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Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Discovering the Right Firewall For Your Company


Firewalls can be complex hardware devices with processors, cooling fans, and memory, but all firewalls are basically defensive and preventive devices that sit between your internal company network and the Internet. Effectively configured, managed, and maintained, firewalls provide great protection against unknown or malicious unauthorized access to your company network while allowing safe, authorized traffic to pass in and out. The firewall accomplishes this by analyzing all the data that passes through it, pre-screening it against special rule sets and attack signatures.

Rule sets

Rule sets are just what they sound like. They’re special rules that you can create to allow or deny specific types of traffic. You can, for instance, create a rule to filter incoming Internet traffic if the traffic is going on TCP port 21 and 22, but to allow incoming traffic on TCP port 53, for instance. If this sounds confusing, it’s really not. Most firewalls also have decent GUI interfaces and help guides to walk you through a secure installation. Rule sets usually use packet filtering and other techniques. The firewall checks packet headers for information and destination and source addresses, destination and source ports, and the contents of the data being transmitted. From this information the firewall can drop or allow traffic at a blistering pace.

Attack signatures

Attack signatures are similar to rule sets, but they are usually preset and do not allow you to create your own attack signatures. To do that, you’d need to use something like the Snort Intrusion Detection System. Attack signatures analyze traffic flow for well known types of attacks. These can watch for things like a sudden influx of UDP traffic (a symptom of Denial of Service) and the attack signatures can even identify hidden executable files, perhaps hidden inside PING traffic (this would probably indicate a backdoor on the internal network, at which point everything should be considered compromised.)
Firewalls can be dedicated hardware appliances, or they can be software installed on a computer (with at least two network adapters for Internal and external traffic. The computer would then act as the firewall. To be honest, most firewalls you see today are combinations of software and hardware.

Hardware Firewalls

Most businesses small, medium, and large should get a hardware firewall. I really don’t recommend a software firewall. They’re fun to set up for lab environments, and there’s nothing WRONG with them. Linux offers a ton of high quality software firewall packages and they are free! However, the ease-of-setup tradeoff with the cost is something I think most businesses can swallow. Truth is, hardware solutions are so much simpler. Just some names to consider. Barracuda, WatchGuard, and Zyxel all offer great hardware firewalls. Check some of them out.

Firewall Maintenance

A firewall is only as good as the IT personnel tasked to deploy and maintain it. It’s critical, and I do mean critical, for the firewall administrators (and anyone else who works on the thing) to LEARN about all of its unique features. You should be able to configure this thing a bunch of different ways and test what works best. You should be able to perform a penetration test against the device to determine how easy it may be for someone malicious to hack into it. Firewall testing like this is another critical part of this equation. You will need to adopt a regular schedule of scanning the firewall and testing it for vulnerabilities. The point is, know the device. I’ll leave it at that.
Ongoing maintenance tends to be easy on firewall appliances like the WatchGuard or Zyxel firewalls. You will do periodic updates to the firmware, and backups of the configuration file. But that’s about it. Hardware firewalls run themselves once you get them set up and configured properly. But keep this in mind, before making ANY configuration changes to the firewall, ALWAYS get a backup beforehand. This will save your ass, I swear. Especially if you make ruleset changes, you want a backup you can quickly restore to if necessary. I can’t tell you the number of times a “simple rule change” on the firewall ends up cutting off Internet access. Trust me, you do not want the corporate weiners bitching in your ears. These guys know how to bitch. It’s impressive. Just get a backup of the firewall before making any changes, and you’re already above a lot of your competition. So many people don’t do backups… It takes 10 seconds. I don’t get it.


Get a Jump Start on Wireless Security

Before you do anything else, you should go to your wireless router or access point and login to it’s internal configure page. All routers and access points today have web pages where you can login to configure the wireless network name, the password to login, etc. Notice one thing. When you login to that configuration web page, was the password easy to guess? Was it anything other than ‘admin \ admin’ or something like that? Change the default administrative password used to login to the access point or router if it is easy to guess. If possible, change the login name as well. When you change the default password, you’re hardening the security of your wireless network.

Consider physical positioning of the wireless access point

Take your smartphone outside with you and do a little bit of WiFi surveying. See how far outside your home your WiFi signal extends. Consider, could someone malicious access my network from outside the window? What about from the street? How about across the street? try to position the access point or router in the center of your home. WiFi signals degrade over physical space and as they pass through obstacles like walls. Ideally, if positioned central, your wireless signal won’t broadcast past the external walls of your home.

Encrypt with WPA2

It’s very easy to crack WEP encryption. It can be broken within minutes. Use WPA2 to encrypt your wireless network. But don’t think you’re safe just yet. Consider, is the password to access your WPA2 network easy to guess? Do you think it could be cracked?

Don’t just rename your SSID, don’t even broadcast it!

