What your home WiFi and Smartphone are telling the entire planet!

Geo-location Wifi databases?

How many of you are aware that there are maps, accessible to the public that show your street address and list the WiFi SSID you are broadcasting in your house, along with the BSSID and router type. These maps even include your cell phone “hot spot” id if you have that turned on.    Check Google and Wigle.net for examples.  They publish maps that show every WiFi WAP and Cell Phone tower across the glove.  You can even punch in your own BSSID (unique device ID like a Mac address) and see if you have been mapped yet.   Do you fully appreciate how much of your private information is being sucked up, stored, sold and monitored?  You can opt out of Goggles Wifi map by editing your SSID and adding “_nomap” to your broadcast name.  Now this might stop Google from publishing the info, but it does not stop them from collecting it and storing it on their servers.   Additionally, this will not stop other mapping efforts by others.

So What you don’t have my password.

Hacking your WiFi is  child’s play and a basic hacking skill known by anyone who takes an interest and studies a bit.  Hacking tool kits are available even for newbies!  Your home WiFi is broadcasting a lot of information about you that does not even require a password.  For example, without a password we can still see all the devices in your home that are connected to your Wireless Access Point (WAP).   This information will broadcast information like the MAC address ( a unique device ID) of all the devices connected to that WAP.   From the MAC address we can determine the manufacture of your device and we can see how many Samsung SmartTV’s, Ring and Arlo Camera’s, Windows or MAC computers and even what iPhone or Android Smartphones are wondering around your house.  We can see which devices are active and if we are serious stalkers we can quickly figure out who owns what device and when that device, say a smartphone, is in the house or not. (So even if you don’t post on Facebook the fact that you are taking a two week vacation, leaving your house empty, we could figure that out anyway).

There is no privacy, so get use to it.

If you think about it, most of America is walking around with a little radio transmitter in their pocket that is constantly broadcasting “here I am” to all the local cell towers.  That data is constantly being archived and sold on a subscription basis to anyone who can pay the price.   The next time you see that Google car driving down your street, understand it is taking more than pictures of your house, it is also mapping your WiFi SSID and adding that information to its database!  All the Meta data about your device and its location is archived forever and available on demand.  Here is a map that shows every cell phone in America along with a great article. 

Great overview of Cell Phone Tracking and mapping

 

Patriot Act Renewed by Congress

Despite the warnings of folks like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange,  while we were all preoccupied with the current DC side show, the Patriot Act was renewed maintaining the governments ability to secretly spy on you.  Remember if it is free, you are not a customer, you are the product!

Facebook Marketplace Ebay Scam!

The Famous Facebook Marketplace Scam!

It seems that some folks on the planet have nothing better to do than figure out new and exciting ways to scam the unsuspecting!   One of the more novel approaches we have seen is the Facebook Marketplace scam!  This scam starts out harmlessly as a vehicle sale on the Facebook Marketplace.  You see an advertisement of the great Mercedes -Benz Sprinter camper that you have been interested in and at an unbelievable price (clue 1)!  You send a message through the Facebook Marketplace to the seller expressing your interest in coming to see the vehicle.   This is followed up a day or two later (clue 2) with a very nice email from the seller suggesting that you should get your financing in place as this vehicle is priced for a quick sale.

You write back that you are a cash buyer and want to see the vehicle.   This time you get a heart breaking email back saying the seller is in the Armed Services and is about to ship out so they have placed the vehicle with Ebay Motors for your protection

I am active duty Military!

Hello, I’m serving in Sioux City Air National Guard Base ( ANGB ), IA but soon our unit will be sent back oversea to replace and help the troops scheduled to come home, so I don’t need it anymore at this time. This is the reason why I left the RV stored with all the paperwork at the eBay Motors in Sioux City, IA ready to be delivered. I have signed a contract with eBay to take care of the selling on my behalf. I want to use their escrow and transport services as they offer 100% protection and insurance to both buyers and sellers.

“The deal includes free delivery and it will arrive at your address in 3-5 days, depending on the exact location. You will have 5 days to try out prior to making any purchase and if by any reason you find something you don’t like about it you can send it back at my expense (but I am sure you will love it and you will not be disappointed). If you are interested in knowing more info about how it works, I can ask eBay to send you an email with more information on how to purchase it. eBay will contact you shortly after they have the details with all the confirmation that you need to complete this deal and you will also have proof that I am covered by them and a legitimate seller. If you would like to receive the email from eBay with all the transaction information please reply with your full name, shipping address and phone # and they will contact you right away.”

