Remote Access
Commentary
2/10/2014
10:00 AM
Lori MacVittie
Lori MacVittie
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Target Breach Takeaway: Secure Your Remote Access

Yes, attackers could use stolen credentials to get into your systems from a distance. But slamming the door is not the answer.

The percentage of respondents to our 2013 Strategic Security Survey who say controlling remote access is a problem jumped 11 points year-over-year.
The percentage of respondents to our 2013 Strategic Security Survey who say controlling remote access is a problem jumped 11 points year-over-year.

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Roy Atkinson
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Roy Atkinson,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2014 | 1:17:41 PM
The HVAC Account, Target, and the Real World
It is true that the HVAC account used to infiltrate Target should never have had access to the POS systems. But it did, and that was an IT mistake. However, some of the comments about the HVAC account having "read-only" access and so on indicate a lack of awareness of what really goes on. Vendors that install and maintain building systems such as HVAC, card readers for entry and the like own those systems, and IT's access to them is either non-existent or minimal. The vendors' concerns about security are also usually nonexistent. I have seen building control systems that have "admin" as the user and the company name as the password for years, and through the careers of multiple technicians. The systems in many (if not all) of the other buildings maintained by these vendors had the same exact credentials. The passwords were never changed when technicians left, no matter what the circumstances of that separation. Of course, IT could not get enforcement power over the vendors because of the siloed nature of the organizations. There are thousands of breaches waiting to happen.
prebil
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prebil,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/11/2014 | 2:59:41 PM
Re: 2-factor or more factor
I agree. Hackers should never have been able to gain access to Target's payment processors via the HVAC system. Clearly this was poor network planning.  The company I work for has been providing secure remote access solutions - complete with granular access controls - to retailers for several decades. Most recently though, we introduced a new security solution designed to completely mask access to devices - like HVAC systems - except for authorized individuals. I invite you to learn more at http://www.netop.com/securem2m
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 1:48:50 PM
Re: Lack of security at Target --details!
Mat Schwartz, quoting unnamed sources cited by journalist Brian Krebs, reported in InformationWeek 2/6

"...investigators now believe that Target's attackers first accessed the retailer's network on November 15, 2013, using access credentials that they'd stolen from Fazio Mechanical Services. Theoretically, those access credentials allowed attackers to gain a beachhead inside Target's network, and from there access and infect other Target systems, such as payment processing and point-of-sale (POS) checkout systems."

It's a good read. You can check it out here: http://www.informationweek.com/security/attacks-and-breaches/target-breach-hvac-contractor-systems-investigated/d/d-id/1113728.

rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 10:31:06 AM
Re: Lack of security at Target
I don't know the details.  Did they use the HVAC account to do all that or did the HVAC account enable them to penetrate the permiter defenses.  Once inside, did they then leverage privilege escalation vulnerabilities in unpatched systems?
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 9:51:37 AM
Re: 2-factor or more factor
The problem is the HVAC systems weren't dealing with payment data. Stronger authentication might have helped, but so would network segmentation. The attackers shouldn't have been able to leap from HVAC controls all the way to POS systems.
norris1231
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norris1231,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/10/2014 | 10:18:17 PM
Re: 2-factor or more factor
You nailed two of the most important factors.  Authentication is a true security measure that should be identified as well as being on site.  However, the overall remote process is vulnerable.  Therefore, tight very tight security measures must be taken to protect the business from any forms of threats. There are many security procedures that must take place not just two.  
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 4:44:58 PM
Re: 2-factor or more factor
When dealing with people's payment data, two-factor authentication and being onsite should be requirements.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 3:46:10 PM
2-factor or more factor
Lori,

What approach do you recommend for 2-factor or multi-factor authentication? You said something about "at least" 2-factor should be required, but what do you really recommend?
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 2:28:58 PM
Security Leverage
"This is one area where you can use the Target example to your advantage, to light a fire under stakeholders." This will be a time to pick your battles and use your leverage from this incident, certainly. In what other areas is the Target incident helping you make security arguments, readers?
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Moderator
2/10/2014 | 2:06:53 PM
Re: Lack of security at Target
I work in IT also and if the executives in your company never over ride your decisions on things like this then you work for an unusual company in my experience and based on my discussions with other IT people at other companies.
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