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Townsend Security Data Privacy Blog

Hillary's email data breach taught us all the wrong lessons

Posted by Ken Mafli on Feb 28, 2017 9:11:00 AM

In an unprecedented October surprise, Wikileaks dumped thousands of emails onto the internet from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), most of them concerning Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.  Later, in defending this move, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in an interview with FOX News, “said a 14-year-old could have hacked into the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman,” reported the Daily Mail.  Assange later revealed in the interview that John Podesta’s, Hillary’s campaign chairman, password was 'password.'  Politifact has gone on to challenge that assertion, saying that “Podesta was using a Gmail account, and Google doesn’t allow users to make their passwords ‘password.’”

Whatever John Podesta’s password was, it has sparked a good deal of renewed interest in good password management.  And far be it from me to downplay this crucial bit of data security.  We still have a long way to go.  In fact, SplashData just completed their survey of over 5 million people’s passwords and found that over 10% of people still use the most commonly guessable passwords like:

  • password
  • 123456
  • qwerty
  • passw0rd
  • Password1
  • zaq1zaq1

If you use any of these, stop it. Now.

But if that is all that we learn from the hack and subsequent data breach, we have missed the lesson.  As far back as June of 2016, it was widely reported, by the likes of Brian Krebs and Jeremy Kirk, that the DNC was vulnerable to attacks do to systemic weaknesses in cybersecurity.  In fact, in Jeremy Kirk’s article, it was noted that a press assistant emailed everyone a new password after a recent breach (a strong password at that: 'HHQTevgHQ@z&8b6').  The irony is, some of the email accounts had been compromised.  The hackers needed only to open the email and use the new password.

Strong passwords are not enough to rebuff the efforts of hackers to gain entry and to render the data useless in case of a breach.  We need proven security measures in order to keep the data safe.  

The data security measures below reflect specific things you can do to secure your data-at-rest in general. While there are more more specific measures you can take for email servers, it is important to remember that organizations have sensitive data everywhere, not just in emails.  That being said, since even seemingly benign emails at the DNC can blow up into political controversy, they probably need to follow these along with more email specific recommendations.  Follow along to find some of the best methods your organization should be using today to better secure your data security posture.

Multi Factor Authorization

2FA.pngAs we have already mentioned, usernames and passwords, by themselves, are not enough to authenticate users.  Truly strong passwords are hard to manage and remember.  And once a system is compromised, login credentials can be scraped with keyloggers, malware, or other such attacks.

You need an external verification process.  You need multi factor authentication (MFA). MFA has traditionally relied on verifying you by two of three ways:

  • Something that you know (i.e.: username, password, challenge questions/responses, one-time-use code, etc.)
  • Something that you have (i.e.: token, RFID cards or key fobs,  mobile phones, etc.)
  • Something that you are (biometrics)

Each of these methods have their advantages and drawbacks. For example:

  • Challenge Questions:
    • PRO: do not require any physical equipment on the user side
    • CON: do rely on the user’s memory, which can be fuzzy when it comes to precisely writing the correct response
    • CON: are vulnerable to deduction through inspection of social media accounts, etc.
    • CON: are “something you know” and so fall into the same category as login credentials, thereby not taking advantage of any other kind of authentication
  • Physical Equipment: (like RFID cards and tokens)
    • PRO: do not rely on a person’s memory
    • CON: can be stolen or lost
    • CON: require active device management from an administrator

One method of authentication that is gaining ground because of its ease of use is authentication that relies on OAuth (an open standard for authorization).  It does not rely on physical fobs (which can be lost) or an SMS text (which can be intercepted).  It, instead, relies on cryptographic code that generates a time specific one-time-use codes based on the user’s secret key and the time. Since the code operates simultaneously (and separately) on the user’s device (typically a mobile phone) and on an internal server, with no need for an internet connection; it greatly reduces downtime because of internet issues and hackers intercepting the one-time-use code.

Encryption

lock.pngStrong, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption as put forward by NIST should be used to encrypt all sensitive customer and company data.  In 2001 NIST formally adopted the AES encryption algorithm.  Since then, it has been proven countless times to render the data useless in the event of a breach.  In fact, it would take the fastest supercomputer 375 x 1050 years to brute force AES encryption by running through all permutations of an AES 256-bit encryption key.  In comparison, the Sun will reach its Red Giant stage in 54 x 108 years, engulfing Mercury, Venus, and possibly Earth.  In other words, the Earth will be incinerated by the then rapidly expanding Sun before a hacker could effectively crack AES encryption through brute force.

The good news, AES encryption comes standard in most database’s native encryption libraries.  Along with those free versions, there are a number of commercial products that rely on AES encryption available.  So finding a way to secure your data with AES encryption will be fairly easy.  That being said, it is important to understand the development time and performance hits each solution takes. Native encryption libraries are generally free but take a bit of development time.  Commercial solutions take less time to deploy but many times are file/folder level encryption products and have performance hits because they take a longer to encrypt/decrypt than column level encryption products.

Centralized Encryption Key Management

key.pngAs we mentioned, AES encryption is extremely difficult to brute force attack.  It’s strength lies in its ability to encrypt the data with a very long key (typically 256-bit). But it’s strength is also its weakness.  If your encryption key becomes known to a bad actor, your encrypted data becomes compromised.  That is why any encryption strategy worth its salt will include proper, centralized encryption key management.  

