<![CDATA[Venafi Blog]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/ Venafi Blog EN Copyright 2016 2016-02-14T00:53:22-07:00 <![CDATA[Venafi at RSA Conference 2016: Bringing You the Best in Internet Security]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-at-rsa-conference-2016-bringing-you-the-best-in-internet-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-at-rsa-conference-2016-bringing-you-the-best-in-internet-security/#When:21:52:00Z We are ready to see you at RSA Conference 2016 in San Francisco. We’re bringing in the team from around the US, including our CIO/CISO Tammy Moskites, so we’re ready to talk and help you understand how you can both improve your current security efforts and strengthen your existing investment.

Here’s what we’ll be talking about:

  • If you’re building a strong global security foundation - we’ll show you how bad guys can still get in.
  • If you think your cryptographic keys and digital certificates aren’t a risk - we’ll explain why they make you vulnerable.
  • If you think you’ve got your keys and certificates under control - we’ll show you how most companies find they have more keys and certificates than they imagined and where they find them (hint: not where they thought they should be).
  • Finally, if you know you have a problem but it’s just not your priority - we’ll show you how easy it is to get started and how quickly you’ll reap the rewards and your other security investments will deliver more value.

We want to meet with you.

RSA is a noisy, exciting, busy place. We want to make sure we make your to-do list and we have several ways to do just that. Here’s how you can find us.

  • Best Bet: set up a meeting. That’s why we’re here. Tell us what you’d like to accomplish and we’ll make it happen. Request a meeting.
  • Easiest Access: visit our booth. South Expo, #S1615 – look for the big Venafi sign overhead.
  • Big Picture: listen to IT leader, Senior VP at Wells Fargo, Stephen Jordan, who’ll cover, How Poorly Managed Keys and Certificates Impact the Trust Model. Reserve your spot.
  • Just the Facts (and Food): come to our workshop, “How to Get More from Your Security Investment: Protect Keys and Certificates”. There’s free food (breakfast or lunch) and you can choose the time that works best for you: Tuesday, February 1 at 12:30 pm, Wednesday, February 2 at 9 am, or Wednesday February 2 at 12:30 pm. Reserve a spot.
  • Get Your Tech Fix: come to our Friday session (9am, Room 3005) to learn how bad guys are increasingly using code signing to bypass security controls and what you can do about it. Add to your schedule. 

We look forward to discussing your security issues. And if you can’t make RSA, please take a look at our website and check out our platform architecture to understand how we can help. Then contact us to set up an appointment that works for you.

See you in San Francisco! 

<![CDATA[Using Certificates to Secure the Rising Tide of Mobile Apps]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/using-certificates-to-secure-mobile-apps https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/using-certificates-to-secure-mobile-apps/#When:14:00:00Z Those who have been in the IT industry for 20 years or more will have witnessed enough changes to fill the sea twice over. Each change is necessary, but some are more interesting than others. For example, the rise of mobile applications is undoubtedly one of the biggest waves of change to hit the world of business.


Who’s responsible for mobile app security?

With consumer mobile applications such as video games and social media, it is easy to spot security vulnerabilities if you are someone with a background in the field. However, mobile app developers do not naturally possess a deep knowledge of security, which can ultimately leave their applications open to risk that hasn’t even occurred to them.

Personally, I've been involved with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) since the start of my career, when I helped develop applications for the U.S. government. As such, security has always been my first consideration. And one of the first points I sought to clarify at the dawn of mobile applications was to find out who was responsible for distributing and managing mobile security certificates. (See this Venafi blog post for a detailed look at some of these questions: Forrester Research Uncovers Gaps in Mobile Certificate Security.)

Security issues with mobile apps are on the rise

Awareness of the mobile-app-security issue has gone mainstream in the wake of recent certificate-related incidents that have captured consumers' attention. Legions of coffee drinkers deleted the Starbucks mobile app in response to hacks that parlayed Starbucks's weak security into direct access to customers' bank and credit card accounts. Similarly, the OnStar RemoteLink app's weak certificate checks enabled hackers to track, unlock, and even start GM cars remotely, which made GM drivers think hard about using the vehicle manufacturer’s mobile app. GM fixed the issue, but many of its rivals seemed to have ignored it; recently, a hacker exploited the very same certificate weakness in iOS applications for BMW, Mercedes, and Chrysler.

Problems like these show just how crucial digital keys and certificates are; indeed, they are the foundation of security for all connected devices. Yet with even the most conservative organizations developing business applications for mobile devices, keeping track of them has become difficult. As I write this, businesses continue to expose information that was previously restricted to their own networks.

To further muddy the mobile-security waters, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution has meant that employees are accessing business information using devices that are outside of organizational control. All this has made verifying digital certificates much more difficult. Yet until these conditions change, cybercriminals will be able to misuse digital certificates and take advantage of company or employee data residing on mobile devices, simply because it's easy to do.

Certificates to Protect Mobile App Use

Digital certificates must be secured to keep your mobile apps safe

To prevent this misuse by cybercriminals, mobile app developers must be able to secure and protect their cryptographic keys and digital certificates. Venafi has security tools available today that allow developers to discover and control certificates on mobile devices.

Just as the human immune system patrols the body to identify pathogens and anomalies, Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet®, patrols mobile devices on your network to identify certificate anomalies and risks, and to rapidly revoke problem certificates. Venafi also integrates with most mobile device management (MDM) solutions to help enforce business-established policies, which can keep you afloat on a sea of regulations and security requirements.

How does your enterprise use certificates to secure its mobile apps? What do you see as the biggest security challenges to enterprise apps and mobile device usage?

<![CDATA[Unplanned Outages Are Painful: The Unsexy Security Story that Everyone Should Care About…]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/unplanned-outages-are-painful https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/unplanned-outages-are-painful/#When:15:00:00Z Say it with me—UNPLANNED OUTAGES ARE PAINFUL! 

Of course, we all know this. The question is, do we all know why they happen and how to prevent them? Most likely not. Outages, also referred to as downtime, are typically thought of as the most important security story that no one wants to talk about. So today, we are going to discuss why it doesn’t matter how sexy APTs, threat intelligence, and other trendy security topics might be; if you don’t start paying attention to outages it could destroy your brand and cost your company millions.

There are seven main causes of unplanned outages that IT security teams should keep top-of-mind:

  1. Expired Keys and Certificates: Keys and certificates keep your website running and allow a secure connection to your system/network. When they expire, this is usually a result of human error and can leave your network extremely vulnerable to outages.
  2. Software Bugs: Software bugs occur when there is an error, flaw, failure or fault in a computer program or system that causes program or system to produce an incorrect or unexpected result.
  3. Equipment Failure: Equipment is often unable to perform its requested function due to it being outdated or overused and this is a common cause of unplanned outages.
  4. High Bit Error Rates: This occurs when the number of bit errors per unit time is too high for the system/network to perform correctly.
  5. Power Failure: Many of the highly publicized network outages (See 2013 Super Bowl) are due to a system/network losing electrical power.
  6. Overload Due to Exceeding the Channel Capacity: This is when a system/network is not set up to support as much traffic as it is receiving.
  7. Cascading Failure: This is a failure in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of one part can trigger the failure of successive parts.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at expired keys and certificates, since it is the reason behind most major service interruptions and an issue that can be easily fixed.

Digital certificates provide a crucial security function by assigning public keys to be used for cryptographic purposes, including digital signatures and encryption. The Certificate Authorities (CAs) that issue these certificates also determine how long they will be valid—weeks, months, or years—before they will need to be replaced or updated. As shown in a survey conducted by TechValidate on behalf of Venafi, most organizations (56%) used manual methods to manage their keys and certificates before turning to Venafi (Source: TechValidate. TVID: 739-CC2-CFC).

According to research by the Ponemon Institute, in the average enterprise, the total number of keys and certificates is over 23,000—so when using manual methods, it’s virtually impossible to know where all of your keys and certificates are located, how to secure and keep track of them, or know exactly when they will expire. In fact, the TechValidate survey discovered that, on average, Venafi customers found over 16,500 previously unknown keys and certificates after deploying Venafi (Source: TechValidate. TVID: 363-53E-598). With this lack of visibility, no wonder organizations are experiencing outages!

Last Fall, Venafi partnered with the Ponemon Institute to release survey results from 2,394 respondents in Global 5000 organizations, which noted that businesses are losing millions due to expired certificates and unplanned outages. To be more exact, $15 million is the average lost per outage! In the survey, the majority of the businesses even admitted to losing customers over the last two years because they failed to secure the trust established by keys and certificates.

Certificate-related Outages Cost $15 Million per Outage

Unfortunately, hackers are very aware of the vulnerabilities they can exploit with unsecured keys and certificates, and they take full advantage of them through website spoofing, server impersonation, and Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks.

Knowing that e-commerce, computing, and mobility are all affected by outages, it turns what was once the unsexy story into one that all enterprises need to pay attention to in order to run their businesses smoothly and securely, and avoid becoming the next news headline.

What are you doing to prevent outages at your business while still ensuring strong security practices? I’d love to hear your recommendations and best practices.


<![CDATA[Venafi POV - AWS Certificate Manager Speeds Encryption Yet Still Requires Security]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-pov-aws-certificate-manager https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-pov-aws-certificate-manager/#When:23:19:00Z SSL/TLS certificates are often used with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to encrypt and secure transactions. However, the time it takes to provision, install, and manage SSL/TLS certificates can hinder the use of AWS cloud instances. To help speed this process, last week AWS introduced AWS Certificate Manager (ACM).

ACM reduces SSL/TLS certificate management complexity by issuing certificates directly through Amazon’s certificate authority (CA) and Amazon Trust Services (ATS). Offering this service is a big step for Amazon as it enters the CA business.  It is currently only available in the U.S. East region, but Amazon is moving towards offering the service globally.

ACM is great for businesses who want to quickly encrypt and secure transactions within Elastic Load Balancers (ELC) and/or CloudFront (CF) distributions.  

The best news of all is that any certificate issued by ACM is totally free, a trend that will become the norm as the industry moves towards encrypting 100% of all transaction and communication traffic.

Unlike generic CA’s, the goal of Amazon ACM isn’t to become a direct competitor of other CAs. They are not in the business of selling certificates nor do I believe they will be. In this case, they are simply offering the ability to add a significant layer of security to AWS quickly and with minimal complexity.  This is great for our cloud-enabled world and I strongly believe all CA’s will soon have to adopt the free certificate model and offer domain validated (DV) certificates for free.

Free encryption doesn’t secure your keys and certificates

When Amazon ACM issues certificates, the corresponding private keys are stored in the cloud. But I have a real issue with storing any private keys in the cloud let alone on a hard drive.  An organization takes a huge risk anytime they store a private key anywhere other than on a hardware security module (HSM). This risk increases as the key is stored farther and farther from your  premises, so having a private key in the cloud introduces all kinds of risks.  You are trusting whomever issues and stores your private key to ensure that only your organization has access to it. 

Securing keys in the cloud is exactly what malicious actors (i.e. hacktivists and disgruntled employees) hope an organization will do because that makes the keys much easier to steal.  

Once a key is compromised, a malicious actor gains the upper hand and can then sell it on the Darknet or leverage it to encrypt and hide their actions within the organization’s network. The more free certificates are issued, the weaker the security of the Internet becomes. As keys and certificates are compromised more frequently, malicious actors will increasingly leverage the security blind spots that trusted encryption provides, disguising their attacks.

Amazon ACM does not secure encryption nor increase the security posture of an organization

The benefit of reducing the complexity of encrypting Amazon AWS services is great, but it comes at the cost of security. All the keys and certificates issued by ACM are stored within the Amazon AWS cloud, which makes it easier to issue and manage certificates in the cloud, but as mentioned, this also introduces significant risk—a malicious actor only needs to access to the AWS environment.  

Once malicious actors gain access to an AWS environment, they could proceed to issue their own keys and certificates. Falsified keys and certificates would give the malicious actors an encrypted channel where they could hide their activities. 

The other major risk is that, if the Amazon CA is compromised, there is no quick way to revoke compromised keys and certificates. (Amazon requires a service case be created.) Also there is no way to automate the failover to a secondary CA as recommended by NIST

In short, Amazon ACM does not provide any security for the keys and certificates they issue: they simply reduce the complexity of managing them.  

The goal of Amazon ACM isn’t to secure certificates, nor is it to compete with existing CA’s. Amazon ACM simply wants to increase agility by making it easier to acquire and deploy encryption to the AWS cloud. Unfortunately, they also fall short when it comes to management.

Here is a list of some current ACM limitations:

Only Amazon Environment

  • Management and visibility limited to only Amazon issued certificates
  • Limited to those using AWS Elastic Load Balancing or Amazon CloudFront*
  • Cannot issue nor manage certificates outside the Amazon cloud

Restrictions on Key and Certificate Types

  • Can only issue Domain Validated (DV) certificates*
  • No support for Organizational Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) certificates*
  • No support for securing nor managing SSH keys
  • No ability to manage mobile, email, or IoT keys and certificates

Lifecycle Restrictions

  • All certificates issued are valid for 13 months
  • Certificate renewal is done automatically with no controls or notifications
  • Revocation requires a service case be opened

Management Limitations that Impact Security

  • No ability to discover and inventory unknown certificates
  • Lacks ability to create and enforce certificate policies
  • Audit logs are tracked in Amazon CloudTrail, not within ACM
  • Keys and Certificates are stored in the cloud

*Amazon is expanding support for other AWS services and for other types of domain validation

But I’m not suggesting that businesses shouldn’t use Amazon ACM. As businesses rely on AWS for fast, elastic IT cloud resources, it’s important that they be able to quickly encrypt and secure their transactions. Yet, they need to understand that using ACM alone doesn’t provide enough security for their keys and certificates, exposing them to the risk of key and certificate misuse for breach and compromise.

As Kevin Bocek, the VP of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence here at Venafi, is quoted in a SecurityWeek article on AWS Certificate Management, “Mark my words: it's just a matter of time before we see cybercriminals leveraging these free AWS certificates to hide in encrypted traffic, masking themselves to go unnoticed while they steal sensitive data.”

Kevin also notes in the article, “While AWS certificates may be good for building quick apps, they cannot provide true enterprise-class security to the Global 5000.”

Looking for true enterprise-class key and certificate security? We can help. Venafi provides a CA-agnostic key and certificate solution that can secure your ACM certificates along with the other keys and certificates in your network.

<![CDATA[Ted Koppel Predicts “Lights Out” in U.S. While Ukraine Power Grid Goes Down]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/ted-koppel-predicts-lights-out https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/ted-koppel-predicts-lights-out/#When:16:57:00Z On December 23, 2015, the power grid in the Ukraine was hit with a cyberattack. The outage left a large region of Ivano-Frankivsk without power as a substation went down. They were able to get back online manually as they continue to search for the culprits.

In a report posted on ARS Technica, this attack included the use of unsecure Secure Shell (SSH) crypto keys which give the hackers permanent, root access to infected computers.

Researchers from antivirus provider ESET have confirmed that multiple Ukrainian power authorities were infected by "BlackEnergy," a package discovered in 2007 that was updated two years ago to include a host of new functions, including the ability to render infected computers unbootable. More recently, ESET found, the malware was updated again to add a component dubbed KillDisk, which destroys critical parts of a computer hard drive and also appears to have functions that sabotage industrial control systems. The latest BlackEnergy also includes a backdoored secure shell (SSH) utility that gives attackers permanent access to infected computers.

The threat is real; the answer is to start taking precautions immediately.

While the Ukraine was first, it’s a harbinger of the danger lurking in all our power grids – and that’s the warning coming from Ted Koppel in his new book, “Lights Out.” He predicts there will be a power grid breach in the next two years that could last anywhere from two months to two years based on the severity of the attack.

In his video about his book, he says, an attack will “plunge tens of millions of people into darkness for weeks or even months with no electric light or heat or refrigeration, no running water, no waste disposal.” His conclusions are based on a year and a half researching the topic with the best experts in and out of government. He adds, “The Internet can be used as a weapon of mass destruction and our electric power grids are a target – that’s a fact.”

Mr. Koppel spoke with the Venafi team at our annual company meeting last week, sharing his sense of urgency and concern about what might happen if the power grid goes down because of a malicious attack. Needless to say, he met with an enthusiastic audience hungry to do our best to keep the internet safe. 


Tedd Koppel Joins Venafi CEO Jeff Hudson

Venafi is committed to preventing Internet-based attacks.

At the office, we talk about keys and certificates all of the time. Our focus comes from our singular mission to protect our customers from the bad guys. We know keys and certificates can be used to encrypt malicious traffic or hide malware, creating pathways for cybercriminals to vital services (like power grids) and critical business information.

At one point, Mr. Koppel asked people in the room to raise their hands if they believed a cyberattack was imminent. About half the room raised their hands. “What about the rest of you,” Mr. Koppel asked.

“Those are the people who are already convinced we can prevent it from happening by getting all of our power companies online with Venafi,” Jeff Hudson, Venafi CEO replied. Based on the energy and dedication in the room, that’s a good bet.

Manage the threat while defeating the attackers.

While the experts debate the consequences of an attack, they agree there is a threat. In an article on CSOonline, “Carl Wright, general manager of TrapX Security, puts it like this, ‘Power plants and our energy grid remain high-risk targets. It is imperative that we find new and innovative ways to detect adversaries early, mitigate the effects and then defeat them.’”

We can help you start defeating the attackers today. By securing your digital keys and certificates, we can restore trust to your networks. We help you safely increase encryption. From preventing outages based on expired or mismanaged keys and certificates to giving you visibility throughout your network, we are your Immune System for the Internet – learning, adapting, and protecting your data and systems.

Note: There’s an earlier book that came out in Germany that speaks to the situation in Europe. Take a look at Blackout by Marc Elsberg.

<![CDATA[Internet of Things: The Dangers of Blindly Trusting Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/internet-of-things-the-dangers-of-blindly-trusting-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/internet-of-things-the-dangers-of-blindly-trusting-keys-and-certificates/#When:18:29:00Z Originally published as Rise of the Robots: How our love affair with automation could spell the end in Computer Business Review on January 13, 2016.

There's an old adage which began its life back in the 1990s - and was perfectly illustrated in a New Yorker cartoon - which says: "on the internet no-one knows you're a dog." It neatly summarizes a core cyber security problem that we still face to this day: how do we know who to trust online? For the last twenty years we have taken the same approach to this problem by using cryptographic keys and digital certificates to establish trust.

By and large the system worked: ecommerce boomed and the economy and society as we know it was transformed, all thanks to a little website padlock here and there. Worryingly though, over the past five years, we are seeing cracks in the very foundation of the internet begin to emerge.

As we hurtle towards a future powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), with automated machines playing an ever-greater role in our day-to-day lives, these cracks will split into chasms that threaten our modern world. Could internet-enabled life as we know it soon be coming to a crashing halt? How can we stop the sinkholes from emerging?

The Internet of Things and the dangers of automation
Robot photo by Humanrobo, significant changes to the original image were made. CC BY-SA 3.0

The problem with trust
Cryptographic keys and digital certificates tell us whether an entity is what it says it is. We use them to authenticate web servers, code on devices, apps, and even for enterprise VPN access. It all comes back to that binary decision that machines have to make - is this thing part of "self", trusted and safe; or not trusted, and therefore dangerous - which certificates and keys provide. It's the foundation of cyber security and the whole global economy and it's built on sand.

Over the past five years, hackers have caught on to the potentially lucrative opportunity that keys and certificates offer. We have all seen the scene in a movie where the bad guy dresses up as a painter to gain access to a building, or steals someone's swipe card; this is what is happening in the cyberworld too. Bad guys are trading keys and certificates on the dark web and using them to crack into company systems - just look at Sony, Careto, the Snowden revelations and Flame or Stuxnet. They all involved stolen or misused keys and certificates.

Read the rest of the article on Computer Business Review.

<![CDATA[Venafi Analysis of Snowden NSA Breach Confirmed – 2 Years Later ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-analysis-of-the-snowden-nsa-breach-confirmed https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-analysis-of-the-snowden-nsa-breach-confirmed/#When:15:00:00Z It's been more than two years since Venafi publicly announced our analysis that Edward Snowden used the NSA's own cryptographic keys and digital certificates to steal the agency's classified data. The Venafi team suspected the truth of this modus operandi shortly after the news of the NSA breach based on kill chain and other analysis. A leaked NSA memo confirms this analysis.

MoreDownload the solution brief, Pass SSH Audits and Secure Privileged Access

In November 2013, the Venafi team published two primary pieces of analysis that made a compelling case: "Infographic: How Snowden Breached the NSA" and "Deciphering How Snowden Breached the NSA."

However, many were skeptical that keys and certificates (the very foundation of Internet trust and security) could be misused, especially at the NSA. While many were skeptical, others came to the same conclusion as Venafi. Our analysis was ultimately published in USA Today.

