You Down with ATP? Yeah, You Know Me

Join Jesse as he talks about Advanced Persistent Threats, otherwise known as APTs. He touches upon the easiest way to stop worrying about APTs, why you need to secure your IAM credentials, how proper security is the balance between the needs of service delivery and data availability, how you can’t track what you don’t know you have, the rise of cloud security posture management and why you might want to experiment with it, how confidential computing is essentially encryption of data via hardware, whether you can guess Jesse’s favorite part to Biden’s executive order on cybersecurity, and more.

Jesse Trucks is the Minister of Magic at Splunk, where he consults on security and compliance program designs and develops Splunk architectures for security use cases, among other things. He brings more than 20 years of experience in tech to this role, having previously worked as director of security and compliance at Peak Hosting, a staff member at freenode, a cybersecurity engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and a systems engineer at D.E. Shaw Research, among several other positions. Of course, Jesse is also the host of Meanwhile in Security, the podcast about better cloud security you’re about to listen to.

Show Notes:

Links:

Transcript

Jesse: Welcome to Meanwhile in Security where I, your host Jesse Trucks, guides you to better security in the cloud.


Announcer: Are you building cloud applications with a distributed team? Check out Teleport, an open-source identity-aware access proxy for cloud resources. Teleport provides secure access for anything running somewhere behind NAT SSH servers, Kubernetes clusters, internal web apps, and databases. Teleport gives engineers superpowers. Get access to everything via single sign-on with multi-factor authentication, list and see all SSH servers, Kubernetes clusters, or databases available to you, and get instant access to them using tools you already have. Teleport ensures best security practices like role-based access, preventing data exfiltration, providing visibility, and ensuring compliance. And best of all, Teleport doesn’t get in the way. Download Teleport at goteleport.com. That’s goteleport.com.


Jesse: Us security people and the general news media like talking about APT this and APT that however, like most things with cybersecurity, the term isn’t even explained. The term is Advanced Persistent Threat—or APT—and it came from Kevin Mandia, founder of Mandiant, a security company, in the famous ABT1 Report as it’s called, released in early 2013, is a fascinating read. Well, maybe some of us love reading these things.


There’s a lot of hype around APTs and what it all means. An APT is essentially a well-funded hacking group, usually with nation-state backing. This means some government is funding and/or training and otherwise supporting the efforts of what amounts to a criminal enterprise attacking assets. Most of us shouldn’t care much about APTs though, as long as we secure our cloud accounts and use properly configured multi-factor authentication, or MFA.


Meanwhile, in the news. Securing Your Cloud Transformation Journey. Plan, build, run, repeat. Plan, build, run, repeat. It’s so simple, however, the details are complex and varied at every one of these stages to reduce the possibility of something catastrophic happening.


TeamTNT Strikes Again: A Wake-Up Call to Start Securing Cloud Entitlements. If you don’t secure your IAM credentials for cloud services, the keys to your kingdom will be shared about by nefarious actors. I’ve recently pointed out that this ABT group, the TeamTNT, was harvesting easy-to-obtain credentials. I love a chance to hammer on basic protocols and methodology since almost nobody actually follows them correctly. Go secure your cloud credentials right now.


Secure Access Trade-offs for DevSecOps Teams. Proper security is a balance between the needs of service delivery or data availability and safety. Work with your development groups at the left end, or start of your development process, to find that balance early.


Cyber Gangs: Who are they in 2021 and what do they Want? I found this a tad on the sensationalist side of things, and because it focuses on the human-driven, highly targeted attacks, it seems like the world is caving under the pressure of cyber street gangs tearing us all apart. Despite this, it has good advice, and I think the topic is a very interesting peek into things most of us don’t see.


Required MFA is not Sufficient for Strong Security: A Report. Multi-factor authentication—or MFA—is not the pinnacle of protection. MFA is highly valuable, but only when you set it up correctly and close all the side and back doors of your floating house in the clouds. Don’t forget to lock up on your way out.


With Cloud, CDO and CISO Concerns are Equally Important. Now, most of us won’t have a Chief Data Officer—or CDO—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t include the creators and curators of our precious data. Just say no to the culture of no.


Colonial Pipeline CEO: Ransomware Attack Started via Pilfered ‘Legacy’ VPN Account. Really? Really? In most situations like this, there’s a root cause here that most people overlook: incomplete or inaccurate asset management systems. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t track how to secure it. Do you want to become international news because you forgot to monitor some VPN system nobody actually uses?


Cloud Security: Why Being Intentional in Encryption Matters. Of course we should encrypt all the things, but we should do it sanely. Ensure you have personally identifiable information—or PII—and protected health information—or PHI—and other highly sensitive materials encrypted both at rest, which means sitting on storage devices or services of some sort, like S3 buckets and in transit, which means a network transaction such as sending query result records for a web app.


Announcer: If your mean time to WTF for a security alert is more than a minute, it’s time to look at Lacework. Lacework will help you get your security act together for everything from compliance service configurations to container app relationships, all without the need for PhDs in AWS to write the rules. If you’re building a secure business on AWS with compliance requirements, you don’t really have time to choose between antivirus or firewall companies to help you secure your stack. That’s why Lacework is built from the ground up for the cloud: low effort, high visibility, and detection. To learn more, visit lacework.com. That’s lacework.com.


Jesse: CSPM explained: Filling the gaps in cloud security. Cloud security posture management—or CSPM. Great, another acronym for another security product category. This might grow legs and go places, so bone up on it while we all experiment with it to see how useful and reliable it actually is.


Five worthy reads: Confidential computing–the way forward in cloud security. I love me a meta-post; you are listening to one right now. So, I’ll reference another source that’s just a list of other sources, yeah? These are great pointers to more in-depth coverage on confidential computing and what that means. Confidential computing is essentially encryption of data via hardware, rather than the software or application layer. In theory, this makes it harder to decrypt the data. I’m in a wait-and-see place with that though.


Data Protection in the K-12 Cloud. Being the principal for a K-through-five school, I love this one. It’s a great read or listen—it’s a podcast with a partial transcript—and I highly recommend listening to this one. Elementary schools often have huge budget shortfalls, even the private schools. It makes it difficult for us to implement proper security at such a small scale. It is, however, worth every second you 
spend on security and privacy.


Cybersecurity Executive Order 2021: What it Means for Cloud and SaaS Security. Biden’s executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity is a dense read, but Hacker News breaks it down for us normal people. Can you guess my favorite part in the executive order? Email me with your answer.


Hackers Can Exploit Samsung Pre-Installed Apps to Spy On Users. I try not to pick on any particular company because everyone fails in some way or another, and everyone gets pwned at some point. However, I’ve heard Android users complain about the Samsung builds being full-up with junk you don’t need. Now, there’s even more reason to be suspicious of the default software. If I ran Android devices still, I’d consider going back to the days when I ran CyanogenMod and broke my phone every few days. Nah, I’ll keep my Apple device, thanks.


And now for the tip of the week. Read the AWS Security Blog starting with Top 10 security items to improve in your AWS account entry from last year in March. This walks you through what AWS sees as the most critical things to look at and do, such as using MFA—correctly please—responding to things found in GuardDuty, and limiting security groups. For some of us implementing all of these things might be a big ask and large hurdle to leap over. However, their work will pay off handsomely.


And that’s it for the week, folks. Securely yours Jesse Trucks.



Jesse: Thanks for listening. Please subscribe and rate us on Apple and Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.


Announcer: This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.

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Meanwhile in Security is a production of The Duckbill Group. Check out our other publications, Last Week in AWS, Screaming in the Cloud, and AWS Morning Brief.

© The Duckbill Group, 2021