Risk
1/29/2009
09:27 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Fannie Mae Logic Bomb Makes Case For Strong IDM

The indictment of an IT contractor working at Fannie Mae, who schemed to destroy the data on 4,000 servers, confirms what we know: bad economic times and layoffs are perilous, and identity and access management has never been more important.

The indictment of an IT contractor working at Fannie Mae, who schemed to destroy the data on 4,000 servers, confirms what we know: bad economic times and layoffs are perilous, and identity and access management has never been more important.Take a look at Tom Claburn's news story, "Fannie Mae Contractor Indicted For Logic Bomb," and you'll read about a logic bomb (a malcode designed to do something bad when triggered) that was designed to wipe 4,000 of the mortgage company's servers. Claburn writes:

[The logic bomb] was allegedly placed by Rajendrasinh Makwana, an IT contractor who worked in Fannie Mae's Urbana, Md., facility. It was set to execute on Jan. 31. Had it done so, Fannie Mae engineers expect it would have caused millions of dollars in damage and possibly shut down the government-sponsored mortgage lender for a week.

Makwana was indicted for unauthorized computer access Tuesday in federal Court.

According to the story, an eagle-eyed Unix engineer, only identified as SK, found the script "by accident." Kudos for being observant.

But the story shows the importance of de-provisioning users, quickly:

The discovery occurred on Oct. 29. Makwana had been terminated as a Fannie Mae contractor on Oct. 24, around 1 or 1:30 p.m., the affidavit says, but his network access was not terminated until late that evening. Makwana was fired for allegedly creating a computer script earlier that month that changed server settings without the permission of his supervisor.

Makwana was not required to turn in his badge or Fannie Mae-supplied laptop until the end of the day on Oct. 24. According to Nye's affidavit, it was during that afternoon that Makwana is alleged to have planted the malicious script.

There are two layers of defenses, that I can think of, offhand, that can be proactively taken to protect your organization from such an event. First: thorough background checks. While this won't screen everyone who could potentially be a bad character, it will screen those who have no business having admin privileges to critical IT systems.

The second layer of defense is having an identity and access control management system in place so that terminated employees -- especially those with network admin privileges -- can have their network access shut down immediately.

There is no reason why network access should have been possible after the talk with HR. None.

Perhaps Makwana is innocent, and someone else planted the logic bomb. That will be argued out in court. I'm certain that when network access is cut, a terminated admin can't plant logic bombs.

Fannie Mae is fortunate that SK was sharp enough to spot this script before it was set to trigger.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
DNS Threats: What Every Enterprise Should Know
Domain Name System exploits could put your data at risk. Here's some advice on how to avoid them.
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio

The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.