Before we published our findings, we asked industry experts to vet them. And when we published them, we called on the NSA and Snowden to correct us if we were wrong. We still haven't received a reply from either party. Three months after Venafi published our analysis, validation came in the form of a leaked memo from the NSA to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Using social engineering, Snowden had gained access, misused, and, by implication, continued to misuse a colleague’s digital certificate that provided highly privileged access to NSANet and classified documents, the memo states. We don't know how many others he may have practiced this social engineering on and, because keys and certificates are so infrequently changed and revoked, he likely had access for an extended period. Venafi is aware of APTs that have misused keys and certificates for up to 7 years because keys were not replaced.

how Snowden breached the NSA

In looking back over more than two years and reviewing confirmation of Venafi’s analysis, we’re not looking to gloat. But, instead, remind the cybersecurity community that Snowden's successful exploit is but a symptom of a disease that began undermining the Internet's foundation of trust years before. It’s a chronic problem that is finding keys and certificates becoming the ultimate cyberweapon to gain trusted status and steal data. The consequences will only become worse with the rise of DevOps and IOT. For example, one certainty is that IOT ransomware will become a reality—keys behind networks of things will be compromised and used to take over and control devices until money is paid.

The disease continues to spread, checked only by organizations that have discovered and protected every key and certificate across their networks, devices, clouds, containers, and more—from SSL/TLS to SSH, VPN, WiFi, and mobile. (Yes, even the misuse of VPN certificates is on the rise.)

Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™, can patrol your system, much like the human immune system, and identify all keys and certificates as either part of the system or dangerous anomalies that need to be fixed. Venafi then automates the secure lifecycle of keys and certificates, keeping our customers healthy, reducing risk, and bringing new levels of agility and speed.

It's worth noting that many experts in the security industry have come to recognize the threat misused keys and certificates pose to the Internet's security foundation. It isn't that we should stop using them. Even Snowden freely admits that properly implemented keys and certificates offer ironclad security. "Encryption works," Snowden has said. "Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on." He should know. Snowden used NSA’s own, unprotected keys and certificates against them to sneak classified information out of NSANet.

Download the latest NIST paperAnd we now have more guidance and recommendations on how to use keys and certificates than we did before. For example, National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) recently published a paper, Security of Interactive and Automated Access Management using Secure Shell (SSH), on securing SSH keys. And SANS has made it clear that organizations need to know everything about every key and certificate that resides in their networks and protect them, including automating as many processes as possible. And large organizations like Google have made it standard to reduce key and certificate lifetimes—now down to 3 months for public-facing keys and certificates—to reduce the impact of a possible compromise and resulting misuse.

What are your thoughts about the NSA breach, now over two years later? How are we doing securing keys and certificates in our organizations? How can we get better?

<![CDATA[2015 Retrospective Part 2: Venafi Was Painfully Accurate When We Predicted More Attacks on Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-retrospective-part-2-venafi-accurate-when-we-predicted-more-attacks https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-retrospective-part-2-venafi-accurate-when-we-predicted-more-attacks/#When:15:00:00Z We correctly called 6 of the 8 predictions we made for 2015, which isn't bad (see our 2015 Retrospective Part 1). But we were absolutely 100% accurate on our overall prediction that attacks impacting the foundation of online trust—cryptographic keys and digital certificates—would increase. Looking back through 2015, Venafi Labs captured data on a steady stream of cyberattacks involving the misuse of keys and certificates, threatening the underlying foundation of trust for everything that is IP-based.

More Deliver faster incident response with Venafi. Download the solution brief.

The attacks in 2015 show a continued increase in the misuse of keys and certificates. They also show how keys and certificates have become interwoven into many aspects of our business and personal lives. From airline Internet services to laptop software to government certificate authorities (CAs) to apps for your car or your fridge to Google and banking sites, keys and certificates secure all our online transactions.

Why is this important? If organizations cannot safeguard the use of keys and certificates for communication, authentication, and authorization, the resulting loss of trust will cost them their customers and potentially their business.

2015 Attack Timeline

Here is a sample of some notable security incidents the Venafi Labs threat research team followed:

  • Gogo Dished Up Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks
    To kick off the year, a Google Chrome engineer discovered that Gogo Inflight Internet service was issuing fake Google certificates. Gogo claimed it was trying to prevent online video streaming, but this practice ultimately exposed Gogo users to MITM attacks.
  • Lenovo Pre-installed Superfish Malware on Laptop
    Lenovo found that an adware program it was pre-installing on laptops was making itself an unrestricted root certificate authority, which allowed for MITM attacks on standard consumer PCs. 
  • CNNIC Got Banned by Google and Mozilla
    Google found unauthorized digital certificates for several of its domains issued by CNNIC, China’s main government-run CA, making CNNIC certificates untrustworthy and vulnerable to attack. Google, quickly followed by Mozilla, blocked all CNNIC authorized domains. In a 2015 Black Hat survey, Venafi found that IT security professionals understand the risks associated with untrusted certificates, such as those issued by CNNIC, but do nothing.
  • St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank Was Breached
    The US bank discovered that hackers had compromised its domain name register. This allowed the hackers to successfully redirect users of the bank's online research services to fake websites set up by the hackers.
  • New SSL/TLS Vulnerability Logjam Exposed Crypto Weaknesses
    Logjam exposed a problem with the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm, which allows protocols such as HTTPS, SSH, IPsec, and others to negotiate a shared key and create a secure connection. Identified by university researchers, the Logjam flaw allowed MITM attacks by downgrading vulnerable TLS connections.
  • GM’s OnStar and Other Car Apps Were Hacked
    A GM OnStar system hack that locks, unlocks, starts, and stops GM cars was made possible because the GM application did not properly validate security certificates. By planting a cheap, homemade WiFi hotspot device somewhere on the car’s body to capture commands sent from the user’s smartphone to the car, hackers could break into the car’s vulnerable system, take full control, and behave as the driver indefinitely. Similar weaknesses allowed hacks in iOS applications for BMW, Mercedes, and Chrysler.
  • Major CAs Issued Compromised Certificates for Fake Phishing Websites
    Netcraft recently issued new research that found fake banking websites using domain-validated SSL certificates issued by Symantec, Comodo and GoDaddy.
  • Samsung’s Smart Fridge Was Hackable through Gmail
    A security flaw found in Samsung’s IoT smart refrigerators allowed hackers to compromise Gmail credentials using MITM attacks because the fridge was not set up to validate SSL certificates
  • Symantec Fired Employees for Issuing HTTPS Certificates for Fake Google Sites
    Several Symantec employees were fired for issuing unauthorized certificates that made it possible to fake HTTPS Google sites. The certificates were found by Google’s Certificate Transparency project.

This list of attacks that leveraged stolen, compromised, and/or unprotected cryptographic keys and digital certificates in 2015 highlights a wide range of potential impacts from attacks on trust, but is by no means a comprehensive list. In truth, many of these attacks go on undetected: cybercriminals use keys and certificates to bypass security controls and hide their actions.

Businesses need to understand that key and certificate management is not just an operations issue—it is critical to securing their networks, data, and trust relationships with customers and partners. The problem is compounded given that most Global 5000 organizations blindly trust the keys and certificates deployed on their networks and use security controls designed to trust these encryption components. There is an evil force out there in the cyber realm, lurking in the shadows that no one sees—until it’s too late. Without the ability to tell friend vs. foe, good vs. bad in the digital realm, our global economy is in a perilous situation.

And we think the misuse of keys and certificates will grow. Check out our predictions for 2016 to see how we think attacks on online trust will evolve in the upcoming year.

Want to find out your organization’s risk level from unprotected keys and certificates? Venafi can help. Contact us and we’ll set up an assessment for your business.

<![CDATA[New Data Confirms Venafi Analysis that Secretary Clinton’s Email Server Did Not Use Encryption]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-data-confirms-venafi-analysis-on-clinton-email-server https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-data-confirms-venafi-analysis-on-clinton-email-server/#When:15:00:00Z Newly released emails corroborate the forensic analysis conducted by Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation service which concluded that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not use encryption on her email server at the beginning of her term.

Earlier this year, Venafi TrustNet, a digital certificate reputation service, identified that the email server operated for Secretary Clinton and mail.clintonemail.com appeared not to use encryption for the first 3 months of operation—leaving her email and server potentially open to hackers. During this vulnerable period without encryption, Secretary Clinton travelled to China, Egypt, Israel, South Korea, and other locations outside of the U.S. This analysis was made possible by using Venafi TrustNet—the first certificate reputation service and a database of certificates going back over 10 years.

Venafi TrustNet identified the first digital certificate issued for the server was on 29 March 2009 while Secretary Clinton was sworn in to office on 22 January 2009 and the clintonemail.com domain was registered on 13 January 2009. If the server did not use encryption, access using browsers, smartphones, and computers could have been compromised with man-in-the middle (MITM) attacks, allowing communications to be monitored. These attacks could have allowed for emails or login credentials to be captured, leading to further long-term access to Secretary Clinton’s email and calendar by adversaries.

More Download the Venafi TrustNet white paper and discover how to identify certificate misuse in real-time

First clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2009 from Network Solutions
First clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2009 from Network Solutions.

But over the past few months, one question continued to linger for the Venafi research team and others in the security community: Did Secretary Clinton actually use the email server during the time a digital certificate was not in use and encryption was not enabled?

With the public release of additional clintonemail.com messages, Venafi now believes it can definitively answer this question: Yes, Secretary Clinton did use the clintonemail.com server to send and receive messages while the server did not have a digital certificate installed and was not using encryption.

Email Server Use Timeline

  • Wednesday, 18 March 2009—the date of the earliest message publicly released that was sent to Secretary Clinton at clintonemail.com. 
  • Saturday, 21 March 2009—the earliest date that publicly-available email messages show the Secretary using the email address, hdr22@clintonemail.com, to send messages
  • Sunday, 29 March 2009—the date the first digital certificate for mail.clintonemail.com was acquired by Justin Cooper.

The first publicly-known email to be sent by Secretary Clinton using clintonemail.com is on Saturday, 21 March 2009.
The first publicly-known email to be sent by Secretary Clinton using clintonemail.com is on Saturday, 21 March 2009.

Venafi cannot confirm if earlier emails exist or will be made publicly available. Therefore, for at least 11 days, Venafi concludes that while in use the server did not use encryption for access by browsers, smartphones, and computers. The email sent to Secretary Clinton on 18 March is from someone outside of the State Department. This may indicate the email address was in use and known publicly before 18 March. Only public release of further emails by the State Department can confirm this. After 29 March and until the server was taken offline in 2015, the server did operate with a valid digital certificate and did use encryption for browser, smartphone, and computer access.

Venafi also identified that the mail.clintonemail.com server was operating Microsoft’s Outlook Web Access (OWA) in March 2015, meaning that access was possible not just with a smartphone or desktop application like Outlook, but using any web browser. While OWA is installed by default with Microsoft Exchange and the server was hosting the application with Microsoft IIS 7 (released by Microsoft in February 2008), Venafi cannot confirm when web browser access with Outlook Web Access was first enabled.

Outlook Web Access in use and accessible from any browser for mail.clintonemail.com in March 2015 (first date of use cannot be confirmed by Venafi).
Outlook Web Access in use and accessible from any browser for mail.clintonemail.com in March 2015 (first date of use cannot be confirmed by Venafi).

The following digital certificate forensic analysis was documented by Venafi in March 2015 to understand when encryption was used on mail.clintonemail.com. Get the full analysis.

Digital Certificate Forensics Timeline for clintonemail.com

What are your thoughts about Secretary Clinton’s use of her email server before encryption was enabled?

<![CDATA[Top 6 Venafi 2016 Cybersecurity Predictions: More Encryption Equates to More Attacks on Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/top-6-venafi-cybersecurity-predictions-for-2016 https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/top-6-venafi-cybersecurity-predictions-for-2016/#When:19:00:00Z What are the Venafi cybersecurity predictions for 2016? First we must take a quick look at where 2015 has brought us—there were increases in both the use of encryption and in attacks on cryptographic keys and digital certificates. In 2016, we expect both of these trends to continue. What does this mean for businesses? To maintain online trust and customer confidence, keys and certificates must be safeguarded so they can be relied upon as the foundation of online trust, used for secure communications, authentication, and authorization.

In 2015, encrypted traffic became mainstream. “HTTPS Everywhere” was a predominant theme, as enterprises came to realize that encrypted communications can no longer be optional, they must be the norm. The U.S. government also mandated the use of HTTPS for all publicly-accessible web services by the end of 2016 to ensure the authenticity and privacy of federal websites.

As the use of encryption increased, so did the attacks that misuse cryptographic keys and digital certificates, impacting everything from airline Internet services to laptop software to government certificate authorities (CAs) to apps for your car or your fridge to Google and banking sites and more (keep an eye out for our 2015 attack summary blog post coming soon).

The reality is that with more encryption comes more opportunities for the bad guys to use keys and certificates in their attacks. According to 2015 Ponemon Institute research, the average number of keys and certificates increased by 34% since 2013 to over 23,000 per enterprise. And every organization surveyed (100%) has been attacked using compromised keys and certificates for the last 4 years running. The likelihood that in 2016 most enterprises and government agencies will fall victim to an attack on trust—one that impacts cryptographic keys and digital certificates—is very high.

6 cybersecurity predictions for 2016

We can predict with strong confidence several new threats and trends for 2016:

  1. With more use of encryption in 2016, we'll see more misuse of the trust provided by keys and certificates.
    Ironically, Edward Snowden called for more encryption two years ago, and now the U.S. government has mandated the use of HTTPS for all publicly-accessible web services by the end of 2016. We expect the private sector to strive towards HTTPS everywhere as well. Yet, as a result, bad guys will use HTTPS to disguise their efforts and either forge or compromise certificates to mount effective attacks.

    Business impact: Implementing more HTTPS can create significant security gaps and operations nightmares if implemented incorrectly. Enterprises and government agencies will need SSL/TLS inspection to detect threats hidden in encrypted traffic and key and certificate lifecycle management to enforce policies and workflows and prevent outages. Organizations must also be prepared to detect the malicious use of forged, compromised, or fraudulent certificates across the Internet to stop spoofing and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. If not detected, they will damage online trust and reduce customer confidence.
  2. IoT ransomware will become one of the cybercriminal’s attack vectors of choice.
    Billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices are coming online—20 billion by 2020 according to Gartner—and they rely upon keys and certificates for authentication and privacy. But if not protected, these keys and certificates can be compromised and IoT devices hijacked, allowing cybercriminals to demand a ransom before returning control. This risk was made real when security researchers demonstrated during Black Hat 2015 that the GM Onstar system could be hacked, and this was followed by news of similar vulnerabilities in other car apps. Similarly, we saw vulnerabilities involving certificates with Samsung’s smart refrigerators.

    Using a MITM attack, cybercriminals can easily intercept traffic between the IoT device and mother ship (enterprise network), telling the IoT device to perform a malicious action (for instance, apply brakes on a car, change plane altitude, keep a coolant valve open on a power plant, apply too much morphine to a patient, etc.). Cybercriminals can also send firmware updates to brick a device or pwn the device via a malicious update.

    Business impact: Cybercriminals will take full advantage of the connected IoT world and use hijacked IoT devices to take control over entire networks for financial and other nefarious gains, using mobile devices, smart home networks, and larger connected things in the enterprise.

    These threats will necessitate stronger key and certificate security and careful use of keys and certificates in business apps to protect their customer use of these apps. As these risks become better known, businesses will start to be held accountable for damage done through their apps.
  3. Code-signing services for malicious code will become the norm.
    Signing malware code with certificates can help the malware appear trustworthy and increase the chances of fooling its victims. The IBM Security X-Force has been tracking malware code-signing-certificates-as-a-service on the underground. There are even malware tools that bundle in code-signing certificates.

    Intel Security has tracked close to 20 million unique pieces of malicious code signed and enabled by certificates. Digital certificates used by malware are also being tracked by the Common Computing Security Standards (CCSS) Forum. Overall, signed malware has grown by 50% per quarter and we expect this to continue to increase.

    Business impact: Enterprises and government agencies can no longer rely solely on security controls that are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates. They must be able to determine whether to trust a certificate and be able to block or fix a certificate when needed. Organizations also need to safeguard the integrity of their own code-signing practices to protect their certificates and their brand and ensure that customers continue to have faith in the veracity of the software they offer.
  4. The Certificate Authority (CA) model will be broken and the value of certificates will be chipped away, resulting in diminished online trust.
    More free certificates will be issued through services like “Let’s Encrypt” while CAs will continue to lose credibility as their certificates are spoofed by cybercriminals and as they issue legitimate certificates for fake websites (see Netcraft’s recent research that found fake banking websites using domain-validated SSL certificates issued by Symantec, Cloudflare, Comodo, and GoDaddy).

    Business impact: The value of a certificate will not be in its issuance cost, but will be based on the value and reputation of the issuing CA and in the certificate’s purpose. To maintain that value, organizations must limit issuance of certificates to credible CAs and ensure the integrity and security of its certificates.
  5. CAs will be ranked across the user community, also adding to the lack of trust.
    User communities as well as major browsers will start ranking CAs. For example, Google and Mozilla no longer acknowledge the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) CA as a trusted root in their browsers, yet Apple and Microsoft still do. However, based on a Venafi survey conducted at BlackHat USA 2015, 24% of respondents said they removed CNNIC from their browsers as a trusted root, showing that user communities are starting to rank CAs themselves. And with research, such as that by Netcraft revealing that multiple CAs are issuing domain-validated SSL certificates for phishing sites, there will be ample reason for user communities to flag certain CAs as untrusted.

    Business impact: Businesses will need to follow suit and no longer blindly trust CAs or certificates, but instead look to their reputation. With tools like certificate reputation, whitelisting, and blacklisting, businesses can use the guidance from user communities, the major browsers, and new reputation services to better protect their organizations.
  6. Large security vendors will lose customers, revenue, and overall credibility because they cannot see attackers lurking in encrypted traffic.
    More encryption will once again grow the attack surface and leave our adversaries with more opportunities to attack by hiding in encrypted traffic.  Most enterprises won’t be able to detect APT-like attacks and those that can detect these threats will often not remediate fully by replacing and revoking compromised keys and certificates, leaving them exposed to ongoing or future attacks.

    Business impact: Enterprises will need to deploy security solutions that can decrypt and inspect traffic, both inbound and outbound, in real time. Without these capabilities they will suffer attacks that hide in encrypted traffic, have their networks and data compromised, and ultimately lose customers and revenue. Large security vendors that do not offer the ability to inspect encrypted traffic will decrease in value to their customers.

With increased use of encryption in 2016, and therefore more keys and certificates, cybercriminals will have more opportunities to carry out their attacks by hiding in encrypted traffic and conducting MITM attacks. They will also use keys and certificates to make their nefarious actions look more legitimate on phishing sites and in malware with code-signing certificates. Yet businesses can defend themselves. User communities and major browser vendors will provide guidance. And Venafi can help. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet that constantly assesses which keys and certificates are trusted, protects those that should be trusted, and fixes or blocks those that are not.

What are your main security predictions for 2016? Do you agree we’ll see more attacks on trust as more and more enterprises embrace 100% encryption? 

<![CDATA[2015 Retrospective Part 1: 6 Out of 8 Venafi 2015 Cybersecurity Predictions Were Accurate]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-retrospective-part-1-6-out-of-8-venafi-2015-cybersecurity-predictions https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-retrospective-part-1-6-out-of-8-venafi-2015-cybersecurity-predictions/#When:19:13:00Z It’s that time of the year again: security “predictions” season. But before sharing our 2016 predictions, we first want to look back at how we did with our 2015 predictions

What’s our score? A total of 6 out of our 8 2015 cybersecurity predictions were accurate, and of the other two, one is unknown and the other we believe will still come to pass. Take a look at the results and see how these new cybersecurity realities impact businesses today.

More See how Venafi predictions align with Gartner’s in this white paper.

Also take a look at our 2015 attack summary (Part 2 of our 2015 Retrospective). We predicted there would be an overall increase in trust-based attacks in 2015 that would abuse cryptographic keys and digital certificates, and we were painfully accurate.

Here are our 2015 prediction results:

  1. 2015 Prediction: SSL will be used and abused a lot more. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015? 
    SSL/TLS use did increase, including the U.S. government requiring HTTPS for all public-facing government web services and many companies striving for encryption everywhere for better data privacy and protection. But this increase also spurred on cybercriminals’ use of SSL/TLS keys and certificates—to hide their nefarious activities and bypass security controls. Intel Security noted a 12% increase in SSL-based network attacks. Netcraft also found that certificate issuers Comodo, Cloudflare, GoDaddy and Symantec had issued domain-validated certificates to phishers targeting banks, PayPal, and other sites.

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    Cybercriminals target unprotected keys and certificates, but with key and certificate security in place, businesses can increase the use of keys and certificates for data privacy and protection without increasing the risk of attack and compromise.
  2. 2015 Prediction: Certificate expirations and resulting outages will be recognized as major security issues. NOT YET

    What Happened in 2015?
    While major certificate outages did occur in 2015 with Google Gmail, Microsoft Azure, Instagram, and others, they weren't fully recognized as security concerns. Globally, an average of over 2 business systems per organization stopped working over the last 2 years due to certificate-related outages and the average impact was $15 million per outage. Although this lack of visibility and management is obviously a sign of bigger security issues, businesses are still viewing this as an operations issue.

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    It’s time to stop costly certificate-related outages, but it is also time to acknowledge that outages are a symptom of bigger security issues. If you’re experiencing certificate-related outages, you don’t have visibility or proper management of your certificates. Odds are you’re not seeing out-of-policy, misconfigured, or even malicious certificates in your IT environment. 
  3. 2015 Prediction: Our security controls will be useless against half of the network attacks. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015?
    Previously, Gartner predicted that 50% of all inbound and outbound network attacks would use SSL/TLS by 2017. We’re already there. According to Ponemon Institute, all (100%) of the organizations it researched responded to attacks that misuse keys and certificates in the last two years. And the impact of these attacks is increasing—currently estimated at a risk of attack of $53 million over the next 2 years (up 51% from the 2013 study). 

