Security UPDATE--Security Blog and Googling for Vulnerabilities--July 28, 2004


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Security Administrator


1. In Focus: Security Blog and Googling for Vulnerabilities

2. Security News and Features

- Recent Security Vulnerabilities

- Book Review: PDA Security: Incorporating Handhelds into the Enterprise

3. Security Matters Blog

- It Had to Happen Sooner or Later

- Stopping Malware That Travels Through SSL Connections

- XML-Based Security Information Feeds

4. Instant Poll

5. Security Toolkit


6. New and Improved

- Know Your Enemy


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==== 1. In Focus: Security Blog and Googling for Vulnerabilities ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net

First, I want to let you know that we've added a new section to our Web site and this newsletter. If you visit the Web site regularly and subscribe to our security-related Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed, then you know we recently launched a new blog: Security Matters. Each week in this newsletter, you'll find a summary of the most recent blog postings.

You can visit the Security Matters blog to add your comments to a given posting. If you have a tip, tidbit of information, resource, commentary, or other content that you think might be of interest to others, then certainly send me an email (mark at ntsecurity / net) with that content and I'll consider posting it to the blog.

Last week, I mentioned the Information Security Writers Web site, which publishes security papers written by many authors. In the past week, the site has published a few new papers, one of which is "Demystifying Google Hacks," by Debasis Mohanty.

The paper outlines several ways in which someone can use a particular search syntax in Google to query for sites that might have known vulnerabilities. For example, Google supports query syntax that includes the commands intitle:, inurl:, allinurl:, filetype:, intext:, and more. Google isn't the only search engine that provides the use of this sort of query syntax. MSN Search, AlltheWeb, Yahoo!, and others support a similar syntax to varying degrees.

If intruders are using search engines, you should try the same techniques to check your own Web sites for vulnerabilities. Repeating the searches when new Web-related vulnerabilities are published might also be wise. Think of it as another method for scanning your systems. You can also build false URLs into a honeypot that supports Web services, then add the honeypot URLs to various search engines.

A drawback of using search engines to search for vulnerabilities on your Web sites is that typing or pasting in query after query can become tedious work. One obvious solution is to use scripts to store queries and automate the actual querying and result gathering process. Foundstone released a free tool in May that automates the process of using Google to scan for vulnerabilities in a given site. I've used SiteDigger a few times, and it works really well.

Site Digger has a list of more than 100 predefined queries (vulnerability signatures) in which you simply enter a Web site address and click a button to start the Google query process. After the query is complete, you can easily export a report to HTML format.

The signatures are stored in XML format, so you can add more or customize the current rules if you need to. If you do, be aware that the tool also has an update feature that lets you download new queries from the Foundstone Web site when they're available. I'm not sure whether the update process totally overwrites the signature file or not; you might want to save a copy of your custom signatures in case it does.

Our Instant Poll this week asks, "Do you use search engines to look for vulnerabilities in the Web sites you manage?" Visit and give us your answer.


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==== 2. Security News and Features ====

Recent Security Vulnerabilities

If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these discoveries at

Book Review: PDA Security: Incorporating Handhelds into the Enterprise

According to information published on the companion Web site to the book "PDA Security: Incorporating Handhelds into the Enterprise," "PDAs have moved into the workplace. More than 25 million of them will soon be accessing company networks." Such a proliferation of PDAs represents another challenge for systems administrators who are already struggling to ensure that their company's information isn't violated in any way or by any means. Reviewer Tony Stevenson says the book will be useful to administrators tasked with developing a practical "handheld computing" strategy for their company or organization. Most important, the book provides the framework for assessing, and then addressing, the risks that PDAs present. Read the entire book review on our Web site.


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==== 3. Security Matters Blog ====

by Mark Joseph Edwards,

Check out these recent entries in the Security Matters blog:

It Had to Happen Sooner or Later

- It was inevitable that somebody somewhere would produce a virus that affects Windows CE devices, and it happened this week.

Stopping Malware That Travels Through SSL Connections

- Inspecting Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) traffic isn't possible through standard methods. However, it is possible with a third-party solution.

XML-Based Security Information Feeds

- Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are a great way to quickly gather security-related information, including information about all the latest vulnerabilities.

==== 4. Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll

The voting has closed in the Windows & .NET Magazine Network Security Web page nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Do you now use or do you plan to use 802.11i on your wireless LANs?" Here are the results from the 47 votes.

- 13% Yes, we use 802.11i now

- 4% Yes, we plan to use 802.11i in the next 3 months

- 9% Yes, we plan to use 802.11i in the next 6 months

- 17% Yes, we plan to use 802.11i in the next year

- 57% No, we don't plan to use 802.11i

New Instant Poll

The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you use search engines to look for vulnerabilities in the Web sites you manage?" Go to the Security Web page and submit your vote for

- Yes, I do so regularly

- Yes, but only when I become aware of new Web vulnerabilities

- No, but I plan to start

- No, and I don't plan to start

==== 5. Security Toolkit ====

FAQ: Q. What Are the Relative Identifiers (RIDs) of a Domain's Built-in Accounts?

by John Savill,

A. Every object in a domain has a SID, which consists of the domain's SID and a RID. For built-in objects, such as built-in accounts, RIDs are hard-coded. A table at the URL below lists the built-in objects, their RID, and their object type. The fact that RIDs are hard-coded explains why merely renaming, say, the Domain Administrator object doesn't often thwart an intruder, who can simply locate the account by using the RID 500. However, you can create a honeypot by renaming the real Domain Administrator account and creating a new account called Domain Administrator that has no permissions. You can use the bogus Domain Administrator account to fool hackers into attacking it, then log the attacks and delay any real damage to the bona fide Domain Administrator account.


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====6. New and Improved ====

by Jason Bovberg, [email protected]

Know Your Enemy

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