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Current Topic: Computer Security

Topic: Computer Security 8:41 pm EDT, Jul 27, 2007

SummerCon 2007: August 24-26, 2007 Atlanta

Where: Wyndham Garden Hotel
125 10th Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
1 404-873-4800
(corner of Peachtree St & 10th)



College Intern that Doesn't Get It
Topic: Computer Security 10:57 am EDT, Jul 27, 2007

This is a great story.

Basically, a college intern leaves a tape full of highly classified information in his car overnight, unattended and when his car gets broken into and the tape stolen, he doesn't feel he should be held responsible for it.

Aside from the fact that both he and the University of Ohio are morons, I'm glad he got fired. It's the best thing that could have happened to him. Maybe next time he'll think before leaving important data in his car, and maybe from now on they'll hire some people who provide a secure offsite storage service.

College Intern that Doesn't Get It

Strongbad gets a nasty email virus
Topic: Computer Security 10:15 am EST, Mar 20, 2006

I mention this one in particular because Strongbad mentions Linux.


Don't watch the flash animation while drinking anything. =)

Strongbad gets a nasty email virus

Blocking brute force attacks against ssh with iptables and netfilter
Topic: Computer Security 7:57 am EST, Feb 15, 2006

For those of you not yet using a port-knocker or otherwise getting irritated with the crap all the script kiddies are filling your system logs with from endless connections against your sshd, this article is for you.

Just two (or four, if you like logging) slightly obfuscated lines of iptables, and you can not only stop the lamers, you can slow their scripts down. (Something that's bound to get me packeted sooner or later, but whatever) This is quite portable to anything that's got a reasonably recent version of iptables (1.3.x) installed. You only need the barest of netfilter support in the Linux kernel.

Blocking brute force attacks against ssh with iptables and netfilter

Chicken Little Lays Another Stinker
Topic: Computer Security 2:14 pm EST, Jan 13, 2006

Well, as if the embarrasment of having published more than one astoundingly stupid security non-vulnerability wasn't enough to teach him to keep his mouth shut, Steve Gibson (of the Gibson Research Corporation), part kook, part snake-oil salesman, has managed to come up with one that beats even the tinfoil hat wearing crowd.

To wit, he has decided that the WMF vulnerability is not actually a bug, but an honest to God planned back door in the code.

Chicken Little Lays Another Stinker

The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security
Topic: Computer Security 9:14 pm EDT, Sep 11, 2005

The title pretty much says it all. I'm only about halfway through it at the moment, but I don't want to be so full of giggles when I'm done that I forget to pass the URL along.

Read it, email it to co-workers and family. Even meter-maids and politicians should be able to understand the messages carefully contained therein.

It is Clue.

(for those of you who have replied so far, go re-read the final paragraph in the memed article)

The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security

Router Flaw Is a Ticking Bomb | Mike Lynn Has Integrity^3
Topic: Computer Security 9:28 pm EDT, Aug  2, 2005

Wired has done a great interview with Mike. It should clear up a number of the questions people have had with recent events.

I would like to specifically point out one part of this interview:

WN: So ISS knew the seriousness of the bug.

Lynn: Yes, they did. In fact, at one point ... they apparently didn't get it, and they actually wanted to distribute the full working exploit very widely inside the company.... I was told ... "Give this to all the sales engineers and to all the pen testers."

WN: Why would they want you to do that?

Lynn: Well, because it bruises Cisco, remember? Mind you, this was something that Cisco hadn’t gone public with yet and that's not useful to pen testers because what do they advise their customers to do (to protect themselves if no information about the vulnerability has been released yet)?

I told them, "You do realize if you do that, it's going to leak?" And (one of the ISS guys) says, "That's Cisco's problem." And then (another ISS guy) turns to me and says that they need to understand this could be their Witty worm. I was like, Whoa, what meeting did I walk into?

(The Witty worm was a particularly aggressive and destructive code released by someone last year that targeted computer systems running a security program made by Internet Security Systems and even more specifically targeted military bases using the software. It infected more than 12,000 servers and computer systems in about an hour. Because of the worm's speed in spreading and its creators' apparent knowledge of who ISS' customers were, some security experts speculated that someone working for or connected to ISS might have been responsible for writing and releasing it.)

At that point, I told them all no, and they fought it and I resigned right there on the spot. And this was about a month ago.

I thought they were handling this in a non-ethical manner. Because it was just way too fast and loose with who can see this.... I mean, I don't even want people to see it now. (ISS talked him out of the resignation by agreeing to give him control over who could see or have the exploit.)

All I can say is WOW. A big "wow". Caps, bold, and feeling.

Anyone who says that Mike is not on the level needs to reference this. This says truly horrible things about ISS. This should cost them some serious reputation capitol.

