Conn. Teacher Cleared of Felony Endangerment in Pop-Up Case

The case against Connecticut substitute teacher Julie Amero has finally
come to a close.  Prosecutors dropped the felony charges against her,
but the agreement called for a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of
disorderly conduct and surrender of her state teaching credential.
Amero had previously been convicted of endangering minors and faced 40
years in prison.  Prosecutors alleged that in 2004 she had surfed to
dubious websites that displayed pornographic pop-ups on a computer in
the classroom; when security specialists caught wind of the case, they
pushed to examine the computer in question and found that the school
district had inadequate anti-malware protection on that computer and the
pop-ups were not Amero’s fault.

This is easily one of the most frustrating InfoSec stories of recent years.  In case you are unaware, some poor substitute teacher in Conn was using a computer in a classroom when a flood of pornographic pop-ups (induced by malware) came on the screen.  She found herself in court facing Child Endangerment charges and up to 40 years in prison.

This highlights how scary our legal system can get.  If you have no idea what a case is about do not try to render a verdict.  Defer it to another judge, a jury or call in some experts.  For gods sake, don’t sentence someone for not doing anything wrong.

Study Finds Security Policy Adherence Problems

A Cisco-commissioned study found that employees at businesses in 10 countries around the world are often unaware of their companies’ security polices, or the employees ignore the policies because they hinder productivity.  When surveyed about whether their companies had security policies, there was a 20 to 30 percent gap between responses from IT professionals and other employees.  When asked why security policies are violated, IT professionals pointed to ignorance, while other employees said it was because the policies made it more difficult for them to do their jobs.  The study surveyed more than 2,000 employees and IT professionals at companies in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, India, Australia and Brazil.

Unfortunately I have seen the same thing in every orginization I have ever worked in.  Another unfortunate fact is that no real solution exists to this problem.  Most orginizations will do a security awareness program that consists of InfoSec trying to convey the inportance of this information without putting everyone to sleep, and the standard “signing of the security policy every year”.

Neither of these work, but they are better than nothing.

Does anyone else have any unique or effective methods they have used?

Massive World Bank Comprimise

FoxNews (not one of my normal news sites… I promise) just posted a story entitled “World Bank Under Cyber Siege in ‘Unprecedented Crisis’“.

The details are fairly chilling and include some amazingly upbeat quotes like…

“While it remains unclear how much data has been pilfered from the bank, it’s a lot. According to internal memos, “a minimum of 18 servers have been compromised,” including some of the bank’s most sensitive systems — ranging from the bank’s security and password server to a Human Resources server “that contains scanned images of staff documents.””

And…

“The World Bank Group’s computer network — one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation — has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year, FOX News has learned.”

This is certainly disturbing news for a number of reasons.  Most importantly the fact that the worlds financial system is serious peril and this…

In a frantic midnight e-mail to colleagues, the bank’s senior technology manager referred to the situation as an “unprecedented crisis.” In fact, it may be the worst security breach ever at a global financial institution. And it has left bank officials scrambling to try to understand the nature of the year-long cyber-assault, while also trying to keep the news from leaking to the public.

The italicised text is what I find very disturbing.  GLB, SOX and a slew of other laws all have strict disclosure guidelines.  Trying to hide something of this magnitude is not only futile but also illegal.

Network Security Monitoring with Arpwatch

Arpwatch is an amazingly useful tool that promiscuously listens on a specified interface for arp broadcasts.  It takes what it learns and saves the the output in a database for later reference in the following format.

mac_address ip unix_date/time hostname

It will take any changes/additions and log them to /var/log/messages as well as optionally emailing them.

This functionality is useful for detecting

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks
  • Arp spoofing/poisoning
  • Session hijacking attacks
  • New hosts introduced onto your network

Set up and configuration is easy.  Just download and compile arpwatch from lbnl’s site, create an arpwatch user (unless you want it to run as root… which you don’t), create an empty arpwatch database (touch/home/arpwatch/arp.dat) and run it.

The command line arguments you run will differ depending on how your network is set up, so check out the man page to be safe. The following should work for most situations.

/usr/sbin/arpwatch -i eth0 -u arpwatch -f /home/arpwatch/arp.dat -n x.x.x.x/21 -e –

-i eth0 tells it to listen on /dev/eth0 only.  You can run multiple instances of arpwatch for each nic/network if you are multihomed.

-u arpwatch tell it to run as the user ‘arpwatch’ instead of root.

-f /home/arpwatch/arp.dat tells it to save the arp database in that file instead of the default location

-n x.x.x.x/21 tells it that an additional address range is in use on this interface.  If you have IPs outside of those defined on your monitor nic it will report them as bogon.

-e – tells it not to email you with every thing it discovers.  You will want to run it this way the first time to avoid flooding your mail box.

AT&T IPhone “Direct Fulfillment” is Flawed.

My wife and I waited in line early morning the day of the IPhone 3G launch.  By the time we got in the AT&T store they had sold out of all 16gig models so they put them on order for “direct fulfillment”.

She got the white model and received hers two days ago.  I got the black one and still have not received mine.

My buddy, Billy, went into the same store after work the day of the launch and signed up for the direct fulfillment of the same model I ordered.  He just received confirmation that his is at the ATT store ready to be picked up.

So why did I wait in line?!

iPhone 3G

Missy and I hopped in the line at our local AT&T store this morning at 7am to try and get ourselves two iPhone 3Gs (16gig).  At this point the line already wrapped around the side of the building.  We finally got into the store at about 11am to find that they had sold out of the 16G version.

They set us up with “direct shippment” of the phones so they should arrive within 5-10 days.
I can’t wait!

Windows XP SP3 and winpcap

I installed Windows XP service pack 3 yesterday and found today that wireshark would not detect any of my network interfaces.

Reinstalling winpcap fixed it.

FYI

Comcast Spews False Information

If you have been living in a cave for the past few months you may not be aware of Comcasts recent practice of “shaping” bit-torrent traffic.

Specifically they insert RST packets into, what they believe to be, bit-torrent sessions and forge them to look like they came from the host at the other end of the session. For those of you not familiar with hot TCP/IP works, a RST packet is normally sent to tear down an established session. If this is erroneously sent in the course of a communication (as is the case with Comcast) your computer will get confused, drop and have to re-establish a connection.

The primary issues with this are…

  1. In order to associate the RST packet with your bit-torrent session they have to forge it to make it appear as if its from the other host you are communicating with. This violates a number of U.S. computer crime laws.
  2. They do a pretty crappy job in determining what bit-torrent traffic is. A number of reports have surfaced indicating the Lotus Notes and a number of other protocols are being improperly “shaped” as a result of this.
  3. A large number of legitimate software packages are distributed ONLY via bit-torrent. This is often the case with open source and free software as the developers are usually unable to afford the bandwidth required to distribute their works.
  4. I have yet to receive an sort of “Terms of Use” update informing me that this traffic is being mangled.

Another things that irks me regarding Comcast’s media handling of this is a position often stated by their PR and Executives.

Cohen also reiterated Comcast’s position that it doesn’t block traffic. “Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any websites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services,” he said, pledging to work with the FCC to “bring more transparency for consumers regarding broadband network management.”

They don’t seem to understand that inserting a RST packet is “blocking” traffic. A number of hardware Intrusion Protection Systems use that method to block intrusion attempts when they are not configured “inline” and have the ability to kill a session normally.