With today’s increasing Mobile Enterprise Security Threats, do you have a strategy to mitigate the risk on your Corporate Network?

Corporations are increasingly utilizing mobile enterprise systems to meet their business objectives, allowing mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets to access critical applications on their corporate network.  These devices provide advanced technologies over traditional desktop clients, such as: information sharing, access from anywhere at any time, data sensors, location, etc. But what makes these mobile devices desirable, by their very nature, also poses a new set of security challenges.  Reports by research agencies in recent years show an alarming trend in mobile security threats listing as top concerns: Android malware attacks, and for the IOS platform issues with enterprise provisioning abuse and older OS versions.

These trends highlight the need for corporations to start taking seriously a mobile security strategy at the same level to which cyber criminals are planning future attacks. A mobile security strategy might involve adopting certain Mobile Security Guidelines as published by standards organizations (NIST) and Mobile OWASP project. See the references at the end of this document:

The following guidelines are a subset of Mobile Security Guidelines I pulled from various published sources with most coming from NIST. It is by no means a comprehensive list, however they can be considered as a starting point or additional considerations for an existing mobile security strategy.

1 – Understand the Mobile Enterprise Architecture

You should start with understanding and diagramming the flow from mobile application to business applications running on the back-end application server. This is a great starting point and should be done at the beginning stages, as most of the security guidelines will depend on what is known about the architecture.

  1. Is the mobile application a native application or mobile web application? Is it a cross-platform mobile application?
  2. Does the mobile application use middleware to get to the back-end API, or does it connect directly to a back-end Restful based Web Service?
  3. Does the mobile application connect to an API gateway?

2 – Diagram the network topology of how the mobile devices connect

Is the mobile device connecting to the business application servers over the cellular network or internally through a private WiFi network, or both? Does it go through a proxy or firewall? This type of information will aid in developing security requirements; help with establishing a QA security test bed and monitoring capability.

3 – Develop Mobile Application Security Requirements

At a high level, a security function must protect against unauthorized access and in many cases protect privacy and sensitive data. In most cases, building security into mobile applications is not at the top of the mind-set in the software development process. As such, these requirements should be gathered as soon as possible in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It has been my personal experience in many cases that you have to work with application software developers in adopting best security practices. So the sooner you can get that dialogue going the better. Security objectives to consider are:  Confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Can the mobile OS platform provide the security services required? How sensitive is the data you are trying to protect. Should the data be encrypted in transit, and in storage? Do you need to consider data-in-motion protection technologies?  Should an Identity and Access Management (IDAM) solution be architected as part of the mobile enterprise system? Should it include a Single Sign On functionality (SSO)? Should there be multi-factor authentication, role based or fine-grained access control? Is Federation required? Should the code be obfuscated to prevent reverse engineering?

4 – Incorporate a Mobile Device Security Policy

What types of mobile devices should be allowed to access the organization’s critical assets. Should you allow personal mobile devices, Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD’s) or consider only organization-issued or certified mobile devices to access certain resources? Should you enforce tiers of access? Centralized mobile device management technologies are a growing solution for controlling the use of both organization-issued and BYOD’s by enterprise users. These technologies can remotely wipe the data or lock the password from a mobile device that has been lost or stolen. Should Enterprises consider anti malware software and OS upgrades to become certified mobiles on the network? To reduce high risk mobile devices, consider technologies that can detect and ban mobile devices that are jail broken or rooted, as these can pose the greatest risk of being compromised by hackers.

5 – Application Security Testing

According to a study performed by The Ponemon Institute, nearly 40% of 400 companies surveyed were not scanning their applications for security vulnerabilities, leaving the door wide open for cyber-attacks. This highlights the urgency for security teams to put together some sort of security vetting process to identify security vulnerabilities and validate security requirements as part of an ongoing QA security testing function. Scanning application technologies typically conduct two types of scanning methods: Static Application Security Testing (SAST) which analyzes the source code and Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST), which sends modified HTTP requests to a running web application to exploit the application vulnerabilities. As the QA scanning process develops, it can be automated and injected into the software build process to detect security issues in the early phases of the SDLC.

6 – System Threat Model, Risk Management Process

What will typically come out of the application scanning process will be a list of security vulnerabilities found as either noise, suspect or definitive.  It will then be up to the security engineers knowing the system architecture and network topology working with the application developer to determine whether the vulnerability results in a valid threat and what risk level based on the impact of a possible security breach. Once the risk for each application is determined, it can be managed through an enterprise risk management system where vulnerabilities are tracked, fixed and the risk brought down to a more tolerable level.

