|By Lori MacVittie||
|April 15, 2014 08:00 AM EDT||
There are a variety of opinions on the seriousness of Heartbleed being put forth ranging from "it's not the end of the world" to "the sky is falling, duck and cover." Usually the former cites the relatively low percentage of sites impacted by Heartbleed, pegged at about 17% or 500,000 sites by Netcraft. The latter cite the number of consumers impacted, which is a way bigger number to be sure. Sites tracking the impact to users suggest many of the largest sites have potentially been impacted, translating into many millions of users.
And then there’s the impact on gadgets and devices we might not immediately think of being vulnerable. A wide variety of smart phones, IP phones, switches and routers have been identified as being vulnerable. Home internet routers and that nifty system you had put in that lets you mess with your house’s temperature from any device, anywhere are likely impacted. With the Internet of Things connecting more and more devices it’s likely that list will only continue to grow. The growing consensus is that a plurality of the impacted devices will never be updated; leaving organizations that may interact with those devices vulnerable and in need of a mitigating solution that doesn’t rely on updates or changes to the device.
There will be, as everyone scrambles to protect customers and consumers from Heartbleed, a variety of mitigating solutions offered up to address this pesky bug. Network devices will enable organizations with the visibility necessary to detect and reject requests attempting to exploit the vulnerability.
There are a variety of points within the data path where solutions could be put into place to mitigate this (and similar) vulnerabilities. Thus customers must choose the most strategic point in the network at which to deploy their selected mitigation. To choose that point, organizations should ask how the exploit is detected by given solutions. To see why that's needful, consider how the attack works.
How Heartbleed Works
Heartbleed takes advantage of a missing length check in the OpenSSL code handling a relatively innocuous extension to the TSL/SSL protocol (defined in RFC 6520). It comprises two simple messages: a request and a response. The request can be sent be either the client or the server as a means to keep the connection alive. The sender ships off a HeartbeatMessage with a small amount of data, expecting the receiver to send back that same data. What's important about the protocol interaction is that whichever party sends the request determines the length of the response. The sender tells the receiver how much data it's sending - and thus how much should be returned.
Now, the OpenSSL code should be making sure the length the attacker says he's sending is actually what's available. The code, however, does not. It simply trusts the sender and grabs whatever amount of data was specified out of memory. This is how an attacker can access data that's in memory and wind up with all sorts of sensitive data like passwords and private keys.
Because this exploit takes advantage of a vulnerability in encrypted communications, any mitigating solution must be in the path of that communication. That's a given. In that path are three points where this exploit can be mitigated:
1. Client. You can check the client operating system and device type and match that against known usage of the impacted OpenSSL versions. Once detected, the client can be rejected - preventing the offending request from ever being sent in the first place. Rejection of clients based on the possibility they might be an attacker can result in angry legitimate consumers, employees or partners, however.
2. On Request. Inspect client requests and upon discovery of a HeartbeatMessage, reject it. This prevents the request from being forwarding to vulnerable systems and servers.
3. On Response. Inspect responses and upon seeing a HeartbeatMessage response, check its length. If it's greater than a length you feel comfortable with, discard it. This method will prevent attackers from receiving sensitive data, but it should be noted that at the point of discovery, the server - and data - has already been compromised.
Location in the Network Matters
You have to be in communication path to implement these solutions. That means some solutions being put forth are architecturally misplaced to be able to completely mitigate this vulnerability. For example, the firewall landscape is bifurcating and separating inbound (application delivery) and outbound (next generation firewall) duties. That means while next-generation firewalls (NGFW) are capable of the inspection and interaction necessary to detect and mitigate Heartbleed on response, they generally only do so in the outbound use case. That's an important capability, but it won't catch inbound attempts, just outbound. Further complicating the situation is a growing delineation of security responsibilities between inbound and outbound in the firewall market. Growth and scale of security has led to separate inbound and outbound security solutions. NGFW are an outbound solution, generally positioned only as protection for corporate users. They’re intended to protect organizations from malware and malicious code entering the corporate data center by means of its employees accessing infected sites. They aren’t deployed in a position to protect servers and applications on the inbound path. Those that are can provide inbound protection but only on response, which means your servers have already been compromised.
The right place to implement a mitigating solution is one that will afford you the choice of your mitigating solution - or allow all three, if you really want comprehensive coverage. It must be in the data path and have visibility into both the client and the server side of the equation. In most networks, that strategic point of control is the application delivery firewall.
Using the right tool in the right place in the network means you can implement any (or all) of the three mitigating solutions in not only a one place, but in the most effective place. The right tool is not just one that has the right position in the network. It takes visibility and programmability to dig deeply into the network stack and find the data indicative of an attack – intentional or not. The right tool will be able to distinguish between client side and server side traffic and apply the applicable logic. The logic that detects Heartbleed on the client side is different than that of the server side. In the case of the client it must look for a specific message indicating a Heartbeat request or inspecting the client device environment itself. On the server side, it’s checking the size of the response. Each of these cases requires unique code. That means the right tool must have a programmatic environment that can execute with surgical-like precision the logic necessary at the right time – at the time of connection, on request and on response.
The right tool, then, is positioned on the inbound path – in front of vulnerable services – and offers an event-driven, programmatic way to execute the right logic at the right time to detect vulnerable clients, malicious requests and responses carrying unauthorized sensitive data. An F5 ADC offers that event-driven, programmatic interface with iRules and is strategically positioned in the network to support all three mitigation solutions.
Consider again how Heartbleed works and the three mitigation options:
(1) Client. In most network architectures this means it is connecting to an application delivery controller (ADC) that provides load balancing services. When that ADC is F5, it also acts as an application delivery firewall (ADF) and can be programmatically controlled. That means it can inspect the request and, if it's vulnerable, reject the connection.
(2) On Request. Because an ADC sits between the client and server and acts as a proxy, it sees every request and response. It can be programmatically instructed using iRules to inspect those requests and, upon finding a Heartbeat request message, can reject it. It is not necessary to decrypt the request to detect the Heartbeat message.
(3) On Response. As noted, the strategic point of control in which an F5 ADC is deployed in the network means it sees every response, too. It can programmatically inspect responses and if found to be over a specified length, discard it to prevent the attacker from getting a hold of sensitive data.
F5 suggests the "On Request" mitigation for dealing with Heartbleed. This approach minimizes the impact to clients and prevents legitimate requests from being rejected, and further assures that servers are not compromised. Customers have the option, of course, to implement any or all three of these options in order to protect their applications, customers and data as they see fit. F5 supports customer choices in every aspect of application delivery whether related to security, orchestration or architectural model.
At this point, nearly a week after the exposure of Heartbleed, organizations should have a good handle on how it works and what the impact is to their business. There's no question the response to Heartbleed involves server patches and upgrades and the procurement of new keys, with consumer password change processes to come soon thereafter.
In the meantime, servers (and thus customers) remain vulnerable. Organizations should be looking at putting into place a mitigation solution to protect both while longer-term plans are put into action.
No matter which approach you choose, F5 has got you covered.
[Edited: 11:11am PT with new graphic]
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
May. 4, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,261
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 4, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,367
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
May. 4, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 362
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
May. 4, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,315
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
May. 4, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 619
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 4, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,168
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 4, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,332
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 4, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,425
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 912
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 611
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 548
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 4, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,241
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 4, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,387
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
May. 4, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,520
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
May. 4, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,015
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,197
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
May. 4, 2016 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,273
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
May. 4, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,362
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 3, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,235
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,619