I’ve talked about this before so I won’t rant on again too much about my position….gees, did I have a definitive one? :)

I agree with the last comments on the last post here from GoogleHack. If the research community hasn’t been able to nail this, then you have issues. If a Google takes a stand – regardless whether “official” or not, it will impact heavily on the debate. It’s Google! This is a really bad thing in my opinion. A “standard” has been set….at least for the time being.

Securus Global has taken the position that we judge all vuln research findings on a case by case basis. The upshot, to the detriment of our marketing is that we’re rarely publishing vulnerability advisories. This may upset some, but we’ve almost come to the conclusion that as a business, it’s no longer a cool thing to do (all the time).

Now please don’t get me wrong……independent researchers publishing stuff, come from a different angle and we respect that fully. We do. They don’t have the backing of a “business” in many cases, but they have a passion and other drivers…..good, bad or looking for a way. We did.

We respect our own team doing this and publishing as “independents” if they choose too. We just see, as a team, another way is working for us, and the companies who engage us directly to work with them.

In the last 12-24 months, it’s been great to be recognised more and more by large security vendors and other major software and hardware developers as an organisation they can trust to get their appliances, software and overall systems tested before going to market. We’ve built a reasonably good reputation through word-of-mouth and there’s now a lot of systems out there that have been fixed up due to our work.

Given these direct relationships, it has been a slight negative though from a broader marketing perspective for Securus Global in that public advisories are not there. Saying that, it does though align with why we started in the first place and it aligns with our approach to the industry overall…..always has had – to improve, to make things better than they were.

Marketing follows. :)

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Securus Global: IT Security, Penetration Testing, Security Assessments, PCI Compliance, Product Assurance, QualysGuard, Security Strategy, Vulnerability Assessment.



By Jarrod Loidl.

At present, I am reading “Enterprise Security Architecture: A Business-Driven Approach“, in anticipation of sitting the SABSA Foundation course. Based on the title and many people’s view the content, it isn’t the most thrilling read. While this book is certainly not perfect, I actually am enjoying it at the moment, but I think that’s because I have begun to appreciate the beauty of good architecture. To explain;

In my previous role, (and to a lesser extent current role), I reviewed a lot of solution architecture designs. I really got a buzz reviewing and helping to build a given solution and make it as secure and robust as possible.

In was during this time I really developed an appreciation for architecture as a distinct discipline in its own right. I got to work alongside many IT architects of various backgrounds and capabilities. I attended Architecture Forums where the roadmaps were presented to the CIO. What was interesting was seeing how many of the technical decisions either directly benefited through cost saving, business enablement or supported future company growth and expansion. Growing up in IT, I had often heard how IT exists to support the business. This was truly my first experience seeing the truest extent in which IT could enable the enterprise.

It is also what made me truly realise that many security professionals lack an architectural focus in what we do. Now this is not something limited to our profession is alone. There are plenty of people passing themselves off as “architects” when in fact they are really “designers”. This happens in construction all the time.

It seems intuitive to both “designers” and “architects” that “form follows function”. But what is the distinction between the two? There are application security architectures, infrastructure security architectures, heck once you start getting into SABSA, there is a model for policy security architecture! So what are all these different architectures? What do they mean? Are they just ‘fluff’? Or is there something more?

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It’s always interesting reading about larger scale fraud like this one recently with the Bank of Queensland. You wonder in cases like this, had the accused pulled the pin earlier, would he ever have gotten caught? You wonder how many do get away with it – stopping before obvious alarm bells start to ring?

There’s no generic solution/strategy for fraud detection to critique, as each organisation addresses it’s own internal security and risk management practices differently, but there is a scary pattern of misguided thought in regards to securing systems and actually defending against, and detecting fraud. It’s “security” by definition but are many blinkered in regards to what the full definition of “security” encompasses? I think so.

Many in the security industry are focussed to the point of obsession on only vulnerabilities and technical attack vectors (new attack type X, new attack type Y – all generally old stuff just re-invented in different ways but promoted as new big things by many in the industry). It’s such a narrow focused view that stops at the technical exploit. That’s not where the role of a security professional should stop. Read on:

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Just got back and saw this was confirmed:
http://www.iirme.com/securecon/workshops/c.html

CEOs, CIOs and Middle East Gov and Gov Security seems to be the audience.

Should be fun…..there is no slides…….just talk…..they accepted that….(somewhat I think). :) I prefer to just talk……

This will be an all-out session and I hope Bruce S (Keynote) will be there….Pass this link to 20 of your friends and you will receive…magically a new notebook.



By Declan Ingram

Over the past few years we have seen more and more automated scanning tools being used as the primary source of application assessment. A couple of years ago, when we were S-A.com, one of the guys did a very comprehensive test of all the available scanners, and the results were mediocre at best. In fact, as a result of these tests, we decided at the time that they added little to no benefit to our testing tool-chain.

Recently, with the enforcement of PCI Web Application Security Assesment requirements, clients need to have the coverage for all of their applications and do not have the funds available for full manual testing.

The three that we have been looking at recently are AppScan, Acunetix, and Burp Professional. Burp is a little bit different, in that it’s primarily a manual assessment tool with some scanning features.

