Early this week, Yahoo joined the ranks of many other large organizations that were successfully and publically breached this summer. The group claiming responsibility, known as ‘D33Ds Company, claims the breach was intended as a wakeup call to Yahoo’s security team and not as a malicious act. The breach involved the extraction of sensitive information such as the usernames and passwords or nearly half a million users, as well as the full database architecture of the web application. D33Ds Company was able to steal the information by exploiting a SQL injection vulnerability in an undisclosed Yahoo! web application that some have speculated is related to the company’s VOIP phone service.
To understand how to prevent becoming a victim of this type of attack, it’s important to how SQL Injection works and the different types of attacks. Most modern web applications such as the one breached by D33Ds Company involve two major components to operate. The first is the logic required to operate the application, the second is the database used to store persistent information like user credentials. When a user submits data such as their username and password into a website, the logic portion of the application makes a request to the database to validate the credentials provided by the user (does the username exist, and is the password correct?).
A SQL injection attack is designed to exploit insufficient controls over the types of requests a user can submit, which allows an attacker to request information from the database that it isn’t intended to provide. For instance, asking the database if a user’s password starts with the letter ‘a’, if not, how about ‘b’ etc. In the Yahoo example, attackers identified this type of vulnerability and leveraged it to extract every byte of information from the database.
However, not all SQL Injection attacks are equal. Some can be more destructive than others. The specific flavor of SQL injection used in the Yahoo attack, known as Union Based, is arguably the most destructive. This attack enables the attacker to extract extremely large chunks of data in a very short amount of time. It’s the difference between requesting each password one at a time (normal SQL injection), letter by letter (Blind SQL injection) or requesting hundreds of passwords in one shot (Union Based). Union Based attacks also make identifying the attack far more difficult because many preventative measures rely on the large volume of requests and time required to extract sensitive information as a way to identify and stop an attack in progress. Union attacks are very quick and require very few requests, making it more difficult to detect abnormal activity.
While SQL injection attacks are becoming fairly common, preventing them is not necessarily an easy endeavor. The preferred method is for companies to perform extensive reviews of the code which interacts with the database. These reviews help identify cases where an SQL injection attack may be successful, and once identified, the company can update the code to prevent an attack. This is not always possible, as the code may have been written by developers from other companies, ex-employees, or the code may not be available for review or modification at all. Aside from that, reviewing code is time consuming, requires skilled eyes, and is a point-in-time solution which must be repeated after every product update. For these reasons, many companies simply can’t accommodate the level of review necessary to avoid a breach. With that in mind, companies who are concerned about the possibility of a breach (which should be everyone!), must seek alternate solutions.
Mykonos Web Security for example, is a drop in minimal configuration solution that is designed to help address this problem. When an attacker targets a website, there is an extensive amount of work that must be done before a breach can be successful. This work involves probing and reverse engineering the web application and attempting to identify specific conditions the original developers had never anticipated. This is the type of activity that Mykonos looks for and stops. Once a malicious user is identified, they can be effectively stopped long before any valid exploits are discovered. Other solutions are available, but primarily focus on detection and less on real-time prevention. Web application firewalls for example, are effective at stopping known and automated SQL injection attacks, but are not difficult for skilled attackers, such as D33Ds Company, to bypass. You can see a demo of Mykonos here.
In addition to external protective measures like Mykonos, companies should also consider implementing tighter restrictions on their database, ensuring that users only have rights to access and manipulate data necessary to do their jobs. Giving the web application full unrestricted access to all database data and features is a common mistake in many web applications, which dramatically compounds the damage caused by a successful SQL injection attack. Companies should also consider other protections, such as encrypting sensitive information like passwords, or even storing that information in a secondary database with highly restrictive policies.
From a consumer’s perspective, the Yahoo and other similar breaches could have significant security consequences and they should take action. For one, several people re-use the same password on multiple website, which allows people to compromise multiple accounts at once. As a best practice, people should use different passwords and change them regularly to avoid being a victim.
