Best IT Practices - to Circumvent Hack Attacks 2953

  • Below are a great list of best practices to help corporations mitigate outside hacking attacks. These concepts help with General Controls audits and are useful for SOX compliancy also:
    Federal Hacking Incident - Some Lessons Learned
    http_and_#58;// hack lessons learned/10438
    Unless you’ve been living under a stone for last couple of weeks, you will have heard about the HBGary Federal hack. Seeing everything published about this probably makes every security professional think for at least a second, 'Could this happen to me too? … So what can we learn from this hack? A lot of things that we already preach (or should be preaching):

    • Do not use same passwords for multiple applications/sites. A lot of free, good utilities, such as Password Safe exist that will allow you to automatically generate strong passwords and store them in an encrypted key chain.
    • No matter the size of your company, you should have change management processes that require all changes to be approved by appropriate personnel. While a CEO can request to open a port on the firewall, a security person in charge should approve any such request. If you don’t have multiple roles for this then make sure that appropriate authentication is in place i.e. verifying such critical requests through other channels.
    • You should regularly test your web applications not only external, but also internal. While this does not guarantee that you will identify and eliminate all security vulnerabilities, it will certainly raise the overall security.
    • Encrypt your backups and think twice if you need all those e-mails at one place. Gmail is certainly attractive for storing years of e-mails and searching through them quickly, but imagine what would happen if someone gets access to all your e-mail.
    • While we’re on encryption encrypt sensitive e-mails too - it may seem a nuisance, but it could save the day. PGP Encryption is not difficult to use, there are downsides, of course, so you should balance between usability and security.
    • If you are a web-application developer, and have a need to store (hashed) user passwords remember that algorithms such as MD5 were built for speed. By using today’s GPUs, it is possible to crack hundreds of millions of MD5 passwords per second. Remember to use passwords salts to make rainbow tables useless (otherwise it’s usually a matter of seconds before a password is cracked).
    • Finally on storing hashed passwords, try to use multiple algorithms to store passwords something like - sha1(sha1(sha1(password))) will be unnoticeable for the end user, but will make rainbow tables useless and increase the time needed to crack a password (and increase the likelihood an attacker will have to make a custom cracking module for their purpose).

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