Look the email is really from Ebay!

If you now send your name and address you will in fact get an invoice.  The invoice looks real enough and to the untutored eye, it would be very easy to be taken in!  After all the reply to address is Ebay!
——————————————
From: eBay™ <support@ebay-motors-securitycenter.com>
Date: Monday, August 19, 2019 at 1:18 PM
To: unsuspecting@buyer.com
Subject: Your Invoice for 2014 Leisure Travel Unity Murphy Bed Order# 233573853682 – Review and pay!
Thank you for using eBay! 

The next step is to pay for your item. Check out and pay to get your item as soon as possible.

Dear <unsuspecting buyer name here>

You are receiving this email because the seller (Tammy Schick) has registered you as a
potential buyer for the vehicle
2014 Leisure Travel Unity Murphy Bed.
Your Invoice is attached to this email. Please follow the enclosed payment instructions.
After carefully review the information, please contact our Customer Support Department at 
+1 (818) 275-7842 in order to confirm and approve your payment.
Thank you for using eBay for your Order!
———————————————————————

Check the “WHOIS” Domain Ownership

If you are careful and you call the phone number in the email, you will actually get someone who claims to be Ebay motors customer service.    If you take the time to go to the WHOIS directory and look up the ownership of the domain name ebay-motors-securitycenter.com  you might notice that the domain is owned by someone other than Ebay!

WHOIS search results

Domain Name: EBAY-MOTORS-SECURITYCENTER.COM
Registry Domain ID: 2418304121_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.tucows.com
Registrar URL: http://www.tucows.com
Updated Date: 2019-07-30T12:44:30Z
Creation Date: 2019-07-30T12:44:24Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2020-07-30T12:44:24Z
Registrar: Tucows Domains Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 69
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone:
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientUpdateProhibited
Name Server: NS1.SYSTEMDNS.COM
Name Server: NS2.SYSTEMDNS.COM
Name Server: NS3.SYSTEMDNS.COM
DNSSEC: unsigned
URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form: https://www.icann.org/wicf/
>>> Last update of whois database: 2019-08-19T23:29:23Z <<<

Is Facebook complacent?  Does Google really know everything?

At the end of the day -remember what  you parents taught you: “If it looks to good to be true, it is to good to be true”.     You have to pay careful attention when you are buying stuff on the internet!

How can Tucows a major domain registration agency sell someone a domain name that is a clear trademark infringement and is clearly part of a phishing exhibition!  importantly, if Facebook and Google have this great ability to know everything about everybody, why is it that they do not know about this scam?  Why has this ad and others like it been running on the Marketplace for months and as near as I can see, it is still running.   The scammers are actually paying for an advertisement on Facebook?  Unbelievable!   Click on the ad and you will update Facebooks database as to what your interests are so they can sell more targeted advertising!

WTF is Ngrok?

Ngrok better than sliced bread!

As a software engineer developing telecom based web applications, testing and validating software can be a major time sync.  How do you get your lab system on the Internet, accessible with a public IP, so you can test a Webhook or REST API for example?   What if you are working behind a router that has a dynamic IP address?   Reconfiguring your firewall for each test of the new code is a pain!  There has to be an easy way to enable testing without going through 20 acts of vaudeville to test your application code!
We recently discovered two tools that are now essential elements of our software engineering toolkit!   Ngrok is very creative service that solves many problems for testing network-based applications during the pre-deployment, development process.  Ngrok is a software service developed by Alan Shreve, clearly a genius,  who often goes by the name “Inconshreveable”!  In its simplest form, Ngrok is a solution that enables you to expose your lab web server which is normally installed behind a NAT or firewall, and connect with it over the Internet.   Ngrok makes it easy to set up a secure outbound SSL tunnel that can be reached by a hyperlink to a public IP.

Secure tunnels on Demand!

Ngrok is a powerful tool and Alan Shreve is an extraordinary personality!   He makes this available for free use!  No credit card required!   Just open an account here and give this a try!   Then download Ngrok to your local Windows, MAC O/S or Linux development platform, unzip it and run it with a very simple configuration command.   You might enter  “Ngrok http 80” into your terminal window to indicate that you have a web server listening on port 80 on your local machine.

