Skip to main content

Welcome to Mark Baggett - In Depth Defense

I am the course Author of SANS SEC573 Automating Information Security with Python. Check back frequently for updated tools and articles related to course material.

Worst cognitive password?

Cognitive passwords are those questions your bank and other accounts have you setup so that you can reset your password or verify your identity if you have forgotten your password.   I personally am not a big fan of these.   If forced to implement a solution based on these I would go with several "In the Wallet" questions.   Questions that would require the individual pull something from there wallet to answer the question.   Things like:
"What are the last 6 digits of your library card number?" 
"What is the last name of the issuer of your fitness club card?" 
"What is the last 6 digits on your favorite Shopping club card?"
If you use these types of questions you have to give the user many choices.   Not everyone has a shopping club card  or a library card, so a broad set of questions works best.   The goal of coming up with the questions should be to have answers that can not be easily guessed or looked up on the internet.   Here are some examples of horrible questions.

Looked up with some simple information about the user:
"So Sarah Palin, where did you meet your spouse?"
"What is your voting precinct or district?"

Easily brute forced or guessed:
"What is your favorite baseball team?"   Guess what 80% of the people in Atlanta say.
"What is your favorite color?"   Come on, who isn't madly in love with one of the primary colors?

The last category of question that suck is those tha only a few possible answers that could be right.   Today I renewed by subscription to a prominent computer SECURITY magazine that asked me, "How many siblings do you have?"  With the exception of a few families we can pretty much rule out anything greater than 4.  And all of those families have their own discovery channel show, so we know their answers.   The best I can hope for is that my answer wont be brute-forced in the first 5 attempts!

Summary:  Avoid cognitive passwords if you can.  If you have to use them, be very careful with the questions you choose.

Popular posts from this blog

Awesome Keyboard Tricks - Clevo/Sager Backlight control from Powershell

I'm back on Windows.   After 8 years on a Macintosh I just couldn't go another day with ONLY 16GB of RAM.   I priced it out and for the cost of a top of the line MacBook I could get a tricked out PC with 32GB of ram and 2.5 TB or hard drive space (1.5 of it being SSD).   So I made the switch.  To get a top performing laptop I ended up buying a gaming machine from   The model is Sager NP9752 ( Clevo P750ZM ).    I have to say I like it quite a bit.    One of the features I was curious about was the "Programmable backlit keyboard".   With it you can set your keyboard backlight to various colors and light movement patterns.    Now, when I hear "programmable" I think APIs.   I was a little disappointed to find out there weren't any documented APIs that I could use to control the keyboard.    Your only choice is to use their built in tool to configure the lights on the keyboard.   That stinks.  I want to be able to change key colors automatically

SRUM-DUMP and SRUM_DUMP_CSV Ported to Python 3

SRUM_DUMP and SRUM_DUMP_CSV have been ported to Python3 and are available for download from the PYTHON3 branch of my github page. In moving to Python3 I also updated the modules that I depend upon to parse and create XLSX files and access the ESE database that contains the SRUM data.  I hope that this will fix the issue that some users have experienced with SRUDB.dat files that create very large spreadsheets.  If it does not please let me know and continue to use SRUM_DUMP_CSV.EXE to avoid the XLSX problem. In moving to Python3 you will find the process to be faster. If you would like to run the tools from source instructions for doing so are in the README on the github page.

New tool

I read an article on Fireeye's website the other day where they used Machine Learning to eliminate a lot of the noise that comes out of tools like strings.  It's pretty interesting and looks like it would save me some time when looking through malware. I wondered how effective scores would be in helping to eliminate the noise.  45 minutes and 29 lines of Python code later I have something that looks like it works.  Check out Before here is the output of strings on a piece of malware: student@573:~/freq$ strings -n 6 malware.exe | head -n 20 !This program cannot be run in DOS mode. e!Rich `.rdata .pdata @.gfids @.rsrc @.reloc \$0u"H L$ SVWH K SVWH |$ H;_ <bt%<xt!<Zt |$ AVH l$ VWAV L$ SUVWH UVWATAUAVAWH 0A_A^A]A\_^] UVWATAUAVAWH @A_A^A]A\_^] After the useful stings quickly bubble to t

Three Free Python apps to improve your defenses and incident response

I did a SANS Webcast on a couple of tools I developed to use automation to enhance your network defenses and incident response capability.    If you missed it you can check it out here:

Reverse Pivots with Metasploit - How NOT to make the lightbulb

In a penetration test your target is PII kept on a corporate file server which I will call Victim2. You are outside the firewall but have gained access to an internal host, Victim1, when a user opened your word document with an embeeded Meterpreter payload . The stager embedded in the word document made a REVERSE_TCP connection to your machine which uploaded metsrv.dll to the victim. The machine you have access to (Victim1) has unfiltered access to your target (Victim2). Victim2 is vulnerable to ms08_067_netapi. Victim2 however, has NO access to the internet at all. Were it not for the strict egress firewall rules controlling Victim2 you could have used the ROUTE command to pivot your attack through your meterpreter session on Victim1 to Victim2, and have Victim2 send you a shell directly like this... Your IP = Victim1 = Victim2 = Background session 1? [y/N] y msf exploit(ms08_067_netapi) > route add 1 msf exploit