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#infosec Securing your #WinServ and #MSExchange with an acceptable baseline security

Securing your Windows Server with a baseline security

In short, to have an acceptable baseline security for any Windows server you need to think all of the things below in this list.
Sadly enough, even if you follow all of these steps, you’re still not secured forever and ever. There’s no such thing as absolute security. That’s just the way it is but you might use this as some kind of checklist and also the links provided in this post.

Syspeace logo

Syspeace logo

Securing Windows Serves with an acceptable baseline security

1. Make sure all of your software is updated with all security patches. This includes the Windows operating system but also Adobe, Java,Office and any software really. This reduces the risk for so called 0day attacks or your server being compromised by software bugs.

2. Make sure you have a good and not too resource intensive antivirus running on everything. Personally I’m a fan of F Secure PSB for servers and workstations for lots of reasons. It’s not just a pretty logo.

3. Verify you have thought your file and directory access structure and that users and groups are only allowed to use and see what they’re supposed to. Setting file permissions is a very powerful tool to secure your server and crucial.

4. Always make sure to read best practices for securing applications and servers and Google for other ideas also. No manual is the entire gospel.

5. Enable logging. If you don’t know what’s happeing, you can’t really react to it can you ? It also makes any troubleshooting hopeless in restrospect.

7. Have a good monitoring and inventory system in place such as the free SpiceWorks at http://www.spiceworks.com

8. If your server has any monitoring agents from the manufacturer such as HP Server Agents, then install them and set them up with notifications for any hardware events to be prepared.

9. User Group Policies. It’s an extermely powerful tool once you start using it and it will make you day to day operations much easier.

10. If your server is reachable from the Internet, use valifd SSL certificates. They’re not that expensive and any communications should be encrypted and secured as fa as we’re able. Yes, think Mr. Snowden.Think NSA.

11. Disable any unused services and network protocols. They can be a point of entry and for the unused network protocols, you bascially fill your local network with useless chatter that comsume bandwidth. This also goes for workstations and printers and so on.

12. Enforce complex password policies! You won’t be well-liked but that’s not what you get paid for.
If people are having trouble remembering passwords the have all over the world, maybe you could have thme read this
http://jufflan.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/remembering-complex-online-passwords/ and on the topic of online passwords and identities also, http://jufflan.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/reflections-on-theft-and-protection-of-online-identity-on-the-internet-who-are-you/

13. Use a good naming standard for user logins. Not just their first name as login or something too obvious. Here’s an old blog post on why http://syspeace.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/securing-your-webmailowa-on-microsoft-exchange-and-a-few-other-tips/

14. Backups! Backups! and again. BACKUPS!!
Make sure you have good backups (and test them at least once a year for a complete disaster revovery scenario) and make sure you have multiple generations of them in case any of them is corrupted, preferrably stored offsite in some manner in case of a fire, theft or anything really.
For day to day operations and generation management I highly recommend using the builtin VSS snapshot method but never ever have it instead of backups.
You can also use the built in Windows Server backup for DR as described here http://jufflan.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/using-windows-server-backup-20082008-r2-for-a-disaster-recovery-from-a-network-share/

15. You need to have an automatic intrusion protection against brute force and dictionary attacks with Syspeace since the “classic” methods do not get the job done. Here’s an older blog post on why http://syspeace.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/using-various-brute-force-and-dictionary-attack-prevention-methods-to-prevent-hackers-and-why-they-dont-work-repost/ . I you don’t have the time to read the article then simply download the free Syspeace trial, install it and you’ve set up a pwerful and easy to use bruteforce prtection for your server in minutes.

If you’re up for it, I’ve written a few other related posts here:

http://jufflan.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/securing-your-server-environment-part-1-physical-environment/
and
http://jufflan.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/securing-server-environments-part-ii-networking/

By Juha Jurvanen @ JufCorp

How to setup syspeace for rdp – intrusion prevention for Windows servers

This is actually just a post based on some of the search terms that have led to people finding this blog.

So,

how to setup syspeace for rdp

..
Actually , it might take you longer to read this blogentry than actualy set it up.

1. Go to the Syspeace website and download the software at /downloads.aspx

2. Read the requiremnets in the manual:

System requirements
Operating system: Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 (32 or 64 bit), Windows Small Business Server SBS 2008 and so on . (We are currently working on the Windows Server 2012 validation and we have tested it successfully but in certain scenarios the source IP address isn’t displayed in the evenlog. This is a Windows Server issue)
.Net 4 (if not installed, it wil be installed for you )
1GB free disk, minimum 500M RAM.
Auditing
Auditing for failed login and successful log in switched on in local security policy or in the group policy for the domain. This will enable events in the event-log that Syspeace listens for.
Firewall
The built-in firewall in Windows must be up and running.

3. Install Syspeace which is quite straight forward

4. Start the GUI and type in a valid mailaddress to get your 30 day free trial license key emailed to you. This emai address is also going to be the account emai you need tp use when purchasing the license.

4. Paste the license number and the GUI will start.

5. By default, the Syspace service is NOT started.

6. Cllick teh Settings button and review the default rules (called the “Catcha all” rule” and alse set up messaging for blocked attacks (whom to alert, whom to emai license inforamtkion and so on )

7. Close the Settings section. Click the “START” butto and you’re done.

Now, your Windows server is instantly protected from brute force and dictionary attacks against youe Exchange Webmail OWA, Terminal Servers on RDP (terminal services, remote desktop services, remote app sessions) and the webinterface called RDWEB, your Sharepoint login , your Citrix server, winlogon services and even more.

