Articles and news

SFTPPlus Release 3.36.0

Thu 02 August 2018 | general release

We are pleased to announce the latest release of SFTPPlus version 3.36.0.

New Features

  • The Azure File Service of the Azure Storage Account is now available as a location for client-side transfers. [client-side][http] [#4988]
  • It is now possible to define a client-side file transfer that will wait for a signaling filename before it starts transferring the files. [client-side] [#4989]
  • It is now possible to configure transfers which will monitor the source recursively and will then transfer to the same non-recursive destination. [client-side] [#4998]
  • It is now possible to configure a transfer rule which will use a destination file name that is different to the source name. [client-side] [#5007]

Defect Fixes

  • The Windows installer is now signed. [#4794]
  • It is now possible to clear the data attributes and structured fields configuration for an event handler and the allowed groups for an OS authentication mode from the Local Manager. In previous versions saving these configuration changes was generating an error. [#5018]
  • When the local file event handler is rotating the files based on time, it now preserves the file extension. In previous versions the timestamp was used as the file extension. [#5036]

You can check the full release notes here.

• • •

Secure File Transfer and Business Continuity Planning

Fri 06 July 2018 | article

Introduction

What is business continuity planning (BCP)?

According to Wikipedia, business continuity planning is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company.

Business Continuity Planning also includes these five components as defined by the SANS Institute. These components are:

  • Business Resumption Plan
  • Occupant Emergency Plan
  • Continuity of Operations Plan
  • Incident Management Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)

We have decided to provide a high level overview for this article. While secure file transfer is just a component of business continuity planning, it is still an important component of it. We hope that after reading this post, that you also recognize secure file transfers to be part of the Business Continuity Planning process.

Assigning risk ratings

Planning involves conducting a risk assessment of your organization. In this case, planning involves determining what is considered IT risk versus Business risk.

By conducting a risk analysis, you can identify portions of your business resources, identify known risks to these business resources, and assign a risk rating.

According to the Cisco Systems Network Security Policy Best Practices White Paper, the following are rating guidelines based on a three-tier risk level. These are examples from purely a network security level and there are other models and guidelines available that cover a more generalized approach.

The following are excerpts from the above whitepaper:

Low Risk

These are systems or data that if compromised (data viewed by unauthorized personnel, data corrupted, or data lost) would not disrupt the business or cause legal or financial ramifications. The targeted system or data can be easily restored and does not permit further access of other systems.

Medium Risk

These are systems or data that if compromised (data viewed by unauthorized personnel, data corrupted, or data lost) would cause a moderate disruption in the business, minor legal or financial ramifications, or provide further access to other systems. The targeted system or data requires a moderate effort to restore or the restoration process is disruptive to the system.

High Risk

These are systems or data that if compromised (data viewed by unauthorized personnel, data corrupted, or data lost) would cause an extreme disruption in the business, cause major legal or financial ramifications, or threaten the health and safety of a person. The targeted system or data requires significant effort to restore or the restoration process is disruptive to the business or other systems.

From the perspective of secure file transfer, you will need to consider at which level your assets (such as the assets covered in the scope of file transfers) fall under which of these risk categories.

Establishing a business continuity structure / policy

Part of the planning process also involves establishing a business continuity structure.

Having a business continuity policy will require building a team and a governance structure around it. Within the policy, ensure to outline the roles and responsibilities of those that are going to be impacted by this document.

Within the context of secure file transfers, the policy could outline the role of the secure file transfer administrator and to make aware that it is their responsibility to ensure successful Continuity of Operations. In this example, the same administrator could also be the support or testing lead to ensure that the failover file transfer system is tested and verified should there be an issue with the main server.

On that note, for those interested in more details about how SFTPPlus can help administrators meet Continuity of Operations demands, please read our introduction to SFTPPlus and high availability or resiliency environments.

In conclusion, the business continuity policy should ensure that the organization has been provided a general understanding of the policy, purpose, guidelines and definitions around the business continuity plan.

Incident Management and Incident Response

Part of business continuity planning is around incident management and incident response.

What is the relationship between Business Continuity Planning and Incident Management Plan? According to NIST Security Incident Handling guide (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), “organizations should ensure that incident response policies and procedures and business continuity processes are in sync. Computer security incidents undermine the business resilience of an organization. Business continuity planning professionals should be made aware of incidents and their impacts so they can fine-tune business impact assessments, risk assessments, and continuity of operations plans.”

Within the context of secure file transfers, SFTPPlus emits an audit trail for administrators to monitor events and for audit assurance purposes, which can help assist in incident management and response. For further readings about procedures, we recommend the NIST Security Incident Handling guide. Our documentation on the audit trail also provides a useful starting point on how you can administer SFTPPlus to be compliant to your auditing needs.

