a darknet coming to a browser near you soon?

I hadn’t heard of this until I read a blog post from Jeff Hayes about it (the excerpt is from the eweek article):

HP security researchers are presenting Veiled, a darknet or private file-sharing and communications network, at Black Hat. Veiled can be accessed by any device with a browser, from a PC to an iPhone.

This sounds like a very intriguing idea for personal users. But as a corporate goon, this definitely has me giving a small groan.* Truly, while those of us really plugged in get older and deeper into the workforce and expect to be able to use our computers nearly as freely as we do our home ones, advances like this give more credence to tighter controls at the workplace. Security is not just about us vs Bad Guys, but also stemming the tendency of information to be free and widespread. (A strange duality if you think about it! And even stranger for those thinking in terms of global [macroscopic] security!)

I’ll be looking forward to more details from Hoffman and Wood as their BlackHat presentation date passes. This is certainly an intriguing development.

* Yes, even I know plenty of ways to bypass restrictions we’ve put in place, but it’s the “average user” that I am most worried about. Technically-savvy users are sometimes intentionally malicious, but I feel “average users” are far more often accidentally malicious. (This is backed only by my own intuition.)

security pros unhappy in their jobs

Saw this article over on DarkReading:

Kushner and Murray say they were surprised by security’s high number of unhappy campers — 52 percent of the around 900 security pros who participated in the survey are less than satisfied with their current jobs.

I’m not surprised by low numbers, for a few reasons that I can throw out with no backing research:

  • pros from a technical background that may not like being dedicated to writing policy
  • “we know better” when it comes to the state of security.
  • we’re geeks; and too often we are either happy when we get everything that we want, or unhappy when mgmt can only fund anything less than 100%.
  • as geeks and as security geeks, we’re in a growing research-laden industry where new things are being discovered and developed. I’m sure many of us don’t like the day-to-day drudgery work that may come from watching graphs, monitors, and alert dashboards. Many are driven by the discovery, even if it just means self-learning new things.
  • organizations don’t properly know what to do with security/security pros as much as security pros may not know how to show value. We’re still struggling to sell the idea that security is a process and you don’t gain as much as you think just because you have a one-time project with lots of “security-in-a-box” purchases.
  • we really do have a lot of passion, but that also means we do get affected when we see security fails. And fails so often. And stupidly…

I wonder how many security pros would say they are satisfied with the security efforts/level of the networks and organizations they work with on a regular basis (either their employer or the companies they advise/test/consult for).

I also pulled this quote out:

Kushner says his biggest takeaway from the survey was that security pros are not really mapping out their career paths. “That generally leads to unhappiness, and you wind up in a job you don’t really like,” he says. The key is taking a position that provides the skills and development you need, he says.

I agree and disagree with that sentiment. I agree that one should know what job will make you happy or unhappy, or will move you towards a goal if you happen to have one, and which jobs will not. But I’m not sure “security pro” is something that needs a career path for all people.

There are security pros who probably could use a career path written down so they can move on to CISO/CSO or even lead researcher in the field they want to get into. But there are so many of us that have no desire to manage or, as we often see it, buy into the corporate bullshit and get away from actually *doing* something directly. And plenty that can easily find jobs doing what they enjoy without moving “up” from technical hands-on ranks.

Besides. We deal with security. When was the last time you asked a security geek if they’re happy with the state of their security? I don’t think we ever have “writer’s block” when it comes to ideas to implement or improve things. It’s kinda part of who we are just as much as being a measure paranoid is.

rock out with your hack out

Pauldotcom has a spot where they use the phrase, “rock out with your sploit out.” A great spin on the phrase “rock out with your cock out” (and goes great with “hack naked” which is one of the best hack/sec slogans out there with “trust your technolust” and “hack the planet“).

One drunken night I wondered if “rock out with your hack out” was used anywhere. A very empty Google search later surprised me: it wasn’t used anywhere notable. Whoa…

when does vuln research turn bad?

This post inspired by reading a story from Rich Mogull (Securosis) about VoIPShield deciding to effectively sell exploits. In case it is unclear, I’m initially in agreement with Rich’s sentiments.

At what point do you cross that strange line? I hesitate to give that line a name, since it might change the connotation a bit, but the line name I had in mind initially is “black hat.” Take these scenarios into consideration:

1. Security research firm (SRF) finds vulnerabilities and fully and freely reports them to the victim vendor and maybe the world at some point as well.

2. SRF finds vulns but only reports them to vendors, fully and freely.

3. SRF finds vulns and fully and freely reports them to the world immediately.

4. SRF finds vulns but only sells them to the victim vendor.

5. SRF finds vulns but decides this adds to their value as an SRF and keeps them secret as part of their stash of “we can own you during an assessment” tricks.

6. SRF purchases other vulns to add to their stash of tricks.

7. SRF finds vulns and adds them to their proproetary exploit tools that they sell to anyone.

8. SRF finds vulns and sells them to interested parties, whether they be the vendor or not.

9. SRF finds vulns and uses them to attack vulnerable sites/apps to steal information, i.e. criminal gain.

Quite often, we demonize criminal black hats because they’re realizing monetary gain at someone’s expense against the law. But where do vulnerability shops fall into the whole realm of things? Especially those who will sell vulns to the public. That’s like full-disclosure with a price tag…so in a way that is a monetary gain while possibly supporting criminal activity. Now, exploit-offering sites probably have indirect gain to their moderators and authors even if there is no charge, simply because of the knowledge and notoriety gains.

