Saturday, 4 April 2020

Security tools are awful

In my experience, most bolt on security products actually undermine your security at great expense rather than enhance it. One exception to this is a good password manager. Recently I've been trying to find one for my workplace. Unfortunately I have nothing like the budget need for CyberArk - in my last job, I looked after my employers CyberArk installation and really loved it (despite the fact that most of it only ran on MS-Windows). If you have money to burn - read no further - go buy CyberArk and don't skimp on getting it configured correctly.

My starting point was open source team password managers - there's lots to choose from: Syspass, Teampass, Passbolt, Passit, Psono, bitwarden....the list goes on and on.

The first issue I came across is the way they handle the master encryption key. If you are running this on your own infrastructure then that might not matter too much. But few people do still run their own infrastructure, and of those that do, the passwords for your infrastructure are the last thing anyone would want to store on their own infrastructure! Almost all are really, really bad at this. A surprising number of projects try to pass off pen tests against the application as security audits - probably because 1) pen tests are now relatively cheap and 2) they know their emperor has no clothes.

The second issue is the lack of a usable API. I don't just want to store passwords, I want to install other secrets. I don't want to have to copy and paste every time my infrastructure needs a secret. I want to be able to rotate passwords. I don't even mind that your application does not do this - if I can make sense of the API I can easily implement this myself.

Most of them have APIs - but are lacking in documentation. PassBolt is offered as a commercial product / service as well as open source and proudly provides documentation on the end points - but is somewhat lacking in detail about access authentication tokens. I was therefore quite hopeful that they would be able to point me in the right direction, but after contacting their support, they were not able to provide a single example of a client or explain how their authentication worked!

I was excited when I discovered that Passit ran as a single page application - surely that must mean its a REST API? But when I tried using it I saw no data traffic in web developer - WTF? I can only guess that its using websockets to communicate.

The third issue is devops syndrome. Yes, you can install their open source product, but only after you build out the same set of orchestration and build tools that they use. Just run this simple command.....after you have installed node.js, docker, kubernetes, ansible, jenkins.....  


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