When defending your encryption key with full lifecycle key management, consider these things:

  • The encryption keys should be logically or physically separated from the encrypted data.  This way, if the encrypted data is compromised, they will not be able to decipher it.
  • The encryption keys should only be generated with a cryptographically secure pseudo-random number generator (CSPRNG).
  • Restrict administrator and user access to the keys to the least amount of personnel possible.
  • Create clear separation of duties to prevent improper use of the keys by database administrators.
  • Manage the full lifecycle of the keys from key creation, activation, expiration, archive, and deletion.

For a more comprehensive view of encryption key management, please view the Definitive Guide to Encryption Key Management.

Real Time Log Monitoring

Forrester, in 2013, promulgated the cybersecurity model of “Zero Trust.”  In it, they put forward the motto: “never trust, always verify.”  By this, they mean that all users should be authenticated, restricted to the least amount of data possible, and verified that they are doing the right thing through real-time monitoring.  Of which, they advocate for:  

  • Real Time Event Collection in which you collect and log all events, in real time.
  • Event Correlation in which you analyze all events and narrow in on the ones that do not conform to expected patterns.
  • Resolution Management in which you investigate all suspect behavior and either classify them as either benign or a possible threat for further investigation.

There are many Security Information Event Management (SIEM) tools available that accomplish this.  For more information, refer to Gartner’s SIEM Magic Quadrant to find the tools that fit your needs.

Final Thoughts

Defending data-at-rest is a never ending struggle of building robust defenses and continuous improvement.  But, it's not a question of if, but when, a data breach will happen.  And if the DNC data breaches taught us anything is that breaches can be embarrassing and costly.  Since  hackers are only growing more sophisticated in their techniques, it is incumbent upon us to respond in ever increasing levels of agility and sophistication of our own.

The old models of the high, guarded perimeter with complex passwords to gain entry are just not enough.  We need a higher degree of authentication, sensitive data rendered useless, and constant real-time monitoring of all traffic.  You data depends on it.

Turning a Blind Eye to Data Security eBook

Topics: Data Security

Three Core Concepts from "Zero Trust" to Implement Today

Posted by Ken Mafli on Feb 1, 2017 12:57:58 PM

 

“There are only two types of data that exist in your organization: data that someone wants to steal and everything else.”

Forrester Research

encryption-key-management-simplified In 2013, Forrester released an outline of their proprietary “Zero Trust Model” of information security to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  Their model seeks to change “the way that organizations think about cybersecurity,” execute on higher levels of data security, and all the while “allowing for free interactions internally.”

But, when looking to better secure your organization’s data security posture, it is good to start with what has changed.  In the report, Forrester concluded that the old network security model was that of “an M&M, with a hard crunchy outside and a soft chewy center.”  It is the idea of the hardened perimeter around the traditional, trusted datacenter.  This old model is fraught with vulnerabilities as the traditional model is not equipped to handle new attack vectors with IoT, workforce mobility, and data centers moving to the cloud. It is increasingly becoming outmoded and weak.

In it’s place must come a data security model that takes into account the current network landscape and its vulnerabilities.  Enter, Zero Trust.  It builds upon the notion of network segmentation and offers key updates all under the banner: "never trust, always verify."

Below are the three main concepts to Zero Trust.  Follow along as we break down the trusted/untrusted network model and in its place rebuild a new trust model.

 

Assume All Traffic is a Threat

The first rule of “never trust, always verify” is that all traffic within the network should be considered a potential threat until you have verified “that the traffic is authorized … and secured.” Let’s look at these two components:

  • Authorized Traffic: Each end user should present valid (and up-to-date) login credentials (i.e. username and password) as well as authenticate themselves with multi factor authentication for each session logging into the network.  Usernames and passwords are not enough.  Only multi-factor authentication can reduce the risk of a hacker obtaining and misusing stolen login credentials.
  • Secured Traffic: All communication, coming from inside and outside of the network, should be be encrypted.  It should always be assumed that someone is listening in.  Using SSH or TLS and keeping abreast of their potential vulnerabilities is the only way to reduce the risk of exposure.

 

Give Minimal Privileges

The only way to minimize the risk of employees, contractors, or external bad actors misusing data is to limit the access each user/role is given to the least amount of privileges possible.  With this, it is a forgone conclusion that all sensitive data is already encrypted and minimal privileges are given as to who can decrypt it.  We implement a minimal privileges policy so that “by default we help eliminate the human temptation for people to access restricted resources” and the ability for hackers to access a user’s login credentials and thereby have access to the entire network.

Role-based access control (RBAC) model, first formalized by David Ferraiolo and Richard Kuhn in 1992 and then updated under a more unified approach by Ravi Sandhu, David Ferraiolo, and Richard Kuhn in 2000 is the standard today.  It’s ability to restrict system access only to authorized roles/users makes it the ideal candidate for implementing this leg of Zero Trust.  While Zero Trust does not explicitly endorse RBAC, it is best game in town, as of today.  For a deeper dive, visit NIST’s PDF of the model.

 

Verify People are Doing the Right Thing

Once we have authenticated each user and restricted them to the least amount of data possible to adequately do their job, the last thing to do is “verify that they are doing the right thing” through logging and inspection.

