All posts by Kevin

US Secret Service Recent Promo / Congrats to Graduating Class

I am very impressed with the Secret Service or any branch of military or government body that produces fine men and women in service to the US. I am all for it. Almost went myself a few times but got old. I’m a fan of Jesse Ventura or any Navy Seal for that matter (He’s just more vocal/flare). However, in a recent LinkedIn Recruiting / Promotional post featured below, a few of us wise and sympathetic patriots noticed that maybe not the best delivery. Some thought showing the faces was not so secret anymore. Read below.


My comment after my friend and former CT House Representative 47th District, Chris Coutu posted his about not being so secret, was the following.


So I get the promotional thing but aren’t all the documentaries online shadowing and muffling face and voices respectively to protect our active agents in the field ?! (Rhetorical) Moving on…OK so now we have our graduating class. Great, I’m happy for them and I hope they do well. Now after this I actually clicked on the link to see the youtube channel for the Secret Service. I watched one video posted here I watched a few clips and noticed a few things. Starters I like the car drill but we get past that and see them running or lifting weights and…tires. I see that the requirement for SS is not being in shape before you attend. I see that there are stomachs jiggling around the track/building and lifting a barbell. In the same clip we see last names on the back of the agents. While not giving a lot of information, still some information is showing. The reporter mentions a ballet dancer whom I think is probably in better shape than anyone as one of the recruits. Diversity is great and thats what makes the USA a great place, I think personal care of ones health is job number one. Looks like these guys eat whatever they want and work out vs sacrificing that donut, bread on a sandwich. and soda. The following video shows guys lifting a log over their heads in unison and I noticed more bellies. The narrator mentions if sitting on the couch is what you have done and are thinking of joining you might consider something else. “Sorry buddy, off the couch I can run 3 miles and not get winded, no training 100% pure genetics.” Also, it looks like potatoes and fries in the video.


I’m sorry but that my friend is not respect for one’s body. eat ice and drink water cold water and lots of water to fight that urge to eat what you should not. Also, you should just get involved doing something else to keep you busy or mind off eating if thats the case. Become a gym addict….but apathy never won anything.

So my advice to the Secret Service…..raise the bar, define physical requirements (I think the state Police used to). It does take more than physical fitness to be in any of that line of work, don’t get me wrong, its just the videos are not as inspiring as they could be. On the other side it also means that you or I could be there if we were committed to the cause. So this blog is not a review but one that looks at what is being presented based off perception of what we think Secret Service and public service are all about. In addition what must be done to qualify for that service details. Also to protect the safety of those that serve, photographs, last names, and interviews shouldn’t be presented. The only thing I can think of in all of this is that all the people that are posted in the pics, videos and interviews are all actors. Then this post means nothing.

IPVanish VPN Service and DNS Leak Testing

As you know privacy is a big thing for everyone and anyone who is a person. I think privacy is an unalienable right that should not be taken lightly. What is important to private citizens is the right to be …private citizens. We are not in the public service or want to be in the limelight. Ask anyone in Hollywood what they’d give to be invisible for a month (depending on popularity) I bet more than a few would pay a million for it. On the internet we look up, research, post, communicate, and advocate as we like. It’s our free will and right. So with that IPVanish is here to help.

IPVanish is a VPN service that …well keeps the lid on things to keep eyes off of you. To sum it up….here’s their landing page of their site.

Your simple solution for Internet privacy.
Lightning-fast speeds. Maximum security. Zero logs.

Have you ever wondered where your browser goes when you type something in and hit search? Who sees it? Who responds? Where are you going? Where is this browser taking me! Well break out wireshark and IPvanish and lets go for a little test drive shall we ? OK well you just buckle up or sit down and grab some popcorn and I will show you.

Let’s see how safe and secure our DNS requests are while not on the VPN provided by IPvanish and see what the results are.
Going to the following site you can perform a DNS Leak test here at DNS Leak (best one I’ve seen)
Here we are going to click the Extended Test cause we want to really get an exhaustive test.


So it tries to determine location from your ISP’s nearest hub and give you two options standard or extended tests (Click Extended)

The test runs taking and making queries out to the web and then displays what DNS servers helped resolve those queries to you.

The results of this test show the following servers answered the queries.

Where was it going for the tests ? Look below. It hits your internal DNS server or gateway and then goes outbound.

No lets use IPVanish and see if they deliver.

We logon and we run the same test at the same site.

Click on extended and watch the wireshark capture tunnel it all. The DNS address in the capture (viewable) is in the same IP subnet range as the VPN (Which I scrubbed).
The results show just the one IP address which is IPVanish DNS server getting you the DNS results and not your ISP or other search engine giant.

