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Critical Security Control: 13

Critical Security Control: 13

Boundary Defense

Detect/prevent/correct the flow of information transferring networks of different trust levels with a focus on security-damaging data.

Why Is This Control Critical?

Attackers focus on exploiting systems that they can reach across the Internet, including not only DMZ systems but also workstation and laptop computers that pull content from the Internet through network boundaries. Threats such as organized crime groups and nation-states use configuration and architectural weaknesses found on perimeter systems, network devices, and Internet-accessing client machines to gain initial access into an organization. Then, with a base of operations on these machines, attackers often pivot to get deeper inside the boundary to steal or change information or to set up a persistent presence for later attacks against internal hosts. Additionally, many attacks occur between business partner networks, sometimes referred to as extranets, as attackers hop from one organization's network to another, exploiting vulnerable systems on extranet perimeters.

To control the flow of traffic through network borders and police content by looking for attacks and evidence of compromised machines, boundary defenses should be multi-layered, relying on firewalls, proxies, DMZ perimeter networks, and network-based IPS and IDS. It is also critical to filter both inbound and outbound traffic.

It should be noted that boundary lines between internal and external networks are diminishing as a result of increased interconnectivity within and between organizations as well as the rapid rise in deployment of wireless technologies. These blurring lines sometimes allow attackers to gain access inside networks while bypassing boundary systems. However, even with this blurring of boundaries, effective security deployments still rely on carefully configured boundary defenses that separate networks with different threat levels, sets of users, and levels of control. And despite the blurring of internal and external networks, effective multi-layered defenses of perimeter networks help lower the number of successful attacks, allowing security personnel to focus on attackers who have devised methods to bypass boundary restrictions.

How to Implement This Control

ID # Description Category
CSC 13-1 Deny communications with (or limit data flow to) known malicious IP addresses (black lists), or limit access only to trusted sites (whitelists). Tests can be periodically carried out by sending packets from bogon source IP addresses (non-routable or otherwise unused IP addresses) into the network to verify that they are not transmitted through network perimeters. Lists of bogon addresses are publicly available on the Internet from various sources, and indicate a series of IP addresses that should not be used for legitimate traffic traversing the Internet. Quick win
CSC 13-2 On DMZ networks, configure monitoring systems (which may be built in to the IDS sensors or deployed as a separate technology) to record at least packet header information, and preferably full packet header and payloads of the traffic destined for or passing through the network border. This traffic should be sent to a properly configured Security Information Event Management (SIEM) or log analytics system so that events can be correlated from all devices on the network. . Quick win
CSC 13-3 To lower the chance of spoofed e-mail messages, implement the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) by deploying SPF records in DNS and enabling receiver-side verification in mail servers. Visibility/ Attribution
CSC 13-4 Deploy network-based IDS sensors on Internet and extranet DMZ systems and networks that look for unusual attack mechanisms and detect compromise of these systems. These network-based IDS sensors may detect attacks through the use of signatures, network behavior analysis, or other mechanisms to analyze traffic. Visibility/Attribution
CSC 13-5 Network-based IPS devices should be deployed to complement IDS by blocking known bad signature or behavior of attacks. As attacks become automated, methods such as IDS typically delay the amount of time it takes for someone to react to an attack. A properly configured network-based IPS can provide automation to block bad traffic. When evaluating network-based IPS products, include those using techniques other than signature-based detection (such as virtual machine or sandbox-based approaches) for consideration. Visibility/Attribution
CSC 13-6 Design and implement network perimeters so that all outgoing web, file transfer protocol (FTP), and secure shell traffic to the Internet must pass through at least one proxy on a DMZ network. The proxy should support logging individual TCP sessions; blocking specific URLs, domain names, and IP addresses to implement a black list; and applying whitelists of allowed sites that can be accessed through the proxy while blocking all other sites. Organizations should force outbound traffic to the Internet through an authenticated proxy server on the enterprise perimeter. Proxies can also be used to encrypt all traffic leaving an organization. Visibility/Attribution
CSC 13-7 Require all remote login access (including VPN, dial-up, and other forms of access that allow login to internal systems) to use two-factor authentication. Visibility/Attribution
CSC 13-8 All enterprise devices remotely logging into the internal network should be managed by the enterprise, with remote control of their configuration, installed software, and patch levels. For third-party devices (e.g., subcontractors/vendors), publish minimum security standards for access to the enterprise network and perform a security scan before allowing access. Configuration/Hygiene
CSC 13-9 Periodically scan for back-channel connections to the Internet that bypass the DMZ, including unauthorized VPN connections and dual-homed hosts connected to the enterprise network and to other networks via wireless, dial-up modems, or other mechanisms. Configuration/Hygiene
CSC 13-10 To limit access by an insider, untrusted subcontractor/vendor, or malware spreading on an internal network, devise internal network segmentation schemes to limit traffic to only those services needed for business use across the organization's internal network. Configuration/Hygiene
CSC 13-11 To minimize the impact of an attacker pivoting between compromised systems, only allow DMZ systems to communicate with private network systems via application proxies or application-aware firewalls over approved channels Advanced
CSC 13-12 To help identify covert channels exfiltrating data through a firewall, configure the built-in firewall session tracking mechanisms included in many commercial firewalls to identify TCP sessions that last an unusually long time for the given organization and firewall device, alerting personnel about the source and destination addresses associated with these long sessions. Advanced
CSC 13-13 Deploy NetFlow collection and analysis to DMZ network flows to detect anomalous activity. Configuration/Hygiene