Here is a short (and certainly not exhaustive) list of techniques used to inspect all events happening in your network.  

  • Real Time Event Collection: the first step is to collect and log all events, in real time.
  • Event Correlation: Next you need to analyze all of the events and narrowing in on the events that need greater scrutiny.
  • Anomaly Detection: In a related move, you will want to identify the events that do not conform to the expected pattern and investigate further.
  • Resolution Management: All events that do not meet the expected pattern should be investigated and either classified as benign or deemed a possible threat and given for further investigation.

Note: There are many tools available that accomplish these.  Please refer to Gartner’s Security Information Event Management (SIEM) Magic Quadrant to find the tools that may interest you.

 

Final Thoughts

It's not a question of if, but when, a data breach will happen. Hackers grow more sophisticated in their attacks and threaten everything from intellectual property to financial information to your customers Personally Identifiable Information (PII).  The old model of the high, guarded perimeter with the trusted, internal network no longer functions as a secure model.  Zero Trust offers a more comprehensive approach to today’s data security needs.  As you look to deploy this model, begin to seek out tools that will help you.  Here is a short list of some of the tools to consider:

  • Log Collection Tools: Some platforms, like the IBM i, have proprietary formats, that are difficult for SIEMs to read.  Make sure your SIEM can fully collect all needed logs.  If it cannot, find or make a tool that will properly capture and send the logs onto your SIEM.
  • SIEM Tools:  As mentioned earlier in the article, there are many good SIEM tools out there to help you collect, analyse, and monitor all events on your network.
  • Encryption (data-in-flight): Fortunately, there are many open source protocols for secure communications like SSH and TLS.
  • Encryption (data-at-rest): Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption is ubiquitous in most platform’s native encryption libraries.  There are also a number of products that offer column level to folder/file level encryption.
  • Centralized Key Management: The encryption you deploy is only as good and the level of protection you give to the encryption keys.  Therefore, robust encryption key management is a must.
  • User Access Management: Managing privileges, credentials, and multi factor authentication can be a daunting task.  The more more you can automate this, the better.

In many cases, adopting this approach will not be about bolting on a few products onto your existing data security framework but completely renovating it.  Don’t let expediency force you to defend your data with only half measures.  Take a deep dive into Zero Trust’s approach and see where you may be vulnerable.

 

Encryption Key Management Simplified eBook

Topics: Data Security

How Attorneys Think About Credit Card Data Breaches

Posted by Patrick Townsend on May 16, 2016 1:58:00 PM

Those of us in the data security industry often wear technology blinders as we go about the business of trying to secure the sensitive data of the organizations we serve. Every organization has limited resources and it is hard to compete with line of business needs in terms of budget and human resources. It’s an ongoing struggle that comes with the territory.

2016 Encryption Key Management Industry Perspectives and Trends eBook Of course, any organization that has suffered a severe data breach quickly changes its attitude towards investing in security. The internal attitudes at Target, Anthem and Sony are different today than they were in the past, and for good reasons.

For those who’ve not experienced a data breach, the organizational costs remain vague and theoretical. I thought you might like to read how an attorney views the impacts of a data breach that involves the loss of credit card information. David Zetoony, an attorney with the legal firm Bryan Cave, has written several white papers discussing aspects of security. These are very readable works and well worth the time. Even if you are not processing credit card payments, I think this article is relevant to the loss of any sensitive data.

Here is his paper on the impacts of a data breach involving credit cards.

There is a bonus section in this paper about cyber insurance. In my eBook on Key Management Trends and Predictions I mention Cyber Insurance as an evolving industry. This paper by David Zetoony delves much deeper into the issues related to Cyber Insurance. He provides some very practical advice on how to think about Cyber Insurance and how to evaluate potential coverage. If you are new to the topic, or if you’ve not reviewed your Cyber Insurance policy for more than a year, you need to read the second part of David’s paper.

Neither I nor Townsend Security has any relationship with David Zetoony and the legal firm of Bryan Cave. I stumbled on this David’s work and thought you might find this informative. For those of you making the case for increased security, you might consider sharing David’s paper with your management team and legal counsel.

Patrick

201

Topics: Data Security, Data Privacy, Business Risk

Getting Funding for Your Security Project: A Guide for the CISO

Posted by Luke Probasco on Apr 12, 2016 4:26:00 PM

CISOs often can have an arduous time getting budget. To top it off, they are tirelessly thinking about how to improve security programs, justify what they are currently doing, and getting the budget they need for next year. When it comes to improving budget, CISOs need to trade their technology hat with a colleague in the sales or marketing department.

eBook - Encryption Key Management Simplified When it boils down to it, a CISO is not technology provider, but rather business solution provider. This can sometimes be a hard realization to make. Especially after spending the first part of your career immersed deep in the technology weeds. For the new CISO, and even seasoned veterans, it can be a challenge to learn to sell and market your ideas (and get funding from) the various stakeholders within the company. It is imperative for the CISO to market and sell the security side of the house to the business at large to get what they need.

Speak Their Language
Not too long ago, the CISOs job was to walk to the C-suite and say, for example, “Hey, we need encryption and key management. Give me the budget and I will go make that happen.” Back in the day, they would usually get the money. Now it is more about building relationships and having a business problem to solve.

