Stories by Roger A. Grimes

HoneyPoint: Honeypot for Windows, Linux or Mac

After over 10 years of active participation in the honeypot community, I was surprised not to have heard of MicroSolved's HoneyPoint Security Server before I started planning this roundup. HoneyPoint runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, and offers some useful features -- such as "defensive fuzzing" and the ability to track alert status -- that KFSensor and Honeyd don't. But HoneyPoint is neither as easy and complete as KFSensor, nor as flexible and scalable as Honeyd.

An expert guide to Windows 7 security

Windows 7 has been warmly received and swiftly adopted by businesses, with the result that many IT admins are now struggling with the platform's new security features. In addition to changes to User Account Control, BitLocker, and other features inherited from Windows Vista, Windows 7 introduces a slew of new security capabilities that businesses will want to take advantage of.

Finding gold in your log files

Considering how much valuable information is available in log files, you'd think more companies would pay attention to them. Workstations, servers, firewalls, appliances, and other computer devices generate reams of event logs every day, and despite mountains of evidence showing their practical, cost-saving uses, logs often go ignored. A good log management system can help significantly with security, application troubleshooting, compliance, and systems management. If that's the case -- and it is -- why do logs and log management sometimes still get a bad rap?

The ultimate guide to Windows 7 security

Windows 7 has been warmly received and swiftly adopted by businesses, with the result that many IT admins are now struggling with the platform's new security features. In addition to changes to User Account Control, BitLocker, and other features inherited from Windows Vista, Windows 7 introduces a slew of security capabilities that businesses will want to take advantage of.

Application whitelisting in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Microsoft's AppLocker, the application control feature included in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, is an improvement on the Software Restriction Policies (SRP) introduced with Windows XP Professional. AppLocker allows application execution rules and exceptions to them to be defined based on file attributes such as path, publisher, product name, file name, file version, and so on. Policies can then be assigned to computers, users, security groups, and organizational units through Active Directory.

Application whitelisting review: CoreTrace Bouncer

CoreTrace's Bouncer 5 is application control and more. Bouncer is the only product in InfoWorld's review that successfully protected against buffer overflows. It also offers unique write protection of whitelisted files and does a nice job of handling updates to controlled applications.

Application whitelisting review: Bit9 Parity Suite

As many product vendors can readily tell you, this reviewer is the ultimate computer security cynic and a tough writer to please. I'm unsparingly critical of overhyped products. Although I've evaluated a number of excellent products over the years, I've never given a perfect 10 in any scorecard category -- until now. Bit9 Parity is one of the few computer security products that, if deployed in your Windows environment, will radically and immediately reduce your enterprise's level of security risk. It's not perfect, and it did not score a perfect 10 in every field -- but it earned the highest score this reviewer has ever given.

Application whitelisting review: McAfee Application Control

McAfee Application Control 5.0 (due out Dec. 15) is the result of McAfee's acquisition of Solidcore and the integration of Solidcore S3 Control with McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO). McAfee Application Control rivals SignaCert for the broadest client support among all the products in InfoWorld's review. It also boasts write protection and ownership protection of whitelisted files, good reporting and alerting, and no significant cons.

Application whitelisting review: SignaCert Enterprise Trust Services

SignaCert was one of the first whitelisting products available, and it now boasts more than 1 billion predefined file signatures as part of its Global Trust Repository service. It also offers file authenticity ratings, wide platform support, extensibility through XML, and excellent documentation. SignaCert's significant weakness is that it does not natively block file executions -- the only product in InfoWorld's review that does not include this ability as a standard feature.

Application whitelisting review: Lumension Application Control

Lumension Application Control is a strong whitelisting solution with broad file coverage, excellent reporting, and a complete set of Windows file definitions that can be used to spot potentially troublesome changes to system files. Its one noteworthy shortcoming is the inability to create whitelisting rules based on the digital signatures of application publishers.

How secure is Safari?

Apple's Safari, released for the Windows platform in June 2007, is the second newest browser on Windows, behind Google's Chrome. (Naturally, Apple's browser also runs on OS X, and on iPhone and iPod Touch devices in a mobile edition.) Safari leads the pack in anti-phishing filtering and pop-up blocking, but it also has many security weaknesses.

How secure is Opera?

Opera has long been an underrated, feature-rich browser worthy of greater attention and a larger market share. It runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, mobile phones, Nintendo gaming systems, and other now historical operating systems. Like all of the leading browsers, it supports Java and JavaScript, and its impressive, growing feature set pushes beyond today's standards such as tabbed browsing to include the likes of voice-controlled browsing, e-mail, and instant messaging. Opera has many unique security features too, and the granularity of its security controls easily beats that of most rivals, the exception being Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Good security in recessionary times

If you've had any money in the stock market, it's been a bloodbath the last few weeks. It's hard to remember that any 10-year period in stock market history has always ended up with better returns than any other investment. As financial analysts argue over whether we are already in or just headed into a deep global recession, we are facing a rough, contracting period. People with good jobs are holding on to them tighter than ever.

Two tenacious exploits debunk vendor claims

Many sandbox security vendors claim that their products stop all known and unknown attacks. Even assuming the ability to curtail all known attacks could be proven, it's simply impossible to believe that any piece of software could halt all unknown attacks. Of course, that doesn't prevent the vendors from making empty promises or the malware authors from proving them wrong.

Sandbox security versus the evil Web

The Internet is a scary place. Criminal malware lurks on legitimate and illegitimate Web sites alike, looking to steal your money one way or the other. Vendors have been scratching their collective heads attempting to make more consumers safer, more often. One of the results has been a class of anti-malware software that I call sandbox protection products. These items encapsulate Internet browsers (and e-mail programs and sometimes any other program you can run) within a virtual, emulated cocoon designed to keep malware from reaching and modifying the underlying host computer.