However, ultimately the responsibility to prevent these types of attacks rests squarely on companies that need to protect the information their customers trust with them.
Title: Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Branch Solutions Business Unit
Area of Responsibility: Driving Juniper business including strategy, revenue/profitability, products and execution for this segment of SLT's overall portfolio, specifically comprehensive solutions for the small to medium size locations of large, distributed enterprises.
Alex joined Juniper in February 2008 after more than five years at Extreme Networks, where he served as Chief Operating Officer from mid 2002 through 2006, and the last year as VP and GM of Extreme's high-end switching business and core engineering operations. During his tenure at Extreme Alex led programs which established essential product lifecycle and quality systems, completely refreshed the product portfolio, significantly improved product and service quality and margins, and streamlined the supply chain.
Prior to Extreme Alex served as Chief Operating Officer for LCG Wireless (acquired by ADC Telecommunications), SVP Business Operations for ReplayTV, and earlier spent eight years in various executive roles with Octel Communications (acquired by Lucent Technologies) as CIO, SVP Business Operations, and SVP and GM of Enterprise Messaging. Alex holds a bachelors and masters degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis.
Bill is the Director of Federal Certifications and Policy at Juniper Networks. In this role, Bill focuses on several areas unique to the needs of Federal Government customers, including product certifications, IPv6, and security. Bill came to Juniper Networks in January 2008 after more than 20 years in the IT community working with commercial enterprise customers, service providers, and the US Federal Government.
Bill started his career as an engineering officer in the US Air Force after graduating with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bill has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Brad Minnis, CPP is the Senior Director of Corporate Environmental, Health, Safety & Security for Juniper Networks, Inc. based in Sunnyvale, CA, where he is responsible for strategic design, implementation and management of the company’s security, safety, environment, crisis management and business continuity functions. He also leads the company’s efforts in corporate citizenship and sustainability, and manages the Corporation’s government-related security programs.
Mr. Minnis has over 30 years experience in the Silicon Valley and has managed EHSS operations for a number of high tech companies, including Juniper Networks, 3Com Corporation, and National Semiconductor Corporation.
Mr. Minnis’ specialties include security management, supply chain and product integrity, anti-counterfeit, occupational health and safety and crisis management. In his role as Cyber Incident Response Team Leader for Juniper, Mr. Minnis has managed numerous high impact cyber-related incidents and cross-functional responses.
Mr. Minnis served for ten years in the United States Navy and has served in leadership positions the International Security Management Association (ISMA) and ASIS International, serving as Chairman of the San Francisco Chapter in 2003. He has also co-written several publications on software integrity assurance and supply chain security with organizations such as SAFECode.
Mr. Minnis is certified as a Protection Professional by the Professional Certification Board of ASIS International and attended the University of Connecticut, where he received two certificates in Environmental, Health and Safety
François Prowse is a Senior Systems Engineer for Juniper Networks, based in Brisbane Australia. Francois joined Juniper in 2006 as part of the New Zealand SE team, subsequently relocating to Australia. Prior to Juniper, Francois worked for four years at Alcatel in both operational and architectural roles, being jointly responsible for the construction of New Zealands' largest MPLS core network. Prior to Alcatel, Francois worked at UUnet, focusing on core network expansion in Europe. In all previous roles JUNOS has been the driving factor behind day to day operations, providing him with over 8 years of operational experience. Francois is a Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE #144) which he obtained prior to joining Juniper Networks.
Greg Sidebottom is a Senior Engineering Manager in the Identity and Policy Management business unit at Juniper Networks. Greg has spent the last decade plus conceptualizing, architecting, designing, and leading the implementation of Juniper's SDX and SRC families of policy based service management applications. Previous to this, Greg held positions in the software and networking industries at Siemens, Cognos, Nortel, GTE labs subsidiary MPR Teltech, and the Alberta Research Council. Greg is an author of eight invention disclosures resulting in two patents issued and three pending. Greg holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science for the University of Calgary and an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University.