One thing that Mike did a great job of in this interview is getting the idea out that in order to defeat the "bad guys", you must run faster then them. It is the only option.

Case in point, via the Wall Street Journal:

"The vulnerabilities are out there on the Net in full broadcast mode," said Gilman Louie, a tech-industry veteran who heads In-Q-Tel, a venture-capital firm backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. "The bad guys get to it faster than everybody else. I'd rather have disclosure and let everybody respond."

Disclosure is a great thing, but it must be done properly. I would argue that Mike did it properly. I would argue that he has displayed the best kind of ethics through this entire mess. Given the content of this Wired interview, I would argue that ISS has its head up its ass.

Router Flaw Is a Ticking Bomb | Mike Lynn Has Integrity^3

Mike Lynn is a Whistleblower, he should be protected
Topic: Computer Security 10:10 pm EDT, Jul 28, 2005

The EFF should support Mike Lynn in his defense against ISS and Cisco. If security researchers are not protected as Whistleblowers when they uncover major flaws, our critical communication infrastructure will be at serious risk. These are the Good Guys.

Mike has taken on enormous personal risk to do the right thing. So far, the general impression in the blogs is that he is doing the right thing. The mainstream media coverage has been good as well. This is a departure from the past, and a good one at that. The headlines contain words like "Whistleblower" and "Coverup"..

It is quite ironic that Cisco & ISS are taking the "Intellectual Property" tactic. Just to add some irony to it, here is a a post of Mike Lynn here on MemeStreams proving CherryOS stole OSS code from the PearPC project:

just incase anyone didn't believe them already here goes the analysis (I do this sort of thing for a living) first off CherryOS.exe is what we call in the security industry "packed", that means that they have taken a compiled binary and run it through an obfuscator to make it hard to reverse engineer (or at least with hard if all you're doing is strings)...this is common for virus writers, worm writers, 31337 bot net kiddies, and on the legitimate side, game developers do this a lot...its not very common among the commercial (or free) legitimate software market (mostly because it doesn't work and doesn't do any good) so, the easiest way to defeat the packing is simply to let it start up (this one has several annoying checks for debuggers so its easiest to just attach after its loaded)...

the eula for this thing says its a violation to reverse engineer it, but if you do disassemble it you find they never had the rights to license it in the first place, so I don't feel worried to put this here...

I think I have made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that CherryOS.exe, shipped as the core of cherryos is nothing but a recompiled version of has at most minor changes, most to strip attribution, hide the theft, or remove debugging output...

The only way we can fault Mike's research is with petty things like not consistently using upper case letters in his posts. The technical end of his work is flawless.

Both Cisco and ISS are attempting to spin Mike's research and make it look incomplete, but the truth of the matter is he demo'ed his technique in front of a room of people, and no one has found fault with it.

If this tactic continues, it will approach a very transparent form of character assassination. It will backfire on Cisco.

In the field of Security Research, Whistleblowing has always been a controversial issue. It is not a black and white thing. This article at CNET covers a number of the issues with disclosure of security problems that often come up. If you compare the ideas expressed in the article with what Mike actually did, you should come away thinking that Mike handled this ethically.

Mike Lynn is a Whistleblower, he should be protected

Wired News: Cisco Security Hole a Whopper
Topic: Computer Security 9:42 pm EDT, Jul 28, 2005

Wired just posted the best article so far.. Here are some of the highlights:

Lynn likened IOS to Windows XP, for its ubiquity.

"But when there is a Windows XP bug, it's not really a big deal," Lynn said. "You can still ship (data through a network) because the routers will transmit (it). How do you ship (data) when the routers are dead?"

"Can anyone think why you would steal (the source code) if not to hack it?" Lynn asked the audience, noting that it took him six months to develop an attack to exploit the bug. "I'm probably about to be sued to oblivion. (But) the worst thing is to keep this stuff secret."

"There are people out there looking for it, there are people who have probably found it who could be using it against either national infrastructure or any enterprise," said Ali-Reza Anghaie, a senior security engineer with an aerospace firm, who was in the audience.

During his talk, Lynn demonstrated an attack in real time using his own router, but did not allow the audience to see the steps. The attack took less than a minute to execute.

"In large part I had to quit to give this presentation because ISS and Cisco would rather the world be at risk, I guess," Lynn said. "They had to do what's right for their shareholders; I understand that. But I figured I needed to do what's right for the country and for the national critical infrastructure."

Wired News: Cisco Security Hole a Whopper

Boing Boing: Security researcher quits job and blows whistle on Cisco's fatal flaws
Topic: Computer Security 9:40 pm EDT, Jul 28, 2005

BoingBoing is linking to the Security Focus article with a summary of the situation. Its great coverage. Mike has got to love this:

"This guy is my new hero." -- Cory Doctorow

Boing Boing: Security researcher quits job and blows whistle on Cisco's fatal flaws

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