March 27, 2016

OODA loop of breach patching - Adobe

My measurement of the OODA loop length for the renegotiation bug in SSL was a convenient device to show where we are failing. The OODA loop is famous in military circles for the notion that if your attacker circles faster than you, he wins. Recently, Tudor Dumitras wrote:

To understand security threats, and our ability to defend against them, an important question is "Can we patch vulnerabilities faster than attackers can exploit them?" (to quote Bruce Schneier). When asking this question, people usually think about creating patches for known vulnerabilities before exploits can be developed or discovering vulnerabilities before they can be targeted in zero-day attacks. However, another race may have an even bigger impact on security: once a patch is released, is must also be deployed on all the hosts running the vulnerable software before the vulnerability is exploited in the wild. ....

For example, CVE-2011-0611 affected both the Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader (Reader includes a library for playing .swf objects embedded in a PDF). Because updates for the two products were distributed using different channels, the vulnerable host population decreased at different rates, as illustrated in the figure on the left. For Reader patching started 9 days after disclosure (after patch for CVE-2011-0611 was bundled with another patch in a new Reader release), and the update reached 50% of the vulnerable hosts after 152 days. For Flash patching started earlier, 3 days after disclosure, but the patching rate soon dropped (a second patching wave, suggested by the inflection in the curve after 43 days, eventually subsided as well). Perhaps for this reason, CVE-2011-0611 was frequently targeted by exploits in 2011, using both the .swf and PDF vectors.

My comments - it is good to see the meme spreading. I first started talking about how updates are an essential toolkit back in the mid 2000s, as a consequence of my 7 scrappy hypotheses. I've recently spotted the Security folk in IETF starting to talk about it, and the Bitcoin hardfork debate has thrown upgradeability into stark relief. Also, the clear capabilities from Apple to push out updates, the less clear but not awful work by Microsoft in patching, and the disaster that is Android have made it clear:

The future of security includes a requirement to do dynamic updating.

Saying it is harder than doing it, but that's why we're in the security biz.

Posted by iang at 07:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2016

Elinor Ostrom's 8 Principles for Managing A Commmons

(Editor's note: Originally published at by Jay Walljasper in 2011)

Elinor Ostrom shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for her lifetime of scholarly work investigating how communities succeed or fail at managing common pool (finite) resources such as grazing land, forests and irrigation waters. On the Commons is co-sponsor of a Commons Festival at Augsburg College in Minneapolis October 7-8 where she will speak. (See accompanying sidebar for details.)

Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University, received the Nobel Prize for her research proving the importance of the commons around the world. Her work investigating how communities co-operate to share resources drives to the heart of debates today about resource use, the public sphere and the future of the planet. She is the first woman to be awarded the Nobel in Economics.

Ostrom’s achievement effectively answers popular theories about the "Tragedy of the Commons", which has been interpreted to mean that private property is the only means of protecting finite resources from ruin or depletion. She has documented in many places around the world how communities devise ways to govern the commons to assure its survival for their needs and future generations.

A classic example of this was her field research in a Swiss village where farmers tend private plots for crops but share a communal meadow to graze their cows. While this would appear a perfect model to prove the tragedy-of-the-commons theory, Ostrom discovered that in reality there were no problems with overgrazing. That is because of a common agreement among villagers that one is allowed to graze more cows on the meadow than they can care for over the winter—a rule that dates back to 1517. Ostrom has documented similar effective examples of "governing the commons" in her research in Kenya, Guatemala, Nepal, Turkey, and Los Angeles.

Based on her extensive work, Ostrom offers 8 principles for how commons can be governed sustainably and equitably in a community.

8 Principles for Managing a Commons

1. Define clear group boundaries.

2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions.

3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules.

4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities.

5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior.

6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators.

7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution.

8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system.

Posted by iang at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)