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Gary Horn

LESSONS MY TEAM HAS LEARNED FROM THE LOG4J EXPLOIT

By Cyber Security, Risk Management No Comments

The recent Log4J exploit seems to have taken many companies by surprise. The team at Cyber Self-Defense, LLC has heard many horror stories about it, and we have heard that companies were not prepared for it.

For years, I have been preaching that cybersecurity is cybersecurity (it is the same, for the most part, for all companies) and that a properly built cybersecurity program should allow you to run your business as usual. While I will be the first to tell you there is no such thing as perfect cybersecurity and that a determined hacker can get in, I will also tell you that you can make it very difficult and quickly detect their presence once they do get in. Building a strategy to enable the business’ success through a risk-based and strategic process is the only effective way to know that your company is investing the right resources.

What is Log4j? Apache systems have a logging utility to log events and configure various features. This utility was created for many practical purposes and has been implemented into various Apache systems. Unfortunately, criminals are always looking for code (software) flaws that can be exploited, leading to a system or data breach. In this case, some of the Log4J instances have flaws that can be exploited to leak data and allow remote code execution. Essentially, hackers can gain access to systems and/or data. The first fix would be to determine if any of your internal or external systems (don’t forget shadow IT: external systems or solutions that are not known to IT and IT Security or are minimally understood) are vulnerable, test to see if they can be patched and patch them. If they cannot be patched, mitigate the risk through various other techniques.

Having said all of this, I think we need to talk about the main problem; Companies tend to build checkbox-based cybersecurity programs. For instance, a company might download a policy from the internet, perform a find and replace, and then tell the security auditor they have a policy. Unfortunately, they might not have appropriately deployed the policy. We have seen such situations lead to data breaches. A company might have a policy requiring their staff to patch all systems within ten days after testing. They fail if they don’t patch the systems strategically and per the policy. Furthermore, if they don’t test for vulnerabilities regularly, they also fail.

We need to build comprehensive cybersecurity programs based on the business’ needs. Here are my takeaways for what went wrong with companies who were victims of Log4J:

1. The companies we have talked to did not have an enterprise-wide, risk-based, strategic, and fully-implemented program. Many of them had checkbox security.

a. Along these lines, they did not have leaders who understood both the administrative and the technical aspects of cybersecurity. Many fall under IT leadership, where it is challenging to balance security needs with the need to have easy to configure and deploy computing assets.

b. FULL Executive buy-in and support.

c. Communications up and down the chain of command were lacking.

d. The companies did not have accountable cybersecurity professionals thinking about the business, not just cybersecurity. The business must strike a balance between having a solid technologist, a person with real-world cybersecurity experience (NOTE: Cybersecurity and IT are NOT the same things), and a person who understands the business needs to lead the program. I could spend hours on this part of the discussion; you need a balanced leader; not an IT or IT Security Analyst).

2. Many did not have a risk management program that was comprehensive and effective. The company often had a document or program that was too high-level but could not drive the security efforts; so no return on investment could be calculable.

3. Training for all staff should be done in a manner that shows that the company is engaged in the cybersecurity process. Haphazard “check the box training” does not help, nor does “one size fits all” training. If the training is not important to you, it will not be important to your employees.

a. Secure Code Training is not widely enforced and included in the creation of code and the integration of libraries.

b. System or job role-specific training is not occurring or not comprehensive enough.

c. ALL STAFF, including your executives and the Board of Directors.

4. Vigorous code testing. In our world today, code is developed very rapidly, and quality testing of the code package is not widely enough done.

5. Vendor management:

a. We need specific contract language that requires the vendor to provide:

i. Rapid response to issues.
ii. Strong SLAs for security.
iii. Fast communication.
iv. Regulatory requirements.
v. Anything else you require to ensure a solid partnership between the two companies. Again, this could be an article in and of itself; We spend large amounts of time with our customers ensuring that this is covered.

b. Vendor vetting processes:

i. Many IT Departments had no clue that Log4J was a risk; they did not know that they had shadow IT.
ii. Controls to prevent shadow IT. There must be a method of bringing vendors in, while ensuring that they have been thoroughly vetted and meet all of the organization’s needs, not just the department bringing the vendor in.

6. Technologies and processes (in no particular order; your risk assessment should drive the correct order). The following controls should be considered (note this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, it is intended to push you back to your risk assessment and policies and see if they are appropriately guiding you):

a. DNS firewalls to filter malicious domains out.

b. Web Application Firewalls to detect and prevent inappropriate traffic.

c. Multifactor authentication makes it more challenging to gain access to systems and data.

d. SIEM and SIEM-like tools should be available, properly configured, and tuned to prevent alert fatigue.

e. Complete endpoint protection. Our network boundaries are all over; we need all systems to speak for themselves.

f. PROPER and strategic vulnerability MANAGEMENT:

i. Patching should be prioritized.
ii. All systems should be in scope (including external systems).

g. VPN and other remote access tools that validate the system meets the minimum requirements.

h. Encryption of data at rest and in transit.

i. Data leakage protection/prevention.

j. Network segmentation, based on need:

i. No system should talk to another one unless it is appropriate and reasonable.
ii. Corporations should consider blocking traffic from outside their operating areas. This should be planned for and strategically deployed.

k. Least privilege should be enforced:

i. Users SHOULD NOT be local admins.
ii. Administrators should NEVER log in with administrative credentials. They should log in as a normal user and elevate.
iii. Privileged Access Management and Identity Management solutions should be employed.

