|By Brad Doctor||
|April 19, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
As the state of the art in operating systems (OS) continues to advance, an unnerving trend has emerged: vulnerabilities in tightly integrated operating systems. How do you address this? With an effective combination of educated staff, proper procedures, and technology.
Rather than being a collection of separate utilities and daemons, the modern OS is moving toward a highly integrated system with numerous dependencies. As a result, the core of the OS is more easily exposed to a broader range of vulnerabilities. While Linux still largely a collection of separate components, Microsoft Windows is at the forefront of this design principle and, in fact, is moving to an even more tightly integrated system. The risks can become significant. Whenever a vulnerability is found in one of the core components of a tightly integrated OS, interdependent components are vulnerable as a result. Developing an appropriate approach to protecting systems with tightly integrated OSs is the key to maintaining a secure and safe network environment.
The rationale for a tightly integrated operating system is sound - reduced development costs and effort, a reduction in portability issues, and fewer components to break. The flip side is unprecedented exposure to vulnerabilities. In the past, when a single system component had a vulnerability the impact was isolated to that single component. However, due to the dependencies introduced by extensive integration, that one component may now impact multiple applications. It is this chain of dependencies that presents enormous risk.
A Practical Approach to Isolating the ExposuresA number of approaches exist for isolating - or at least reducing - your exposure in cases such as these. For the purposes of this article, the assumption is that it is impossible to catch every security flaw during development and that organizations will need to take measures to protect themselves until patches or upgrades are available that solve the security flaw.
The simplest approach to dealing with exploits aimed at integrated OSs is to turn off any services not required or restrict access to those services via network firewalls or network intrusion prevention systems (IPSs). Turning off a service entirely is rarely a practical option for Web servers or file servers. In the specific case of a Web server, doing so would certainly solve the problem, but then you wouldn't have a Web server!
A layered approach consisting of the following primary components is the most practical solution:
- Education of your network and system administrators
- A baseline of the current state of your network
- Proper configuration of the host operating system, including current patches and service packs
- Proper configuration of the network service being hosted
- A generic network firewall to allow only specific traffic in and out
- An IPS to cover the bases left open by the network firewall
- An on-board firewall for each device (IPtables in Linux, TCP Filters in Windows)
- In the case of a Linux system, a chrooted environment for each available network service, and optionally physical separation from the internal network
Knowledge is power! Knowing your current exposures and configuration issues should be on your short list, regardless of how far into this process you may go. Rectifying the issues found should be the immediate next step - directly followed by another baseline to once again ascertain any new issues. Automated vulnerability management tools can help make this process straightforward and manageable.
Current shipping distributions of Linux as well as current shipping versions of Windows still contain many services that are not useful or appropriate for a device that will host publicly accessible network services. You should identify and disable these services before the device is ever connected to any network. Linux is able to fully function with far fewer resources than Windows, and you should take advantage of this. If the first step (i.e., a well-educated staff) was successful, your administrators will be able to identify which services to safely disable.
The network service itself, for example a Web server, should also be properly configured. No prepackaged examples or documents should be present anywhere within the document root, nor should any of this data be accessible by anyone over the network. For example, many exploits exist that rely upon these stock examples being installed in a default installation of the Microsoft IIS Web server.
Every network that is to be interconnected with any other network should have a firewall at the gateway. The firewall should be configured to only allow specific traffic both into and out of the network. Nearly every firewall controls inbound traffic, but few are configured to also control outbound traffic. For example, should an internal system ever be infected with a worm (as has happened both with Linux and Windows), the outbound controls will hopefully limit the impact and propagation of the worm.
An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is a great tool to fill in the cracks that a firewall leaves open. As most firewalls do not normally perform any type of content inspection (or very limited if they do), the allowed traffic is by no means assured to be free of malicious content or exploits. This is where an IPS really shines - the ability to inspect all traffic for attacks. Most IPS products also allow the traffic to be blocked, hence the prevention in intrusion prevention system. The value of an IPS is often discounted or misunderstood, yet for those in the know, an IPS represents a 24/7 partner that never stops preventing the malicious traffic from entering your network.
An on-board firewall is a critical component that will shield your organization from the inevitable configuration error. By restricting which types of network traffic may be passed into and out of each endpoint, you greatly reduce your exposure. Windows and Linux have this capability. Most Linux distributions use this out of the box; however, Windows must be configured after the fact to leverage this capability, although Service Pack 2 for Windows XP will change that.
Chrooted environments are an extremely effective means to isolate processes on a Linux system. Linux has native support for chrooted environments and most distributions ship with tools out of the box that will allow you to do this for nearly any network service (or any process for that matter!). Unfortunately, Windows has no good way to implement a chrooted environment. A somewhat feasible option for Windows includes running VMware, but the resources required are often too much, making this impractical. The primary benefit of a chrooted environment is the logical separation: if a process or application is exploited, the damage is limited to the chrooted environment, significantly reducing the impact to the rest of the system. How-to's exist for popular Linux network services and a quick search on Google will find those.
ConclusionThe rate of exploit attempts and network worms is rising and will continue to rise. The attack vectors are continually increasing in their sophistication, and attacks are becoming much more difficult to prevent or even contain. Both Linux and Windows can be made insecure in a network environment - and both can also be made secure enough to be safe. Regardless of your chosen platform, the most important tool available to you is an effective combination of your staff, proper procedures, and technology.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Aug. 26, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,904
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 26, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,021
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Aug. 26, 2016 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,947
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 26, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,664
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 26, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,954
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Aug. 26, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,262
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Aug. 26, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,902
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Aug. 25, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,287
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Aug. 25, 2016 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,717
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,207
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Aug. 25, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 704
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Aug. 25, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,499
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Aug. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,559
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Aug. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,602
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 591
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,137
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,802
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Aug. 25, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 500
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.
Aug. 25, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,454
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 25, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,821