Tag Archive for hacking

Safeguard Against Random Password Hacks

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A great tool I ran across to protect your server from random password attacks which I have been receiving recently from China.

Fail2ban scans log files and bans IP addresses that make repeated, unsuccessful attempts to access the server and then it updates the IPtables rules to reject those IP addresses for a period of time which is defined by you. It can also be configured to notify you if once these events occur.

Its no high-end Intrusion Prevention System, but it does the job.

Fail2ban comes preconfigured to detect and block attacks to ports 22 (ssh), 25 (SMTP) and 80 (http). Instructions on installing on CentOS are detailed below as well as adding functionality for ProFTPD.

I love package management as opposed to compiling because its clean and easy to maintain, so we will need to subscribe to repositories to install Fail2ban.

* Update the system

yum update

* Install DAG’s GPG key

rpm –import http://dag.wieers.com/rpm/packages/RPM-GPG-KEY.dag.txt

* Verify the package you have downloaded

rpm -K rpmforge-release-0.3.6-1.el5.rf.*.rpm

Security warning: The rpmforge-release package imports GPG keys into your RPM database. As long as you have verified the package and trust Dag then it should be safe.

* Download and Install the package

wget http://packages.sw.be/rpmforge-release/rpmforge-release-0.3.6-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
rpm -ivh rpmforge-release-0.3.6-1.el5.rf.*.rpm

This will add a yum repository config file and import the appropriate GPG keys. At this point, you can set the priority of the RPMForge repository, and also of the CentOS repositories if you have not done so yet.

* Test with this command:

yum check-update

* Update the system

yum update

* Install Fail2ban

yum install fail2ban

* Configure Fail2ban by editing and adding to /etc/fail2ban.conf

maxfailures = 3 (the default is 5)

ignoreip = <the_server_IP> <network_you_want_excluded/24>

* Enable E-Mail Notification

# Option:  enabled
# Notes.:  enable mail notification when banning an IP address.
# Values:  [true | false]  Default:  false
enabled = true

to = <your_email_address>

* Add ProFTPD functionality

enabled = true
logfile = /var/log/secure
fwstart = iptables -N fail2ban-proftpd
iptables -I INPUT -p tcp –dport ftp -j fail2ban-proftpd
iptables -A fail2ban-proftpd -j RETURN
fwend = iptables -D INPUT -p tcp –dport ftp -j fail2ban-proftpd
iptables -F fail2ban-proftpd
iptables -X fail2ban-proftpd
fwcheck = iptables -L INPUT | grep -q fail2ban-proftpd
fwban = iptables -I fail2ban-proftpd 1 -s <ip> -j DROP
fwunban = iptables -D fail2ban-proftpd -s <ip> -j DROP
timeregex = \S{3}\s{1,2}\d{1,2} \d{2}:\d{2}:\d{2}
timepattern = %%b %%d %%H:%%M:%%S
failregex = Maximum login attempts|no such user found|Failed password

* Set it to startup automatically with the system

chkconfig –levels 235 fail2ban on

* Start Fail2ban and walk away

/etc/init.d/fail2ban start


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Locking Down The Blackberry Network

Early last year India threatened to discontinue Blackberry service if Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the Blackberry did not allow the Indian Government to monitor the Blackberry network traffic raising serious security concerns. Here are a few articles from PCWorld, InfoWorld, and CNet.

Now president-elect Barack Obama vows to keep his Blackberry despite hacking fears and concerns by the Secret Service.

This will not only be a headache for the Secret Service but its pretty likely that hacking attempts towards the RIM network will increase exponentially.

Generally people just don’t think about the risk that a smart-phone poses, specially if its connected to a Blackberry Enterprise Server. How could my phone be a risk to anyone? Well a smartphone is not just a phone, but rather a miniature computer that is not just capable of making calls but it also an un-metered gateway into the corporate network.

In order to understand what actions to take to protect a smart-phone, in particular the Blackberry you have to understand how it works and how it interacts with the Blackberry Enterprise Server.


  • Lack of authentication
  • Lack of encryption
  • Lack of mobile code execution controls
  • Difficult to enforce controls
  • Peripheral devices introduce additional vulnerabilities
  • Infrastructure vulnerabilities service specific operating systems, platforms, applications, etc.
  • Small size is prone to theft and loss
  • All devices may not be corporate owned
  • Multiple configurations of the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) architecture
  • Limited centralized update mechanisms
  • Limited IT/CIO Control

Sources of Recommended Controls and Security Guidelines:

  • The Vendor (Microsoft, Treo, RIM, etc.)
  • SANS (www.sans.org)
  • NIST has a great publication
  • Other existing guidelines
  • 3rd Party Solutions often fill the gaps

Once the vulnerabilities have been identified we proceed to implement controls and audits.


