Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Infrastructure – Security and Patching

An MRI machine hosting Confliker:

“The manufacturer of the devices told them none of the machines were supposed to be connected to the Internet and yet they were […] the device manufacturer said rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required that a 90-day notice be given before the machines could be patched.”

Finding an unexpected open firewall hole or a a device that isn’t supposed to be on the Internet is nothing new or unusual. If someone asked “what’s the probability that a firewall has too many holes” or “how likely is it that something got attached to the network that wasn’t supposed to be”, in both cases I’d say the probability is one.

Patching a machine that can’t be patched for 90 days after the patch is released is a pain. It’s an exception, and exceptions cost time an money.

Patching a machine that isn’t supposed to be connected to the Internet is a pain. I’m assuming that one would need to build a separate ‘dark net’ for the machines. I can’t imagine walking around with a CD and patching them.

Locating and identifying every operating system instance in a large enterprise is difficult, especially when the operating systems are packaged as a unit with an infrastructure device of some sort. Assuring that they all are patched is non-trivial. When vendors package an operating system (Linux, Windows) in with a device, they rarely acknowledge that you or they need to harden, patch, and update that operating system.

Major vendors have Linux and Windows devices that they refer to as ‘SAN Management Appliances’, ‘Enterprise Tape Libraries’, and ‘Management Consoles’. They rarely acknowledge that the underlying OS  needs to be hardened and patched, and sometimes even prohibit customer hardening and patching. The vendor supplies a ‘turnkey system’ or ‘appliance’ and fails to manage the patches on the same schedule as the OS that they embedded into their ‘appliance’.

This isn’t a Microsoft problem. Long before Windows was considered fit to be used for infrastructure devices (building controls, IVR, HVAC, etc) hackers were routinely root kitting the Solaris and Linux devices that were running the infrastructure. We tend to forget that though.

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