So we conclude that your privacy is insured with this IP VPN service provided by IPVanish. Make sure you do your research before investing in a VPN solution. IPVanish supports EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) who is all about privacy and your rights.

Web Application Pen testing with OWASP ZAP (liking it)

Penetration testing is one of the methods used to validate a security posture of a network or application. While not all pentests can discover everything they are good at testing what you like and sometimes what you didn’t know existed. OWASP ZAP (Zed Attack Proxy) is just one ofthe Java based tools that you can fire up fast enough and get cracking. This review isn’t going to be technical in steps and methods, at least not too deep, but will reflect on the kind of functionality and purpose you are looking for in a tool.

OWASP ZAP can be used with its proxy settings enabled so you can view, review, edit or modify text as it goes towards the target. Great for testing local encryption, SQL injection, and XSS attempts etc click jacking. When setup in the proxy settings you can test how input is sent/received and accepted and the response the server gives. A great tool for troubleshooting and hardening applications as well and testing the performance of such applications. While using this I discovered that a good youtube video showed many attacks that are possible on most database or application web sites that people just pay no mind to. It is amazing the number of subtle security flaws that if leveraged in a certain attack can lead to more and more information leakage that a cracker can grab and escalate with.

Interesting videos
OWASP ZAP Tutorials

Security Testing for Developers Using OWASP ZAP

Lifelock Alerts – You’ve Been Hacked or A Social Site Was…Where’s the Proof Lifelock?

Recently I was made aware that my personal email account was some where on the black market from an alert from Lifelock. OK, I can see how that can happen when LinkedIn dropped the ball on security. It was attributed to the LinkedIn Hack from a while back in 2012 and now the spoils of hacking resurfaced May 2016.


In May 2016, LinkedIn had 164 million email addresses and passwords exposed. Originally hacked in 2012, the data remained out of sight until being offered for sale on a dark market site 4 years later. The passwords in the breach were stored as SHA1 hashes without salt, the vast majority of which were quickly cracked in the days following the release of the data.

Compromised data: Email addresses, Passwords

The website havieibeenpwned has recorded the hacks and is a great source to use. The reason why I point you to that site is from a call to Lifelock that didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. First off I wanted to know what site out there has my information that they were able to scour and find. Lifelock Operator “I’m sorry sir, we don’t have that information in the alert. I can only see what you see. I do know that they scan 10,000 sites for this information.” Yes OK great, now please go get your supervisor. Supervisor “Sir, yes its true this happened and we urge that you change your password and maybe even your email account altogether.” OK Ms. Supervisor but where did you get that information from? I work in security and I work with ones and zeroes. Apparently, I can’t get away from the zeroes. If the site exists you must have a record somewhere with my email address and old password is located. All Ms. Supervisor could do was re-state the obvious that they didn’t have the information. How about your IT department I said, can they help us out? Nothing.

So later on trying to do something else I hop over to Netherlands and try to get some email and wouldn’t you know some Google Alerts say “hey someone tried logging in with your account”. I’m like yes, me. Shortly after the next day Lifelock gets the same thing and I get an alert sent to my cell. OK this is how Lifelock works. Working with Google finding out when someone attempted to use my account. Not impressing me.

Lifelock is basically selling Cyber Insurance and are not providing the details of where they found my information. This post is to challenge you to think what exactly are we getting for a service that I can’t get from News Sources on the web about breaches. Where is the proof Lifelock? That is my challenge to you. Don’t call me up and tell me something is out there…we all know that.

While you’re browsing the web, here is a nice article, recent too, about identity protection services not what its cracked up to be. Why Identity-Theft Protection Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be (Kaveh Waddell)

A better eyebrow raiser Despite Promises, Lifelock Knows Public Data is A Risk Guess I’m not the only one calling Lifelock out in the street.

Too Silo’d to React, Now Respond.

Ever think what would happen if you ever got hacked? Maybe you are wondering if the IPS guys or the HIPS guys are really doing their jobs? In corporate America it is real easy to overlook a lot of precautions and security because you’re just too leveraged. Today’s threats are evolving as bad actors continue to find ways inside. They utilize social sites and technology, human frailty of being needed, and work their way through with some advanced IPS and IDS and Anit-X evasion techniques. So what are you to do?

