The origin of nursery rhymes are hundreds of years old and their meanings have been attributed to political satires to simple education lyrics children could remember. Arguably Humpty Dumpty is one of the most popular in the English language and the real lyrics have evolved even from the 1800's where Humpty Dumpty was slang for a person's short stature and later progressed to a brandy and ale cocktail. For the sake of our discussions in today's next-generation economy, Mr. Dumpty works in protecting a firewall and if he falls off, neither the media nor executives may not be able to put him back together again. Let's explore why this nursery rhyme is so important for security teams today.
Not long ago, a firewall was the primary defense for every organization. Mr. Dumpty was responsible for its configuration, building rules, reviewing logs, and reviewing potential security threats. When something needed to be changed, it was his team's responsibility for getting it done and done correctly. That still holds true for many organizations today. What has changed is how Mr. Dumpty now has to configure the firewall versus what he did 10 years ago. This includes mobile workers, business to business applications, and connections to the cloud. This is why we hear discussions around the "dissolving perimeter" and revelations on how perimeter defense is no longer truly effective.
Mr. Dumpty is no longer sitting on a single firewall — he is walking a chain link fence protecting the interior from multiple zones. I use the analogy of a chain link fence since it is no longer a wall with a few ports open but rather more of a filtered connection allowing all sorts of communications in but keeping a potential threat actor at bay. Regardless, it is no longer a single sturdy wall. It is thinner, harder to balance on, and there are many of them protecting a variety of external and internal locations – all relevant to Mr. Dumpty’s mission and job description.
So how can Mr. Dumpty fall? A firewall is not going to block social engineering attacks, phishing emails, and web application vulnerabilities. It is designed to block traditional traffic patterns (inbound and outbound) and block IP addresses and ports from public exposure. Modern firewalls can also analyze traffic for suspicious content, malware, and even data leakage but can do very little to protect against something that is considered trusted. With all the zones Mr. Dumpty now has to manage, he needs to trust resources far beyond his control and potentially far outside of his perimeter. If any one of these is compromised, and lateral movement is possible, then not even a chain link fence will help. This is why we need to help Mr. Dumpty observe lateral movement, even though his chain link firewall.
With the release of PowerBroker for Windows 7.4, BeyondTrust has added new rules and reports (within BeyondInsight 6.4.4 and higher) to monitor and block inappropriate lateral movement. To learn more about how PowerBroker for Windows can help you monitor and manage suspicious behavior, check out this video:
The goal is to detect and optionally block lateral movement between desktops and servers with the same zone, or across zones, when a user explicitly attempts a lateral connection via an application or command. Mr. Dumpty's biggest fear is falling from unwanted traffic, communications, and data traveling through his firewall that could easily lead to a breach. If that happens, he could fall (metaphorically lose his job). This is why protecting against lateral movement is so important. Firewalls are designed to restrict network traffic and PowerBroker for Windows can help achieve this goal all the way down to the endpoint. Today's implementations are no longer stone walls and allow traffic to flow almost everywhere within a trusted zone. PowerBroker for Windows 7.4 can now help ensure that all of the traffic is appropriate when someone attempts a connection under Mr. Dumpty's control.
Morey J. Haber, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at BeyondTrust
Morey J. Haber is Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at BeyondTrust. He has more than 25 years of IT industry experience and has authored four Apress books: Privileged Attack Vectors (2 Editions), Asset Attack Vectors, and Identity Attack Vectors. In 2018, Bomgar acquired BeyondTrust and retained the BeyondTrust name. He originally joined BeyondTrust in 2012 as a part of the eEye Digital Security acquisition. Morey currently oversees BeyondTrust strategy for privileged access management and remote access solutions. In 2004, he joined eEye as Director of Security Engineering and was responsible for strategic business discussions and vulnerability management architectures in Fortune 500 clients. Prior to eEye, he was Development Manager for Computer Associates, Inc. (CA), responsible for new product beta cycles and named customer accounts. He began his career as Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for a government contractor building flight and training simulators. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.