Tuesday, May 31, 2011

6 Easy Ways To Look Like A Security Expert

Few people have time to become an Internet Security expert, but with this post i'm going to introduce you to some websites, tools and other resources that can give you a bit of an edge, and, importantly, look impressive to the uninitiated. As a network manager, you're supposed to know everything about anything that has a cable attached - so finding time to be an all-areas expert is not going to fly. Luckily we can alter our users' perception and be seen as a security champ. We all know you're probably doing the right stuff in the background, all the unexciting bits, so let's see if we can't find something with a bit of sparkle.
  1. A user asks "is this a virus" - now you can not only be more confident, but you have got a nice looking report as well, thanks to virustotal.
  2. Looking like a hacker from the movies is easier than you think - network swiss-army-bazooka nmap (movie references here) has a nice graphical front-end, is easy to use and actually really handy, go get zenmap. Bump the shiny up another notch, and Overlook Fing is like a miniature nmap on android or iphone.
  3. Keeping up with the latest news and views in security is tough, but if there's one guy who's opinion it is always worth reading, it's Bruce Schneier. Luckily, he publishes a monthly newsletter, Cryptogram. Sign up here.
  4. We can't all keep a virtual machine knocking around to burn testing dubious looking links. Luckily, we can get a fair idea if a link is going to riddle us with zero-day hell, and a nice report to boot from the folks at wepawet.
  5. Many people thought I should have included this one at number one - a great looking packet analyzer with a cool name, Wireshark (or Ethereal as it was formerly known) can be used to find out a lot about your network, and is great for seeing what's really going on. Pulling unencrypted passwords and snippets of plaintext conversation off the wire - always a good demo. Remember you can use tcpdump (on your Smoothwall or other Linux-based firewall!) to pick up packets to look at later as well. One that takes a bit of learning, but well worth it. Get Wireshark here.
  6. Most of us are Windows users, but Linux has a lot to offer. Even if you don't run Linux all the time, there are a couple of live cds which will run without modifying your PC. For the security minded, there's the Trinity Rescue Kit, ever helpful for recovering "lost" passwords, and for the slightly more black-hatty among us, backtrack is the place to be. An unfamiliar and complicated looking interface will do your status with your users no end of benefit. Download and burn trk or backtrack.
I've limited my list to free tools and resources which would generally be accessible to a broad range of network managers and IT techs, but I might have missed your favourite - get in touch, and leave me a comment!

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