Security Justice Episode 26 – “I can replace this podcast with one line of Perl”

August 4, 2010

Back in early July, I was ask to make an appearance on the Security Justice podcast to discuss some of my projects (Fierce v2, Goal Oriented Pentesting and SQL Injection). Security Justice Episode #26.

It was pretty epic and we defiantly went off-topic, but it was a ton of fun.

“I can replace this podcast with one line of Perl!”

Worth a listen. Let me know what you think.



Sans Pentest Summit 2010 – Goal Oriented Pentesting

August 4, 2010

Back in June, I was in Baltimore for the SANS Pentest Summit 2010. I really enjoyed this conference, since it provided the opportunity to chat with many people that are working on ways to improve the penetration testing process. At the conference, I presented the Goal Oriented Pentesting theory that I have been talking about for a while(first post, second post) The talk expanded upon the original theories by incorporating specific methods which provided criteria for anyone that is looking to implement Goal Oriented Pentesting in their security assessments. I also included examples from several security assessments that I have performed (external pentesting, internal pentest and web app audit) so that attendees would be able to use these goals a guide in the future.

The slides from the talk can be found here.

What else should be done to improve upon this? Let me know what you think!

Goal Oriented Pentesting. The New Process for Penetration Testing (Part 2)

November 17, 2009

If you read my previous posting, you have an understanding of goal oriented pentesting. That being said, let’s assume for a second that the goal of a penetration assessment is to get access to sensitive information and that it is possible to achieve this goal in several different ways. Now the penetration testing team should be able to achieve this goal, but can they find all possible vectors? Not necessarily.

Without a testing methodology the team will likely reach a point of diminishing returns in which their efforts are not producing unique attack vectors for achieving the goal(s). The only way to ensure complete coverage of an application, is to use a testing methodology like the Full OWASP Testing Methodology.

The Full OWASP Testing Methodology is useful because it provides a comprehensive guide for techniques that can be used to identify risks within a web application by testing each component. Each component is tested in several different ways. Testing each component ensures that the application is tested fully. All penetration assessments should use both a goal oriented approach as well as a strong testing methodology. This will ensure that the assessment covers both depth and breadth.

Goal Oriented Pentesting – The New Process for Penetration Testing

November 16, 2009

Many people including network administrators and even security professional are confused by the penetration testing process. The penetration testing process is the process of identify and demonstrating risks to an organization. The key here is identifying and demonstrating risks. Demonstrating risks can be done in several different ways. One common method that administrators use to protect their network is to use vulnerability scanning solutions to automatically find vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities are similar to risks; however automated solutions have no ability to put information in context. The process of manually testing and leverage vulnerabilities is what the penetration testing process is all about.

Okay great, you have 10 or 100 or 1000 vulnerabilities, now what? 1000 vulnerabilities don’t necessary mean a greater risk than 10 vulnerabilities because not all vulnerabilities pose the same risks. Many vulnerability scanning solutions contain risk rating in the vulnerability scanning reports. These risk rating are not the same as business risks because they do not directly demonstrate risks to the business. Vulnerabilities are potential risks that would need to be leveraged by an attacker to demonstrate business risk. That is where penetration testing comes in. Penetration testing is designed to demonstrate the business risks by leveraging vulnerabilities to achieve a level of access or gain access to data.

So what drives the penetration tester? How do they know what they want or what level of access is going to demonstrate the highest risks to the organization?

It comes down to a list of goals. Wikipedia defines a goal:

goal or objective is a projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve – a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

This is process is known as a goal-oriented penetration assessment. The goals are defined before the assessment begins and the penetration tester works to achieve the goals. Once a goal is achieved, the penetration testers should determine how many unique ways the goal can be achieved.

A few example goals for a penetration assessment:

  • Gain access to the internal network (remotely)
  • Gain access to credit-card information
  • Gain Domain Administrator access

Penetration testing is all about achieving goals and not about finding vulnerabilities. Enough said. Vulnerabilities are not the goal. Goals are the goal.