Sep 04 2008

Web 2.0 and more data

Category: Information Security,Web 2.0DISC @ 5:52 pm

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center of San Diego, “the data breaches are on the rise in 2008” and with more data breaches so are the impact and amount of losses. Web 2.0 is next phase of internet creation, where huge social networks are built and citizens of the network enjoy the interactive and conversational approach of the new web frontier. Does the web 2.0 introduce new threats which can be exploited by cyber criminals?

To aid a social communication, users are required to input personal profile including birth date and residence addresses into these social networks to participate, which happens to provide a target rich environment for cyber criminals. These days new attacks are already taking advantage of personal information, some of which is retrieved from social network sites. If the account is hacked/breached from one of these social network sites, the impersonator can damage the (personal and professional) reputation by modifying the profile or changing/inserting the contents or comments.

Cross site scripting is one of the major threat facing Web 2.0, below is an example of XSS.

“In an incident reported in early December 2006 by Websense, hackers compromised the MySpace social networking site and infected hundreds of user profiles with a worm. This malicious code exploited a known vulnerability to replace the legitimate links on the user profiles with links to a phishing site, where victims were asked to submit their username and password. In addition, according to Websense, the worm embedded infected video in victims’ user profiles.”

AJAX is one of the main programming languages used to develop Web 2.0.

“A traditional Web site is like a house with no windows and just a front door. An AJAX Web site is like a house with a ton of windows and a sliding door. You can put the biggest locks on your front and back doors, but I can still get in through a window.”

What if you happen to be a peace activist or a whistle blower in your company? Then perhaps Uncle Sam or your employer wants to settle scores with you for some reason. The question is who is monitoring them or for that matter stopping them from getting into your account to steal or modify data to damage your reputation or career? The point is, besides all the functional benefits, web 2.0 comes with new threats which we need to be aware of. Without knowing these risks we can’t manage or mitigate them to a point which is acceptable to the society at large.

Web 2.0 contents are mostly interactive or dynamic in nature. The tools which were used to defend static contents might not be feasible for dynamic web 2.0 contents. Non-repudiation, validating the source and real time verification of the contents might be necessary to stay on top of the dynamic nature of web 2.0 threats.

Web 2.0 – Opportunity 2.0 or Threat 2.0?

How freely available online infomation on Web 2.0 was utilized to break into online banking account

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE


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Tags: ajax, cross site scripting, cyber criminals, data breaches, identity theaft, mitigate, non-repudiation, phishing, Web 2.0, web 2.0 threats, websense, xss


Aug 21 2008

Access control fraud and countermeasures

Category: Access ControlDISC @ 1:22 am

These days access to the internet is a business requirement. Most businesses are selling their products and services on the internet which sometimes requires customers to have access to the critical assets such as applications and databases. The global growth of the internet has increased complexity and potential risks to these assets. In some cases, one potential breach may put the organization’s very existence at risk.  French bank Société Générale made a frightening announcement in Jan. 2008 that it has uncovered a $7.14 billion US fraud — one of history’s biggest.  A trader at the futures desk misled investors in 2007 and 2008 through a “scheme of elaborate fictitious transactions.”


In a security review, the reviewer will first determine the criticality of an asset and focus on how that asset is accessed by employees, the risks that unauthorized access by insiders or outsiders could pose to the organization, and if access control has sufficient countermeasures in place to mitigate those risks.  In other words, the security review will determine the risk level of access control to a particular asset and what appropriate control should be in place based on level of risk. At the same time, the business’s first priority is to make information available with effective access control in place. Based on criticality, assets subject to security review present different level of risk associated with access control. In other words, “not all data breaches are created equal.”


Authorization control is utilized to determine access to network resources. Authentication will determine the identity of the user. Authentication verifies that the login belongs to a user who is attempting to gain access to the system which can be obtained through PKI, smart cards, USB devices, tokens and biometrics.  Accounting keeps the records of user activity including what was used, when and for how long. Most of the application and operating systems have strong auditing features in place to track the activities of a user. Accounting records can be very useful for forensic evidence in case of a security breach. Authenticity covers validity of the information, if someone misrepresents your information by claiming that it is his or hers. Authenticity addresses all forms of information misrepresentation and authenticity of the system users.


In system profiling, the reviewer determines the criticality of access control and the risk posed to an organization where the risk is directly proportional to the criticality of an asset. Higher risk will require stronger controls or perhaps multiple controls. Security review should determine that controls in place are sufficient to avoid unauthorized access and non-repudiation of information and people. In many ways a password is the weakest link in the access control of a network defense. The best passwords are at least 60 random characters, letters, numbers, and punctuation which can be stored on a portable flash drive flash drive, to be retrieved when needed. All the passwords for the critical infrastructure should have these password characteristics. One weak password in the critical infrastructure can become a launching pad to access other resources in the network.