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    Most organizations don’t realize that when keys and certificates aren’t secure, cybercriminals can use them to bypass their other defenses. Bad guys understand that most security systems, like threat protection, NGFW, IDS/IPS, and DLP, either trust SSL/TLS or lack the keys to decrypt traffic. However, by protecting keys and certificates and using them to maximize SSL/TLS traffic inspection, your business will increase the effectiveness and value of your other security investments.
  4. 2015 Prediction: Incident response teams will leave the door open for bad guys, resulting in more attacks. UNKNOWN

    What Happened in 2015?
    We predicted that incident response (IR) and forensics analysis teams would forget to revoke and replace keys and certificates after network breaches, allowing breaches to recur. We have no explicit examples of this occurring in 2015—but this doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Without revoking and replacing stolen keys and certificates, bad guys can continue to gain access to networks and hide their malicious activities. 

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    Lazy remediation, as described by Gartner,  when organizations fail to replace compromised private keys or fail to revoke old certificates, is an indication that the organizations do not understand that when private keys are exposed, everything is exposed. Organizations should establish automated certificate issuance, replacement, and revocation practices as part of incident response plans BEFORE a compromise to enable fast, complete remediation when needed. 
  5. 2015 Prediction: Hearts will continue to bleed. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015?
    In April 2015, a year after Heartbleed’s public disclosure, Venafi reported that 85% of Global 2000 public-facing servers still remained vulnerable. Even though this figure represents a 16% improvement over the number of vulnerable servers in 2014, it indicates very poor remediation performance.

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    Most IT teams didn’t bother to do proper Heartbleed clean up by changing the vulnerable keys and cybercriminals are still exploiting this lack of Heartbleed remediation. Are you still exposed? Learn the steps needed to fully remediate Heartbleed and ensure your business remains secure.
  6. 2015 Prediction: Kinetic attacks will take advantage of misused certificates and keys. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015?
    The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding—according to Gartner, there is an estimated 4.9 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet today. In the IoT, keys and certificates are used for authentication, validation, and privileged access control. When these keys and certificates are exploited, they can be used in kinetic attacks—those that can actually cause physical harm to people. In just one example, weaknesses in certificate usage in several car applications enabled hackers to gain remote control of vehicles.    

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    As mentioned in my DarkReading article, “It’s one thing when your company gets hacked and quite another when your pacemaker, commercial airline, or traffic light control and coordination system gets pwned because of security vulnerabilities in IoT devices.” Businesses need to design IoT apps that make secure use of certificates to protect their customers.
  7. 2015 Prediction: Compliance and security frameworks will continue to add guidance on how to protect keys and certificates. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015? 
    What This Means for Businesses Today
    In the last 2 years, every enterprise surveyed failed at least one SSL/TLS audit and one SSH audit. With this additional guidance in compliance and security frameworks, auditors will have a structure to better evaluate the proper management and security of SSL/TLS keys and certificates, and SSH keys. If organizations don’t start adopting these guidelines in their ongoing business practices, they will fail more audits and endanger their business.
  8. 2015 Prediction: The Underground Digital Certificate Marketplace is now open for bad guys. CORRECT

    What Happened in 2015? 
    Underground key and certificate marketization continues to be the trend and prices in this black market continue to rise—at this writing, prices had risen to $1000 per certificate. In addition, IBM Security’s X-Force research team has found that large numbers of code-signing certificates are also now hot commodities in the black market.

    What This Means for Businesses Today
    Businesses need to assume their keys and certificates are being targeted by cybercriminals either to use to compromise their networks and data, or for resale. Organizations must make key and certificate security a priority. 

So here you have it: 6 out of 8 isn’t bad. Although this confirms we understand the market trends around online trust, it also means that businesses are struggling with key and certificate management and security. Find out how Venafi can help.

<![CDATA[LIVE SANS Webinar—Securing SSH Itself with the Critical Security Controls ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/live-sans-webinarsecuring-ssh-itself-with-the-critical-security-controls https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/live-sans-webinarsecuring-ssh-itself-with-the-critical-security-controls/#When:15:00:00Z SANS Institute and Venafi are cohosting a live webinar this Wednesday on the Secure Shell (SSH) network protocol, its vulnerabilities, and how organizations can address these vulnerabilities using SANS Critical Security Controls (CSCs).

When I read news stories about SSH-based attacks, I always wonder if organizations are paying attention. Are they taking the news stories as cautionary tales? Or are they taking the stories as isolated incidents that don't affect them? Or are they ignoring the stories altogether?

If your organization is in either of the latter two camps, I have news for you. While SSH is a sound technology, it has its vulnerabilities—all technologies do. And because it is providing privileged access to your organization's highest-value digital assets, you should know what these vulnerabilities are and how to address them. If you don't, how can you be sure you've adequately protecting your SSH implementation from the bad guys who seek out and prey upon SSH vulnerabilities?

In other words, how can you tell if you're properly securing the technology that secures your digital wealth?

Experts agree that SSH must be secured. Read this recent blog on the new NIST paper on SSH titled, Security of Interactive and Automated Access Management using Secure Shell (SSH), which emphasizes that SSH provides access to nearly all mission-critical systems and organizations should have an active SSH key management and security initiative to ensure their SSH keys remain protected.

This Wednesday, I’m cohosting a webinar with SANS SSH expert, Barb Filkins, to give organizations precisely the information they need to implement this type of initiative. In the webinar, Securing SSH Itself with the Critical Security Controls, we’ll share how the bad guys exploit SSH vulnerabilities to give themselves privileged access to organizations' most confidential and critical data. And follow up with ways organizations can stop the bad guys cold.

SANS Webinar on Securing SSH

A few SSH vulnerabilities lie in the technology itself, but the webinar will show that most lie with a wide variety of implementation and configuration mistakes. For example, harried key administrators can inadvertently deploy authorized keys to root user accounts rather than to regular user accounts. Then when SSH keys are compromised, this opens the door to attacks where bad guys gain privileged access to everything from organizations' firewalls to their most coveted (and perhaps heavily regulated) data—costing organizations millions.

The webinar will also explain how to remediate these SSH vulnerabilities so SSH can be a strong tool for enabling and controlling access. When configured correctly, SSH keys are harder to crack, steal, or guess than are passwords.

In the webinar, you'll see how the SANS CSCs map to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) best practices for properly implementing SSH, a good complement to the new NIST paper on SSH. For example, CSC subcontrols and NIST's best practices both recommend that organizations automate key-provisioning processes, keep a complete inventory of enabled SSH identity keys, and rotate these keys regularly.

You'll also learn how, with Venafi, you can effectively implement these SANS and NIST recommendations—easily creating a complete key inventory, managing SSH keys throughout their lifecycles, and automating SSH key issuance and revocation. Venafi, as the Immune System for the Internet™, also seeks, destroys, and replaces keys that are compromised, much as the human immune system seeks and destroys cells that threaten the body.

Most enterprises do not have companywide SSH policies and management practices—instead turning to administrators to manage their own keys. This ad hoc approach to SSH key management and security doesn’t keep organizations safe. It’s time to learn how to implement effective SSH key protection that secures your critical systems and data. And, besides, you'll enjoy the webinar much more than reading a story about your organization's SSH-based data breach in the morning news.  

I hope you join me at the SSH webinar this Wednesday!

<![CDATA[The New NIST Paper on SSH Needs to Be at the Top of Your Reading List]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-new-nist-paper-on-ssh-needs-to-be-at-the-top-of-your-reading-list https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-new-nist-paper-on-ssh-needs-to-be-at-the-top-of-your-reading-list/#When:15:00:00Z Virtually every enterprise uses Secure Shell (SSH) as the administrative protocol for secure, remote access to nearly all mission-critical systems. If it’s not Windows or a mainframe, then SSH is used to manage it—including Unix, Linux, routers, firewalls, network and security appliances, and more. SSH enables remote access by administrators as well as automated communications between systems.

All SSH access depends on the proper management and security of SSH keys. I cannot say this strongly enough: If your organization does not have an active SSH key management and security project, it is at risk.

More Download the Venafi solution brief, Stop Unauthorized Privileged Access

SSH is quintessentially about access control. It secures machine-to-machine access in automated systems and user-to-machine access in interactive systems. In both cases, the level of access in which this technology specializes is privileged. For example, automated access enables organizations to spin up and provision virtual machines in cloud services. And interactive access allows IT administrators to remotely configure and manage network devices such as servers, routers, and firewalls.

With SSH being responsible for securely handling communications for your organization’s most critical and valuable digital assets, it’s little wonder that cybercriminals are motivated to steal, break, or otherwise compromise the cryptographic keys upon which SSH relies. The greater the value of your assets, the greater criminals' motivation—and the greater the impact on your organization if they succeed.

What should you do if you don’t have an active SSH key project in your organization? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently issued a new publication, Security of Interactive and Automated Access Management using Secure Shell (SSH), which addresses several critical aspects of SSH, including its underlying technologies, inherent vulnerabilities, and best practices for managing SSH keys throughout their lifecycle. This was an interagency effort and the Venafi CTO of Server Products, Paul Turner, was a coauthor of the paper.

The publication enumerates several vulnerabilities, including, but certainly not limited to, the following:

  • Vulnerable SSH implementations, such as implementations that allow weak encryption keys or that use SSH version 1, which is no longer secure
  • Improperly configured access controls, which can inadvertently allow unauthorized access to the root accounts that underpin your entire system
  • Stolen, leaked, derived, and unterminated keys, which have obvious ramifications and can occur for a wide variety of reasons—including the practice of duplicating keys from device to device so employees can work from home or on the road, thus expanding cybercriminals' opportunities for theft
  • Pivoting, which can occur when cybercriminals successfully compromise a key and then use the tainted key to introduce malware that travels throughout your entire system using SSH as its vehicle

Pivoting Enabled by Chained SSH Trust Relationships

I could name other vulnerabilities, many of which you can find in the publication. But by now, you are probably wondering what you can do to prevent criminals from exploiting vulnerabilities in your own SSH implementation.

This is precisely where having the aforementioned active SSH management project comes in. But implementing this type of project can meet resistance.  To quote Paul Turner on this subject, “Despite the significant risk that unsecured SSH keys present, many organizations have not implemented an SSH key management and security program because of lack of SSH knowledge at the executive level and internal resistance. IT administrators are accustomed to managing their own SSH keys and individual departments believe other operational tasks take priority. Unfortunately, because many executives don’t understand the significant risk SSH poses if not properly managed, we’ve seen that many enterprises wait until they’ve experienced an SSH compromise before taking action.” To be effective, an SSH key management project needs to be conducted companywide with support from upper management.

The NIST publication outlines SSH management practices your organization should have implemented. For example, it should be maintaining a complete inventory of your organization's SSH keys, one that includes information such as the systems where they’re deployed, key lengths, encryption algorithms, and issue dates.

NIST SSH Publication

Your organization should also be using a policy-based system that manages each key's lifecycle, from access request to access termination. And it should be actively monitoring your lifecycle management system.

As for the type of SSH management approach you should use, NIST recommends automation as the only practical choice, especially considering the sheer scale of SSH deployments in most organizations, where many organizations can literally have hundreds of thousands of key instances. Implementing a manual system that keeps an accurate, up-to-date inventory, manages each key throughout its lifecycle, and provides continuous monitoring would take many man-years of effort every month. And it would introduce human error into the process—which is, ironically, one of the vulnerabilities the publication mentions by name.

I strongly suggest that you read Security of Interactive and Automated Access Management using Secure Shell (SSH) for yourself, and if you have any questions or comments about the paper or its content, I'd love to hear them.

<![CDATA[There is Security Kryptonite on Your Sticky Note]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/there-is-security-kryptonite-on-your-sticky-note https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/there-is-security-kryptonite-on-your-sticky-note/#When:15:00:00Z I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of security professionals in my time with security software and there is a reoccurring trend: People have an inherent craving for simplicity and often give in to this craving in ways that are not in their best interests. I feel protective of our customers and want to help them avoid the security mistakes I see others make in their misguided efforts to simplify.

To put it bluntly, people, you shouldn't assume that just because you are dealing with security professionals from vendor companies that your passwords, private keys, and other sensitive information are safe with them. You shouldn't even assume this with your own company's security professionals. If you want to destroy any security solution, add people.

You have no idea how many passwords and plain-text encryption keys I've seen come across screens—or in the case of passwords, seen written on sticky notes and pasted in obvious locations. For example, a colleague and I were working onsite to help a customer resolve an issue. During this visit, a member of the customer's security team was having difficulty remembering a password he needed for access to something.

back of keyboard

"Check the back of your keyboard," my colleague and I joked. But when he turned over his keyboard, there it was: the 1Password password that gave access to all of their “secured” passwords. When I see such things, I fear for our customers.

Admittedly, there's a tradeoff. In the fight for security and simplicity often the first thing to be compromised is security. Most people understand passwords and we still don’t take good care of them. Imagine a certificate and/or a key. Many people really don’t understand those and so we find those spread around on file servers with no password or silly passwords. Can you say “easy brute force target”?

Please properly vet your vendors and security team members: Do all you can to make sure their reputations are spotless and that they are security minded. 1Password has attempted to help corral the mess that we make with passwords and passphrases by making a central location with some level of control. Venafi is helping add security by doing the same for keys and certificates, including policies to enforce company regulations and automation for a complex process that most of our administrators don’t fully understand.

As we just finished Halloween and National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, there are lots of current horror stories around IT security, like the Internet of Pumpkins, the Little Book of Hacking Tales, and many more—all highlighting how human error can cause security issues.

But what are the solutions? How can we take people—always the weakest link in the security chain—out of the picture, or at least limit their impact? Automated key and certificate management and security can be part of the answer.

Venafi can help—providing key and certificate management and security for SSL/TLS keys and certificates, SSH keys, and mobile and user certificates. With Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™, you can have your simplicity and your security, obviating the need for password-protected private key files by automatically discovering certificates and keys, placing them securely under its protection and control, and managing them throughout their lifecycles. Managing your cryptographic assets can't be simpler—automating the process and taking out the risk of human error.

Venafi even reaches beyond your organization's network to the Internet, where it provides an authoritative key and certificate reputation service. But even with our solutions, you'll still need to take more care in other areas of your company's security.

We know Superman is virtually unbeatable, just like so many security software solutions claim to be, but he has kryptonite as his weakness. Don’t let your craving for simplicity be your security kryptonite. Make sure you always have security-minded people as part of your team.

What is the worst IT security horror story you’ve heard? Any other suggestions on how to avoid security kryptonite? 

<![CDATA[It’s Time to See Mobility in a New Light]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/its-time-to-see-mobility-in-a-new-light https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/its-time-to-see-mobility-in-a-new-light/#When:11:00:00Z While more and more employees are using their own phones, tablets, and other mobile devices for work, these practices often keep enterprises in the dark about mobile device access to enterprise data and systems. Digital certificates can shed light on enterprise access issues but only when certificates are properly managed and secured.

One good thing about cell phones is this: You're not as likely to run into people in the dark as you were before cell phones became ubiquitous. Nearly every face you see at night is bathed in the soft blue light of a cell phone. But illuminating people's faces isn't the only good thing about the phones' ubiquity. Mobile devices have done enterprises a few good turns.

Most enterprises welcome mobile devices because they allow people to work anytime, anywhere, and enterprises benefit from this increased productivity. You could even say that mobile devices have become indispensable to enterprises.

But there's a problem lurking here: Employees use mobile devices to access enterprise systems and often store enterprise data on them. I personally have a cell phone, an iPad, and a laptop, all of which have access to our corporate email system (and other corporate systems). This abundance of connected mobile devices is not unusual.

A stack of many mobile devices

Access to enterprise networks usually involves certificates, of course, but how do the enterprises know for sure who owns the certificates? What happens if employees lose the devices or the devices get stolen? Enterprises need to be able to revoke access privileges as soon as a mobile device goes missing.

Clearly, enterprises must have some way of knowing which certificates, on which devices, belong to which employees. They must also have a means by which they can identify and remove compromised certificates, even on devices that do not belong to them. And they must have the ability to control—that is, issue or revoke—certificates at a moment's notice. For example, if I were to call our helpdesk and report that someone stole my backpack one dark night, our helpdesk would have a mechanism for immediately revoking the certificates on each of my stolen devices, thereby preventing access to corporate systems. In other words, it would have a kill switch for the certificates that are located on these devices.

Unfortunately, most enterprises do not have such capabilities. Lacking them, they are as blind and as vulnerable to hidden cyberattacks as were people strolling down dark alleys in the days before cell phones.

What is your enterprise’s BYOD policy? If employee-owned devices are allowed, how does your business shed light on and control enterprise data and system access on these devices?

<![CDATA[The Internet of Things: It’s All About Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-internet-of-things-its-all-about-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-internet-of-things-its-all-about-trust/#When:17:37:00Z The original article was published at Dark Reading on October 16, 2015.

As billions of devices come online, it will be critical to protect the keys and certificates we use for authentication, validation, and privileged access control.

As technology becomes more interconnected with the Internet of Things, we should expect to see more insidious hacks like those demonstrated at Black Hat USA this past summer that will -- at some point in the near future -- strike close to home. It’s one thing when your company gets hacked and quite another when your pacemaker, commercial airline, or traffic light control and coordination system gets pwned because of security vulnerabilities in IoT devices.

What is the core of the problem?

There are two technologies that are foundational to enabling our world economy today. They are DNS and keys and certificates. According to Gartner, there is an estimated 4.9 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet, a number that is estimated to grow to 25 billion devices by 2020. As was so clearly displayed in the GM RemoteLink app hack at Black Hat, at the core of IoT are keys and certificates; SSL/TLS validation, or the lack of validation, was exploited as part of the hack.

As billions of devices come online, it will become all the more critical to protect the keys and certificates that are used for authentication, validation, and privileged access control.

Read the rest of the article on Dark Reading.

Graphic image of the Internet of Things

<![CDATA[Infographic: New SANS 20 Requirements for SSL/TLS Security and Management]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-sans-20-requirements-for-ssl-tls-security-and-management https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-sans-20-requirements-for-ssl-tls-security-and-management/#When:17:30:00Z The SANS Institute, realizing the critical nature of security risks to SSL/TLS, has added several requirements related to SSL/TLS management to Critical Security Control 17: Data Protection. From recent vulnerabilities like Heartbleed, Shellshock, POODLE, and FREAK to the Sony and CHS breaches and other APT attacks, like APT 1 and APT 18, enterprises can no longer blindly trust SSL/TLS certificates.

This growing lack of blind trust in SSL/TLS certificates stems largely from corporate security teams’ failure to secure and manage their vast certificate and key populations properly. By following the new SANS 20 requirements for SSL/TLS certificate management, enterprises can regain trust in SSL/TSL and rely on it once again for secure communications, authentication, and authorization for applications, appliances, devices, and cloud services.

Infographic for new SANS 20 requirements for SSL/TLS Security and Management

<![CDATA[Here’s How to Secure the Internet’s Shaky Foundation]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heres-how-to-secure-the-internets-shaky-foundation https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heres-how-to-secure-the-internets-shaky-foundation/#When:19:55:00Z The foundation of the internet, DNS and PKI-SSL, is now threatened by attacks using SSL/TLS keys and certificates. We need an Immune System for the Internet to identify and neutralize key and certificate misuse.

Key Takeaways

  • The foundation of the Internet is based on two pillars: DNS and PKI-SSL
  • Cybercriminals misuse PKI-SSL to create trusted identities and to hide in encrypted channels
  • We need a third pillar: the Immune System for the Internet™ to identify and neutralize misused certificates

Download free Gartner Research: Strategies for Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threats

Photo by Paulo Raquec. Unedited.
Photo by Paulo Raquec. Unedited. Flickr.

When we humans created the cyber realm known as the Internet, we based its foundation on two fundamental technology pillars: DNS (Doman Name System) and PKI-SSL (Public Key Infrastructure-Secure Sockets Layer). DNS was the Internet's first technology pillar: It functioned like an address book and postal-delivery service, providing routing tables that got electrons (that is, electronic information) from Point A through 10 or 12 hops to Point B.

For a little while, DNS's miraculous ability to move information from computer to computer was enough.

Then people realized they couldn't necessarily trust the information they received via the Internet because there was no way to truly identify the sender. Peter Steiner's 1993 New Yorker cartoon delightfully illustrated this problem. In it, a computer-savvy canine tells his cartoon pal: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

The Internet is a Good Place to Hide

In 1995, Netscape's chief scientist, Taher Elgamal, spearheaded the effort to address the Internet's identity problem through the second technology pillar (SSL), and soon X.509 certificates were providing trustworthy communications to individuals and organizations everywhere. So foundational is this technology today that the New Yorker recently published a sequel to Steiner's famous cartoon—a 2015 cartoon by Kaamran Hafeez, wherein both dogs are computer savvy and the first says to the other: "Remember when, on the Internet, nobody knew who you were?"

For a little while, PKI-SSL's ability to establish trusted identities and to encrypt data was enough.

