Firefox to use Google secure search by default

Now that the Google secure search offering has matured in terms of scale and performance Firefox is moving to use Google secure search as it’s default search provider.

From a privacy / security perspective this is great news as it makes it much more difficult for people to view your searches / search terms.  As always, the solution is not foolproof and Google breaks the ‘security’ for paid advertiser links etc.  However this is a good step in the right direction for improving security / privacy and specifically search security / privacy online.

More details can be found here;

http://searchengineland.com/firefox-to-use-google-secure-search-by-default-116231

If you want to use Google secure search yourself, just replace http with https in the address bar when you use Google search.

K

TSA’s good catches of 2011 or Terrorists can’t use ziplock bags

As an interesting follow up to my previous post ‘real security – safety vs. liberty’ that can be found here;

http://kevinfielder.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/real-security-safety-vs-liberty/

I came across the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) blog posting on their 10 best good catches of 2011.  Now bear in mind this is their own blog, not an independent news report so can be expected to paint them in the best possible light..;

http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-top-10-good-catches-of-2011.html

So mostly forgetful / stupid passengers, the odd criminal and 1 person who took C4 through one airport and only got caught on the return flight.

You will notice ZERO terrorists or terrorist plots foiled.  We are beholden to more and more checks that in fact do nothing to catch or prevent terrorism.  When will the voice of reason prevail over checks that appear ill conceived and only get enacted as poorly thought knee jerk reactions to previous issues.

The chairman of BA has echoed similar sentiments as quoted in this Daily Telegraph report;

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/8089096/Airport-security-checks-are-completely-redundant-BA-chairman-says.html

To further back up my opinions on how ridiculous many of these new checks are, I recently flew from Luton to Dublin.  On my out I duly had my clear plastic bag of toiletries, all less than 100ml, and a total of well under 1 litre.  No problem I thought, I am well prepared.  However my bag was a clear tie-handle bag.  I was stopped and told they have to be in a resalable zip-lock type bag.

How this will reduce terrorism I do not know?  As per the title, has recent research proven that those inclined to blow up or take control of aeroplanes struggle with zip-lock, but can tie handles together?

The problem with all of this is that we as the people who are not actually being served or protected by these extra checks cannot question or challenge them – if you argue or protest you can’t fly, simple as that.  It’s about time someone saved us all time, and airports money by reviewing exactly what checks are sensible and needed.

K

Hackers outwit on-line banking security

If you ever doubted either the inventiveness of criminals, or the need for taking sensible security precautions this story should be a wake up call;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16812064

Hackers have developed ‘Man in the Browser’ attacks that potentially allow them to circumvent even the relatively new 2-factor chip and pin security many banks now implement.  These attacks also have the potential to at least temporarily evade protection such as AV software and any blacklists as they will redirect to new sites that are not yet known by security firms.

In short stay vigilant, keep your computer(s) protected and up to date, and always use security software such as anti virus etc.  And as documented by Bruce Schneier several years ago we need to look at authenticating each transaction.

K

Trust requires transparency

I came across this excellent post via Bruce Schneier’s blog;

http://newschoolsecurity.com/2012/02/dear-verisign-trust-requires-transparency/

The post highlights that while Verisign has publicly claimed that they have dealt with the recent breach of their systems and that the Domain Name System (DNS) has not been compromised, they are still very light on details of what actually happened and how the DNS system was protected and has in fact not been compromised.

The point of the post is that for us to truly trust them and the systems the own and run again they must be open and transparent.

This is an excellent point and one well worth remembering.  While it may appear that the most secretive systems or organisations may be the most secure, actually it is likely we can place the most trust in those that are most open where we can clearly see and verify the security of their systems and processes.

Read the post and Verisign’s statement and make up your mind on whether you think you would be more ready to trust them if they were more open and transparent.

Be secure, open and trustworthy..

K

Project suggestions..

So I am currently working on what my MSc project should cover.  As the overall title of the MSc is Distributed Systems and Networks the project should likely incorporate some sort of networked / distributed system.  Given my continued interest in IT Security and the fact one of my favourite modules was actually titled ‘Distributed Systems Security’ I’d also like to incorporate a strong security focus into the project as well.
As I am also working on some cloud security related work for the Cloud Security Alliance I am thinking something ‘cloud’ related would be good as this would bring together aspects of security, obviously distributed systems along with being a very current topic.
The purpose of this post is to garner ideas and suggestions for project content and/or possible titles as I am struggling a little to decide the best and most interesting / useful option.  Likely especially relevant to the guys I am working with on CSA projects, but obviously open to anyone – what areas would you like to see further research in, where could my MSc project and value and insight?
Please feel free to post here or email me with any ideas and suggestions. Many of you have my email, however if you need it; it’s on my LinkedIn profile.  I’ll keep this blog updated with my topic decision and also link to the project once it is complete.
Thanks for your interest – looks like this is going to be an interesting and busy year!
K

Some 2012 projects / plans

Following on from my brief overview of progress during 2011 I thought I would share some of the projects I’ll be undertaking during 2012.  This will give anuone reading this blog an idea of some of the likely content that will appear during this year on top of general thoughts and some book reviews.

1. Complete my masters, which assuming I have passed my most recent module means choosing and completing my project.  Based on the university schedule the bulk of this will be completed between April and September.  Now to decide on a topic!

2. Lead (co-chair) the Cloud Security Alliance – Security as a Service working group through the delivery of the planned implementation guides covering each of the categories detailed in the white paper we published in 2011.

3. Become a lot more familiar with the Xen hypervisor, in addition to the VMWare products in order to better assess virtualisation options for both desktops and servers.  This is for a combination of reasons around expanding my knowledge and better understanding the options around Xen (open source and Citrix variants) and VMWare and the various virtual desktop solutions.  Also with people like Amazon and Rackspace using Xen it must be worth a closer look..

