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1 Why Government Systems Fail at Security Chey Cobb February 15, 2001.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Why Government Systems Fail at Security Chey Cobb February 15, 2001."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Why Government Systems Fail at Security Chey Cobb February 15, 2001

2 2 My Background  Whoami –Firewall certification lab –Anti-virus testing lab –Web security since 1994 –DoD systems architectures –Intelligence systems security architectures –Senior technical security advisor for IC –Security program manager

3 3 Recently Retired  There’s no such thing as “too young” to retire!

4 4 Why THIS Topic?  Security needs to be discussed in the open –What is discussed behind closed doors tends to stay behind doors.  Credibility –No matter how you explain things to management, they tend not to believe you – until they see the same thing in the public forum.

5 5 Don’t Make the Same Mistakes  In many ways, the private sector is doing security much better than top secret facilities –Keeping secrets while sharing data and systems and providing public access.  In government, people tend to think firewalls and IDS are a “cure” for security –AIDS Promiscuous connections to multiple systems There is NO cure

6 6 3Ds  Disillusioned  Disgusted  Disappointed  … and did I mention DISGUSTED?

7 7 War Stories  Chief of security was an English major whose last job was in HR.  Software developers didn’t know what a “hardened OS” is.  NSA teams didn’t know that web servers have many vulnerabilities.

8 8 War Stories … 2  Keyboard strings as passwords. –“Too much trouble to change it.” –“I use it on all my accounts.” –“It’s so obvious nobody would think I use it.”  Logging-off off at the end of the day was considered “adequate” security.  Root passwords on major systems had not been changed in 10 years.

9 9 What Does A Security Officer Do??  Fight...  Ask your security officer what his/her last few big fights were about: –Of the last 10 fights, 9 involved internal politics. –The 10 th fight was probably horribly mundane.

10 10 The Word is $$$$$  Gov’t thought they were saving money going to COTS.  Gov’t can’t match the wages of good security personnel.  Gov’t can’t afford to keep their systems updated.  Is Corporate America that much different?

11 11 Security Decision Maker You can only pick two!

12 12 Case In Point  Firewalls and Intrusion Detection are “new” to many facilities –They had to chose two from the triangle … guess which two? –Sysadmins are not sent for training. –Security officers don’t get their own monitoring systems. –In some circles, routers are still considered to be firewalls.

13 13 New Technologies?  The procurement process is “broke” –It can take up to FIVE years for a “new” system to be purchased and installed  Engineering and Acquisitions Don’t Talk –In some offices, Acquistions buys the technology before consulting Engineering. –Engineering is stuck with creating systems out of bargain basement clear-outs

14 14 Why Haven’t All Government Systems Been Hacked?  They are well hidden –But “Security through Obscurity” will bite them eventually.

15 15 Government Security Policies  Took FIVE years to get them written.  Took another year to get the agencies to all agree to use them.  Policies have different interpretations on key issues by the different agencies and organizations.  Director of Central Intelligence Directive 6/3 “Protecting Sensitive Information within Information Systems –

16 16 Sidebar  John Deutsch Case –In the unclassified version of his hearings he stated that he “was not aware of the computer security rules”. –He did not know that sending mail on the Internet with the name of would be a problem  He was the HEAD of the CIA … (a/k/a DCI) … –His office WROTE the policies and he signed off on them. –Is it possible that in fact he did know?  … and now he has been PARDONED?

17 17 Are They Wearing Blinders?  GAO ordered exercise called “Eligible Receiver” to test the security of government systems (1997).  Found basic vulnerabilities in every single system they touched: –Rooted systems –Launched DoS attacks –Disrupted phone systems –Read and ALTERED e-mail –Most of this was done from the Internet  People in Top Secret facilities do not believe this report.

18 18 1998 GAO Investigation   Survey of security officers found: –66% stated didn’t have enough time or training to do their jobs. –53% stated that security was an ancillary duty. –305 of 709 were totally unaware of what they should be doing (43% for those of you who have not had enough caffeine yet). –57% had no security training.

