|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.
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 699
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,216
"We have a tagline - "Power in the API Economy." What that means is everything that is built in applications and connected applications is done through APIs," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at Akana, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 1, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 429
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
Jul. 1, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,098
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Jul. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,912
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context wi...
Jul. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 838
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jun. 30, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 946
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
Jun. 29, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,679
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Jun. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,182
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jun. 29, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,524
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
Jun. 28, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,226
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jun. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,252
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Jun. 26, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,235
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jun. 26, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,116
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Jun. 25, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,032
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
Jun. 25, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,184
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, and the “Third Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place June 7-9, 2016, at Javits Center in New York City. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 22, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,816
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Jun. 20, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,893
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th 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 an...
Jun. 15, 2015 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,136
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, 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 enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Jun. 15, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,915