Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lots Going On

I'm back after a month hiatus or so. Figures I'd get too busy to blog right as so many juicy "write about me" sort of things happen. To be honest, I hope you've wondered what my take is. Not that I'm some security guru, or the man in the know, but because it means you are interested in this stuff and realize I am too, wanting to hear more about what I am seeing from the trenches.

Either way, here is my take on the last month, plus a peek at what is coming down the pike/pipe.

ASP.NET Oracle Thingy

So this was a biggie for .NET developers, ASP.NET developers in particular. As you likely know by now, it had nothing to do with Oracle Corporation or any of their technology. I won't explain what it was, since others have done better than I ever could. The vulnerability hit the internet blog posts mid-September and a fix was in place soon after. Microsoft ranked it as a big deal, though my first glance at it was no big deal. I still think they made it a bigger deal than it needed to be, but honestly it was refreshing to see such movement and activity on it. So why didn't I think it was a big deal? It was something that would take some time to exploit. Sure, the payloads of web.config files and all that would be worth it, but it takes quite a bit of exploit attempts to get the thing to work.

Now, to play the other side of things, which I enjoy doing as well, I REALLY hope you have applied the patch Microsoft gave you for your servers! My lack of whizbang about the issue doesn't mean I find it something to ignore. In fact in this case it is the opposite. The noise and commotion over this vulnerability makes hackers go "ooooh, pretty lights..." and head TOWARDS the issue. If they weren't trying it before, they sure are now. I have no formal study-borne proof of my assertion, but I know human nature. Didn't it cross your mind just a little as to whether YOU could execute it? I did mine. I thought it would be cool to write a routine that ran through some stuff and tried it over and over, even if only on my localhost. The truly bad guys/gals are too. And for some reason this exploit seems accessible to isn't all complicated I guess.

Anyway, PATCH YOUR SERVERS if you haven't already.

Lots Of Us In The News

Ok. So not me and likely not you. But we have to understand that though it was "them", "thems is us". How close are you or me from being a negative headline? In the last month news broke about healthcare data compromised, bank accounts broken into, Twitter hacked using onMouseOver javascript to send you to your favorite porn site faster, Twitter had a password-stealing phishing scam hit many people including CNN anchor Rick Sanchez (though it was a rather amusing hack), Facebook had at least one notable issue, and the SCADA attack showed us how subtle, intense and intelligent pockets of the hacker community are. The SCADA one in particular causes me anxiety. Facebook, Twitter, etc...close your holes already and adjust with the zillions of people who are on your systems. Not that these were avoidable in every case, but keep being diligent on closing holes. If you are popular then you are a huge target.

The SCADA one, however is different. Getting people to download a piece of software silently by just visiting a website, having your machine attack a single system in a concentrated effort, knocking that system down and still not being sure who attacked it...that to me is scary. Now, granted, where did it all start? Getting people to download software. They can either be silly enough to just surf to random sites where the software sits, or it is a good site that they go to that is silly enough to not close its holes. Again, Cross-Site Scripting and SQL Injection can really put the hurt on and allow lots of other attacks get the foothold they need to go forward.

Looking Forward

I don't like to look too far forward in this field. It is a lot harder to predict than general technology or programming. But this is so clear and getting clearer every day. What is happening is that hackers are looking more at the application layer and developers are lagging more than ever. As we educate the good guys, we point out our flaws to the bad guys. And frankly, they have more to gain in attacking than we do in defending. Defense costs money and if you do it right you have nothing to show for it. "Hey boss! I need a raise! Nothing has hit us for a year!" Uh, yeah. Unfortunately, if nothing has hit you, it could be you are really good at defending or that hackers just haven't given you the time of day yet.
I am predicting a higher use of CSRF and that is coming to pass. I am also predicting that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg on successful, intelligent attacks. SCADA, though somewhat complicated and highly organized, wasn't all that difficult. We still have the easy holes to plug. Once we plug those, and I don't know that we ever will completely, they will be a few steps ahead of us, ready and waiting with more complex attacks. I'm a glass half full guy, really I am, but the state of software security has me wondering WHEN not IF a large full-scale attack will wipe out the internet for an extended period. The bad guys are already taking our money from our accounts, stealing data from our companies, attacking our systems and they already are doing it rather silently. They are growing in understanding and savvy. We aren't. We aren't. We aren't.
Our bosses still expect us to make our sites 100% secure (impossible), and they are not training the rank and file developer on security. "You are the security folks. I count on YOU." But we can't follow every developer and do code isn't feasible. We are still building crappy software and sites full of holes. And if you aren't even sure what the holes are in your code, shame on you but you aren't alone. Let me know if I can help. I am willing to educate you, point you to awesome training materials and sites, look at your code, build something for you. It really is time to get off the sidelines.

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