Ngrok then displays a DNS link that you can point at to access and test your application.   Now you can demo without deploying, simplify mobile device testing, build webhook integrations or run personal cloud services from your own private network!   For a modest monthly fee, you can change the random number Ngrok generates for your unique link to a reserved domain name.  So https://92832de0.ngrok.io can become https://yourcompanyname.ngrok.io which will not change and is easy for you to deal with!  The free account generates a random number that will change each time you run Ngrok.   Using a reserved domain also makes webhooks a lot easier.  For example, when developing Twilio applications you would have to change your webhook every time you ran Ngrok.  The paid version enables a reserved domain name that you can now use to stabilize your Twilio webhook!

You can also build secure tunnels that are password protected and able to support multiple simultaneous connections.  Open http://localhost:404o on the platform running your Ngrok client and you can inspect and replay traffic:

We now regularly use Ngrok not only for development testing but also for remote support applications so we don’t have to worry about VPN credentials!    You can create TCP tunnels as easy as you set up HTTP tunnels!  This resource will save you more than enough time to pay the annual fee of $60 for a basic account (1 online process, 3 reserved domain names and eight tunnels per process).     Alan is online from time to time and otherwise provides a link to ask questions!   (Learn about Alan’s other projects here)!  No serious developer, network engineer or remote support technician can afford to be without this power utility! – DrVoIP
(As a product of the 60’s you might note that Grok was first used in “stranger in a strange land”, a SiFi novel.  Profound effect on most of the 60’s generation).

CUBE SIP Header Matching – Extracting DNIS from a Toll Free Number!

The Problem – Call Forwarding DNIS to Toll Free Numbers

Recently we were presented with a new challenge while deploying a Call Center based on the CISCO UCCX Version 11.5 feature set. Generally, we employ DNIS as a strategy for defining the CSQ  service parameters.   The more specific you can make the inbound number, the less you will need to “prompt and collect” digits from your caller.   A call to a specific DNIS number can separate the English callers from the other language options, or route “customer service” differently than routing “technical support”.   DNIS is always a preferred routing strategy.    Using DNIS we can design a single call routing script that can  pull in the CSQ name; offer up the proper audio menu’s; provide unique queue handling options and customize the caller experience all based on the dialed number.

In this centralized scheduling application for a large national medical practice, patients would call a local number in their community.   This number was then forwarded by the carrier to a toll free number that rang into the centralized CISCO cluster and UCCX call center.   The issue was setting up the dial peers to address the number the caller dialed, not the toll free number.   These numbers terminated on a SIP trunk that was serviced by a CISCO CUBE and the number presented was the 10 digits of the toll free number.   The DNIS number, or the number that the caller originally dialed may or may not be buried in the TO field of the incoming SIP headers.

Solution – Step 1 Debug Captures of inbound SIP messages

We need to setup “debug ccsip messages” and “debug voice ccapi inout” and make some test calls.   We need to understand how the carrier is handling the forwarded number.    In the log output below we can see the INVITE is the 877 toll free number.   The number that the caller dialed is the 9323646969 number and we can see that it is in the TO filed of the sip message headers.   We will need to write a dial-peer,voice class uri,  translation rule and profile that extracts the TO field and routes on that number rather than the original INVITE.   It is the “voice class uri” that is most magical in this solution.   (Note that we got luck here and the carrier was handling the call forwarded number in a manner that was appropriate to our goals.   This however is not always the case)!

 

Solution Step 2 “Voice Class URI”

In this example, the caller is dialing 93236453XX which is being call forwarded to the  toll free 877 number and shows up in the sip headers in the TO field.   The solution here is to create a “voice class uri”  rule.  In the snippet below we can see “voice class uri 102 sip” with a “user-id of 9323645323” as an example.   We are going to ultimately want to translate this to a four digit extension number 5323 and this is done with the traditional translation rules.  In this example “voice translation rule 102” does this conversion.  Note however that the translation rule refers to a match on the 877 toll free number, not the  9323645323 number.  This is where the magic of  “voice class uri”, the ability to do dial-peer matching based on the uri.

