The Security Maturity Checklist

A year ago I founded a conference, and this weekend was the fourth iteration of it, adaconf3 (the first was adaconf0).

I am really happy about the awesome lineup, and I also did a lightning talk, beta testing a small part of an upcoming talk called Why Penetration Testing Sucks – Finding a more efficient road to Security Maturity.

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Penetration Testing without Risk Analysis

A few years back, in a room full of practicing penetration testers. I am listening in to them talking about the problems they perceive in their working environment. I get a bit confused and asked an inconspicuous question:

“How much of your work is risk analysis?”

Ten pairs of eyes looking back at me, with the same look of confusion that I assume I display.

“What do you mean? We don’t do risk analysis.”

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Penetration Testing is a Bad Word

As a female penetration tester, I have had a fair deal of jokes thrown at me.

People outside the IT industry get shocked and confused.

People inside the industry try to quench their nervous laughs.

It’s gone to the point where I have formulated a number of scripted comebacks to common reactions. Most people are polite enough not to verbally say what they think, and get very relieved when I myself crack a stupid joke about the word.

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I failed my OSCP exam, and I am so proud of myself!

Two days ago I did my first attempt at the OSCP exam. I have not passed -YET.

The exam is a 24 hour exam where I was expected to gain reverse shell on three or four out of six machines that I’ve never had contact with before. It was a lot of fun mapping them, finding their weak spots and figuring out which one of the numerous weaknesses could be exploited. However, I wasn’t able to exploit any of them end to end.
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Penetration Testing – But Why?

I once again tried my sketchnoting skills. In blue are findings from the paper, red are my own remarks.

I am a penetration tester – a legal, ethical hacker. But I am more comfortable with calling myself a security tester or a security analyst, or a SecDevOps professional.

The most common distinction between vulnerability assessment and penetration testing is that the former is automated and the latter manual. However, that’s an over-simplification. Reading this excellent research paper (“Does penetration testing need standardisation?”, Knowles, Baron, McGarr, 2015), the delivery of penetration testing services are of varying type and quality. Specifically communicating and fixing the findings often fall short. And truly  – isn’t fixing the issues the whole point?

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The Air Conditioner Is Watching You

TL;DR: Using metadata, it is relatively easy to find out very intimate information about a person. Therefore it is good to assume that any data in a system is covered by the GDPR. (And if you want to see me go deeper into this, join the HoT69 conference on May 26th!)

GDPR is the new data privacy law that will come into force in the end of May 2018. It’s a neat law that in the best of worlds will help ordinary users to regain control over their data.

A central question for the GDPR is that all Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about a person is owned by that person, and must be protected. But what is PII?

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Exploiting my own WordPress part 4 – Attack surface

I rerun ZAP and wpscan online password attack against a presumably less defended target, and realize that sometimes just talking to people is the best trouble shooting methodology

Before leaving ZAP and trying out new tools, I do a scan of this blog,

My hypothesis is that ZAP will find more flags on this WordPress. The only protective measure I’ve implemented on this site is secure ssh connection, disallowing root login and putting up a firewall including fail2ban.
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Exploiting my own WordPress part 3 – ZAP and

ZAP find  almost a 1000 potential vulns in my site. I patch them with a plugin – or so I thought – and get MORE vulnerabilities – or do I? 

ZAP is a Flagship Project from OWASP. I adore OWASP for its work on Top 10 lists for Web and Mobile Vulnerabilities, and their Cheat Sheets for defense. I know it is in every pen testers arsenal, so let’s go look at it!

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Exploiting my own WordPress part 2 – online password attack


When attempting an online password attack, I find that wpscan gives me false positive and false negative results . Also I find my defenses work, but not as I expect them to.


This is part 2 of my attempt to hack myself. After successfully DoSing my own site using a vulnerability I found with wpscan, I decide to try out wpscan’s password guessing feature. I do not expect this to be successful. An online password guessing attack will be prohibitively expensive, because I’m using a computer generated, long password that I store in my password vault. Also I only allow three login attempts and my login page is not called /wp-admin or /wp-login.php.

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Exploiting my own WordPress part 1 – Objective and wpscan

Using WPscan, I enumerate a wordpress site that I have set up myself. I find two vulnerabilities and I successfully exploit one of them

Finding and exploiting security vulnerabilities in the wordpress site
Deepening my understanding of various attack tools
Deepening my understanding of wordpress defense plugins.

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