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 John H. Sawyer
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Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
News & Commentary Posts: 272
Articles by John H. Sawyer
posted in April 2009

The Real Costs Of Laptop Loss

4/27/2009
How many movies have you seen where the bad guy is just about to get caught and interrogated when he bites down on a cyanide capsule and dies almost instantaneously? It's a pretty common scene that I've seen in movies as recent as "The Watchmen." Similar solutions, like virtual cyanide capsules, exist that can address lost or stolen electronic devices, and a study released by Intel and the Ponemon Institute last week highlights the importance of those products.

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Taking Some Of The Sting Out Of Data Breaches

4/24/2009
Anyone who has suffered a recent data breach involving regulatory or legislative data knows the investigation can be an excruciating process. The investigation is subject to time constraints as to how long it takes time to prepare and notify affected individuals. Statutes may apply to the company requiring customers to be notified within X number of days. And, of course, breaches never occur when it's convenient for the victim. So what can you do to streamline the investigative process and make

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The Human Element Behind Malware-Related Breaches

4/20/2009
Last year, the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report made a big splash with insightful statistics on actual data breach investigations performed by the company's incident response team. Last week, the team released an updated version (PDF) for 2009 that includes more data, as well as an interesting look at what happened during the past year. What's grabbing my attention? The numbers related to malwa

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Botnets: Coming To A Social Network Near You

4/17/2009
I've dealt with a lot of different types of bots. The communication channels among them have varied from unsophisticated IRC command and control (C&C) servers to advanced peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols. For botnet herders, the challenge is flying under the radar of network security professionals who are monitoring their networks and looking for anomalies. The infosec pros who know their networks inside and out are likely to pick up on strange protocols pretty quickly -- which is one of the reasons

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The Certainty Of Death, Taxes and Malware

4/15/2009
In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, Benjamin Franklin spoke of the seemingly permanent outlook for the new Constitution, and followed up with "but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." I don't think we can disagree about any of those points, especially with today being when the tax man cometh. However, I think we can add something else to that quote about certainty: malware.

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New Web Vulnerability Tool Is Passive But Aggressive

4/13/2009
Every couple of weeks, a project comes across my desk that requires some sort of Web application vulnerability assessment or penetration test. It's one of the more fun things I get to do, and I rely on a quite a few different tools during each engagement. While most people relatively unfamiliar with Web app security think of active scanning apps such as Cenzic and WebInspect when they think Web app testing, quite a few of the tools I use fall into the passive analysis category.

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F-Response 3.09 Preview

4/8/2009
I've written a little about F-Response before. It's an incident response and forensic tool that gives investigators and responders the ability to access a running computer system's hard drive and physical memory in a read-only manner. Your analysis workstation connects over iSCSI to the target machine, and you can use practically any forensic tool to conduct analysis and imaging. I have used it with Forensic Toolkit (FTK), Encase, FTK Imager, Memoryze, and X-Ways. It's a great "enabler" tool tha

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The Week After: Conflicted About Conficker

4/6/2009
The title says it all. With so much hype surrounding last week's impending destruction of the Internet, I started out a bit lackadaisical when people asked me about Conficker. As the week progressed, I started to feel annoyed and slightly hostile because so many people were coming to me to ask what was going to happen and how should they protect themselves. In hindsight, I should be happy at the new awareness brought on by Conficker, but I'm not.

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Scanning Flash Apps For Insecurities

4/3/2009
Did you know that a simple Flash application on your Website could be a backdoor into your network? I've always known of such insecurities in Flash applications, but until recently, I had only looked at some Flash-based malware using Flare to analyze suspected malicious SWF files. All that has all changed with HP's new SWFScan tool,

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Getting Physical With Workstation Security

4/2/2009
So often we as security professionals talk about the security of the machines we're responsible for, and the only time physical security comes up is during the discussion of laptops and server rooms. We're concerned about laptop theft and loss that could lead to the dreaded customer notification process. Or maybe we brag about the awesome security of our datacenter. What about user workstations? Is there an subconscious assumption they're safe since they're behind locked doors?

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