Archive for Security Consulting

Another installment of (in)secure Cloud storage

Chinchero Airport, Peru | EJAtlas

We know we sound like a broken record when we tell our clients “If you don’t own your server, you don’t own your data. Don’t put anything in the cloud you don’t want potentially exposed to the public.”, but time after time we show examples of why we keep repeating this mantra.

What Happened:

A major data leak by Securitas that affected several Latin American airports and other related companies was discovered by a cybersecurity firm called SafetyDetectives. In late January a team discovered that an Amazon S3 bucket had been left unsecured and exposed to public access, and contained over 1 million files relating to airport and security personnel.

Securitas, a large, well known multinational security company that has been in business for almost a century, has not made any public statements around the incident as of this posting. This isn’t the first time Securitas has had cybersecurity issues. In 2017 the Securitas CEO Alf Göransson had his personal identification stolen at the end of March, when someone applied for a loan in his name. The Stockholm District Court then declared Göransson bankrupt without informing the CEO prior to its decision.

The Breach (From SafetyDetectives briefing):

Securitas left its Amazon S3 bucket open and accessible, without any authentication procedures in place. The misconfigured bucket has therefore exposed almost 1.5 million files, equating to about 3TB of data.

The bucket’s exposed information included employee Personally Identifying Information and sensitive company data of at least four airports in Colombia and Peru: El Dorado International Airport (Bogota D.C, COL), Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (Valle del Cauca, COL), José María Córdova International Airport (Antioquia, COL), and Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez (Lima, PE). As mentioned, unobserved files may have exposed other airports and places throughout Colombia, the rest of Latin America, or even the rest of the world.

They observed two main datasets containing the information of Securitas employees and airport employees: photos of ID cards and other unmarked photos.

Photos of ID cards featured on the bucket. There were an estimated 1 million files of this type on the Securitas misconfigured bucket. These files revealed the personal information of employees at the four aforementioned airports that are using Securitas’ services.

Photos of ID cards reveal several forms of employee Personally Identifying Information, including:

  • Full names, incl. first names and surnames
  • Photos of employees
  • Occupations
  • National ID Number

What Was Leaked?

Other unmarked photos featured among the bucket’s content too. There were about 300,000 files of this type. These photos leaked the data of airports, airport employees, and associated companies.

Specifically, these files exposed employees’ personal data, sensitive client data (airports), and the sensitive data of associated companies, such as airlines. Exposed data includes:

  • Photos of employees
  • Photos of planes
  • Photos of fueling lines
  • Photos of luggage being loaded/unloaded

What Was Leaked?

 In addition to the information mentioned above, the two primary datasets analyzed on the bucket (photos of ID cards and other unmarked photos) contained Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) data that exposed specific information related to each photo.   Exposed EXIF data includes:

  • Device models (of the cameras used)
  • GPS locations of photos, incl. coordinates and GPS maps
  • Time & date of photos

What Was Leaked?

What it Means to Us

It may be some time before there is any assessment of the extent of damage the data breach, but this obviously serves as an example of how careless data management can cause serious security implications for your firm or those of your clients.   In evaluating software application strategies for our clients, we always ask these simple questions:

  1. What is the criticality if this information if it is leaked to the public?
  2. Can the solution be self-hosted on the Client’s own private network?
  3. Does it really NEED to be a cloud application?
  4. If so, how can we mitigate the potential damage if there is a breach?

Additional measures like a Type I or Type II SOC report are helpful, but likely wouldn’t have prevented the Securitas data breach discussed above.  Regular and ongoing security audits, along with well defined and enforced data management and security policies and procedures are the only real defense against these kinds of mishaps.

This won’t be the last time we see this either, as the Cloud becomes more and more integrated into corporate IT strategies, it will happen again, and again, and again.

 

 

 

Posted in: Security Consulting, Security Technology

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The Impact of Closed Circuit Television

Almost 30 years ago when I was first entering the security industry, closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras weren’t terribly different from the cameras that were being used to for movie and television production.  They were smaller, typically had less resolution and no audio, but the basic principles were the same.   Charged Coupled Device (CCD) cameras were fairly new, and if you wanted low light performance, you were resigned to use tube cameras.  Yes, tubes.  As in vacuum tubes.  Tube cameras actually used a vacuum tube for the imager, and the tradeoff for low light sensitivity was a shorter life span, higher power requirements, and reduced reliability.   Later, Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) cameras came into play and helped overcome some of the limitations of both tube and CCD technologies.

