Report: IT Professionals Far Removed From Reality On Security

Lumeta research says 90% want to detect cyber incidents that may cause breaches within one day.

A new survey of 5,000 US IT executives found 90% of respondents want to detect within one day cyber incidents that could lead to breaches, while 7% were willing to settle for less than one week, and 3%, less than one month.

The study, conducted by LTM Research on behalf of Lumeta, says enterprises are far removed from reality because industry data shows average duration of a breach to be more than six months. In support of this, a Mandiant report of 2015 found only 31% of companies are able to detect a cyber breach using internal resources while the rest find out through a third party. 

Nearly half the respondents said they face several obstacles to attaining network visibility including inability to keep a check on every device on the network.

Lumeta’s Reggie Best thinks the surveyed executives are misplaced in believing they have good security programs in place to protect their data since they lacked real-time network visibility.

For full survey, click here.

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How ‘Agile’ Changed Security At Dun & Bradstreet

Chief Security Officer Jon Rose shares the whys and wherefores of integrating agile software development methodology into a traditional security environment.

In this wide-ranging cybersecurity expert interview, Bishop Fox Partner Vincent Liu chats with the CSO of Dun & Bradstreet, Jon Rose. The two discuss the commercialization of security, the road to becoming a CSO and how agile helped his security team take control of day-to-day activities and better manage priorities. We excerpt highlights below. You can read the entire interview here.

Third in a series of interviews with cybersecurity experts by cybersecurity experts.

VINCENT LIU: Can you share your perspective on the commercialization of security and how that has changed things?

JON ROSE: I remember when some of the “hacker” certifications first came out. We would talk to people who were certified, and it became immediately clear that they often lacked the background or the interest to explore technologies or systems. What I see, though, is that there is such a demand for people with this knowledge, and because of that, more people are learning security-related skills. They don’t, however, always have the passion that was prevalent back in the day.

On the other hand, there is the constant growing list of security products. After a breach, many companies throw millions of dollars into solutions. They implement them incorrectly, and no one knows how to manage or run them. It doesn’t accomplish anything except temporarily provide the image of increasing security. 

VINCENT LIU: I see that all the time. Do you feel like other CSOs and CISOs are recognizing that this buy-a-tool approach isn’t sustainable? Are they seeing the holes in “fake security?”

JON ROSE: I think many security leaders are just buying things. There’s a lack of understanding about how breaches happen. You have to think like an attacker. The first thing I did at Dun & Bradstreet was staff and build up our security operations center, specifically our incident response program. Bad things will happen. It’s just a matter of when, so you have to be prepared to respond.

VINCENT LIU: There are folks who learn how to run a few commands, earn a Certified Ethical Hacker certification, and call themselves “pen testers.” But you were deep in tech, code review, complex exploit chains. How did that influence your current role? Did you have other roles that influenced what you’re doing now?

JON ROSE: I started consulting for the government. Then, I moved to New York and worked at Ernst & Young. That was when the major banks started application security programs. We wrote a lot of poorly constructed hacking tools that, at the time, got the job done. After that, I did several stints at various boutique consulting firms, which was exciting because I learned so much since we basically had to “do it all.” I next shifted gears and took a job as a product manager.

VINCENT LIU: How did being a product manager shape you?

JON ROSE: That was when I learned agile and how to manage multiple teams and prioritize and organize work. Honestly, I also became much better at managing crisis. As a pen tester, there’s not many crises (except if I knock over something important). As a product manager, I was on the other side. We were building systems for customers, and if those went down, the customers couldn’t get any value from them.

It also helped me to think about customers and software development and the sales cycle. From there, I started a consulting company. I later joined Dun & Bradstreet as the Chief Security Officer. One of the things that helps me as CSO is that blended experience of deep technical knowledge combined with the business view from being a product manager and leading agile teams.

VINCENT LIU: It’s fairly unusual to hear about security teams adopting an agile methodology. What attracted you to agile?

JON ROSE: Dun & Bradstreet is at an interesting crossroads. We’re investing in technology and a huge part of that is security. We previously outsourced our security functions and heavily relied on managed security services. This approach doesn’t always work. After being a product manager, I understand agile very well. We started it with the application security team as an experiment. Our work was reactive, and I wanted to shift that. We took control of our day-to-day activities and were able to better manage to our priorities. We also established processes for how other teams engage with us.

VINCENT LIU: What are the advantages from a security perspective?

JON ROSE: We began controlling the workflow and managing the incoming ad-hoc work. Morale skyrocketed almost immediately. The “lone wolf” pen testing team started talking about their projects and problems they were experiencing, and ultimately began solving them. It was amazing to witness that transformation. Agile changed how everyone worked. Letting employees shape how their teams work, how they interact with each other, and the processes that they use is empowering.

VINCENT LIU: If other organizations wanted to pilot this more agile method of management, where would they start?