But in the last five years, many cybercriminals have successfully attacked businesses and governments that rely on the second technology pillar to provide trusted identities. And they've done it by using the pillar itself in the form of forged or stolen certificates and keys. You see: certificates and keys are powerful. They authenticate people, in this case the cybercriminals who stole or forged them, and they open the vaults to rich stores of information. They also encrypt data. So authenticated cybercriminals can use them to bring malware in, encrypted so no one can see it, and to send valuable data out, again encrypted. And  the problem is only compounded given that many of Global 5000 organizations blindly trust  the keys and certificates deployed on their networks.

The Solution has to Intelligently Adapt to Change

To fix this problem, we need a third technology pillar: We need a cyber equivalent of the human immune system. Just as the human immune system travels throughout the body using HLA (human leukocyte antigen) markers to identify what is self and what is other, the Internet needs a technology that travels throughout cyber systems and identifies certificates that are forged or stolen—and then automatically neutralizes them, just as the human immune system automatically surrounds and destroys entities that are not self.

In other words, what the Internet needs if it is to have a whole and healthy foundation is the Immune System for the Internet™. Without it, the Internet's foundation will surely crumble.  This is our mission: to provide global organizations with an intelligent, adaptive security solution that works like an immune system to secure the foundational trust that keys and certificates provide.

Check out this video on the Immune System for the Internet.

<![CDATA[Securing Online Gaming with the Immune System for the Internet]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/securing-online-gaming-with-the-immune-system-for-the-internet https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/securing-online-gaming-with-the-immune-system-for-the-internet/#When:03:24:00Z The Cyber Spotlight: Securing Online Gaming 2015 event is happening on October 6th in London, UK. It is a one day event focusing on threats and solutions pertaining specifically to online gaming. Venafi is a strategic partner participating in the event.

If you are attending, check out the session by Craig McLean, an Operations Transformation Consultant who will be speaking on behalf of Venafi in the session, Certificates Are Easy. Why Managing PKI in an Agile Way Isn’t as Hard as You Might Think at 11:50 AM.

Also, take a look at the article below that is printed in the event publication on how to protect keys and certificates to prevent their misuse in cyber attacks. For more information on how to protection yourself from attacks that misuse keys and certificates, download this Gartner report.


The Security Gap that Lets Cybercriminals Breach Enterprises 

Lessons we can learn from the human immune system.

Most organisations don’t realise the role that cryptographic keys and digital certificates play in today’s cyber attacks. Keys and certificates are the foundation of security. They establish the trust on which businesses depend – securing data, keeping communications safe and private, and establishing trust between communicating parties. However, when these keys and certificates get breached, enterprises and individuals are left vulnerable to attack and compromise.

How our reliance on keys and certificates is used against us

We have increased our reliance on keys and certificates that protect communications and authorise and authenticate webservers, software, mobile devices, apps, admins and even airplanes. Virtually everything that is IP-enabled today relies on keys and certificates, from online banking and shopping to government sites. And this reliance will only increase as we expand our use of interconnected networks and physical devices and systems – also known as the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things depends on Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) keys and certificates to authenticate devices and systems.

Graphic detailing the components of serving online games, image via Cyberspot

Other security controls, such as access control, next generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data loss prevention (DLP), and more, are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates. But what happens when cybercriminals forge or steal unprotected keys and certificates?

Attacks weaponise these compromised or stolen keys and certificates, allowing cybercriminals to bypass security controls and use keys and certificates to impersonate, surveil and monitor their targets’ websites, infrastructure, clouds, mobile devices and system administrators, as well as decrypt communications thought to be private, and even impersonate websites, code or administrators. Today’s cybercriminals use keys and certificates to gain trusted status for unrestricted access to their victim’s network and remain undetected for extended periods of time – hiding in encrypted traffic, deploying malware and siphoning off confidential data to use for criminal ends.

What is the risk of suffering an attack using keys and certificates?

The 2015 ‘Cost of Failed Trust’ survey by the Ponemon Institute found that the average enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates, yet 54% of security professionals admit to not knowing where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them or how they are used.1 Enterprises need to understand the role keys and certificates play in today’s attacks and how to protect them to close this gap in their security.

Attacks on keys and certificates are not new – Stuxnet is the first known kinetic attack that leveraged misused keys and certificates and it was discovered in 2010. However, attacks on keys and certificates are becoming increasingly common, leaving victims open to devastating security breaches. From Heartbleed, ShellShock, POODLE, the Gogo and OnStar man-in-the middle attacks, Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability, the MASK attack and FREAK, cybercriminals are exploiting the weaknesses in unprotected keys and certificates to carry out malicious acts.

What is the risk? In the Ponemon survey, 100% of the respondents had suffered attacks using keys and certificates within the past 24 months.1 In addition, according to market research company Gartner, 50% of all inbound and network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017.2 If you haven’t already been attacked using keys and certificates, you soon will be.

What are enterprises doing to protect themselves?

With keys and certificates a prime target, organisations need to prioritise protecting them. Most organisations use manual or home grown systems to manage keys and certificates and these do not provide sufficient visibility and security to ensure that keys and certificates remain secure.

In light of attacks such as Sony Pictures Entertainment last year, Venafi conducted a survey amongst IT security professionals to establish what they are doing to prevent breaches and establish greater trust online.3 Disturbingly, the data revealed that most IT professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates.

The survey results highlighted that 42% of respondents can’t, or don’t know how to, detect compromised keys and certificates, and the other 56% of respondents said they are using a combination of NGFW, anti-virus, IDS, IPS and sandboxes to find these types of attacks. However, attacks using forged or stolen keys and certificates bypass these security controls, which are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates. SSL/TLS decryption systems that can detect attacks hidden in encrypted traffic often do not have sufficient access to keys to provide meaningful protection.

Painfully, almost two-thirds (64%) of security professionals admitted that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks using keys and certificates, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose and replace keys and certificates that have been breached.

Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed said they would only complete partial remediation, not replacing compromised keys and certificates, which would leave them open to further attacks. The vast majority of organisations are still vulnerable to Heartbleed, for example, more than a year since it was discovered.4 When asked what their organisational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43% of respondents said that they use a key management system.

The immune system for the internet

If most security controls are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates, how can we detect misuse of keys and certificates by cybercriminals? What if we had an immune system for the internet that, like the human immune system, would let us detect what is self and trusted, and what is not and therefore dangerous on our networks?

Computer keyboard image progressing to computers connecting to the world image progressing to diagram of the internet's current connections

Just like the human body’s HLA tags, keys and certificates serve as an identification system for the internet. However, unlike humans, there has been no immune system for the internet to search out which keys and certificates to trust and which to destroy. Not being able to identify what is trusted or how to recognise and remediate untrusted keys and certificates following an attack, leaves organisations wide open to breach and compromise.

Enterprises not only need to manage keys and certificates, and know where they are and who is responsible for them, but they also need to protect them and the trust they establish. This requires an immune system for the cyber realm that can provide constant surveillance, take immediate action when anomalies are detected, and fully automate remediation to replace old or bad keys and certificates with new ones. Also, as we move increasingly to the cloud and DevOps environments, organisations need a system in place that can scale up and tear down quickly, dynamically keeping everything safe and trusted.

One solution that can serve as an immune system for the internet and fill this security gap is certificate reputation that enables immediate blacklisting of untrusted certificates and flags them for future remediation. With global certificate reputation, companies can get an internal and internet-wide view in real-time of what’s good or bad, friend or foe, when it comes to certificates, allowing IT professionals to respond in a timely manner to the misuse of keys and certificates and protect their business and brand.

Enterprises need to be able to secure keys and certificates, because, if they don’t, online trust will be broken with dire ramifications especially to the economy that relies so heavily on the trust established by keys and certificates for commerce and mission-critical business activities. And with the Internet of Things, billions of connected devices are coming online that drive, fly, keep us safe, and keep us alive. The world will be much more dangerous and vulnerable unless we find a way to maintain the trust established by keys and certificates.

Cyberspot.com image of crowd at an event

  1. Ponemon Institute. 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point. 2015.
  2. D’Hoinne, Jeremy and Hills, Adam. Gartner, Security Leaders Must Address Threats from Rising SSL Traffic, December 9, 2013. Gartner RAS Core Research Note: G00258176.
  3. Venafi survey of nearly 850 IT security professionals during the RSA Conference USA 2015.
  4. Venafi Labs Analysis. Hearts Continue to Bleed: Heartbleed One Year Later. 2015.
<![CDATA[Why the Security Workforce Needs Qualified Women….AND Men]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-the-security-workforce-needs-qualified-women.and-men https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-the-security-workforce-needs-qualified-women.and-men/#When:17:13:00Z Over the past 30 years of being in information technology and security, it has always been obvious that there is a huge need for diversity in this field. It’s a common topic that comes up often, especially in security circles. Just a few weeks ago, there was a special Black Hat panel session dedicated solely to addressing this topic: “Beyond the Gender Gap: Empowering Women in Security.” Also, certification body (ISC)2 reports that just 10 percent of information security professionals worldwide are women.

While this is an upsetting statistic to many, and I do agree that we need more women in the workforce, I firmly believe that we need to consider an even more pressing issue that I hear time and time again when I’m meeting with CISOs all over the globe: we simply do not have enough skilled security professionals to meet the need right now. (ISC)2’s latest global workforce study, sponsored by Frost & Sullivan, finds that the shortage of security professionals will reach 1.5 million within five years. That’s a startling number, and why I believe that employing qualified, skilled IT security professionals—both women and men—should be the priority.

So, how do we build the next generation of cyber warriors, both men and women?

First, we need to encourage kids to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) at a young age so that they will be interested in pursuing more technical degrees and certifications later on. Most high schools are offering basic computer classes, and colleges all over the globe have courses in computer science and cyber security. And even if you don’t go to college, there are great certifications and workshops you can take to obtain and learn the skills yourself. Trust me, I’ve hired a lot of security professionals over the years and the main thing I always look for is actual, real-world, hands-on experience.

We also can help lead the way by setting a good example and showing kids and teens that they can have successful and rewarding careers in IT security. In my own career, I started at the IT helpdesk and was able to work my way up the ladder into holding several leadership positions at major corporations and now Venafi. Also, security pays well! IT security professionals, on average, make $90,000 or more a year! And there’s a lot of job security in security—companies are always hiring and looking to fill jobs quickly.

As you can imagine, I have managed many security teams during the course of my career so I’m very passionate about sharing my own insights into how to grow and build successful careers and teams in IT security. In fact, I’m actually presenting on October 12 at 3pm CT at the ISSA International conference on “Diversified IT: Why the Security Workforce Needs Qualified Women...and Men.” If you’re there, definitely stop by my session!

2015 ISSA International Conference Session

While these are just a few of my thoughts, there are probably many more things that we can be doing to build up the security workforce to meet the demand. I just hope that over time, we do start to see the tables turn with a more diversified and skilled workforce. This is definitely a fight we can’t win alone!


<![CDATA[Infographic: New Ponemon Research Reveals Businesses Are Losing Customers Due to Broken Online Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-ponemon-research-reveals-businesses-are-losing-customers-du https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-ponemon-research-reveals-businesses-are-losing-customers-du/#When:04:05:00Z A new report, 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers, was released today by the Ponemon Institute and Venafi, and reveals the damaging impacts on global business from unprotected and poorly managed cryptographic keys and digital certificates. In March 2015, a related report (2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point) revealed the risks global business face from attacks using keys and certificates (see the infographic on this first report). Now this new report looks at how the failure to secure and manage keys and certificates is adversely impacting today’s businesses, and quantifies the direct financial impacts.

Global enterprises depend on the trust, privacy, and integrity established by keys and certificates. But when keys and certificates are unsecured, companies lose customers, suffer costly outages, fail audits, and experience breaches. The infographic below captures the extent of these impacts in today’s enterprises over the past 2 years as well as the amount of security, availability, and compliance risk over the next 2 years. The infographic then concludes with the challenges that enterprises face with securing keys and certificates and an action plan to reduce risk.

Infographic: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers

<![CDATA[Businesses Are Losing Customers from the Misuse of Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-are-losing-customers-from-the-misuse-of-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-are-losing-customers-from-the-misuse-of-keys-and-certificates/#When:04:05:00Z 2015 survey results reveal that unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates result in a loss of customers, costly outages, failed audits, and security breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Most businesses admit to losing customers because they failed to secure keys and certificates
  • Misuse of keys and certificates continues to increase (e.g. Superfish, GoGo, FREAK, and LogJam)
  • Several unplanned outages have hit major enterprises in 2015 (e.g., Gmail, Azure, Instagram)

Today, the Ponemon Institute and Venafi released new data on how businesses are being directly impacted by unsecured cryptographic keys and digital certificates. This data has been released in a new report, 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers, and reveals how unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates result in a loss of customers, costly outages, failed audits, and security breaches.

Download the report: 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers

In March 2015, the Ponemon Institute and Venafi published research on the risks global business face from attacks using cryptographic keys and digital certificates in the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point. The 2015 research survey used as the basis for this report was completed by 2,394 IT security professionals around the globe: 646 U.S., 499 U.K., 574 German, 339 French, and 336 Australian respondents. Consensus among the global participants was that the system of trust was at the breaking point. Now, unpublished data from the survey is included in this new report that shows businesses around the globe are suffering the damaging impacts of unsecured keys and certificates.

  • When trust online breaks, businesses lose customers: Nearly two-thirds (59%) admitted to losing customers because they failed to secure the online trust established by keys and certificates.
  • Critical business systems are failing: An average of over 2 certificate-related unplanned outages have been reported per organization over the last 2 years, with an average cost of $15 million per outage.
  • Businesses are failing audits: On average, organizations failed at least one SSL/TLS audit and at least one SSH audit within the last 2 years.

Nearly 2/3 of Businesses Admit to Losing Customers

These certificate-related outages and failed audits are symptoms of larger security issues—if you can’t manage your keys and certificates, you can’t secure and protect them, leaving your business exposed. Criminals steal and compromise keys and certificates that are not properly protected, and use them to circumvent security controls—to hide in encrypted traffic, deploy malware, and steal data.

Here is a quick summary of examples of the misuse of keys and certificates in 2015.

GoGo MITM: In early 2015, it was discovered that inflight internet service provider, GoGo, was issuing fake Google certificates. GoGo indicated that this was simply used to block online video streaming to conserve bandwidth, but breaking this security protocol has undoubtedly tainted the GoGo brand.

Superfish: Lenovo damaged customer confidence when it was caught in early 2015 installing adware on its laptops that conducted man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks using forged digital certificates to break open SSL/TLS encryption.

FREAK: Or Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys, is a vulnerability in SSL/TLS encryption that forces vulnerable clients and servers to use a weak key that enables attackers to break the encryption with brute-force decryption. Victims of this vulnerability might have the effectiveness of their security put into question.

LogJam: The LogJam vulnerability uses a flaw in the Diffie-Hellman (DHE) key exchange and is similar to FREAK in that it can be used to downgrade the TLS encryption. Attackers can use this vulnerability in a MITM attack to read or modify data passed over the TLS connection, which would violate customer privacy.

Outages: Certificate-related outages that cause critical services to go down can also cause customer loss. Here are some newsworthy certificate-related outages in 2015, showing that even well-established businesses can suffer crippling business interruptions due to poorly managed certificates:

  • Google Gmail experienced an outage due to an expired root certificate, which prevented millions of users from accessing their email accounts.
  • The Microsoft Azure storage cloud platform experienced a worldwide outage due to an expired SSL certificate.
  • Instagram users, when using the web interface, received either an error message saying the company’s certificate was invalid or, if using Chrome, were denied access to the Instagram site all together due to an expired SSL certificate.

The new Ponemon report also shows that these impacts from unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates will continue with a security risk per organization of $53 million over the next 2 years and a combined availability and compliance risk of $7.2 million—showing that security risk greatly outweighs availability and compliance risk. Read the report to get an action plan to reduce these risks.

How are you reducing the risk of key and certificate misuse in your organization?

<![CDATA[Don’t Trust Blindly—Get 20/20 Vision on Your Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/dont-trust-blindly-get-20-20-vision-on-your-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/dont-trust-blindly-get-20-20-vision-on-your-certificates/#When:04:05:00Z Before your view becomes 20/20 from hindsight and you are too little too late, adopt an approach that gives 100% insight. Virtually all enterprises are unaware of how many certificates they have in their organization. Visibility is critical to properly manage certificates, avoid certificate-related outages, and secure your business and brand.

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone is utilizing more certificates than they know and in ways they don't know.
  • Lack of visibility leads to outages, downtime, exploited vulnerabilities, and financial Loss.
  • Venafi TrustNet and Google CT care about your brand and you should too.

Visibility for Certificate Management

Without visibility, in today’s flooded wires of packet transfers, you will not really know how many certificates are in use within your organization. In 2015 research by the Ponemon Institute, 54% of IT security professionals admitted to not knowing where all of their keys and certificates are located. But I think this is grossly underestimated. I have never met an organization utilizing certificates who accurately knew the count of their digital certificate usage before using Venafi. Usually, we wind up finding at the least 3x what they thought they had.

Download the solution brief, Eliminate Blind Spots in Your SSL Traffic.

Yet finding all of your certificates is just the beginning. To properly manage them, you’ll need visibility into all of these aspects:

  • Who owns each of your certificates?
  • What does each certificate do?
  • Who is controlling your self-signed certificates?
  • Where do all of your wildcard certificates live?
  • Are all certificates being issued by the CAs you have approved?

Visibility to Avoid Certificate-related Outages

Another critical component to certificate visibility is the ability to identify approaching certificate expirations. At some point certificates expire, and at some point you need to renew that certificate and go replace it everywhere it belongs (1 year maximum if you are following best practices). But it’s important to do this before they expire and cause outages of critical business systems. We’ve already seen several examples of certificate-related outages in large global businesses in 2015, including in Google Gmail, Microsoft Azure, and Instagram. These outages can cost you millions. In research by the Ponemon Institute, IT security professionals set the average cost of a certificate-related outage at $15 million.

Businesses Lose $15 Million per Outage

Visibility to Protect Your Business and Brand

Visibility into your keys and certificates isn’t just crucial for management—as the foundation to online trust, it’s also critical to securing your business and protecting the privacy of your customers and partners. Here are some questions you should be able to answer:

  • Who is making sure that certificates with proper strength are being created?
  • Has anyone stood up a rogue CA on your network?
  • Are all certificates being issued by the CAs you have approved?
  • Are stolen or rogue keys and certificates being used to hijack your brand?

Enterprises need to also realize that using encryption creates security blind spots. Cybercriminals are now using SSL/TLS to hide getting malware into organizations and to hide taking sensitive data out. Gartner estimates that by 2017, 50% of network attacks will use SSL/TLS. Organizations need real-time access to keys and certificates to decrypt SSL/TLS traffic and pass the content to security devices, such as Blue Coat, for further processing, analysis, and policy administration.

When the online trust established by keys and certificates is broken, businesses lose customers. Thank goodness solutions such as Google Certificate Transparency (CT) and Venafi TrustNet™ are out there to help add some visibility to our ever expanding use of digital certificates and keys.

Recently, Thawte CA had some of its employees issue unauthorized Google certificates. Fortunately, pre-certificate data gets sent to Google CT prior to actual issuance. In this case, the Google CT team was able to raise the red flag about these unauthorized certificates and alert the proper channels, allowing immediate corrections to be made. Venafi TrustNet combines information from Google CT with information from the Venafi sensory network to provide information on certificate issuance as well as throughout the entire certificate lifecycle on all certificates used on the internet.

Businesses rightly take encryption seriously. This means they care about the CAs they use, how long certificates are valid, and what hashes, algorithms, and protocols are used. We have seen companies with very strong policies on their certificates who have removed employees when a certificate that was unauthorized showed up via our discovery. How do you know whether your policies are being followed if you can’t see? It’s time to shed some light on your certificates. You can’t fix what you can’t see, and you can’t protect a door if you don’t know it exists.

<![CDATA[Take the Guesswork and Complexity Out of Your PKI Update]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/take-the-guesswork-and-complexity-out-of-your-pki-update https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/take-the-guesswork-and-complexity-out-of-your-pki-update/#When:19:18:00Z If your public key infrastructure (PKI) is like that of most companies today, it’s probably outdated. That can be a serious problem. Outdated PKI systems result in errors, missed updates, costly business interruptions, and even breaches. This is due to a lack of central visibility, consistent processes, and the refresh validation needed to streamline updates. Moreover, new security and compliance requirements and an evolving threatscape can make it costly and difficult to revamp PKIs.

Key Takeaways

  • Outdated PKI results in errors, missed updates, costly business interruptions, and even breaches
  • T stay protected, reduce certificate lifetimes, migrate to SHA-2, rely on standards, and develop remediation strategies
  • Successful PKI refreshes require visibility, enforced policies and workflows, automation, and validation

Why is it so difficult and costly to refresh an outdated PKI? There are almost 24,000 keys and certificates in today’s average enterprise and 54% of security professionals admit to being unaware of where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. In addition, establishing new root or intermediate CAs and distributing certificates to hundreds or thousands of applications and trust stores is incredibly time consuming, expensive, and error prone. Add to the mix differing, distributed applications and administrators unfamiliar with certificates, and the challenges quickly multiply.

Check out the PKI Refresh solution brief.