Senior Product Line Manager – CTP Products Juniper Networks.
Jim Kelly is the senior product line manager for the CTP products where he is responsible for the CTP product direction, marketing and circuit emulation applications within Juniper Networks. Mr. Kelly has more than 28 years of experience in the networking industry in technical roles, sales, marketing, and product management positions. He started his career in the United States Air Force. He has worked for Wang, Digital Telecom Systems, American Airlines, Network Equipment Technologies, Carrier Access, and Nortel Networks. He started Juniper Networks federal DoD sales in July 2000 and joined Juniper Networks again in October 2005 through the acquisition of Acorn Packet Solutions where he was the director of sales and marketing.
Justin Ryburn is a Senior Systems Engineer at Juniper Networks. He holds an MBA and a MS in IT Management from Webster University as well as numerous industry certifications. Justin contributed content for Cyber Forensics (Auerbach Publishing, 2007) and spoke on BGP Flowspec at NANOG63. Prior to joining Juniper, Justin held various operations, engineering, and sales engineering positions over his 15-year career with companies such Savvis, Nortel, XO, and Charter.
I am currently a Sr. Product Marketing Manager specializing in Juniper's Security Portfolio in the Service Provider industry. I am an experienced senior technical leader, technical marketing engineer, solutions architect, and product marketing manager with over 20 years of Internet and Enterprise industry experience developing solutions from scratch often in relation with business units and technology groups, my projects ranged from product, solution, and technology development to corporate technology strategies. I have strong analytical skills and I am able to crunch and articulate complex technology to a variety of audience knowledge levels. I possess a deep hands-on technology and business knowledge of Service Provider and Enterprise architectures with deployment hands-on skills. I also bring a unique perspective of open source philosophy, including but not limited to open innovation, software development methodologies, open source monetization and business models, and licensing and compliance in software integration. I am a strategic leader with proved ability to empower a team to improve their product, themselves, their team, and our company’s market position.
30 Years in Book Publishing, 20 years in Technical Book Publishing, including Apple Developer Press, Adobe Press, Nokia Developer Books, Palm Books, and since 2001, almost 10 years as consulting editor/editor in chief for Juniper Networks Book. Joined the company and started the Day One book line and in 2011, the new This Week book line.
Rajoo Nagar is a senior manager in product marketing at Juniper Networks. She is responsible for product marketing for Juniper's security solutions. Rajoo is a published author, her book “Telecom Service Rollouts” was published by McGraw Hill Professional.
I'm a Product Line Manager in the Security Business Unit working on all things intrusion prevention-related. I've been in the security field since 1994 working on diverse projects such as developing HP's public-key infrastructure (PKI), building the first protocol anomaly-based IDS at Recourse Technologies (acquired by Symantec), integrating vulnerability management and IDS at VM vendor nCircle and managing IPS products at Cisco and Juniper.
Jonathan Looney is a Senior Staff Courseware Developer at Juniper Networks. Before joining Juniper, he performed network engineering for a large enterprise, a regional ISP, and an application service provider (ASP). The holder of several industry certifications, he enjoys the freedom his job at Juniper gives him to both continually learn and also to share his knowledge with others through a wide range of media.
Scott is the Director of Product Marketing for Mobile Security at Juniper Networks. In his 20+ years in high tech, Scott has worked on Mobile and Endpoint Security, Network Security, IPS, Managed Services, Network Infrastructure, Co-location, Microprocessor Architecture, Unix Servers and Network Adapters. He has held leadership roles at Check Point, McAfee, Symantec, Exodus Communications, Cable & Wireless, Savvis, and HP.
Sherry Ryan is IT Vice President and CISO of Juniper Networks. Previously, Sherry held similar positions at Blue Shield of California, Hewlett-Packard, Safeway and Levi Strauss where she established and led their information security programs. Sherry holds the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from ISACA and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification from ISC2. She is a member of the High Tech Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).
Sherry has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Redlands, and earned her MBA from the College of Notre Dame.