4. Having recently done some study around secure coding I’ve been prompted that I should probably brush up my scripting skills, so I plan to put a little time into Perl this year.

…  Likely a few other things will be added around architecture, potentially some further study / research, databases and security, but these have yet to be finalised and I need to be realistic about what I’ll achieve this year.  I’d rather do less well than try to do too much and not be satisfied with the results!

Expect to see blog posts on the above topics throughout this year, feel free to email or comment if there are any specific areas you would like detailed blog posts on.

K

2011 review

As is often the tradition I thought I would start the year with a couple of posts covering an overview of some key points from the last year, and some planned projects for this year.

As I am sure you have guessed this post will be a brief review of 2011 from a study / career / research perspective.

2011 was a pretty busy year with cloud security research, masters work and finally realising my previous role was no longer offering much/any challenge; culminating in moving to a new role at the end of the year / start of 2012.

From a study perspective I completed two more MSc modules;

– Wireless mobile and ad-hoc networking

– Secure systems programming

Assuming I pass the secure systems programming module (final piece of coursework was completed 9/1/12) there is ‘just’ the project left to complete in order to finish my masters.

Also on a Study front I achieved a couple of certifications;

– ISSAP (Information Systems Security Architecture Professional).  This is a secure architecture addition to the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).

– British Computer Society Enterprise and Solutions Architecture certificate.

So all in all a successful and reasonably productive year from a study / certification perspective, especially if I have managed to pass the secure coding module!

From a career perspective I has been looking around within my previous company for a little while but decided that I was stagnating in my previous role so it was time to look outside in order to move on.  The good news is I was successful, being offered a considerably improved role as a Senior Systems Architect with Canada Life that I started 3/1/12.  I’ll update on how this is going and any non propriety technologies / projects I am working on in upcoming posts.

From a research / general learning perspective 2011 was the year of the cloud.  As anyone who has read this blog knows I have been very involved in work defining Security as a Service (SecaaS) with the Cloud Security Alliance, chairing the research group on this topic.  This has resulted in a paper being published and SecaaS being added as a new domain to the CSA guidance.

I’ll follow this post with one detailing some of my plans and projects for 2012.

K

 

Cloud Security Alliance; Security Guidance v3 released

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) has released the long awaited version 3 of the ‘Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing’.  This is the first update to the guidance since version 2.1 was released in 2009 and is a major overhaul bringing the guidance up to date in the new and fast moving world that is ‘cloud’ computing.

In addition to updating all of the existing domains of the guidance, there has been the addition of Domain 14 – Security as a Service (SecaaS), this is the domain I have contributed extensively to and has it’s basis in the white paper I co-chaired the publication or a few months ago.

As an overview version 3 comprises of the following domains in the context of cloud security;

Section I. Cloud Architecture

–          Domain 1: Cloud Computing Architectural Framework

Section II. Governing in the Cloud

–          Domain 2: Governance and Enterprise Risk Management

–          Domain 3: Legal Issues: Contracts and Electronic Discovery

–          Domain 4: Compliance and Audit Management

–          Domain 5: Information Management and Data Security

–          Domain 6: Interoperability and Portability

Section III. Operating in the Cloud

–          Domain 7: Traditional Security, Business Continuity, and Disaster Recovery

–          Domain 8: Data Centre Operations

–          Domain 9: Incident Response

–          Domain 10: Application Security

–          Domain 11: Encryption and Key Management

–          Domain 12: Identity, Entitlement, and Access Management

–          Domain 13: Virtualization

–          Domain 14: Security as a Service

The guidance can be freely downloaded from the CSA website here;

https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/initiatives/security-guidance/

It is relatively long, but covers a lot of what you need to know about cloud security and things you need to consider if you are planning to move your data to a ‘cloud’ type service.

K

SecaaS overview webinar – recording available

For anyone interested there is a recording of the webinar session available from the Credant website here;

https://credantevents.webex.com/credantevents/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=EC&rID=4463592&rKey=a659de63f39288e9

 

It’s a little dry as it was mostly me presenting, but there is an overview of cloud and Security as a Service.

Happy viewing and feel free to ask any questions!

If you want to get involved in the work we are doing around Security as a Service check out;

https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/research/working-groups/secaas/

K

SecaaS overview webinar with Credant

For anyone who would like an overview of;

– What the ‘Cloud’ is

– Who the Cloud Security Alliance is and their mission

– What Security as a Service (SecaaS) is

– The work of the SecaaS working group so far and what is coming up

I am presenting a Webinar in association with Credant tomorrow (10/11/2011) at 1pm Central US time / 7pm UK time.

To register for this event please follow this link;

https://credantevents.webex.com/credantevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=668393321

This should be an interesting event, and there will be a Q&A session included should there be anything you want to know about Security as a Service, the CSA or Credant that we don’t cover in the pitch.

For those not familiar with them Credant are one of the leaders in Data Protection.  From their website they describe themselves as;

Your Trusted Data Protection Experts

We help you protect critical corporate data by mitigating the risk of data breaches and managing the complexity of securing data with a single, management framework. Our Data Protection Platform comprehensively addresses the unique security challenges of your enterprise organization’s data to ensure you’re compliant.

Our comprehensive Data Protection Platform helps you control, manage and protect data holistically at your enterprise organization from endpoints to servers, to storage, to applications and in the cloud.

For further details or to contact them Credant can be found here;

http://www.credant.com/

For reference I am in no way affiliated with Credant and the opinions expressed both here and in tomorrows presentation are 100% my own.

If you have data to be protected I would recommend checking Credants solutions out.

K