PKI Update

But putting off a PKI refresh can open your business to outages and attacks. According to the Ponemon Institute, 100% of the Global 5000 surveyed have responded to attacks using keys and certificates and have had 2 or more certificate-related outages within the last 24 months. What does this mean in dollars and cents? Security professionals estimate that the total possible impact of an attack using keys and certificates is almost $600 Million and the total possible impact of a certificate-related outage is $15 Million. That’s a serious impact—even for the largest enterprises.

To stay protected from these costly and damaging incidents, you may want to consider adopting new PKI refresh standards and strategies:

  • Reduce certificate lifetimes to 3 months or less, as recommended by Google and others to reduce certificate risk exposure (but even Google recently let a certificate expire, showing that even the most security conscious organizations can struggle with key and certificate management and security)
  • Replace SHA-1 with SHA-2, due to potential attacks on SHA-1 certificates. (See NIST’s Policy on Hash Functions.)
  • Update digital certificate maintenance rules according to compliance regulations, such as the PCI DSS, and other security frameworks, such as SANS 20.
  • Develop new remediation strategies ;to apply following a CA compromise or new vulnerability (Venafi research shows that 3 out of 4 organizations still have not completely remediated the Heartbleed vulnerability).
Manage and Validate Your PKI Refresh with Confidence

How do you implement all of these standards and strategies? With today’s fast changing threatscape and increasing use of digital certificates, successful PKI refreshes require complete visibility, enforced policies and workflows, automation, and validation.

Visibility: Most don’t have complete visibility into their PKI. But for successful PKI management, you need to identify all keys, certificates, CAs, and trust stores across your enterprise networks, the cloud, and multiple CAs.

Enforcing policies and workflows: To ensure consistency while updating your PKI, you need to enforce configurable workflows capabilities for replacement, issuance, and renewal. Also, a policy-enforced, self-service portal can be used to simplify certificate requests and renewals.

Automation of PKI: Automation is critical for PKI in today’s enterprises and should cover the entire CA and certificate refresh process, including the distribution and whitelisting of new CAs in trust stores.

Validating your progress: You should be able to track your progress and completion of your PKI refresh, validating that certificates are installed and applications are running.

With all of these requirements, does a PKI refresh sound like an impossible task? Believe it or not, you can now take the guesswork and complexity out of your next PKI refresh and reduce your risk. With the right solution for your PKI refresh, you can achieve complete visibility, enforce policies and workflows, automate processes, and validate progress. But don’t put this project off—it could literally cost you millions.

What do you consider to be the most critical PKI updates needed? Please share your experiences and thoughts.

<![CDATA[Key and Certificate Security Delivered at the Speed of Business]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/key-and-certificate-security-delivered-at-the-speed-of-business https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/key-and-certificate-security-delivered-at-the-speed-of-business/#When:19:19:00Z Stop keys and certificates from slowing innovation. The speed of cloud computing, the demands of internal IT services SLAs, and the explosion of IoT devices must be supported with automated key and certificate management and security.

Key Takeaways

  • Speed of IT continues to dramatically increase with cloud computing, IoT, and IT service demands
  • Manual key and certificate management, used by most organizations, is slowing IT speed
  • To meet speed demands, corners are cut in key and certificate security or it is sacrificed completely

To improve customer experience, new IT is enabling speed to business in ways that could not have been considered a few years ago. Not too long ago, QA test environments were rebuilt every week. Today they are rebuilt on a continuous basis. Previously, if you wanted to provision a webserver, it would have taken weeks, sometimes months, to secure the hardware followed by the operating system and required software.

Watch this demo to see how to support Chef with automatic key and certificate provisioning.

I remember how it was before the cloud started being adopted; one customer I worked with mentioned that it was faster for them to retrofit a Boeing 737 than it was to stand up a new webserver. How things have changed with DevOps where a new server instance can be available within seconds today. And containerization has only further increased the speed at which application stacks can be made available. One Venafi customer tears down and instantiates its entire environment every week. Think of the mammoth task—no, near impossible task—this would have been just 5 years ago!

Speed + Security in the Cloud

Without speed to market and dynamic, on-demand service delivery, your competition is going to take your customers. But speed should not come at the sacrifice of security. Think about it, keys and certificate are one of the technologies that are foundational to the internet and the way we do business. They provide authentication and authorizations for millions of systems. Yet keys and certificates, which are at the heart of IT security, often slow down dynamic IT. Most organizations are using manual methods to issue and track keys and certificates. Then when certificates are used with cloud servers, these manual methods are slowing down processes, significantly.

In results from a survey conducted by TechValidate for Venafi, we found that over half (56%) of our customers used manual certificate tracking methods before using our products.


Customer References verified by TechValidate.

What good is it to be able to instantiate cloud workloads quickly if security slows down the process or, worse yet, is skipped completely in the interest of speed.

Organizations and cloud vendors sometimes try to cut corners in key and certificate security to avoid slowing down cloud provisioning. Dell SecureWorks did a study a couple of years back and found that 1 in 5 AWS instances had rogue SSH keys included in them. You may ask yourself, why is this important? Well, it’s basically the same as buying a new car and making multiple copies of your car keys and handing them out to strangers at your local supermarket—anyone who has the key will then have access to your car!

Most cloud vendors now offer ephemeral session keys that cannot be used again. This dramatically reduces the lifespan of the key material. To support the speed benefits of cloud computing while also ensuring security, keys  need to be generated and provisioned automatically based on defined security policies. Regardless of how you provision workloads in the cloud, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that you do not re-use keys. Also make sure you have visibility into where the keys are being used, by whom, and for how long.

Speed + Security for Internal SLA of IT Services

Speed is an important factor in internal IT services Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Other departments turn to IT to deliver services, and key and certificate issuance in support of these services can significantly impact the SLAs to which the IT department can commit.

In the recent TechValidate survey, we found that over half (57%) of the respondents were able to improve their internal IT services SLA after deploying Venafi—over one-third (34%) were able to change this from days to just hours. Automated key and certificate provisioning can have a significant impact on the services SLA that IT can deliver.


Customer References verified by TechValidate.

Speed + Security for IoT

We already have a few billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected through the Internet. And with the additional IoT devices coming to market, supporting a multitude of use cases, that number is expected to grow dramatically.  According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be 25 billion connected “things”, all which need some way of authenticating on the network and communicating securely.

Automakers are expecting cars to be a high-value target for hackers and have already begun to put security controls in place. One such control changes the SSL/TLS certificates at least 12 times per hour—think what a PKI management nightmare that may be if you are not able to automate processes and tell whether a certificate is good or bad, friend or foe. As IoT devices increase, real-time key and certificate management will be needed to keep up with security and access demands.

Security at Speed

Although I focused on cloud, internal IT services, and IoT, there are many other examples where keys and certificates need to be provisioned or replaced very quickly to satisfy the business need. But security does not have to be sacrificed to achieve speed of deployment in any environment. The full key management lifecycle process can be automated so that security policies can be applied and the environment kept safe.

If you are interested to see how Venafi automatically provisions keys and certificates with Chef please review the following demonstration video.

How does your organization ensure your key and certificate management and security keep up with the speed demands of IT?

<![CDATA[Venafi Supports Google Certificate Transparency with CA-Agnostic Log and Monitor ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-supports-google-certificate-transparency https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-supports-google-certificate-transparency/#When:13:00:00Z Venafi is proud to announce the availability of the Venafi CT log and CT monitor.

Key Takeaways

  • Google Certificate Transparency provides safer internet browsing by allowing anyone to scrutinize the certificate issuance process.
  • Venafi supports Google Certificate Transparency (CT) with the Venafi CT log and CT monitor.
  • Venafi TrustNet uses Google CT log information in conjunction with SSL/TLS information gathered from the Venafi sensor network to identify misuse of certificates on the internet.

Download the TrustNet white paper to learn how Venafi uses Google CT in Venafi TrustNet

The Google Chrome browser requires public logging of Extended Validation (EV) SSL/TLS certificates as part of Google Certificate Transparency (CT). Any EV certificate issued after January 1, 2015 that is not logged with CT will cease to show the EV indicator “green bar” in the Chrome browser.

Google CT aims to stop unauthorized certificate issuance by providing the ability for anyone to scrutinize the issuance process. This is provided by three core components: the certificate log, a monitor, and an auditor.

A Growing Need

Cybercriminals and nation states have realized the value of misusing certificates—shown in certificate issuance practices being abused more and more frequently. Earlier this year, reports of a man-in-the-middle attack orchestrated by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) provide just one example of how certificate issuance can be used for nefarious purposes.

Google CT aims to provide safer internet browsing by detecting mis-issued certificates, malicious certificates, or rogue CAs within a few hours of conception. This is achieved due to the CT requirements that dictate how and where any certificate issued should be logged with Google CT.

Venafi Support for Google CT

Venafi is proud to announce support for Google CT with the Venafi CT log and CT monitor. As the Immune System for the Internet™, Venafi provides a CT log independent of any specific Certificate Authority (CA), welcoming any CA to publish to the Venafi CT log.

CT Log: Any CA wishing to be compliant with Google CT is required to publish certificates that they issue to at least three (3) logs. These logs are publicly auditable and cryptographically assured.   

Diagram of Venafi CT Log and Monitor

CT Monitor: Venafi also participates in the Google CT initiative by providing a monitor. Monitors watch logs for suspicious certificates and verify that all logged certificates are visible.

The Value of Google CT

Gartner got it right back in 2012 when they concluded that “no certificate can be blindly trusted.” In one good example of the value of Google CT, Google found an Extended Validation (EV) pre-certificate issued without Google’s authorization by Thawte CA. However, although CT identified the fraudulent certificate when Thawte issued the pre-certificate, CT identification is limited to the detection of certificate misuse at time of issuance only.   

Beyond Google CT

Because Venafi is CA-agnostic, providing a CT monitor allows Venafi to gain early visibility into certificate issuance practices across CAs. And Venafi TrustNet™ goes beyond certificate issuance information, using Google CT log information in conjunction with SSL/TLS information gathered from the Venafi sensor network to identify misuse of certificates on the internet throughout the certificate lifecycle.

In addition to the pre-certificate found by Google that was issued last week by Thawte, I decided to run a report utilizing Venafi TrustNet and found 20 other certificates issued to the google.com domain that are currently live and issued by some suspicious CAs that are not in the Google CT log.

To protect your organization’s brand from being misrepresented, Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation helps organizations detect and remediate certificate misuse at issuance and throughout the life of a certificate by evaluating the entire internet.  

How does your organization ensure no digital certificate is being used on the internet to misrepresent your brand?

<![CDATA[Biometrics Stolen During OPM Breach—Your Fingerprints May No Longer Be Your Own ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/biometrics-stolen-during-opm-breach https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/biometrics-stolen-during-opm-breach/#When:13:00:00Z During what is believed to be the biggest breach in U.S. history, it was reported that along with all of the other sensitive data, over 5.6 million fingerprints were also exposed to the hackers.

While you may think that spies wearing life-like masks and gloves with false fingerprints on them to commit espionage could only happen in a Mission Impossible plot, you may be shocked to know that with the biometric data that was stolen in the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach, this may now be possible.

Of course we hope these tricks will continue to only be acted out by Tom Cruise, but everyone should still be aware of the very serious fact that hackers obtained over 5.6 million fingerprints (originally estimated by the OPM at only 1.1 million, but has now grown) from the 21.5 million people whose personal data was stolen. Having these biometrics stolen is terrifying for two major reasons:

  1. There could be a brand new type of stolen goods being trafficked on the black market: biometrics.
  2. Those whose biometrics were stolen will have to deal with losing their identity for the rest of their lives.

It is still unclear what the hackers plan to do with the biometric data they have stolen, but already, impersonators are on the black market selling fake OPM-breached fingerprints. Knowing there is already a demand for them shows that biometric data may become the newest, “hot ticket data” hackers are after. This could now open up a Pandora’s Box for those impacted by the breach since your fingerprints, along with other biometric data, are exposed and easy for the taking. And the fact that you cannot change your fingerprints every few months, like you can a credit card number, is also scary because unlike stolen passwords and identity numbers, your fingerprints can’t be changed. Keeping your biometric data secure is a serious security concern that hasn’t been addressed much—at least not to-date.

Download Now - Close the Gaps in Identity and Access Management

Stolen Biometrics

Today, fingerprints are used for background checks, border crossings, workplace identification, and, more recently, unlocking smartphones. If your biometric data is stolen, being able to identify yourself by what was once the most trusted way, will no longer be an option for you. Even worse is that those U.S. diplomats and government agents whose sensitive biometric data was exposed by the OPM hack, if now stolen, could lead the hackers to even more horrifying information. It could have the potential to unlock devices that hold incredibly sensitive, current data like undercover investigations, international negotiations, and conversations that were kept secret for a reason.

In the early 1900’s, my grandmother’s brother (immigrant from Italy) was fingerprinted when he entered the U.S. He spent many years working in a brick yard—he literally burned off all of his fingerprints and always joked, “Now the government doesn’t know who I am!” Who would have thought that a century later, a cyber attack would leave millions of people in the dark wondering what hackers plan to do with their fingerprints and personal information.

Now is a really good time for the U.S. government and global companies around the world to consider better security measures around their biometric data. We simply can’t sit here and wait for another OPM-like breach to happen that leaves even more data for the taking.


<![CDATA[Untrusted Certificates—Survey Shows IT Security Pros Know the Risks but Do Nothing]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/survey-shows-it-security-pros-know-the-risks-but-do-nothing https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/survey-shows-it-security-pros-know-the-risks-but-do-nothing/#When:12:00:00Z Today, Venafi released a report based on survey findings and analysis, IT Security Professionals Know the Risk of Untrusted Certificates and Issuers, but Do Nothing. The survey was conducted at 2015 Black Hat USA and gathered responses from over 300 IT security professionals. As the title suggests, the report reveals that security professionals know the risks associated with untrusted certificates, including compromises of certificate authorities (CAs), but they are currently not taking steps to protect themselves and don’t have remediation mechanisms in place to effectively mitigate a future CA compromise.

Why is it important to understand and respond to threats using untrusted certificates? The report highlights how cybercriminals are increasingly misusing keys and certificates to breach organizations, elevate their privileges, and hide activity. And although they may know the risks, most organizations are unprepared to defend against these attacks.

Watch Now - Free Ponemon Webinar on Enterprise Certificate and Keys Attacks

Security Pros Know the Risks

Here are a couple survey responses that indicate that security professionals are aware of the risks associated with untrusted certificates and compromised CAs:

  • The major issuers of online trust will be compromised, with 90% of the respondents believing a leading CA will be breached within the next two years.

  • When asked what security risks would result from an untrustworthy CA issuing certificates for their browser, application, or mobile device, 58% stated they are concerned about MITM attacks and 14% had concerns about replay attacks.

Statistics on Certificate Authority Security Risks

They Lack Visibility into the Extent of their Risk Exposure

Although security professionals understand the types of threats that can result from misused certificates, they do not grasp the extent of their risk exposure.

  • Most security professionals (63%) don’t know or falsely believe that a CA secures certificates and cryptographic keys. CAs only issue and revoke certificates—they don’t monitor their use and do not provide any security for them.

  • When asked how many CAs are trusted on mobile devices, survey responders believe it to be a median of three. On Apple iOS devices the median response was two, when in fact the number of trusted CAs is over 240.

Security Pros Aren’t Taking Action

Maybe because of the lack of insight to the extent of their risk, security professionals aren’t taking action against current threats or establishing incident response plans that will protect them in the future when a leading CA is compromised.

  • Only 26% removed CNNIC from all desktops, laptops, and mobile devices after Google and Mozilla deemed CNNIC as untrustworthy to protect Chrome and Firefox users from a MITM attack. The remaining 74% are still exposed.

  • Most (61%) would be unprepared to promptly respond to a breach of a leading CA, relying on manual procedures performed by administrators or incident response firms to remediate (including manually addressing Vulnerability Management System data).

  • Worse yet, 30% either did not know what they would do or would continue using the same CA—leaving them vulnerable

Statistic on Responding to CA Compromise

What should organizations do to protect themselves? Read the report to get a 3-point recommendation plan on how to reduce the risk and impact of fraudulent issuance and misuse of certificates. The report concludes by saying we should take a lesson from nature and use the Immune System for the Internet™ to identify good vs. bad, friend vs. foe to defend against the misuse of keys and certificates.

What are your thoughts on these survey results? Is your organization prepared for the next CA compromise? How do you remediate when your certificates and keys are misused by cybercriminals?

<![CDATA[Still Using SHA-1? It’s Time to Switch!]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-using-sha-1-its-time-to-switch https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-using-sha-1-its-time-to-switch/#When:13:00:00Z Why all of the fuss?

SHA-1 was deprecated by NIST from 2011 through 2013 because of its security strength being susceptible to a collision attack. Due to ever increasing computational power, the risk of SHA-1 being broken via a collision attack in the next few years is very real. For that reason, most certificate authorities (CAs) only issue certificates using SHA-2 or above.

Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have already started taking steps last year to aid end users in understanding the risks and have updated their policies. These policies state that sites with end-entity certificates expiring on or after 1 January 2017 that make use of SHA-1 will no longer be accepted as secure. These policies also require CAs to stop issuing new SHA-1 certificates after 1 January 2016.

More What's needed for SHA-1 migration? Download the SHA-1 Migration Guide.

What progress are we making with SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration?

It’s now well known that certificates signed with SHA-1 are not secure, but what progress are companies really making in transitioning to SHA-2? Using Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation services, I generated a report of all SHA-1 certificates that have been issued since 31 December 2013—this date is after NIST had deprecated SHA-1 usage—and filtered out any certificates that are set to expire before the 1 January 2017 deadline. The results speak for themselves as to the state of the industry!

There are over 1.5 million certificates that have been issued since 31 December 2013 with SHA-1 that are set to expire well beyond the 1 January 2017 deadline, when major browsers will stop trusting these certificates.

SHA-1 Certificate Expiration Age Beyond January 1, 2017

Although too small a percentage to show on the chart above, 330 certificates were found to be expiring in more than 100 years! I guess some security practitioners are looking out for future generations so that they don’t run into any outages related to certificate expirations, they obviously don’t believe SHA-1 will be fully exploitable by 2114—but this is at the cost of security.

What steps should you take to start your SHA-1 migration?

Certificate inventory assessment is the first step, establishing the scope and extent of your SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration. With a clear understanding of your certificate inventory and trust stores, you can determine which systems and applications may be impacted.

Revision of policies is needed to indicate that only SHA-2 certificates are generated moving forward and newly generated keys and certificates are in compliance with corporate and industry security standards.

Application and system testing is one of the very first things that needs to be performed before attempting to deploy any new certificates into the environment. You may have a legacy application that does not support SHA-2 and there is no migration plan from the vendor. If this is the case, you need to make a judgment call: migrate the application to a newer application that does support SHA-2 or live with the risk knowing full well that it’s a ticking time bomb.

Automated deployment of new certificates is recommended, especially when you consider that the average large enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates to manage. By automating the process you can validate the entire CA and certificate refresh process, including SHA-2 implementation.

Another recommendation is to deploy a new PKI hierarchy for SHA-2 and slowly migrate all systems and applications from the old one. In doing so, any system or application that does not support SHA-2 can be left using the old PKI hierarchy while all those that do support SHA-2 can use the new, more secure PKI environment.

Where are you in your SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration? Please share any roadblocks or successes you’re experiencing.

<![CDATA[The Wild West of Encryption: A Holdup for Keys and Certificates ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-wild-west-of-encryption-a-holdup-for-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-wild-west-of-encryption-a-holdup-for-keys-and-certificates/#When:14:00:00Z During my time at PGP which was run by some of the most passionate security trailblazer’s of their time, part of the fight was trying to teach the world that they should encrypt their data. Time and time again, I have heard people say that they have nothing to hide so they are not worried about privacy. I love Edward Snowden’s quote “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” His quote really brings it home for me.

Philip Zimmerman went to federal court and won the right to privacy for us. For me, this is up there with the right to vote. At PGP, we taught the need to encrypt and protect your data at rest and in transit. Here at Venafi, we teach that you need to protect your encryption assets—keys and certificates. Those are the new targets, because encryption is pretty good (PGP: Pretty Good Privacy), which makes our encryption keys a target of cybercriminals to break or leverage encryption in their attacks.

Sadly, they are apparently an easy target, because in most environments, digital certificates and keys are like the Wild West. Even with a software solution from a leading company like Venafi, if you don’t put the proper level of attention to managing and securing your certificates and keys, you will be vulnerable to exploitation from, at the very least, your lack of visibility.

The Wild West of Encryption

Let’s face it; unless you have a solution in place and have dedicated the right resources, you don’t have the following:

  1. You don’t know what CAs are in your environment (we have discovered rogue CAs issuing certificates in customer environments)
  2. You don’t know where all of your wild card certificates live (we have found file shares with certificates and private keys)
  3. You don’t have any control whatsoever over self-signed certificates that anyone can issue and use
  4. You don’t know what data is being sent out of your organization to some outside entity (e.g., Edward Snowden)
  5. You don’t have any guarantee that your production will not shutdown tomorrow due to a certificate-related outage
  6. You don’t have any control over or visibility into your SSH inventory, which provides privileged access to your systems
  7. You don’t have the ability to respond quickly to a problem with CAs, keys, or certificate-related outages

There are many more specific scenarios and examples I can share. The Wild West was a dangerous place. It eventually got better as communication and response times improved and society got together to solve the problem. In the Wild West days, physical banks and trains were the targets. Intercepting a train carrying a valuable payload was pretty easy because, by the time you knew you were robbed, it was too late. Today, it is digital keys and certificates. Welcome to the Wild West of encryption.

