSI working group chartered to investigate and explore the implications that existing and pending legislation would have on vulnerability research and those who conduct it.  Folks like Jeremiah Grossman (who comments on this very story, here) and Billy Hoffman participate on this panel.

What is interesting is the contrast in commentary between how folks responded to my post versus these comments based upon the CSI working group’s findings:

In the report, some Web researchers say that even if they
find a bug accidentally on a site, they are hesitant to disclose it to
the Website’s owner for fear of prosecution. "This opinion grew
stronger the more they learned during dialogue with working group
members from the Department of Justice," the report says.

I believe we’ve all seen the results of some overly-litigious responses on behalf of companies against whom disclosures related to their products or services have been released — for good or bad.

Ask someone like Dave Maynor if the pain is ultimately worth it.  Depending upon your disposition, your mileage may vary. 

That revelation is unnerving to Jeremiah Grossman, CTO and
founder of WhiteHat Security and a member of the working group. "That
means only people that are on the side of the consumer are being
silenced for fear of prosecution," and not the bad guys.

"[Web] researchers are terrified about what they can and
can’t do, and whether they’ll face jail or fines," says Sara Peters,
CSI editor and author of the report. "Having the perspective of legal
people and law enforcement has been incredibly valuable. [And] this is
more complicated than we thought."

This sort of response didn’t come across that way at all from folks who both privately or publicly responded to my blog; most responses were just the opposite, stated with somewhat of a sense of entitlement and immunity.   I expect to query those same folks again on the topic. 

Check this out:

The report discusses several methods of Web research, such as
gathering information off-site about a Website or via social
engineering; testing for cross-site scripting by sending HTML mail from
the site to the researcher’s own Webmail account; purposely causing
errors on the site; and conducting port scans and vulnerability scans.

Interestingly, DOJ representatives say that using just one of
these methods might not be enough for a solid case against a [good or
bad] hacker. It would take several of these activities, as well as
evidence that the researcher tried to "cover his tracks," they say. And
other factors — such as whether the researcher discloses a
vulnerability, writes an exploit, or tries to sell the bug — may
factor in as well, according to the report.

Full disclosure and to whom you disclose it and when could mean the difference between time in the spotlight or time in the pokey!


It’s a sNACdown! Cage Match between Captain Obvious and Me, El Rational.

April 4th, 2007 3 comments

CAUTION:  I use the words "Nostradramatic prescience" in this blog posting.  Anyone easily offended by such poetic buggery should stop reading now.  You have been forewarned.

That’s it.  I’ve had it.  I’ve taken some semi-humorous jabs at Mr. Stiennon before, but my contempt for what is just self-serving PFD (Pure F’ing Dribble) has hit an all time high.  This is, an out-and-out, smackdown.  I make no bones about it.

Richard is at it again.  It seems that stating the obvious and taking credit for it has become an art form. 

Richard expects to be congratulated for his prophetic statements that
are basically a told-you-so to any monkey dumb enough to rely only on
Network Admission Control (see below) as his/her only security defense.  Furthermore, he has the gaul to suggest that by obfuscating the bulk of the arguments made to the contradiction of his point, he wins by default and he’s owed some sort of ass-kissing:

And for my fellow bloggers who I rarely call out using my own blog:
are you ready to retract your "founded on quicksand" statements and
admit that you were wrong and Stiennon was right once again?  🙂

Firstly, there’s a REASON you "rarely call out" other people on your blog, Richard. It has something to do with a lack of frequency of actually being right, or more importantly others being wrong.  

I mean the rest of us poor ig’nant blogger folk just cower in the shadows of your earth-shattering predictions for 2007: Cybercrime is on the rise, identify theft is a terrible problem, attacks against financial services companies will increase and folks will upload illegal videos to YouTube. 

I’m sure the throngs of those who rise up against Captain Obvious are already sending their apology Hallmarks.  I’ll make sure to pre-send those congratulatory balloons now so I can save on shipping, eh?

Secondly, suggesting that others are wrong when you only present 1/10th of the debate is like watching two monkeys screw a football.  It’s messy, usually ends up with one chimp having all the fun and nobody will end up wanting to play ball again with the "winner."  Congratulations, champ.

What the heck am I talking about?  Way back when, a bunch of us had a debate concerning the utility of NAC.  More specifically, we had a debate about the utility, efficacy and value of NAC as part of an overall security strategy.  The debate actually started between Richard and Alan Shimmel. 

I waded in because I found them both to be right and both to be wrong.  What I suggested is that NAC by ITSELF is not effective and must be deployed as part of a well-structured layered defense.  I went so far as to  suggest that Richard’s ideas that the network ‘fabric’ could also do this by itself were also flawed.  Interestingly, we all agreed that trusting the end-point ALONE to report on its state and gain admission to the network was a flawed idea.

Basically, I suggested that securing one’s assets came down to common sense, the appropriate use of layered defense in both the infrastructure and on top of it and utilizing NAC when and how appropriate.  You know, rational security.

