It’s Not Raining – Final review – “I’m Sorry ” Entry

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“It’s Not Raining” by B&~(B) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Today we officially delivered the project at the Engineering Expo. There we presented our project to some judges and fellow students. Well, usually the explanation was for the judges, and the students would come just to play the game and try to get through the last level and put their playertag in the leaderboard.
I have to say that my score will be (Or already has been) overcomed by anyone who has a just a fraction of eyes to fingers reaction. What I’m trying to say is that even after one semester of development, I’m so bad at the game… After more than 1 hour playing level 4, I surrendered, and assumed that I could go trought all the levels in 2 hours, more or less, and then I pushed my score to the DB, manually. I think I deserved to be in the leaderboard of the game, even if I couldn’t put it there usiang legal abilities.

But now, onto my kinda semester retrospective.

I feel that overall this smesterI learned a lot about WEB development using NodeJS. In my WEB Development class project I learned about front-end frameworks, back-end development and deployment, different ways to make requests to de server, implementation of MariaDB queries on the server’s routes and the delivery of JWT and local storage.

What I learned in that class was useful for me, so that I shouldn’t need to worry about how to do all of the back-end development on this project, and instead focus on enjoying  more the project, setting up Mongoose and MongoDB and designing server tests. I found out that I could really have fun doing those three new things because I didn’t worry at all for the rest of the stuff.

Mongoose and MongoDB were a first time experience for me. From designing the connection “raw” to mLab, to implementing Mongoose for testing and quality of data, to migrating to MongoDB Atlas because the Tec wouldn’t let us use mLab (Because reasons?), and finally updating and designing new schemas and models. It was fun, because it was new and it felt that I trully had time to do some research so I could write some clean and functional code.

And about testing, that was still fun, but it got difficult at sometimes. I’m proud beacuse I pushed myself on designing more specific tests, with more functionalities (such as hooks and a dummy DB, so the real DB wouldn’t be polluted). After I thought that i couldn’t make the API requests tests more complicated, I decided to use the same testing framework to create a scrip for level testing and designing. And that was really complicated, to change a JSON file and see the changes on the DB without restarting the server.

At the end, I think we all delivered what we promised. And I think that every member of the team did their best to do their assigned tasks but also helping each other.

score
“It’s Not Raining Score” by B&~(B) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Okay, so now it’s the time where I extremely regret the moment I decided to procastinate the publication of both the posts on week 10. Supposedly at the end of the semester I have to had delivered a grand total of 30 blog entries, 2 per week. And I currently have 26 blogs. That means that if my “I’m sorry entry” (This final review is my “I’m sorry”) could be exchanged for those two missed blogs I was talking about,  I would have credited 28 blog entries… I don’t know how could I achieved 30. Maybe Ken took into account the Spring vacations (Semana Santa). But if it’s another reason, I have nothing to ammend it, so I will accept the consecuences.

Still… It was a great semester, with a great project and a nice team.

Miguel Montoya
Epseranto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

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Depth or layers? – Security Blog #9

Okay, so… Have you heard of the famous cake layers? If you haven’t, please, check out my last blog. Else, we can continue!

And just for you to understand the reference. The anchors go the ocean floor… Deeply… To the depths…

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“Rusty Anchor” by _lem (CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/). Taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/_lem/176805103/

So, why did I asked you to read about the security layers? Because security in depth is based on the layers implementation. We already discussed how layers are supposed to function, if you achieve to cover all holes of each layer with the preceding layers, there will be no way an attack could be successful to your system. The thing is that achieving that level of perfection is impossible. Instead, security in depth assumes from the start that the layer method can, and will eventually fail. The layered security only achieves the exhaustion of the threat (Successful defense) or the slowing of it, giving time for other plans of action and countermeasures initialize.

Depth defense also assumes that the hack or breach isn’t necessarily of remote origin, this means that the possibility of physical theft, threats, unauthorized person access, and some other unique events (See van Eck phreaking below).

Usually, taking into account those possible events involve the set up of:

  1. Monitors, alerts and emergency responses
  2. Authorized personnel activity logs
  3. Forensic analysis
  4. Reports on criminal activity
  5. Disaster recovery

Remeber that the objective of depth defense is to gain time. Each of the set up new components main objective is to delay the threat, which might not be obtained if we used only technological solutions. The obtained extra time should be used by the administrator to identify and try to overcome the hack.

And I guess that is for now regarding security.
As a mini comment on the course: I enjoyed it big time. It was fun and learned a quite a lot of new stuff 😀

Miguel Montoya
Esperanto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

Further readings:

Listening to the CRT radiation: Van Eck Phreaking

Specific actions for small business regarding Depth Security: Defense in Depth and Layered Security Explained

Cake layers rule – Security Blog #8

As the 8th blog regarding security, I will talk about the computer security layers. There are some people who state that there are 5, there are some people who say there are 8. What I mostly found during the investigation is that there are security layers as layers in the cake (Including the top frosting), 7.

