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Case Study in Business Information Security. IT Security Audit. Todd Fine, MCSE, MCSD, CNA Director, Security and Integration Practice, RDA. RDA Corporation. Quick Introduction to RDA. IT Consulting company in the Security, Integration, and AppDev spaces

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Case Study in Business Information Security

IT Security Audit

Todd Fine, MCSE, MCSD, CNA

Director, Security and Integration Practice, RDA

RDA Corporation

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Quick Introduction to RDA

  • IT Consulting company in the Security, Integration, and AppDev spaces

  • Partners: Microsoft, IBM,, Rational, BEA, and…CIS!

    • MS Gold Certified in Security and E-commerce solutions (only handful in the U.S.)

  • Verticals: Insurance, Capital finance and Commercial Lending

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Security Offering

  • Security Assessments, Audits and Implementations

  • Software security architecture design, including PKI and training on .NET

  • Active Directory, ISA Server and Exchange design and implementation

  • Network and Systems Consulting (VPNs, firewalls, network design, wireless)

  • Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Assessment and Implementation

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Case Study: Company Profile

  • Financial Services: Annuity’s industry

  • Pioneered Web-based approaches to transactions in the annuity market on the Internet

  • Connect all industry constituencies: carriers and manufacturers, distributors and point of sale representatives, customers

  • Client list includes large financial and insurance institutions including Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, Fidelity,GE Financial, Nationwide, and more

  • Provide new, secure distribution channels for partner products and services

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Business Situation and Challenges

  • As a financial institution, must work within strict regulatory environment

  • Customers and Partners extremely strict on security, performing lengthy due diligence activities before coming on board

    • facility site visits

    • security policy and procedure reviews

    • penetration/hacking attempts

  • As part of strong focus on security, perform an annual security audit, the results of which are provided to their partners

  • Underlying drivers can be understood by stating the issues of utmost importance to the organization in this arena:

    • Guaranteeing privacy for partners, and their partner’s data

    • Ensuring the highest degree of protection from hostile attacks

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Project Mission Statement

  • Ensure that critical production networks, applications, and especiallydata, are secure and protected from attack. This will be accomplished via a comprehensive Security Audit designed to:

    • Probe and validate security state via penetration testing and vulnerability assessments

    • Review current security practices, policies, and processes

    • Present resulting security posture in the context of security industry best practices, baselined against industry standards

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Methodology and Approach

  • RDA uses a custom methodology, based on best practices from several industry-leading standards and methodologies, including:

    • BS7799/ISO-17799 Information Security Standard

    • Open Source Security Testing Methodology

    • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Network Security Testing Guidelines

    • Benchmarking and Comparative Scoring (CIS)

  • For benchmarking and comparison of security state, there have been no dominant (and in fact few at all) standards

  • CIS is the emerging leader in this arena, for which RDA is a partner

  • RDA uses the CIS benchmarking tools and scoring systems where possible within the security audit

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CIS Overview/Recap

  • CIS includes a large group of user organizations, security professionals and auditors that have collaboratively agreed upon security configuration specifications that:

    • Represent a prudent level of due care (Level-1), and

    • Consensus best-practice (Level-2) security configurations for computers connected to Internet

  • CIS scoring tools are used to determine how systems measure up to these widely accepted security benchmarks

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CIS Tools Used in this Case Study

  • CIS Windows 2000 Benchmark

    • Criteria used for scoring are divided into three categories:

      • Service Packs and Hotfixes

      • Policies

      • Security Settings

  • CIS Cisco Router Security Benchmark

    • Router Auditing Tool: for benchmarking Cisco router security

    • Measures router configuration against CIS Level 1 configuration guidelines

    • Downloads router config, checks against benchmark settings

  • CIS “SANS Top Twenty” Vulnerability Scanner

    • “Top Twenty” vulnerabilities benchmarking tool

    • Runs specific set of scans targeting SANS top 20 vulnerabilities

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CIS Benchmark & Scoring Tool for W2K

  • W2K scoring tool measures globally applied security policies on Windows servers and workstations

  • Combination of guidance published by SANS Institute, the NSA and the DoD, plus CIS members

  • Level-1 defines minimum standards for securing W2K servers and workstations

  • Level-1 security actions specified satisfy 3 conditions:

    • Can be safely implemented by a SysAdmin of any level of technical security skill

