My new blog at sbin.cn

January 30, 2007

Due to the publicly known reasons, this blog at wordpress.com has been not accessible at China for a long time till last Spring festival (Feb.2006). It’s very difficult for me to update and manage this blog, while most of my readers from mainland can not read it since then. So I decide move it to a new site with good performance.

Hope you guys can change your bookmark and RSS feeds. I am sorry for the unconvenience for this move. Thanks for the great pleasure WP community gave me.

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A whitepaper on audit of SSH and RDP

November 14, 2006

BMST SAA startup at China, BMST, is exploring a new field in security audit by rolling out their ground-breaking product – Session-Auditor.  That’s good pitch in the hot compliance trends. Compared against those tradional host based audit systems and SPAN-sniffer like audit systems, SA can audit those encrypted protocols transparently, without necessity to install expensive agents at hosts. Another plus of this product is its built-in access control capability. That means you don’t need intranet firewalls to protect your mission critical servers from operation and administration terminals. Just use Session-Auditor.

More technical information are available at the new whitepaper at their website. Click here to download.


The pain of patch management

November 8, 2006

There are always more and more vulnerabilities and patches in our IT life. It has become one part of our job. Isn’t it? What’s the biggest pain in your mind?

If you said “why patch management? just go ‘windows update'”, then you must be a individual computer user, not an administrator. 😉

The hardest is to balance the risk of hacking due to not to patch and system unstability or even crash due to new patch. According to common practice, security manager should have a process in place to test patches, with the help from system and application managers. The balance point is decided together. [My comment in Chinese]. See the below report by Roger… Read the rest of this entry »


China telecom operators and Sarbanes Oxley Act Compliance

August 10, 2006

In recent 2 years in China, the main rhythm in telecom industry is the compliance journey of Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX). The four major telecom operators – China Mobile, China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, all have public-list at USA stock market. In a similar time schedule, each of them has spent a lot of man power and money on SOX compliance, to organize, to plan, to build up internal control oriented processes, to buy consulting services and tools, to collect operation records.

  • Plan and Organize

Typically, inside an operator, a 404 team, headed by a vice general manager level executives, was assigned to lead the compliance activities. Specialists in each of the main IT departments, e.g. Management Information System Department, Billing Department, Network Department, were assigned to be responsible for the implementation and follow-ups. A series of education has been conducted to improve the awareness of compliance.
All provincial operators are required by their HQ to complete the self-assessment and corresponding remediation in the first half year of 2006, so that they can collect enough records for external auditors to testify the effectiveness of internal control measures. Three of the BIG FOUR accounting firms are external auditors of the four operators – KPMG for China Mobile and China Telecom, Deloitte for China Netcom, and PWC for China Unicom.

  • Acquire and Implement

In order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of compliance controls, a series of nationwide security and governance projects are being undertaken, covering IAM (Identity and Access Management), auditing, ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) optimization and etc. Large amount of KPI (Key Performance Indicator) are setup and monitored to reflect the compliance status. Complete auditing systems are under continuous construction and improvement, while periodic and formal auditing processes for the compliance controls are designed and implemented.
We are glad to say that the enterprise governance structure and effectiveness has got unprecedented upgrade inside the four major telecom operators. There is no denying that SOX compliance journey is too expensive for mainland enterprises. The high cost of SOX has had many of enterprises to re-think their IPO plan to Nasdaq.

This page was also published at sbin.cn.

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What Hamachi brings?

July 28, 2006

Bill recommended one “new” application to me. That’s Hamachi. It gave me a very complicated feeling.

It’s a wonderful software application, which provides us a virtual LAN over Internet. It’s a typical overlay network application, which makes use of P2P technology and has the capability to tranverse the NAT/FW enterprise perimeter. Additionally, it brings us an interesting function – Web Proxy:

Built-in Web proxy
An option to use Hamachi as a simple web proxy. This way your Hamachi peers may configure their Web browsers to access the Internet via your computer and therefore protect their Web traffic while it is in transition between you and them.

This feature is typically used for securing Web surfing from untrusted locations including cybercafes, coffee houses, hotels, etc

Obviously, founders of Hamachi have learned the lesson from Skype. They has done a lot of effort to open their protocols and algorithm in the identity, authentication, and communications among system components. That will be a door-knocker to those enterprise IT managers, because there must be growing security and system management software to support Hamachi, as long as Hamachi’s installation get enough base. According to their website, Hamachi has over 3,000,000 users at June 17, while this number was merely 2,000,000 in April, growing 50% in two months.

