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Hacked because you didn't listen ?

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    I’ve been a veteran of the infosec industry for several years, and during that time, I’ve been exposed to a wide range of technology and situations alike. Over this period, I’ve amassed a wealth of experience around information security, physical security, and systems. 18 years of that experience has been gained within the financial sector - the remaining spread across manufacturing, retail, and several other areas. I’ve always classed myself as a jack of all trades, and a master of none. The real reason for this is that I wanted to gain as much exposure to the world of technology without effectively “shoehorning” myself - pigeon holing my career and restricting my overall scope.

    I learned how to both hack and protect 8086 / Z80 systems back in 1984, and was using “POKE” well before Facebook coined the phrase and made it trendy (one of the actual commands I still remember to this day that rendered the CTRL, SHIFT, ESC break sequence useless was

     POKE &bdee, &c9
    

    I spent my youth dissecting systems and software alike, understanding how they worked, and more importantly, how easily they could be bypassed or modified.

    Was I a hacker in my youth ? If you understand the true meaning of the word, then yes - I most definitely was.

    If you think a hacker is a criminal, then absolutely not. I took my various skills I obtained over the years, honed them, and made them into a walking information source - a living, breathing technology encyclopedia that could be queried simply by asking a question (but not vulnerable to SQL injection).

    Over the years, I took an interest in all forms of technology, and was deeply immersed in the “virus era” of the 2000’s. I already understood how viruses worked (after dissecting hundreds of them in a home lab), and the level of damage that could be inflicted by one paved the way for a natural progression to early and somewhat infantile malware. In its earliest form, this malware was easily spotted and removed. Today’s campaigns see code that will self delete itself post successful execution, leaving little to no trace of its activity on a system. Once the APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) acronym became mainstream, the world and its brother realised they had a significant problem in their hands, and needed to respond accordingly. I’d realised early on that one of the best defences against the ever advancing malware was containment. If you “stem the flow”, you reduce the overall impact - essentially, restricting the malicious activity to a small subset rather than your entire estate.

    I began collaborating with various stakeholders in the organisations I worked for over the years, carefully explaining how modern threats worked, the level of damage they could inflict initially from an information and financial perspective, extending to reputation damage and a variety of others as campaigns increased in their complexity). I recall one incident during a tenure within the manufacturing industry where I provided a proof of concept. At the time, I was working as a pro bono consultant for a small company, and I don’t think they took me too seriously.

    Using an existing and shockingly vulnerable Windows 2003 server (it was still using the original settings in terms of configuration - they had no patching regime, meaning all systems were effectively vanilla) I exhibited how simple it would be to gain access first to this server, then steal the hash - effortlessly using that token to gain full access to other systems without even knowing the password (pass the hash). A very primitive exercise by today’s standards, but effective nonetheless. I explained every step of what I was doing along the way, and then explained how to mitigate this simple exploit - I even provided a step by step guide on how to reproduce the vulnerability, how to remediate it, and even provided my recommendations for the necessary steps to enhance security across their estate. Their response was, frankly, shocking. Not only did they attempt to refute my findings, but at the same time, dismissed it as trivial - effectively brushing it under the carpet so to speak. This wasn’t a high profile entity, but the firm in question was AIM listed, and by definition, were duty bound - they had a responsibility to shareholders and stakeholders to resolve this issue. Instead, they remained silent.

    Being Pro Bono meant that my role was an advisory one, and I wasn’t charging for my work. The firm had asked me to perform a security posture review, yet somehow, didn’t like the result when it was presented to them. I informed them that they were more than welcome to obtain another opinion, and should process my findings as they saw fit. I later found out through a mutual contact that my findings had been dismissed as "“unrealistic”, and another consultant had certified their infrastructure as “safe”. I almost choked on my coffee, but wrote this off as a bad experience. 2 months later, I got a call from the same mutual contact telling me that my findings were indeed correct. He had been contacted by the same firm asking him to provide consultancy for what on the face of it, looked like a compromised network.

    Then came the next line which I’ll never forget.

    “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in……”

    I politely refused, saying I was busy on another project. I actually wasn’t, but refused out of principle. And so, without further ado, here’s my synopsis

    “…if you choose not to listen to the advice a security expert gives you, then you are leaving yourself and your organisation unnecessarily vulnerable. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to security…”

    Think about what you’ve read for a moment, and be honest with me - say so if you think this statement is harsh given the previous content.

    The point I am trying to make here is that despite sustained effort, valiant attempts to raise awareness, and constantly telling people they have gaping holes in systems for them to ignore the advice (and the fix I’ve handed to them on a plate) is extremely frustrating. Those in the InfoSec community are duty bound to responsibly disclose, inform, educate, raise awareness, and help protect, but that doesn’t extend to wiping people’s noses and telling them it wasn’t their fault that they failed to follow simple advice that probably could have prevented their inevitable breach. My response here is that if you bury your head in the sand, you won’t see the guy running up behind you intent on kicking you up the ass.

    Security situations can easily be avoided if people are prepared to actually listen and heed advice. I’m willing to help anyone, but they in return have to be equally willing to listen, understand, and react.


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    @DownPW 🙂 most of this really depends on your desired security model. In all cases with firewalls, less is always more, although it’s never as clear cut as that, and there are always bespoke ports you’ll need to open periodically.