The Voice Class uri is structured such that it has a unique TAG and then a matching expression or host IP address.   The the snippet below we can see two attemtps to setup up a uri filter based on the last digits in the TO field of the SIP header.  Tag 102 looks to match 5323 and tag 103 looks to match 5324:

Solution Step 3 Dial Peer Matching

The call flow is dictated by dial-peer matching.   From the following snippet:

dial-peer voice 103 voip
translation-profile incoming 5324
session protocol sipv2
incoming uri to 103
voice-class codec 1
voice-class sip bind control source-interface GigabitEthernet0/0/0
voice-class sip bind media source-interface GigabitEthernet0/0/0
dtmf-relay rtp-nte
no vad

!

dial-peer voice 102 voip
description Incoming – FAX DID
translation-profile incoming 5323
session protocol sipv2
incoming uri to 102
voice-class codec 1
voice-class sip bind control source-interface GigabitEthernet0/0/0
voice-class sip bind media source-interface GigabitEthernet0/0/0
dtmf-relay rtp-nte
no vad

We can see that the voice class reference is applied to the dial-peer much the way a voice translation-profile is applied with the expression “incoming uri to 102” which sets up a filter to match for the number  9323645323.  Note that the dial peer matches the voice class but it is the translation-profile incoming 5223 that changes the ten digit number of the URI to the desired four digit extension.  In fact if you study the voice-translation rule 102 rule 1, references the toll free number!

These tools, the voice-translation rule and the voice-class uri work together to enable us to route and match dial-peers on information in the uri and not necessarily the original INVITE sip: number! Way powerful!

 

 

Network Security begins with an “Acceptable Use” Policy!

Most folks seem to understand what a firewall is and why it is so very important. They intuitively understand they need something between the “trusted” internal computer network, and the wild west we call the Internet! The installation of a firewall is generally something all business do, from the wireless network at the local coffee shop, to the medium size law firm and the giant multinational distributed enterprise. The barbarians are at the door, but with a firewall we all feel protected! The largest percentage of cyber security risks, however, do not come through the front door and your firewall will never see them enter. The largest risk to the security of your network comes from the employees and guests allowed, either connected by wire or wireless, to attach to your corporate network.

As a CISCO Certified Security Professional, DrVoIP does a great deal of work in the area of computer network security. When called on to do a “Security audit”, “voice readiness” or “network assessment”, the first question we ask executive management is where is your AUP? After all, we can tell you what protocols are running around on your network, and even which user is consuming the most bandwidth. We cannot, however, tell you if they are allowed to use that bandwidth! The creation of an “acceptable use” policy (i.e., AUP) is an essential first step in network security. The AUP communicates to all network users what is supported and what applications are allowed on the network. It describes what is acceptable regarding personal email, blogging, file sharing, web hosting, instant messaging, music and video streaming. It defines what activity is strictly prohibited on the network and clearly outlines what constitutes “excessive use”. The computer network is a valuable corporate asset and as such, it needs to be valued, protected, and secured.

Does your company have a network access and authentication policy? What is the “password” policy? Do you even 0need a password to use the company network? Can anyone just come in and plug whatever phone, pad or computer device they happen to have into the company network? What is the data storage and retention policy? Do you allow VPN tunnels that extend your company network to a home office or coffee shop? Do you allow your users to connect third party provided equipment to your network? Is it acceptable that Bob just added a hub to his office network connection so he can plug in his own printer? How do we feel if Bob plugs in his own wireless access point? Do we have a “guest” network and do we let those folks know what is acceptable on your network?

What are the legal ramifications and liabilities you are exposed to if you are providing a computer network as part of a lease agreement? Are you liable for damages if your computer network is unavailable or “down for any reason? If Home Land Security shows up because your company’s public IP address was traced as originating a terrorist treat, do you have the user agreements in place to mitigate the costs you are about to incur defending your good name and reputation?

Computer network security is more than a firewall. A computer with an Ebola virus, Adware or nefarious RAT (remote access terminal) will infect all computers on your network, threaten your corporate data and render your firewall as useless as a screen door on a submarine. If your company has taken the prudent step of providing a Human Resource or employee manual that spells out the company’s position on work force violence, sexual harassment, vacation day accrual and drugs in the workplace, why don’t you have a manual that defines the acceptable use of your most vital corporate assess, the computer network?

Contact DrVoIP@DrVoIP.com and ask us to send you a sample AUP!   We can assist with the creation of an acceptable use policy that makes sense for your company and your employees while protecting your valuable communication and collaboration asset, the company Intranet!  Then and only then can we do an effective “network assessment”. – DrVoIP

Find the password from behind the ********** and other security vulnerabilities!