There’s really not that much more to it.
Since the intrusion prevention for Syspeace monitor the Windows Server Evnetlog , it doens’t matter if you have set up RDP on other ports or if you are using a proxy. Sysoeace is a HIDS (Host Instrusion Protection System) thus eliminating the need for separate hardware, expensive consulans and redesigning you infrastructure.

Just sit back and start recieving resports and emails when an attack is blocked, tracked and reported.

About Syspeace and it’s background

By Juha Jurvanen
Senior IT consultant in backup, IT security, server operations and cloud

Juha Jurvanen, Product Manager @ Syspeace CTO and Cloud Arctitect @ Red Cloud iT Independent consultant in backup, server operations, security and cloud @ JufCorp

Pic of Juha Jurvanen, Product Manager of Syspeace

The goal with Syspeace is to simplify security management and prevent brute force hacking, primarily in Microsoft Windows Server environments and is targeted at system administrators that manage servers, either ther own ones or for external customers or even in data centers such as cloud service providers.
Syspeace automates intrusion attempts, brute force attempts,  (eventid 4625) on Microsoft Exchange servers (including the OWA interface and protecting the receive connectors) , Microsoft Terminal Servers and basically any Windows server that uses Windows Authentication such as Sharepoint, Exchange, Terminal Server, Citrix, SQL Server and so on.Around the clock. .

Background and history
The background of the product is that within the Swedish-based cloud service, rCloud Office , from Red Cloud IT where I was the Cloud Architect and CTO , the realization of how many excessive login attempts generating eventid 4625 (failed login , unknown username or password ) from all around the world there really was and that this needed to be automated in aspects of the  administration of it and to tighten security since no brute force prevention is built into Windows. I also quickly realized that none of the other Cloud Service providers has any of this in place and this scared me.

A single attack could render in 5000-6000 login attempts and go on for 2-3 hours. This was a waste of bandwidth, server RAM and CPU since each login-attempt had to be validated and there was always the fear of someone actually succeeding to login or that a user account could be blocked out deliberately just to cause a DOS for the services.

For each brute force attempt most labour was manual and time consuming 

  • First, the log files had to be checked in Windows Server eventlog.
  • Second , the attack had to be manually blocked the incoming IP adress in the firewall.
  • As a third step attacker had to be traced with TRACERT and NSLOOKUP and WHOIS to determine from where it originated and decide when it would be suitable to handle it as a police matter or not.

At night, no one actually could handle an attack so it would be managed the next day which left us vulnerable during off-hours.

Of course this manual labour took quite some time the realization came quickly that it would become an absolute nightmare in the end if something wasn’t done. All customer expect these countermeasures to in place.

The need for something to automatically block the intrusion attempt, notify us the IP address and from where the attack was made popped up

I started searching the Internet for a cost effective, easily administered with  graphical interface and  yet effective solution.

There were a few simple script solutions out there but unfortunately, none of them really matched what was to be accomplished  i.e. block the intrusion attempt based on rules, track down the attacker geographically and unblocking the IP automatically and reporting the attack.

It had to have the ability to easily manage WHITE LISTS, preemptive BLACK LIST,  handle SMTP AUTH attacks and quite a few other features as well that just couldn’t be accomplished with scripts. It had to be easy to use with a graphical management interface to keep the administration and the learning process to a minimum and the autoblocker had to run as an integrated Windows service for optimal performance.

The idea and concepts takes shape

I came up the idea and a concept on how to get the job done, wrote down a few technical ideas and specs, wrote some proof of concepts  and thought about the idea and how to actually accomplish it and came across the guys of the Syspeace develepment team at Treetop and work began. Since I’m not a developer myself, I thought I’d leave the hardcore development to people who actually know what they’re doing.
I’m the guy with concepts and ideas but when it comes to actually writing code.. well.. I’m not a first hand choice. I’ve got a few a more ideas up my sleeve but let me get back to you on that 🙂

After the first alpha test we also realized quickly we needed to add some more intelligence to it as,  for instance, if an IP fails to log in x number of times during x amount of time and then succeeds, the system shouldn’t remember it as a possible attacker and be blocked further down the road for a failed attempt. People are still human and sometimes people type in the wrong password. A lot of work has beent put into the intelligence “under the hood” of Syspeace.

We also realized that the software works just as well protection your servers from LAN connections, giving you a better understanding of what really goes on woith your users and if someone on your LAN is trying to access resources they’re not supposed to or if someone has been infected with some kind of brute force – virus.

Syspeace today

Today, we get an email stating from where the attack originated (the DNS name if found, the IP address and from which country the attack originated). We’ve got reporting, separated mail notifications depending on events and we’re adding more and more features all the time.

We also get username that was tried which is extremely helpful since we immediately can see if it is just “background noise attack” or if it is targeted specifically  or even worse, a competitor tries to login to the central systems without explicit permission or an ex-employee/ex-customer  is trying to access an account that they no longer are authorized to.

See for yourself and download a free trial

Have a look at the Syspeace website to see what we came up with and download a free trial for yourself.

So far Syspeace has successfully blocked over 2,5 Million  brute force attacks worldwide and I dare say it has decreased the workload for quite a few system administrators out there.
Syspeace supports Windows Servers 2003 – 2012 R2.

Juha Jurvanen

Senior IT consultant in backup, IT security, server operations and cloud

Syspeace - brute force protection for Windows servers

Syspeace – brute force protection for Windows servers