Looking at the problem in your cube doing your work on your piece of the asset. Your mind tends to think “OK this is what I have to do and I move on to the next asset and service on that asset.” That is all you can touch. You’re ethical hacking group is looking too busy or not too busy to assist and maybe they can or cannot really find all the holes in your security posture. How about a resident hacker just for that client or span of control of clients that you have. Where one can check the security by reviewing the vulnerability report made with hacking tools. However, the key difference here is not to pay for a once a year penetration test but make it so that you test regularly. Red team vs. blue team and then provide results to management. Also, just testing monthly to make sure patches and firewall rules are in place would be great. I think this would be one of the best security practices a company could get into. RedSeal is a software solution that provides visibility into an organizations security by analysing configurations and building out the network diagram. It can then import vulnerability reports and host information to really give you the what if scenario that you have been thinking about in your cube. It will also give you your list of objectives to test and make sure you that the holes found are true and need to fix.

Security is not something you buy or do once in a while. It’s a practice built by defined policies and procedures that are completed over and over again. If you think you are failing to practice the right procedures every day or that your vigilance is intermittent, then I think you are a good candidate for some building security into everyday operations 101. Yes, a bit wordy there but think about it, its not rocket science the hurdle is time, the silo, and the recognized concept.

In conclusion, the best security is a resident security expert allowed to do their job by proving tools and processes. If you cannot get a resident hacker or spend time doing this allow me to make some suggestions. Get a requirement opened from HR to fill this role or hire a service from a firm that understands vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.  Allow them to practice regularly providing results to you and maybe you can stay out of the news. Security awareness and training also helps prevent attacks because users bring the risk in from their computers. The biggest tools to get in are Adobe Flash & Reader, Java, and spear phishing.

If you have any questions or comments or looking for advice on services and where to go, feel free to contact me

OpenDNS – Use It!

OpenDNS – Use It

I cannot say it enough. Wherever I go and when I can, I always advocate using OpenDNS. They screen the web urls before you do. So you will never hit a bad site. Defense in depth is addressed here as well. You need to watch your perimeter as well as the deep inside where your users reside. In fact most cases in hacking events today involve end users. What do they do all day ? Work and when they get a chance to blow off steam or check on personal email you open yourself up for risk. This means that all the end users open your company up for attack via data leakage, IP losses, and corporate espionage. What’s funny, when companies buy other companies they inherit the risk associated with their systems. Has anyone really ever thought about the risk inherited by hiring you, the employee? Maybe the board will start to re-think M&A and apply it to the microcosm in the work place.

Recently SANS news Bites released an article about OpenDNS and detecting domain shadowing.

–Detecting Suspicious Domains
(March 5, 2015)
Technology being developed by OpenDNS aims to hasten detection of
malicious websites and domains. The technology, called Natural Language
Processing Rank (NLPRank), checks for suspicious site names. To reduce
the incidence of false positives, it also checks to see if the domain
is running on the same network that the organization it claims to be
from actually uses.
[Editor’s Note (Northcutt): OpenDNS is a really cool operation and if
you are not using it for your home network you should really consider
it; this goes double if you are a parent. And NLPRANK is an idea whose
time has come. The idea of registering domain names that are similar to
valid and trustworthy names e.g. is not new. What is
fairly new is the ability of attackers to prepare an attack, register
these slightly-off domains, embed them in tiny urls, phishing links in
emails, etc., and mop up the opportunities the people that succumb to
the attack present them in a very short period of time. In manufacturing
and quality control, people are very sensitive to cycle time. We need
to apply that type of mindset in defensive cybersecurity: ]

The article comments on the ability of NLPRank which is natural language processing rating system where for example, a domain name registered recently, with bad spelling/purposely misspelled, and or bad email registrant information will give the domain a negative rank. This would be blocked from users that utilize OpenDNS or a warning showing its risky like WoT did with their color scheme for web site search results. The system is still in testing at the time of this writing but should be usable in the near future. Hats off to OpenDNS, continuing to shock and wow the world and giving people and businesses an edge in thwarting cyber criminals.

Sentrix – Defending Your Web Presence


What is Sentrix ? – Sentrix is a company that provides defense for your web presence on their hardware and not yours. This includes database backend protection from having a hardened front end. In addition they provide DoS, DDoS, and web application protection. I am sure I am missing a few others but you get the point. What really makes me think this company has a sound cloud based solution is that its context aware. This is akin to being application aware like with Palo Alto firewalls.

Sentrix reviews the site and based off the context it builds a replica of the site. Proof of conepts can be built in 24 hrs for testing with no impact to production servers. It’s really worth it to go for a test drive and watch how this works. That leads us to the next topic of how it works. When Sentrix scans and reviews your site it creates two categories in which the presentation and functionality resides. One bucket is called the presentation bucket and the other bucket is called the business transaction bucket. It also builds whitelist rules that allows some transactions to go back to the original server (your server) like username/passwords and authentication. Everything else stays right there on the replica.

