The “Off The Record” Track

Posted November 21st, 2011 by

So while I was at some conferences over the past couple of months, I had an awesome idea while sitting in a panel about data breaches, especially notification. While streaming conferences is pretty awesome for most content, I keep thinking that we need that as an industry we need the exact opposite: a track of the conference that is completely off-the-record.

Here in DC when we do smaller training sessions, we invoke the Chatham House Rule.  That is, the discussion is for non-attribution.  There are several reasons behind this:

  • You don’t have to worry (too much, anyway) about vendors in attendance selling you something
  • It won’t end up in the press
  • It gets real information to people instead of things that are “fit for public consumption”

My local area has a hackers association (No linkie, if you have minimal skill you can find it) that meets to talk about mostly technical stuff and what folks are working on.  I find that more and more often when I do a talk there I do it “Off the Record” for a wide variety of reasons:

  • I don’t want the attackers to get more effective
  • I have half-baked ideas where I want/need feedback on if they are completely off-base
  • The subject matter is in a legal gray-area and I’m not a lawyer
  • I talk “on the record” all day every day about the same things
  • I can “test-drive” presentation material to see how it works
  • I can show nuts and bolts

So, the point of all this is that maybe we need to start having more frank discussions about what the bad guys are doing “in the wild” if we want to stop them, and that involves talking with peers from other companies inside the same industry to see what they are getting hit with.

Chatham House Rule

Chatham House Rule photo by markhillary.

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Posted April 14th, 2011 by

Ref: On the Internet…

on teh internetz...

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Some Comments on SP 800-39

Posted April 6th, 2011 by

You should have seen Special Publication 800-39 (PDF file, also check out more info on out by now.  Dan Philpott and I just taught a class on understanding the document and how it affects security managers out them doing their job on a daily basis.  While the information is still fresh in my head, I thought I would jot down some notes that might help everybody else.

The Good:

NIST is doing some good stuff here trying to get IT Security and Information Assurance out of the “It’s the CISO’s problem, I have effectively outsourced any responsibility through the org chart” and into more of what DoD calls “mission assurance”.  IE, how do we go from point-in-time vulnerabilities (ie, things that can be scored with CVSS or tested through Security Test and Evaluation) to briefing executives on what the risk is to their organization (Department, Agency, or even business) coming from IT security problems.  It lays out an organization-wide risk management process and a framework (layer cakes within layer cakes) to share information up and down the organizational stack.  This is very good, and getting the mission/business/data/program owners to recognize their responsibilities is an awesome thing.

The Bad:

SP 800-39 is good in philosophy and a general theme of taking ownership of risk by the non-IT “business owners”, when it comes to specifics, it raises more questions than it answers.  For instance, it defines a function known as the Risk Executive.  As practiced today by people who “get stuff done”, the Risk Executive is like a board of the Business Unit owners (possibly as the Authorizing Officials), the CISO, and maybe a Chief Risk Officer or other senior executives.  But without the context and asking around to find out what people are doing to get executive buy-in, the Risk Executive seems fairly non-sequitor.  There are other things like that, but I think the best summary is “Wow, this is great, now how do I take this guidance and execute a plan based on it?”

The Ugly:

I have a pretty simple yardstick for evaluating any kind of standard or guideline: will this be something that my auditor will understand and will it help them help me?  With 800-39, I think that it is written abstractly and that most auditor-folk would have a hard time translating that into something that they could audit for.  This is both a blessing and a curse, and the huge recommendation that I have is that you brief your auditor beforehand on what 800-39 means to them and how you’re going to incorporate the guidance.

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Micro Digital Signatures Howto

Posted February 22nd, 2011 by

With RSA wrapping up, I figured I would do something fun with Alice, Bob, and crypto.  There is a need for small digital signatures (Micro Digital Signatures/”MicroDigiSigs” if I can be as bold as to think I can start a nerdy meme) and tools to support them over small message spaces such as The Twitters, SMS/Text Messaging, barcodes, jabber/xmpp, and probably tons of other things I haven’t even thought of.

Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) provides a solution because of some inherent traits in the algorithms:

  • Speed to compute
  • Low processor load
  • Small keys
  • Small signatures

Some general-type info to know before we go further with this:

  • OpenSSL 1.00 supports ECC functions.  This is teh awesome, thank you OpenSSL peoples.
  • You can check out the OpenSSL HOWTO, I derived a ton of info from this resource
  • Issues with ECC support in OpenSSL:
    • ECC is poorly documented in OpenSSL.  Pls fix kthanx.
    • Some targets are missing from OpenSSL (ECC Digital Signature Algorithm signatures with SHA-256).

Now on to the step-by-step process.   Feel free to shoot holes in this, I’m sure there are tons of other ways to do things.

Show all the available curves:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl ecparam -list_curves
secp112r1 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
secp112r2 : SECG curve over a 112 bit prime field
secp128r1 : SECG curve over a 128 bit prime field
secp128r2 : SECG curve over a 128 bit prime field
secp160k1 : SECG curve over a 160 bit prime field
secp160r1 : SECG curve over a 160 bit prime field
secp160r2 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
secp192k1 : SECG curve over a 192 bit prime field
secp224k1 : SECG curve over a 224 bit prime field
secp224r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 224 bit prime field
secp256k1 : SECG curve over a 256 bit prime field
secp384r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 384 bit prime field
secp521r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 521 bit prime field
prime192v1: NIST/X9.62/SECG curve over a 192 bit prime field
prime192v2: X9.62 curve over a 192 bit prime field
prime192v3: X9.62 curve over a 192 bit prime field
prime239v1: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
prime239v2: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
prime239v3: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit prime field
prime256v1: X9.62/SECG curve over a 256 bit prime field
sect113r1 : SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
sect113r2 : SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
sect131r1 : SECG/WTLS curve over a 131 bit binary field
sect131r2 : SECG curve over a 131 bit binary field
sect163k1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 163 bit binary field
sect163r1 : SECG curve over a 163 bit binary field
sect163r2 : NIST/SECG curve over a 163 bit binary field
sect193r1 : SECG curve over a 193 bit binary field
sect193r2 : SECG curve over a 193 bit binary field
sect233k1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
sect233r1 : NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
sect239k1 : SECG curve over a 239 bit binary field
sect283k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 283 bit binary field
sect283r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 283 bit binary field
sect409k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 409 bit binary field
sect409r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 409 bit binary field
sect571k1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 571 bit binary field
sect571r1 : NIST/SECG curve over a 571 bit binary field
c2pnb163v1: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
c2pnb163v2: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
c2pnb163v3: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
c2pnb176v1: X9.62 curve over a 176 bit binary field
c2tnb191v1: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
c2tnb191v2: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
c2tnb191v3: X9.62 curve over a 191 bit binary field
c2pnb208w1: X9.62 curve over a 208 bit binary field
c2tnb239v1: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
c2tnb239v2: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
c2tnb239v3: X9.62 curve over a 239 bit binary field
c2pnb272w1: X9.62 curve over a 272 bit binary field
c2pnb304w1: X9.62 curve over a 304 bit binary field
c2tnb359v1: X9.62 curve over a 359 bit binary field
c2pnb368w1: X9.62 curve over a 368 bit binary field
c2tnb431r1: X9.62 curve over a 431 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls1: WTLS curve over a 113 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls3: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 163 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls4: SECG curve over a 113 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls5: X9.62 curve over a 163 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls6: SECG/WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls7: SECG/WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls8: WTLS curve over a 112 bit prime field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls9: WTLS curve over a 160 bit prime field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls10: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls11: NIST/SECG/WTLS curve over a 233 bit binary field
wap-wsg-idm-ecid-wtls12: WTLS curvs over a 224 bit prime field
IPSec/IKE/Oakley curve #3 over a 155 bit binary field.
Not suitable for ECDSA.
Questionable extension field!
IPSec/IKE/Oakley curve #4 over a 185 bit binary field.
Not suitable for ECDSA.
Questionable extension field!

ECC keys are specific to curves.  Make a key for secp256k1, it’s fairly standard (ie, specified in NIST’s DSA Signature Standard (DSS) as are all of the secp* curves).