If you are paying even the slightest attention to current technology trends, you will notice that many of your desktop applications are taking on the appearance of a browser!  The entire Microsoft Office suite, for example, has been optimized for the “cloud”.  Free versions available for iPhone.   Mobile devices in particular are depending more on “server” side applications with the “client” reduced to a thin client browser type interface.   The good news is that less computing power is needed at the desktop making the possibility of re purposing old computer as thin clients a reality.  No need to run out and get the latest hardware and desktop operating systems, if you are moving to the equivalent of Microsoft Office 365,  Google Docs or any of the increasingly popular cloud based solutions.

Along with the dependency on browser based applications is the alarming rate of security vulnerabilities that are exploit by the savvy against the less sophisticated user.   As the browser becomes more widely used as the primary application interface, more security violations are  experienced.  Why?  The best way to understand this phenomena is to look at a very simple example of a security vulnerability observable on most desktops, the cached Password.   When you bring up your browser to access your favorite cloud application, your user name and password are often presented automatically.  The Password field is generally filled with a string of ************ to block out your password from view.  Once you realize how easy it is to recover that Password and to display it in clear text, you will intuitively learn how dangerous cloud based security vulnerabilities can quickly become if not judiciously policed by an educated user population!

 

Is there a RAT Virus in your phone system?

If you have a device on your network that you do not have root privileges for, then your entire enterprise is at risk for a Cybercrime! Do you want to know what a Trojan horse might look like? It might very well look like a Linux appliance provided by an outside manufacturer, delivered and installed on your network. This might be a network camera, firewall, phone system or monitoring device. As network security professionals we would never allow any device to be connected to our network, in which we did not have root administrative authority. IT Directors who budget for network security, intrusion prevention and detection and apply best practice to the care and feeding of their enterprise networks seem to overlook this very large potential security vulnerability. Every day, new networking equipment, appliances and hosts are connected to your network and nobody every questions the fact that you do not have root authority?

Most of the younger folks carrying an Android device have “rooted” their phone, why? Yet you will allow your company to install equipment for which you do not have root authority? Makes no sense to us? The fact is that most modern VoIP phone systems like those from ShoreTel and CISCO are delivered with key components built on Linux like platforms. These devices are placed on the network inside the firewall and perimeter security devices yet the root privilege is not available to the system owner. A very curious practice, would you not agree? Even if you have no clue about network security and hacking, would you allow someone to come into your place of business and install a “box” for which you have not access rights?

Anyone with root access could easily put programs on that appliance that could act unnoticed by network security devices. No virus protection would take note and the device would have complete access to the entire network. A common and popular hack is the RAT, a Trojan horse that can easily be placed on an unsuspecting users phone, computer, or other network device. These RAT’s or “remote access terminals” can be remotely controlled to turn on you microphone, camera and would have full access to all files and network resources. They become remotely controlled “bots” or computer zombies. The good news is that most modern virus protection will find these RAT’s if they are installed on a host computer. What about that appliance you just added to your network, the one you do not have root access privileges? You would never even know that RAT was there and you do not even have access permission to check!

Business owners, regardless of their personal level of technical savvy, need to question every device installed on their enterprise network. Who owns the box and who administers the box? Do you have root administrative authority on every device in your network? If not, why not?

Don’t Look now you’ve been hacked – part 2 (useful tools for awareness)!

The thought of people being concerned that NSA is listing and monitoring their activities is a hysterically funny concept to me. Whatever you think of Edward Snowden, know that he is a day late and a dollar short. Most of these very same people that worry about the NSA, have a “Tracebook”, Twitter, Instagram or a half a dozen other social media accounts that should be significantly reducing the NSA operating budget. In fact, let’s just disband the NSA and hire Google! It seems that most of us have no issue publicly posting our most intimate details on Facebook including everything short of our Social Security numbers. Posting our current location and “checking in” so that the entire planet knows not only where we are, but what we are doing seems to be an absolutely essential public service and should also include pictures of the meal I am about to eat. How many of these same individuals are aware that every picture posted contains Meta Data that also memorializes the GPS co-ordinates and the camera type used to take the picture? I know you want to share picture of the family, but do you really want ISIS to know exactly where they live?

