Home > Articles > Security > Software Security

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend

Mitigating Organizational Risk

Why would anyone propose running SSH on most major platforms? For more than a decade, architectures have settled on standard utilities and protocols. For example, Telnet and FTP are commonly used on all kinds of servers, including some established long before TCP/IP, UNIX, the C programming language, etc. But while Telnet and FTP are common denominators, they’re lowest common denominators when you consider their security issues. In response, organizations look to SSH to take the place of these insecure protocols. SSH is very scriptable and makes automation easy by allowing common code to run on several platforms; for example, by using Perl. Instead of working the script through two separate utilities, you can stay "in session" with SSH. File size seem too small? Kick off another transfer via SSH seamless processing power that allows both file transfer and command execution. It even allows for authentication to work without pesky passwords and authentication processes. It encrypts all traffic, so the security people feel warm and fuzzy. It’s an easy sell.

Now, how do you make sure that all those administrators and platform security architectures are on the same page? You must create a cross-platform SSH implementation team that will take ownership of the issues. This group can ensure that security is consistent across platforms, by identifying implementation weaknesses on some of those platforms.

For example, you must control access to the private-key file used with authentication. Imagine that the desktop Windows administrator has no clue how important PCs are to server security. He or she has implemented the FAT file system, making any sort of file access security very difficult. To make remote administration easy, the same person has opened the administrative shares and Remote Desktop access to Everyone. With this kind of design, a hacker can collect private keys like flowers for the plucking. With these private keys (used with multiplatform scripts), the hacker can take on any identity s/he wants—the time needed varying only in relationship to the private key’s passphrase complexity.

Don’t want me to pick on Windows administrators? Perhaps you’re serving out home directories with NFS instead. Have you studied NFS security? Got poor home directory permissions on top of poor NFS permissions?

This is just one example of how one platform’s foolishness endangers all others. Once I heard an administrator strongly recommend that we all use the same host key on our servers. This approach would remove the pesky warning that users get regarding host identity. How likely is phishing in a big intranet? Here again, one person’s ideas remove a vital security component from SSH. The best way to have a consistent, complete security model is to have a group of experts assemble the plan, document it, and weave it into server and client implementation and maintenance processes.

This group must be empowered to choose the best settings, despite complaints from administrators and developers alike. The group must be responsible for security openings found during an intrusion study performed by a credible external group. You must confirm the security plan, right? The group should find a monitoring system, either purchased or self-written, that checks production settings. You might even create a process that periodically overwrites existing files with a baseline file containing documented security settings. (It’s amazing what vendors, customers, etc. with root access can do to your settings files!)

Let me warn you: SSH security begins with use of the server-side security features. There must be agreement on which server settings are optional and which are mandatory, with which specific settings enabled. Is SSH protocol 1 good enough? One version of SSH has a configuration file with security features commented out. It’s assumed that you—and the hacker 0wning your server—have compiled SSH with security embedded. Is that good enough, and did anyone on your team catch that fail-open security design from the factory?

There will be some tough, very detailed questions to answer. If reading books and articles isn’t enough, management should work with a consultant whose costs are shared across all platform owners.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020