What you, dear reader, need to remember during the reading of this entry, is that this set of rules can be implemented either by a network system administration or a regular single computer user.

The logic behind the security layers is the following: A single defense will be ineffective or flawed if the defense mechanism leaves unprotected areas, with its protective layer (umbrella), empty. That it’s why the layer’s purpose is to cover those empty spots. Theoretically, the empty areas on each layer would be so different, that an attack can’t penetrate through all the holes, and the service would remain available.

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“20121201-_IGP1571” by Tim Ebbs (CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/). Taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ebbsphotography/8234883949/
  1. Application Whitelisting: The objective is to install just a set of limited programs and applications in the administered computers. The fewer applications, the fewer possibility there is of a breach.
  2. System Restore Solution: This is one of the most talked security solutions in the classroom. Basically, it consists of creating a plan of action when the hack peril arouses.  This would let the user gain access to their files, even if the system is hacked and damaged files remain.
  3. Network authentication: A system of usernames and passwords must be taken into place. This would give access only to authorized users. This means no login without a password prompt.
  4. Encryption: All of your files, disks and the rest of removable devices should be encrypted. This will provide a method for users to not risk an information breach, as the encrypted USB (Or any device), will not be able to be read on a foreign machine.
  5. Remote authentication: This is a very obvious rule. It consists of setting usernames and passwords for remote server access. These usernames and passwords should only be provided to trustworthy users. This is the obvious part.
  6. Network folder encryption: Most of the websites that deal with this topic, consider that this layer should be included in layer 4. I guess it is different enough that I would let it pass as a different layer (As not everyone uses this features). This concept consists of also managing the encryption of shared data. This will prevent users from listening unauthorized access to the network information.
  7. Secure Boundry and End-To-End Messaging: This basically consists of using emails and instant messaging as a secure method of communication, rather of dealing with the encryption from the server to the user and vice-versa.

And I guess that that is a simple and easy summary of the 7 layers. Remember to implement all the layers you are capable of activating or at least finding someone who cans helps you.

Cherio.

Miguel Angel Montoya
Esperanto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

Secure Network, How? – Security Blog #7

This entry is not addressed to regular computer users, but more specifically to engineering students or people interested in network’s security, as the concepts are not that regular. This entry’s topic is the security of the network’s enterprise.

Virtual Private Network

This first category isn’t that much complex, as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), are more and more widely used by the general users. So I won’t be talking a lot about this. VPNs are a method used by enterprises to connect and access an internal network from the outside, using a more secure network and an encrypted one.

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“network” by Rosmarie Voegtli (CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). Taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/rvoegtli/15252943257

Intrusion Detection Systems

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) main function is to aid the administrator in the detection of the type of attack that is being carried to the system. Usually, the IDS also help the administrator find and execute a solution to the problem as well as a plan of action on future detections. These systems trace and record logs, signature and triggered events. Usually, the IDS is attached to the firewall (Which I’m speaking down below) and the network router.

The most popular IDS tools I found are Snort and Cisco Network-Based IDS. Both successfully notify the user real-time, the signatures of attacks made to the network. The main advantage of Cisco IDS is the results obtained in the aftermath of the events (Reassembly of IPs and TCP sessions) and Cisco continuous support to the client. Meanwhile, Snort is open-source, cheaper to implement (Hardware wise), and flexible (Only requires Linux) and has multiple modalities where it can be implemented.

Firewalls

Firewalls, also called Intrusion Detection Devices, are software or applications that work directly in the network layer. As most of us already know, the firewalls protect the internal network users from the rest of the world, and vice versa. The rules set in the firewall can block specific functionalities and applications if the port is marked as prohibited. They also can redirect incoming requests from one port to another. When a block or a forwarding is made, a log it generated so the administrator can oversee the data that it’s being affected by the rules. usually, the firewall is located after the incoming data is processed by the router.

As I found out, the most common firewalls are Cisco ASA and Sophos. Overall I found people prefer Sophos firewalls. Basically, because Cisco ASA only works for people who can’t get out of the traditional enterprise comfort zone. This means that if you want to implement a not that usual functionality, ASA won’t be enough.

Cherio

Miguel Montoya
Esperanto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

Further reading:

Cisco IDS vs SNORT discussion thread at CISCO support: Cisco IDS vs SNORT.

Firewalls discussion thread at Spiceworks: Sophos vs SonicWall vs Cisco ASA vs Fortinet.

Late and FINAL Report – Week 14

I don’t know what to say about my new habit of making very late publication of our weekly reports (And any report in general).

This week the rest of the team primary focus was to film and deliver the final project video, and myself, I worked in the design of the project poster. The one that we needed to present at “The Engineering Expo”. I’m very proud of that poster, I think it ended up real nice 😀

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“After the rain” of Susanne Nilsoon (CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/). Taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/13862737143

I’m proud of our project. I think we worked very well and accomplished the delivery of a nicely done (And well tested) product. I’m still amazed at how bad I’m at playing it. But the doubts about myself got at ease when I saw at the expo how most of the people who played were having difficulties playing, because it is indeed, a difficult project. I guess my teammates just practiced a whole lot more when designing the levels and testing them.