<![CDATA[For the 2nd Year Running, PCI SSC Announces Securing Keys and Certificates a PCI SIG Finalist ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/pci-ssc-announces-securing-keys-and-certificates-a-pci-sig-finalist https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/pci-ssc-announces-securing-keys-and-certificates-a-pci-sig-finalist/#When:17:45:00Z There has been a dramatic increase in attacks that leverage keys and certificates, and the recent breadth and criticality of vulnerabilities, from Heartbleed to POODLE, underscore the importance of strong security and remediation capabilities. With the rapid growth of threats that misuse keys and certificates, it’s not surprising that the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) announced today in its PCI Monitor weekly newsletter that Securing Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates is among the five finalists selected for a 2016 Special Interest Group (SIG) project in support of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

This is the second year running that the PCI SSC has designated key and certificate security as a SIG finalist. Although the PCI Participating Organizations did not elect key and certificate security as a 2015 SIG last year, the PCI SSC has selected it as a finalist again—this time for the 2016 PCI SIGs—showing the council’s support for this important security and the need for a SIG in this area. Its acceptance for the second time emphasizes how critical it is for organizations to protect keys and certificates, which establish the trust on which businesses depend—securing data, keeping communications safe and private, and establishing trust between communicating parties.

This year the vulnerabilities in SSL and early TLS moved the PCI Council to eliminate their use under PCI DSS 3.1. However, to date, there has not been specific guidance on how to best implement and secure keys and certificates with detailed information on industry best practices and how these security elements interrelate for optimal protection.

Both organizations and Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) will benefit from this SIG. We have increased our reliance on keys and certificates that protect communications and authorize and authenticate servers, devices, software, cloud, and privileged administrators and users. As for the PCI DSS, keys and certificates are critical to securing cardholder data, as well as all sensitive electronic information, and are specifically mentioned throughout the standard. But the PCI DSS requirements demand more visibility and security over keys and certificates than most organizations can deliver.

PCI SSC Special Interest Group Selection

Are you one of the doubters that don’t think you’ll become a victim? It looks like many G5000 organizations are. But odds are you’re already a victim—according to Ponemon Institute research, for the last four years running, every major enterprise has been attacked using compromised keys and certificates. So, I hope all of the doubters are getting converted to believers—the likelihood that you’ll be a victim of an attack on trust is very high and, without the right security in place, the impact even higher. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that target keys and certificates such as APT 1, APT 18, Mask, POODLE, FREAK, Shellshock, and the Sony breach, as well as the Chinese certificate authority, CNNIC, involved in the issuance of malicious certificates, are just a few examples that underscore the importance of strong key and certificate security and remediation capabilities.

The open approach of the PCI DSS requirements provides flexibility to implementing organizations, which is helpful when working to secure unique business environments. But organizations subject to the PCI DSS and QSAs need more clarity on how to secure keys and certificates to establish a foundation of trust for an effective security program and a defense against today’s cyber threats.

We have two primary objectives for this SIG:

  • Develop the document PCI DSS Cryptographic Key and Digital Certificate Security Guidelines
  • Draft a compliance checklist which outlines the different security options to meet the PCI DSS requirements for keys and certificates

So what’s next? Video presentations of the selected PCI SIG finalists will presented at the 2015 PCI Community Meetings in North America (September) and Europe (November), and on the PCI SSC website. After the community meetings, an election will be held and the PCI Participating Organizations will vote. The leading 1-2 SIG topics will become PCI SIG projects for 2016.

We have several participants already committed to supporting the SIG, including QSAs, vendors, and merchants in the Global 2000. We hope that PCI Participating Organizations will follow the council’s show of support for key and certificate security for two years running and vote for this important SIG.

If you are the voting member of a PCI Participating Organization, vote for Cryptographic Key and Digital Certificate Security as a 2016 SIG and consider becoming one of the SIG participants.

<![CDATA[Research: Clueless Enterprises Miss Certificate Breaches]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches/#When:15:00:00Z This article was originally posted by IDG Connect on August 5, 2015 at: http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/10251/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches

Attacks on digital keys and certificates are very different to typical cyberattacks and are becoming increasingly common, leaving victims open to devastating security breaches.

With a compromised or stolen key, cyber criminals can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their targets, as well as decrypt traffic and impersonate websites, code, or administrators. Unsecured keys and certificates give attackers unrestricted access to their victim’s network, where they may go undetected for some time with trusted access, siphoning off confidential data to use for criminal ends.

In light of attacks such as Sony Pictures Entertainment last year, Venafi conducted a survey amongst IT security professionals to garner what they do to prevent breaches and establish greater trust online? Disturbingly, the data revealed that most IT professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates.

The survey results highlighted that 38% of respondents can’t, or don’t know how to, detect compromised keys and certificates, and 56% of the other respondents said they are using a combination of Next Generation Fire Walls (NGFW), anti-virus, Intrusion Defense Systems (IDS), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and sandboxes to find these types of attacks.

One area in which cybercriminals are taking advantage is through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted traffic, which is rapidly gaining momentum in enterprises. According to market research company Gartner, 50% of all inbound and network attacks will use SSL/Transport Layer Security (TLS) by 2017. Attackers are aware that most security systems either trust SSL/TLS or don’t have access to keys to decrypt traffic and search out hidden risks. These security weaknesses create blind spots that subvert critical security controls.

Broken Link in Security

Perturbingly, almost two-thirds (64%) of security professionals admitted that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks on keys, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose, and replace keys that have been breached.

Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed said they would still only complete partial remediation which would leave them vulnerable to further attacks. When asked what their organisational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43% of respondents said that they use a key management system. Another 16% had no idea. A manual process was being used by 14%, whilst 22% placed the responsibility elsewhere in the enterprise.

The survey findings are concerning given the increase in attacks on internet trust and the major SSL/TLS and SSH key and certificate-related vulnerabilities we’ve seen over the past six months alone. From Heartbleed, ShellShock, POODLE, the Gogo man-in-the middle attacks, Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability, FREAK and now the LogJam flaw, cybercriminals are all too aware of the vulnerabilities in unprotected keys and certificates and are using these weaknesses to carry out malicious acts.

Read the full article at: http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/10251/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches

<![CDATA[Superfish: One Step Closer to Sinking our Boat ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/superfish-one-step-closer-to-sinking-our-boat https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/superfish-one-step-closer-to-sinking-our-boat/#When:16:00:00Z Original article published at Infosecurity Magazine on August 25, 2015: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/superfish-one-step-closer/

Earlier this year Lenovo got caught installing Superfish adware on its laptops. Superfish breaks open SSL/TLS encryption using forged digital certificates and unwittingly allows bad guys to exploit the digital trust they provide. Unfortunately, man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks with forged certificates are nothing new.

The SSL/TLS trust model is designed to protect communications end-to-end. But Lenovo inserted the Superfish CA certificate as trusted, meaning that all of the MITM certificates were trusted within the browser, thereby exposing users to insecure sites or interception of private communications. Whilst Lenovo admitted its mistake and claims to no longer ship adware, it is clear that the system of trust established by keys and certificates is under attack.

Keys and certificates were designed to be like the biological tags in living cells – identifying what’s safe and trusted. However, we left out one thing it seems: an immune system to keep up with what really is trusted. There’s a lot we can learn from our human immune system and apply to the cyber realm.

Read the full article at: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/superfish-one-step-closer/

<![CDATA[How Are We Still Talking About Broken Trust?]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/how-are-we-still-talking-about-broken-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/how-are-we-still-talking-about-broken-trust/#When:18:57:00Z We live in the age of technology. It is a fast-paced, break-neck ride to deliver great solutions—everything from the largest, complex integrated solution to the single, simple iPhone app. With online solutions a part of so much of our everyday lives, why are we still talking about digital certificates, the backbone of internet communication, being broken?

I will tell you why. It’s hard. Once Netscape introduced the SSL protocol used with x.509 certificates in 1994, it was obvious we needed to fix online communication and FAST. We seized the quickest solution and the use of x.509 certificates with SSL for online communications soared. With this protection, online commerce exploded with the confidence that identity and privacy could be ensured.

Well, the internet is all “grow’d up” and our SSL/TLS solution needs to be refitted. Moxie Marlinspike at Defcon 19 in 2011 told an over-packed audience of hackers at the Rio in Las Vegas that the way we establish trust needs to change; we need to take the power back from trust stores that have been force-fed into our systems and make our own intelligible decision on who or what we want to trust. Convergence Beta was then created.

I just got back from Defcon 23 and, yet again, there were several talks on exploiting digital certificate weaknesses. Besides the few sneaky hacks I saw, it was interesting to see a solution proposed to the open source community to try and help our broken trust. A couple of guys, for the love of protected communications, came up with a product called TLS Canary (warning: the content is provocative). In real time, it will check the trustworthiness of the certificate you are trying to access and tell you whether it is good or bad.

Defcon 23 Discusses Broken Online Trust

There are now several approaches to certificate trustworthiness, but we need to ensure that we’re turning to a comprehensive source. Google is running the Google CT (Certificate Transparency) project, TLS Canary has been developed, and we have the SSL Observatory. In addition, some people are trying to solve issues with certificate pinning. Good, great! Finally we have several groups out there pushing for and delivering solutions. Everyone is starting to see the issue that Venafi has been solving for years. Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™, provides the single most comprehensive source of certificate trustworthiness.

Venafi has a platform that not only helps you establish what to trust through its TrustNet product, but will also bring order to the chaos that is your PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) and keys though the Trust Protection Platform. Technology overall has been slow to address its trust issues, and understandably, because it’s hard. But let’s heal our known broken trust issues already so we can get new, interesting topics at Defcon!

<![CDATA[Encrypt Like Everyone is Watching—Decrypt Like No One Is]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/encrypt-like-everyone-is-watching https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/encrypt-like-everyone-is-watching/#When:16:20:00Z I just attended Black Hat 2015, and what a great conference it was. I learned that “hackers,” including white hats, grey hats, and black hats, are really interesting people. At Black Hat, I saw briefings on how to hack a Jeep, a smart card, android, iOS, Windows, HTTPS, and a fingerprint. Pretty much anything can be hacked. Some do it for the greater good, letting the manufacturers know so the security can be hardened down and the hacks cannot occur in the future.

The presentation on the Black Hat network was especially interesting. This year was the first year that the network operations center (NOC) was open to the attendees of Black Hat to tour. The NOC is a labor of love for a lot of IT security professionals—many even take PTO to make it happen. This is the network that is used for the training classes at Black Hat. The top websites visited, top applications used, botnets detected, and malware detected were presented.

The people that run the NOC do keep a close eye on any “egregious” hacks, but how is that defined, really? Think of what these folks, doing their labor of love, learn about the attack vectors that are coming. Wow! If the hack is being taught at a training class, then they are expecting it. However, they did state that all types of hacks were done to each other, one attendee of the conference to another.

At the conference, 80% of the traffic was encrypted this year using TLS, which is way up from past years. This is a really interesting antidote, if you think about how a hacker can go undetected in encrypted traffic.

SSL/TLS Protects Black Hat 2015 Traffic

These Black Hat sessions highlight how important it is to encrypt sensitive information properly so it isn’t available to hackers. Maybe, even more importantly, is the ability to conduct SSL/TLS inspection by decrypting the ingress and egress of traffic for your enterprise. SSL/TLS inspection ensures that there is no malware phoning home to a command and control center or a hacker, who is landing and expanding on your systems.

How are you protecting SSL/TLS in your organization? Are you using SHA-2, at least 2048 bit keys, short validity periods, and SSL/TLS 1.2 to protect your SSL/TLS sessions? Do you have visibility into where all of your SSL/TLS keys are located to prevent outages? Would you be able to find a fake certificate issued in your brand name in your enterprise or on the internet? Are you conducting SSL/TLS inspection at your organization? Overall, do you feel you are protected from hacking when you use SSL/TLS?

<![CDATA[IT Security:  ♫ It’s all About the Basics, ‘Bout the Basics, No Trouble ♫]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/it-security-its-all-about-the-basics https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/it-security-its-all-about-the-basics/#When:15:03:00Z Okay—stop laughing, everyone (and I mean everyone) knows I am no singer, but IT Security professionals really need to ensure they have the basics in place and I liked the attention this title brought to light as the foundation for this blog.

As I think back over the high-profile (and some of the not so high-profile…) hacks and breaches that have occurred over the last 18 months, I asked myself:

  • How many have been the result of the smartest, most ingenious hackers in the world?
  • How many have happened because someone just did something by accident?
  • How many have happened just because they didn’t have visibility into their network and security dashboards?

As I sat down and did some research and consulted with my peers around the world, I came to this conclusion: we are truly neglecting the security basics and need to get back to them fast. So what are the basics exactly?

Step #1 Take Careful Inventory of Your Assets and Software: You can’t protect what you don’t know you have and many organizations often skip this basic but fundamental step. I’ve seen several instances of this recently while working with companies to improve their key and certificate security. Many companies simply do not have a complete inventory—they have no idea how many keys and certs they have or how they are being used or misused. In a recent survey that Venafi commissioned with the Ponemon Institute, the results revealed that the average enterprise has almost 24,000 keys and certificates and 54 percent of security professionals admit to being unaware of where all of their keys and certificates are located. This is just one example, but it underscores the reality that organizations need a good inventory of ALL IT assets, identities, hardware, keys and certs, and software.

Almost 24,000 Keys and Certificates per Enterprise

Step #2 Establish A Trusted Baseline: Organizations need to establish and update a known good state, or baseline. Baselines can be used to identify when security issues arise and provide a means to return the organization back to a known good state after a breach.

A few years back, I read an article with an analogy that struck me. Coupled with the old saying when trying to find something that seems impossible: “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.” It was changed a bit to be more relevant and has held meaning for me ever since:“You don’t need to know what the needle(s) look like; you just have to know what the hay looks like. You take all the hay out and only the needle(s) are left.”

So how does this relate to baselining? If you take the known good out (your current baseline), then you’re left with the needle(s).  Those needles can be good or bad, but now you know about them and can take proper action, and are able to begin remediation or restore to a known good state.

Step #3 Deploy a Strong Security Foundation: Once you have a complete inventory and you know what you need to protect, the next step is to deploy a good security foundation to build upon. Today, many companies are spending money on expensive “Next-Gen” or “Threat Intel” solutions and are not putting enough emphasis on the basics. You need to know what you have in order to protect it. There are many guidelines out there such as the SANS 20 Critical Security Controls. SANS starts with an “Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Devices, and Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Software”—obviously to my earlier point, visibility into your inventory is crucial. There are many other standards, guidelines, etc. out there, and it is up to you to determine what you want to work with for the regulations that you must comply with in your industry.

Step #4 Beef Up Your Detection: We tend to become overly invested in and overly reliant on our preventative capabilities to mitigate cybersecurity threats. This is often at the cost of good detection capabilities. In addition to inventories and baselines, IT security teams need to establish strong processes and procedures in incident response plans, triage/analysis tactics, and log monitoring. When there is a breach, organizations need to be able to quickly identify anomalous behavior and remediate, and to return the systems/networks to a good, trusted state while minimizing damages, recovery time, and costs. This need for detection applies across all technical, administrative, and procedural domains regardless of whether the compromise impacts hardware, software, user IDs, privileged access, keys and certificates, or any other IT security asset.

When was the last time you tested your incident response plans? People come and go; processes are always changing, and those changes need to be taken into consideration each and every time you exercise your plans; and don’t forget to follow-up with a postmortem analysis to see what worked and what didn’t.

These are a few easy steps that security professionals should always consider when it comes to establishing the security basics. Without these foundations to build upon, how can we ever hope to keep up with the bad guys who are always two steps ahead?

Remember—It’s all about the basics, ‘bout the basics—and hopefully no trouble!


P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on my new Twitter handle: @QueenofCandor

<![CDATA[Contemplating Health Analogies in Cyber Security & Why We Need The Immune System for the Internet™]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/contemplating-health-analogies-in-cyber-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/contemplating-health-analogies-in-cyber-security/#When:21:58:00Z Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen many health analogies used across the entire cyber security industry. If you think about it, it does make a lot of sense: just as viruses make humans sick, they too can also make computers sick and as a result, networks are disrupted or even shut down. To combat the problem of viruses, companies like Symantec and McAfee developed anti-virus solutions and a whole new industry was born.

Today, computer viruses have evolved into sophisticated malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs) that antivirus and other signature-based technologies simply cannot detect.While new markets and perimeter-based security technologies have been developed to help detect APT-like threats—IDS/IPS, NGFWs, DLP and more—hackers have upped their game and now are using the foundation of the Internet and cybersecurity—cryptographic keys and digital certificates—to evade detection, spoof websites and carry out their attacks to steal sensitive data. And keys and certificates run on everything including IoT devices, mobile phones, clouds, even airplanes and cars, and we blindly trust them. Unfortunately, certificate misuse by hackers is at an all-time high and it’s only getting worse. As we use more certificates to encrypt communications and authentication entities, bad guys will only become more interested in using them.

At Venafi, we have been saying for months that Global 5000 organizations and federal governments need The Immune System for the Internet™ because online trust is severely broken.

Humans have evolved a highly effective immune system. It’s always turned on, working to authenticate what is “self” and trusted and what is not self and dangerous. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the cyber realm—there’s no effective immune system to defend against a new generation of cyber attacks—until now.

Websites, servers, mobile devices, and software are marked as “self” and “trusted” using cryptographic keys and digital certificates. With a compromised, stolen, or forged key and certificate, attackers can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their targets’ websites, infrastructure, clouds, mobile devices, and system administrators, and decrypt communications thought to be private. There’s no system today that constantly assesses keys and certificates to determine if they should be trusted, and that adapts to changing threats.

Just like your immune system, The Immune System for the Internet provided by Venafi learns and adapts as it works. It identifies what keys and certificates are trusted and those that need to be replaced. It keeps keys and certificates secured to your policy and replaces them automatically. It scales keys and certificates up and down to meet demand. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response, just like an immune system, that protects your network, your business, and your brand.

So while comparing and making health analogies about cyber security is not necessarily new, Venafi as The Immune System for the Internet is—because it allows us to rapidly detect what shouldn’t be trusted and respond quickly, which is exactly what our immune system does, and what we need to do to stay ahead of the cyber criminals. Venafi is The Immune System for the Internet that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity—keys and certificates—so they can’t be misused by bad guys. Let me know if you’d like to discuss details on how we can help.

<![CDATA[Meet Us at Black Hat 2015: Blue Coat and Venafi Security Experts Discuss How to Combat SSL/TLS Encry]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/meet-us-at-black-hat-2015-blue-coat-and-venafi-security-experts https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/meet-us-at-black-hat-2015-blue-coat-and-venafi-security-experts/#When:15:44:00Z It’s going to be an exciting week at Black Hat USA 2015 and we are certainly looking forward to it!  Venafi is teaming up with Blue Coat to conduct a technical briefing at Black Hat on how to eliminate SSL/TLS encryption blind spots.  Gartner believes that by 2017, more than 50% of the network attacks, both inbound and outbound, will use encrypted SSL/TLS communications.  And why is that? Well, attackers today are focusing on hiding in SSL/TLS traffic because they know that most network security solutions are “blind” to SSL/TLS traffic.  The majority of organizations blindly trust encrypted communications and don’t, or can’t, decrypt traffic. This means they can’t assess and block threats that leverage SSL/TLS.

Blue Coat and Venafi at Black Hat

How bad is the problem? According to Gartner, less than 20% of organizations with a firewall, IPS, or UTM appliance decrypt SSL traffic. That means 80% of these organizations might be allowing cybercriminals to leverage SSL/TLS tunnels to sneak malware into their network, hide command-and-control traffic, and pilfer sensitive data.

The reason for this security blind spot to SSL/TLS traffic is two-fold: (1) Security systems can’t inspect encrypted traffic or their performance can’t keep up; and (2) Security systems lack the cryptographic keys and digital certificates from across the network that are needed to decrypt SSL/TLS traffic.  This inability to inspect SSL/TLS encrypted traffic undermines traditional layered defenses and increases the risk of a data breach and data loss.

What do you need to enable SSL/TLS decryption and threat inspection?  The Black Hat 2015 briefing, Your Threat Detection Strategy is Only 50% Effective,  co-presented with Blue Coat, provides guidance on how SSL/TLS impacts security controls and how you can eliminate SSL/TLS security blind spots. Go to Venafi.com/BH2015 to register for the briefing.  Together, Venafi and Blue Coat solutions maximize SSL/TLS decryption and uncover threats. 

And if you pre-register, you’ll get a $30 Amazon gift card when you attend as well as a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card per session.

Drop me a line if you want to learn more. I hope to see you there!

<![CDATA[Black Hat Briefings on Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/black-hat-briefings-on-cryptographic-keys-and-digital-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/black-hat-briefings-on-cryptographic-keys-and-digital-certificates/#When:18:39:00Z Black Hat USA 2015 is right around the corner and it’s time to start planning which briefings to attend.

Here at Venafi, we’re interested in sessions on protecting cryptographic keys and digital certificates. Keys and certificates are the foundation of online trust, but cybercriminals, hacktivists, and nation states are misusing them to gain unauthorized access and hide their actions.