The interesting thing to come out of that debate is that to Richard, it became clear that the acronym "NAC" appeared to only mean Network ADMISSION Control.  Even more specifically, it meant Cisco’s version of Network ADMISSION Control.  Listen to the Podcast.  Read the blogs.  It’s completely one dimensional and unrealistic to group every single NAC product and compare it to Cisco.  He did this intentionally so as to prove an equally one dimensional point.  Everyone already knows that pre-admission control is nothing you solely rely on for assured secure connectivity.

To the rest of us who participated in that debate, NAC meant not only Network ADMISSION Control, but also Network ACCESS Control…and not just Cisco’s which we all concluded, pretty much sucked monkey butt.  The problem is that Richard’s assessment of (C)NAC is so myopic that he renders any argument concerning NAC (both) down to a single basal point that nobody actually made.

It goes something like this and was recorded thusly by his lordship himself from up on high on a tablet somewhere.  Richard’s "First Law of Network Security":

Thou shalt not trust an end point to report its own state

Well, no shit.  Really!?  Isn’t it more important to not necessarily trust that the state reported is accurate but take the status with a grain of salt and use it as a component of assessing the fitness of a host to participate as a citizen of the network?   Trust but verify?

Are there any other famous new laws of yours I should know about?  Maybe like:

Thou shalt not use default passwords
Thou shalt not click on hyperlinks in emails
Thou shalt not use eBanking apps on shared computers in Chinese Internet Cafes
Thou shalt not deploy IDS’ and not monitor them
Thou shalt not use "any any any allow" firewall/ACL rules
Thou shalt not allow SMTP relaying
Thou shalt not use the handle hornyhussy in the #FirewallAdminSingles IRC channel

{By the way, I think using the phrase ‘…shalt not’ is actually a double-negative?} [Ed: No, it’s not]

Today Richard blew his own horn to try and reinforce his Nostradramatic prescience when he commented on how presenters at Blackhat further demonstrated that you can spoof reporting compliance checks of an end-point to the interrogator using Cisco’s NAC product using a toolkit created to do just that. 

Oh, the horror!  You mean Malware might actually fake an endpoint into thinking it’s not compromised or spoof the compliance in the first place!?  What a novel idea.  Not.  Welcome to the world of amorphous polymorphic malware.  Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt.  AV has been dealing with this for quite a while.  It ain’t new.  Bound to happen again.

Does it make NAC useless.  Nope.  Does it mean that we need greater levels of integrity checking and further in-depth validation of state.  Yep.   ‘Nuff said. 

Let me give you Hoff’s "First Law of Network Security" Blogging:

Thou shalt not post drivel bait, Troll.

It’s not as sexy sounding as yours, but it’s immutable, non-negotiable and 100% free of trans-fatty acids.


(Written from the lobby of the Westford Regency Hotel.  Drinking…nothing, unfortunately.)

On Flying Pigs, DNSSEC, and embedded versus overlaid security…

April 2nd, 2007 4 comments

I found Thomas Ptacek’s comments regarding DNSSEC deliciously ironic not for anything directly related to secure DNS, but rather a point he made in substantiating his position regarding DNSSEC while describing the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the network and application layers.

This may have just been oversight on his part, but it occurs to me that I’ve witnessed something on the order of a polar magnetic inversion of sorts.  Or not.  Maybe it’s the coffee.  Ethiopian Yirgacheffe does that to me.

Specifically, Thomas and I have debated previously about this topic and my contention is that the network plumbing ought to be fast, reliable, resilient and dumb whilst elements such as security and applications should make up a service layer of intelligence running atop the pipes. 

Thomas’ assertions focus on the manifest destiny that Cisco will rule the interconnected universe and that security, amongst other things, will — and more importantly should — become absorbed into and provided by the network switches and routers.

While Thomas’ arguments below are admittedly regarding the "Internet" versus the "Intranet," I maintain that the issues are the same.  It seems that his statements below which appear to endorse the "…end-to-end argument in system design" regarding the "…fundamental design principle of the Intenet" are at odds with his previous aspersions regarding my belief.  Check out the bits in red.

Here’s what Thomas said in "A Case Against DNSSSEC (A Matasano Miniseries):

…You know what? I don’t even agree in principle. DNSSEC is a bad thing, even
if it does work.

How could that possibly be?

It violates a fundamental design principle of the Internet.

Nonsense. DNSSEC was designed and endorsed by several of the
architects of the Internet. What principle would they be violating?

The end-to-end argument in system design. It says that you want to
keep the Internet dumb and the applications smart. But DNSSEC does the
opposite. It says, “Applications aren’t smart enough to provide
security, and end-users pay the price. So we’re going to bake security
into the infrastructure.”

I could have sworn that the bit in italics is exactly what Thomas used to say.  Beautiful.  If, Thomas truly agrees with this axiom and that indeed the Internet (the plumbing) is supposed to be dumb and applications (service layer) smart, then I suggest he should revisit his rants regarding how he believes the embedding security in the nework is a good idea since it invalidates the very "foundation" of the Internet.

I wonder what that’ll do internal networks? 

That’s all.  CSI is on.