An SSID is the name of your WiFi network as you see it when you’re looking for devices to connect. If you are using a default SSID, change it. Hacker scan download huge lists of default SSIDs to speed up their cracking attempts.

If you’re especially paranoid, you can configure your wireless router or access point to not even broadcast the network name. That means you would need to type in the network name AND the password, but it does provide some level of security through obscurity.

Assign static IP addresses to all the connecting devices.

Most WiFi routers and access points use something called DHCP to give IP address automatically to connecting devices. DHCP usually draws from a large pool of available addresses, so malicious users could easily obtain access to the network if they cracked the password. Turn DHCP off and assign static IP addresses to all the devices you want to connect. By creating a whitelisting, you guarantee that only the devices YOU know about can connect. It takes a bit of time to organize and set up, but for home users with few connecting devices, it works well.

Use MAC Filtering

Take it a step further with MAC filtering. Similar to assigning static IP addresses to devices, you can specify their MAC addresses so only valid MAC addresses can connect. This offers twice the security than just relying on static IP assignment.

Use the WiFi AP’s firewall

To protect against inbound internet threats, enable and configure the access point or router’s firewall. Consider purchasing a dedicated firewall appliance if you want even greater security (and control.

How that you know some simple steps to secure your WiFi connection, learn how to hack it as well at http://freehowtohackwifi.com!

WiFi Cracker Tool – Fern

Fern is an awesome tool to automate cracking WEP and cracking WPA networks. It uses a GUI interface, so it’s very easy to get started with. Fern is perfect for IT security professionals who run wireless audits a lot.

Fern is included in Back Track and Kali Linux. Check out my tutorial on Using Fern.

A Legitimate Way to Hack WiFi – Become a Wireless Security Consultant

wifi password hackOne of the fastest growing fields in the IT Industry today is a wireless security consultant. If you are naturally curious and especially good with computers, you should seriously consider looking into the field of IT security. It’s just an exciting field because you get to do things like hack WiFi or crack a password. And the industry is poised for explosive growth.

Think about it. More and more people are getting online than ever before. There are something like 2 billion PCs in the world, and 3 billion smart phones. Then you have the bad guys, rogue computer hackers who think nothing of identity theft or information disclosure, or perhaps targeting you in a wireless password hack.

Wireless Security Experts are the defenders in cyberspace. These are the ones who are constantly monitoring the cyber underworld for signs of new hacking tools and techniques. They regularly test the systems they protect, in essence performing ethical hacks in order to plug weaknesses before malicious hackers find them.

So how does one become a wireless security expert? And let’s not mess around, the fun part is learning how to hack WiFi. And for free too.

Education is a must. There are tons of schools which offer degrees in Information Technology and Computer Science. There are more targeted learning paths available (with degrees and certificates). In the IT Security industry, there is plenty to chose from such as:

1. Digital Forensic Investigator

2. Firewall Administrator

3. Penetration Tester (ethical hacker)

4. IT Security Architect

5. Physical Security Manager

The list goes on and on, and there are plenty of opportunities to find.

But other than education, there are great resources for free ways to learn how to hack WiFi.

To learn, you will need a few things:

  • Back Track Linux or Kali Linux.

These are penetration testing operating systems. They come installed with a large collection of hacking tools. Kali Linux is the successor to Back Track, but either will do.

Remember, the IT Security field is growing faster than the average. Don’t get left behind. Get started for free right now. Free tutorials, articles, videos. Everything you need to get started. And the best part is, as you learn, you will also learn how to keep yourself safe from some of the cyber dangers out there.

Who Should be Held Accountable for the Rash of Database Security Breaches?

Attacks and compromises on databases have risen at an alarming rate over the past several years. Sony, LinkedIn, eHarmony, and Yahoo are just a small example of organizations having suffered from these high-profile attacks. The attackers themselves have moved from techniques such as SQL Injection to more advanced means of breaking a database and dumping the contents within for all to see. You can find plenty of more examples on my website.

hacking attacks

There needs to be a clear chain of custody as to who is responsible for safe guarding databases and the information they contain. In my opinion, the IT staff responsible for the databases should be held accountable because they should be knowledgeable enough to choose products that are known for being secure. At the very least, the staff and database administrators must be proficient with patching vulnerabilities present in existing databases.

The government should consider funding money for private organizations to join together and create more standards for data security, similar to standards enacted by like the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the FDA. Laws could then hold these companies accountable. Periodic security audits would hold them to these new safety standards.

If data is breached, an organization should be bound to notify its customer base. Withholding information of a break-in could be construed as obstruction or even collusion in court by crafty lawyers. It is best for an organization to admit a data breach up front and on the record. At that point, we can all collectively move closer to a more secure, and accountable future where computers are gaining even more information about us.