7. Internal audit processes.

8. Incident Response PROGRAMS.

a. You should have a comprehensive incident response program that contains playbooks and guide your team. I see many IRPs that allow you to check the box saying you have a plan but cannot be used during an incident.

b. You should train your team!

c. You should equip your team!

d. You should ensure that you conduct drills, tabletop exercises, etc., to practice.

9. Business Continuity planning and management.

As a busy Executive or business leader, you need to know that your program is running effectively and that your team is making risk-based decisions. You need to know that they program is built around the needs of the organization. You also need to know that the program is built correctly, so knee jerk reactions are not the standard; pre-incident preparedness is the norm. Let us know if we can help you to have a solid understanding of your program!

Cyber Self-Defense is a premier cybersecurity organization that is focused on the success of our customers. Our approach is different from most companies as we have been in many of your roles and understand how to achieve success with limited resources and the need to allow the company to operate at a profit. If you have questions about anything related to cybersecurity or want some help getting on track, give us a call or send us an email. We’re passionate about what we do and are always happy to help!

Happy New Year! More CMMC News!

By Cyber Security, Risk Management No Comments

December was a great month for us, here are Cyber Self-Defense. As always, we had some amazing opportunities to work with a number of the best customers in the world and on some exciting projects. OUR CUSTOMERS ARE THE REASON WE EXIST!

Our CEO, Michael Meline, was able to become selected as one of the first 100 Provisional Assessors for the CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) program and a CMMC Registered Practitioner. Toward the end of the month Nelson Wenner became a CMMC Registered Practitioner. Congratulations Nelson! The Registered Practitioner course is a difficult, but very rewarding course.

Cyber Self-Defense became one of 224 companies in the world authorized to help companies prepare for CMMC with our certification as a “Registered Provider Organization”. Cyber Self-Defense also became one of 18 companies in the world authorized to conduct provisional Assessments.
Here are our badges/certifications related to the CMMC:

You can go here, to see our status and validate our certifications; https://portal.cmmcab.org/marketplace/

Moving forward, we hope to be able to help answer some of the questions people/companies have about the requirements of CMMC. Please contact us for a non-sales presentation of the CMMC process. Please do not wait until it is too late, to become ready; the CMMC is here and it is NOW!

Here are some links that will help you, if you are contracting with the DoD;
https://www.acq.osd.mil/cmmc/updates.html
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/29/2020-21123/defense-federal-acquisition-regulation-supplement-assessing-contractor-implementation-of

SolarWinds Orion Data Breach

By Cyber Security, Risk Management No Comments

Hello everyone. As many of you know, SolarWinds just suffered a significant data breach. Our CEO, Mike Meline, spent quite a bit of this week researching the compromise and have gathered some details to aid you in your response. We, at Cyber Self-Defense, will continue to monitor and update you.

There is some information available on the breach, that shows that in March (or perhaps before), a nation state injected a trojanized DLL into the SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll (with a file hash of [b91ce2fa41029f6955bff20079468448]) into the update CORE-2019.4.5220.20574-SolarWinds-Core-v2019.4.5220-Hotfix5.msp. After a dormant period (that seems to differ for each compromised system; but around two weeks), the trojan attempts to resolve a subdomain of avsvmcloud.com (I placed a generic link of google.com into the previously listed link, to prevent someone from accidentally clicking on it and going to the website). The ensuing DNS response returned, points the system that was compromised to a command and control network.

Good morning, As many of you know, SolarWinds suffered a significant data breach. Our CEO, Mike Meline, spent quite a bit of this week researching the compromise and have gathered some details to aid you in your response. We, at Cyber Self-Defense, will continue to monitor and update you.

There is some information available on the breach, that shows that in March (or perhaps before), a nation state injected a trojanized DLL into the SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll (with a file hash of [b91ce2fa41029f6955bff20079468448]) into the update CORE-2019.4.5220.20574-SolarWinds-Core-v2019.4.5220-Hotfix5.msp. After a dormant period (that seems to differ for each compromised system; but around two weeks), the trojan attempts to resolve a subdomain of avsvmcloud.com (I placed a generic link of google.com into the previously listed link, to prevent someone from accidentally clicking on it and going to the website). The ensuing DNS response returned, points the system that was compromised to a command and control network.