With times changing, now it is important to better understand what technologies the stakeholders are hearing about and how you can leverage their knowledge of current security events to bolster your security program. Many of the stories that in the past would have been exclusive to publications like CSO Online and Krebs on Security are now showing up in places like Forbes, Businessweek, and the Wall Street Journal – places where your stakeholders go to get information.

When we look at what is being covered by the mainstream media, it is stuff that security professionals have had to deal with for years, but was relatively unknown to the upper echelons of the company. When security admins talk about data breaches, they talk about SQL injections or the best practice for data protection and how to manage a database – IT vernacular.

It is important to remember that the executive team doesn’t speak your language. When they talk about someone impersonating the CEO via email and exposing W2 information, they don’t know that this is called a “phishing attack.” Security professionals know this, but that isn’t what they call it in USA Today. You have to understand how to make those connections and draw those lines for people.

Sell and Market Your Program
You will have an opportunity from time to time to engage stakeholders for 30-seconds to 2 minutes. When you have those chances for an interaction, you need to sell your program. You need to practice it and have it come across very natural and as you would normally talk. Some suggestions:

  • Talk about the great things that you are doing and that you want to do more of it
  • Make sure that they understand your successes
  • Don’t talk about stuff that doesn’t matter – that is not how you get a budget

It is also important to have various elevator pitches, depending on who you are going to be talking with. For example, if you have 30 seconds with a CIO or director, the pitch is going to be different for each one, because they care about different things. Remember, when you talk with them, it has to be about something that they care about. The secret to success is to sell your program and the services of your group. Don’t just talk about building a security kingdom, but rather business solutions.

Often, when you think about selling, you think about selling to the CFO or even the board. You don’t often think about it, but you do in fact have to sell to the SOC (Security Operations Center) manager or other teams or lines of business within the organization. You may not be asking them for funding, but you need to get them on board so that when you do go to whoever you need to make the big pitch to, they will have your back. It is a much easier sell when there is a choir of voices saying, “Yeah, this is what we think that we need. This is the solution that we want. We have already bought into the fact that this is what we need.” If you can get 3 or 4 other directors from different lines of business backing you, you will be much more successful at actually getting funding than if you were to say “This is what I think is needed” and the board replies “What does the SOC manager think?”

If your funders still need more convincing, compliance regulations can often help your cause. Regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA (as well as others) are constantly evolving, going through review and update, and bringing in stronger language and more stringent security demands. PCI DSS, in particular, carries a big stick. Whether you love it or hate it, it can often get you what you need because your business has to comply if they want to take credit cards.

External audit findings can also help propel your security program forward. When they come back negative, business risk has been identified – and business risk speaks very loudly to the C-suite. It is in their charter to acknowledge business risks and take appropriate actions.

Finally, and unfortunately, there will be times that you are simply told “No, there just isn’t budget for _______.” But what you can do, because you are a smart CISO, is go into your backup pitch. Just because you didn’t hit a “grand slam” doesn’t mean that getting a “single” or a “walk” is out of the question. Your “walk” should be the absolute bare minimum needed to move your cause forward, at least a little. Even the guy that gets walked is going to score from time to time. If you can take a “walk” and deliver something with it, you are going to further gain the trust of your funders and establish a positive track record for delivering on time and on a budget.

Turning a Blind Eye to Data Security eBook

Topics: Data Security, security, Data Privacy

A Data-centric Approach to Securing Sensitive Data

Posted by Michelle Larson on Feb 25, 2016 1:11:00 PM

Data-centric security means planning for and implementing encryption and the proper management of encryption keys regardless of the environment. Request the Podcast: Compliance for Coders

All data security plans should constantly evolve to reflect changes in business and compliance regulations, as well as policy and infrastructure changes. Because of this evolution, developers are often called upon to modify existing applications, and to implement new or better security solutions. They also are often required to add new security applications in order to meet data protection best practices or prepare for an audit to meet compliance requirements (PCI DSS, HIPAA, FFIEC, etc.).  

What do developers need to know about coding for compliance?

From the ground up, regardless of the platform or language you use, it is the data security mindset that is critical. Developers need to be aware of protecting sensitive data when writing code because ever-evolving compliance requirements call for that disposition. There should be an emphasis to meet industry compliance standards from the beginning design stages. Code needs to be built with those data protection requirements in mind so that is doesn’t have to be reengineered. Projects can sink or fail due to inadequate data security measures, which can put a whole organization at risk.

Whether you are working in hardware, virtual, or cloud environments, understanding and identifying where sensitive data will reside is very important from day one. There needs to be an understanding of the criminal mindsets that will be trying to breach the systems you create, proper preparation for security audits, and a full knowledge of the compliance guidance available to meet industry standards. Developers should also develop for every possible platform/application that the project might be deployed on. As applications move more to multi-tenant cloud environments, you want to make sure you are not locked into or out of a particular platform. You want your code to be compatible from day one with hardware, VMware virtual environments, and cloud platforms. As more organizations move away from using only hardware, VMware technology is at the center of a revolution around virtual and cloud environments. VMware (the company) has done a great job with providing educational materials, helping developers program in a compliance fashion, and producing reference architecture for PCI compliance.