As everyone is so willing to publicly disclose these personal details, it explains why so many remain ignorant of the data mining that goes on that you do not knowingly consent to. I assume we all know that Google is in the business of selling digital user profiles to advertisers? Every type an email to a friend about planning a trip to the Italy only to find your inbox now populated with travel agency “hot deals”? If your email does not fill up with travel deals to the Italy, you can bet your internet browser will now display a travel agency advertisements, “learn to speak Italian” and top Italian Restaurants on every page you view fin! Now ask me what we think about using Google Docs! We suggest that you consider DoNotTrackme extensions to your Chrome and Firefox browsers. We also recommend that you install “self-destructing cookies” and watch how many cookies are exchanged with your browser each use. Remember, we really don’t need your username and password, we need your cookies all of which are transmitted in clear text over that Starbucks wireless you have been using! All available using FireSheep!

Now if this is a vulnerability that effects individuals, what vulnerability effects enterprise level environments? Forget the notoriously leaking Windows Operating system and your hopelessly porous laptop, in the wake of the 55 Million credit card numbers stolen from Home Depot and the 45 million stolen from Target, we now have to worry about the credit card machines at the checkout counter. Actually the TJ Maxx heist was in many ways much larger! You might be considering how did the hackers get through the Firewall? As we have pointed out before, most computer network security exploitations are not executed through the firewall, they are executed by “social engineering” with the assistance of an ignorant employee or paid hit man. It is suspect that at least one of the above break ins was assisted by a third party trusted partner like the heating and air conditioning service company. Nothing like a starving janitorial night service crew to earn a few extra bucks plugging a USB device into any desktop computer releasing a new and improved malware version of BlackPOS ! Most of these stolen credit card numbers can be purchase here or on the Darknet using a Tor browser to reach silk road type websites.

It seems you can’t turn on an electronic device today without it alerting you that a software update is available for download. From the TV set, to the mobile phone, tablet and now even your car, all are subject to software updates. Do you even question what is being downloaded to your device when you do a software update? You just assume you are connecting with Apple, Amazon or Samsung? What if some evil doer was really just spoofing a software update and you just willingly downloaded a super basket of spy goodies that turn on your phone camera, activate your microphone and email snapshots to back to the mother ship. NSA, are you kidding? You would never know if it was your spouse, or employer would you? Yet millions of people do this without care, day after day and think nothing more about it. If you want to be tracked everywhere you go, risk having your most intimate communications published (just ask Jenifer Lawrence and the other celebrity Nude hack victims) just carry your Smartphone with you at all times!

Cyber-crime, next to the Ebola virus and violent terrorism is the single most economically destructive phenomenon to threaten the American way of life since the Cuban missile crisis. Yet the average business owner winces at the cost of engaging a computer network security audit and thinks that penetration testing is lovemaking foreplay. When the IT team asks for a Firewall upgrade or an increase in budget to cover a subscription to virus, spam and bot net filtering they somehow can’t justify the added expense. Educating your employees on the safe use of the Internet over WiFi should be part of the healthcare preventive medicine program, but most business will ignore “social engineering” vulnerabilities until a major data thief publicly embarrasses them.

(DrVoIP provides VoIP network readiness assessments and is a certified Network Security consultancy providing penetration testing, firewall and related security services. If you contact DrVoIP@DrVoIP.com we recommend that you use Ipredator and remember that there is a difference between being anonymous online and untraceable on online! We can help you with both.)

Don’t look now but you have been hacked!

Hackers at the Front Door?

Most every home and business office now has a firewall that separates your internal computer network from the wild west of the world wide internet. The good news is that firewalls have become increasingly more sophisticated and properly configured can do an excellent job in securing your internal computer network devices.  Modern firewalls now include intrusion detection and prevention, email spam filtering, website blocking and most are able to generate reports on who did what and when. They not only block evil doers from outside your network, but they police the users on the inside from accessing inappropriate resources on the outside internet. Employees can be blocked from visiting sites that can rob your business of valuable productivity time or violate some security compliance requirement.  Prime business hours is really not the time to update your Facebook page! Nor do we want our medical and financial service folks using an instant messaging service to chat with and outsider!

The Firewall is the electronic equivalent of the “front door” to your computer network and there is an endless parade of potential evil doers spray painting your doors and windows, relentlessly looking for a way in. A properly configured, managed, and regularly updated Firewall can be very effective in protecting your computer network, both in the office and at home. Behind the firewall, must desktop computers and office servers have local software based firewalls installed that also provide virus protection.  Hopefully if something does get past the firewall, the internal virus and desktop firewall solutions will provide an additional level of security.

