Bruce Schneier is one of my favorite speakers when it comes to the topic of all things security. His talk from IBM Interconnect 2017, “Security and Privacy in a Hyper-connected World”1, covered a wide range of security concerns.
There were plenty of great quotes from the talk (scroll to the end for those) and I will summarize the main takeaways in this post.
People, process, and technology #
Bruce hits this topic a lot and for good reason: a weak link in any of the three could lead to a breach and a loss of data. He talked about the concept of security as a product and a process. Security is part of every product we consume. Whether it’s the safety of the food that makes it into our homes or the new internet-connected thermostat on the wall, security is part of the product.
The companies that sell these products have a wide variety of strategies for managing security issues. Vulnerabilities in an internet-connected teapot are not worth much since there isn’t a lot of value there. It’s probably safe to assume that a teapot will have many more vulnerabilities than your average Apple or Android mobile device. Vulnerabilities in those devices are extremely valuable because the data we carry on those devices is valuable.
Certainty vs. uncertainty #
The talk moved into incident response and how to be successful when the worst happens. Automation only works when there’s a high degree of certainty in the situation. If there are variables that can be plugged into an algorithm and a result comes out the other end, automation is fantastic.
Bruce recommended using orchestration when tackling uncertain situations, such as security incident responses. Orchestration involves people following processes and using technology where it makes sense.
He talked about going through TSA checkpoints where metal detectors and x-ray scanners essentially run the show. Humans are around when these pieces of technology detect a problem. If you put a weapon into your carry on, the x-ray scanner will notify a human and that human can take an appropriate response to escalate the problem. If a regular passenger has a firearm in a carry-on bag, the police should be alerted. If an Air Marshal has one, then the situation is handled entirely differently - by a human.
One other aspect he noted was around the uncertainty surrounding our data. Our control over our data, and our control over the systems that hold our data, is decreasing. Bruce remarked that he has more control over what his laptop does than his thermostat.
OODA loop #
Bruce raised awareness around the OODA loop and its value when dealing with security incidents. Savvy readers will remember that the OODA loop was the crux of my “Be an inspiration, not an impostor” talk about impostor syndrome.
His point was that the OODA loop is a great way to structure a response during a stressful situation. When the orchestration works well, the defenders can complete an OODA loop faster than their adversaries can. When it works really well, the defenders can find ways to disrupt the adversaries’ OODA loops and thwart the attack.
Mikrotik firewalls have been good to me over the years and they work well for multiple purposes. Creating an OpenVPN server on the device can allow you to connect into your local network when you’re on the road or protect your traffic when you’re using untrusted networks.
Although Miktrotik’s implementation isn’t terribly robust (TCP only, client cert auth is wonky), it works quite well for most users. I’ll walk you through the process from importing certificates through testing it out with a client.
This post originally appeared on the Rackspace Blog and I’ve posted it here for readers of this blog. Feel free to send over any comments you have!
Most IT professionals would agree that 2014 was a long year. Heartbleed, Shellshock, Sandworm and POODLE were just a subset of the vulnerabilities that caused many of us to stay up late and reach for more coffee. As these vulnerabilities became public, I found myself fielding questions from non-technical family members after they watched the CBS Evening News and wondered what was happening. Security is now part of the popular discussion.
Aaron Hackney and I delivered a presentation at Rackspace::Solve Atlanta called “The New Normal” where we armed the audience with security strategies that channel spending to the most effective security improvements. Our approach at Rackspace is simple and balanced: use common sense prevention strategies, invest heavily in detection, and be sure you’re ready to respond when (not if) disaster strikes. We try to help companies prioritize by focusing on a few key areas. Know when there’s a breach. Know what they touched. Know who’s responsible. Below, I’ve included five ways to put this approach into practice.
The spring of 2015 marks eight years of this blog! I’ve learned plenty of tough lessons along the way and I’ve made some changes recently that might be handy for other people. After watching Sasha Laundy’s video from her awesome talk at Pycon 20151, I’m even more energized to share what I’ve learned with other people. (Seriously: Go watch that video or review the slides whether you work in IT or not. It’s worth your time.)
Let’s start from the beginning.
Libvirt is a handy way to manage containers and virtual machines on various systems. On most distributions, you can only access the libvirt daemon via the root user by default. I’d rather use a regular non-root user to access libvirt and limit that access via groups.