See you the next time!

Miguel Montoya
Esperanto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ

I leave you my poster down below.
Please, only share.

cartel
“It’s not raining” by Miguel Montoya (CC BY-NC-ND https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

 

OMG I did it! – Security Blog #6

Okay, so I’ve been so proud this last 2 weeks because I finally got a -more than- decent score in LastPass Security Challenge. The first time I took the quiz I had more than 40 sites (There were more of them, but I already had the duplicate/same domain configuration working), and I obtained a well deserved 12%, in the lowest 7%, but at least my Master Password was excellent (At least something wasn’t horribly wrong).

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“pw_xato-net_02-06” by Mark Burnett (CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). Taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/mark_burnett/26965409864

Now, I can truly be proud to say that after some heavy work I got, after inserting 5 new sites, a 96%. This puts my account in the top 1% of Last Pass users. YAY!

So,  it was really a heavy task to change the passwords of almost 50 sites. It was really horrible and exhausting (Maybe because I tried to all of the necessary changes in one sitting). But I can share some stuff I’ve learned to the rest of the world:

  • Last Pass offers a method that automatically changes your password in the supported sites (Usually it only works with the big ones). I found that method extremely ineffective. It takes what feels like years, to let the program found the adequate buttons, text fields and then generate the password. I don’t know why did this happen. Maybe because I have some pages in Spanish and Esperanto, and the program failed to find the buttons (if the method is made using the value of the button and not the ID, or something like that).
    I mean. My problem was with the time it took to accomplish those tasks. Not that it didn’t work. I don’t have any problem leaving Last Pass to change your password in the background while you do something else. Then there isn’t any con for you. (Remember that you will need to manually select each site that you wish to auto-change).
  • Manually changing your passwords was a pain in the butt… sometimes. Why? Because of three reasons.
    1. Sometimes, Last Pass doesn’t detect the new password fields. So how can I take advantage of the password generator, if it doesn’t appear where I need it to be. I then need to use the generate password feature in the extension button of the explorer.  Which is, in fact, the second reason.
    2. If you have the necessity of using the “generate password” inside the extension button, and if you want to write edit the password (Which is a feature you supposedly have), you will suffer. Why? Because the dumb system stores the texts that you have managed to type in. I was going to post a GIF where I showed this ugly implementation, but then I realized that the stored list has passwords that you actually use on some sites! I mean, if supposedly Last Pass is trying to make me use different passwords for each account, then don’t show me my used passwords. But specifically, don’t store them in a list that impedes the insertion of a new password to test or the generation and tweaking of a different one. So I encourage you to try this by yourself so you can actually understand.
      The problem is that instead of letting the user write a new password to test, it will change the value of the field to the stored text in the list (I sincerely don’t know how I managed to get those in) that starts with the key you just typed, like a form.
      And if you manage to actually make Last Pass stop changing your text, you can only add more characters to the end of the string. You can’t move the text cursor somewhere else because, bad luck, it will change the entire string that it’s being displayed.
      And after that, if you think that that password you have would fit your needs, then, good luck copying that into the reset password field (Remeber that you only got here because, from the start, Last Pass didn’t detect that you were actually trying to change the password). Because when you release the ctrl+c keys, Last Pass will change the text to the string that starts with c in the list. And your clipboard will still remain empty, and your perfect password lost.
    3. Okay, so let’s say that Last Pass actually detected you are changing your password. And let’s say that you manage to generate a new one, either automatically (Without even touching a thing), or semi-automatically (Giving the generator some parameters). Sometimes, after you click the update password button in the site, Last Pass will prompt you to update also the entry in your vault. But, this is only sometimes! And how am I to know that if you can detect that new password field for a particular site, doesn’t mean that you will be able to tell if I actually updated the password?!
      If this feature didn’t exist, then I wouldn’t care. But the problem is that sometimes it does work. And it’s beautiful. But when it doesn’t, how am I to update myself the Last Pass vault entry, if I don’t have any clue of the new password! It only leaves me with the option to click on the “I forgot my password” on the site. Generate another password and remember to copy it. Then, and this is just ridiculous, if Last Pass doesn’t automatically detect the new password this time, I manually updated it in the vault.

And those are my complaints of Last Pass. I still have one HUGE complain. During this process of changing the passwords, I found out that there are sites that handle this request easely, and others that makes it impossible to the user to reach its goal. Some of them let you change the password only if you click on the “I forgot my password”. But there is one site that is thw worst of all.
dish.com.mx – I mean… they don’t event let you change your password. So I clicked on the forgotten password button, to then realize that they just sent me my password via email. OMG. That is so badly implemented. In fact I made a public complaint in Twitter. But they account is mostly offline.

And I guess that its everything I have to share about my experience. If you feel like asking something, please do.

Cheerio.

Miguel Montoya
Esperanto enthusiast
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