Isn't it About Time to Get Moving on Chip and PIN?

Published: 2014-02-10
Last Updated: 2014-02-10 17:50:07 UTC
by Rob VandenBrink (Version: 1)
20 comment(s)

I got to thinking about the 3 "big story" breaches that we've all been discussing over the last month or so.  Just adding things up, we're at a count of over 100 million cards and personal information disclosed.

Just thinking about it over the weekend, I realized two things:
1/ All these breaches affect the only region still using card-swipe only credit cards - the United States.
2/ The count of cards compromised is right around 1/3 the population of the United States

With this many cards compromised and needing replacement, isn't it time that the industry wakes up and smells the coffee? Everyone (yes everyone) else in the world has moved to Chip and PIN technology, which makes theft of credit cards much more difficult (though not impossible, looking at recent events in the UK).  These breaches illustrate (again) that the US staying on this old technology for cards has the effect of making theft of cards much easier in the US, focusing the attention of criminals on US cards.

If we're replacing that many cards, wouldn't RIGHT NOW be a really good time to issue 110 million bright, shiny new Chip and PIN credit cards for the folks who are the victims of these breaches?  I know that this would complicate things on the logistics side, but it's not new technology - this could certainly be arranged.  Even if the Chip / PIN technology isn't actually used (there are a boatload of machines that need replacing for one thing), it at least gets things moving in the right direction.

Please, share your thoughts on this in our comment form - am I off base?

Rob VandenBrink

Keywords: CHIP and PIN
20 comment(s)

A Tale of Two Admins (and no Change Control)

Published: 2014-02-10
Last Updated: 2014-02-10 17:45:15 UTC
by Rob VandenBrink (Version: 1)
2 comment(s)

I have a client who's done the right thing, they've broken out their test environment from their production environment.  The production environment is in a colocation facility, and uses a different firewall.  The test environment is in the office location, and shares the office subnet and the office firewall.  So sort-of the right thing, they're moving in the right direction - I would have given the test lab it's own firewalled DMZ subnet.

About two years ago, one of the server admins asked the office firewall administrator to open port 3389 (RDP) to a test box, so that they could continue their build at home.  Not a great solution - I would have told him to VPN in and do it without changing the firewall - but it was done, the build got done and life moved on.

Unfortunately, the firewall change was not documented, was not remembered and was not backed out.

Fast forward 2 years.  The two folks from 2 years back have both moved on to other positions and/or companies, and a new server admin is building a new Hyper-V server in the test environment.  They're just about to deploy to producion when he notices RDP connections to it from our friends in China.  Yes, that undocumented change had come home to roost!

So, after we did the post mortem, what did they learn?

  • There's no fixing a compromised hypervisor - NFO (Nuke from Orbit) - repartition the RAID Array and starting over is always the best advice.
  • Hypervisors don't need a GUI - they shouldn't be RDP'ing into that box for admin in the first place.
  • DOCUMENT ALL FIREWALL CHANGES.  HAVE A CHANGE CONTROL PROCESS.  Happily, they've got a formal change control process now.  On the firewall, there's an assessment step on all changes, to decide if the requested change is a good idea in the first place (open RDP was a singularly BAD idea).
  • Finally, they now run a basic NMAP scan (all addresses in the range, all ports) of the office environment from the colo, and the results are run through diff, comparing it for changes against yesterday's results.  This client is lucky in this regard because they have 2 separate locations that can scan each other, but in a more typical situation, the folks responsible for security might do this from their laptop, scanning from home after work or before driving in each day.

You'd be surprised what a full port scan might find - those issues we're stuck with on open ports on home firewalls ( and for instance) would have been caught a long time ago if more folks scanned their infrastructure from the untrusted outside network!  Mind you, typically home users never patch their firewalls anyway, so all those open PNP and other backdoor ports are with us for the long haul now.

Do you regularly scan your firewall from the outside?  Does your scan highlight changes, or are you looking for just vulnerabilities (using Nessus or similar) rather than changes?   Let us know in our comment form below.

Rob VandenBrink

2 comment(s)
ISC StormCast for Monday, February 10th 2014


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