Why Is This Even Necessary

The views expressed in this entry, as in all entries on my website, represent my personal views alone. They do not necessarily represent the views, policies or standards of my current or any previous employers. No content on my website is promoted or endorsed by my employers. I am a free man, and my thoughts are my own.


In a few weeks both Def Con and Blackhat will be going on, and there’s going to be a lot of media scrutiny for them due to the recent NSA leaks, Snowden and the Aaron Swartz incident. All of that along with the usual announcements of new security tools, exploits, and other goodies.

Not to mention the increasing frequency of people at IT conferences sexually harassing and assaulting other people.

So really, that I even have to sit down and write this blog article to explain how to behave as a human being is frankly insane. But well, a lot of hackers may be considered ‘crazy’ by some standards. So be it.
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Collaborative Cop Identifier System

Hi there. Yes, I know, it’s been 2 years since I last posted something on my website. Mea Culpa, I installed Joomla, I’m not much for website design, been busy, that sort of thing.

So how’s the spouse and kids? Really?! Well congrats, I’m glad to hear that. Except for the part about the restraining order, that’s a shame.

But hey the real reason why I’m here is to talk about an idea that popped into my head while I was zoning out along I-85 when heading back from a conference earlier this week. Being a responsible adult and all I tried to keep it down to only the “prayer for judgment” speeds and not “Judge Dredd” speeds. This is easy enough with cruise-control until you suddenly realize there’s a car ahead of you or behind you and you’re not sure if it’s a cop or not. And you don’t have radar detectors because you’re a law abiding citizen, damn it!

It occurred to me that we have all the technology to build an open source surveillance system for tracking and identifying police cars on the road. Now doing something like this of course requires making sure everything is done legally, and that has to account for differing laws between states and counties. But let’s push that down further into the article and jump into a technical outline of how to do this.

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Wake Up And Help Burn Away The Stupid

The biggest failure in information security is actually a failure in information technology implementation.

For many, many decades the operating systems and applications that have been made for computers have come with built-in security features. The very idea of a username and password to log into a computer pre-dates home computers by at least a decade, with Multics back in 1964. And it wasn’t the first.

But what has happened over this time is the old “arms race” where the bad guy finds a way around the restrictions put in place, so newer and more elaborate restrictions are put-up. More elaborate and complex security systems require more time to set-up, more knowledge to implement and a generally higher degree of intelligence.
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WebApp Throwdown!

WebApp Scanning Throwdown!

Starring: Nexpose Enterprise, Nessus 4.2 Professional Feed and Core Impact v10

The Victim: http://demo.testfire.net/ (Sorry IBM… not!)

Revised: 1/19/2010


Important Follow-up!

I have to apologize for errors in my original article. I missed a few findings in some of the reports, and mis-read a few items. Just to make this absolutely clear, errors in analysis of the results are my own fault, not a reflection of the products. And as stated, the configurations used were not ideal.

Please visit the downloads section for a spreadsheet providing the vulnerabilities in a matrix format and which tools identified them. Ultimately, there’s not a lot of difference though Nexpose did manage to get a couple that Nessus missed. All three tools missed quite a few more subtle vulnerabilities in the test site, however.
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The Puppetmasters New Clothes

In the Science Fiction novel “The Puppet Masters” by Robert A. Heinlein, alien creatures with the ability to connect to humans nervous systems invade the Earth. This novel was made into a terrible, horrible movie so if you have seen the movie but not read the book, please go read the book. And burn any copies of the movie you can get to.

But back to the book. It’s a pretty typical “alien possession” novel by current standards, but it was actually a significant publication in 1951. The aliens themselves are relatively small things with limited mobility (they are dubbed slugs), but can attach themselves to a victims neck and hang down the back. The “slug” can then control the human and tap into their memories, while remaining hidden under the clothing. As the novel progresses, the protagonists (Sam and Mary, who both work for a secret intelligence agency of the US) withdraw to the mountains. After being attacked by an alien slug, they return to the city to discover a law has been passed requiring full nudity.
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The InfoSec Warrior’s Rant

(With apologies to Jack Nicholson and whoever originally crafted this gem.  –Jedi)

“Son, we live in a world that has networks and those networks need to be guarded by men with balls and smarts. Who’s gonna do it? You? You sniveling admin? I have greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

You can weep for your permissions and curse security; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that your inconvenience, while tragic to you, probably saved exploitations and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves this network. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at staff meetings you want me on that firewall, you need me on that SIM.

We use words like audit, vulnerability and hack. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend this network. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very security I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “Thank You,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a damn security manual and secure your system.

Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”