JON ROSE: We asked the developers to describe how they ran their sprints and implemented agile. If you’re new to agile, find some developers and pick their brains. Then, we ran agile with our application security group. Agile is an experiment, and everyone conducts it differently. The key is taking that first step and having people on your team who are willing to try, take a risk, and do something different. You learn how to work slowly over time.

VINCENT LIU: Can you elaborate on the challenges of moving to agile?

JON ROSE: Communication problems became apparent. To address those, we put in agile practices and managed the ways that teams work internally as well as externally. Those interaction points are where the frustration generally appears. When it’s not clear, we have issues.I believe in light project management. Some people resisted at first, but now everyone loves it. Responsibilities are crystal clear.

VINCENT LIU: Where does agilework? Where doesn’t it?

JON ROSE: Our security operations team — which is naturally reactive — has run into some problems with Scrum, a form of agile which is time boxed. The team was struggling to keep up with requests. It was a perpetual cycle of trying to keep their heads above water. Agile forced the team to track incoming work requests, prioritize those, and schedule those.

VINCENT LIU: Does agile fit perfectly or did you modify it for a security setting?

JON ROSE: There will always be adjustments for differing environments and requirements. We’ve had to shift it for our needs. For instance, we’re not releasing code like a development team so it’s a little different.

VINCENT LIU: Where does the manager factor into the agile equation?

JON ROSE: The manager’s job is to help the team move faster and work better. In the daily stand-up, they identify potential issues and then eliminate them. This creates an awesome dynamic between the manager and the team. Above all else, the manager is a champion for the team and always fighting for their best interests. At the daily stand-up, everyone discusses what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and any problems. This motivates people to take ownership and accountability for their tasks.

Dun & Bradstreet CSO Jon Rose

Dun & Bradstreet CSO Jon Rose

PERSONALITY BYTES

On hiring: You want people with that hunger and passion, and who ask questions. I’m focused on building a strong team and finding the right people with the right mindset. I’m not necessarily referring to technical skills but knowing how to effectively problem solve.

Getting started: I’m inquisitive by nature, and became interested in computers and Linux when I was in high school. At the time, I had a connection to a CTO of a security-focused defense contractor. I interned at the company for the summer, read “Hacking Exposed Linux,” and quickly learned the various tools. That job was my introduction to pen testing and was where it all really started.

CSO management styles: Some CSOs are more focused on compliance and policies. I lean toward the technical side. I also put a heavy focus on relationship building, building the framework for working collaboration, as well as higher-level organizational structure. You don’t need a technical background, but you have to be able to map technical risks to business risks and goals so you can talk to anyone from your board to non-technical stakeholders, and have your message be heard and understood.

Bio: Jon is a unique combination of an innovative entrepreneur with the proven ability to lead Fortune 500 companies into success. With over 16 years of experience launching products, securing environments, training and educating technology teams, and building agile security organizations, Jon has a deep and wide understanding of organizational capabilities for both start-ups and large scale organizations, including Ernst & Young, Paypal and today is the chief security officer for Dun & Bradstreet.

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Vincent Liu (CISSP) is a Partner at Bishop Fox, a cyber security consulting firm providing services to the Fortune 500, global financial institutions, and high-tech startups. In this role, he oversees firm management, client matters, and strategy consulting. Vincent is a … View Full Bio

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US finds no cyber threats, despite declaring “national emergency”

kim-jong-un-generic-north-korea

(Image: via file footage/CBSNews.com)

Six months after issuing an executive order to handle the “national emergency” that the US faced amid the growing wave of cyberattacks, the Obama administration has yet to find any threats.

US President Barack Obama said the “increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities” in late-2014 and early-2015 posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to its national security. He signed an executive order in April 2015 in an effort to hit cyber-criminals and their host nations with sanctions — such as freezing assets — of those who target the US’ economic health.

But a newly-released Treasury Dept.’s report into the effectiveness of the six-month old executive order, dated October 1, said that the government had not designated any individuals or entities under the order, and collected no financial penalties or rewards.

On the other hand, the report said that the federal government had spent about $760,000 in costs, directly attributable to the executive order — mostly relating to wages and and personnel costs.

The report was first published after a Freedom of Information request by FAS blogger Steven Aftergood.

The executive order was signed after a tumultuous time in US cybersecurity history, months after the massive cyberattack that devastated Sony, which was linked to North Korean hackers. The hackers crippled the company’s networks and destroyed data — but not before the hackers stole terabytes of it. The motive was unclear, but was thought to be connected to the release of a highly-critical comedy movie, “The Interview,” which parodied the reclusive Communist state’s leader.

The country called the movie an “act of war,” and later complained to the United Nations.

Marking the order’s one-year anniversary in a statement, the White House did not reveal how many attackers or groups had been ensnared by the order, but said that “significant” malicious cyber-threats “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security.”

Spokespeople for the White House and Treasury Dept. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Twitter pays out over $322,000 to bug bounty hunters

twitter-bug-bounty.jpgZDNet

Twitter has revealed that the firm has paid out $322,420 to bug bounty hunters in only two years.