CSC 13 Procedures and Tools

The boundary defenses included in this control build on Critical Control 10. The additional recommendations here focus on improving the overall architecture and implementation of both Internet and internal network boundary points. Internal network segmentation is central to this control because once inside a network, many intruders attempt to target the most sensitive machines. Usually, internal network protection is not set up to defend against an internal attacker. Setting up even a basic level of security segmentation across the network and protecting each segment with a proxy and a firewall will greatly reduce an intruder's access to the other parts of the network.

One element of this control can be implemented using free or commercial IDS and sniffers to look for attacks from external sources directed at DMZ and internal systems, as well as attacks originating from internal systems against the DMZ or Internet. Security personnel should regularly test these sensors by launching vulnerability-scanning tools against them to verify that the scanner traffic triggers an appropriate alert. The captured packets of the IDS sensors should be reviewed using an automated script each day to ensure that log volumes are within expected parameters and that the logs are formatted properly and have not been corrupted.

Additionally, packet sniffers should be deployed on DMZs to look for Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) traffic that bypasses HTTP proxies. By sampling traffic regularly, such as over a three-hour period once a week, information security personnel can search for HTTP traffic that is neither sourced by nor destined for a DMZ proxy, implying that the requirement for proxy use is being bypassed.

To identify back-channel connections that bypass approved DMZs, network security personnel can establish an Internet-accessible system to use as a receiver for testing outbound access. This system is configured with a free or commercial packet sniffer. Then, security personnel can connect a sending test system to various points on the organization's internal network, sending easily identifiable traffic to the sniffing receiver on the Internet. These packets can be generated using free or commercial tools with a payload that contains a custom file used for the test. When the packets arrive at the receiver system, the source address of the packets should be verified against acceptable DMZ addresses allowed for the organization. If source addresses are discovered that are not included in legitimate, registered DMZs, more detail can be gathered by using a traceroute tool to determine the path that packets take from the sender to the receiver system.

CSC 13 Effectiveness Metrics

In order to test the effectiveness of the automated implementation of this control, organizations should measure the following:

1. Are all unauthorized packets entering or leaving the network detected (yes or no)?

2. Do all network connections to the Internet, business partners, or other third parties currently utilize inbound & outbound network filters, and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) (yes or no)?

3. How long does it take before unauthorized network packets are alerted on when passing through perimeter systems (time in minutes)?

4. How long does it take to apply configuration changes to block unauthorized traffic passing through perimeter systems (time in minutes)?

CSC 13 Automation Metrics

In order to automate the collection of relevant data from these systems, organizations should gather the following information with automated technical sensors:

1. What percentage of the organization's remote access users are not required to use two-factor authentication to remotely access the organization's network (by business unit)?

2. What percentage of remote business systems are not managed using the same security standards as internal network systems (by business unit)?

3. What percentage of the organization's internal systems are not on dedicated Virtual LANs (VLANs) that are segmented with access control lists (by business unit)?

4. How many events of interest have been discovered recently on the organization's network through analysis of NetFlow configured on network devices (by business unit)?

CSC 13 Effectiveness Test

To evaluate the implementation of Control 13 on a periodic basis, an evaluation team must test boundary devices by sending packets from outside any trusted network to ensure that only authorized packets are allowed through the boundary. All other packets must be dropped. In addition, unauthorized packets must be sent from a trusted network to an untrusted network to make sure egress filtering is functioning properly. The evaluation team must then verify that the systems generate an alert or e-mail notice regarding the unauthorized packets within 24 hours. It is important that the evaluation team verify that all unauthorized packets have been detected. The evaluation team must also verify that the alert or e-mail indicating that the unauthorized traffic is now being blocked is received within one hour. The evaluation team must verify that the system provides details of the location of each machine with this new test software, including information about the asset owner. It is also important that the evaluation team test to ensure that the device fails in a state where it does not forward traffic when it crashes or becomes flooded.

CSC 13 System Entity Relationship Diagram

Organizations will find that by diagramming the entities necessary to fully meet the goals defined in this control, it will be easier to identify how to implement them, test the controls, and identify where potential failures in the system might occur.

A control system is a device or set of devices used to manage, command, direct, or regulate the behavior of other devices or systems. In this case we are examining the network boundary devices and the supporting systems such as authentication servers, two-factor authentication systems, network monitoring systems, and network proxy devices. The following list of the steps in the above diagram shows how the entities work together to meet the business goal defined in this control. The list also delineates each of the process steps in order to help identify potential failure points in the overall control.

Step 1: Hardened device configurations applied to production devices

Step 2: Two-factor authentication systems required for administrative access to production devices

Step 3: Production network devices send events to log management and correlation system

Step 4: Network monitoring system analyzes network traffic

Step 5: Network monitoring system sends events to log management and correlation system

Step 6: Outbound traffic passes through and is examined by network proxy devices

Step 7: Network systems scanned for potential weaknesses.

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