a. Identification of vulnerability
i. This affects “SolarWinds® Orion® Platform software builds for versions 2019.4 HF 5 and 2020.2 with no hotfix or 2020.2 HF 1.”
1. Known affected products: Orion Platform versions 2019.4 HF 5 and 2020.2 with no hotfix or with 2020.2 HF 1, including:
a. Application Centric Monitor (ACM)
b. Database Performance Analyzer Integration Module (DPAIM)
c. Enterprise Operations Console (EOC)
d. High Availability (HA)
e. IP Address Manager (IPAM)
f. Log Analyzer (LA)
g. Network Automation Manager (NAM)
h. Network Configuration Manager (NCM)
i. Network Operations Manager (NOM)
j. Network Performance Monitor (NPM)
k. NetFlow Traffic Analyzer (NTA)
l. Server & Application Monitor (SAM)
m. Server Configuration Monitor (SCM)
n. Storage Resource Monitor (SCM)
o. User Device Tracker (UDT)
p. Virtualization Manager (VMAN)
q. VoIP & Network Quality Manager (VNQM)
r. Web Performance Monitor (WPM)
2. I recommend that you determine if you have SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll
a. with a file hash of [b91ce2fa41029f6955bff20079468448];
b. [C:\WINDOWS\SysWOW64\netsetupsvc.dll] (unknown hash)
c. If you have Tenable Nessus installed, you can use plugin 62117 to detect SolarWinds Orion and 144198 To detect the specific version believed to have been affected.
b. Actions to take
i. There is an update that should be applied, which came out yesterday and one that will come out today. See https://www.solarwinds.com/securityadvisory
ii. It is recommended that if you have these products, that you;
1. Review logs, to ensure that there are no indicators of compromise.
iii. Forensically image system memory and/or host operating systems hosting all instances of SolarWinds Orion versions 2019.4 through 2020.2.1 HF1].
1. Analyze for new user or service accounts, privileged or otherwise. (from https://cyber.dhs.gov/ed/21-01/)
2. Analyze stored network traffic for indications of compromise, including new external DNS domains to which a small number of hosts (e.g., SolarWinds systems) have had connections. (from https://cyber.dhs.gov/ed/21-01/)
iv. Block all traffic to and from any devices that have SolarWinds installed
v. Monitor traffic
c. For more information;
i. please review the SolarWinds advisory at; https://www.solarwinds.com/securityadvisory
ii. see the guidance provided by DHS at; https://cyber.dhs.gov/ed/21-01/
d. Assistance
i. We do have Tenable Nessus and forensic tools and can run tests for you; please let us know if you need help or further guidance.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Stay safe!

UPDATE: Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

By Cyber Security, Risk Management No Comments

 

 

We have all been hearing about Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).  Cyber Self-Defense has been posting quite a bit about this program as we want you to be well-informed.  As we begin preparations for 2021, I thought I would write another article that answers two of the questions we are asked by everyone who calls us; and we have been receiving plenty of questions.

 

The first question I receive most often is, “Do I have to be compliant with CMMC?”  My initial response is that as business leaders, it is our responsibility to protect our company and customers.  Cybersecurity is another business risk that MUST be addressed.  This theory does not take into account whether or not you have a legal requirement to do so, so let me dig in some more. A NON-CMMC question I receive often is, “What standard for cybersecurity should I follow?”  My answers vary, based on the needs of the company.  Having looked at many companies, I think a middle of the road approach is the CMMC.  This standard is laser focused and one that allows for certification, without the heavy overhead required by many of the standards.  It is well mapped out and provides a realistic approach to cybersecurity, while being adaptable to the needs of the organization.

 

Let’s now discuss the “legal” stuff.  I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on television.  What I keep hearing is that the Department of Defense has the ability to hold companies accountable for three times the cost of the contract plus per claim in accordance with the False Claims Act.  If you are currently doing business with the DOD, you are already accountable for compliance.  If you plan on doing business with the DOD, you will (eventually) have to achieve compliance.  In addition, your employees have an incentive to report your non-compliance; they receive between 15% and 30% of any award under the False Claims Act.  I have read that the Department of Justice has already obtained over $3 Billion dollars in settlements and judgements in fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.  Based on this, I recommend the certification.

 

Another question/statement we receive is something to the effect of “I am going to wait and see if the DOD will enforce it, I don’t have to be complaint right now, do I?”  On November 23rd, 2020, I received a communication from Idaho PTAC that stated, “Idaho’s PTAC has been made aware of a fast-approaching deadline for prime and sub-contractors working with the Department of Defense (DoD). All contractors must complete and submit a NIST SP 800-171 cyber self-assessment to the DoD Supplier Performance Risk System (SPRS) through their approved vendor, Project Spectrum, in compliance with CMMC requirements. The deadline for this self-assessment is Monday, November 30, 2020. Those who do not complete and submit this initial self-assessment are at risk of losing their contracts with the DoD.”  In every circle I belong to, I am hearing that this WILL be enforced.  If you wait until the last minute, you will not make it!!!  The CMMC is based on maturity, so if you think you will be able to put a plan together, last minute, and pass the certification; you are incorrect!!!  This program is designed to ensure that you are mature, not that you threw something up overnight.

As this is a program that we care about and REALLY want to help you with, please reach out to us for answers to your questions.  We have put together a PowerPoint with key information and this is a free service we offer, to help you with your decision as to whether you should prepare for the certification. Just give us a call at (866) 292-3796 to start the conversation!