Vidicon Imaging Tube for Old Style CCTV Camera

Since then, digital Internet Protocol (IP) cameras have come into play.    These newer cameras offer increased light sensitivity, much higher resolution, and new enhancements like video analytics and flexible communications options.

While all of these advancements make for better security, the most important enhancements are the video analytics and IP communications.   These two technology advances increase the likelihood of detecting activity and being able to monitor and record that activity from almost any location.

For most small and medium sized businesses or municipalities, the thought of a comprehensive video management system seems not only unnecessary, but impractical from a monitoring and timely intervention standpoint.  “Video cameras don’t stop crimes, all they do is record it”, we often hear.  This is not necessarily true.  CCTV video serves three important roles in security:

  1. Deterrence – Sometimes just the sight of a video camera will deter criminal activity from ever happening in the first place. Because being watched means being held accountable, this is a strong enticement for on premises security cameras.  No, this doesn’t mean adding “dummy cameras” is a good idea.  In fact, installing dummy cameras can make matters worse in premises liability cases for incidents occurring on your property.
  1. Detection – Having all of the campus CCTV cameras monitored in a single location allows for an operator to spot potential negative events during or even prior to them actually happening. IP enabled cameras offer increased detection capability in two ways; first they allow for cameras to be placed anywhere within the corporate network infrastructure (or even further away via hybrid cabling or wireless networking), and second they permit remote monitoring from anywhere there is network or internet access, including smart phones and tablets.  This allows for remote monitoring and recording at an off-site or contract monitoring facility, and also allows the ability to feed recorded or live events to first responders almost in real-time.    It also means that cameras can be located just about anywhere in your corporate footprint, including on-board vehicles.
  1. Assessment – Being able to discern what, where, and when something is happening on camera is critical to determining how to respond to a particular event, and also aids in evidentiary requirements for later prosecution. With the advent of video analytics, that can now be taken a step further with things like video motion detection, face detection, traffic movement, object removal, and facial recognition.   These tools increase the reliability of the observer (or recording device) to actually capture useful video information for use in timely intervention or for evidence in prosecution.   For example, with the right software, imagine a disgruntled employee situation where the former employee’s photo is setup to trigger an alert if the video system “recognizes” his face when he tried to re-enter the campus.  The authorities can be notified and other emergency precautions can be taken much sooner than previously possible.

Each one of these roles is an important piece to the overall security strategy for a business or government entity, and when used with common sense security practices like Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) and other industry best practices, CCTV video becomes a powerful tool to both deter, detect, and defend both persons and property in a timely and effective manner.

 

Posted in: CPTED, Premises Liability, Security Consulting, Security Technology

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Layers – Not just for Onions and Ogres

Security has been thought of and taught to others as a “layered approach” for centuries, and as such is not a new concept.   The Romans used layered concepts in their infantry tactics as well as their defensive fortifications.   With all due respect to “Shrek“, security is like an onion, and is a complex layer of countermeasures that make up a suite of hurdles that, presumably, are so confounding or problematic that the opponent gives up, gets caught, or never attempts anything in the first place.

The layers of security

Layers of security are a simple concept, but the concept is often overused by security professionals in discussion and even trivialized as not very important.  As Americans, we tend to rely very heavily on technology.  We understand technology, and we’re pretty good at it.   But while having thermal night vision cameras, fiber optic sensing cables, and CCTV drones flying over your campus are an impressive security posture, sometimes just a plain old chain link fence or dense thornbush hedge are enough to deter the would be criminal.  The most effective barrier I ever saw was a dense hedge of thorns called a  “living wall”.   It was 6 feet tall (and still growing), and you couldn’t climb it, cut it, or burn through it.

We once worked with a client that had installed a $4500.00 bullet proof door with a card access proximity reader installed behind Lexan (to protect it too) on the wall.  It we very impressive, until we learned that the wall it was installed  in was only sheetrock and metal studs, and you could kick through it and completely bypass the door.

Security layers mean from the outside in, with each layer adding to the increased security profile.   But security profiles are different for different companies, buildings, or campuses.  It depends upon the corporate philosophy, culture, and threat profile.  What may be reasonable for a chemical company manufacturing DOD explosives may not be suitable for a quarry.

Start with the outside, what are the threats from the street, the site perimeter, or even from the air?  Then work to the building perimeter, where are points of entry, access control weaknesses, or blind spots?  Internally you should look at the lobbies, common areas, break rooms, stairwells, and vestibules.  Then finally to policies and procedures relating to security, safety, and employee awareness.  Each of these areas will generate questions, to which you should generate answers in the forms of layers of security to add to your security profile.

Posted in: CPTED, Security Consulting

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