What is a Firewall Anyway?

Firewalls are both reasonable and appropriate but here is the bad news. Most of the hacking you now hear and read about is not done by evil doers coming through your firewall! The real damage is done by those inside your network! Malicious users and dishonest employees will always a treat. There is always the treat of the unscrupulous employee swiping credit card data or passing security information for money. The real danger, however, is from users who are just ignorant of today highly sophisticated security vulnerabilities. The most honest employee can unwittingly become the source of a major security breach resulting in the loss of their own personnel data, or the personal and financial data of your customers.

Take your average laptop user as a perfect example. How many times have you gone down to Starbucks and setup shop?  Beautiful day, open air, sun and a high speed internet connection, wireless phone and it is business as usual! If I told you how easy it is to setup a “man in the middle” attack at Starbucks you would give up coffee for the rest of your life. You think you are on the Starbucks WiFi, but actually that kid in the back of the Starbucks with the Wireless Access Point attached to his USB connector, has spoofed you into thinking he is your door to the Internet. He has been monitoring every key stroke on you laptop since you logged in. In fact he now has your log in, password and most everything else on your computer.  Now when you head back to the office and plug in,  you just unleashed a bot on the company network and he will be back later tonight!

If laptops were not enough, everybody is now walking around with a Smartphone!  Did you know that your Smartphone keeps a list of all the WiFi networks you have used recently? Remember when you were down at Starbucks checking your email while waiting for that cup of coffee? Now everywhere you go your phone is sending out a beacon request that sounds like “Starbucks WiFi are you there?” hoping it will get a response and auto connect you to the internet. Remember that kid we were just talking about?  He decided to answer your beacon request with a “yeah here I am, hop on!” Just another “MITM” attack and what he can do to your Smartphone, especially those Androids makes your laptop look like Fort Knocks!

Sometimes for fun and entertainment, while sitting at a gate in an airport waiting room, I will net scan the WiFi to identify how many phones, computers and ipads are online and connected. Not saying that I would do this, but I think you could execute a Netbios attack in less the five minutes?  It is amazing how many people leave their printer an network sharing options on when they travel.  Even more people leave their “Network Neighborhood” settings  in the default configuration!  The drill is always the same:  map the network to see what hosts are connected; port scan for know vulnerabilities; out the exploit tool kit and the rest is actually getting relatively boring for the ethical hacker.  Now credit card thieves on the other hand…….

Chances are your Internet browser is worst enemy when it comes to securing your privacy.  Every website you visit, every email you send and every link you follow is being tracked by hundreds of companies. Don’t believe me?  If you are using Firefox, install an add in extension named DoNotTrackme and study what happens.  Assuming you are an average internet surfer, in less that 72 hours you will have a list of over 100 companies that have been tracking your every move on the internet!  These companies don’t work for the NSA,  but they do sell your “digital profile” to those willing to pay for the information.  Where has your GPS been? What sites did you visit, what movies did you watch, what products did you buy, what search terms did you select – all of this dutifully reported back by you and your unsuspecting employees.  Ever wonder if your competitors want to know what your viewing on line?

Voice Over IP phone systems offer an entirely new range of vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited by the unscrupulous evil doer!  We recently illustrated to a client Law Firm (as a paid intrusion detection and penetration testing consultant and with the clients permission) just how easy it is to covertly switch on a conference room based speakerphone and broadcast the entire conference to a remote observer over the internet! In fact, capturing voice packets for replay is the first trick script kiddies learn in hacking school!

VoIP, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, RFid, file and print sharing and even the “cloud” all add up to a list of vulnerabilities that can be easily exploited. What can you do? You need to educate yourself and develop your own “best practice” for safe computing.  You need to educate your employees and co-workers about the various vulnerabilities we all face every day as we become more “wired” and more Mobile.  Hire a competent Computer Network Security professional to do “penetration testing” on your corporate network and firewall.  It would be better to pay a professional to “hack” you, then pay to  fix it after you have been hacked!  Remember if we can touch your network, we will own your network!

(DrVoIP provides VoIP network readiness assessments and is a certified  Network Security consultancy.   If you contact DrVoIP@DrVoIP.com we recommend that you use Ipredator to do so!)