As developers know, their customers want “out of the box” third-party solutions that already meet required security validations. A few of the fundamental basics to keep in mind when developing for data security compliance:

    • Use encryption standards such as AES encryption for data-at-rest.
    • Use proper Encryption Key storage and management tools
    • Do not burn the keys in code
    • Do not store keys on the same server as the protected data
    • Plan for a compliance audit from the beginning stages

It is also important to look for solution providers that will talk with you before just giving you an instant trial download, it is a good idea to make sure their solution is a technical fit, and not a waste of your time. This is something we do here at Townsend Security with all of our products. We offer a 30-day full version trial of all our software so that you can do a full proof-of-concept and test in your environment. We also feel it is important to supply client-side applications, SDK’s and modules that fit naturally into the platforms and languages that match your development environment. I encourage you to take a little time to listen to this podcast and hear from Patrick Townsend, the Founder & CEO of Townsend Security, on his perspective for developers.

Request the Podcast: Compliance for Coders

Topics: Data Security, Developer Program, Encryption Key Management, Defense-in-Depth, Podcast, Key Life Cycle

Looking Back on 2015 Data Breaches

Posted by Michelle Larson on Jan 5, 2016 8:08:00 AM

Data Breach Statistic for 20152015 was a year of large and sometimes very controversial data breaches across a broad industry spectrum.  The Identity Theft Resource Center 2015 Breach List contains 780 breaches and 177,866,236 exposed records. Here are just a few that everyone should be aware of:

HEALTHCARE

Anthem

    • 78.8 million highly sensitive patient records
    • 8.8 to 18.8 million non-patient records
    • Names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, employment information, and income data

Premera

    • Over 11 million subscribers
    • Names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, and bank account information.

Excellus

    • 10 million members
    • Names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, member identification numbers, financial account information, and claims information

ENTERTAINMENT

Avid Life Media (ALM), the parent company of Ashley Madison

    • 37 million user accounts
    • Email addresses, first and last names, and phone numbers.

VTech

    • 6.4 million children accounts
    • 4.9 million customer (parent) accounts
    • Photos, names, passwords, IP addresses, download history, and children’s gender and birth dates.

Hello Kitty (SanrioTown)

    • 3.3 million customers, including children
    • Full names, encoded by decipherable birth dates, email addresses, and encrypted passwords, along with password reset questions and answers.

TECHNOLOGY

T-Mobile via Experian

    • 15 million records
    • Names, birth dates, addresses and social security numbers and/or an alternative form of ID, such as drivers’ license numbers. (This was an unusual hack because the company itself (in this case T-mobile) didn’t have a data breach rather Experian (a credit reporting company) had a data breach which leaked T-mobile’s consumers’ data)

TalkTalk

    • 3 breaches affecting up to 4 million user records
    • Names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, TalkTalk account details and payment card information

Comcast

    • Over 200,000 users
    • Login credentials were sold on the dark web

GOVERNMENT

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

    • Over 4 million personnel files
    • Over 21 million federal employees and contractors
    • Social Security numbers, security clearance information, fingerprints, and personal details that could leave federal personnel vulnerable to blackmail.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

    • Over 100,000 taxpayers
    • Online transcripts and significant personal information was accessed as a result of access to previously stolen identity information.

Wrapping up the year; on December 20th, 191 million registered U.S. voter records were exposed online. The database that was discovered contained more than the voter’s name, date of birth, gender, and address; which on their own is a good amount of personally identifiable information (PII). It also include the voter’s ethnicity, party affiliation, e-mail address, phone number, state voter ID, and whether he/she is on the “Do Not Call” list.

As we head into 2016, we will be focused on prevention and how we can best provide information and solutions to protect your sensitive & valuable data.

Let us know how we can help you!

The Encryption Guide eBook

Topics: Data Security, Encryption, eBook, Encryption Key Management, Data Breach

Securing your IBM i (AS/400, iSeries) - Webinar Q&A

Posted by Michelle Larson on Dec 4, 2015 10:41:00 AM

Data security doesn’t need to be a challenge! 

Whether your data is stored within your database files or transmitted to your trading partners, using the right tools can mean the difference between meeting compliance and security best practices or suffering a data breach.  Webinar: Securing Data on Your IBM i

Townsend Security is well known for providing security solutions for a wide variety of platforms (IBM i (AS400, iSeries), IBM mainframe, VMware, Windows, Linux). Recently, our founder and CEO produced an excellent webinar on “Securing Your IBM i Using the Right Tools”. Many of our IBM i customers are under multiple compliance requirements including PCI, HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, and others which require securing data-at-rest and data-in-motion, real-time security event logging, file integrity monitoring, and two-factor authentication. The webinar covers encryption and key management as well as a number of our other auxiliary products specifically for the IBM i (AS400, iSeries) platform.

There were a number of excellent questions asked after the presentation, and the following is a brief recap of that Q&A session with links to additional information:

Q:  Can I use FieldProc to protect multiple fields in a file?

A:  The short answer is yes, encrypting multiple fields is a fully supported capability. FieldProc does allow, from both DB2 and from our solution, protecting multiple columns or fields in a DB2 file. You can define multiple fields and then enable FieldProc with one command on all those fields within our solution. People often ask if indexes can also be encrypted and yes, that is fully supported as well. There are a few limitations in legacy RPG applications, while with a native SQL application there are no limitations.

