Johnny Xmas on Web Security & the Anatomy of a Hack
Published June 17, 2019
31 min
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    On this podcast, Wes talks to John Xmas. Johnny works for Kasada, a company that offers a security platform to help ensure only your users are logging into your web applications. Johnny is a well-known figure in the security space. The two discuss common attack vectors, the OWASP Top 10, and then walk through what hackers commonly do attempting to compromise a system. The show is full of advice on protecting your systems including topics around Defense in Depth, Time-Based Security, two-factor authentication, logging/alerting, security layers, and much more. Why listen to this podcast: - While there are sophisticated web attacks out there that use things like PhantomJS or Headless Chome, the vast majority of the web application attacks are the same unsophisticated scripted attacks that you always hear about. These are simple scripts using tools like curl and BurpSuite with Python or JavaScript. These simple scripts are still incredibly effective. - OWASP Top 10 really hasn’t changed all that much in the last ten years. For example, despite being the number one approach used to educate defensive engineers on how to protect their apps, SQLI (SQL Injection) is still the most common attack. We continue to repeat the same mistakes that have exposed systems for a decade now. - Phishing is by and far the quickest way to compromise a system. Defensive in Depth, security boundaries, limiting local admin rights are all things that corporations can implement to minimize the blast radius. - Attackers have hundreds of gigs of actual username/password combinations that have been exposed from all the breaches over the past few years. These are often a first step when attempting to compromise a system. It’s more often likely that they will figure out a valid email pattern for a company and then feed actual names into that pattern to go after the username. From there, brute force attacks with those usernames against libraries of passwords is a common approach. - A common approach is to go after an email login. While the email can be a treasure trove of information, it’s more about using those credentials in other places. It’s pretty common, for example, to use those credentials to get into a network with a VPN. - Captcha/reCaptcha is not very effective and preventing these brute force attacks. There are a large number of bypasses and even Mechanical Turk companies that are available to bypass these tools. What can be effective is Time Based Security because it slows the attackers down. If you can slow them down, you can make the attack say long to succeed that they’ll go somewhere else. - Once inside the network, most companies often have little security on internal systems. Multi-factor authentication, not just on the front door, but on internal systems is a huge step in the right direction. Monitoring not only for failed login attempts but, in some situations, valid login attempts (such as when a domain admin logs into a domain controller) should absolutely be used. - When it comes to application security between services within a network, the best advice is to make sure developers really understand what is trying to be accomplished by something like JWT (JSON Web Tokens). Often its the lack of understanding of what they’re actually doing that leads to system vulnerabilities. More on this: Quick scan our curated show notes on InfoQ You can also subscribe to the InfoQ newsletter to receive weekly updates on the hottest topics from professional software development. Subscribe: Like InfoQ on Facebook: Follow on Twitter: Follow on LinkedIn: Check the landing page on InfoQ:
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