    Heztner’s DDoS protection is superior, and I know they have invested a lot of time, effort, and money into making it extremely effective. However, if you consider that the largest ever DDoS attack hit Cloudflare at 71m rps (and they were able to deflect it), and each attack can last anywhere between 8-24 hours which really depends on how determined the attacker(s) is/are, you can never be fully prepared - nor can you trace it’s true origin.

    DDoS attacks by their nature (Distributed Denial of Service) are conducted by large numbers of devices whom have become part of a “bot army” - and in most cases, the owners of these devices are blissfully unaware that they have been attacked and are under command and control from a nefarious resource. Given that the attacks originate from multiple sources, this allows the real attacker to observe from a distance whilst concealing their own identity and origin in the process.

    If you consider the desired effect of DDoS, it is not an attempt to access ports that are typically closed, but to flood (and eventually overwhelm) the target (such as a website) with millions of requests per second in an attempt to force it offline. Victims of DDoS attacks are often financial services for example, with either extortion or financial gain being the primary objective - in other words, pay for the originator to stop the attack.

    It’s even possible to get DDoS as a service these days - with a credit card, a few clicks of a mouse and a target IP, you can have your own proxy campaign running in minutes which typically involves “booters” or “stressers” - see below for more

    https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/ddos-as-a-service-attacks-what-are-they-and-how-do-they-work

    @DownPW said in Setting for high load and prevent DDoS (sysctl, iptables, crowdsec or other):

    in short if you have any advice to give to secure the best.

    It’s not just about DDos or firewalls. There are a number of vulnerabilities on all systems that if not patched, will expose that same system to exploit. One of my favourite online testers which does a lot more than most basic ones is below

    https://www.immuniweb.com/websec/

    I’d start with the findings reported here and use that to branch outwards.

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    @crazycells exactly. Not so long ago, we had the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the UK. Meta (Facebook) seem to be the ultimate “Teflon” company in the sense nothing seems to stick.

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    @mike-jones Hi Mike,

    There are multiple answers to this, so I’m going to provide some of the most important ones here

    JS is a client side library, so you shouldn’t rely on it solely for validation. Any values collected by JS will need to be passed back to the PHP backend for processing, and will need to be fully sanitised first to ensure that your database is not exposed to SQL injection. In order to pass back those values into PHP, you’ll need to use something like

    <script> var myvalue = $('#id').val(); $(document).ready(function() { $.ajax({ type: "POST", url: "https://myserver/myfile.php?id=" + myvalue, success: function() { $("#targetdiv").load('myfile.php?id=myvalue #targetdiv', function() {}); }, //error: ajaxError }); return false; }); </script>

    Then collect that with PHP via a POST / GET request such as

    <?php $myvalue= $_GET['id']; echo "The value is " . $myvalue; ?>

    Of course, the above is a basic example, but is fully functional. Here, the risk level is low in the sense that you are not attempting to manipulate data, but simply request it. However, this in itself would still be vulnerable to SQL injection attack if the request is not sent as OOP (Object Orientated Programming). Here’s an example of how to get the data safely

    <?php function getid($theid) { global $db; $stmt = $db->prepare("SELECT *FROM data where id = ?"); $stmt->execute([$theid]); while ($result= $stmt->fetch(PDO::FETCH_ASSOC)){ $name = $result['name']; $address = $result['address']; $zip = $result['zip']; } return array( 'name' => $name, 'address' => $address, 'zip' => $zip ); } ?>

    Essentially, using the OOP method, we send placeholders rather than actual values. The job of the function is to check the request and automatically sanitise it to ensure we only return what is being asked for, and nothing else. This prevents typical injections such as “AND 1=1” which of course would land up returning everything which isn’t what you want at all for security reasons.

    When calling the function, you’d simply use

    <?php echo getid($myvalue); ?>

    @mike-jones said in Securing javascript -> PHP mysql calls on Website:

    i am pretty sure the user could just use the path to the php file and just type a web address into the search bar

    This is correct, although with no parameters, no data would be returned. You can actually prevent the PHP script from being called directly using something like

    <?php if(!defined('MyConst')) { die('Direct access not permitted'); } ?>

    then on the pages that you need to include it

    <?php define('MyConst', TRUE); ?>

    Obviously, access requests coming directly are not going via your chosen route, therefore, the connection will die because MyConst does not equal TRUE

    @mike-jones said in Securing javascript -> PHP mysql calls on Website:

    Would it be enough to just check if the number are a number 1-100 and if the drop down is one of the 5 specific words and then just not run the rest of the code if it doesn’t fit one of those perameters?

    In my view, no, as this will expose the PHP file to SQL injection attack without any server side checking.

    Hope this is of some use to start with. Happy to elaborate if you’d like.

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    @crazycells I guess the worst part for me was the trolling - made so much worse by the fact that the moderators allowed it to continue, insisting that the PeerLyst coming was seeing an example by allowing the community to “self moderate” - such a statement being completely ridiculous, and it wasn’t until someone else other than myself pointed out that all of this toxic activity could in fact be crawled by Google, that they decided to step in and start deleting posts.

    In fact, it reached a boiling point where the CEO herself had to step in and post an article stating their justification for “self moderation” which simply doesn’t work.

    The evidence here speaks for itself.

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    And if you ever needed another reason to use a VPN, here it is.

    https://news.sky.com/story/google-blinks-first-in-11-month-privacy-showdown-with-uk-regulator-12479198