Sunday, September 21, 2014

A solution to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks

The balancing act between risk and trust with man-in-the-middle visibility is two fold:
  1. Corporate and Government networks need insight in to the data traversing their networks to protect them from advanced attacks, malicious insider threats, and inappropriate activities.
  2. End users want a certain level of privacy for trusted services, like banking, medical communications, and other sensitive traffic. There are some that will respond to this with “do not do personal things at work!” However, in our hyper-connected world where the lines between work and home are often heavily blurred, that draconic view is no longer valid. 
The solution today is to find an SSL man-in-the-middle solution that is policy based, something that will not decrypt sensitive traffic while decrypting everything else.  However, the problem with this is the end user has no visibility in to what that policy is and if their sensitive traffic was added to the exception list.  This is further complicated by the fact that once the root CA has been loaded in their browser there is no visual indication that this traffic will be intercepted.

To solve this problem and give end users the protections they want, I see a time coming when you will no longer need to use RSA or Diffie–Hellman to exchange keys beyond the initial account creation process with the service provider (if you went in to the brick-n-mortar facility then you would not even need that). Imagine if during the account creation process you could create a symmetric key with the provider along with some extra algorithm information for OTP randomness. You could then type that same key and OTP randomness in to a browser plugin for that site and never need to use standard SSL key exchanges again.  This would nullify all SSL man-in-the-middle attacks.

Given that it only takes one person with access to sensitive network traffic to cause problems, end users are hungry for solution to protect their privacy.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Honey Roasted Almonds

Source: Bret Jordan, modified from

  • Almonds, whole, shelled  -  3 Cups
  • Sugar, White  -  1/4 Cup
  • Salt, Kosher  -  1/2 Teaspoon
  • Honey  -  3 Tablespoons
  • Water  -  3 Tablespoons
  • Vegetable Oil  - 1 Tablespoon

  1.  Mix sugar and salt in a small bowl and scoop 1 tablespoon of that mixture in to large bowl (the tablespoon of sugar on the bottom helps keep them from sticking to the bowl).
  2.  Put honey, water, and oil in large sauce pan and set aside
  3.  Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in cold oven
  4.  Set oven to 350 degrees, after 20 minutes remove almonds from the oven.  While in the oven stir every 4 minutes. As ovens vary, typically almonds are done when quite fragrant.  Watch them closely so they do not burn.
  5.  Just before the almonds are done, bring the sauce pan with the honey, water, and oil mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  Once it boils turn down to med-low heat. (It should come to a boil very quickly.)
  6.  When the almonds are done, take them out of the oven and put them immediately in to the sauce pan with the hot liquid (do not let the almond cool first)
  7.  Cook the almonds and caramel sauce for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8.  Once all of the liquid is absorbed or completely caramelized dump the almonds in to the large bowl containing the sugar/salt mixture (see step 1).  
  9.  Slowly sprinkle the almonds with the remaining sugar/salt mixture while constantly tossing the almonds.
  10.  Spread almonds out on a piece of parchment paper to cool and dry.
  11.  Lightly sprinkle with some extra table salt.
  12.  Once dry (a few hours to over night) put in an air tight container, they will store for a few days.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Future of Protecting Corporate Data

Protecting corporate data in the future will be a lot harder than it is today using the current methodology and solutions of IPS, Next Generation Firewalls, DLP, and full packet capture. 

The reason for this is most corporate IT departments assume that when a user is at work they are using the corporate network (wired or Wi-Fi). This idea predicates that all protections for the network and its data be located on the link to the Internet service provider, the point at which data leaves or comes in to the network.

The reality is that users do not need to use the corporate network all of the time. With the migration to cloud services, users can actually access most of their corporate data from the LTE Cellular network on their device. This allows users to completely bypass the corporate network and all of the controls and visibility solutions that IT has deployed. 

There are many reasons why a user may choose to this:
1)   They honestly do not know the difference or forget to turn on Wi-Fi when they get to the office
2)   They want access to services that IT is currently blocking via the proxy or content filtering solution
3)   Their LTE connection is faster than the corporate internet connection

To further complicate things, in the future I see a driver being written for Android and iOS that will allow per-application routing to either the Cellular Data Network or the internal Wi-Fi network, thus allowing some applications to talk to internal systems, while others to talk directly to the internet. 

It will be interesting to see how IT, security, and risk departments try to tackle this problem.  My guess is that it will first start with a draconic approach, then move to strict policy enforcement, and then finally where it should go, and that is private hybrid clouds with full identity and location aware networking. Each hybrid cloud instance will also need full reverse perimeter protections like IPS, Next Generation Firewalls, DLP, and full packet capture. It seems like the old Identity Engines had the right idea, they were just 10 years early.