Risk
1/29/2009
09:27 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7877
Published: 2014-10-30
Unspecified vulnerability in the kernel in HP HP-UX B.11.31 allows local users to cause a denial of service via unknown vectors.

CVE-2014-3051
Published: 2014-10-29
The Internet Service Monitor (ISM) agent in IBM Tivoli Composite Application Manager (ITCAM) for Transactions 7.1 and 7.2 before 7.2.0.3 IF28, 7.3 before 7.3.0.1 IF30, and 7.4 before 7.4.0.0 IF18 does not verify X.509 certificates from SSL servers, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof s...

CVE-2014-3668
Published: 2014-10-29
Buffer overflow in the date_from_ISO8601 function in the mkgmtime implementation in libxmlrpc/xmlrpc.c in the XMLRPC extension in PHP before 5.4.34, 5.5.x before 5.5.18, and 5.6.x before 5.6.2 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) via (1) a crafted first argument t...

CVE-2014-3669
Published: 2014-10-29
Integer overflow in the object_custom function in ext/standard/var_unserializer.c in PHP before 5.4.34, 5.5.x before 5.5.18, and 5.6.x before 5.6.2 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via an argument to the unserialize function ...

CVE-2014-3670
Published: 2014-10-29
The exif_ifd_make_value function in exif.c in the EXIF extension in PHP before 5.4.34, 5.5.x before 5.5.18, and 5.6.x before 5.6.2 operates on floating-point arrays incorrectly, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (heap memory corruption and application crash) or possibly exec...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.