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1. In Focus: Honeywall CD-ROM and Internet Storm Center
2. Special Report: Black Hat USA 2004 Briefings
3. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- News: New MyDoom Worm Variant Affects Search Engines Too
- News: Microsoft Promises IE Patch for Download.Ject Soon
- Feature: A First Look at Windows Firewall
4. Security Matters Blog
- MyDoom Strikes Again
- Windows Server 2003 Security Guide
5. Security Toolkit
6. New and Improved
- HTTP-Based Patch Distribution
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==== 1. In Focus: Honeywall CD-ROM and Internet Storm Center ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity dot net
In the May 19 edition of this newsletter, I discussed the new Honeywall CD-ROM available from the Honeynet Project. The Honeywall CD-ROM is based on a trimmed-down version of Linux and is configurable both before and after boot-up. You can add items you might need or make configuration changes to suit your environment. For example, you could add Secure Shell (SSH) keys, set your IP address preferences, and so on, then burn a CD-ROM so that when you boot to the CD-ROM, your system is configured and ready for use.
You can download a copy of the CD-ROM image (at the URL below, about 50MB in size,) from the Honeynet Project Web site. On July 20, the Honeynet Project announced a subscription program that serves as a way for you to support the project and gain some added value at the same time. For an annual contribution of $150 for corporations or $75 for individuals, the project mails in March and September a copy of the most recent Honeywall CD-ROM; another CD-ROM containing updated whitepapers, tools, and documentation; and a print newsletter that contains "all the new work that has occurred in the past six months." The subscription sounds like a great way to give something back to the project in exchange for its hard work in providing great tools and information to help you with your security endeavors.
Using a honeypot or network of honeypots can be helpful in learning how and why intruders attempt to penetrate your network. One of this month's SANS Institute Webcasts might address the use of honeypots. On August 11, Johannes Ullrich will present "Internet Storm Center: Threat Update," which "discusses recent threats observed by the Internet Storm Center, and discusses new software vulnerabilities or system exposures that were disclosed over the past month." The Webcast might help you more readily detect various activities trapped by your honeypots or by your other Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs).
SANS Internet Storm Center helps track new threats, gathers information about those threats, and presents its findings to the public at the related Web site. Readers often contribute information that can help provide loads of useful details about the latest threats that might otherwise be harder to obtain, and sometimes you find links to other sites that have even more detailed information. If you haven't visited the Internet Storm Center Web site, you might consider doing so to help better understand the current trends in network attacks.
http://www.incidents.org or http://isc.sans.org
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==== 2. Special Report: Black Hat USA 2004 Briefings ====
by Mark Burnett
Black Hat, a computer security conference and training company, held the 8th annual Black Hat Briefings last week in Las Vegas. The conference included presentations by nearly 50 speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Among the key topics were electronic voting, privacy on the Internet, Google hacking techniques, and zero-day exploits.
"We spent more time picking speakers this year," said Jeff Moss, CEO of Black Hat. "We received a record number of submissions and the quality was remarkable." According to Moss, the focus of the talks has shifted to address new and upcoming security threats: "A couple years ago, the interest was in detecting \[known\] attacks. The new interest is how you defend against unknown attacks." Moss added that the speakers are "turning their focus to the more difficult problems."
One underlying issue addressed in many of the talks is the decreasing amount of time between the announcement of a vulnerability and the deployment of code to exploit it. "Time to attack has gotten so small," said Moss. "It used to be a two-week process that has shifted to one day." According to Stephen Toulouse, a Microsoft security product manager, "The biggest challenge we are dealing with now is people releasing attack code. We're seeing the time to attack shrinking."
Dr. Rebecca Mercuri and Bev Harris presented research and analysis on electronic voting and the possible manipulation of it. Mercuri and Harris spoke about the October 2003 California governor recall election, providing an analysis that dispelled erroneous assertions about the benefits of electronic voting and raised questions about the accuracy of election systems. Black Hat also announced the launch of "The Mezonic Agenda: Hacking the Presidency Contest," hosted by Syngress Publishing. Conference attendees received a copy of a CD-ROM that contains a game with the object of hacking and ultimately controlling the outcome of a mock US presidential election. Contestants must use their hacking skills to make themselves the winning candidate of the simulated election.
