Security 101: Backups & Protecting Backups

I can already hear some readers saying that backups are an IT problem, and not a security problem. The reality, of course, is that they’re both. Information security is commonly thought of in terms of the CIA Triad – that is, Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability, and it’s important to remember those concepts when dealing with backups.

We need look no farther than the troubles Garmin is having in dealing with a ransomware attack to find evidence that backups are critical. It’s unclear whether Garmin lacked adequate backups, had their backups ransomware’d, or is struggling to restore from backups. (It’s possible that they never considered an issue of this scale and simply aren’t resourced to restore this quickly, but given that the outage remains a complete outage after 4 days, I’d bet on one of those 3 conditions.)


Raspberry Pi as a Penetration Testing Implant (Dropbox)

Raspberry Pi 4

Sometimes, especially in the time of COVID-19, you can’t go onsite for a penetration test. Or maybe you can only get in briefly on a physical test, and want to leave behind a dropbox (literally, a box that can be “dropped” in place and let the tester leave, no relation to the file-sharing company by the same name) that you can remotely connect to. Of course, it could also be part of the desired test itself if incident response testing is in-scope – can they find your malicious device?

In all of these cases, one great option is a small single-board computer, the best known of which is the Raspberry Pi. It’s inexpensive, compact, easy to come by, and very flexible. It may not be perfect in every case, but it gets the job done in a lot of cases.

I’ll use this opportunity to discuss the setups I’ve done in the past and the things I would change when doing it again or alternatives I considered. I hope some will find this useful. Some familiarity with the Linux command line is assumed.


Comparing 3 Great Web Security Books

I thought about using a clickbait title like “Is this the best web security book?”, but I just couldn’t do that to you all. Instead, I want to compare and contrast 3 books, all of which I consider great books about web security. I won’t declare any single book “the best” because that’s too subjective. Best depends on where you’re coming from and what you’re trying to achieve.

The 3 books I’m taking a look at are:


Security 101: Encryption, Hashing, and Encoding

Encryption, Hashing, and Encoding are commonly confused topics by those new to the information security field. I see these confused even by experienced software engineers, by developers, and by new hackers. It’s really important to understand the differences – not just for semantics, but because the actual uses of them are vastly different.

I do not claim to be the first to try to clarify this distinction, but there’s still a lack of clarity, and I wanted to include some exercises for you to give a try. I’m a very hands-on person myself, so I’m hoping the hands-on examples are useful.


Security 101: Beginning with Kali Linux

I’ve found a lot of people who are new to security, particularly those with an interest in penetration testing or red teaming, install Kali Linux1 as one of their first forays into the “hacking” world. In general, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, I also see many who end up stuck on this journey: either stuck in the setup/installation phase, or just not knowing what to do once they get into Kali.

This isn’t going to be a tutorial about how to use the tools within Kali (though I hope to get to some of them eventually), but it will be a tour of the operating system’s basic options and functionality, and hopefully will help those new to the distribution get more oriented.

  1. KALI LINUX™ is a trademark of Offensive Security.