|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]
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Dec. 21, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 3,040
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 21, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,579
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Dec. 21, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 3,130
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Dec. 21, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 2,705
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Dec. 21, 2014 08:30 AM EST Reads: 2,921
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Dec. 21, 2014 06:15 AM EST Reads: 3,251
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Dec. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 2,056
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 2,212
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:45 PM EST Reads: 2,000
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,332
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
Dec. 18, 2014 06:00 AM EST Reads: 1,370
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:15 PM EST Reads: 2,291
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 2,283
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 2,287
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 2,247
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,374
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Dec. 16, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 2,259
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Dec. 15, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 2,643
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 15, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 8,225
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 3,349