To learn more about Field Procedures on the IBM i, check out this blog:  5 Common FAQs About IBM i Encryption Using FIELDPROC 

Q: Can’t I just transfer my file from IBM i to Windows and then PGP encrypt it there?

A:  This is a great compliance question and comes up often with QSA Auditors. Yes, of course you can move a file from one machine to another using operations navigator. The problem is that it exposes data in the clear during the movement, either across the network if it is an unsecured connection or when the data lands on the other side of the transfer. Any of these exposures will likely result in an audit failure.

Good security practice, regardless of the platforms involved is:

  •   Encrypt at the Source
  •   Decrypt at the Destination

Make sure to securely move it in encrypted form and don’t let it get loose anywhere in between!

Learn more about the core components of a total encryption strategy in this blog: Secure Managed File Transfer and PGP Encryption

Q: How does key management work with older back-up copies of data that was secured with earlier keys?

A:  Any Enterprise key management solution should maintain encryption keys under policy for as long as they are needed. As you generate new keys, the older keys are retained and made available for decryption purposes, until you retire those keys. Our solution will maintain multiple versions, and doesn’t have a limit on how many keys or generations you can have of master or key encryption keys. If you have a loss or need to delete data that is out of your control, you can then delete the key. 

For more information on the full life cycle of keys, check out this blog: Why Key Management is So Critical in the Life Cycle of an Encryption Key

Q:  Your two-factor authentication product is supported in which countries?

A:  Since our 2FA solution is through TeleSign, a global company, it has a broad presence in more than 200 countries around the world and in 87 languages.  By leveraging an individual's mobile phone, a reliable means of authentication has become readily available for the IBM i platform. For example, instead of tokens, businesses can simply send an SMS or voice message that contains a one-time authentication code to the individual user’s phone. This means cyber criminals cannot log into the IBM i without physical control of the actual phone. 

This blog will outline Making a Case for Two Factor Authentication: Taking Security Beyond Usernames and Passwords

Webinar: Sec

Topics: Data Security, IBM i, Webinar, iSeries, AS/400, IBM Security Solutions

State of Encryption Key Management

Posted by Liz Townsend on Nov 24, 2015 9:32:00 AM

Looking into 2016, what is the role encryption key management will play in securing sensitive data?

Encryption and key management are the Fort Knoxes of security technologies for organizations wanting to protect sensitive data from hackers and data breaches. While commonly used by retail and financial institutions (and gaining even more traction after the onslaught of retail data breaches we saw in 2014), we still see major gaps and problems with implementation of these technologies across multiple industries. In 2015, with over 181 million records exposed in data breaches by mid November, we ask ourselves, what are the challenges of implementing encryption and key management, how widely are they used today, and what can we expect from encryption and key management vendors looking forward? eBook The Encryption Guide

While encryption has become an easily accessible technology, it remains a major point of struggle for most companies. Since organizations have multiple departments with siloed technical infrastructure, many different tools must be used to manage data across the enterprise. From HR to Accounting to stored customer data, many different platforms, operating systems, databases, and applications are used to store and process sensitive information. This makes locating this data extremely difficult as well as achieving consistent data encryption that can be managed from a single, central location.

Boards of directors and executives are becoming more aware that data security is not just a technical problem, but a governance, risk management, and compliance problem that deserves the same level of attention to risk as financial, legal, and corporate aspects of their business. However, employees at the IT level still hold the most buying influence over encryption and key management technologies.

These sorts of buying decisions have historically landed in the wheelhouse of IT Operations; however, the primary issue that arises in these decisions is that  complicated data security projects are often perceived as a threat to operational continuity. When an IT professional feels they must choose between security and functionality, they will always choose function to avoid the dreaded business-down scenario. Companies should not have to chose between security and continuity, and today, security professionals advocate that executives assign an IT security team to advocate for security solutions and work with IT Operations to implement these technologies.

According to the Ponemon Institute 2015 Global Encryption & Key Management Trends Study, meeting compliance requirements such as PCI-DSS remains the primary driver for encryption and key management implementation. PCI-DSS and federal and financial regulations such as FISMA and GLBA/FFIEC also continue to set the strictest data security regulations. However, despite compliance with industry regulations, organizations still experience breaches, often by a hacker accessing their network through a third party vendor or through employee mistakes. Sadly, often these breaches reveal that data was not encrypted, despite industry compliance.

This flagrant lack of encryption begs the question, will our data security ever get better, or will hackers continue to be one or even two steps ahead?

The answer to that question may come from the fact that in many large corporations, about 80% of resources allocated for data security apply towards network and anti-virus security. This includes firewalls, malware detection, and other intrusion-prevention software. The problem with relying mostly on network security is that hackers continually succeed in breaking through these barriers, often using social engineering and phishing scams to achieve enough authority to open a door and walk right in. Once inside, they discover sensitive data stored in the clear and steal it.

Network security is always an important part of a data security plan, but time after time we see encryption, which is also a critical part of that plan, implemented after-the-fact. This comes back to the issue of sensitive data being difficult to locate inside an enterprise, but the sheer amounts of unencrypted data that hackers are able to discover leads one to believe that some organizations simply do not implement encryption very well. This may be backed up by the discovery that only 37% of companies in the U.S. deploy encryption extensively (as opposed to partially) across their enterprise.

