What do you think this is?

Just thoughts of a restless mind...

Oracle Wallets for credential storage

If you're developing for the web (or something else) and you need to connect to an Oracle database, such as an Oracle Autonomous Database that comes for free with oracle cloud free tier, you may run to the typical problem of storing db connection credentials in configuration files and scripts. Nevertheless, Oracle has, since ages, a functionality called Oracle Wallet that can help you manage these connections more securely. Keep in mind that Oracle migrates away from Wallets, but my understanding is that this is a response to usability concerns, as the security standard is not maintained in the new set-up.

Vulnerability and Patch management

During the last 3 months I got more times than expected in discussions about patch and vulnerability management. I need to say, there is much misunderstanding going around about these two processes; so much that I could argue that several organizations are exposing themselves significantly, just because the touch points and (lack of) dependencies in these two processes are not clear.

Networking concerns in virtual environments

Some months ago I bought a desktop system. I hadn't had one for years, but a very strange and unexpected need came up; I wanted to play games with my son who lives in Greece, in an attempt to spend a bit more time with him, even virtually. I bought and built a desktop system based on AMD's excellent Ryzen line, but that's for another time. On that computer, and as it would be used predominantly for games, I installed MS Windows. That is another thing that hadn't happened in my household for decades!

What to do with the center of security?

Some years ago, during a (quite extended) phishing avalanche in the company I was at the time, the (then) CIO said: Let's fire every user that falls for a phishing mail! That will solve the problem for good. I considered it a joke, and I replied pretty much with a rhyme: Let's train them before we blame them and I didn't give it a second throught. We went on to deploy some training modules, but never really implemented the technical controls on the mail server; an activity that if had been implemented, several of those phishing mails would never have entered the company. I think that this is not strictly a user failure and I'm inclined to blame the IT deparment more than the user.

Fighting bias in security analysis

I am a huge fan of automation; I strongly believe that automation, machine learning and / or artificial intelligence (whatever these terms mean for different people) are our best chance to tackle one of the biggest problems we have in the cyber security industry: the human limitations.

Securing administrative access with MFA

Now that multi factor authentication is gaining ground I thought I would write a simple guide on how to secure administrative access with MFA on Linux systems. The solution is simple and based on Google Authenticator. The good thing with Google Authenticator is that it's a typical TOTP/HOTP solution and as such does not require any internet connectivity on either the server or the client. The configuration examples provided are more or less appropriate for openSUSE Leap 15 and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

To cyber-insure or not?

Professional liability insurance has been around for long. It is not a surprise that Cyber Insurance is becoming a trend lately, considering the constantly raising number of security breaches. The post in one sentence: Cyber insurance is a good thing but be careful what you wish for.

When multi-factor will not save you

There is a lot of discussion lately about multi-factor authentication and how this will upgrade everyone's security. Indeed, it is an improvement and it was about time we start becoming more conscious about the security issues related to authentication. As usually though, these discussions generated a lot of confusing and "why it didn't work" moments when we see cases such as Reddit's hack in August of 2018.

Passwords again - now on companies

More than a year ago I wrote an article about how you should stop remembering passwords. A few smart people figured out that was I was suggesting, was equivalent to using a password manager. Without the hassle of using one and without the risk of your password manager being compromised. Smart, right?