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?


By Declan Ingram.

Thought provoking read over at the Register: Feds seize $143M worth of bogus networking gear.

While the article is mainly about counterfeit hardware, (Cisco etc), seized in the US, (some of which was used by the US Marines in Iraq), there are two parts that got my attention:

1) The counterfeit gear could have backdoors. (Well yes – and this is not news for many…be surprised if some or most doesn’t).

2) This lovely quote: “In May of 2008, Cisco officials said they had no evidence that any of the counterfeit networking gear contained backdoors” – If these are the same officials that have missed all the other security issues to date (and in the future), then I’m not sure this statement makes me feel any better.

This reminds me of a friend of mine who years ago purchased some pirated operating systems on CD in Malaysia. They had been backdoored and once installed allowed anyone on the Internet to gain full access. I had a giggle, I must say. You really get what you pay for…..and more. (Remote Support?) :)

The (potential) security problems of pirated software have been well documented for some time. Most will have looked at backdoored ‘cracks’ for proprietary software etc, but bogus hardware? Backdoored from day 0? Cisco gear is generally top shelf, so more likely to get noticed, but what about lesser brands or even your generic ’sourced’ components? The flash drive from eBay? The cheap video card you got for your server so you can install the OS? Have a think about it.

Could organised crime use this to offset the cost of components? OK, that could well just be pure FUD……but.. :)

I bet some, (most?) bogus gear comes from the same factory as the legit gear. Stands to reason. If it is backdoored, what assurance do we have that the legit gear isn’t? How would we, (or anyone else) ever know? Few know where to start in assessing the security of their supply chain.

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

By Declan Ingram

There has been a lot of discussion on here about 3rd party/cloud computing etc security (or lack there of). For many, this didn’t seem hugely relevant at the time as there was always a choice (or people just didn’t think it was going to be something that affected them). Recently however, the choice seems to be getting smaller.

The 3rd party management model is becoming…or should I say, has become, so popular now, that it is hard to keep control. (Control? Yes, of your information!).

Think about it. How much of your security is technically enforced by a 3rd party appliance? (And, how secure are they?) How much of your data is housed, managed, monitored, etc by a 3rd party? Professionally and personally we are giving ourselves away. More importantly, has this been looked at during your last Threat Risk Assessment? (Has you organisation even done one?)

From my experience, so many organisations that we audit have core data and systems housed and managed by 3rd parties, and nearly all of them have dangerously one sided contracts……Dangerously favouring the 3rd party.


By SGirl:

An interesting question came across our desk this week to do with police checks on current employees and potential new employees.

Things like PCI and the increasing awareness of the human factor of security threats means more and more organisations are getting police checks done on candidates and as part of an ongoing assurance program.

So what happens if you get a report returned that shows a conviction?  What do you do? Sack the employee? Not hire them? Perhaps, perhaps not.

While some organisations have a legal requirement not to employ anyone with a criminal history (working with children, issuing licences to name a few), for others the requirements and boundaries that need to be considered are a little greyer.

Essentially there are basic human rights that prevent discrimination in the workplace, including whether or not a person has a criminal conviction. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission have a discussion paper on it:

To avoid discrimination on the basis of criminal record, an employer can only refuse to employ a person if their criminal record prevents them from being unable to perform the ‘inherent requirements’ of the job.


By SGirl:

Who will I upset this time? Though the support far outweighed the few negative comments. But, I digress…..

It is interesting the information that you can find when you look really hard and spend a bit of time to get results.

As a bit of background, to me, IT security is not just all about technical solutions, hacking and latest marketing terms like the “Cloud”. It is also about management, strategy, compliance (not the dirty version). It’s many areas that for some reason, the media don’t really report nor focus upon (unless your compliance means PCI DSS). It’s the less “sexy” part of the industry, but for much, the parts that hit the coalface of the business.

In Australia, there are things happening that you hear little to nothing about – things that are affecting businesses and compliance considerations now. They aren’t being focused upon and far from hot topics like PCI DSS; “Ooh merchants might start being fined soon and let’s start talking about what PCI DSS is, and means to you and how vendor X is going to help you”! We only hear about what a few decide is “sexy” but for most part and as recent conversations here in this blog and forums have shown, what those individuals are deciding as “interesting” seems not to be what is floating the boats of many in the industry. Drazen Drazic gets most of his news from blogs he says.

Let have a look at a few things:


By SGirl:

It is not just the government. The whole industry doesn’t care enough to pay sufficient attention to the message that is being sent in regards to IT Security to business. (I am not even going to bother with the national IT Agenda – that is a whole other rant). It is largely cultural. And I don’t know if it will change. Let’s start with the government.

You have local, state and federal government and within this, a plethora of agencies, departments, bodies and statutory authorities that have their own areas of responsibility. Pretty much at every level and at every segment they are putting out a message about IT security.

Some push a dedicated IT security message, others push a particular message for a particular sector or area of industry….and many are pushing the same message to the same segment in different areas of the country.  Their intentions vary too, and this also plays a part in what message is sent.

For some the root intent is social responsibility – for others it is purely political (eg; Internet Filtering anyone?), jumping onto topical interest bites or even just using up budget allocations pointlessly to keep jobs and play the games that governments play.

Not one though in my opinion gives sufficient information for a business of any size (small, medium and large) to understand and appreciate all that they should be knowing and doing to target new threats of doing business facilitated by technology. And few ever and consistently say things in alignment with each other. You have to wonder….


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… 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.

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?

By straxd

So Australia’s apparently getting filtering technology that’s mandatory for anyone who accesses the Internet.  Links about it are growing. Some examples are here, here and here.

In summary, it’s basically the Great Firewall of China but marketed slightly differently for the discerning Australian audience. Notice how Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (yes that is his title), says; “I was wondering if I could get the questions without it being accused of being the Great Wall of China” but not actually providing to us all the differences between China and what’s planned here.

Of course when we’re thinking technically here, what they’re planning won’t work – we know that. It’s simple enough to use a proxy or, if you want to be really clever, tunnel through an encrypted connection to somewhere with more freedoms of the Internet like Iran or Afghanistan. :) If they think this is going to do anything to stop child pornography then they’re either stupid or misguided. [DD Note: give them two options?]

By Declan Ingram

Chip and pin scam ‘has netted millions from British shoppers’

Good example here of a creative attack vector. This is also one that we have been talking about for some time……and each time we do, people have rolled their eyes and made jokes about tin foil hats. :-)

Whilst this is obviously a bad thing, I can’t help but think how good it is that there is media attention for it now and people can start thinking about it.

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