Other speakers presented sessions on the topics of Zero-Day Code, Phishing for Organized Crime, First Global Cyber-War, Secure Wireless Network Deployment, Customer Data Protection, and new Web application attacks. Speakers included Halvar Flake, Black Hat's resident reverse engineer, and Greg Hogland, author of "Exploiting Software."
Black Hat holds five conferences annually in North America, Europe, and Asia. For information about upcoming Briefings, visit
==== 3. 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
News: New MyDoom Worm Variant Affects Search Engines Too
A new MyDoom worm variant, [email protected], was discovered on July 26. Computers affected by the worm are used to perform queries on various search engines to harvest email addresses. According to reports, a significant number of computers were affected by the worm and caused some strain on popular search engines, including Lycos, AltaVista, Yahoo!, and Google.
News: Microsoft Promises IE Patch for Download.Ject Soon
Microsoft will finally issue a critical security patch for its infamously buggy Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser this week (possibly by the time you read this newsletter), out of sync with the company's planned monthly security fixes. The patch will fix the flaw that led to last month's Download.Ject malware attack and will be applicable to IE 6.0, IE 5.5, and IE 5.01. The patch follows an unprecedented configuration change update that the company released to partially fix the Download.Ject problem; security experts quickly denounced the change as ineffective.
Feature: A First Look at Windows Firewall
Paula Sharick notes that after plowing through more than 200 pages of documentation about the extensive changes in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), she wasn't optimistic about testing the XP SP2 beta. With the introduction of a real firewall; security controls for Distributed COM (DCOM), remote procedure call (RPC), and WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) operations; secure wireless networking; the ability to kill pop-ups; and hands-on management of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) plug-ins, SP2 has more in common with a new OS than a service pack with bug fixes. The upgrade also changes the open-access paradigm to a limited- or no-access orientation, which in theory can wreak havoc with network connectivity and server-based operations. Read the rest of Paula's first look at XP SP2 Windows Firewall on our Web site.
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==== 4. Security Matters Blog ====
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://www.winnetmag.com/securitymatters
Check out these recent entries in the Security Matters blog:
MyDoom Strikes Again
If you're looking for more details about the latest MyDoom worm variant, [email protected], you can find some interesting analysis, including links to analysis from several antivirus vendors, in the Handler's Diary for July 26 at the SANS Internet Storm Center Web site.
Windows Server 2003 Security Guide
The default installation of Windows Server 2003 is much more secure than previous Windows versions. Even so, you might consider making some additional adjustments to further tighten security, depending on your needs, by using Microsoft's new Windows Server 2003 security guide.
==== 5. Security Toolkit ====
FAQ: Why Can't I Update the Active Directory (AD) Schema for Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS)?
by John Savill, http://www.winnetmag.com/windowsnt20002003faq
A. I recently had this problem too--I had a lab environment in which I repeatedly tried--and failed--to update the schema for SMS by running the extadsch.exe command. After I ran the command, the log file contained a lot of failure messages. After much investigation, I discovered the reason for the failed schema update: I had many domain controllers (DCs) that weren't running and consequently had replication errors. After I started the DCs and resolved the replication errors by forcing a replication, the schema update worked perfectly. You can review the log's failure messages and the subsequent success messages in the FAQ on our Web site.
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==== 6. New and Improved ====
by Jason Bovberg, [email protected]
HTTP-Based Patch Distribution
Configuresoft announced Security Update Manager (SUM) 2.5, software that lets you safely distribute patches and software updates across firewalls via HTTP. SUM 2.5 is an add-on module for Configuresoft's Enterprise Configuration Manager (ECM). SUM 2.5 reduces the risk and vulnerabilities associated with opening ports on network firewalls to deploy patches on systems within an organization's Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and machines located outside the network perimeter. Pricing for SUM 2.5 starts at $25 per server and $5 per workstation. Pricing for ECM starts at $995 per server and $30 per workstation. For more information about SUM and ECM, contact Configuresoft at 719-447-4600 or on the Web.
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