Maybe you can draw the line on whether utility is being experienced or not, i.e. is the general public more secure for your actions? Is there a legitimate value to your security efforts? If not, then we should all be working for free, right? Or what about intent? I might be making guns, but my intent is not to kill people even if I close my eyes while selling this gun to an obviously mental lunatic. So does that mean regulation of exploits be a government matter (like it is in some countries, for better or worse).

It’s an interesting road to think closely about…

my quick comments on milw0rm outage

It’s been a tiring week for news in the infosec world this week.

Between the DirectShow vulnerability and milw0rm faltering (and going down fully)…and it’s not even Thursday…

Here’s hoping milw0rm comes back up and str0ke gets some trustworthy and skilled help to keep it operative at the high level of quality it has had (I’ll third mubix being involved!). Not only has the content been top-notch (the burgeoning videos section comes to mind) but it has been an extreme help for researching vulnerabilities and exploits. I know, kids can get their hands on stuff like this and do mischief, but I truly feel that it does more harm than good to hide information under layers of moral grey lines.

Not only that, but if we keep hiding shit, we can’t allow more truly skilled security professionals to grow. And let’s face it, so many of us are hugely self-taught or community-taught. We need information to be open so we can keep making informed experts and share knowledge. Otherwise we just become elitist and closed-door…and everyone else has to repeatedly re-invent the wheel.

As far as rumors of FBI pressure on the hosting provider for milw0rm, you would really think law enforcement would prefer “the enemy” to remain on the open in places you can watch too. Milw0rm, at least in my point of view and experience, has been far more a positive to security than it has been a boon for those who spread insecurity. By far. Not even close.

links and info about directshow 0day (msvidctl.dll)

The Windows 0day against DirectShow (msvidctl.dll) has been moving like wildfire the past 24 hours. I’m only going to blitz a few links on this topic:

Metasploit has a module ready for it (can’t link while at work).
POC exploit that pops up calc.exe
another POC

A couple bits of yoinked code. I don’t recommend running these as they are both taken from live sites hosting bad stuff (the links here are just fine though!):

moser exploits iphone usability to pwn it

Max Moser (and Lothar!) has posted a video and discussion on basically auto-pwning an iPhone. In essence, when connecting to a wireless network like a hotspot that requires you to first hit a landing page, the iPhone will helpfully automatically pop up a Safari browser window to that landing page. Let’s just say you better pray the landing page wasn’t karmetasploit in waiting. (Karma grabs you with its network, and Metasploit delivers the web payload.)

While this is amusing, one argument Apple may make (if they even bother to make one) is the iPhone is just doing automatically what the user would do anyway: open a browser window. However, this becomes really bad when the user only accidentally clicked the wrong network to join (an oops-auto-pwn) or the attacker is spoofing a legit-sounding network. (Gotcha!)

Most people I know don’t give a thought to the security of their cell phones, even though they may give some thought about it for their laptops. I don’t think it is sinking in yet that something like the iPhone is more akin to a laptop than a phone, if you ask me.

and you think us sec geeks bitch a lot…!

Every now and then you have to poke your head out from amongst the security geek circles and see what slightly more normal people have to say about a topic. Tonight, my moment of slumming comes from the comments on a story about a recent McAfee AV update that went bad.

From calling out for alternative OS solutions (in an office environment) to denouncing all AV to not understanding scales of economy and so on, the comments remind me that the opinions of the world are far worse outside the walls of our little geekdoms.

Kinda puts it into perspective what companies have to deal with when they service both corporate and home users, eh?

mcgrew takes down a bad guy

McGrew is starting his posts about hunting down and getting a hacker arrested for what amounts to a SCADA attack. Via Liquidmatrix I was pointed to a very informative Register article as well.

I sometimes state that I wear a grey hat now and then, but it really is far beyond the line to actually attack a system that has as much importance as an HVAC in a medical clinic; something that can jeopardize lives both directly and indirectly. It is also a gross negligence to subvert the trust placed in someone like a security guard who is meant to protect. Highest kudos to McGrew for doing something about it rather than just ignoring the incident.

After McGrew dropped the name in IRC the other night, I did some of my own quick searching on the person. Hacker kids and little hacker groups and even minor defacements are one thing, but escalating to a degree like this is trouble. Role-playing and playing at this kind of thing is fine, if you ask me (yes, even if you find it cool to wear a gas mask), but you don’t toe that moral right and wrong line. People who do that and have certain psychological dispositions are trouble, as they really have no where else to go but further escalation past that line.

What I found most ironic was a post on a profile that said his dream job was to be with the FBI Cyber Corps. Well, at least he got an up close introduction!

identity theft issues still hard to grasp for most

ID theft has been around a very, very long time. Only with the relatively recent explosion of the Internet has it become more than just an acceptable “cost of business.” So in recent years you’d think places, like, oh I don’t know say, local banks, would have a lot more awareness of the issues and do simple things like, I don’t know, shred or securely dispose of paper waste.
I guess not. Even today…

Federal agents say Nelson said it was easy to find new victims: All he needed to do was visit a local bank and search their dumpsters.

My only complaint on the news article is this part:

CBS13 was able to find processed deposit slips and junk mail with full names and addresses in the garbage of a local bank.

With absolutely no reference on why that sort of information might be useful or dangerous. Is my full name and address sensitive information? I would hope not since it’s public…