Implementation

Implementation is the practice stage. The importance of implementation is the prevention of business risk.

The recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) are baseline data that administrators should be aware of when implementing the business continuity plan.

For example, a secure file transfer administrator can ask themselves questions such as "What is the recovery time actual (RTA) in contrast to the recovery time objective (RTO) for the file transfer application during an actual disaster or exercise?"

The Business Impact Analysis should uncover which systems are mission critical and non-critical, which can further impact the RPO and RTO, as an example. In this example, you may need to ensure an active-active high availability setup is in place with the backup server in the cloud rather than on-premise. In this scenario, you may be targeting 100% Recovery Consistency Objective (RCO) for a business process.

Exercise / Testing / Action

Part of business continuity plan should include a review process to modify the existing policy. This process should be able to adapt to lessons learned - either from an actual disaster event or from an exercise.

The review process ensures that the policy, posture and practices are being re-evaluated accordingly.

The Business Continuity Plan should end up being a dynamic document that can adapt to the constantly changing business and IT environment and needs. This dynamic should also include education and evaluation of staff skills involved.

ISO guidelines for further reading

Continual improvement with your business continuity plan are also covered by guidelines such as ISO 22301 "Societal security -- Business continuity management systems --- Requirements". This guide “specifies requirements to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and continually improve a documented management system to protect against, reduce the likelihood of occurrence, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disruptive incidents when they arise.”

And for those focusing on the information security management system, the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard “specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an information security management system within the context of the organization. It also includes requirements for the assessment and treatment of information security risks tailored to the needs of the organization.”

Evaluating SFTPPlus MFT

SFTPPlus MFT Server supports FTP, Explicit FTPS, Implicit FTPS, SFTP, SCP, HTTP and HTTPS.

Install SFTPPlus MFT today either as an on-premise solution supported on Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, MacOS and FreeBSD or on the cloud as Docker containers, AWS instances etc.

Email us at sales@proatria.com to start your evaluation version today.

For licensing queries please contact sales@proatria.com.

Addendum

This resource is written as of SFTPPlus version 3.34.1.

The details in this resource is for guidance only. Influences such as own security policies, requirements, and threat models should be considered when adopting this type of guidance.

• • •

SFTPPlus Release 3.35.0

Tue 03 July 2018 | general release

We are pleased to announce the latest release of SFTPPlus version 3.35.0.

New Features

  • The OpenSSL library used by SFTPPlus on Windows was updated to OpenSSL 1.1.0h. [#4579]
  • It is now possible to define virtual folders that are available to all accounts from a group. These virtual folders can point to directories outside an account's locked home folder. [server-side] [#4928]
  • It is now possible to allow authentication of operating-system accounts only for those belonging to a configured group. [server-side] [#4962]
  • Python version on all supported platforms except HP-UX was updated to 2.7.15. Consequently, the Expat libraries bundled with Python were updated to 2.2.4 on these platforms. [#4579]

Defect Fixes

  • An internal error is no longer raised when a SSH client sends a message for a method which is not supported by the SSH transport. Instead, the client receives a standard SSH not-implemented error. [server-side][sftp] [#4579]
  • The speed of the SSH handshake for the SFTP service has been improved. Previously, there was a noticeable difference for certain customers during the SSH handshake authentication process. [server-side][sftp][#4579]
  • pyOpenSSL was updated on AIX and Solaris to fix CVE-2013-4314. The X509Extension in pyOpenSSL before 0.13.1 does not properly handle a '0' character in a domain name in the Subject Alternative Name field of an X.509 certificate, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to spoof arbitrary SSL servers via a crafted cert issued by a legitimate Certification Authority. The experimental packages for HP-UX are still vulnerable to this and will to be fixed in a future release.[server-side][#4579]
  • Once set, passwords for locations or email resources are no longer readable from Local Manager. A password can be read only before being set and applied. Afterwards, its value cannot be read, only updated. [security] [#4938]
  • Comma-separated configuration values may now contain comma characters, as long as they are enclosed in double quotation marks. [#4951]
  • The event generated when a peer's certificate validation fails during a TLS/SSL handshake now shows the detailed error message, not just the error code. [#4979]

You can check the full release notes here.

• • •

Setting up security scanners for your SFTPPlus MFT Server

Wed 20 June 2018 | article security

Introduction

OWASP Logo

The following is a short guide on how you can set up a security scanner for your SFTPPlus MFT Server installation. For this guide, we have chosen a free and open source scanner, OWASP Zed Attack Proxy or zaproxy, as an example.

Of course, there are a number of other software and tools that you can use and all with varying mileage.

We can also cover these other tools, depending on interest. Therefore, if you would like to see more of these types of posts from SFTPPlus, please make sure to contact us. If you are not familiar with the terms, or need to do some background reading, you can scroll down to the Other resources section first.