It’s a wonderful remote collaboration tool, as well as a virtual networking platform, particularly in the current booming broadband world.

At the other hand, the overspreading of such kind of softwares (for others, see vnn.cn, softether.com) has been eroding and further eliminating the enterprises’ network perimeter, leading the compomise of security policy. It requires that firewalls and networking devices should support more and more layer-7 applications, in particular P2P overlay networking traffic. Morever, Traditional IDS and UTM won’t work in face of virtual LANs.

Let’s keep an eye on them together. See my comment in chinese.


Ground-breaking audit tool for SSH and Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

July 24, 2006

A startup company in China, BMST Co. Ltd., is bringing security managers and auditors a ground-breaking product which can audit SSH and Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as a network bridge transparent to the upper layer applications. The product is named Session Auditor. It can record, replay, query, correlate those session data from most of popular protocols used in the daily network and system maintenance and operations, such as SSH, RemoteDesktop(RDP), Telnet, FTP, HTTP, Rlogin, VNC, and even those SQL query in Oracle, Sybase, MS SQL and etc. The most brilliant point is its unprecedented audit capability to the two most popular encrypted protocols, ie. SSH and RDP, making it unique in the competition against common sniffer products as well as forensics tools.

The founders of BMST have put their product at much larger background – the wave of compliance.

In the wake of Enron and WorldCom the role of internal auditors in corporate governance has taken on whole new meaning. Compliance is a long journey that enterprise excutives and IT managers have to take. Although there have been too much in your work breakdown structure task list, however, “Audit” is the right one that you can never overlook for seconds. Audit systems help executives assure everything runing as expected and defined.

Generally speaking, “audit system” for information systems are seperated into two kinds, one is management layer auditing, another one is technical layer auditing. The former is mapped to those auditing tools, particularly based on best practices and standards, such as ISO27001(BS7799), Cobit. But as to the technical layer auditing, there are too many tools and approaches in IT managers’ table. Typically it’s implemented by those log collection and analysis tools in the IDC’s security product category of SIEM(Security Information and Event Management). Those logs are designed to record only the event results, without the details of the activities and operations. In other words, if security managers and auditors want to do in depth investigation and forensics, those logs can’t help any more.

BMST’s Session Auditor can help. It’s an outstanding in-depth investigation and forensics tool. With its huge built-in storage (up to 2T Bytes), SA can record up to 5 months of network traffic in a wire speed fast ethernet (100Mb/s) environment without missing any packet.

This post was also published at sbin.cn.


Go Security 2.0

May 10, 2006

When I try to dig "Security 2.0" via Google, only one noticeable hit was found from CSOonline by Sarah. Sarah summarized the convergence at security area, and regarded "Security 2.0" as integration, convergence, holistic security and so on. Sarah reported a case study from Constellation Energy Group on convergence of physical security and IT security, where they assigned a new role named Chief Risk Officer, directly under CEO, who is responsible for control of what ever risks which might hurt the enterprise to an acceptable level. That's very interesting and with deep insight. However, my vision of "Security 2.0" is somewhat different.

At least in China, based on the about ten years of security practice, I would like to define the following two stages of security management and technology we are living with so far.

  • Security 0.1: security came from anti-virus capability
  • Security 1.0: security is PDR (Protection -> Detection -> Response), where in most cases at China, PDR was explained as firewall (protection), IDS (detection) and security emergency response services (Response)

But I begin to feel the emerging of a new pulse and inspiration at the industry, which I didn't hasitate to call it "Security 2.0", where I hope to borrow some concepts and feelings from Web2.0. The representative and definitive features of "Security 2.0" include:

  • Security 2.0.1: focus changed to internal control and security protection of applications and data, rather than simple virus/intrusion detection and attacks.
  • Security 2.0.2: "holistic security" synergizing the AAAA(Account, Authentication, Authorization, and Audit), from just stack/heap of firewalls, IDSs and other single point stuff.
  • Security 2.0.3: emphasizing the perception and experience of those security managers and administrators, ie. the real effectiveness and efficiency. along with the implementation of technologies of data mining and correlation.

The key difference between Security 2.0 and previous stages lies at that the later focuses on the security information production and corresponding accuracy from those single point security elements, while the former turns to effective and efficient usage of those information to direct the real operations. Security 2.0 just develops itself on the shoulder of Security 1.0, instead of replacing them.

BTW, I am sorry I don't have time to translate other parts of this post from Chinese to English. If you are interested, please check the full version in Chinese.