Application Whitelisting Offers A Tantalizing Alternative To Popular "Whack-A-Mole" Antivirus Strategies

Stephanie Balaouras

Guest Post From Researcher Chris Sherman

Traditional antivirus techniques have been fighting a losing battle for years. Popular hacker exploit kits pounce on new vulnerabilities quickly while advanced tools such as polymorphic viruses propagate their malicious intents.  As a result, signature databases (known as “blacklists”) have ballooned in size, causing strain on a company’s infrastructure and endpoint performance. Combined with the fact that antivirus vendors  miss a significant number of the unknown or zero-day threats, many security professionals are left questioning their antivirus-centric approach to endpoint protection.  As the number of malware samples rise, this traditional "Whack-A-Mole" blacklist strategy of signature-based antivirus protection is simply unscalable.

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Managed Service Market Is Growing – Come On In, The Water’s Fine!

Edward Ferrara

I reported that the managed security services market is growing in our recent Forrester Wave™ covering North American managed security service providers. Trustwave just issued a press release that announced 148% sales growth. This is a significant number in anyone’s book. It does point to the increased growth we are seeing as more and more firms consider and adopt managed services to handle some or all of their security requirements.

You can check out Trustwave’s press release here, and the Forrester Wave research hereThe Forrester Wave™: Managed Security Services: North America, Q1 2012 - The Nine Service Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up.

Security professionals now realize they can trust their information security requirements to third-party service providers.

Large Telecoms Offer A Full Menu Of Security Services, But Not Without A Little Indigestion

Edward Ferrara

Guest Post From Researcher Chris Sherman

 Last month, Ed and I spent a couple days in Paris with Orange's management team for their annual analyst event. Overall I was impressed with Orange’s innovation in business service offerings as well as their extensive global reach. Many of the large telecoms (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc.) have had to and very much want to expand their business offerings. The telecoms clearly see platform-as-a-service as the natural extension of their core telecom business. Just selling bandwidth is no longer sufficient for these companies, which is in fact now a commodity business. Orange is no exception. This evolution in the telecom business model has been successful due to the industry’s ability to:

  • Offer endpoint and network security optimization solutions coherent with their existing bandwidth business. With their unique vantage point over the network, the telecoms are ideally placed to deliver “clean pipe” Internet service by stopping outside network threats before they reach their customers’ endpoints. For instance, Orange’s DDoS protection service can leverage their large global footprint and control over the infrastructure to gather intelligence and exercise defensive measures farther up the stack than most of their non-telecom competitors.
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Observations From Black Hat - More Defense Please

Rick Holland

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 15th annual Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. I have attended DEFCON in the past, but never Black Hat. The conference has grown significantly each year, and judging by the size of the expo floor, the vendors understand its significance. I enjoyed the conference and had great conversations with practitioners and vendors alike. Here are some observations from two of the sessions that I attended:

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Think Differently

Edward Ferrara

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is a very readable and honest portrayal of one of the most influential personalities in the computer industry from 1980 to the present. Often caustic, abrupt, and driven, Steve Jobs was a man of extreme brilliance who could intuitively understand what makes a great product. His marketing and design shrewdness were without peer. Jobs had his share of failures and more than his share of successes. Apple II, Macintosh, iMac, iPod, iPhone, and all iPad reflect Jobs' ability to orchestrate human capital to create truly innovative products.

A subtext of the book, and not directly called out, however, is Jobs' awareness of the value of intellectual property and the need to secure this. Jobs shows concern for the security of Apple’s intellectual property and goes to great lengths to ensure that security.  For example, he imposed strong controls on the design area where the Apple design team works:

“The design studio where Jony Ive reigns, on the ground floor of Two Infinite Loop on the Apple campus, is shielded by tinted windows and a heavy clad, locked door. Just inside is a glass-booth reception desk where two assistants guard access. Even high-level Apple employees are not allowed in without special permission.”
--Isaacson, Walter, Steve Jobs, p. 345, Simon & Schuster, Inc. Kindle Edition.

However, the contribution Jobs makes to information security is an indirect one. This contribution is the recognition that the true value of Apple’s products is in the design. It is not in the physical assets themselves. The idea and its associated intellectual property is the true tangible asset

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How Will The Extended Enterprise And Zero Trust Identities Impact Your Identity Administration Processes?