7 – Consider implementing a Centralized Mobile Device Management System

Depending on the Mobile Security Policy that is in place, you may want to consider implementing a Centralized Mobile Device Management System especially when Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobiles are in the mix that can:

  • For mobile devices, manage certificates, security setting, profiles, etc through a directory service or administration portal.
  • Policy based management system to enforce security settings, restrictions for organization-issued, BYOD mobile devices.
  • Manage credentials for each mobile device through a Directory Service.
  • Self service automation for BYOD and Reducing overall administrative costs.
  • Control which applications are installed on organization-issued applications and check for suspect applications on BYOD mobile devices.
  • A system that can remotely wipe or lock a stolen or loss phone.
  • A system that can detect Jail-broken or rooted mobile devices.

8 – Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

Monitor mobile device traffic to back-end business applications. Track mobile devices and critical business applications and correlate with events and log information looking for malicious activity based on threat intelligence. On some platforms it may be possible to integrate with a centralized risk management system to specifically be on alert for suspicious mobile events correlated with applications at higher risk.


Ingestible Computers

Today I had the opportunity to be a guest on over a dozen Fox News Radio affiliates around the county to discuss the topic of the “password pill.”

These tiny, ingestible “smart pills” may be making their way to a pharmacy near you as early as next year.  These traveling sensors are in the form of pills which are swallowed and then powered on by stomach acid.  They transmit low frequency signals to a wearable patch and then a smart phone app.  The pill passes through the body in about 24 hours and can then be recycled!  Eeww!  Several companies are making these in various forms including a consumer version that would send information to your cell phone.

The technology is already FDA approved.  In fact, astronauts have been using these for years to help monitor vital health indicators.  We can expect the technology to be main stream for consumers by next year.

For medical applications, this would enable sending real-time data about health conditions and effectiveness of medications directly to your doctor.

For password or authentication applications, the “password pill” can act as a form of strong authentication where YOU become a form of a password.  This provides stronger security than something you know or something you have (and can be stolen or misplaced). Read more

7th Stage (Security) of IS growth, Part II

A little background:

Now that you’ve been in the CIO’s position for your first quarter, it is time to prepare for your first review with the board of directors.  The agenda for the IS presentation will cover key factors that you discovered in your operations, your accomplishments and your plans for the next year.  Since this is the quarter for your next year’s budget, it should contain the funding needed to accomplish the IS plan.

One of the key factors in the review of your operations was discovering the lack of security focus and non-compliance issues that made the operations vulnerable to unwanted intrusion in your network.  Listed in your accomplishments is the Security Assessment study and recommendations provided by PathMaker Group when you engaged them for a study of your IS environment.  One of their recommendations was to deploy IBM’s Security products for managing Identify and Application Access in your enterprise network.  This is an important undertaking as your company will replace the outdated security monitoring with IBM’s Showcase Solution to keep unwanted intruders out while making it easier for the authorized users to have easy access to their applications.  As a result of PathMaker Group’s findings and recommendations, you asked them to submit a proposal for the corrective solution using IBM Security Products and PMG Professional Services to deploy them in your IS Network.

This section of your review was very well received by the board of directors and they gave you the approval to get started.

Read more

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Ivanna. Ivanna who? Ivanna steal your data!

I recently read a story about a vulnerability that was discovered in electronic door looks commonly used in hotels.  The problem centers around a particular popular model of hotel door lock sold to hotels globally. Hackers claim to have discovered that the company left a security port uncovered that allows them to open any of the locks with a universal key of sorts.  The article goes on to say that until this flaw has been fixed it’s more important than ever to make sure to go the extra step of securing your door with the deadbolt and chain.

A lot of people will trust that the basic security of their software/operating system/network (the electronic door lock) is good enough.  They won’t bother adding additional security (the deadbolt/chain) and will end up getting their data hacked in the same way that some hotel guests are going to wake up to find their room cleaned of valuables way better than the maid removes dust and dirt.

Thieves are counting on people to trust standard security and not do their own due diligence to identify vulnerabilities or provide additional security to deal with these deficiencies.  While the average person has no way to determine if the hotel door lock is secure, they can at least provide another layer of security to prevent a breach and loss of property.

Fortunately for you, Pathmaker Group can review your security system and find vulnerabilities and patch them up before data thieves strike.   They can also provide additional layers of identity and access management to secure application access and prevent unauthorized access, even from those already on the inside.  So don’t delay, you never know who’s knocking on the door…

Using WebSphere Process Server in your SOA Infrastructure

WebSphere Process Server (WPS) is the runtime engine for artifacts produced in a business-driven development process.   It allows orchestration of business assets into highly optimized and effective processes to meet business goals.  It is a single, integrated, runtime foundation for deploying service-oriented architecture or SOA based business processes.  Built on open standards, it deploys and executes processes that orchestrate services (people, information, systems, and trading partners) within your SOA or non-SOA infrastructure.  It helps increase efficiency and productivity by automating complicated processes that span people, partners, and systems.  It helps cut costs by enabling flexible business processes with reusable assets, thus reducing the need to hard-code changes across multiple applications.  It has the ability to track the state of process instances, handle human intervention, and deal with exceptions.