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl ecparam -out key.test.pem -name prime256v1 -genkey
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat key.test.pem

Make a public key.  This is poorly documented and I had to extrapolate from the RSA key generation process.
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl ec -in key.test.pem -pubout -out
read EC key
writing EC key

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat

Make a test message:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ echo “destroy all monsters” > msg.test
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat msg.test
destroy all monsters

Generate MD5, SHA-1, and SHA-256 hashes:

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -md5 msg.test
MD5(msg.test)= a4a5e7ccfda28fdeb43697b6e619ed45
rybolov@ryzhe:~a$ openssl dgst -sha1 msg.test
SHA1(msg.test)= 4d1d1b917377448a66b94e1060e3a4c467bae01c
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -sha256 msg.test
SHA256(msg.test)= efd54922696e25c7fed4023b116882d38cd1f0e4dcc35e38548eae9947aedd23

Make a signature, note that every time you make a signature with ECC it will be different.
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat msg.test | openssl dgst -sha1 -sign key.test.pem -out test.sha1.sig

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat msg.test | openssl dgst -sha1 -sign key.test.pem
ÔøΩÔøΩ1K2ÔøΩÔøΩ›§{!ÔøΩv4+ÔøΩÔøΩÔøΩÔøΩ WÔøΩ    ÔøΩcÔøΩÔøΩP≈ô—áÔøΩaÔøΩ*~)@aÔøΩ1ÔøΩJ>ÔøΩdÔøΩ

Make the signature readable/text by encoding it with Base64:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl enc -base64 -in test.sha1.sig

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ wc -m test.sha1.sig.asc

rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl enc -base64 -in test.sha1.sig > test.sha1.sig.asc

Validate the signature:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -sha1 -verify -signature test.sha1.sig msg.test
Verified OK

OpenSSL is dumb here because it can’t read base64:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -sha1 -verify -signature test.sha1.sig.asc msg.test
Error Verifying Data
3077905144:error:0D0680A8:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_CHECK_TLEN:wrong tag:tasn_dec.c:1320:
3077905144:error:0D07803A:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_ITEM_EX_D2I:nested asn1 error:tasn_dec.c:382:Type=ECDSA_SIG

So we can use OpenSSL encode with the -d flag to make a binary version:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl enc -base64 -d -in test.sha1.sig.asc -out test.sha1.sig.bin
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat test.sha1.sig.
test.sha1.sig.asc  test.sha1.sig.bin
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ cat test.sha1.sig.bin
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -sha1 -verify -signature test.sha1.sig.bin msg.test
Verified OK

We can also do a prverify which is to verify the signature using the private key:
rybolov@ryzhe:~$ openssl dgst -sha1 -prverify key.test.pem -signature test.sha1.sig.bin msg.test
Verified OK

Now to use this whole thing, you’ll need concatenate the signature with the massage and add a delimiter or send 2 messages, one with the message, the other with the signature.  Any kind of special character like |!^% etc works great as a delimeter, so something like this works:

MEUCIGbR7ftdgICMZCGefKfd6waMvOM23DJo3S0adTvNH5tYAiEAuJ6Qumt83ZsLsxDqJ1JNH7XzUl28M/eYf52ocMZgyrk=destroy all monsters

destroy all monsters|MEUCIGbR7ftdgICMZCGefKfd6waMvOM23DJo3S0adTvNH5tYAiEAuJ6Qumt83ZsLsxDqJ1JNH7XzUl28M/eYf52ocMZgyrk=

Topics for further research:

I haven’t talked at all about key distribution.  This gets real hard real fast just for the simple fact that you have to get an initial key to both ends of the conversation.  You can do key rotation inband, but that first hookup is a logistical effort.  Glad to hear ideas on this.

To get a smaller signature, use MD5 and secp112r1.  Normally you wouldn’t create digital signatures using MD5 (US Government standard is moving to SHA-256), but it’s a tradeoff in paranoia/crackability with signature size.  You have to do each of the steps manually because the objects for ECDSA only use SHA-1:

  • Hash the command
  • Encrypt the hash using the private key
  • Convert the encrypted hash to base64

You can use the OpenSSL shell prompt to save some keystrokes: openssl<enter>  You can also call OpenSSL as a C library, which should work nicely for embedded code.

