Category Archives: Concept

Psychological Aspects of Vulnerability Remediation

In my opinion, Remediation is the most difficult part of Vulnerability Management process. If you know the assets in your organization and can assess them, you will sooner or later produce a good enough flow of critical vulnerabilities. But what the point, if the IT team will not fix them?

Kübler-Ross model and Tsunami of Vulnerability Tasks

Kübler-Ross model and Tsunami of Vulnerability Remediation Tasks

Just think about it. The only thing that your colleagues from  IT team see is an unexpected  tsunami of the patching tasks. They most likely don’t understand WHY they should do it. They most likely don’t know about the concepts of Attack Surface minimization and Attack Cost maximization. From their point of view it’s just some stupid requirements from InfoSec team imposed with only one goal – to make their life miserable.

So, they may think that denial and pushing back can solve all their problems. And, frankly, this may work. There are countless ways to sabotage Vulnerability Remediation. Most main and common are the following:

  • I don’t understand how to patch this.
  • I already patched this, there should be a false positive in the scanner.
  • Why should we patch this? The vulnerability is not exploitable. Or it is exploitable in theory, but not exploitable in our particular infrastructure. Or this server is not critical and, even if it will be compromised, there won’t be a huge impact. So, we will not patch it.

In each individual case Vulnerability Analyst can describe and proof his point, but doing this for each vulnerability will require insane amount of time and efforts and will paralyze the work. It is basically the Italian strike or work-to-rule.

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Asset Inventory for Internal Network: problems with Active Scanning and advantages of Splunk

In the previous post, I was writing about Asset Inventory and Vulnerability Scanning on the Network Perimeter. Now it’s time to write about the Internal Network.

Typical IT-infrastructure of a large organization

I see a typical IT-infrastructure of a large organization as monstrous favela, like Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. At the beginning it was probably wisely designed, but for years it  was highly effected by spontaneous development processes in various projects as well as multiple acquisitions. And now very few people in the organization really understand how it all works and who owns each peace.

There is a common belief that we can use Active Network Scanning for Asset Inventory in the organization. Currently, I’m not a big fan of this approach, and I will try to explain here the disadvantages of this method and mention some alternatives.

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Asset Inventory for Network Perimeter: from Declarations to Active Scanning

In the previous post, I shared some of my thoughts about the good Asset Inventory system. Of course, for me as a Security Specialist, it would be great if IT will provide such magical system. 🙂 But such an ideal situation is rarely possible. So now let’s see how to build an Asset Inventory system using the resources of Information Security team.

There are no special secrets. It’s necessary to get information about the assets from all available IT systems and then get the rest of the data using our own Assessment tools. I would like to start with hosts on Network Perimeter. The Network Perimeter targets are available at any time for hacker attacks, that’s why this part of the network is the most critical.

Asset Inventory for Network Perimeter

Network Perimeter is like the Wall in the Game of Thrones. The same white walkers are hiding behind the wall and our task is to find the breaches in the wall faster than potential intruders. “Night gathers, and now my watch begins”. (c)

Perimeter is changing constantly. And we should understand at any time what hosts are currently exposed in every office and every external hosting platform.

We can get information about external hosts using some Vulnerability Scanner located on external host in the Internet. I have already wrote about it briefly in  Vulnerability Management for Network Perimeter. Here I would like focus on how we can understand which hosts should be scanned and what useful information we can get from the raw scan results.

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What I expect from IT Asset Inventory

The main problem of vulnerability management, in my opinion, is that it is not always clear whether we know about ALL network hosts existing in our infrastructure or not. So, not the actual process of scanning and the detection of vulnerabilities, but the lack of knowledge what we should scan.

Knowing the total number of active hosts, this must be such a simple and basic thing. But for a large organization, this is not so trivial. To tell the truth, I do not know how to do IT Asset Inventory right. I’m not even sure who should be responsible this. There are so many different technological and organizational nuances. I will mention some of them below.

Who is responsible for inventorying IT assets?

But I can say with confidence that my basic requirement for IT Asset Inventory system will be the completeness of the scope, not the number of collected parameters. The very minimum is just to see that some network host existed and seemed active at some time.

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How to correlate different events in Splunk and make dashboards

Recently I’ve spent some time dealing with Splunk. Despite the fact that I have already done various Splunk searches before, for example in “Tracking software versions using Nessus and Splunk“, the correlation of different events in Splunk seems to be a very different task. And there not so many publicly available examples of this on the Internet. So, I decided to write a small post about it myself.

Splunk dashboard

Disclaimer: I’m not a pro in Splunk. I don’t have an idea if I am doing this the right or in optimal way. 😉 I just learned some tricks, they worked for me well and I want to share it with you. 

I will show the following case:

  1. We have some active network hosts.
  2. Some software product should be installed these hosts.
  3. We will send “host X is active” and “software is installed on host X” events to the Splunk server.
  4. We want to get some diagrams in Splunk that will show us on which hosts the software is  installed and how number of such hosts is changing in time.

As you can see, the task is quite a trivial and it can be easily implemented in pure Python. But the idea is to make it in Splunk. 😉

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