WPS is mounted on top of WebSphere Application Server (WAS) with its robust J2EE runtime and offers a new level of abstraction so the task of integrating applications and services becomes much easier. Read more

Got Bot?

The world of malware (literally bad software) has some interesting terminology. Botnets and Zombie networks sound like they should be different, but they are basically the same thing. The imagery of masses of robots (ala I Robot) or hordes of Zombies from Night of the Living dead is surprisingly a relatively accurate description. Botnets or Zombie Nets are collections of computers that have been infected with a specific class of malware that is managed by an external ‘Controller’. Ok, Zombie hordes are not easy to manage, but the robot masses are. I’ll use the term botnets to refer to both.

Botnets can be used for many different illegal purposes such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, mass spam mailings, illegal data collection and more. Like the domestic robots in the movie I Robot, malware bots establish themselves unobtrusively in your network through the same types of mechanisms as a virus, worm, Trojan or other malware. In fact, Trojans, malware that masquerades as legitimate software, are often used to distribute ‘Bot’ malware. That ‘swimware calendar’ program you downloaded may look nice, but underneath there may be some malware silently doing bad things to your computer. Read more

Email Attacks and Hate Mail Response: Recognizing When You Need to Hire an Incident Response Expert

Many people who use email think that their true identity and location are anonymous. Hidden behind their supposed “cloak of anonymity,” these people may sometimes lash out at their employers, colleagues, political adversaries, ex-lovers, and so on. Thankfully, there are a number of identity management services that can help to reveal the identity of the person who sent you a threatening message.

If you receive an email that is of a threatening or illegal nature, it’s not difficult to initiate an enquiry leading directly to the person involved for appropriate actions by authorities. Here is a look at how the specialists at PathMaker Group can handle your situation:

Forensic Expertise

The key to finding out who is responsible for sending a threatening message is the technical knowledge that incident response experts have about the inner workings of electronic mail. By examining the Internet Headers of a particular email, our incident response experts can identify the exact source of the message. Read more

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced, Qualified Security Assessor for Your PCI-Compliance Audit

With the stiff penalties associated with failure to meet standards set by the PCI Security Council, ensuring that your company remains compliant and avoids security breaches requires regular PCI compliance audits. Hiring qualified security assessors can help you avoid a number of potential pitfalls associated with audits. Opting to hire the most experienced candidates offers a number of benefits, including:

  • Getting it Done Right
    In 2004, CardSystems Solutions was hacked, resulting in 263,000 stolen credit cards and roughly 40 million compromised. This breach occurred despite their security auditor giving them a clean audit just three months prior. Hiring experienced PCI compliance auditors to perform your audits lessens the likelihood of potentially costly mistakes.
  • Continued Security
    Experienced PCI compliance auditors not only understand current standards, but they understand the areas in which the current standards fall short. This allows you to proactively anticipate security risks and protect your customers’ data. Understanding the current problems, as well as the next generation of threats, allows you to remain in compliance and prevent costly security breaches. Read more

Different Types of Incidents that Can Result in Compromised Network Security and Information

Network security is an important consideration for any business that is connected to the internet, but especially for businesses entrusted with sensitive customer information. Penetration testing and PCI compliance are important safeguards for protecting customer data, but what are the ways in which customer data might become compromised?

  • Malware
    Malware is one of the most pervasive network security threats these days. Malware is a comprehensive term to describe viruses, worms, Trojan horses, tracking cookies, and many other types of threats that include malicious code or software that aims to breach your confidentiality. They can be detected and removed with most software security suites.
  • Cybercrime
    While malware attempts to breach your security from inside your computer, cyber criminals attempt to breach your security from afar. Hacking and cyber crime causes tens of millions of dollars in losses every year. One way to prevent cybercrime is to have an IT security professional perform penetration testing on your system to find loopholes and close them. Read more

Stuxnet Worm, Research and Recommendations

As you may be aware, a worm (originally appearing in 2009) and named Stuxnet has recently resurfaced as a focused attack at Industrial and Energy control systems, namely but not exclusively targeting those systems built by Siemens, AG. This worm has the capability to take control of and/or alter settings within SCADA systems and PLC/RTU sub-components.

Below are some good articles related to recent research into the worm.

Why Stuxnet spread

Stuxnet, a wakeup call Read more