Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network

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9780596510305: Network Security Assessment: Know Your Network
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How secure is your network? The best way to find out is to attack it. Network Security Assessment provides you with the tricks and tools professional security consultants use to identify and assess risks in Internet-based networks-the same penetration testing model they use to secure government, military, and commercial networks. With this book, you can adopt, refine, and reuse this testing model to design and deploy networks that are hardened and immune from attack.

Network Security Assessment demonstrates how a determined attacker scours Internet-based networks in search of vulnerable components, from the network to the application level. This new edition is up-to-date on the latest hacking techniques, but rather than focus on individual issues, it looks at the bigger picture by grouping and analyzing threats at a high-level. By grouping threats in this way, you learn to create defensive strategies against entire attack categories, providing protection now and into the future.

Network Security Assessment helps you assess:

  • Web services, including Microsoft IIS, Apache, Tomcat, and subsystems such as OpenSSL, Microsoft FrontPage, and Outlook Web Access (OWA)


  • Web application technologies, including ASP, JSP, PHP, middleware, and backend databases such as MySQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server


  • Microsoft Windows networking components, including RPC, NetBIOS, and CIFS services


  • SMTP, POP3, and IMAP email services


  • IP services that provide secure inbound network access, including IPsec, Microsoft PPTP, and SSL VPNs


  • Unix RPC services on Linux, Solaris, IRIX, and other platforms


  • Various types of application-level vulnerabilities that hacker tools and scripts exploit


Assessment is the first step any organization should take to start managing information risks correctly. With techniques to identify and assess risks in line with CESG CHECK and NSA IAM government standards, Network Security Assessment gives you a precise method to do just that.

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About the Author:

Chris McNab is the technical director of Matta, a vendor-independent security consulting outfit based in the United Kingdom. Since 2000, Chris has presented and run applied hacking courses across Europe, training a large number of financial, retail, and government clients in practical attack and penetration techniques, so that they can assess and protect their own networks effectively.

Chris speaks at a number of security conferences and seminars, and is routinely called to comment on security events and other breaking news. He has appeared on television and radio stations in the UK (including BBC 1 and Radio 4), and in a number of publications and computing magazines.

Responsible for the provision of security assessment services at Matta, Chris and his team undertake Internet-based, internal, application, and wireless security assessment work, providing clients with practical and sound technical advice relating to secure network design and hardening strategies. Chris boasts a 100% success rate when compromising the networks of multinational corporations and financial services companies over the last five years.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 4 -IP Network Scanning

This chapter focuses on the technical execution of IP network scanning. After undertaking initial reconnaissance to identify IP address spaces of interest, network scanning builds a clearer picture of accessible hosts and their network services. Network scanning and reconnaissance is the real data gathering exercise of an Internet-based security assessment. The rationale behind IP network scanning is to gain insight into the following elements of a given network:

• ICMP message types that generate responses from target hosts
• Accessible TCP and UDP network services running on the target hosts
• Operating platforms of target hosts and their configuration
• Areas of vulnerability within target host IP stack implementations (including sequence number predictability for TCP spoofing and session hijacking)
• Configuration of filtering and security systems (including firewalls, border routers, switches, and IDS sensors)

Performing both network scanning and reconnaissance tasks paints a clear picture of the network topology and its security mechanisms. Before penetrating the target network, further assessment steps involve gathering specific information about the TCP and UDP network services that are running, including their versions and enabled options.

ICMP Probing
The Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) identifies potentially weak and poorly protected networks. ICMP is a short messaging protocol that’s used by systems administrators and end users for continuity testing of networks (e.g., using the ping or traceroute commands). From a network scanning and probing perspective, the following types of ICMP messages are useful:

Type 8 (echo request)
Echo request messages are also known as ping packets. You can use a scanning tool such as nmap to perform ping sweeping and easily identify hosts that are accessible.

Type 13 (timestamp request)
A timestamp request message requests system time information from the target host. The response is in a decimal format and is the number of milliseconds elapsed since midnight GMT.

Type 15 (information request)
The ICMP information request message was intended to support self-configuring systems such as diskless workstations at boot time, to allow them to discover their network address. Protocols such as RARP, BOOTP, or DHCP do so more robustly, so type 15 messages are rarely used.

Type 17 (subnet address mask request)
An address mask request message reveals the subnet mask used by the target host. This information is useful when mapping networks and identifying the size of subnets and network spaces used by organizations.

Firewalls of security-conscious organizations often blanket-filter inbound ICMP messages and so ICMP probing isn’t effective; however, ICMP isn’t filtered in most networks because ICMP messages are often useful for network troubleshooting purposes.

There are a handful of other ICMP message types that have relevant security applications
(such as ICMP type 5 redirect messages sent by routers), but they aren’t related
to network scanning.

Table 4-1 outlines popular operating systems and their responses to certain types of
direct ICMP query messages.

Indirect ICMP query messages can be sent to the broadcast address of a given subnet (such as 192.168.0.255 in a 192.168.0.0/24 network). Operating systems respond in different ways to indirect queries issued to a broadcast address, as shown in Table 4-2.

Ofir Arkin of the Sys-Security Group has undertaken a lot of research into ICMP over recent years, publishing white papers dedicated entirely to the use of ICMP probes for OS fingerprinting. For quality in-depth details of ICMP probing techniques, please consult his research available from his web site.

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