Category: "IT Security"

About the IT Security category

  22:30, by Hagai Bar-El   , 57 words
Categories: IT Security

The IT Security category contains essays that discuss security aspects of corporate and personal information systems. Also included are personal and corporate security policy issues, as well as operations security. Examples for topics that fall into this category are: malware detection, network firewalls and attacks prevention, deployment of encryption technologies, protection of privacy in deployed systems, etc.

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  2006-09-11

PDAs in highly classified environments

  21:40, by Hagai Bar-El   , 820 words
Categories: IT Security

For a while IT security professionals are warning against the impacts of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) on corporate security. A PDA can be lost or stolen and lead to undesired disclosure of the information that is on it. The emerging of micro-drives leads to these tiny devices having gigabytes of storage. Due to the high storage capacity of the PDA and the reduced file formats it uses (resulting in smaller files), a modern PDA can easily store the entire document repository of its owner. This document repository may contain masses of sensitive corporate information in a physical size that is way too easy to lose or to have stolen. This poses a real threat to organizations, as also pointed out by Bruce Schneier in an essay called “Risks of Losing Portable Devices”.

Information security officers are not unaware of the risk and attempt at finding solutions. The most immediate solution that comes to mind is password-protecting the PDA. Realizing that these mechanisms can be hacked, encryption is put to use, enciphering all or some of the PDA databases using a key that is entered by the user. This method carries notable inconvenience for the user, who is forced to enter a key each time he is looking for a phone number, an e-mail address, or a meeting time. It is clumsy, but it solves the problem. However, does it solve all problems?

No; at least not for everyone, to my opinion.

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  2006-05-07

Is E-mail encryption really too complex?

  21:32, by Hagai Bar-El   , 567 words
Categories: IT Security

Every once in a while we read yet another article revealing the level to which e-mail encryption is uncommon. The last one I saw is here. Whenever the debate is raised about how come e-mail encryption is so seldom used, we hear the common opinion that e-mail encryption is just not easy enough for the commons; yet. It is not intuitive enough, it is not user-friendly, it is too intrusive to the typical work-flow, and so forth. Indeed, e-mail encryption for the masses is with us for more than a decade already, and other than a few geeks and a few privacy-savvy individuals, people just don't use it.

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  2005-11-12

Evaluating Commercial Counter-Forensic Tools

  21:30, by Hagai Bar-El   , 548 words
Categories: IT Security, Sources

I have just enjoyed reading "Evaluating Commercial Counter-Forensic Tools" by Matthew Geiger from Carnegie Mellon University. The paper presents failures in commercially-available applications that offer covering the user's tracks. These applications perform removal of (presumably) all footprints left by browsing and file management activities, and so forth. To make a long story short: seven out of seven such applications failed, to this or that level, in fulfilling their claims.

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  2005-10-24

Anonymity -- great technology but hardly used

  21:27, by Hagai Bar-El   , 581 words
Categories: IT Security

It's hard not to appreciate the long way we did in studying anonymity and pseudonymity. We know a lot and can do a lot. Each time I read on a zero-knowledge scheme or on another untraceable digital cash I am amazed by the amount of knowledge that the security community has gained and by its arsenal of mechanisms that can buy us any sort of anonymity or pseudonymity we want to deploy. But do we? In spite of our having the ability to establish anonymous surfing, have untraceable digital cash tokens, and carry out anonymous payments, we don't really use these abilities, at large.

If you are not in the security business you are not even likely to be aware of these technical abilities.

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  2005-06-04

Trojan-Horse Espionage in Israel -- A Tip of an Iceberg

  21:22, by Hagai Bar-El   , 661 words
Categories: IT Security

About one week ago, a serious commercial espionage system was discovered in Israel. For years, several large-scale companies in Israel enjoyed inside information about their competitors using private investigators who were using a Trojan horse application that was planted on victims' workstations. More details can be found in this Globes article.

Obviously, the topic made it to the national news primarily because it involved high-profile companies in Israel, companies that "everybody knows", and because it led to the arrest of several top executives. It's the first time such a large scale espionage act is discovered in Israel, and this is new, but the rest is not.

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  2005-04-29

Open Source Disk Encryption

  01:11, by Hagai Bar-El   , 163 words
Categories: IT Security, Products

About two months ago I was delighted to see the new version of what I consider to be the first open source drive encryption program for Win32. It's name is TrueCrypt, and it provides functionality that resembles that of DriveCrypt from SecurStar.

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  2005-02-28

Worms Using Search Engines

  21:11, by Hagai Bar-El   , 357 words
Categories: IT Security

Check out this news item:

Latest Mydoom shows hackers using search engines for attacks

It's about Internet based worms making use of search engines to spread out. In the examples presented the worms search Google, Lycos, etc., for e-mail addresses and for vulnerable machines to hop to using specially-crafted search strings.

I was not aware of this trend of worms before so I agree it's new. Yet, I don't agree with any fear associated with this new brand of worms. These worms are somewhat novel in their approach. Yet, I think this approach is better for us (the good guys) rather than worse.

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