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Security

A 364-post collection

Fixing Data Breaches Part 1: Education

We have a data breach problem. They're constant news headlines, they're impacting all of us and frankly, things aren't getting any better. Quite the opposite, in fact - things are going downhill in a hurry. Last month, I went to Washington DC, sat in front of Congress and told them about the problem. My full written testimony is in that link and it talks about many of the issue we face today and the impact data breaches have on identity verification. That was really our mandate - understanding the impact on how we verify ourselves - but I want to go back a step and focus on how we tackle data breaches themselves. Before I left DC, I promised the...

I'm Sorry You Feel This Way NatWest, but HTTPS on Your Landing Page Is Important

Occasionally, I feel like I'm just handing an organisation more shovels - "here, keep digging, I'm sure this'll work out just fine..." The latest such event was with NatWest (a bank in the UK), and it culminated with this tweet from them: I'm sorry you feel this way. I can certainly pass on your concerns and feed this back to the tech team for you Troy? DC— NatWest (@NatWest_Help) December 12, 2017 This was after a concerned customer and then myself trying to explain to them that serving their home page over a non-secure connection wasn't such a good idea. The "I'm sorry you feel this way" tweet was in response to...

New Pluralsight Play by Play: What You Need to Know About HTTPS Today

As many followers know, I run a workshop titled Hack Yourself First where I spend a couple of days with folks running through all sorts of common security issues and, of course, how to fix them. I must have run it 50 times by now so it's a pretty well-known quantity, but there's one module more than any other that changes at a fierce rate - HTTPS. I was thinking about it just now when considering how to approach this post launching the new course because let's face it, I've got a lot of material focusing on the topic already. But then I started thinking about the rate of change; just since the beginning of last year, here's a bunch...

The Trouble with Politicians Sharing Passwords

Yesterday I had a bunch of people point me at a tweet from a politician in the UK named Nadine Dorries. As it turns out, some folks were rather alarmed about her position on sharing what we would normally consider to be a secret. In this case, that secret is her password and, well, just read it: My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous !!— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) December 2, 2017 For context, the back story to this is that another British pollie (Damian...

Here's What I'm Telling US Congress about Data Breaches

Last week I wrote about my upcoming congressional testimony and wow - you guys are awesome! Seriously, the feedback there was absolutely sensational and it's helped shape what I'll be saying to the US Congress, including lifting specific wording and phrases provided by some of you. Thank you! As I explained in that first blog post, I'm required to submit a written testimony 48 hours in advance of the event. That testimony is now publicly accessible and reproduced below. Do keep in mind that the context here is the impact on identity verification in "a post-breach world". My task is to ensure that the folks at the hearing understand how prevalent breaches are, how broadly they're distributed and...

I'm Testifying in Front of Congress in Washington DC about Data Breaches - What Should I Say?

Edit: I'm putting this up front as a lot of people are asking for it - the hearing will be live-streamed on YouTube and there's already an embedded video on the hearing page. There's a title I never expected to write! But it's exactly what it sounds like and on Thursday next week, I'll be up in front of US congress on the other side of the world testifying about the impact of data breaches. It's an amazing opportunity to influence decision makers at the highest levels of government and frankly, I don't want to stuff it up which is why I'm asking the question - what should I say? For a bit more context, I've been chatting with folks...

Locking Down Your Website Scripts with CSP, Hashes, Nonces and Report URI

I run a workshop titled Hack Yourself First in which people usually responsible for building web apps get to try their hand at breaking them. As it turns out, breaking websites is a heap of fun (with the obvious caveats) and people really get into the exercises. The first one that starts to push people into territory that's usually unfamiliar to builders is the module on XSS. In that module, we cover reflected XSS which relies on the premise of untrusted data in the request being reflected back in the response. For example, if we take the sample vulnerable site I use in the exercises and search for "foobar", we see the following: You can see the search...

The One Valuable Thing All Websites Have: Reputation (and Why It's Attractive to Phishers)

Here's something I hear quite a bit when talking about security things: Our site isn't a target, it doesn't have anything valuable on it This is usually the retort that comes back in defence of some pretty shady practices and in the mind of the defendant, it's a perfectly reasonable position. They don't collect any credentials, they don't have any payment info and in many cases, the site is simply a static representation of content that rarely changes. So what upside is there for an attacker? Reputation. More specifically, a non-negative reputation because that's a valuable thing to attackers wanting to mount a phishing campaign. This happens on an alarmingly regular basis and there was a perfect illustration of precisely...

Bypassing Browser Security Warnings with Pseudo Password Fields

It seems that there is no limit to human ingenuity when it comes to working around limitations within one's environment. For example, imagine you genuinely wanted to run a device requiring mains power in the centre of your inflatable pool - you're flat out of luck, right? Wrong! Or imagine there's a fire somewhere but the hydrant is on the other side of train tracks and you really want to put that fire out but trains have still gotta run too - what options are you left with? None? Wrong again! Seeing a theme here? Let's extend that into the digital world and we'll talk about HTTPS for a bit. You should use it. No really, if you're not HTTPS'ing...

Questions about the Massive South African "Master Deeds" Data Breach Answered

This week, I started looking into a large database backup file which turned out to contain the personal data of a significant portion of the South African population. It's an explosive situation with potentially severe ramifications and I've been bombarded by questions about it over the last 48 hours. This post explains everything I know. Who Am I and Why Do I Have This Data? Some background context is important as I appreciate there's a lot of folks out there who haven't heard of me or what I do before. I'm an independent Australian (I have a Microsoft Regional Director title but RDs don't actually work for Microsoft) and I specialise in security training folks who build online systems. For...