Venafi and Blue Coat security experts will be conducting cybersecurity briefings that cover 3 different cybersecurity topics and, if you register in advance for a session, you’ll receive a $30 Amazon gift card when you attend. We have also identified others sessions that impact key and certificate security. Check out these briefings we’ve added to our dance card for this year’s Black Hat.

Venafi is a BlackHat USA 2015 Sponsor

Venafi Cybersecurity Briefings

  1. Your Threat Detection Strategy is Only 50% Effective
    While SSL/TLS provides privacy and authentication, it also creates a blind spot for enterprise security. Most organizations lack the ability to decrypt and inspect SSL traffic and bad guys are taking full advantage. This session, co-presented with Blue Coat, provides guidance on how SSL/TLS impacts security controls and how you can eliminate security blind spots. Register here.

  2. Advanced Attacks, Encryption, & Certificate Reputation
    As private encryption keys are now sold on the underground marketplace for circa $1000 each, it has become easy for hackers to breach even the most security conscious organizations. This session demonstrates how certificate reputation services are designed to identify and stop certificate misuse globally. Register here.

  3. Are Certificate-related Outages Impacting Your Business?
    We rely on digital certificates and cryptographic keys for data protection and authentication. But as security instruments, certificates can, and do, expire, bringing down systems and blocking access to servers, websites, and potentially dozens of critical downstream services. Attend and learn how to eliminate outages caused by expired certificates and reduce your security risks. Register here.

All registered attendees for Venafi briefings will also have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card per session. To check out what else Venafi is doing at Black Hat, visit Venafi.com/BH2015.

At Black Hat, we also want to hear what other thought leaders have to say about ensuring keys and certificates remain secure and continue to enable online trust. We’re looking forward to the following sessions:

  • Back Doors and Front Doors Breaking the Unbreakable System
    Governments are demanding backdoor access to encrypted data to support criminal and national security investigations, but this is opposed by privacy advocates. This briefing discusses if government agencies could be given backdoor access to encrypted data without weakening encryption systems.

  • Breaking HTTPS with BGP Hijacking
    Many believe BGP hijacking is not a significant threat, because the resulting man-in-the-middle attack cannot decrypt or break into an encrypted connection. But this briefing will show how the trust that SSL/TLS PKI places in internet routing can be exploited and how to prevent it.

  • Faux Disk Encryption: Realities of Secure Storage on Mobile Devices
    With the number of mobile users now surpassing the number of desktop users, this briefing discusses mobile device security and how it must go beyond full-disk encryption to protect against most attacks types. The session will present other secure storage techniques for both iOS and Android.

  • Certifi-gate: Front-Door Access to Pwning Millions of Androids
    Learn how a vulnerability within the Android customization chain can be exploited to access unsecure apps and gain access to any device. This will include information on how hash collisions, IPC abuse, and certificate forging can grant malware complete control of a device.

  • TrustKit: Code Injection on iOS 8 for the Greater Good
    See how Trustkit, a new open-source library for iOS, provides universal SSL public key pinning that the developers call “drag & drop SSL pinning.” This open-source library leverages new iOS 8 rules regarding dynamic linking and will be available for deployment by attendees.

  • Bringing a Cannon to a Knife Fight
    Bulletproof yourself against China’s Great Cannon which intercepts traffic as a man-in-the-middle proxy and turns global visitors to Chinese sites into the world’s largest botnet that carries out attacks on sites deemed a threat to the Chinese Communist Party. Learn how the Great Cannon works, about the timing of its release, why it was used to attack the Github repos, and how it will change as HTTPS and DNSSEC become more widely used.

Are there other sessions at Black Hat that address cryptographic keys and digital certificates that you plan to attend? Thoughts about any of these upcoming briefings? Drop me a comment.

<![CDATA[Poor Privileged Access Management Poses Big Security Problems]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/poor-privileged-access-management-poses-big-security-problems https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/poor-privileged-access-management-poses-big-security-problems/#When:20:25:00Z With endless headlines touting the latest costly security breach, you would think that enterprises would be scrupulous about guarding the “keys to their kingdom.” Think again. The keys to the enterprise kingdom I’m talking about are secure shell, or SSH, keys. SSH is a cryptographic security protocol used to connect administrators and machines, allowing users or applications to gain secure remote access to another system. The kingdom, of course, is your valuable corporate IT assets. Users bearing SSH keys have the highest level of rights and privileges. But what if those users aren’t who they say they are? And, what if those users are bent on harm?

All enterprises rely on SSH keys to authenticate and provide privileged access for administrators, applications, and virtual instances in data centers and the cloud. But even though SSH keys provide root access to critical systems, they are treated with weaker policies than those tolerated for much lower levels of access, such as passwords. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute canvassed over 2100 security professionals working in the U.S., U.K. Germany, and Australia—countries typically considered to be in the forefront of security practices. The results were disturbing.

System Administrators SSH Keys

Most organizations have an over-reliance on system administrators, not IT security, to self-police SSH keys. As a result, organizations are unable to identify how many SSH keys they have, who uses them, and what they access. In many companies, busy department administrators are charged with deploying and protecting SSH keys on the systems owned by their department. This creates a partitioned security structure with no ability to centralize visibility, policy enforcement, or incident tracking and remediation.

In the Ponemon Institute survey, 53% of organizations admitted they lack centralized control over their SSH key usage and access policies, and 60% are unable to detect the introduction of new SSH keys into their network. This lack of visibility hinders policy enforcement and detection of SSH key security issues.

SSH keys do not expire, creating a perpetual vulnerability if not rotated. But the Ponemon survey results show a surprising 82% change their SSH keys at best every 12 months—much longer than the 60-90 day policy for passwords which have less privileged access. This weak policy enforcement is resulting in dire consequences. Over half of organizations surveyed responded to a security incident related to SSH key misuse within the last 2 years. And those were the people willing to admit it. The sad reality is that the real percentage is likely much higher.

The manual approaches and customized scripts that enterprises are using to manage their SSH keys are not protecting their businesses. In the survey, of those that use homegrown scripted solutions to manage SSH keys, 54% were still compromised by rogue SSH keys on their networks—a clear indication that these solutions cannot detect anomalies in SSH key usage.

But there’s a silver lining to this storm cloud. A Forrester Research paper, Gaps in SSH Security Create an Open Door for Attackers, provides five steps you can take right now to regain control of your SSH-based privileged access management:

  1. Centralize control and visibility for all SSH hosts in the data center and cloud to effectively enforce policies for all enterprise SSH keys.
  2. Establish a baseline of normal key usage—including where keys are located, how they are used, who has access to them, and what trust relationships have been established within your network.
  3. Regularly rotate SSH keys using lifecycle periods similar to other credentials (e.g. 60-90 day password lifecycles) to increase their security.
  4. Continuously monitor SSH key usage across the network to identify and neutralize any rogue usage.
  5. Remediate vulnerabilities by ensuring that server and SSH key configurations adhere to common best practices, such as using 2048-bit key lengths or higher as recommended by NIST.

These 5 steps represent a good starting point, but there’s a lot more you can do. You can learn more on the Venafi solution webpages at Venafi.com/PrivilegedAccess and Venafi.com/SSHAudit. Drop me a comment and let me know what other SSH security practices you’d recommend to other security professionals.

<![CDATA[The Real Big Story Behind July’s OpenSSL Vulnerability: Why Blind Trust in Certificates Needs to End]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-real-big-story-behind-julys-openssl-vulnerability https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-real-big-story-behind-julys-openssl-vulnerability/#When:21:00:00Z Certificate reputation services can end the risk that certificate validation app developers face (and are not doing a good job of addressing)

The OpenSSL team has released a fix for a critical vulnerability that could allow an attacker to trick an application into trusting a forged certificate—lovingly called by some “OprahSSL” for its propensity to gift something valuable. Why is this so important? Why does it matter? The big story is not just this vulnerability: it’s the ongoing difficulty for apps to validate certificates and know what should be trusted.

FireEye found that 73% of the top 1,000 apps don’t even validate certificates. This lack of attention to checking what should be trusted and what shouldn’t got Fandago and Credit Karma a special 20-year relationship with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This occurred simply because their mobile apps didn’t validate certificates—meaning their mobile apps might be sharing credit card data and sensitive personal information with bad guys without a concern for the consequences. This is a problem for not just enterprise CISOs and IT security teams, but also commercial app developers, fraud prevention, and chief privacy officers (CPOs).

Native iOS apps by default can’t even identify a website with a revoked certificate
Native iOS apps by default can’t even identify a website with a revoked certificate as being non-trusted

The OpenSSL vulnerability is a clear reason why certificate reputation, now available to enterprises with Venafi TrustNet, is so important. TrustNet uses advanced algorithms as well as big data and cloud-based intelligence to validate digital certificates rather than static code that, for even advanced security professionals or developers, is confusing, at best. The complexity and vulnerabilities like this one perpetuate the “blind trust” we place in certificates today.  We’ve been validating certificates in pretty much the same way for over 20 years—what do most professionals trust in cybersecurity that’s been done the same way for just 2 years, not to mention 20? Certificate reputation services like TrustNet dramatically reduce risk.

OpenSSL’s Certificate Validation Vulnerability

For details on versions affected and patches available, get the details from OpenSSL at https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20150709.txt.

Unlike Heartbleed, with this vulnerability, keys and certificates are not directly exposed and do not need to be rotated. The vulnerability impacts client applications validating certificates, such as a browser, VPN, or mobile application, that use the OpenSSL libraries for SSL/TLS sessions. It also impacts server applications, like a webserver or VPN, that authenticate digital certificates presented by client applications.

This vulnerability shows again why we need to know what certificates are in use and what certificates are trusted and where.  And we need this everywhere—on our servers, desktops, and around the world on the Internet. 

Exploiting the Vulnerability

To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker needs to obtain a private key for a certificate issued from a trusted certificate authority (CA). This could be a public third-party CA trusted across browsers and the Internet, or a private CA used and trusted inside your organization. The vulnerability allows the certificate associated with the obtained key to be used as if it were a CA, even though it’s not. This means any type of certificate from a webserver to a VPN certificate could now become a trusted CA issuer.

An attacker could then forge certificates for any domain, website, or user they’d like, including you and your businesses or government. This could prove useful in executing man-in-the-middle attacks, spoofing, spear phishing, and other attacks. And it’s easy to do: OpenSSL is the perfect tool to generate keys and sign a certificate.

It’s also easy to obtain a key from a trusted CA. Depending on the end target, I might just buy a certificate from a trusted third party. If I need the certificate to chain up under a specific CA and don’t want to/can’t buy one reputability, I can easily go the underground market where stolen certificates go for $1000 or more. Or, because thousands of Trojans support the collection and extraction of keys and certificates, the job is pretty easy.

certificate reputation services - Venafi TrustNet
Native iOS apps perform little to no checking as to whether a certificate is truly valid or not, unlike certificate reputation services like Venafi TrustNet

Certificate Reputation Ends the Age of Blind Trust

Today, using Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation APIs, you can validate if a certificate should be trusted or not. This is independent of the static code or rules that might later be vulnerable, like today with OpenSSL or other libraries. Offloading these decisions to an intelligent reputation system mitigates risks of these vulnerabilities in certificate validation that are complex and difficult for even the smartest developers. The TrustNet API can be called from any application, whether a mobile app or container-based service application in the cloud. It’s one API call that takes care of all decisions about certificate chain validation, trust, validity, fraud, and vulnerabilities. Amazing! That’s the power of Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet.

Additionally, with Venafi you can discover what certificates are in use and what CAs are trusted across your organization and then whitelist or blacklist CAs. You can then enforce a policy to not trust particular CAs that your business or government finds untrustworthy, like the Chinese CA CNNIC.

All of these reasons are why Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet is critical to protecting the world’s economy today and in the future. Outside of Venafi there is no system that understands what should be trusted, what is trusted, and can fix it—whether inside the enterprise or outside across the Internet.

Like to learn more and continue the conversation? Drop me a note.

<![CDATA[New PCI DSS v3.1 SSL/TLS Requirements—But Many Aren’t Compliant with PCI DSS v3.0]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-pci-dss-v3.1-ssl-tls-requirementsbut-many-arent-compliant-with-pci-dss https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-pci-dss-v3.1-ssl-tls-requirementsbut-many-arent-compliant-with-pci-dss/#When:22:30:00Z The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) version 3.1 was released in April 2015. Yet, many organizations are still not compliant with the PCI DSS version 3.0, which went into effect on January 1, 2015. Both versions introduced new requirements for cryptographic keys and digital certificates. While businesses may have a variety of reasons for not meeting the compliance requirements pertaining to keys and certificates, it certainly isn’t because the dangers have subsided. In fact, they’re on the rise.

In a recent Poneman Institute report, 100% of the organizations surveyed said they responded to attacks using keys and certificates within the last 2 years. In response to the growing threat, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has introduced stringent rules governing the security and management of keys and certificates.

PCI DSS non-compliance creates security risks

PCI DSS v. 3.1

Just months after PCI DSS v3.0 went into effect, the new PCI DSS v3.1 was released requiring that SSL and early versions of TLS be replaced to prevent man-in-the-attacks like POODLE. Organizations are no longer allowed to use SSL or early TLS with new systems, but have until June 30, 2016 to transition existing ones. This new mandate impacts the PCI DSS requirements that address encryption used to protect card holder data and requires an enterprise-wide transition to TLS version 1.1 and higher on in-scope systems. The process for migration to TLS 1.1 and higher can be summarized in two steps:

Step 1: Search and Triage

  • Find online applications. Can be performed by scanning network ranges on known ports.
  • Find applications that operate intermittingly. Can require searching systems for cryptographic keys and digital certificates and mapping back to applications.

Once applications and how cardholder data is processed are known, risk can be established and migration for specific applications can be prioritized. 

Step 2: Migration

Migrating to TLS 1.1 and higher will require at least updating the configuration of affected applications. It may also require updating the application to a version that operates only with TLS 1.1 and 1.2.

As migration proceeds, teams should update scans to validate migration. These scans demonstrate progress and compliance, showing SSL, early TLS, and TLS 1.1 and higher usage.

PCI DSS v. 3.0

However, most organizations still need to address the new key and certificate requirements in PCI DSS v3.0 as well. Here are the top regulations with a description of the impact to your organization’s security resources:

  • New requirement 2.4: Maintain an inventory of all in-scope system components.
    This includes all in-scope keys and certificates. But research by the Ponemon Institute shows that 54% of organizations don’t know where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. On average, an enterprise has over 23,000 certificates floating around their network. Hunting down lost keys and certificates can be a long, painful, manual process.

  • Revised requirement 5 and new requirement 5.1.2: Protect all systems against malware and review periodically to see if protection has become necessary.
    PCI SSC wants to stress that even systems not commonly impacted by malware should be periodically assessed to determine if protection has become necessary. Organizations may view keys and certificates as uncommonly impacted by malware, but in truth, keys and certificates have become the attack method of choice. There has been a 700% growth in certificate-enabled malware from 2012 to 2015 according to Intel Security. Without first knowing where your certificates are located, it becomes impossible to protect them from misuse. A centralized platform, inventory, policy enforcement, continuous monitoring, and automated management are needed to keep keys and certificates secure.

  • New requirement 8.6: Certificates for authentication must be assigned to an individual account, not shared.
    Certificates enable strong authentication and PCI SSC wants to ensure their use and access are restricted. This regulation requires that organizations have strict usage policies in place to prevent the ambiguity of overlapping ownership and use.

  • Business as Usual (BaU) Processes: Security controls for compliance should also be part of the BAU security strategy.
    This is the PCI SSC’s way of ensuring that organizations maintain compliance on an ongoing basis. For keys and certificates, this requires that organizations adopt a centralized management and security platform with automated, ongoing monitoring and policy enforcement. Unfortunately, many organizations use legacy, error-prone, manual approaches or home grown scripts that make it difficult, if not impossible, to meet the new PCI DSS requirements governing visibility and security over keys and certificates—at best eating up weeks of time and taking significant resources.

Learn how Venafi is designed to make meeting the new PCI DSS requirements for keys and certificates easy at Venafi.com/PCI.

Last year, Securing Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates was a PCI SSC 2015 Special Interest Group (SIG) Finalist. This topic was not selected for 2015, but has been resubmitted for consideration as a 2016 PCI SSC SIG. Want key and certificate security as a PCI SIG? Let the PCI SSC know you’re interested! And drop me a comment if you’d like to participate.

<![CDATA[Why Strategic Investors Support Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet With $39M New Funding]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-were-so-passionate-about-protecting-global-5000-customers https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-were-so-passionate-about-protecting-global-5000-customers/#When:10:00:00Z Today we are announcing that Venafi has received $39M in new funding from strategic investors: Intel Capital, Silver Lake Waterman, QuestMark Partners, Foundation Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, and Mercato Partners. These are a mix of new and existing investors who believe in and are passionate about the Venafi vision and support our mission to restore trust online by protecting the Global 5000 as the Immune System for the Internet.

Over the past 10 years, enterprises have become more complex and connected, and their security challenges have grown with them. The bad guys are ahead in this race. But Venafi helps enterprises defend against the bad guys and has continued to grow, from a 14-person startup to an international organization working from development centers and offices around the world.

Today, Venafi protects

  • 4 of the top 5 U.S. banks
  • 8 of the top 10 U.S. health insurance companies
  • 4 of the top 7 U.S. retailers

All of whom rely on Venafi as mission-critical security to protect their keys and certificates from misuse. We are their immune system for their cyber realm.

We pioneered the first and only technology to secure keys and certificates—the foundation of all cybersecurity—and protect them from bad guys, and we have continued to evolve as the market leader. We’ve also developed the world’s largest talent of subject matter experts who know how attackers are going after keys and certificates within the Global 5000. Their expertise lets us understand how the bad guys use keys and certificates to gain trusted status and steal valuable data without detection, and how to protect against those threats.

We’ve built a technology stack that secures keys and certificates, whether in the cloud, on mobile devices, inside the firewall and/or in the Internet of Things. During the last 12 months, the most significant vulnerabilities and breaches, including Heartbleed, POODLE, Shellshock, and the attacks on Sony Pictures and others, demonstrate how unsecured keys and certificates provide the trusted status cybercriminals need to go undetected for long periods. Once authenticated with a stolen or forged key or certificate, the bad guys can further hide their activities by encrypting the malware they use against their targets and data they want to steal and exfiltrate from them.

The new funding allows us to accelerate development of the Venafi Trust Protection Platform™ to better support our fast growing customer base worldwide. The investment also demonstrates our investors’ understanding of the size of the problem and their commitment to helping solve it for the Global 5000. You can get perspective from Intel Capital’s Ken Elefant, who blogged about the funding announcement in a new posting “Why Intel Capital Believes in Securing the Foundation of Trust.”

We’ve also built an incredible leadership team with the vision and expertise to make a lasting impact on how the world approaches cybersecurity. And, like our leadership team, our current investors see that the world is changing. They know that the way that we used to think about Internet security and layering defenses isn’t enough anymore, and they want to be alongside Venafi as we develop new ways to secure and protect global enterprises.

The Immune System for the Internet: Protect Keys and Certificates

Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet. Just as humans have evolved a highly effective immune system that is constantly working to establish what is “self” and trusted, and what is “not self” and dangerous, this too must be applied to security. The human body tags all cells that belong. The human immune system continuously finds those that are not tagged and disables them. The Internet uses keys and certificates to tag what belongs. But before Venafi, there was no immune system to find those that don’t belong and disable them. This fundamental missing piece—the equivalent of an immune system—has allowed the bad guys to do amazing damage. Modern security solutions must be adaptive and responsive. They must operate like a living organism, always scanning for new threats and attacks, detecting that which doesn’t belong, and responding to keep the Internet and our intellectual property (IP) safe.

Unfortunately, as Gartner says, “We live in a world without trust,” and haven’t had an effective way to defend against a new generation of cyber attacks—until now. With Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet—continually identifying what keys and certificates are trusted and those that aren’t—we can secure and protect Global 5000 organizations from the most prevalent attacks today—attacks on the very trust provided by keys and certificates. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response that protects your network, business, and brand—and by doing so, we’re able to protect e-commerce, intellectual property, and sensitive data that underlays all the largest enterprise organizations in operation today.

It’s an enormous task, but one that we meet enthusiastically. We’ll utilize this new investment to expand the Immune System, grow into new global markets, and to help Global 5000 enterprises continue to fight attacks on trust that are increasing exponentially each day.

Enterprises can no longer expect static defense mechanisms to protect them from the dynamic attacks that are launched against us every day. We must evolve. We must get smarter and stronger. We must implement an Immune System for the Internet—and we must do it now.

<![CDATA[4 Ways to Arm Your Incident Response Team for Rapid Key and Certificate Remediation]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/arm-your-incident-response-team-for-rapid-key-and-certificate-remediation https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/arm-your-incident-response-team-for-rapid-key-and-certificate-remediation/#When:16:00:00Z Your network has been attacked and your security is compromised. Your incident response (IR) team goes to work trying to discover the cause of the breach and restore your organization’s equilibrium—the faster the better. Just how fast and how thorough that process is has a lot to do with the tools your IR team uses, particularly when it comes to cryptographic key and digital certificate security.

Most security controls blindly trust keys and certificates, allowing cybercriminals to use them to hide in encrypted traffic, spoof websites, deploy malware, and steal data. The 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, published by the Ponemon Institute, confirmed just how widespread the problem is. Every Global 5000 company in the survey had responded to an attack involving keys and certificates within the last 24 months.