When a site is built you have access to a dashboard where you can start working on your field validation for what characters and actions are allowed in each field. each replica automatically provides rules for you to start with becuse its context aware. Here going forward you can edit them as well as network settings. You can also use human validation settings like captcha to help ensure people are viewing and not scripts or bots.

DoS and DDoS protection is done by creating rules for a queue if connections increase rapidly. It will also spin up more gateways as needed to service the load of connections. Also, you can just deny connection rates over a certain rate to ensure that your site stays up. So yes web application, Application DoS, and other threats can be mitigated with Sentrix. I am very impressed with the technology. Now they just need some Superbowl commercials and I think everyone will get the message.

Why use a Cloud when you can Build Your OWNCLOUD and Btsync Backup Server

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    POODLE – What to do about it (CVE-2014-3566)

    POODLE CVE-2014-3566 is a vulnerability where negotiations between client and server result in a lower security protocol (from TLS 1.0 to SSLv3) being used in which oracle based side channel attack can leak predictable padding and give an attacker utilizing MITM the upper hand in obtaining ciphertext, session IDs, and decrypt them. There is a possibility for hijacking sessions when users go off corporate security infrastructure to other sites. Work around are suggesting to down grade to SSLv2 from SSLv3 but I would suggest the opposite. Use TLS 1.1 or 1.2. Have users work from within the corporate network, go to safe sites, DO NOT USE Hotspots and open WifFi connections for business related activities. A lot of applications like Java, ASP,NET, Ruby on Rails, C+, Pyhton, Perl, PHP, and ColdFusion are targets for this padding side channel attack. Maybe even forcing 24×7 VPN connections and forcing users to go through corporate security infra-X will help protect corporate assets. End users should not use corporate computers for personal use until this is resolved. There are settings in browsers and on Windows computers to force using various SSLv2 settings or TLS 1.0 or higher settings found here,news-19775.html

    Check your browsers here

    Browser Fixes
    Mozilla Firefox

    Type about:config into the address bar and hit Enter or Return. Click “I’ll be careful, I promise!” in the resulting warning window. Scroll down the list of preferences and double-click “security.tls.version.min”. Change the integer from 0 to 1 and click OK.

    Google Chrome

    For Google Chrome, you’ll have to temporarily become a power user and use a command line. The instructions are a bit different for Windows, Mac and Linux.

    In Windows, first close any running version of Chrome. Find the desktop shortcut you normally click to launch Chrome and right-click it. Scroll down to and click Properties. Click the Shortcut tab. In the Target field, which should end with “/chrome.exe”, add a space, then add this: “–ssl-version-min=tls1” (without quotation marks). Click Apply and then OK.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer

    Click the Tools icon in the top right corner (the icon looks like a gear). Scroll down and click Internet Options. In the resulting pop-up window, select the Advanced tab, then scroll through the list of settings until you reach the Security category. Uncheck Use SSL 3.0, click Apply, and then click OK.

    Diving Deeper

    Leaking of information as written per wiki is the norm when padding to match the underlying cryptography. This is the case for ECB and CBC decryption used in block ciphers. Attackers could decrypt as well as encrypt messages using server keys and not knowing the keys themselves. The issue is the predicate-able padding and initialization vectors being implicit instead of explicit. While solutions for servers are to upgrade OpenSSL I would move to something stronger and force clients to do the same. If we do not push for better security now, then when? Yes there will be some pains in the transition but I believe if we fend off the attackers at the perimeter and on the users inside, we will all be better off. Web servers using TLS 1.2 is only around 18% according to Qualys. Qualys further stated moving up to TLS 1.1 or 1.2 doesn’t mean BEAST attack is thwarted but that there could be another attack vector not known yet.

    Palo Alto Firewalls – There is Nothing Else Left to Compete


    I just finished up taking the PAN 201 and 205 classes. Had I known that these firewalls can do all that it does 2 years ago, I would have trained earlier. Where can you get a firewall that inspects traffic in real time, a single pass technology (Single Pass Parallel Processing), reviews packets up to 5 ways with App-ID before deciding what to do with it (worse case). This is just App-ID. There is still Content-ID and User-ID for policing traffic into and out of your network. Remember security is everyone’s job and watching what leaves your organization is just as important. You don’t want to be part of a botnet network. You don’t want your secret sauce leaving either.

