Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

11/2/2011
09:14 AM
Tom Parker
Tom Parker
Commentary
50%
50%

Testing Your Endpoints Against Advanced Threats

Why your pen-test efforts probably aren't preparing you for the worst by testing endpoint resilience

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of performing scenario-based penetration testing. Now let's look at some of the endpoint-based tests you should include in a typical assessment of your ability to fend off client-side attacks. This is by no means an exhaustive methodology, but covers some of the salient areas associated with offensive techniques utilized by many of the more advanced threats we’re seeing hitting the enterprise today.

Desktop Policies
We’re not talking something you make your employees read -- rather, local system policies, such as group policies, which are likely pushed down by a domain controller. While most people have the basics covered here, such as password complexities, disabling default users, etc., there are some pretty advanced features that you can tweak with group policy these days. These include configuring Microsoft User Account Control (UAC), which can be instrumental in stopping certain malware components in its tracks, such as those that rely on their ability to make modifications to the OS.

Antivirus And HIPS Software
After walking the show floor at your favorite security trade show junket, you can be forgiven for thinking the answer to defending against spear-phishing and other client-centric attacks is a piece of commercial software. While many of the AV and other products implementing HIPS-type technologies can provide an effective defense, the devil is always in the details. As such, it's vital they be tested in a realistic manner.

In both instances, you don't need to drop tens of thousands on 0-day to effectively put these countermeasures through their paces. A desktop that is optimally configured but installed with recent-but-vulnerable piece of client-side software (such as a PDF reader or browser plugin) can be utilized to perform a realistic assessment.

In many cases, this could very well represent the state of most desktops in your environment, anyway, without having to regress a patch level. Freely available software (such as the Metasploit Framework) is capable of creating an entry vector (such as a malicious PDF attachment) and payload (such as a reverse-connect command-and-control channel), which leverage techniques used by many "real" threat-actors, such that it provides an effective assessment.

At FusionX, we maintain our own entry and command-and-control components for this purpose, and if you have the capability, you can certainly go down that path to increase sophistication levels. However, you will probably be surprised with the results, even with publicly available tools.

In my next post, I'll take a look at some key performance indicators for the above countermeasures, and look at some network-centric components that should also be tested as a part of this type of activity.

Tom Parker is Chief Technology Officer at FusionX.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Our Endpoint Protection system is a little outdated... 
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-4245
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
Orca has arbitrary code execution due to insecure Python module load
CVE-2013-4593
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
RubyGem omniauth-facebook has an access token security vulnerability
CVE-2013-6495
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
JBossWeb Bayeux has reflected XSS
CVE-2013-7370
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
node-connect before 2.8.2 has cross site scripting in methodOverride Middleware
CVE-2019-18935
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-11
Progress Telerik UI for ASP.NET AJAX through 2019.3.1023 contains a .NET deserialization vulnerability in the RadAsyncUpload function. This is exploitable when the encryption keys are known due to the presence of CVE-2017-11317 or CVE-2017-11357, or other means. Exploitation can result in remote cod...