(Written @ Home drinking Yirgacheffe watching UFC re-runs)

NAC is a Feature not a Market…

March 30th, 2007 7 comments

MarketfeatureI’m picking on NAC in the title of this entry because it will drive
Alan Shimel ape-shit and NAC has become the most over-hyped hooplah
next to Britney’s hair shaving/rehab incident…besides, the pundits come a-flockin’ when the NAC blood is in the water…

Speaking of chumming for big fish, love ’em or hate ’em, Gartner’s Hype Cycles do a good job of allowing
one to visualize where and when a specific technology appears, lives
and dies
as a function of time, adoption rate and utility.

We’ve recently seen a lot of activity in the security space that I
would personally describe as natural evolution along the continuum,
but is often instead described by others as market "consolidation" due to

I’m not sure they are the same thing, but really, I don’t care to argue
that point.  It’s boring.  It think that anyone arguing either side is
probably right.  That means that Lindstrom would disagree with both. 

What I do want to do is summarize a couple of points regarding some of
this "evolution" because I use my blog as a virtual jot pad against which
I can measure my own consistency of thought and opinion.  That and the
chicks dig it.

Without my usual PhD Doctoral thesis brevity, here are just a few
network security technologies I reckon are already doomed to succeed as
features and not markets — those technologies that will, within the
next 24 months, be absorbed into other delivery mechanisms that
incorporate multiple technologies into a platform for virtualized
security service layers:

  1. Network Admission Control
  2. Network Access Control
  3. XML Security Gateways
  4. Web Application Firewalls
  5. NBAD for the purpose of DoS/DDoS
  6. Content Security Accelerators
  7. Network-based Vulnerability Assessment Toolsets
  8. Database Security Gateways
  9. Patch Management (Virtual or otherwise)
  10. Hypervisor-based virtual NIDS/NIPS tools
  11. Single Sign-on
  12. Intellectual Property Leakage/Extrusion Prevention

…there are lots more.  Components like gateway AV, FW, VPN, SSL
accelerators, IDS/IPS, etc. are already settling to the bottom of UTM
suites as table stakes.  Many other functions are moving to SaaS
models.  These are just the ones that occurred to me without much

Now, I’m not suggesting that Uncle Art is right and there will be no
stand-alone security vendors in three years, but I do think some of this
stuff is being absorbed into the bedrock that will form the next 5
years of evolutionary activity.

Of course, some folks will argue that all of the above will just all be
absorbed into the "network" (which means routers and switches.)  Switch
or multi-function device…doesn’t matter.  The "smoosh" is what I’m
after, not what color it is when it happens.

What’d I miss?


(Written from SFO Airport sitting @ Peet’s Coffee.  Drinking a two-shot extra large iced coffee)

What Do “Grassy Knees,” a Gartner Analyst, Cuban Garlic Chicken and Poor Fashion Choices Have in Common?

March 22nd, 2007 1 comment

HasselthehoffIt’s not the sordid tale of lust, information security and circus midgets you might have been expecting from the title, but instead the highlights of a couple of evenings spent entertaining a wayward analyst soul from Phoenix.

Rich Mogull, Gartner analyst and data protection mercenary, was in town for a couple of evenings, and I played cruise ship entertainment director.  It’s what I do.  If a fellow blogger or security wonk comes to my town, has a few minutes to spare, it’s my self-appointed duty to make damned sure they have a good time.

I’m all about the full disclosure.  It’s how we roll. 

As Rich so kindly nominated me for "Best Host for Security Geeks in Boston" I must suggest that he plays the role of visiting team quite well.  Damned good head on his shoulders, fun dude to talk with and listen to, and should you ever need saving on the side of a snow-covered mountain, it seems that he’s all you’ll ever need.

We had a great dinner at the Naked Fish (which incidentally has nothing to do with my tattoos,) and then ended up closing that down in favor of the hotel bar in Bedford in which we most certainly were the worst dressed amongst the crowd.  We executed on the wild tech. guy role very well using every free napkin in the house to scribble the solutions to every known security problem currently defined.

I called Shimmy because whilst late, I suggested I could do his podcast drunk with Rich adding beatbox sound effects in the background.  Alan listened to me ramble for 10 minutes before he asked "Who the hell is this!?"

The next night we hit BeanSec! and hooked up with Mike Murray, 78% of Veracode’s employees (except for Wysopal who is now finally too l33t to hang with us) and 46% of Crossbeam’s staff.

I tried for an analyst trifecta:

Jaquith was invited but he was in Utah gettin’ all Mormon’d up.  Rothman was, well, not there because BeanSec! is not pragmatic enough.  Stiennon was busy securing the network fabric of the entire nation state of Haiti and nobody @ IDC would answer my calls.  Ah well.

Despite that, a good time was had by all.

Good seeing you, Rich.  Come back sometime…as soon as you add me to your BlogRoll, that is. 😉


(P.S. Just to be clear, a "Grassy Knee" is one of the specialty drinks at the Enormous Room in Cambridge where we hold BeanSec!  along with the "Bad Babysitter" and "God in Little Pieces."  Any other imaginative definition is your own fault, you perv.  That is all.)