19 19 2000 Investigation  AIMD-00-295, Information Security: Serious and Widespread Weaknesses Persist at Federal Agencies – rptno=AIMD-00-295  Reported: –Computer security fraught with weaknesses –Physical and logical access controls were not effective in preventing or detecting systems intrusions and misuse –Installation commanders give systems security a low priority

20 20 GAO Summary  More needs to be done … including instituting routine risk management activities aimed at ensuring that risks are understood; that appropriate controls are implemented commensurate with the risk, and that these controls operate as intended.  DUH!

21 21 What’s It Mean?  The wrong people are allowed to make decisions about information security.  The people who are making the decisions either don’t know or don’t care.  There are no incentives to do things correctly and no repercussions for doing things wrong (Deutsch Pardoned!)

22 22 A War Story  Reviewed proposed system architecture approx 10 months prior to its initial testing.  Architecture included FTP.  Developers insisted that they needed 65,000+ ports open in the firewall to handle FTP.  Told them to scan the ports during testing and come back with a better answer.  Also told them to harden the OS – Solaris (What’s OS hardening?)

23 23 War Story … cont.  The equipment showed up for testing installation and they still wanted 65,000+ ports.  I denied them permission to install.  Developers complained it would take too long to change the code.  Project manager said it would cost too much.  Three months of fighting with them (which they could have spent fixing the code).  Over-ruled by a Director who said she would “accept the risk” – and then she retired.

24 24 Did You Know …  Germany requires ALL banks to use hardened, “trusted” OS’s for ALL systems

25 25 Accepting the Risk  Fancy way for management to say “get the hell out of the way.”  NO technical expertise and they want “simple” explanations.  When you try to explain the implications of their actions, they get pissed off.  They’ll accept the risk, but they sure as hell won’t put it in writing.

26 26 News Flash  Last year a hacker connected via the Internet to a printer at the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Center and rerouted a document to a server in Russia.  The Program Manager had accepted the risk to connect sensitive systems to the Internet.  Did anything happen to the Program Manager?

27 27 Security is Soooooo Inconvenient  NRO didn’t allow cell phones, two-way pagers, unclassified laptops, or PDAs into the building –Cell phone microphones can be opened remotely, even when the system is turned off –Classified data can be sent out of the building via text- based pagers –Unclassified laptops and PDAs can store classified material  THEN the Director got a new cell phone …

28 28 Security is Soooooo Inconvenient #2  A junior sysadmin was found to installed several hacking tools on major networks.  Senior management decided NOT to have the root passwords changed because it would: –Take too long. –Would notify the general populace that “something” had happened. –Would interfere with normal operations.

29 29 Let the CIO Handle It?  Each agency has its own CIO.  Agencies and offices are loath to create MOAs or MOUs.  MOAs and MOUs are ignored.  NSA CIO had no idea how hugely interconnected they were – until everything “died” for four days last year.

30 30 Who Handles Incident Response?  Air Force CERT? (afcert)  Navy CERT? (navcert)  NSA? (noc)  CIA?  NRO?  DIA?  Keystone Kops?

31 31 Educate the Populace?  4,000 in one office.  Average length of time at the office is two years.  $$$? (… sigh …)  Most are computer illiterates who can’t even change passwords without help.

32 32 Inspector General’s Office?  Nice folks … but –Understaffed –Inexperienced –Far too little technical expertise  Corrections they request are ignored – or lies are told.

33 33 Presidential Directive?  Been there – Done that –PDD-63, Protecting America’s Critical Infrastructures –By 2003, a “reliable, interconnected, and secure information systems infrastructure.” –Federal Government to serve as a “model” for country –Umpteen dozen new offices and positions

34 34 Hire More People?  Military billets are the cheapest  Average tour is 2 years  Pay scale is approximately 1/3 of market rate  More people does not ensure better security

35 35 Solutions?  Honey Nets and Honey Pots  Training, training, training for sys admins and security officers  Vulnerability labs within agencies should create their own listserver to share findings  Cancel ALL subscriptions to PC Magazine!  Stop looking at strong fortress walls and enforce common sense security within the walls

36 36 Corporate is Better  Take satisfaction in the fact that Corporate America is doing better than Government  You can more quickly take advantage of new technologies and react to new threats  More educational opportunities –You don’t have to worry about revealing secret associations with companies

37 37 Windows 2K?  Not any better or any worse than what you have  … but the Government doesn’t know that!  Default installations are always a risk  Who said that letting the OS make decisions for you would be a Good Thing?

38 38  Questions?

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