We have been judging the quality of these products based on false positives, false negatives, and code coverage. The applications have all been web apps: HTML, JSP, ASP, PHP, old, new, good, bad, ugly, etc.

The results were……interesting:

  • All scanners needed a lot of manual work to get any reasonable amount of code coverage.
  • There were a huge amount of false positives.
  • There were many false negatives. (Probably more than we know :-) )

However, these flaws can all generally (possibly excepting false negatives) be negated with a qualified person running the scans, and verifying the results. So this is really not a problem, right? I mean, it’s how the vendors advertise their low false-positive and false-negative rates.

The big problem, as I see it, is that these applications are not sold or targeted to specialist testers anywhere near as much as they are marketing to coders and auditors that do not have the skills to use them effectively. This negates the whole idea and provides a false sense of security!

The outstanding product here is burp, it’s a semi-automatic scanner, so it requires a skilled tester to use, but it’s a fraction of the cost and is targeted at the right market to get results.



I had a few comments sent to me about my last post. Some of the feedback; “It wasn’t inspirational”, “Its perspective wasn’t that unique”, “What was the point?” etc…. All fair points. My only response is that at times, I will use Beast or Buddha as my journal to write about things that aren’t necessarily meant to change anyone’s world or inspire, (though I did think the PCI post tried to do that)……just reflections on my day, week and thoughts going through my head about the good, and the bad in our industry, (though the latter motivates me far more to dissect and rant). I started Beast or Buddha for these reasons. Read on:
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Reposted (post accidental deletion).

On the phone last week to a CIO friend of mine discussing his organisation’s new “critical” business application that ties together much of their business into one, somewhat central entity (ERP if you like to a degree). He wanted to talk about securty testing the “application” before it went live.

I asked the obvious and was told it was due to go into production in 4 weeks. He knew what my response would be so pre-empted it with; “I know, I know…we should have done more security homework and testing sooner than this, but with the business pushing it, and they ["the business"] not really wanting to listen to concerns about security, but rather focus on deployment deadlines to fit in with business marketing strategy, my hands were tied!”. (Typical I thought and no need for further comment from me here, as you know what my thoughts are).

After learning a bit about this application from him, I directed him to this post: “System” view security vs. “Application” view security and suggested he have a read. (He did recall reading it before but I think it didn’t sink in). Read on…

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By Declan Ingram

An interesting thing happened today. Someone asked me to find a Australian web development company who advertise themselves as developing secure code. (Editor Note: Surely that goes without saying Decman? LOL)

Simple Google search, I thought…Well guess how many web development companies I found who specify that they write secure code?

NONE. Yep! That’s right. Of course if you ask them, “Hey are the sites that you develop secure?”. You know the response is going to be “Oh Definitely!”, until they hand you the completed site, all shiny and new……you perform some security testing and BAM – the response becomes “Oh CRAP!”

So, if there are any developers out there who want a niche – learn to write good code and advertise it…..but first, let me know….there may well be a job in it for you!

PS. It is possible that all web developers write secure code, so it isn’t a differentiator worth advertising…..in which case next time I go flying, I’ll take a screaming pig and not a Robin 2160!

Editor Note: This can be done but “security” costs extra on websites – or so many of our clients have been told by dev shops in the past after our testing for them has broken the sites :) To be fair as you know, we’ve spent a good deal of time with dev shops after such events to help train their developers and credit to those guys. They should be using this as a differentiator. Sad that something like this which should be standard is considered such.



Setting the scene with recent somewhat provocative posts to generate some thinking, debate and discussion to get some interest before some context and substance in this post. Hopefully. And yes, a heap of emails, tweets, DMs and phone calls received today. (Gees, not bad for a Sunday. Do infosec dudes ever switch off and have a break?). To be honest, while most were supportive, a few were asking me what the hell I was basing my points on, and was I shooting myself in the foot with some vendors now and in the future? (Hey, big assumption that anyone actually reads this stuff I write). For the latter, I probably was/am but as most people know, I am not scared to put my opinion out there for critique, flames, but most importantly, as mentioned, to generate thoughts and discussion. It’s not a glory boy thing and it is what it is and I don’t profess it to be anything it is not. (Refer to top right corner of home page for the disclaimer).

So getting to the point of this (…finally you’re probably thinking). WAFs are an easy target to generate discussion (polarising more than most other technical topics at present), but I’m not just talking about WAFs here. They’re just the example. It could be anything from technology entrenched into our industry, through to strategic thinking and approaches that look at where our industry is, where it should be and most importantly, the steps to make valuable, and most importantly, significant steps to improve IT, business, home and society in general. Read on:

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I enjoy David’s writing and his analogies between insecure software and the issues we face from it today and those in other industries and other times.

He’s kicked-off a series of posts titled; “Cyber Security at the Crossroads” on his blog. Worth a read:

Cyber Security at the Crossroads: Introduction
Cyber Security at the Crossroads: Bad Treatment

This higher-level view vs. “otherworld” case studies – present and past, is often overlooked in our industry, but it is the way to opening up understanding, awareness and discussion on this topic to broader society. Is there a better way?



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