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Most home routers don’t take advantage of Linux’s improved security features

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Linksys WRT32X, the router that scored the highest in the Cyber-ITL security-focused case study.


Image: Linksys

Many of today’s most popular home router models don’t take full advantage of the security features that come with the Linux operating system, which many of them use as a basis for their firmware.

Security hardening features such as ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization), DEP (Data Execution Prevention), RELRO (RELocation Read-Only), and stack guards have been found to be missing in a recent security audit of 28 popular home routers.

Security experts from the Cyber Independent Testing Lab (Cyber-ITL) analyzed the firmware of these routers and mapped out the percentage of firmware code that was protected by the four security features listed above.

“The absence of these security features is inexcusable,” said Parker Thompson and Sarah Zatko, the two Cyber-ITL researchers behind the study.

“The features discussed in this report are easy to adopt, come with no downsides, and are standard practices in other market segments (such as desktop and mobile software),” the two added.

While some routers had 100 percent coverage for one feature, none implemented all four. Furthermore, researchers also found inconsistencies in applying the four security features within the same brand, with some router models from one vendor rating extremely high, while others had virtually no protection.

According to the research team, of the 28 router firmware images they analyzed, the Linksys WRT32X model scored highest with 100 percent DEP coverage for all firmware binaries, 95 percent RELRO coverage, 82 percent stack guard coverage, but with a lowly 4 percent ASLR protection.

The full results for each router model are available below. Researchers first looked at the ten home routers recommended by Consumer Reports (table 1), but then expanded their research to include other router models recommended by other news publications such as CNET, PCMag, and TrustCompass (table 2).

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Test results for Consumer Reports recommended routers

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Test results for CNET, PCMag, TrustCompass recommended routers

As a secondary conclusion of this study, the results also come to show that the limited hardware resources found on small home routers aren’t a valid excuse for failing to ship router firmware without improved security hardening features like ASLR, DEP, and others.

It is clear that some companies can ship routers with properly secured firmware, and routers can benefit from the same OS hardening features that Linux provides to desktop and server versions.

Last but not least, the study also showed an inherent weakness in routers that use a MIPS Linux kernel. The Cyber-ITL team says that during their analysis of the 28 firmware images (ten of which ran MIPS Linux and 18 of which ran ARM Linux) they also discovered a security weakness in MIPS Linux kernel versions from 2001 to 2016.

“The issue from 2001 to 2016 resulted in stack based execution being enabled on userland processes,” the researchers said –issue which made DEP protection impossible.

The 2016 MIPS Linux kernel patch re-enabled DEP protection for MIPS Linux, researchers said, but also introduced another bug that allows an attacker to bypass both DEP and ASLR protections. Researchers detailed this MIPS Linux bug in more detail in a separate research paper available here.

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Security

Managing Vulnerabilities in a Cloud Native World

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in Cloud Native Vulnerability Management, featuring analyst Iben Rodriguez and special guest from Palo Alto Networks, John Morello. The discussion will focus on optimizing cloud security posture and integration with enterprise tool sets.

We will review platforms delivering Security Posture Management and Workload Protection for Microservice based and Hybrid Cloud Workloads.

Registrants will learn how new customers can benefit from Prisma Cloud to better secure their complex multi-cloud environments. Existing customers will learn about new features they can take advantage of and how to optimize their limited resources.

Register now to join GigaOm and Palo Alto Networks for this free expert webinar.

The post Managing Vulnerabilities in a Cloud Native World appeared first on Gigaom.

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Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together

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Software development teams are increasingly focused on identifying and mitigating any issues as quickly and completely as possible. This relates not only to software quality but also software security. Different organizations are at different levels when it comes to having their development teams and security teams working in concert, but the simple fact remains that there are far more developers out there than security engineers.

Those factors are leading organizations to consider security tooling and automation to proactively discover and resolve any software security issues throughout the development process. In the recent report, “GigaOm Radar for Developer Security Tools,” Shea Stewart examines a roundup of security tools aimed at software development teams.

Stewart identified three critical criteria to bear in mind when evaluating developer security tools. These include:

  • Vendors providing tools to improve application security can and should also enhance an organization’s overall security posture.
  • The prevailing “shift-left” mindset doesn’t necessarily mean the responsibility for reducing risk should shift to development, but instead focusing on security earlier in the process and continuing to do so throughout the development process will reduce risk and the need for extensive rework.
  • Security throughout the entire software development lifecycle (SDLC) is critical for any organization focused on reducing risk.

Figure 1. How Cybersecurity Applies Across Each Stage of the Software Development Lifecycle *Note: This report focuses only on the Developer Security Tooling area

Individual vendors have made varying levels of progress and innovation toward enhancing developer security. Following several acquisitions, Red Hat, Palo Alto Networks, and Rapid7 have all added tooling for developer security to their platforms. Stewart sees a couple of the smaller vendors like JFrog and Sonatype as continuing to innovate to remain ahead of the market.

Vendors delving into this category and moving deeper into “DevSecOps” all seem to be taking different approaches to their enhanced security tooling. While they are involving security in every aspect of the development process, some tend to be moving more quickly to match the pace of the SDLC. Others are trying to shore up existing platforms by adding functionality through acquisition. Both infrastructure and software developers are now sharing toolsets and processes, so these development security tools must account for the requirements of both groups.

While none of the 12 vendors evaluated in this report can provide comprehensive security throughout the entire SDLC, they all have their particular strengths and areas of focus. It is therefore incumbent upon the organization to fully and accurately assess its SDLC, involve the development and security teams, and match the unique requirements with the functionality provided by these tools. Even if it involves using more than one at different points throughout the process, focus on striking a balance between stringent security and simplifying the development process.

Read more: Key Criteria for Evaluating Developer Security Tools, and the Gigaom Radar for Developer Security Tool Companies.

The post Security Tools Help Bring Dev and Security Teams Together appeared first on Gigaom.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

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Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary practice that not only grows in complexity annually but evolves nearly as quickly. A survey of the security landscape today would reveal concerns ranging from the classic compromised servers to the relatively new DevSecOps practices aimed at securing the rapid deployment of new code and infrastructure. However, some things remain constant no matter how much change is introduced. While technology evolves and complexity varies, there is almost always a human component in
risks presented to an organization.

User Behavior Analysis (UBA) was designed to analyze the actions of users in an organization and attempt to identify normal and abnormal behaviors. From this analysis, malicious or risky behaviors can be detected. UBA solutions identify events that are not detectable using other methods because, unlike classic security tools (an IDS or SIEM for example), UBA does not simply pattern match or apply rule sets to data to identify security events. Instead, it looks for any and all deviations from baseline user activity.

As technology advanced and evolved, and the scope of what is connected to the network grew, the need to analyze entities other than users emerged. In response, entity analysis has been added to UBA to create UEBA or User and Entity Behavior Analysis. The strategy remains the same, but the scope of analysis has expanded to include entities involving things like daemons, processes, infrastructure, and so on.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post Key Criteria for Evaluating User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) appeared first on Gigaom.

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