OpEd – Would I Connect to an Insecure Wireless Network?

wifi hackWireless networks are tricky to deal with because, even if they are secured with a preshared key, they do a poor job of providing non repudiation to the network’s owner. It is extremely easy for someone to crack a WEP key (and many times it is easy to crack a WPA1/WPA2 preshared key as well, provided the password is a dictionary-based.) Once this is finished, the attacker can use the wireless network as a digital beachhead of sorts, and launch further attacks. If forensics experts ever get involved, the trail leads back to the wireless network itself. By then, the attacking node has moved on and long gone. Always remember that its trivial for anyone to learn how to hack WiFi.

Would I connect to an unsecured wireless network? Or, would I use a neighbor’s unsecured WiFi? I have done this in the past, but I do not any longer. Honestly, my reasoning is not so much for moral reasons but rather my own self-preservation. Personally, I feel that the responsibility is on the WiFi owner to secure their network. (Breaking an encrypted network is a different story altogether, and one that I do hold a moral compass for.) There are countless open source tools that allow an attacker to sniff, redirect, and modify in transit data as it goes across the air. Weaponized programs such as sslstrip allow someone with minimal computer skills to strip out the SSL encryption used in banking, email, and social networking login forms. Thus, https://gmail.com becomes http://gmail.com, and most laymen don’t pay attention to the address bar the way I do now. Unsecured networks offer no substantial proof that your data will be secure and intact.

wifi hack

What would I do if I found out that someone was using my wireless home network? Firstly, this would not happen because I secure my home WLAN using enterprise encryption (the AES-256 algorithm authenticated to a RADIUS server.) In addition, I use MAC filtering and an IDS in a layered approach to security. (I’m paranoid) However, in the context of the question, if I were to find someone using my WiFi network, I would first set up wireshark or tcpdump and try to determine  the user and what they were using the network for. Piggybacking a wireless network to stream Netflix is one thing. Doing the same to download child pornography is something else entirely.

Passing laws policing the internet sets a dangerous precedent. Obviously, we need laws that will punish those that break an encrypted network, but I do not think punishing WiFi network owners is a good idea (even if they chose to leave it open.) A better solution would be to pressure WAP manufactures to implement out-of-the-box WPA2 encryption using a random, alphanumeric password. WAP manufacturers should stop setting default passwords that are the same across an entire product line. Manufactures could also set complexity requirements for the WAP password. This would cut down on the effectiveness of wireless cracking tools like cowpatty or aircrack. You will never eliminate  threats such as these entirely. A determined attacker will always find away in (perhaps leveraging some sort of social engineering attack to get the owner to divulge the key) and no system is 100% secure. But passing broad laws is not going to help here. Education, and better product security should be the way forward.

Computer Hacking Tricks Throughout the World

Since the dawn of the Internet, computer hacking has grown from a strange hobby for strange basement dweller types, to a multi million dollar industry filled with criminal masterminds, thieves, and spies. Check out the infographic below for a brief visual look at computer hacking across the world. “Cyberspace” really is the fifth domain of warfare, after land, sea, air, and space. Governments across the world are beginning a new arms race – not for nuclear weapons – but for silent cyber tools. Digital cruise missiles that are able to take out an enemy’s communications infrastructure (and anything else connected to the Internet) with a few simple mouse clicks.

e safety

Think about what all is connected to the Internet in some form or fashion:

– Electrical Power Grids

-Water Treatment Facilities

– Sewage Treatment Plants

– Power Plants

– Food Processing Centers

What’s one thing all these industrial staples have in common? They’re all run by machines, and yes, they ARE connected to the Internet. Think about it. The techs that maintain and fix these systems can’t be everywhere at once. They dial in remotely to fix problems. And the only way to dial in to a system is for that system to be online.

Just imagine computer hackers taking out the power to a large metropolitan hospital, or changing the settings on water treatment facilities to allow bacteria into the water supply… Or, maybe connect to a power plant and overload the circuits until the entire thing blows sky high. That’s just the beginning… But it’s not necessarily the biggest thing you should be worried about. There are plenty of people (some perhaps in your own neighborhood) who know how to hack a WiFi password, for instance. And if, for instance, they can hack your WiFi password and gain access, what do you imagine they could do? Steal your identity, perhaps? How about drain your bank account. Maybe even frame you for downloading illegal content as well…

Don’t be that guy. The one who has an insecure Wireless network. The one who may end up in jail for something he didn’t do. And even if you THINK your network and computer is secure, think again.

In a former life, I was one of those rogues. Basement dwellers, if you want to be insulting. I was a computer hacker. But I’ve switched sides, and now I work as a paid security consultant. I find the security holes before the bad guys do. I still break into computer networks, but only to show the owners how and why I was able to do so, then offer them the steps so it cannot happen again.

I want to bring light to the shadowy world of cyber crime and computer hacking. Millions fall victim every year to identity theft and drained bank accounts. I believe that knowledge is power, and if users know how this stuff works, they can be better prepared to protect themselves against hacking attacks. Check out my website for hoards of information on computer hacking. The workflows and methods. And most importantly, how you can protect yourself against an online attack.

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