I’m interested in building a comparison table of the following items, I just haven’t had time to build a script to compare all the data for me:

  • ECC Curve
  • Time to Compute a Signature
  • Size of Signature
  • Relative key and signature strength

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Reinventing FedRAMP

Posted February 15th, 2011 by

“Cloud computing is about gracefully losing control while maintaining accountability even if the operational responsibility falls upon one or more third parties.”
–CSA Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing V2.1

Now enter FedRAMP.  FedRAMP is a way to share Assessment and Authorization information for a cloud provider with its Government tenants.  In case you’re not “in the know”, you can go check out the draft process and supporting templates at  So far a good idea, and I really do support what’s going on with FedRAMP, except for somewhere along the lines we went astray because we tried to kluge doctrine that most people understand over the top of cloud computing which most people also don’t really understand.

I’ve already done my part to submit comments officially, I just want to put some ideas out there to keep the conversation going. As I see it, these are/should be the goals for FedRAMP:

  • Delineation of responsibilities between cloud provider and cloud tenant.  Also knowing where there are gaps.
  • Transparency in operations.  Understanding how the cloud provider does their security parts.
  • Transparency in risk.  Know what you’re buying.
  • Build maturity in cloud providers’ security program.
  • Help cloud providers build a “Governmentized” security program.

So now for the juicy part, how I would do a “clean room” implementation of FedRAMP on Planet Rybolov, “All the Authorizing Officials are informed, the Auditors are helpful, and every ISSO is above average”?  This is my “short list” of how to get the job done:

  • Authorization: Sorry, not going to happen on Planet Rybolov.  At least, authorization by FedRAMP, mostly because it’s a cheat for the tenant agencies–they should be making their own risk decisions based on risk, cost, and benefit.  Acceptance of risk is a tenant-specific thing based on the data types and missions being moved into the cloud, baseline security provided by the cloud provider, the security features of the products/services purchased, and the tenant’s specific configuration on all of the above.  However, FedRAMP can support that by helping the tenant agency by being a repository of information.
  • 800-53 controls: A cloud service provider manages a set of common controls across all of their customers.  Really what the tenant needs to know is what is not provided by the cloud service provider.  A simple RACI matrix works here beautifully, as does the phrase “This control is not applicable because XXXXX is not present in the cloud infrastructure”.  This entire approach of “build one set of controls definitions for all clouds” does not really work because not all clouds and cloud service providers are the same, even if they’re the same deployment model.
  • Tenant Responsibilities: Even though it’s in the controls matrix, there needs to be an Acceptable Use Policy for the cloud environment.  A message to providers: this is needed to keep you out of trouble because it limits the potential impacts to yourself and the other cloud tenants.  Good examples would be “Do not put classified data on my unclassified cloud”.
  • Use Automation: CloudAudit is the “how” for FedRAMP.  It provides a structure to query a cloud (or the FedRAMP PMO) to find out compliance and security management information.  Using a tool, you could query for a specific control or get documents, policy statements, or even SCAP assessment content.
  • Changing Responsibilities: Things change.  As a cloud provider matures, releases new products, or moves up and down the SPI stack ({Software|Platform|Infrastructure}as a Service), the balance of responsibilities change.  There needs to be a vehicle to disseminate these changes.  Normally in the IA world we do this with a Plan of Actions and Milestones but from the viewpoint of the cloud provider, this is more along the lines of a release schedule and/or roadmap.  Not that I’m personally signing up for this, but a quarterly/semi-annually tenant agency security meeting would be a good way to get this information out.

Then there is the special interest comment:  I’ve heard some rumblings (and read some articles, shame on you security industry press for republishing SANS press releases) about how FedRAMP would be better accomplished by using the 20 Critical Security Controls.  Honestly, this is far from the truth: a set of controls scoped to the modern enterprise (General Support System supporting end users) or project (Major Application) does not scale to an infrastructure-and-server cloud. While it might make sense to use 20 CSC in other places (agency-wide controls), please do your part to squash this idea of using it for cloud computing whenever and wherever you see it.


Ramp photo by ell brown.

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DojoCon DDoS Video

Posted December 16th, 2010 by

My DDoS presentation at DojoCon on Sunday.  A big thanks to Marcus J Carey for organizing the con and Adrian Crenshaw for doing the recording.

Michael Smith, @rybolov DDoS from Adrian Crenshaw on Vimeo.

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