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Perimeter

6/22/2009
04:37 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
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Maltego: Going On The Offensive *And* Defensive To Defend Against Social Networks

You know the military's ol' mantra about "loose lips sink ships"? Well, it's being redefined by sites like Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook, according to a great article from Federal Computer Week that discusses the threats social networks pose to operational security.

You know the military's ol' mantra about "loose lips sink ships"? Well, it's being redefined by sites like Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook, according to a great article from Federal Computer Week that discusses the threats social networks pose to operational security.The premise behind the article -- a perfect follow-up to my post from last Friday about the potential for data leaks from nontraditional networks -- is that attackers can learn information about their targets from all of the different social networks.

I've written about the threats from social network sites before, but I think having it brought forth by a Defense Intelligence Agency operational security analyst helps put in perspective the seriousness of the threat. Providing such information as your favorite books, sports teams, and commonly frequented coffee shops, for example, can all be used by an attacker to social engineer the target (that means you). That information can also provide clues to gain access to your accounts through guessing passwords or answering password reset questions.

One tool I'm now using regularly is Paterva's Maltego, which helps penetration testers gather the same sort of information from social networking sites, figure out connections between e-mail addresses and personal identities, identify additional sites hosted by a particular IP, and much more. The ease with which you can dig deep into a Website, identity, e-mail address, IP address, and domain name is awesome.

I've always thought of Maltego from an offensive perspective, but its defensive uses can be quite useful for companies concerned about employees divulging too much information, too. For example, the FCW article linked above details an excellent hypothetical scenario in which a person is targeted using information found in his LinkedIn profile and resume. The same could happen to employees throughout your company as a way to see what sorts of information might be floating around just waiting to be used against you.

Wondering if this might be something to try out with your company? Here is a free community edition of Maltego that you can take for test drive. Take a look -- you never know what you might find.

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

 

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