Diving deeper into the challenges surrounding encryption, one of the most painful parts of encrypting data is managing encryption keys. Even if a company encrypts a database of customer credit card numbers, if they do not protect the encryption key, a hacker could easily find the key and decrypt the data, rendering the encryption useless. Unfortunately, protecting and managing encryption keys away from encrypted data is still something organizations fail to do.

As organizations begin to move into the cloud and virtualized environments, as many already have, another stumbling block will be lack of availability of hybrid (cloud and in-house) encryption and key management solutions.

Looking into 2016 and beyond, the key management solutions that will excel will be the solutions that can manage encryption keys anywhere your sensitive data is located whether that be in the cloud, virtual platforms, or hardware. A majority of companies believe that hybrid deployment in both cloud and on-premise is the most important feature of an encryption solution. Without strong hybrid key management, encryption of data spread across an enterprise and the cloud will become even more difficult. Key management vendors that follow their customers into virtual environments will, in the long term, deliver more comprehensive data security.

It’s hard to imagine that data breaches will begin to diminish any time soon, but hopefully organizations will learn from others’ mistakes. It is clear from the evidence that deployment of encryption is nowhere near complete across most organizations, and lack of encryption key management continues to be a challenge, but working with the right encryption key management vendor can ease this pain.

When looking for a key management vendor that can help you manage encryption keys across your enterprise, including the cloud, look for a key management vendor that has:

  • No hidden or additional fees for nodes or client-side applications
  • Commitment to innovation and development
  • Commitment to legacy products
  • Excellent reputation for customer support

 

The Encryption Guide eBook

Topics: Data Security, Encryption, eBook, Encryption Key Management, Defense-in-Depth

How Secure Is Your Data in Drupal? (And 5 Essential Security Tips)

Posted by Luke Probasco on May 29, 2015 8:18:00 AM

"This article was originally posted on Pantheon’s blog. Pantheon is a website management platform for Drupal and WordPress."


“There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those that will be.  Even that is merging into one category: those that have been hacked and will be again.” – Robert Meuller, Former FBI Director

Your website will be hacked.  Your defense in depth security strategy will determine how severe the damages are.

What Data Needs To Be Encrypted In Drupal?

This was the basis of “Defense in Depth: Lessons Learned from Securing 100,000 Drupal Sites”– a session presented by Nick Stielau (Pantheon), Chris Teitzel (Cellar Door Media), and myself (Townsend Security) at DrupalCon 2015.

Securing data is important (and required)

No company wants to see their name in the headlines for a data breach.  A breach can mean loss of money (lots!), loss of customers, and loss of jobs.  Data breaches are a very real thing and aren’t a matter of if, but when.  As a Drupal developer, building security into web sites and applications needs to be a priority from the beginning, not something that can be “saved for phase two." 

If the business risks aren’t convincing enough, we found that nearly everyone in our DrupalCon 2015 session fell under one compliance regulation or another – sometimes multiple.  Take colleges and universities for example (a group that represented a large segment of the room).  They often fall under PCI DSS because they process payments with credit cards; HIPAA because they have a student wellness center; and FERPA simply because they are an educational institution.

Sensitive data includes more than social security numbers

As a security company, one problem that we often observe is that developers don’t always know what information needs to be protected (or that they need to protect anything at all).  Sensitive data extends beyond the obvious credit card or social security number.  Personally Identifiable Information (PII) now includes information such as (and not limited to):

  • Email address
  • Password
  • Login name
  • IP address

And hackers are great aggregators, so even losing what seams like trivial information can have magnitudes of impact.  By knowing your first pet’s name or your mother’s maiden name, hackers are well on their way to hacking your account or ultimately breaching your web site.

Developers need to think about security, even if the client isn’t

“My client isn’t asking for security.” They might not be, but a good developer would inform their client of their risks and requirements (and budget impacts) and put all the proper security controls in place.  In the event of a breach, the client is ultimately responsible but you can be sure that they will be pointing fingers at you and asking why their site wasn’t secure. As the developer, you don’t want to have a breached site tarnishing your reputation. When in doubt, err on the side of more security rather than less. 

Essential security

In the past, security has had a reputation for being difficult but things are getting easier. Still, there is no “silver bullet” and developers need to take a Defense in Depth approach to securing their Drupal sites.  This means that multiple layers of security controls are in place. 

Here are a few essential security tips that were discussed in our session at DrupalCon 2015.

1) Back It Up

Backups are going to save you.  If something catastrophic happens to your site, you need to be able to roll back to the latest functioning version.  (Depending on your situation prior to backup, there may be additional steps that you must take.) Every organization should have a backup process as part of their site operation guidelines.  Additionally, the backups should be stored securely on a different server – if your server is breached, you can no longer trust any data contained on it and you want to be confident that you are restoring your web site from a secured backup.  Services like NodeSquirrel can help.

2) Use Version Control

Use a source code management tool like Git so that in the event of a breach, you can view any files in your source that may be altered and revert your Git repo if needed. Git gives you a detailed control on what files have been changed, where they have been changed, and how they have been changed.  While this may clear up many of your issues temporarily, you will want to follow procedure as if the site is still infected.  Without source control you would have to go line by line through the entire Drupal core and contributed/custom modules to find what changes the attacker made.