Breaches using keys and certificates put sensitive data in the wrong hands and damage corporate reputations. They also consume staff hours and result in lost operational and development time. IT security professionals who responded to the Ponemon Institute estimate the total impact of attacks using keys and certificates at almost $600 million. They also estimate a total risk for each organization of $53 million over the next two years.

Incident Response teams also have to respond to outages. With the increased use of keys and certificates, there are also more outages—all organizations surveyed had 2 or more certificate-related outages over the last 2 years with a total possible impact of $15 million per outage.

The Ponemon Institute report revealed other surprising facts. The average enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates, but 54% of security professionals admit that they don’t know where their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. With this lack of visibility it’s not surprising that 100% of organizations responded to attacks using keys and certificates as well as certificate-related outages. And when they respond to incidents, most companies try to get by with issuing new certificates but not issuing new keys, which leaves an organization open to continued breaches, outages, and exploitation.

Keys and certificates in incident response plans.

Without key and certificate security built into your IR plan, your IR team won’t be able to act quickly to determine the extent of the attack and bring your organization back to a trusted, secure state. Here are 4 ways to strengthen IR with key and certificate security controls.

  1. Ensure complete visibility
    • Identify all keys and certificates across networks, cloud instances, CAs, and trust stores.
    • Map user access to servers and applications
    • Establish a baseline to identify misuse
  2. Enforce policies and workflows
    • Implement policy criteria for strong cryptography and key and certificate rotation
    • Enforce configurable workflow capabilities for replacement, issuance, and renewal
    • Track response progress with real-time dashboards and reports
    • Terminate access when needed, revoking all certificates associated to a user
  3. Automate management and security
    • Automate and validate the entire issuance and renewal process
    • Replace certificates in seconds, and remediate across thousands of certificates within hours following a certificate authority compromise or a new vulnerability such as Heartbleed
  4. Establish certificate reputation insight.
    • Use global certificate reputation to identify certificate misuse such as stolen certificates used for spoofed websites
    • Remediate immediately through certificate whitelisting and blacklisting

Just like the human immune system, Security Operations and Incident Response teams need to be able to identify what is “self” and trusted and what is not and therefore dangerous. When key and certificate security is added to your incident response plan, you can identify which keys and certificates are trusted, protect those that should be trusted, and fix or blocks those that are not. With this security in place, you can quickly return the network to a trusted state while minimizing damages, downtime, outages, recovery time, and costs—all while protecting your network, your business, and your brand.

Has your IR team recently responded to attacks using keys and certificates? What approaches has your team found helpful to return to a secure, trusted state after these attacks?

<![CDATA[Businesses Need to Act Fast to Regain Online Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-need-to-act-fast-to-regain-online-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-need-to-act-fast-to-regain-online-trust/#When:19:40:00Z The Internet is the life blood for today’s business. Billions of dollars in market capitalization have been built on the back of innovation and productivity gains from the Internet and connected computing. However, the idea that security professionals believe online trust is near its breaking point will probably come as a bewildering thought to many companies going about their daily business, quietly confident the Internet’s system of trust is working.

The truth is that businesses need to take their blinders off and face online security issues head on, instead of burying their heads in the sand. Shockingly, 100% of surveyed organizations have admitted being at the receiving end of multiple attacks on unsecured cryptographic keys and digital certificates in the past two years alone. Keys and certificates are the foundation of security and were put in place to attempt to solve the first Internet security problems twenty years ago: what can I trust online and can I have private communications. But, we’ve lacked an immune system to keep them safe, know what’s trusted, and find and replace them when they’re not. If businesses do not take action, they’ll be unprepared for what security experts call a ‘Cryptoapocalypse’—when a discovered cryptographic weakness becomes the ultimate cybercriminal weapon, sending business into chaos.

We’ve already seen the warning signs. Last year, for example, Russian cybercriminals stole an SSL/TLS certificate from a top-five global bank. This enabled the cyber gang to impersonate the bank and steal 80 million customer records. In another case, SSL/TLS keys and certificates enabled hackers to steal data from 4.5 million healthcare patients. Leading industry researchers have identified the misuse of keys and certificates as a key part of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) and at the epicenter of cybercriminal operations.

The dire reality of the situation was uncovered in the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, released by the Ponemon Institute. It is the first report of its kind to examine the Internet’s system of trust and what happens when this system breaks down. The report found that half of respondents acknowledged that the trust established by keys and certificates, the technology used to underscore trust and privacy online, is in jeopardy. What is more worrying is the other half who are eschewing the issue of trust altogether.

Half of IT security professionals believe online trust is in jeopardy.

Can you find your keys and certificates?

With 54% of businesses unaware of the location of their keys and certificates, or how they are being used, it is easy to see how they, their customer base, and partners, fail to establish any trust online. Take away the trust created by keys and certificates, used for everything from online shopping and mobility, to banking and government, and we can see the Internet being hurtled right back into the ‘stone age’, where users have no way of knowing if a website or mobile application is actually secure. How much faith would that give you in doing business online?

The potential liability can’t be underestimated. Over the next two years, the prospective financial risk facing business from attacks on keys and certificates is expected to hit at least $53 million.

Take action now.

With the growing number of attacks on keys and certificates, businesses must see this as a wake-up call and realize that they can’t place blind trust in keys and certificates that are open to exploitation by cybercriminals. We’ll need an immune system to know what’s ours, trusted, or not. And as we move more and more to the cloud and DevOps environment, we need an immune system to scale up fast and tear down even faster, to keep everything safe and trusted.

The total number of keys and certificates used by the average business is over 23,000—up 34% from two years ago, thanks to an increase in deployment on web servers, network devices, and cloud services.

Over 23,000 keys and certificates in the average organization.

With no alternatives to keys and certificates available, the first priority is to make sure they are adequately protected. Businesses must make sure they know exactly where their keys and certificates are, fix any vulnerabilities, and make sure they are changed and replaced automatically.

Organizations need to put strict policies in place to know who they can, and cannot, trust. Before a certificate is issued a business should make sure it knows exactly how it will be used, who will own it internally, and if it fits into the existing security policy. And with more cloud and DevOps environments, we can only accomplish this with an immune system that’s machine-based to scale up and down in seconds.

Businesses must not forget to include enterprise mobile certificates in their cyber security policy. The misuse of these for applications such as WiFi, VPN and MDM/EMM is a growing concern, especially with an increase in mobile employees and the adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices). Security professionals indicated that attacks using mobile certificates have the largest impact of all attacks using keys and certificates with a total possible impact of $126 million.

Businesses should sweep the Internet regularly to see if there are any ‘spoofed’ or stolen certificates out there claiming to belong to them. Stolen certificates are now being sold for $1000 and more. This is such a big problem that Intel believes it will be the next big hacker marketplace. Each business’s immune system for its cyber realm should detect these issues and rapidly respond to anomalies as well as know how to fix and replace vulnerable keys and certificates quickly.

It is critical that organizations put broad cyber security controls in place. It’s not possible just to focus in on one type of security control. And, it’s critically important that the foundational elements for security, like keys and certificates, be secured first. Cybercriminals won’t question the size or sector of a business when they attack.

<![CDATA[Examining the Impact of the OMB and Congress’ Moves to Add More Encryption and Address the CAs]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/examining-the-impact-of-congress-moves-to-add-more-encryption https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/examining-the-impact-of-congress-moves-to-add-more-encryption/#When:15:00:00Z On the heels of the U.S government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach last week and other recent examples of cyber attacks involving the malicious use of keys and certificates, it's not that surprising to see two major developments this week to increase encryption use and improve website security in general.

This week, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced it would require federal agencies to use HTTPS. A day later, House Energy & Commerce Committee sent letters to Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla, asking them what they can do to limit or constrain certificate authorities (CAs) issuing certificates outside of their home domains. While they may seem unrelated, these two initiatives go hand in hand. 

While the intentions for more encryption are good (and ironically what Edward Snowden publically called for two years ago) to ensure the authenticity and privacy of federal websites, the OMB’s announcement to increase the use of HTTPS has significant gaps if not properly implemented with an immune system to protect the cryptographic keys and digital certificates. More encrypted traffic will require bad guys to use HTTPS and either forge or compromise certificates to mount effective attacks.

https encryption

First, this means that all federal agencies must be inspecting inbound traffic for threats as they move toward 100 percent encryption. At this point, no traffic can go un-inspected because cybercriminals will hide there for months, even years, completely undetected (can anyone say Careto?).

Second, agencies must be prepared to detect the malicious use of forged, compromised, or fraudulent certificates across the Internet to stop spoofing and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

In its directive, OMB has yet to specify or mandate any type of key or certificate management system to ensure their proper care and protection. And there was no reference to or mention of the government’s NIST guidance issued two years ago for preparing for a CA compromise. That’s why it was interesting to see Congress’ letter to the browsers about limiting or constraining certain CAs.   

At Venafi, we've been saying for months that governments should be very concerned about who is trusted in our browsers and if we can trust that any website is secure. That's why we applauded Mozilla and Google for blocking CNNIC, the Chinese CA, back in April.

At this point, any CA in the world, through fraud or compromise, could issue malicious certificates for .gov domains (as well as .com and others). We need to be able to ensure that CAs cannot mis-issue certificates or issue malicious ones that might end up being used as a weapon against the U.S. or its allies. While Google Certificate Transparency (CT) helps it only covers the high-level extended validation (EV) certificates, and doesn’t help with compromise and misuse after issuance. This is why Certificate Reputation is becoming increasingly popular.

What the U.S. OMB and Congress have done is important, and are most certainly positive steps in the right direction, the reality is that now we're only going to have more encrypted traffic which makes the U.S. an even bigger target for cybercriminals who can hide and take on trusted status. In the meantime, unless we use an Immune System for Internet—one that can identify certificates, safely deliver them for use with SSL/TLS inspection, and detect and stop the misuse of certificates for governments and enterprises—we will remain extremely vulnerable to these types of attacks that are increasing at an alarming rate (remember CHS, Sony, Heartbleed, POODLE and Shellshock?). What are your thoughts on the U.S. government’s attempts to better secure government websites and web services?

<![CDATA[Security Pros (Blindly) Trust Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/security-pros-blindly-trust-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/security-pros-blindly-trust-keys-and-certificates/#When:12:00:00Z A Venafi Survey of Nearly 850 IT Security Professionals Finds Gaps in Detection and Response to Key and Certificate Vulnerabilities

Attacks on keys and certificates are unlike other common cyber attacks seen today. With a compromised or stolen key, attackers can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their organizational targets as well as decrypt traffic and impersonate websites, code, or administrators. Unsecured keys and certificates provide the attackers with unrestricted access to the target’s networks and allow them to go undetected for long periods of time with trusted status and access.

And we’ve seen many recent instances of these types of attacks. From the GoGo man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks to Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability to FREAK and now the more recent LogJam flaw, cybercriminals know unprotected keys and certificates are vulnerable and will use them to carry out their malicious deeds.

The bad guys are able to take advantage of these new vulnerabilities, because most security systems blindly trust keys and certificates. In the absence of an immune system for the internet, enterprises are unable to determine what is “self” and trusted in their networks and what is not and therefore dangerous. Not knowing what is trusted and “self” or how to detect or remediate from attacks on keys and certificates keeps organizations open to breach and compromise.

RSA Conference 2015 USA

In light of recent attacks on trust, Venafi conducted a survey of nearly 850 IT security professionals during the RSA 2015 Conference to see what they were doing to stave off breaches and establish better trust online. The data reveals that most IT security professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate quickly from compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates—the foundation of trust in our modern online world.

Here are other important findings from the Venafi RSA study:

  • Respondents are ill informed on how to remediate a Sony-like breach involving theft of keys and certificates. Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of those surveyed would still only complete partial remediation that would leave them vulnerable to further attacks. They would conduct standard practices such as re-imaging servers, reviewing logs, removing malware, installing patches, and changing user passwords. However, only 8 percent indicated they would fully remediate against a Sony-like attack by replacing potentially compromised keys and certificates to prevent further access.

  • IT security professionals don’t know how to protect keys and certificates and their organizations don’t have a clear understanding or strategy for doing so. When asked what their organizational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43 percent of respondents reported that they are using a key management system. Another 16 percent have no idea, 14 percent said they are using a manual process to try to manage them, and 22 percent placed the responsibility elsewhere. Without a strategy and implemented security controls to protect keys and certificates, attackers can gain and maintain extensive access to the target’s networks and remain undetected for long periods of time with trusted status.

  • Many IT security professionals can’t or don’t know how to detect compromised keys and certificates. The survey results showed that 38 percent of respondents can’t or don’t know how to detect compromised keys and certificates and 56 percent of the other respondents said they are using a combination of next generation firewalls, anti-virus, IDS/IPS, and sandboxes to detect these types of attacks. Both groups leave themselves open to additional attacks. According to Gartner, 50 percent of all inbound and outbound network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017. Bad actors understand that most security systems either trust SSL/TLS or lack access to the keys to decrypt traffic and find hidden threats. These security shortcomings create blind spots and undermine critical security controls like sandbox threat protection, NGFW, IDS/IPS, and DLP.

  • More than half of IT security professionals admit that they cannot quickly respond to an attack on SSH keys. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of security professionals admit that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks on SSH keys, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose, and replace keys on all hosts if breached. Cybercriminals are exploiting the lack of visibility and control over SSH keys, which are used to authenticate administrators, servers, and clouds. Because SSH keys never expire, cybercriminals and insiders alike gain almost permanent ownership of systems and networks by stealing SSH keys.

The results of this study underscore what we at Venafi have been saying all along: IT security pros can no longer place blind trust in keys and certificates. We must realize that the keys and certificates we rely upon to establish trusted connections for everything IP-enabled today are in major jeopardy as attackers continue to misuse them to gain trusted status.

Just like the human immune system, Venafi learns and adapts as it works. Venafi identifies what keys and certificates are trusted and those that need to be replaced. It keeps keys and certificates secured to your policy and replaces them automatically. It scales keys and certificates up and down to meet demand. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response that protects enterprise networks and brands.

Ultimately, if what our survey data says is true, and IT security professionals can’t secure and protect keys and certificates and respond more quickly to attacks that use them, online trust will continue to diminish with grave consequences, especially to the economy which relies heavily on online trust for commerce.

<![CDATA[Are Your Partners Creating a Hole in Your Security?]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-your-partners-creating-a-hole-in-your-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-your-partners-creating-a-hole-in-your-security/#When:12:30:00Z No matter how secure your environment, cybercriminals will bypass your security defenses, making how quickly you can detect the breach and respond to mitigate the damage a critical component of your enterprise’s cyberdefense. But there’s a challenge—it’s not only your security you need to be concerned about, but your business partners’ as well.

One method that is growing dramatically in popularity with cybercriminals is compromising a target’s business partners. Your business partners may not have security practices that are as good as your organization’s defenses. Cybercriminals use a compromised business partner as a backdoor into your organization via an already trusted channel like a VPN. The Target breach last year is a good example of this approach.

To compromise businesses, cybercriminals are increasingly using keys and certificates to elevate their privileges and hide activity. By the end of 2014, attacks using SSL comprised 12% of network-based attacks according to Intel Security, and Gartner estimates that 50% of network attacks will use SSL by 2017. Using SSL enables cybercriminals to cloak their activities. This helps support Mandiant’s findings that most organizations do not internally discover they’ve been compromised—nearly 70% of victims are notified by an external entity that they have been breached.

But how are cybercriminals compromising business partners and how can organizations quickly detect and remediate these breaches? To better understand cybercriminal attack methods, Venafi teamed up with Raxis, an independent penetration testing firm, to reconstruct a current real-world attack that targeted and compromised a Global 100 bank with techniques that can be used effectively to breach many organizations today.

hacker walking through the open door

The breach reconstruction provides full details on how a large hacking group used a stolen private key that was purchased on the underground as part of a multi-chained attack to ultimately steal millions of customer records. The white paper provides details about the thriving underground marketplace where you can buy almost anything needed to compromise networks. It also provides an explanation on how the attack was architected and executed as well as guidance on how the breach could have been quickly detected and mitigated.   

Read the full report here: Venafi.com/BankAPTAnalysis

For the last four years, Ponemon Institute has found that 100% of Global 5000 enterprises surveyed across 5 regions were impacted by attacks using keys and certificates. How does your organization detect and respond to attacks that use keys and certificates to elevate privileges and hide activity? How does your organization detect if a certificate is being used to misrepresent your brand on the internet?

<![CDATA[Heal Your Broken Online Trust with an Immune System]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heal-your-broken-online-trust-with-an-immune-system https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heal-your-broken-online-trust-with-an-immune-system/#When:20:00:00Z In 2014, Keren Elazari, an expert Cyber Security Researcher, started speaking to us via her TED talk about how hackers are like the internet’s immune system. She has led the way in this concept and explained how they help and hurt, yet ultimately lead to a healthier, stronger network.

Assisting our immune system like inoculations, hackers give us a taste of a potentially larger problem and help us overcome the illness before it becomes unmanageable.

Venafi recently released a product called Venafi TrustNet. It was released to help monitor and measure the healthiness of the internet, supporting encrypted traffic and authentication. Certificate misuse is at an all-time high. As we use more x.509 certificates to encrypt communications and authentication entities, bad guys will only become more interested.

We’ve blindly trusted certificates, because we’ve lacked an immune system for the cyber realm to know what’s trusted or not. Now Venafi provides a way through TrustNet to establish a baseline of normal certificate use online and alert affected organizations if that baseline is broken, indicating potential certificate misuse. TrustNet allows immediate remediation through blacklisting. Then, as part of the Venafi Trust Protection Platform, organizations can use TrustAuthority to replace and revoke untrusted certificates and TrustForce to automatically complete the certificate and key lifecycle.

If you own a certificate that is being misused, revoke it. If someone is misusing a certificate, blacklist it. Just like Keren Elazari has mentioned, hackers are like our immune system by demonstrating illness. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that allows us to rapidly detect what shouldn’t be trusted and respond quickly. Hackers have repeatedly demonstrated that we have to do something right now to fix trust online, which is near the breaking point.

What are your thoughts about the Immune System for the Internet?

<![CDATA[Automate Key and Certificate Management for Optimized Application Delivery]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/automate-key-and-certificate-management-for-optimized-application-delivery https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/automate-key-and-certificate-management-for-optimized-application-delivery/#When:21:33:00Z Businesses rely heavily upon SSL/TLS certificates to encrypt data and authenticate systems and applications – both inside and outside the corporate network. The use of keys and certificates will continue to grow as businesses need to ensure appropriate access across servers and applications. In fact, the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report reveals that over the last two years, the number of keys and certificates deployed on network appliances, web servers, and cloud servers grew over 34% to an average of almost 24,000 per enterprise. This leaves enterprise IT environments challenged to secure and keep up with rising key and certificate deployments in the data center.

24,000 keys and certificates on average per company

To ensure successful management of keys and certificates, organizations must gain visibility into every SSL/TLS key and certificate present, including those on network infrastructure solutions such as Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). When strategically deployed throughout the data center, ADCs enable applications to be highly available, accelerated, and secure. However, most ADCs need to be manually configured to discover thousands of certificates in the network. System administrators need to generate keys and request certificates, as well as oversee installation and configuration. And with so many other network devices like NGFWs, IDS/IPS systems, and servers requiring access to keys and certificates, this process is burdensome, error prone, and can cause certificates to expire which lead to network outages. Manual processes and the lack of a centralized key and certificate management system can limit operational efficiency and also leave gaps in security.

What do you need to do optimize your ADCs and reduce your SSL/TLS security risk?

A10 Networks and Venafi have partnered to create a joint solution with the A10 Thunder ADC line and Venafi Trust Protection Platform that helps organizations automate the management and security of the entire certificate lifecycle process. Here’s how the Venafi and A10 Networks joint solution can help:

  • Avoid Outages with Complete Visibility
    When digital certificates expire, it disrupts the very systems they were installed to protect. These expirations often occur from a lack of visibility and 54% of enterprises admit to being unaware of how many certificates they have in use, where they are used, and who is responsible for them. The certificate expirations create outages which lower productivity and cause a loss in revenue, profits, and customers.

    To avoid certificate expirations and outages, Venafi TrustAuthority detects and monitors all keys and certificates across enterprise networks, the cloud, and multiple CAs. Having complete visibility can also provide a baseline to flag anomalies, policy violations, and misuse.

  • Enforce Policies and Workflows
    Venafi TrustAuthority provides automated workflows for issuance, renewal, installation, and validation to enable rapid, secure deployment of SSL/TLS keys and certificates. These policies and workflows also enable distribution of keys and certificates to your A10 Thunder deployments across the data center.

  • Automate Management and Security
    Venafi TrustForce enables automation with full end-to-end certificate provisioning and lifecycle control for complex ADC and load-balanced encryption environments such as your A10 Thunder ADC deployments. This lifecycle automation for A10 devices includes provisioning processes such as key generation, certificate signing request (CSR) generation, CSR submission, certificate authority (CA) approval, issued certificate retrieval, certificate installation, private key backup, and certificate renewal.

Want to learn how to leverage Venafi and A10 Thunder ADC to simplify certificate management? Check out our joint technology partner solution brief. Or you can watch the A10 Networks and Venafi joint webinar to find out how to optimize your ADCs and reduce SSL/TLS security risk.