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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

6/28/2013
11:52 AM
Mike Rothman
Mike Rothman
Commentary
50%
50%

The (Attack) Path To Prioritization

Since you can't fix every vulnerability, you need to prioritize what needs to get done now and what doesn't. Using attack path data can help

When I want to troll during a speaking gig, I'll usually ask how many folks in the crowd get through their to-do lists every day. I get some uncomfortable laughter, but almost no one raises a hand (except the one numbnut in the crowd who's usually between jobs). Suffice it to say that no one doing security can get everything done. Not consistently, anyway. There are too many users clicking on too many links -- too many applications to protect and too many adversaries with too many attack vectors to think you can protect everything.

So your key to security success is to prioritize fiercely. You have to choose wisely about what really needs to get done now and what can wait for the next Ice Age since you'll never get to it. Our security management tools aren't helping, either. Your vulnerability scanner is happy to tell you that you have thousands of things to fix. As shown in Krebs' great post on the FIS breach, those folks had more than 18,000 network vulnerabilities and 291 application vulnerability past due.

Yeah, no one is getting through 18,000 vulns. Ever. You may as well turn the data center into a parking lot. But we know that not all of those 18,000 vulnerabilities represent real risks to the organization. And your job is to figure out which 100 or 200 you can fix in a reasonable time frame. An interesting way to evaluate the real "risk" is to figure out what can be accessed by an adversary, since any vulnerabilities on those devices are in play.

That brings us to the concept of attack paths. You start by spending a little bit of time determining what would be attractive targets for the attacker. I'm talking about your private customer data, your organization's intellectual property, or the photos you have of the CEO. (I think I'm kidding about that last one). Once you know what's important, you need to figure out whether an adversary can get to it and how. Even if a device is vulnerable to some kind of attack, if the adversary can't get to it, then it's not really a risk, right? So attack path becomes another attribute to determine the criticality of each vulnerability.

The problem is that you can't determine attack paths on the back of an envelope. In any network of scale, you are talking about millions of ways to get from point A to point B. To fully understand your security posture, you need to evaluate each of those paths to determine whether proper controls are in place to protect the data on those devices. This requires highly optimized algorithms (yay for math!) to factor all of this data, and it's not like you network is static. So with every new connection and every changed route, your attack paths change. The good news is that we're starting to see new offerings -- kind of like network topology tools on steroids -- that can do this math and give you an idea about which devices are exposed at any given time.

Of course, we all know that attackers tend to take an indirect path to your sensitive stuff. They compromise an interim device to gain a foothold and then move laterally through your environment until they get what they are looking for. Yeah, that complicates the math further. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

But of all the means to help understand your priorities, evaluating every vulnerability and/or configuration problem through the prism of an attack path is a good means to figure out what needs to get done right now and what doesn't. Mike's bold perspectives and irreverent style are invaluable as companies determine effective strategies to grapple with the dynamic security threatscape. Mike specializes in the sexy aspects of security, like protecting networks and endpoints, security management, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Intel Issues Fix for 'Plundervolt' SGX Flaw
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
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-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...