Recently we received a notice from our one ISP that one of our machines might be infected, and please clean it up or we’d be shut down. Well, we explained the situation to them, and it’s good to know someone’s watching our traffic (It’s 1984?), but we’ve been doing this for nearly six years from this location. And they only just now noticed? We’ve run huge attacks against large customers, it’s our business after all, for six years, and they only just now noticed we “might” have an infected computer? Sort of makes you wonder. What about all the other domains we traverse, like Sprint and AT&T? Are they going to start sending us hate mail? What happens if they start dumping the packets? We’ll have to find another ISP, I suppose, but eventually, if things went that way, the core would be filtering as well, and nothing would work. We’d practically be out of business. Ironically, the bad guys wouldn’t. Because the bad guys would just invent new ways to circumvent the security. Which would let us stay in business as well; we’d just need a new toolset. So if nothing’s going to really change, can we establish right now that filtering anything is a really bad idea, except during attacks? Because all it’s going to do is raise the price tags on security. You have to pay for the filters, you have to pay for the new security to counter the new threats. While standing still doesn’t prevent new threats from becoming a reality, it does allow us lots of ways of tracking people. They may have a new attack, but they probed on high ports first, which might let us locate them. Or at least shut them off from here. But don’t restrict traffic in the middle. It’s like putting a stop sign in the middle of the Atlantic. All you do is make shipping more expensive and annoy some little fish. So keep it open. Please.
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A wireless vendor (who shall remain nameless) is selling its 3G cards to corporate networks as a secure means of remote communication. There’s only one problem with it; anyone that picks up one of these cards, pre-configured for accessing the corporate network by the vendor, can just plug it in and reach out and touch the corporate network. Not to mention being able to browse the Internet and use DNS and other things; more later.
We do need to download the software first, and it does ask for a phone number to do so. Fortunately, any phone number will work, and if they fix it so only their numbers work (impossible given number portability) then you would just need a network phone number. “Hey, Fred, you use vendor for your cell service?” Boom!
Once the software is downloaded and installed, it asks for the device phone number. Which it auto-populates for you by pulling the number off the device. Brilliant. We don’t even have to query the card to obtain the phone number.
Linking to the net is accomplished with the press of a button. Now here, the vendor has limited what protocols and destinations are acceptable, so when we fire up a browser, it fails everywhere you look. Or does it. What actually happens is it hangs. It doesn’t time out, and a look at netstat reveals that we are getting DNS information, and we are initiating connections. Checking DNS directly clearly indicates not everything is locked down tight, if at all. The vendor has put us in a tunnel of some type, so some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t. https also fails. A quick trip to Google revealed an http site on non-standard port 81, which worked fine, so we know we can pass http, just not on 80. The only thing we know for sure is that port 80/443 is not getting us where we want to go, but it seems everything else is.
A quick peek with Nessus (if they’d been using Counteract, that would have failed) reveals Microsoft destinations. From there, its a matter of using hydra and getting onto an M$ resource, at which point the network is an open book.
All from a single lost vendor 3g card.
Several layered security mechanisms would have prevented this, not the least is some form of authentication at the vendor border. From there, we could have been stopped with a certificate check, a Forescout detection and prevention, and worst of all, no free passing of any protocols without authentication to a valid VPN. Boom!
To be perfectly frank, if the vendor or the corporation is alerted quickly to the loss of a card, this is a very low probability attack. But if a corporation is targeted, its much more likely to succeed. Your risk may vary. If alerting is a non-priority, as it is in many places, this is a serious problem. Once inside, hostile forces will plant the seeds that give them continuous access without the 3g card.
Play it safe, make sure your 3g cards are secure. Use layers to compensate for any single security failure. And most important, validate your assumptions when told something is “secure”.
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You want a strong password, but every time you change it to something like “2rIght4*deb8” you end up spending an extra five minutes every time you have to log in, and you manage to lock out your account at least once, while getting comfortable with the new password.
Your troubles are over.
With the new Digital Trust password management idea, you’ll have great passwords that are easy to remember AND help you improve yourself at the same time.
What a deal!
Instead of tired old password tricks, like “Blbackack” or “1der-tpactiv8!” you are going to use an affirmation. Unless you don’t like affirmations, in which case, try aphorisms instead.
Pick an affirmation, like “I will have rock-solid abs.” and set your password to that. Yes, you can use blank spaces. Most people end up with mediocre passwords just trying to get past 8 characters, but with this, you can routinely have 16+ characters with complex special characters, and it’s so easy!
So give it a try, and if you like it, pass on the advice.
“Today, I will make the Internet a safer place for users, everywhere.”
ING Sharebuilder has elected to not allow customers to create passwords with special characters. Formerly, it was possible to use special characters, and if your password had special characters before they changed the policy, it would still work with the existing policy, but no new passwords are allowed to have special characters.
Curious, that a financial company that is exclusively web based would choose a standard lower than a previous choice. It’s not as if they ever required customers to use special characters, but they had the option. Now they don’t.
ING, step up to the security plate and bring back special characters. It just doesn’t feel as safe as it did before.
Update 8/4: A response to this question from ING simply spun the request back on its head, saying “We know our new password requirements may be an inconvenience, but we believe your personal data is safer as a result.” Well, it’s not safer, it’s less safe. Further, they pushed a software package called Trusteer, free, as an additional way of securing transactions. You can find out more about Trusteer here.
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