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2/19/2019
02:30 PM
Adam Shostack
Adam Shostack
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Making the Case for a Cybersecurity Moon Shot

There are severe and unsolved problems in our industry that justify a sustained effort and substantial investment. It's worth picking one.

Apollo 11 splashdown. Courtesy NASA.
Apollo 11 splashdown. Courtesy NASA.

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drmikelloyd
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drmikelloyd,
User Rank: Author
2/26/2019 | 7:36:41 PM
Re: A network that understands hardness
Sure - how about:

Abandon the "permitted by default" network model.  Endpoints must prove to networks that they are ready to be exposed to anything beyond their immediate neighborhood.  Moderate access requires only basic proof of hygeine, while a new Internet-facing web server (or container) must demonstrate being hardened and ready before the flood gates are opened.
adamshostack
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adamshostack,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/26/2019 | 6:58:42 PM
Re: A network that understands hardness
I think I see where you're going -- can you rewrite it as a moonshot goal?
drmikelloyd
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drmikelloyd,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2019 | 8:43:26 PM
Re: A network that understands hardness
Right - there is a big distinction between general purpose endpoints and special purpose "things".  Laptops get patched regularly, and have decent internal firewalls.  That said, the market for network firewalls has not gone away - it's interesting to look at reasons why. 

Laptops are great and all, but they aren't where most of the value resides.  Data centers are fragile in one way - huge uptime pressure, and an unwillingness to patch.  IoT devices are fragile in a completely different way - they lack a decent patching infrastructure, and are generally designed to a pricepoint, not about flexible response to a changing security landscape.

My response to your moonshot question comes from a point of view that "between" still matters.  Security tech is either placed on endpoints, or between them.  The endpoint security products face challenges (too many agents, not to mention endpoints that aren't built to accomodate agents - does your fridge?).  That's why there is still a large challenge space around "between" controls.  It's the old debate - shiould the network just be dumb pipes, or should it provide intelligent services and controls?

I'm suggesting a moonshot for a network that can enforce intelligent controls *between* endpoints as the way forward.  This is a moonshot because today, endpoints do not have to play along, or follow any hygeine standards, or register what kind of object they are.  We've stacked up some ways to lock down laptops, and messed around with MDM, but what about all the things that are neither?
adamshostack
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adamshostack,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/25/2019 | 6:09:50 PM
Re: A network that understands hardness
Hi thanks Mike!

 

Is this still a problem? I was under the impression that most mainstream systems were fairly firewalled these days, but perhaps I'm thinking more of desktops and less of IoT?

 

Adam
drmikelloyd
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drmikelloyd,
User Rank: Author
2/20/2019 | 2:39:43 PM
A network that understands hardness
Nice question, Adam.  How about a project to ensure a machine directly exposed to the Internet does not immediately succumb to all the known "background radiation" out there? 

There are a range of possible implementations (proactive vs reactive hardening).  But similar to your goal of "email payloads should never be detonated", I'm thinking "maintain a living battery of tests that must pass as basic hygeine before a machine can be exposed widely".  It's not NAC - it's more like the inverse.  NAC says you can't even access a local network unless you're "clean" to a specified level.  This project flips that, to say the level of hardening required depends on breadth of exposure to others.

The moonshot aspect of this is to teach the network (where access policy is enforced) about the quality or hardness of each endpoint.  In an IoT future, this may be essential - consumer IoT is too weak to be treated like other endpoints.
schopj
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schopj,
User Rank: Strategist
2/19/2019 | 4:31:31 PM
Moonshot
Getting Microsoft to log at least as much as Sysmon and to start better protecting those logs so they cant be easily deleted, or if they can, can also be easily recovered.  I shouldnt have to install a third party app, or any app, just to get detailed logs monitoring process hashes and who started what from what program, or any of the other things that advanced logging applications log.  It is an MS operating system and it should log everything that is done on it, period.  
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