Security tools can be used to collect user permissions in a spreadsheet, which can be utilized to analyze the effectiveness of authentication, authorization, accounting, and authenticity. This analysis will determine if users have appropriate access based on need, role and security policy of the organization. Non-repudiation is the cornerstone of access control which assures the validity of a transaction and user. Regular monitoring and non-repudiation of users in all facets of access control might be necessary to mitigate the identity fraud associated with high profile assets. Compliance only addresses the bare minimum required to comply with a control but to measure the strength of a control in high profile assets, a security reviewer should use due care to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of access control at all levels. It might not be an example of due diligence when some regulations fail to require data encryption.


Security Threats


Rogue Trader Crushes Bank Societe Generale


httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4qD_ooM198


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Tags: accounting, authentication, authenticity, authorization, bast passwords, countermeasure, data encryption, due diligence, fraud, higher risk, identity fraud, mitigate, non-repudiation, potential risks, security review, security tools, societe general, unauthorized access


Aug 08 2008

PCI DSS significance and contractual agreement

Category: pci dss,Security ComplianceDISC @ 11:52 pm





The PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry & Data Security Standard) was established by credit card companies to create a unified security standard for handling credit card information.  The retail service industry now understands the strategic significance of PCI DSS compliance, which was demonstrated when TJX announced that their system was compromised for more than 17 months, where well over 50 million customers’ credit and debit cards were breached. Retail business which fails to comply will be subject to penalties and fines, possibly lawsuits, and may lose their credit card processing capability. Non-compliance will not only expose businesses to fines and penalties but also make it vulnerable to many threats, which can exploit the vulnerabilities in the system and put your business to unnecessary risk. These risks could have been avoided with some due diligence. When business is non-compliant, any major breach will have a significant impact on business viability.


To start a process of PCI compliance, a merchant should determine if PCI DSS applies to their organization.  PCI DSS is applicable if your customer PAN (Primary Account Numbers) is stored, processed or transmitted in your organization. After determining the applicability of the standard, the merchant needs to determine where their business falls in the categorization of businesses by their bank in terms of merchant level.


Before commencing the risk assessment the assessor will perform the system profile to determine the applicability of the scope and set the boundaries of the system covered under PCI-DSS assessment. Planning is the key to success of a project; this is the phase where all the planning and project preparation will take place.   Now the key to the success of your on-going compliance is to simplify the scope of the project. The best way to achieve this to put all the PCI related assets in a precise segment to limit the merchant card holder environment.


Comprehensive risk assessment will be performed on the identified scope where risk analysis will identify the gaps based on PCI DSS standards and risk rating will prioritize the gaps for risk management.  Thorough risk analysis will generate a quality technical and process gap analysis, where you decide the mitigation/compensating controls to comply with PCI DSS.  After completion of the risk assessment the task of the risk management begins, to eliminate the gaps in your environment and to comply with the standard. Depending on the numbers of gaps the risk management team should set realistic goals to complete the tasks in hand.  Best practices recommendations suggest that the organization should eliminate/mitigate the high risks (high impact & probability) gaps to the organization, but sometime organizations decide to go after the low hanging fruits to start with their risk management process.


When the risk management process gets close to finishing and you are well on your way to comply with PCI DSS, you might think that perhaps your job is done. Well in a way, it’s just a beginning of a process where your organization is supposed to maintain the compliance with PCI DSS.  Based on expert opinion, PCI DSS is a process not a project. What you have done so far, is baseline your environment. Ongoing compliance is achieved by monitoring the relevant PCI DSS controls. Ongoing compliance will depend on the quality of the merchant’s information security management system (ISMS). A strong  ISMS would include thorough monitoring, logging and reviewing controls to maintain and improve system security over time.  You can develop an automated PCI monitoring process to achieve consistent results and sustain compliance by continuously monitoring your system. ISMS (based on ISO 27001) certainly can be a great value to manage ongoing monitoring, maintenance and improvement cycle.


In a sense, PCI is neither a regulation nor a standard but a contractual agreement between the merchant and their acquirer bank, when merchants start transmitting PAN data that makes them contractually obligated to comply with PCI DSS. To understand their obligations, the merchant should make a proactive effort to understand their acquirer’s particular interpretation of PCI DSS requirements to get compliant.  Ongoing compliance will require adequate resources and automated controls in place to routinely monitor, maintain, review and improve the required systems. Ultimately, ongoing PCI compliance will enhance business efficiency and reduce the potential impact of adverse publicity on your business image.


 












Documentation Compliance Toolkit



PCI Compliance



Practical guide to implementation (Soft Cover)



Practical guide to implementation (Download)



PCI Compliance
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NUTs-aFtOA

Tags: business efficiency, business image, compensating controls, comprehensive, contractual agreement, gap analysis, isms, iso 27001, merchant card holder, mitigate, pan, pci compliance, pci dss, risk analysis, Risk Assessment, risk management process, tjx