THE BIGGEST COMPUTER SECURITY THREAT by Vladimir Volokh, VESOFT Presented at INTEREX Conference 1990, Boston, MA, USA Published by VENEWS, #6, 1991. The problem of computer security was definitely not invented by software vendors -- just read the newspapers every day. Computer crimes come in different flavors: * simply reading sensitive data (prices, customer lists, etc.) * modification of data (payroll rates, shipping information) * sabotage (viruses, time bombs, intentional system crashes) * software theft * unauthorized computer use * defense-related crimes * and more... Security-minded authors have written many books, as well as articles in HP-related publications, on this subject; we at VESOFT became involved in the HP3000 security industry in its very infancy, presenting computer security papers at HP conferences in Berlin (1981), Copenhagen (1982), Anaheim (1984), and, most recently, at the INTEREX security seminar in 1989. And yet not every HP3000 computer is secure! The word SECURITY is misleadingly simple, simple enough to make many people think that they have adequate system security without fully thinking out what HP3000 security really entails. The issue of computer security is actually very complex -- it involves: * physical security (guards, dogs, locks) * system set-up (accounts, groups, users, capabilities, access, etc.) * LOGON security * file system security (why does MPE have a :RELEASE command?) * IMAGE security (have you EVER changed your database password?) * application security (who is allowed to print checks?) * data encryption (fields, files) * LOGOFF security (can people just walk up to an unattended terminal and use it?) * batch access * back-up and disaster recovery * and more... much more... System security is every bit as much a primary concern of any DP department as the actual applications running on the machine. SYSTEM SET-UP Look at your accounting structure first: * What accounts do you have (check it by using :REPORT X.@)? * What groups (use :REPORT @.@)? * What users (:LISTUSER @.@)? * Which capabilities do each of them have (SM, OP, PM)? * What kind of access (Read, Write... -- for ANY, AC, GU...)? * Are all of these entities passworded, or only some of them? * Are some of the existing passwords too short or too obvious? * How often are they changed (if at all)? * How many various levels of UDCs are set on your system? * And if you rely on them, how easy is it to bypass them? LOGON SECURITY Logon to the HP seems to be quite secure with ACCOUNT, GROUP and USER passwords. Or is it? Look carefully: * MPE error messages at logon time are too "friendly" * Passwords are readable combinations of up to 8 ASCII characters * They are either easy to guess or difficult to remember -- and users write them down (sometimes even stick them to the terminal) * They are often shared or simply disclosed * Seldom changed * If users use the session name (:HELLO MARY,MGR.PAYROLL), it only looks better -- the session name isn't enforceable and the password is assigned to user (MGR) anyway * Yes, the MPE password is assigned, so account manager is the first suspect (and all SM users too) * Is it easy to enforce shifts (time restrictions on logon)? * Can payroll be run in the computer room (from LDEV 20)? * Or can it be done on the weekend? * Can end-users ever see ":"? What can they do then? * What is better: to forbid most MPE commands via "clever" UDCs or to let users execute only some commands and subsystems? * And if you have a logon UDC which brings them into an application, how about some other applications (e.g. HPMAIL), some utilities? Should users constantly change their logon ID? REMOTE ACCESS Remote access to the computer is common nowdays: dial-up, DS, NS... * Who knows your dial-up telephone number? Your former employees, current employees, telephone company workers, HP SEs... * Simple question: what to do if a person leaves the company? (Change all passwords on the system, unplug dial-up forever, request to change your dial-up number...) * We have a horror story to tell you: one of our customers did change their dial-up number, but... the telephone company set call-forwarding onto it (you know the message -- "The number has been changed, the new number is...") * And if there are two or more computers linked together, can any programmer access the production HP/960 from the development HP/42? LOGOFF SECURITY Logoff is also a problem: you should realize that unattended sessions constitute a major threat to system security. The more sessions you have (it can be hundreds on XL) the less control you have. * Remember that an unattended terminal is a convenient way for some people to use your system without logging-on. * Also, if the session is left on after hours and keeps some files open these files might not be backed up. BATCH SECURITY Batch security is as important as on-line, but... * MPE requires passwords to be included in job cards, so a typical job card looks like this :JOB FULLDUMP,MANAGER/SECRET.SYS/QWERTY * This makes passwords easy to read by unauthorized people and difficult to change on a regular basis by people responsible for system security (it might be you) * There are some other important things built into streams -- lockwords, database and/or application passwords, etc. * The situation is somewhat better if all of your streams are in groups with X:ANY,R:GU access -- but try to verify this IMAGE SECURITY IMAGE security had better be good -- that's where our most important data usually is. However * Passwords (up to 6 of them) create the appearance of good protection of the base, sets, and entries * But... these passwords are often built into sources -- intrinsic DBOPEN requires this; source code is compiled and guess what? IMAGE passwords are never changed! The situation is so bad and continues for so long, that HP users seldom recognize this kind of danger. * It's even worse when using some application packages -- all customers of this package have the same password. Would you buy a car with the same key for everybody else who buys the same car? * Some system managers sense something wrong in this area and set a lockword on QUERY. It's better than nothing, but what about other database retrieval tools or custom written programs? FILE SYSTEM SECURITY File system security in general is very important. A couple of questions come to mind: * How many files on your HP are released? * Even worse -- are these files in PM groups? * And how do you :SECURE hundreds of them? Are you the "creator"? * Which files were accessed on your HP over the weekend? * How many programs, and which ones, have PM capability? * Is it possible to :FCOPY the object code of your programs in ;CHAR mode and see all the 'built-ins'? * Do you like the recent ACD (Access Control Definition) enhancement for MPE/V file system, which, in short, links particular users to the file? * If so, before using ACDs, think about selection of these files later -- they will be as invisible as :RELEASEd files; think also about setting ACDs for groups of files, saving ACDs after editing text files, etc. Having said all of the above let's ask ourselves: What is the biggest computer security threat? It seems that the problem lies in the wrong approach to the risk management on the part of DP personnel. As long as system managers continue to count on users' ignorance, on end-users being "good", on having only one dial-up line (yes, we've heard this one too) and such, company assets -- and some people's resumes -- will be in danger.
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