Knowledge platform

With independent articles, interviews, and videos from professionals for professionals.

Digital risks to business, what do they cost?

Analyzing Business Information Security for a data breach use case

In a digital business world that is highly distributed via an eco-system, ensuring your digital assurance becomes vital. Everything needs to continuously work and Confidentially, Integrity and Auditability have to be assured, especially when your business is regulated and should demonstrate to be “in control”. Nevertheless, how do we do that when business models are under fire by hackers?.. 

Bcrypt password cracking extremely slow? Not if you are using hundreds of FPGAs!

Cracking classic hashes

Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. This roughly doubles computing power about every two years as well. Password hashing algorithms typically have a lifetime of many decades. This means that the level of protection of a given password hash algorithm decreases over time: attackers can crack longer and more complex passwords in the same amount of time.

A great motivation letter in five steps

“Just write a short motivation letter regarding this conversation” is a sentence that I speak to cybersecurity professionals on a regular basis. Internal research at Cqure has shown that the motivation letter does not always have the desired result, while it is apparently a good piece of text. How is that actually possible? And why is good motivation letter so important?...

Contribute to the knowledge platform?

KQL Cheat Sheet

This week I released a cheat sheet for the Kusto Query Language (KQL), which you can find on my GitHub page: kql_cheat_sheet.pdf. When I started with KQL to analyse security events, the primary resources for me to get started were the official KQL documentation from Microsoft and the Pluralsight course from Robert Cain. Something was missing: a cheat sheet. So, I created one. I hope this cheat sheet will help others in using KQL. If you have additions or remarks, please contact me.

Lessons from the Hookers.nl breach: cracking 57% of the passwords in three days

Dutch website Hookers.nl — used by prostitutes, escorts and their customers — had been hacked. The site’s user database was stolen and is actively being traded in the underground, and sold for about 2 Euros. The dump contains data of — among others — employees of Dutch governmental intuitions like the department of defense, foreign affairs and law enforcement. Since data is now within virtually anyone’s reach, we expect scams to blackmail users soon.

Hookers.nl publicly stated that passwords were not stolen. Strictly speaking this is true: the database does not contain plain text passwords but hashed passwords. Scattered Secrets was able to crack 57% of the password hashes in three days. This is our story.

Budgeting for Cybersecurity: Are You Doing It Right?

As a chief information security officer, one of the biggest challenges I faced was in measuring the value of our organization’s cybersecurity investment. Fortunately, tools and methodologies to translate cybersecurity more specifically into costs and benefits are now available, so CISOs can be more detailed than ever before in measuring the effectiveness of risk mitigation.

By attaching real numbers to cybersecurity—this is how much a breach will cost us, this is how much we can reduce risk by making this specific investment—CISOs can work with the C-suite to make more informed decisions.

Cybersecurity risk mitigation is more critical than ever. With most companies embracing digital transformation, the impact of a breach can be crippling, in terms of money lost, damage to brand reputation and partner/customer goodwill. At the same time, the threat landscape is increasingly sophisticated, better funded and more coordinated. 

How to crack billions of passwords?

All kinds of online services get hacked. This includes services that you might be using. Scattered Secrets is a password breach notification and prevention service. We continuously collect publicly available hacked databases and try to crack the corresponding passwords. Verified account owners can access their own information and take appropriate action to keep their accounts safe and prevent against account takeovers. At the time of writing, our database includes nearly four billion — yes, that is with a B — plaintext passwords. Users occasionally ask us how we can crack passwords on such a large scale. To answer this, first we need to look at the basics.

Integrating Web Vulnerability Scanners in Continuous Integration: DAST for CI/CD

In this day and age having a functioning and secure Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process in place is becoming a key component of a successful organization. And one methodology that is becoming increasingly popular is DevOps. Mainly, because the methodology itself is designed to produce fast and robust software development. In this article, we will focus on how we can incorporate security into CI/CD and turning DevOps into DevSecOps easily and with automation in mind.

It’s quite a long article, so in case you are already familiar with some of the terms, feel free to skip to whatever part pleases your curiosity :)

OversAIght – doesn’t change much

The Dutch Central Bank released a discussion paper on general principles on AI in Finance which you can read here. On the surface, it seems rather well thought out. But as it is a discussion paper, there’s ample room for discussion…

Starting with the decades-old big error of apparently haphazard classification of risks. When the classification isn’t mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, one loses the ground for hope of any suitable quality of subsequent classification(s). For example, this happened with the operational risk classification in the Basel-II framework, left dangling in versions ‑III and ‑IV for apparent reasons. And now again, we see in the principles, quite some overlaps and double counting.

Contribute to the knowledge platform?

Scaling Application Security: The issues that Appsec teams face

This post concerns application security teams, so it’s written assuming you are part of one. However, I believe it could help you understand application security a bit more even if you are not.

If you are part of an application security team, you probably struggle with the amount of work on your shoulders every day. Let’s say you have a small team of 5 people to test all web applications produced by a group of 200 developers, and you still need to provide guidance on how to fix some vulnerabilities. You try to offload some work by handing developers with security testing tools, but the learning curve is long - causing frustration. Basically, you have a scaling issue!

Multidisciplinary Aspects of Blockchain

Multidisciplinary Aspects of Blockchain is a different book on a fundamental digital technology under development and published in Dutch (hardcopy) and English (eBook) as part of a series of the Royal Dutch Society for Computer and Information Professionals. Blockchain, which reportedly changes society as the ultimate disruptor and most important invention after the introduction of the World Wide Web of Internet. Blockchain is a collective term for digital databases, which are distributed, mathematically-protected and chronological in nature.

Crime, ransomware and defence

“I rob banks because that is where the money is”, is a famous quote attributed to (in)famous bank robber Willie Sutton[1]. It is also known as Sutton’s Law. Suttons law still holds true for many things, including modern (cyber)crime. If you want to earn money from your crimes, focus on what people value most.

Ransomware is an example of just this. Criminals target what is most valuable to organisations and individuals, their data or memories.

Fighting security risks beyond the bug

Data leaks have become an all-too-common societal problem. Still, 99% of the problems do not involve scary zero-day bugs. So why is security still hard? We need to accept that technology isn’t going to save us. Rather, thinking it can, got us in this situation in the first place. We need a new way of teaching and implementing security across our organizations. I am introducing the AVA=Risk Security Model to help us get there.

A confusing mix of digital incident notification laws

We note divergent digital law trends of statutory nature – many of which have been going on for some time, starting-out two or even three decades ago. Just to give an idea in an at random sequence: modernizing and extending intellectual property laws, updating penal legislation with new crimes like hacking and computer sabotage, amending the Criminal Procedure Code with extensive powers for the police and public prosecution, strengthening the legal position of the online consumer, introducing and tightening data privacy laws, adjusting evidence laws, and implementing security regulations.

Contribute to the knowledge platform?