Saturday, September 22, 2007

A good presentation by FX ....

I just read a pretty good presentation by FX (Felix Lindner) called "Security and Attack Surface of Modern Applications". He presented it at HITB 2007 (I did not attend). As FX describes it his presentation is not about hex and 0day ;( but more about how security problems are not being fixed and things are rapidly progressing down hill. He makes some very good points such as "Respect that software is there to solve real problems for people, security isn’t one of them. ". And this is very true, the security community tends to forget this detail most of the time. His presentation has some excellent numbers associated with vulnerability classes and what attackers focused on since the late nineties to today.

One subject he touches on which is of interest to me is perimeter security. While its true most attackers focus on client side exploits today, perimeter security should not be forgotten just because we tunnel %50 of our applications over HTTP. Client side exploits allow attackers to create larger botnets. But client side vulnerabilities aren't always the first pick in a targeted attack. Well they can be (MS Office parsing vulns - google for what I mean). But targeted attacks can involve something specific to that target, a mis-configured web server or email server etc... To FX's point, combining all of these different technologies (VPN Termination, LDAP, SSL etc) into the firewall is _not_ the way to do perimeter security. Defense in depth is still entirely relevant and will be for a long time to come. And if done correctly, at the very least, can stop some
successful client side exploits from calling home, which can minimize their impact to your network.

On slide 13 FX also talks about 'Skill and Time'. He seems to put far more skill+time on finding vulnerabilities as opposed to writing exploits, which he states 'requires little skills but quite some time'. Im not sure how I feel about that slide yet. Others certainly do not agree with him.

I recommend reading it. You can grab FX's presentation and others from HITB 2007 here

(FX's take on the 'self defending network' is priceless)

No comments: