SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.
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Volume III - Issue #47
November 21, 2001
Microsoft Cumulative Patch for IE
The cumulative patch for Internet Explorer is a very important
development for all IE users. We point to it in the Cookies story
below, but even people not worried about cookies should use it.
New Security Salary Data
The Foote Salary Survey of all computer skills (covering 53
certifications and 82 skills) shows pay for all computer skills
declining but pay for certified security people rising rapidly. David
Foote writes, "The press has picked up the pattern, showing GIAC
certifications on a real tear. Even National Public Radio highlighted
this in an interview with me broadcast during drive time this morning."
The survey data show that security certifications achieved the
highest growth rates (up 9.2% to 8.3% of base pay in the past quarter
and up 18.6% in the past two quarters). The five leading security
certifications are all GIAC programs: UNIX, Intrusion Detection, System
and Network Security Auditor, Incident Handler and Firewall Analyst.
A gift for Washington DC-area subscribers:
As part of next week's Washington DC Cyber Defense Initiative training
conference (http://www.sans.org/CDI.htm) we will be inviting DC,
Maryland and Virginia NewsBites subscribers to a free keynote session
called Fighting Back Against Cybercrime: An Action Plan. It lays out
six dimensions of the Cyber Defense Initiative and shows what actually
works to improve security. If your address in our records does not
have a DC, MD, or VA zip code, please update it by Monday afternoon.
Directions for updating your records are at the end of the note.
(Others may want to update their addresses, as well, as we have similar
sessions in cities around the globe and only local people are invited.)
TOP OF THE NEWS20 November 2000 Cable Company Demands Users Drop Firewalls
15 November 2001 IE Cookie Patch Released
14 November 2001 ICANN Meeting Focuses on Security
14 November 2001 Survey Finds Businesses Focus on Wrong Measures
13 November 2001 Interview With US Cybersecurity Chief Dick Clarke
12 November 2001 Lieberman Proposes Spending $1 Billion on Government IT Security
THE REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWS16 November 2001 Huge Cache of Pirated Software Seized; Three Suspects Arrested
16 November 2001 Cyclone Offers a New Twist on Programming
15 November 2001 Virus Numbers Dwindle; Impact Rises
15 November 2001 Hybris Infects American Muslim Council e-Mail List
15 November 2001 Government Disaster Recovery and Contingency Plans
14 November 2001 Industry Reps to Testify Before Legislative Panel
14 November 2001 Bankruptcy Court Won't Protect Software Pirate from Fine
14 November 2001 Server Farm Security
14 November 2001 Viruses and Anti-Virus Software
13 & 14 November 2001 NMCI Should Improve Navy Network Security
13 November 2001 Man Who Posted Phony Takeover Story is Fined
13 November 2001 Schneier on Disclosure
13 November 2001 Subprocess Control Service Vulnerability
12 November 2001 Security Manager's Journal: False Alarm
TUTORIAL13 November 2001 PC Anti-Virus Advice
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TOP OF THE NEWS
20 November 2000 Cable Company Demands Users Drop FirewallsTechnical support people at TimeWarner's RoadRunner cable broadband unit require users to remove PC-based firewalls before the company will provide technical support.
15 November 2001 IE Cookie Patch ReleasedMicrosoft has released a patch for a vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5 and 6 that allows unauthorized access to cookies on users' computers. The patch also addresses three other security problems.
14 November 2001 ICANN Meeting Focuses on SecurityCrackers could target the Internet's 13 root servers or the top level domain servers and wreak havoc on the Web, said a speakers at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) conference. Engineers at the conference say they have designed contingency plans for root server failures and are maintaining tight physical security. After the September 11 attacks, ICANN announced its annual meeting would focus on security.
14 November 2001 Survey Finds Businesses Focus on Wrong MeasuresA KPMG survey of 500 executives from multinational corporations found that the majority believed the solution to security problems is to purchase the right technology. KPMG says they are wrong and that developing a strategy that includes education, training and policy is a more effective response.
13 November 2001 Interview With US Cybersecurity Chief Dick ClarkeIn an interview, presidential cybersecurity advisor Richard Clarke discusses GovNet, critical infrastructure protection and the role of ISPs in mitigating denial of service attacks. He maintains that "the most critical thing" is to increase investments in education, training, and awareness, and also focuses on the central role that security- conscious ISPs can and must play in protecting the Internet.
12 November 2001 Lieberman Proposes Spending $1 Billion on Government IT SecuritySenator Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) wants to create a $1 billion fund to be used for improving government information security systems, protecting critical infrastructure and enhancing defenses against homeland security threats. Specific projects include a system to identify suspected terrorists during the flight booking process and the development of a database that links universities and the INS to monitor visa violations. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would manage the fund.
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THE REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWS
16 November 2001 Huge Cache of Pirated Software SeizedThree Suspects Arrested In the culmination of an 18-month sting operation, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles arrested three people and seized $100 million worth of counterfeit Microsoft and Symantec software. Two of those arrested had tried to bribe an undercover agent posing as a US Customs official.
16 November 2001 Cyclone Offers a New Twist on ProgrammingComputer scientists at Cornell University and AT&T Labs in New York are developing Cyclone, a programming language designed to dramatically reduce the number of bugs usually found in software. Based on the C programming language, Cyclone's compiler identifies problematic code segments using a "type-checking engine" and then rewrites the code or offers suggestions to fix the problem.
[Editor's Note (Murray): About time. It is easier to promote good practice and prevent bad code than it is to catch it after the fact. ]
(Paller) For Thirty-five years, under Richard Conway and Max Maxwell, Cornell has been an innovator in creating compilers that are smarter than the ones that vendors have produced. Let's hope this research effort makes its way quickly into commercial compilers. ]
15 November 2001 Virus Numbers DwindleImpact Rises An AV company researcher says that fewer viruses are being seen, but the ones that are showing up do more damage. He also says most companies are doing a good job at blocking viruses at their gateways but that PDAs will allow future viruses to bypass the protections.
15 November 2001 Hybris Infects American Muslim Council e-Mail ListThe American Muslim Council's computer holding its e-mail list was infected with the Snow White worm, also known as Hybris. While the Council's spokesman believes it was a deliberate attack, some security consultants think it was just a random infection.
15 November 2001 Government Disaster Recovery and Contingency PlansThe General Accounting Office (GAO) plans to assess federal agencies' IT and telecommunications disaster recovery plans.
The US Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) newly formed Homeland Security Policy Council will create disaster contingency plans to maintain essential communication during emergencies.'
14 November 2001 Industry Reps to Testify Before Legislative PanelSecurity officials from several private sector high tech organizations will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee about the measures they have taken to protect their products and networks from cyber attacks.
14 November 2001 Bankruptcy Court Won't Protect Software Pirate from FineKhanh "Kenneth" Nguyen of California must pay Novell Inc. $680,000 as a penalty for software piracy. Though Nguyen has filed for bankruptcy protection, the judge ruled that his "acts were willful and malicious" and ruled that he could not escape paying the fine.
14 November 2001 Server Farm SecurityMany businesses use server farms to mirror their in house sites to ensure continuity in the event of a catastrophe. While some server farms' locations make them vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters, others are housed in a nuclear bunker, an off-coast gunnery, and an abandoned gypsum mine.
14 November 2001 Viruses and Anti-Virus SoftwareThis article provides a time line of virus vector evolution, from the inefficient mode of removable disks to infected bootleg software downloaded from bulletin boards to e-mail-borne pathogens and broadband connections. The author predicts that virus scanning will eventually permeate all levels of the Internet; meanwhile, he advises, install anti-virus software, be smart about attachments, and pay attention to your computer's behavior.
13 & 14 November 2001 NMCI Should Improve Navy Network SecurityThe Navy-Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) has been tested by the Navy's "Red Team," a group of twenty skilled people who attempt to launch a variety of attacks on computer systems. NMCI, with its centralized management, will enhance Navy network security, which is hindered by a lack of standardized policy.
13 November 2001 Man Who Posted Phony Takeover Story is FinedKenneth Chan Yen Yau was fined almost $44,000 for a posting a phony news release that may have influenced investors' purchases. Chan reaped $13.15 in commissions from the false story about a takeover.
13 November 2001 Schneier on DisclosureBruce Schneier, founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, discusses disclosure at length. He maintains that full disclosure is more helpful than harmful while rejecting publishing exploits as irresponsible.
13 November 2001 Subprocess Control Service VulnerabilityCERT/CC has issued an advisory about a CDE (Common Desktop Environment) Subprocess Control Service vulnerability that could allow crackers to seize administrative control of host systems including HP-UX, AIX, Solaris and some other UNIX systems. Some vendor patches are available; users who do not yet have patches may block untrusted
12 November 2001 Security Manager's Journal: False AlarmThe security manager's staffers checked in with him when they believed they had detected a new worm. The behavior they noted turned out to be due to nothing more than self-updating applications and poorly written software.
13 November 2001 PC Anti-Virus AdviceAfter installing the antivirus software, users should download the most recent signature files and continue to update them regularly. Machines that have already been infected can be repaired with custom removal tools, by booting from a clean operating system disk, or by reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling the operating system; users should also back up their data regularly.
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