Sunday, April 26, 2009

Review of Crimeware Posted

Amazon.com just posted my four star review of Crimeware by Markus Jakobsson and Zulfikar Ramzan. Really, I'm not kidding. After a four month hiatus I'm posting book reviews. From the review:

Crimeware is a collection of chapters collectively written by 40-odd security researchers. Sometimes this approach is a formula for disaster, but here the end result is a solid book that covers a broad number of topics. Because each author or group of authors know their field well, they can delve fairly deeply when necessary, and their material is technically accurate. However, some of the chapters are boring and lifeless. This book blocked my reading queue for about 4 months, which is a sign I found the text unappealing. It took a flight from Amsterdam to convince me to finish it! Still, I agree with many of the other reviewers -- Crimeware is an impressive examination of malware, on a variety of fronts.


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Traffic Talk 5 Posted

My fifth edition of Traffic Talk, titled Network security monitoring using transaction data, has been posted. From the article:

Welcome back to Traffic Talk, a regular SearchNetworkingChannel.com series for network solution providers and consultants who troubleshoot business networks. We took a break, but we're back with more articles on using network traffic to make your business more productive and secure.

In this article, I discuss network security monitoring (NSM) and introduce one specific form of NSM data -- transaction data.


If you have any questions on the article, please post them here.

I should be writing new Traffic Talk articles every other month. Snort Report seems to be on hold for the time being, but if that changes I will post word here. If you'd like to see the Snort Report return to SearchSecurityChannel.com, post a comment here. Thank you.


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Friday, April 24, 2009

TaoSecurity Blog Wins Best Non-Technical Blog at RSA

I noticed in Martin McKay's post Security Bloggers Meetup 2009 that TaoSecurity Blog (this blog, despite where you might be reading the reposted content) won the Best Non-Technical Blog award at the RSA 2009 Security Bloggers Meetup.

Thank you for the votes! I was not aware that the blog was nominated nor did I mention the contest here. I appreciate the votes despite the posting slow-down while I was vacationing with my family and then teaching in Amsterdam. I have several posts planned for this weekend or soon thereafter!


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

4th Issue of BSD Magazine

I recently received a copy of the 4th issue of BSD Magazine. The cover focus is on PC-BSD, but there are also articles on ZFS, Django, and backups. This magazine seems to really be coming along. I would be interested to know if people are seeing it at their local book stores. A new issue of Linux+ Magazine is also posted too.


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Elvis Presents IDS vs NSM

When I teach Network Security Monitoring I often introduce the alternative using an image like the following. It shows what an analyst (here, Elvis) might do if the only data he had to work with as an alert from something like a traditional intrusion detection system.



Compare that workflow with the possibilities provided by Network Security Monitoring:



Usually when I present this concept I take the opportunity to mention that Elvis studied American Kenpo with the founder of the style, Ed Parker. I also mention that Elvis frequently performed karate on stage, even doing so at someone else's concert!

I decided to track down a reference for that particular story, and through Shane Peterson's Elvis and the Martial Arts found this:

Elvis attended the Tom Jones show on September 3rd [1974], during the show he was introduced to the crowd by Tom, at that moment he was invited on stage and Tom asked him if he'd like to sing something, it wasn't possible he said as he had an exclusive contract with the Hilton, so instead he went into a Kata demonstration on the Caesar's Palace stage.

I would prefer to include links to the Web pages where I found these, but since they are hosted on Tripod pages I don't want to kill the owner's bandwidth through unnecessary click-throughs. If you want to find the sources please do a Google search.

Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Speaking of Incident Response

In my last post I mentioned I will be speaking at another SANS IR event this summer. I just noticed a post on the ISC site titled Incident Response vs. Incident Handling. It states:

Incident Response is all of the technical components required in order to analyze and contain an incident.

Incident Handling is the logistics, communications, coordination, and planning functions needed in order to resolve an incident in a calm and efficient manner.


That's not right, and never was. I tried pointing that out via a comment on the ISC post, but apparently the moderators aren't willing to accept contradictory comments.

Incident response and incident handling are synonyms. If you need to differentiate between the role that does technical work and one which does leadership work, you can use incident response/handling for the former and incident management for the latter.

Ten years ago I took a course at CERT called Advanced Computer Security Incident Handling for Technical Staff. The class covered technical methodologies for responding to and handling incidents. The successor to that class is Advanced Incident Handling. Notice that CERT also offers the CERT®-Certified Computer Security Incident Handler certification. To CERT, incident response and incident handling are synonyms. If anyone should understand incidents, it's CERT.

I think SANS is the organization that needs to examine how it uses the term incident handler or incident handling. The GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) designation is 83% inappropriate. How do I arrive at that figure? If you review the day-by-day course overview you'll see that only one day, the first, involves Incident Handling Step-by-Step and Computer Crime Investigation. The next four days are Computer and Network Hacker Exploits, with the sixth day being an open lab. So, 5/6 of the class has little to nothing to do with incident response/handling.

This is a problem for three reasons. First, I have met people and heard of others who think they know how to "handle incidents" because they have the GCIH certification. "I'm certified," they say. This is dangerous. Second, respondents to the latest SANS 2008 Salary Survey considered their GCIH certification to be their most important certification. If you hold the GCIH and think it's important because you know how to "handle incidents," that is also dangerous. Third, SANS offers courses with far more IR relevance that that associated with GCIH, namely courses designed by Rob Lee. It's an historical oddity that keeps the name GCIH in play; it really should be retired, but there's too much "brand recognition" associated with it at this point. If you want to learn IR from SANS, see Rob.

To be fair, the title for the course which prepares students for the GCIH is Hacker Techniques, Exploits & Incident Handling. Putting IH at the end does list the subject in the proper context. I will also not deny that one should understand hacker techniques and exploits in order to do incident response/handling, but that knowledge should be its own material -- something to know in addition to the skills required for IR. Also, track 504 is really good; I remember it fondly, before it had that label. The material is kept fresh and the instructors are excellent.

The bottom line is that incident handling and response are synonyms, and those who think they are certified to do incident handling and response via GCIH are kidding themselves.


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bejtlich to Keynote at SANS Forensics and Incident Response 2009

I am pleased to announce that I will return to SANS in 2009 to provide another keynote at the second SANS WhatWorks Summit in Forensics and Incident Response. I published Thoughts on 2008 SANS Forensics and IR Summit last year. Rob Lee did a great job organizing the 2008 event and I expect the 2009 event to be excellent as well. This 2-day summit will be held at The Fairmont in Washington, D.C. on 6-7 July.


Richard Bejtlich is teaching new classes in Las Vegas in 2009. Early Las Vegas registration ends 1 May.