    App-ID Inspection
    The traffic is classified based on IP and port, next for review the signatures are then applied to the allowed traffic (so that’s two) then if the App-ID determines that encryption SSL or SSH is used you can write a decryption policy (if legally allowed). The fourth inspection is known protocol decoders for additional context based signatures to see if applications are tunneling traffic inside. This helps avoid salami attacks or data diddling. When traffic leaves in small chunks back to C&C, this known decoders helps very well. When that does not work there is heuristics used to see if the behavior of packets are normal and then it passes.

    There are three paths traffic can take even when being analyzed. We start with FW session setup/slowpath or we could use FW Fast path, or or Application Identification. It can decrypt SSL and SSH traffic (Not HIPAA, banking financial) to determine if the content inside is legitimate or not and then it can toss or re-encrypt and send it on to destination. The firewall allows for a subscription based service to Wildfire for malware and threat protection and ….analysis. Hands free administration right there folks. Brightcloud offers the url filtering service. Wildfire for threat protection and sandboxing. Upload files for review up to 10 MB. There is so much to say about this firewall. It even has packet capture capability right there on a policy or filter to aid in troubleshooting connectivity or an incident. No more running out to the data center floor or waiting for an approved change. It has App-ID to look at applications and that they behave as they should. No more ports open and let that traffic just ride on in there. It will lay the smackdown on any traffic not adhering to signature or behavioral patterns. Does your Cisco or Checkpoint do that? Really? How well does it do that? What buffer? Did you say lag to analyze your traffic? Well sorry to hear that. Palo Alto appliance have dedicated hardware multi-core security processor, network processor, signature match processor, to do all that security.

    Control plane works with and independently of the data plane. Reboot one and not the other or both. Have visibility while rebooting or leave the traffic run and reboot the management. No more waiting for off hours to make changes. There are 15 steps in the flow logic that all traffic may go through.

    Heck, we haven’t even touched Global Protect (VPN) which can extend the corporate borders anywhere and provide more protection. Think about security and what would you like to do. You want to be safe, see it when it happens if it does right? Guard against future incidents right? This is the firewall for you. I have worked with many firewalls Checkpoint (used to be favorite) Juniper, and Cisco ASA (I tested in and past). Nothing compares to Palo Alto. If I were the other vendors I’d start looking for another job if I were them.

    More to come on this story. Check it out for yourselves. Palo Alto Networks

    For a good start into how this technology works take a look at this from Palo Alto

    © 2013 Palo Alto Networks
    Page 3
    Executive Summary: The Need for a Single-Pass Architecture
    For many years, the goal of integrating threat preven
    tion services into the firewall has been pursued as
    a means of alleviating the need for additional devices
    for functions such as IPS, network antivirus, and
    more. The pursuit of integrating th
    reat prevention functions into the firewall makes perfect sense – the
    firewall is the cornerstone of
    the security infrastructure.
    Current integration iterations carr
    y a variety of different labels – deep inspection, unified threat
    management (UTM), deep packet
    inspection, and others. Each of
    these iterations share a common
    problem, which is a lack of consistent and predictabl
    e performance when security services are enabled.
    Specifically, the firewall functions
    are capable of performing at high
    throughput and low latency, but
    when the added security functions are enabled,
    performance decreased while latency increased.
    The Palo Alto Networks Single-Pass Parallel Proce
    ssing (SP3) architecture addresses the integration and
    performance challenges with a unique single-pass a
    pproach to packet processing that is tightly
    integrated with a purpose-built hardware platform.

    Single-pass software:
    By performing operations once per packet, the single-pass software
    eliminates many redundant functions that plagu
    e previous integration
    attempts. As a packets
    are processed, networking, policy lookup, a
    pplication identification and decoding, and
    signature matching for any and all threats
    and content is only performed once. This
    significantly reduces the amount of processing overhead required to perform multiple
    functions in one security device. The single-pass software uses a stream-based, uniform
    signature matching engine for content inspect
    ion. Instead of using separate engines and
    signature sets (requiring multi-
    pass scanning) and instead of usin
    g file proxies (requiring file
    download prior to scanning), the single-pass arch
    itecture scans traffic for all signatures once
    and in a stream-based fashion to avoid the introduction of latency.

    Parallel processing hardware:
    The single-pass software is then integrated with a purpose-built
    platform that uses dedicated processors and me
    mory for the four key areas of networking,
    security, content scanning and management. Th
    e computing power within each platform has
    been specifically chosen to perform the processi
    ng intensive task of
    full stack inspection at
    multi-Gbps throughput.
    The resulting combination delivers the horsepower
    required to achieve consistent and predictable
    performance at up to 20 Gbps of throughput, maki
    ng the goal of integrated firewall and threat
    prevention a realit