Controls will include policies, standards, practices, procedures, guidelines, awareness, authentication, encryption, and asset management.


Once the scope has been defined, allow to review the implementation of policies between the BES, servers, Blackberry devices, and Blackberry desktop agents. Audits also allow the review of configuration and options to ensure that security is not just available but implemented. Additionally configurations pushed down to end devices need to be audited as well.

The infrastructure design and configuration of network components (firewalls, routers, switches, VLANs, etc.) will need to be audited as they play an intricate part of the overall security of the system.

Risk Assessment:

Although this requires additional resources and expertise, its a must in certain environments like corporate or government. A risk assessment will identity security vulnerabilities and provide a 2nd chance to identify all “assets”.

Once this has been completed, validating the risk by performing an “ethical hack” will remove any uncertainty by proving the vulnerabilities identified actually exist.


Providing documentation on the findings is vital. The documentation required will contain an executive summary, action items and details for system administrators, and a clear and concise report with both the good and the bad findings.

A couple of things that should not fall through the cracks are ensuring that the corrective actions are implementable within the organization and the next audit scheduled.

Sample Policy:

Sample Blackberry Enterprise Server Policy


Security Conferences

It is my intention next year to attend at least a couple of security conferences if not more.

Below is a list of the most established and ones I found attractive.


The largest information security conference on the East Coast is also the only security conference expressly assembling experts to challenge the status quo.

CSI thinks that we should forget about tweaking the status quo. We’re already well into a post-perimeter world but without a consensus on the strategic plan moving forward. It’s time to grapple with the issues and technologies that can radically alter the way security works-now, and in the months and years ahead.

Site Link


It’s the largest underground hacker convention in the world!

When: July 31 – August 2, 2009
Where: Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost: $100 (USD) NB. It’s cash only. (free if you’re a full badge Black Hat attendee)

Site Link

Black Hat

The Black Hat Briefings are a series of highly technical information security conferences that bring together thought leaders from all facets of the infosec world – from the corporate and government sectors to academic and even underground researchers. The environment is strictly vendor-neutral and focused on the sharing of practical insights and timely, actionable knowledge. Black Hat remains the best and biggest event of its kind, unique in its ability to define tomorrow’s information security landscape.

When: Various
Where: Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Washington DC
Cost: Varies

Site Link


SecTor brings the world’s brightest (and darkest) minds together to identify, discuss, dissect and debate the latest digital threats facing corporations today. Unique to central Canada, SecTor provides an unmatched opportunity for IT Professionals to collaborate with their peers and learn from their mentors. Held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto, SecTor runs two full days. The event features Keynotes from North America’s most respected and trusted experts. Speakers are true security professionals with depth of understanding on topics that matter. SecTor is a must attend event for every IT Professional.

When: October 5-7, 2009
Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cost: Early Bird: $499, Standard: $749, Full: $999 (CDN)

Site Link


ShmooCon is an annual East coast hacker convention hell-bent on offering three days of an interesting atmosphere for demonstrating technology exploitation, inventive software & hardware solutions, and open discussions of critical infosec issues. The first day is a single track of speed talks, One Track Mind. The next two days, there are three tracks: Break It!, Build It!, and Bring It On!.

When: February 6-8, 2009
Where: Wardman Park Marriott, Washington DC, USA
Cost: From $100-$300

Site Link

Chaos Communication Congress

The Chaos Communication Congress is an international, five-day open-air event for hackers and associated life-forms. The Camp features two conference tracks with interesting lectures, a workshop-track and over 30 villages providing workshops and gettogethers covering a specific topic.

When: December 27th to 30th, 2008
Where: bcc Berliner Congress Center, Berlin, Germany
Cost: 130 € – 1500 €

Site Link


ToorCon is San Diego’s hacker conference bringing together the top security experts to present their new tricks of the trade and have fun in the sunny and beautiful city of San Diego.

When: September 2009
Where: San Diego, California, USA
Cost: From $120-$200

Site Link

HITB Security Conference

The main aim of our conferences is to enable the dissemination, discussion and sharing of network security information. Presented by respected members of both the mainstream network security arena as well as the underground or black hat community, this years conference promises to deliver a look at several new attack methods that have not been seen or discussed in public before.

When: Various
Where: Dubai, Malaysia
Cost: Varies

Site Link


PhreakNIC is an annual gathering in Nashville, TN, for hackers, makers, security professionals, and general technology enthusiasts. Hours upon hours of both informative and entertaining presentations are given by volunteers and many areas are set up with the intent of encouraging socialization.

When: October 2009
Where: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Cost: $25

Site Link


SANS provides intensive, immersion training designed to help you and your staff master the practical steps necessary for defending systems and networks against the most dangerous threats – the ones being actively exploited. The courses are full of important and immediately useful techniques that you can put to work as soon as you return to your offices. They were developed through a consensus process involving hundreds of administrators, security managers, and information security professionals, and address both security fundamentals and awareness, and the in-depth technical aspects of the most crucial areas of IT security.

