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Bad information security advice

Security
  • It’s not often that I post anything on LinkedIn, but the post below caught my eye, and raised an eyebrow (to say the least) when I read it.

    Screenshot_2023-08-24-20-39-47-54_254de13a4bc8758c9908fff1f73e3725.jpg

    I typically remain impassive and neutral to most of these types of post as they are usually aimed at selling you something. However, the frankly absurd security advice here being offered was so bad, I found it hard to ignore and posted the below response

    Forgive me if I decide not to take any of your cyber security advice as all of the points you’ve raised are the entire point of phishing exercises. Do you really think a nefarious actor isn’t going to send emails that look just like this (mostly because they have succeeded elsewhere as others have highlighted)?

    Your profile states that you are the leader of a world class cyber security team, yet you offer really bad advice like this? This is exactly how all cyber security campaigns work and their effectiveness is blatantly obvious by the screenshot you posted.

    “Hurt feelings” are irrelevant when you are measuring the effectiveness of your cyber security program. As the primary defense in any organization, the security department needs to be in a position to detect and repel as many attacks as possible. The paradigm here being that an organization needs to stop thousands of these attacks getting through per day (probably way more) yet an attacker only needs one link to be clicked for their campaign to succeed.

    Employee security awareness should in fact be everything that the original poster claims it shouldn’t be. Just look at the success rate of previous campaigns which any decent training program is based on.

    The bottom line here is that I really don’t understand the reasoning for the original post. This guy claims to be the leader of a world class cyber security team, yet he decides to give poor advice like this?

    Speechless. And this is a so called professional?? We’re all doomed 😱


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    @crazycells good question. Gmail being provided by Google is going to be one of the more secure by default out of the box, although you have to bear in mind that you can have the best security in the world, but that is easily diluted by user decision.

    Obviously, it makes sense to secure all cloud based services with at least 2fa protection, or better still, biometric if available, but email still remains vastly unprotected (unless enforced in the sense of 2fa, which I know Sendgrid do) because of user choice (in the sense that users will always go for the path of least resistance when it comes to security to make their lives easier). The ultimate side effect of taking this route is being vulnerable to credentials theft via phishing attacks and social engineering.

    The same principle would easily apply to Proton Mail, who also (from memory) do not enforce 2fa. Based on this fact, neither product is more secure than the other without one form of additional authentication at least being imposed.

    In terms of direct attack on the servers holding mail accounts themselves, this is a far less common type of attack these days as tricking the user is so much simpler than brute forcing a server where you are very likely to be detected by perimeter security (IDS / IPS etc).

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    @DownPW here. Hostrisk is automated and doesn’t accept registrations.

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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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    @justoverclock yes, completely understand that. It’s a haven for criminal gangs and literally everything is on the table. Drugs, weapons, money laundering, cyber attacks for rent, and even murder for hire.

    Nothing it seems is off limits. The dark web is truly a place where the only limitation is the amount you are prepared to spend.