Andras Cser

We regularly get inquiries from companies that feel the need to restructure their access controls to support extended enterprise user populations: firms have to support employees, contractors, business partners, customers and keep them contained to be able to access resources (applications, data, etc.) that they have a business need to access. Technology and protocols are catching up here: companies (and vendors too!) are moving to finally support SAML, OAuth and OpenID Connect in bulk. 

The real question, however, is not just access control, but it's also identity administration and attestation. How do you extend your internal provisioning of entitlements to your employees to your business partners or customers? What is the lifecycle of a data asset or piece of intellectual property in the broader ecosystem of identities? OAuth, Claims-based authorization or SAML attribute value injection will provide the infrastructure for enforcing policy decisions, but how do you extend your identity and access governance to the extended enterprise?

We see companies being interested and starting to build on the following to solve these challenges:

1.) Don't solve the problem but ingest a much richer context in your access control solutions (risk based authentication used for internal workforce user access, context variables being passed on to federated Relying Parties to understand that you're at a coffeehouse in a rogue country vs. you're logging in from your normal office and open up the general ledger with read/write access only if you're in your office).

2.) Providing increased delegated administration and attestation services from the cloud so business partners can also participate in these processes. This has been around for some time and will gain more popularity as firms need to remain compliant in the era of the extended enterprise.

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Avoid The Headlines, Focus On Corporate Culture

Chris McClean

Guest post from Researcher Nick Hayes.

Chris and I recently published a report describing how to build risk and compliance principles into your company’s corporate culture. As we worked to finalize, edit, and publish the report, a flurry of new corporate scandals emerged, all related to this topic.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Wal-Mart executives accused of trying to hush up bribery cases in Mexico (article here).
  • A whistleblower accuses Infosys of engaging in a systematic practice of visa fraud (article here).
  • A former Goldman Sachs employee writes an op-ed for the New York Times blasting the company’s ethics (article here).
  • JP Morgan suffers a $2 billion trading loss due to “poorly monitored” trades (article here).
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My Threat Intelligence Can Beat Up Your Threat Intelligence

Rick Holland

Have you ever been in a vendor meeting and heard the vendor extol the greatness of their threat intelligence?  You may have even seen a slide that looks similar to this:

The vendor probably proceeded to highlight the key differentiators that make their threat intelligence network stand second to none.  Bullets containing statistics like this surely followed:

  • Global coverage, in well over 100 countries
  • 50 million network devices
  • 50 billion web queries each month
  • 30 billion emails a month
  • 100 million users
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Kim Kardashian And APTs

Rick Holland

On Wednesday, American footwear company Skechers agreed to pay the US Federal Trade Commission $40 million. This settlement resulted from a series of commercials that deceived consumers claiming that the Shape-Ups shoe line would “help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles.”  Professional celebrity Kim Kardashian appeared in a 2011 Super Bowl commercial personally endorsing the health benefits of these shoes.  

This settlement was part of an ongoing FTC campaign to “stop overhyped advertising claims.”  A similar effort would serve the information security community well.  For example, one particular claim that causes me frequent grief is: “solution X detects and prevents advanced persistent threats.”  It is hard, dare I say impossible, to work in information security and not have heard similar assertions. I have heard it twice this week already, and these claims make my brain hurt.

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Hackers Vs. Executives Is Back

Rick Holland

Our next installment of "Hackers vs. Executives" is just weeks away.  Join us at the Forrester Security Forum and sit in on one of the most popular sessions of the event each year. We have a great panel lined up for you.  In the Hackers corner, we have Chase Cunningham of Neustar and Brian Gorenc of HP Tippingpoint DVLabs.  In his hacking demo, Chase will use social engineering, packaged exploit delivery, and credential harvesting to show you how open source data can create avenues for hackers to attack users and ultimately compromise your network.  In his hacking demo, Brian will provide an in-depth look at what it takes to analyze a vulnerability and the steps required to weaponize it.  Centering on a vulnerability in a Microsoft application, the demo will show you how an attacker can quickly move from proof-of-concept to remote code execution.

In the Executive corner, we have Richard Bejtlich of Mandiant and Steve Martino of Cisco Systems. Richard and Steve will discuss what these types of attacks mean to Security & Risk professionals, including how your organization can prepare and respond to them.  John Kindervag and I will moderate the panel. There will be great discussion and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of all of our panelists. It will be a fantastic session; one you won't want to miss.  Please join us in Las Vegas on May 25th from 11:05 to 12:40. Take a look at the Security Forum website for more details. John and I hope to see you there.