Why All The Emphasis On Insider Threats? Three Reasons:

Centrify Logo1. Insider security risks are more prevalent and potentially more damaging.

According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 34% of data breaches in the U.K., come from malicious activity, including criminal insiders, and 37% of breaches come from employee negligence. A previous Ponemon study indicated that a third of malicious attacks come from criminal insiders. Further, a Forrester study revealed that 75% of data breaches were caused by insiders, most often due to employee negligence or failure to follow policies. The most-often cited incidents were lost devices, inadvertent misuse of sensitive information and intentional theft of data by employees. The impact of data breaches and downtime, whether caused by insider malice or negligence, can cripple an organization, exposing it to lost revenue, significant brand damage and increasingly onerous regulatory fines and penalties.

2. User identity “blind spots” are causing audit failures.

Many organizations are failing audits because of blind spots in their identity infrastructures. Blind spots can occur when identities and entitlements are managed in disparate silos or on local servers rather than centrally. For example, one of the biggest identity challenges for companies — and a major cause of failed audits — is a lack of visibility into local administrator accounts on Windows. This is akin to the root account on a Linux/Unix system. Failed audits can be particularly damaging in today’s environment, in which regulations related to data loss and data protection are becoming more rigorous around the world. Companies that conduct business globally have to be in compliance with a wide range of rules and regulations to satisfy audit requirements.

As such, organizations must be able to provide proof that users who have access to certain servers and applications are actually authorised users. They must also be able to deliver an auditable trail of what each user has done within the server. These requirements mean organizational policies need to apply the principle of “least privilege access,” whereby users log in as themselves and have only those privileges needed to do their jobs. If they need to have their privilege elevated for some reason, that is an explicit action.

3. Organizational complexity is posing a growing challenge.

Managing employee identity used to be relatively easy: A user was typically sitting at a desktop with a single machine connected to an enterprise application through a single wire. Ah, but things have changed. Users are now mobile and using a wide range of devices, some of which may be unsanctioned or undocumented personal devices. And mobility is only one aspect of the heightened complexity. IT infrastructures are increasingly diverse and heterogeneous, with multiple silos defined by departments, applications, operating systems or other characteristics that set them apart from one another. The proliferation of virtualization and cloud services adds additional layers of complexity to the IT environment. Without a solution to unify user identities, organizations face the prospect of having too many identities, thus raising too many identity-related risks — including data loss, data breaches, application downtime, failed audits and an inability to identify and rectify internal security problems before they escalate.

Savvy IT and security managers are recognizing that the most cost-efficient and effective way to address these challenges is to incorporate a solution that provides insiders with a unified identity across all platforms. By linking access privileges and activities to specific individuals, the IT organization can establish the control needed to minimize security risks, along with the visibility required to achieve compliance.

© 2013 Centrify Top 3 Reasons to Give Insiders a Unified Identity. 

Centrify is a PathMaker Group partner providing advanced privileged access management, enterprise mobility management, cloud-based access controls worldwide.  The Centrify Identity Service provides a SaaS product that includes SSO, multi-factor authentication, enterprise mobility management and seamless application integration.  The Centrify Privilege Service provides simple cloud-based control of all privileged accounts and provides extremely detailed session monitoring, logging and reporting capabilities.  The Centrify Server Suite provides the ability to leverage Active Directory as the source of privilege and access management across your Unix, Linux and Windows server infrastructure. Centrify is a Leader in The Forrester Wave, Q3 2016.


Top Six Things to Consider with an Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) Solution – Blog 5 of 6

5. Robust Access Policies and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)


Centrify LogoToday you live with the risks of users accessing many more services outside the corporate network perimeter as well as users carrying many more devices to access these services. Users have too many passwords and the passwords are inherently weak. In fact passwords have become more of an impediment to users than they are protection from hackers and other malevolent individuals and organizations. In short, in many cases, passwords alone cannot be trusted to properly and securely identify users.

Consequently, you need a better solution that incorporates strong authentication and one that delivers a common multi-factor experience across all your apps — SaaS, cloud, mobile, and onpremises. The solution also needs to have access policies that take into account the complete context of the access request and helps to overcome these new security risks. In addition, you need the capability to establish flexible access policies for each app for more granular and adaptive control. For example, if a user is accessing a common app from a trusted device on the corporate network from his home country during business hours ,then simply allow him silent SSO access to the apps. But if that same user is accessing an app outside the corporate network from a device that is not trusted, outside of business hours, and from a foreign country then deny them access — or at least require additional factors of authentication.

Specifically, you need an IDaaS solution that ensures security authentication by combining multi-factor authentication (MFA) and rich, flexible per-app authentication policies.

Multifactor authentication methods should include at least:

• Soft token with one-button authentication to simplify the experience
• One Time Passcode (OTP) over SMS text or email
• Interactive Phone Call to the user’s mobile device and requirement for a confirmation before authentication can proceed
• User configurable security question to act as a second password

Per-app authentication policies should allow, deny or step up authentication based on a rich understanding of the context of the request based on any combination of:

• Time of day, work hours
• Inside/Outside corporate network
• User role or attributes
• Device attributes (type, management status)
• Location of request or location of user’s other devices
• App client attributes
• Custom logic based on specific organizational needs

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.


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…

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

Security and PCI-DSS Compliance

The question of whether compliance makes your networks secure often comes up when performing Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) remediation and audit work. Many believe that compliance with the PCI-DSS means their networks are secure from exploitation. Unfortunately this is not the case. Passing an independent PCI audit usually indicates reduced vulnerability for those PCI related areas tested, however the PCI segments are usually a small portion of the overall networks.

The payment card industry has one goal in mind and it is not to protect or provide security for your network. Their goal is to protect credit card and card holder data. They do this to limit their potential liability and transfer responsibility for that liability to the entities that provide, accept, use, store or transfer credit card and card user information. That is almost all businesses and many institutions here and around the world. 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

PCI Updates

I thought i would take a few minutes to wish everyone happy holidays and a very prosperous 2011. I also noticed that I hadn’t blogged in a while so I thought I do a little of that…

This blog provides a few updates and observations related to the following:

  • PCI DSS v1.2.1 to PCI DSS v2.0 transition – very well defined, except for the cut-over date. The bottom line is that the PCI SSC is encouraging all merchants and service providers to convert as soon as possible, but at the same time saying everyone has until New Years Eve 2011 (one year).
  • PCI DSS and PA-DSS v2.0 Scoring Templates – QSAs can’t plan their projects without the new Scoring Templates. This will stall migrations.
  • Sampling And ASV Scanning Do Not Mix – this wasn’t a like a free lunch but some still manage to screw it up…
  • PCI DSS Timeline Clarification Read more

Virtual Machines != Security Virtual Reality

Post #1, Virtual Machines != Security Virtual Reality

PathMaker Group is introducing some exciting new technologies to the market that greatly reduce business cost of securing virtual environments and simultaneously increasing system efficiencies, measured in hard-dollar savings. In order to truly embrace the value of these innovative solutions and approaches, one needs to consider some of the obvious and not-so-obvious security issues rooming in virtual space today.

This post is the first of my multi-part series on securing virtual machine environments and I hope that it provides some additional insight into the security issues that I anticipate would concern every business using virtual machines, or considering using it. Read more