When: Various
Where: Various
Cost: Varies

Site Link

Techno Security Conference

TheTrainingCo. is both new and old. As a corporation, it is the culmination of a dream that we have been sharing with people for the past decade. In that sense, it is new. We officially opened our doors in early 1999.
We are old in that the experiences of our senior staff are almost unmatched in their knowledge of the subjects being addressed at our conferences and speaking engagements. Every bit of that hard earned knowledge came as a result of years of highly specialized work and contact with thousands of people. Our two senior members alone bring more than one half of a century of pioneering efforts in the fields of Techno-Security and Cyber-Crime Prevention.

When: May 31 – June 3, 2009
Where: Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
Cost: $895

Site Link

CEIC Conference

CEIC offers lectures and hands-on labs delivered by industry-leading experts, which gives attendees the opportunity to learn the latest techniques and methodologies in computer forensics, eDiscovery, incident response and enterprise investigations.

When: May 17-20, 2009
Where: Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Universal Orlando, USA
Cost: $895

Site Link

IntrusionWorld Conference

The IntrusionWorld Conference & Expo is the forum for business and corporate executives, Industry, government, legal and academic experts that aim to present the state-of-the-art of the practice, emerging technologies in intrusion prevention. Peer-to-peer groups will help us understand the trends and confront the challenges inherent in today’s intrusion prevention technologies, products, systems implementation and risk management. Field practitioners will exchange best practices and lessons learned. Participants will share ideas and expand business and professional contacts during lunch roundtables, workshops, receptions and other activities.

When: May , 2009
Where: Baltimore, MD, USA
Cost: $875

Site Link

The Last Hope

We all knew these days would come. The Last HOPE is the seventh Hackers On Planet Earth conference.

When: July, 2009
Where: Hotel PennSylvania, New York, USA
Cost: $

Site Link

RSA Security Conference

In information security, you’re trained to expect the unexpected. Changes occur in a nanosecond. Stay on top by staying one step ahead — attend RSA® Conference 2008!
Join us for the most comprehensive forum in information security. Come learn about the latest trends and technologies, get access to new best practices, and gain insight into the practical and pragmatic perspectives on the most business critical issues facing you today.
Connect and collaborate. Build your professional network. And mingle with 17,000 of the industry’s best and brightest.

When: April 20-24, 2009
Where: Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: From $1495 – $3295

Site Link

Info Security Canada

When it comes to your critical information – it’s not a question of if it’s at risk, it’s a question of when. Stay in front of the fast, ever changing information security curve, at Infosecurity Canada 2008, your first and best line of defense.

When: June, 2009
Where: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cost: TBD

Site Link


Its the FMI’s Turn at Being Hacked

Within weeks of the World Bank’s story breaking about its computer systems being breached by hackers, Fox News has reported here that Cyber-Hackers have broken into the IMF computer system.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that oversees the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, in particular those with an impact on exchange rates and the balance of payments. It also offers financial and technical assistance to its members, making it an international lender of last resort. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., USA.

The IMF of course absolutely denies that the event took place. The spyware discoveries came at a particularly sensitive time for the international bailout institution, which along with the World Bank is expected to play a central role in trying to combat global financial turmoil.

This is too much of a coincidence in my opinion. Any information taken by the attackers will likely be used as leverage to blackmail the institutions rather than being made public to embarass them.

In fact, the computer assaults on the World Bank and the IMF are only part of a rash of sensitive cyber-burglaries that even reached into the U.S. presidential campaign. Both London’s Financial Times and Newsweek recently reported that the computer network of the White House, and the Obama and McCain campaigns, were seriously breached.

The Pentagon claims the Chinese army has established units to develop viruses to attack enemy computer systems. Chinese hackers penetrated the Pentagon last year, in an attack that obtained e-mails from the system serving Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Despite vigorous Chinese denials, “everyone in the intelligence community knows that China is the biggest player in cyber espionage,” says John Tkacik, a former head of China intelligence for the U.S. State Department. Tkacik told FOX News that later this month, President-elect Obama will be presented with a new top-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report that “will cause the scales to drop from his eyes” regarding Chinese cyber-espionage.

“What the Chinese are particularly interested in at the IMF is what loans the IMF is likely to give to other countries,” says Nick Day, a former British intelligence officer who runs Diligence, a private investigative firm that does extensive work for many international corporations and institutions.

“The geopolitics of this is that essentially you’ve got a few countries in the world that are stacked on huge foreign capital reserves — Russia, China, Japan, the Middle East — and the rest of us are pretty much borrowers to those lenders.