|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]
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Aug. 27, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,080
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Aug. 27, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,568
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Aug. 27, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,872
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Aug. 27, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 564
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Aug. 27, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 753
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Aug. 27, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,339
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Aug. 27, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,613
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 dev...
Aug. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,361
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Aug. 27, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,972
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Aug. 27, 2016 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,907
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Aug. 27, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 683
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Aug. 27, 2016 03:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,794
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
Aug. 27, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,016
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
Aug. 27, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,744
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Aug. 27, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,031
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Aug. 27, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,947
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Aug. 25, 2016 09:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,263
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Aug. 25, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 821
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Aug. 25, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,652
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Aug. 25, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,177