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Account takeover prevention: techniques and data quality

In recent years, credential stuffing attacks have been on the rise. Cyber criminals take over accounts with username and password combinations that were stolen at third parties.

The goal of Account TakeOver (‘ATO’) prevention services is to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts. There are several types of techniques that can be used to implement ATO prevention services. The characteristics of the techniques varies widely. Furthermore the data quality of an ATO prevention service has a great effect on the effectiveness and efficiency of the service. In this article we will take a closer look at both the used techniques and data quality.

Is Digital Security a market for lemons?

Although information security has a long history, it wasn’t really top of mind of senior management, Board or other employees until late 2010s. A “security professional” became a real job and market demand has grown ever since. Awareness about security risks increased significantly. The thriving forces for this were major security breaches such as Snowden, NotPetja and WannaCry shocking the world, but also regulators demanding companies to protect their critical assets, including non-tangible ones such as data. As a result of this, we can now state it has the Boards attention by default. 

Why account takeover prevention is important to protect against credential stuffing

Every year thousands of data breaches occur, as we can read in the daily news. The root causes of the breaches range from organizational issues to technical flaws. A new category of attacks emerged a few years ago: ‘credential stuffing’. According to F5, ‘credential stuffing and brute force attacks have been the biggest threats for financial services recently, and the trend shows no sign of slowing’. According to Akamai, ‘hackers have targeted the gaming industry by carrying out 12 billion credential stuffing attacks against gaming websites within the 17-month period analyzed’. Nowadays credential stuffing attacks are considered among the top digital threats. But what exactly is credential stuffing?

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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?...

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. 

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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.

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.

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