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  • Fancy software is NO substitute for observing security fundamentals
    My concern with this story is two-fold: first, the language of the story. Malware is not ordnance; it cannot be 'detonated' inside a computer. This is an extremely poor analogy. Secondly, this software is most certainly NOT a panacea for observing fundamental security practices. HBGary itself is a textbook case in this regard,as the events of the last week have demonstrated. In just the last week, HBGary and HBGary Federal had their computer systems penetrated, all their email stolen and published to the Pirate Bay in Sweden; all their source code was reportedly stolen, and all their backup files erased, How did this happen? It happened due to a failure to observe fundamental security practices, which are taught in Security 101 seminars. In particular, HBGary's systems were penetrated due to: * Password sharing -- the same passwords were used in multiple places/systems. * Failure to implement proper input-sanitization on their webserver. This allowed their attackers to use a SQL-injection exploit, allowing them into the webserver's databases. * Failure to update their systems - Rootkit.com, one of HBGary's systems, was running on an operating sytem version (Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3) that had been end-of-lifed two years previously; the operating system kernel (2.4.x) was dated 2006,, had not been updated for about 4 years. * Failure to adequately train staff to respond to social-engineering attacks -- Reportedly, no attempt was made by the sysadmin of Rootkit.com, to authenticate the person passing themselves off (in email) as HBGary founder and CEO Greg Hoglund. If someone is asking for the firewall to be taken down, and a password changed, one should expect to be challenged, CEO or not. The attackers actually claimed to have done this -- twice. * Failure to separate low-value and high-value systems HBGary CEO Greg Hoglund himself stated, after the intrusion by Anonymous: HBGary cofounder and security researcher Greg Hoglund confirmed on Sunday evening that the latest attacks were sophisticated compared to the group's past shenanigans. "They broke into one of HBGary’s servers that was used for tech support, and they got e-mails through compromising an insecure Web server at HBGary Federal," Hoglund told KrebsonSecurity. "They used that to get the credentials for Aaron, who happened to be an administrator on our e-mail system, which is how they got into everything else. So it’s a case where the hackers break in on a non-important system, which is very common in hacking situations, and leveraged lateral movement to get onto systems of interest over time." If nothing else, this is a classic case of such leveraged access. You can read more about this entire situation at the following URLs: The New York Times Hackers Reveal Offers to Spy on Corporate Rivals By ERIC LIPTON and CHARLIE SAVAGE Published: February 11, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/us/politics/12hackers.html How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price Aaron Barr, CEO of security firm HBGary Federal, spent a month tracking down the real identities of the hacker collective Anonymous. But when he prepared to go to the FBI, Barr and his company were viciously attacked—in part by a 16-year old girl. Leaked e-mails reveal exactly how it happened. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/how-one-security-firm-tracked-anonymousand-paid-a-heavy-price.ars Anonymous to security firm working with FBI: "You've angered the hive" HBGary, a security firm working with the FBI to unmask some of Anonymous' senior members, found itself the target of Anonymous attacks this weekend. "You brought this upon yourself. You've tried to bite at the Anonymous hand, and now the Anonymous hand is b*tch-slapping you in the face." http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/anonymous-to-security-firm-working-with-fbi-youve-angered-the-hive.ars
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