It was not that long ago that researchers seeking to report security vulnerabilities in systems and software had few outlets to do so. Emails and contact forms were the standard communication channel, and should a bug be investigated and deemed valid, the researcher was likely to receive little more than a pat on the back and perhaps public credit.

However, things have changed. Cyberthreats and data breaches are now a daily occurrence, which means businesses looking to protect their products and networks have to either hire in-house or seek external help to discover and fix problems before they can be exploited.

A number of firms are now either establishing their own bug bounty programs or turning to platforms such as HackerOne to monitor and run programs for them. As cybersecurity skills are now in hot demand, the majority of corporations now offer financial rewards and incentives to entice researchers to spend time ferreting out vulnerabilities on their behalf.

Twitter is one such company. The microblogging platform’s bug bounty program has been running for two years, resulting in thousands of dollars being awarded to researchers for reporting a total of 5,171 security issues.

See also: Microsoft expands bug bounty program

According to Twitter software engineer Arkadiy Tetelman, 1,662 researchers have signed up to disclose programs on the Twitter platform to date.

In two years, 20 percent of the bugs found within the system have been publicly disclosed — after they have been fixed and when a researcher requests permission to make vulnerabilities public — and as payout amounts increase, so do the number of submissions.

While Twitter’s minimum payout is $120 for problems which are not very severe, the average payout per bug is $835. However, Twitter’s highest payout to date is $12,040, and a single researcher was able to make $54,000 in 2015 alone.

There have been some important bugs reported through the program which are of note. A HTTP response bug which allowed attackers to send victims to a valid page with headers controlled by cybercriminals has been patched, alongside an XSS problem within the Android Crashlytics application. A simple insecure direct object reference bug which permitted attackers to delete all credit cards stored on the platform has also been fixed.

Twitter also offers a minimum payout of $15,000 for remote code execution vulnerabilities but so far, no reports have been submitted.

The bug bounty program has been a success for Twitter in the same way as any other company. However, just like rival firms, the microblogging platform also has in-house open security positions available — which is unsurprising considering the cybersecurity skill shortage.

In the meantime, bug bounty programs are likely to remain a key way for companies to keep their networks as safe as possible.

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Microsoft Windows zero-day exploit hits the market with $90,000 price tag

zero-day-microsoft.jpgSymantec

Russian hackers are selling a zero-day vulnerability for $90,000 which allegedly works against many different evolutions of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

The exploit is on sale in the Russian underground forum exploit.in. The seller, “BuggiCorp,” claims the zero-day flaw works against all versions of Windows from Windows 2000 to the current Windows 10 OS.

Zero-day vulnerabilities are a nightmare for vendor security teams. These exploits are unknown to software developers and until they are discovered in the wild, cyberattackers can compromise systems without detection. As a result, zero-day flaws often reach high prices.

Security expert Brian Krebs called the exploit “convincing.” However, the alleged security flaw is classed as a local privilege escalation (LPE) bug, which is less severe than other types of vulnerabilities — such as a remote code execution flaw which would permit attackers to compromise systems remotely.

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An LPE bug is often used in tandem with another vulnerability to run malicious code on a victim’s PC, which can result in heightened severity for other exploits. For example, if a victim is logged on as an admin user, an LPE bug can be used to chain a remote exploit to the system if it requires admin access to work.

The exploit was originally on sale for $95,000, but the price has now dropped to $90,000 in Bitcoin.

Researchers from Trustwave note the seller claims the vulnerability is for win32k.sys and exists through the way Windows handles objects “with certain properties.” The seller says:

“The vulnerability is of “write-what-where” type, and as such allows one to write a certain value to any address [in memory], which is sufficient for a full exploit.

The exploit successfully escapes from ILL/appcontainer (LOW), bypassing (more precisely: doesn’t get affected at all [by]) all existing protection mechanisms such as ASLR, DEP, SMEP, etc. [The exploit] relies solely on the KERNEL32 and USER32 libraries [DLLs].”

The exploit is being offered in two variations; a simple privilege escalation process or with the additional ability to execute code. The buyer will apparently receive the source code, a demo, instructions, consultancy and free updates to “address any Windows version that the exploit might not work on.”

BuggiCorp provided two proof-of-concept (PoC) videos which appear to show the exploit working, despite the use of Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), which is designed to block both known and unknown exploits from operating. One video, shown below, was recorded on Patch Tuesday and the latest updates were installed.

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Krebs says:

“It’s interesting that this exploit’s seller could potentially make more money by peddling his find to Microsoft than to the cybercriminal community. Of course, the videos and the whole thing could be a sham, but that’s probably unlikely in this case.

For one thing, a scammer seeking to scam other thieves would not insist on using the cybercrime forum’s escrow service to consummate the transaction, as this vendor has.”

Microsoft cybersecurity strategist Jeff Jones told Krebs the company is aware of the forum, but the zero-day exploit’s legitimacy has not been verified.

ZDNet has reached out to Microsoft and will update if we hear back.

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