Tag Archives: passwords

Top 5 Attack Vectors Report: Defend It Before You Hack It

Filed under Defense
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robot-with-sheild-300x287Each year my team conducts hundreds of Penetration Tests in a wide variety of industries, ranging from Healthcare to Retail, Finance to Manufacturing, and many more. The team analyzed data collected from each of our penetration tests at SecureState since 2011 and found common themes in the methods of compromise utilized to break into organizations and compromise sensitive information. As a result, SecureState has issued a new report that expands on the attack vectors identified and suggests ways organizations can defend themselves against such attack vectors. SecureState’s 2014 Attack Vectors Report revealed the following Top 5 methods of compromise:

  1. Weak Passwords
  2. Web Management Consoles
  3. Missing Patches and System Misconfigurations
  4. Application Vulnerabilities
  5. Social Engineering

The full report is available for download on the SecureState website. I also presented a webinar (watch the replay here) with Defense team lead Robert Miller, expanding on the report’s findings and offering additional advice to organizations on how to defend against these attack vectors. I highly recommend you download this report to see where your organization stands in regards to these attack vectors.

What’s the bottom line?
The current mindset of many organizations is to only react after an attack or breach has already occurred. However, based on our findings and what the current onslaught of recent breaches have shown us, it’s clear that organizations face the same attacks month after month. Rather than be reactive, the defensive mindset needs to change to a proactive one. Consider focusing time, money and resources on your defensive controls before a penetration test occurs.

A penetration test should be your final step to ensure your defense can withstand an attack and to adjust your defenses if necessary. We’ve seen it time and time again where organizations only conduct an annual penetration test and expect that remediating tactical issues from the penetration test will improve their security posture. This needs to stop! Build and test your defensive controls first, then test to see how these controls hold up. Most of these controls are a mix of tactical and strategic, but reactively focused. By taking a proactive stance on defense, your organization will become much more secure and the time, money and resources spent will provide much more value to the business.

Defend it before you hack it.

Cross-posted from the SecureState Blog

Top 5 Security Settings for Apple iPhones and iPads

Filed under Apple, Mobile Security
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Apple mobile devices are among the most popular gadgets today. In fact, Apple reports that 250 million iOS devices have been sold and 18 million apps downloaded. I often find that, while the popularity of these devices increases, many don’t understand the basic security features that Apple makes available to them. Some of you may not even realize that these features exist and how easy they are to use. Let’s walk through the top five security settings for these devices:

#1 – The Passcode
This is the most important security feature of your device. It’s also one of the least configured settings. While it may be a pain to “unlock” your device when you want to use it, it’s also your first line of defense if your device is ever lost or stolen. The key to the passcode is to ensure its complex and greater than 4 characters or digits. Never use simple passcodes like “1234” or your ATM PIN number. The two other settings that you need to set are to “Require Passcode Immediately” and set “Simple Passcode” to OFF. You can find these settings under the “Settings” icon then “Passcode Lock”.

#2 – Erase Data
The erase data functionality adds another layer of security to your device. This function will erase all data after 10 failed passcode attempts. What this means is that if someone steals your device and tries to brute force your passcode, if they enter it incorrectly, the device is erased and returned to the factory default settings. Turn “Erase Data” to ON in the Passcode Lock screen.

#3 – Find My iPhone/iPad
If you ever lose or misplace your iPhone or iPad, “Find My iPhone/iPad” is a very important feature to enable. Simply download the application on your device or access it through iCloud (icloud.com). If your device is iOS 4 or below you will need to use the “MobileMe” (me.com) feature instead of iCloud. Either way, you will need to login with your Apple ID to set it up. You can then send the device a message or alert, locate the device on Google Maps, remotely set a passcode, and remotely erase the device. This feature is invaluable if your device is lost or stolen.

#4 – Backup Encryption
One of the more obscure settings that many users don’t set is the “Encrypt Backup” setting, which is found in iTunes. This setting even applies to the new iCloud service in iOS 5. This setting ensures that the backup of your device is encrypted. It goes without saying, if you can access this backup, the data on your device can be accessed and harvested. For example, earlier last year there was a “feature” in which Geolocation data could be easily harvested from the backup file. This has since been remediated, but just think how much information could be harvested about you through an unencrypted backup file.

#5 – Keep iOS Updated
Making sure that you always have the latest version of Apple iOS on your device is important because Apple is always releasing security updates and implementing new security controls. Simply plug your device into iTunes and you will get prompted to update your phone to the latest version. As a side note, don’t Jailbreak your device! Jailbreaking makes many of the built in security features useless and allows your device to be an easy target for data theft.

Ensuring that you have enabled and configured these security settings on your Apple iOS device is more important than ever. Devices like these are lost or stolen all the time and without taking the proper precautions, your data could be vulnerable. Having conducted Apple iOS device penetration testing assessments at SecureState for our clients, I can tell you how easy it is to break into these devices. It’s easy because the proper basic precautions were not taken. Take five minutes now and enable these settings; you’ll be glad you did.

Cross-posted from the SecureState Blog

Two New Social Media Security White Papers Released

Filed under Social Networks
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My employer (SecureState) has released two white papers as part of our Social Media Security Awareness Month.  You can also download some cool wallpaper for this month created by Rob our graphic designer (see the picture on the right).  🙂

First is some research several of my colleagues and I worked on.  The paper is titled: “Profiling User Passwords on Social Networks”.  The paper discusses the password problem that we all know and love as well as how you can determine passwords by what individuals post on their profiles.  We dive into tools from Robin Wood, Mark Baggett and others that can be used to pull keywords from profiles and other sources to create wordlists.  These wordlists can be used for brute force attacks on user accounts.  Next, we look at password complexity of several popular social networks with some research around brute force controls that some of the social networks have implemented, or in some cases haven’t.  Lastly, we discuss some things that users of social networks can do when choosing passwords.  You can download my paper here.

The other paper released is titled: “Security Gaps in Social Media Websites for Children Open Door to Attackers Aiming To Prey On Children” by my colleague Scott White.  In his paper he looks at the security of social media websites specifically designed for children.  This is some very detailed research and sheds some light on how predators are using these sites to target children as well as some issues that are unique to these types of social media websites.  You can download Scott’s paper here.

Speaking of social media…I’ll be presenting “Social Impact: Risks and Rewards of Social Media” at the Information Security Summit this Friday at 10am.  I’ll have the slide deck posted shortly after the conference.