To be kept up to date with the latest developments, please sign up to our security advisories.

About OWASP Zed Attack Proxy or zaproxy

For our server-side scan of the SFTPPlus MFT service (HTTPS and HTTP) and Local Manager, we used the OWASP Zed Attack Proxy or zaproxy which is a free and open source penetration testing tool released by OWASP and developed for website application security testing.

After running the application, you can generate a report for further consumption. The report contains OWASP ZAP specific terminology. These are listed below for your reference.

WASC ID This is the ID provisioned by the Web Application Security Consortium (WASC) Threat Classification project. Read more about WASC here.

CWE ID This is the ID provisioned by the Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) project. Read more about CWE here.

Confidence This is the description of how confident the result is in the validity of the finding.

  • False Positive - for potential issues that one will later find is actually not exploitable.
  • Low - for unconfirmed issues.
  • Medium - for issues that zaproxy is somewhat confident in.
  • High - for findings that zaproxy is highly confident in.
  • Confirmed - for confirmed issues.

Risk Description of how serious the risk is. The risk shown is from the report generated by zaproxy.

Source This is the ZAP policies code. Read more here.

Using zaproxy to conduct an active scan on SFTPPlus services

Prerequisite

As a standard prerequisite, you will need the zaproxy application, a version of SFTPPlus Server software and consent to conduct these types of scanning activities if you are doing so on behalf of a group or organization.

For this example, we will be conducting an active scan of the SFTPPlus HTTP service available on the default port 10080. There are also other web-browser based services that you can scan such as the SFTPPlus Local Manager on port 10020 and the HTTPS service available on the default port 10443.

In addition, scanning can affect availability. We recommend a backup of your database.

What is an active scan?

Active scanning will attempt to find potential vulnerabilities by using known attacks against the selected target, in this case the SFTPPlus HTTP service. It should be noted that active scanning can only find certain types of vulnerabilities. Logical vulnerabilities, such as broken access control, will not be found by any active or automated vulnerability scanning. Manual penetration testing should always be performed in addition to active scanning to find all types of vulnerabilities.

Also, scanning will unearth results that also need to be consumed and understood by the relevant parties.

Setting up an active scan

In order to attack the authenticated part of the HTTP service, we will need to add the HTTP session token in the zaproxy application.

Go to 'Tools' -> 'Options' -> 'HTTP Sessions' -> add chevah_http_session in the Token Name. Make sure that this token is enabled then select 'OK'.

See screenshot below:

OWASP zaproxy adding custom HTTP sessions pane

Make sure that the 'HTTP Sessions' tab is open. To view the 'HTTP Sessions' tab, go to 'View' -> select 'Show Tab' -> then 'HTTP Sessions'. At this stage, the pane is empty but it will soon be populated with the correct values in the later steps.


In the 'Quick Start' pane, add http://localhost:10080 in the 'URL to attack' field. This is the URL for the SFTPPlus HTTP web-browser based file manager service. Do not press 'Attack', instead scroll down and select 'Launch Browser' for Chrome.

See screenshot below:

OWASP zaproxy Welcome pane

The reason why you cannot go straight to attacking/scanning the resource is because it still requires authentication. If not authenticated with zaproxy, you will see an error Failed to attack the URL: received a 401 response code.


After selecting 'Launch Browser', a new Chrome browser will launch and you will start seeing activity in the 'Sites' pane. The browser should have 'Explore your application with ZAP' as the landing page.

Open the URL http://localhost:10080 in the Chrome browser and login to the test file transfer account.

Once logged in, you should now see http://localhost:10080 in the 'Sites' pane.

OWASP zaproxy Sites pane

In the 'Sites' pane, right-click over the http://localhost:10080 URL and select 'Include in Context' then 'Default Context'.

OWASP zaproxy Sites pane

In the 'HTTP Sessions' pane, you should now see that there is a new session added for the site localhost:10080 with values populated in the 'Session Tokens' Values' field.

If you do not see any values, launch the SFTPPlus HTTP service again and log in.

OWASP HTTP Sessions pane with populated Session Tokens' Values

Back in the 'Sites' pane, right click over the localhost URL, select 'Attack' -> 'Active Scan'.

For one of our tests, we only wanted to scan the HTTP headers to see if the version of SFTPPlus would be able to escape possible CSRF attacks. In this case, for the 'Input Vectors' tab, only the 'HTTP Headers, All Requests' vector was selected. You can choose other vectors according to your own requirements or you can opt to choose all vectors.


Allow the scan to work. The times can vary.

OWASP HTTP Sessions pane with populated Session Tokens' Values

Alerts are located in the 'Alerts' tab. You can read what the Alert is about from this pane. Please note that alerts may include alerts from associated third party services.