    • Will “do no harm” to functionality commonly required by everyday users

    • Can be scored by the CIS software tool

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CIS Tools: Windows Platform

  • “Score” produced is a number between 1 and 10

    • Service Packs

    • Hotfixes Needed

    • Non-Expiring Passwords

    • Policy Mismatches for Account and Audit Policies

    • Restrict Anonymous

    • Security Options Mismatches

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Results: W2K Benchmark

  • Strengths

    • Minimum password length set high

    • Logon security banners and warnings are enabled

    • User desktops locked down for access

    • Accounts locked out until the administrator enables them

    • Unnecessary services disabled

    • Console access requires authentication w/ RSA encryption

  • Weaknesses

    • No max password age to force users to change passwords

    • Passwords do not meet standard guidelines for complexity

    • Insufficient restrictions for anonymous connections. NULL usernames and passwords can be used to obtain information from systems on the domain

    • System not set for "No access w/o explicit anonymous permissions"

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Conclusions: W2K Benchmark

  • Summary

    • Mainly reliant on firewall and token authentication for security

    • Several password policy enhancements and server configuration settings are necessary to enhance OS hardening of the servers

  • Recommendations

    • Set option for “No access without explicit anonymous access given” in the security policy for the Domain

    • Set limited password ages for all passwords

    • Increase password complexity requirements

    • Additional restrictions for anonymous connections should be set

      • Disable the ability to enumerate system information through the use of a NULL username and password

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CIS Benchmark & Scoring Tool: IOS Router

  • Measures router configuration against CIS Level 1 benchmark

  • Downloads router configuration, checks it against benchmark

  • For each configuration, produces:

    • A list of each rule checked with a pass/fail score

    • Raw and weighted overall score

    • List of IOS commands that will correct problems identified

  • Also comes with a Router Security Configuration Guide (by NSA)

    • Provides technical guidance to help administrators and security officers improve network security

    • Principles and guidance for secure configuration of IP routers, with detailed instructions for Cisco routers

    • Use to help control access, resist attacks, shield network components, protect integrity and confidentiality of network traffic

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Results: Router Benchmarks

Score Summary

#Rules #Passed Failed %Passed

37 15 22 40

Perfect Weighted Score Actual Weighted Score

275 109

%Weighted Score


Overall Score (0-10)


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Results: Router Benchmarks

  • Strengths

    • Router not exposed to the Internet

    • All small TCP services and UDP services disabled on the router

      • This prevents some denial of service vulnerabilities on the router

    • SNMP is disabled on the router (prevents SNMP enumeration)

    • Web server service is disabled

      • Prevents router from being susceptible to a web-based attack

  • Weaknesses

    • Logging on router not being captured

    • No access lists to prevent unneeded traffic from DR to Production

    • RIP routing is enabled on the router

    • Telnet access not restricted to allowable subset of IP addresses

    • User logging not enabled

      • Enable ID of any person who makes a configuration change

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Conclusions: Router Benchmarks

  • Summary

    • Routers connecting DR to Production are in secure location on network; thus security not under same scrutiny as devices that touch the internet

    • However, taking further measures to lock down routers would require little effort, and would add additional security barrier in the event of a system exploit or virus infection

  • Recommendations

    • Add access lists to router to prevent unneeded traffic from passing through

    • Disable RIP routing

    • Enable logging on the router, to aid in troubleshooting configuration changes and preventing security breaches

    • Enable user logins

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CIS Tools: Top Twenty Vulnerability Scanner

  • Specific set of scans targeted at SANS Top 20

  • Strengths

    • Full protection from all Top 20 well-known security vulnerabilities

  • Weaknesses

    • None

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Initial Results Summary

  • CIS "Windows 2000 Level I” benchmark

    • Score: 1.7(out of 10)

  • CIS Cisco Router security benchmark

    • Score: 4.4 (out of 10)

  • CIS “SANS Top 20" vulnerability scanner

    • Score: 100 (perfect score). No vulnerabilities!

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Next Steps (Remediation)

  • Fix problems

    • Follow benchmark results, which in some cases specify security actions to take

    • Use expertise to interpret results

    • Need to consider both business and technical constraints and make informed trade-offs

  • Re-run the benchmark scoring tools!

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Post-Remediation: Final Results

  • CIS "Windows 2000 Level I” benchmark

    • Score: 6.5(out of 10)

  • CIS Cisco Router security benchmark

    • Score: 7.2 (out of 10)

  • CIS “SANS Top Twenty“ Vulnerability Scanner

    • Score: 100 (perfect score)

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Final Overall Conclusions

  • Although minor issues found, RDA was unable to penetrate any production host on the network

    • Note: Application Layer security is a different story – but that’s a also a different presentation 

  • Strong policies were in place covering most aspects of security

  • Staff very security-conscious, security ingrained upon employees

  • After remediation, firm was able to further increase security posture, and upon conclusion received a HIGH overall rating, above most other companies

  • CIS leadership and tools a great boon to RDA and our customers

    • Differentiates RDA in the security market

    • Makes our security audit services and deliverables better

    • Creates a sense of confidence for customer (esp. exec mgmt)

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Todd Fine – RDA, Business Development Director