3) Use Secure Passwords & Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

Do not repeatedly use the same password.  When your email gets hacked, you don’t want that to be the same password that you use for logging in to your financial institution.  Instead, use a tool like 1Password, LastPass, or KeePassX to create and manage unique passwords for all of your logins.  Additionally, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible. Two Factor Authentication is something you know (password) and something you have (like a unique number sent to a cell phone or key fob).  While it can be more cumbersome, it is easier to deal with than a data breach due to stolen credentials.  Just ask Target.

4) Encryption

With nearly every compliance regulation calling for encryption, it is no longer an optional control.  Luckily, there are several modules available that will leave you with less gray hair.  Encrypt, Encrypt User, and Field Encrypt have made encrypting sensitive information easier than ever.  The important thing to remember is, never leave your encryption key on the same server as your encrypted data, which leads us to…

5) Key Management

Encryption is said to be the hardest part of security and key management the hardest part of encryption (hackers don’t break encryption, they find your keys). 

However, times are changing and key management doesn’t need to be difficult.  Encryption, as well as API keys (PayPal, Authorize.net, MailChimp, etc.) should never reside on the same server as your Drupal installation.  Rather, use an external key manager to manage your encryption and API keys.  With modules like Key and Key Connection, key management is now almost “plug and play.”

There are more security tools available than ever, but it is up to the Drupal community at large to embrace best practices and take a defense in depth approach to data security.  Just because a client didn’t ask for it, doesn’t make it optional.  Breaches are not a matter of if, but when.  What are you doing to prepare your site for the inevitable hack?

What Data Needs Encrypted In Drupal?

Topics: Data Security, Drupal

It Takes a Creative Mind to Stop a Devious Mind

Posted by Alex Bryan on May 22, 2015 9:13:00 AM

I recently watched a movie that really made me think about how the cryptographic landscape has evolved. Eighty years ago encryption was almost entirely the domain of military organizations. Now it is ingrained in nearly every business transaction that takes place every day. The average person hardly takes notice. Will strong encryption, secure key management, and complex passphrases be enough to stop attacks of future?

Data-Privacy-Ebook A Chink in the Armor

We can scarcely avoid them these days. The “smart phone” seems to have been the catalyst that blew our (at the very least my) cozy concept of privacy right out of the water. Most people trust that their data is secured by whatever cell service they use or by the social media site they frequent. Few people take responsibility for their own sensitive data management. Perhaps they do not feel there is a need, or perhaps they do not consider it sensitive.

I feel that this is not the right attitude. Consider, for instance, the webcam and mic. Fifteen years ago I needed to go to an electronics store to purchase a golf ball sized orb on a clip to use video chat, or spend upwards of $300 if I wanted to film my friends and I skiing. Those devices needed to be plugged in or turned on to work.

Now, just in my house alone, I have at least six HD cameras in the form of old smart-phones, laptops, and gaming devices. Most of those devices are always on by design, and vulnerable to breach. Suppose there was sensitive information within view of one of those cameras, even if it’s just a calendar. It’s worth thinking about, especially considering that today just about every device comes with an integrated camera. Video game systems can listen to our conversations and respond to verbal queues (and in some cases movement). Software can now turn speech into text accurately and reliably. Taking this into account, sensitive data now goes far beyond a credit card or social security number. Everything you say or do in your own home is now, quite possibly, sensitive data.

Rising to Meet Future Threats

Very soon the smartphone will be among the least of our worries. Things like computerized smart glasses, smart watches, and other smart appliances will start to invade our workplaces and homes. This raises a very real security concern when you think about it. All it would take is one compromised smartwatch to capture a password from a whiteboard. In fact it may not even be as sneaky as all that. I recently read a funny article that detailed three or four data security slips. In each of the instances there was a photo of an anchor with sensitive data such as a password in the shot behind them. These were photos deliberately taken without regard for what was captured in the shot. Responsibility for the photos falls on the photographer in that case.

That article did make me think though. Would crafty attackers be inclined to hack the cameras of personal devices? A smartphone that’s in your pocket most of the time might pose little threat, but what about a smart watch? Could a particularly determined attacker gain access to Database Administrators home appliances? What if they were able to learn of a passphrase or record business conversations by hacking an entertainment system? It would be worth the attempt if it meant the keys to the kingdom.

Surely you’ve implemented, or at the very least heard of the following security steps. These are the basics, the steps you take to prevent a conventional attack

  1. Deploy strong encryption wherever possible, and adopt a strong key management solution.
  2. Do not keep passwords written down, especially on whiteboards.
  3. Use strong passwords like phrases that include dashes, or numbers are great.
  4. Develop and enforce policies regarding security best practices on employee’s personal and home devices.

Finally, lets make the safe assumption that attackers are thinking outside of the box. It follows that we too must think creatively to stop data breaches. Now lets pretend that an attacker has hacked a smartwatch or webcam and acquired a password to your database. That attacker has just bypassed most of the security measures you’ve put in place. The only thing that will stop an attack at this stage is a strong two-factor authentication solution. If deployed on the breached system the attacker tries to enter the stolen passphrase. Instead of gaining access the screen displays an Alert. “A text message has been sent to your phone, please enter the 6 digit pin to continue”. Two Factor Authentication saves the day. As more and more digital devices flood the workplace the need for another line of defense become very real.

Turning a Blind Eye to Data Security eBook

Topics: Data Security, Data Privacy


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