You can generate the report after the scan has completed.

Select 'Report' on the top menu > 'Generate HTML Report' and save the file.

Other reporting file formats can be used such as JSON, XML, Markdown.

OWASP HTTP Sessions pane with populated Session Tokens' Values

Example scan result

Below is an example scan of what you may find. Please note that results will differ depending on factors such as your installation, configuration and SFTPPlus version:

Low Risk: Web Browser XSS Protection Not Enabled
Details:
URL:
Risk: Low
Confidence: Medium
CWE ID: 933 - Security Misconfiguration -
https://cwe.mitre.org/data/definitions/933.html
WASC ID: 14 - Server Misconfiguration
http://projects.webappsec.org/w/page/13246959/Server%20Misconfiguration
Source: Passive (10016 - Web Browser XSS Protection Not Enabled)

Description:
Web Browser XSS Protection is not enabled, or is disabled by the
configuration of the 'X-XSS-Protection' HTTP response header on
the web server

Other info:
The X-XSS-Protection HTTP response header allows the web server
to enable or disable the web browser's XSS protection mechanism.
The following values would attempt to enable it:
X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block
X-XSS-Protection: 1; report=http://www.example.com/xss
The following values would disable it:
X-XSS-Protection: 0
The X-XSS-Protection HTTP response header is currently supported
on Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari (WebKit).
Note that this alert is only raised if the response body could
potentially contain an XSS payload (with a text-based content type,
with a non-zero length).

Solution:
Ensure that the web browser's XSS filter is enabled, by setting
the X-XSS-Protection HTTP response header to '1'.

Reference:
https://www.owasp.org/index.php/XSS_(Cross_Site_Scripting)_Prevention_Cheat_Sheet
https://blog.veracode.com/2014/03/guidelines-for-setting-security-headers/

Upon seeing reports in regards to XSS vulnerabilities, we have fixed user input escaping where error messages where done without the user input and also added validation of the user input.

Therefore, the HTML rendering code for the HTTP service has been added to ensure that this is not the case to secure user input.

As part of this change, we have also added new automated tests for the HTTP service as part of our quality assurance reviews.

Example SFTPPlus audit log during a scan

As you can see, the scan generated some potential CSRF attacks which SFTPPlus version 3.34.1 detected and therefore disconnected against:

| 40018 2018-06-07 11:05:43 Process Unknown 127.0.0.1:58871
  Forcing client disconnection at "/unwanted.js" after
  receiving 0 bytes in body. Response: 400 Possible CSRF

The above is just an example of what you may see in the audit log and is not related to the scan result in the previous section.

The reason why you are seeing this in the audit trail is that we now enforce requests from the same origin including basic requests such as GET and even older HTTP requests such as POST.

This is to ensure that requests from the outside boundary (the Internet) are not interacting with the safe confines of the HTTP file service or the Local Manager.

We have ensured that the browser is forced to download data, rather than execute data, after checking the Origin and Referrer headers are of the same source.

What to do if you find an issue

The first step is to check if you have the latest version of SFTPPlus. New versions will contain not only new features, but also defect fixes including security bug fixes.

The second step is to look at the type of alert and to do a manual confirmation of the feasibility of the alert (for example, if it's a false positive) and to confirm the results from zaproxy. The alerts are meant to be guidance for further investigations.

If there is a bug found, please do not hesitate to contact SFTPPlus Support with your defect report.

Keep up to date by signing up to our security advisories

SFTPPlus continues to be focused on automated, non-interactive file transfers in a secure fashion. Our security practices have been designed to make this a reality for our clients.

To be kept up to date with the latest security advisory and news, please subscribe to out newsletter here.

Evaluating SFTPPlus MFT

SFTPPlus MFT Server supports FTP, Explicit FTPS, Implicit FTPS, SFTP, SCP, HTTP and HTTPS.

Install SFTPPlus MFT today either as an on-premise solution supported on Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, MacOS and FreeBSD or on the cloud as Docker containers, AWS instances etc.

Email us at sales@proatria.com to start your evaluation version today.

For licensing queries please contact sales@proatria.com.

Addendum

This resource is written as of SFTPPlus version 3.34.1.

The details in this resource is for guidance only. Influences such as own security policies, requirements, and threat models should be considered when adopting this type of guidance.

• • •

SFTPPlus Release 3.34.1

Fri 08 June 2018 | general release

We have recently deployed the latest release of SFTPPlus version 3.34.1 which fixes the following defects:

  • The files downloaded using the HTTP file transfer service now have explicit headers to disable caching. [security][http][https] [#4953]
  • The HTTP service no longer returns user input as part of the error messages. [security][http][https][server-side] [#4954]

You can check the full release notes here.

• • •