I never thought in my life I would spend almost the entire allowed 6 hour time on the CISSP exam, but I did. And I was oddly zen about the whole experience. Sure, I was a little nervous when I first walked into the testing room as I had no idea what to expect. One of the proctors, whom I met in a CISSP class nearly 6 years ago, checked my ID and paperwork and another proctor led me to a seat, which was to be mine for the course of the exam.

The usual electronic gadgets and gizmos were not allowed at your desk, and if they were present, they were to be switched off or set to vibrate mode and preferably up with the desk where you were permitted to put your snacks and the like (it was a 6 hour test with no lunch break). I left all my gear in the car, though I brought food and water in.

At 8:30, one of the proctors began reading the instructions, which involved filling out a scantron form with specific information. Once that was done and all the other instructions and the like were done, we broke the seal on our test and began. Nothing like filling out over 250 little bubbles.

Bathroom breaks, which I took at least 3 of, involved signing out, one of the proctors escorting you to the restroom (he didn't come inside), and him escorting you back and you signing back in. I guess they want to make sure you don't "cheat" in the bathroom. Fair enough.

And while the confidentiality agreement I signed as part of the CISSP exam process forbids me from getting into specifics about what was on the exam, I can say that I felt oddly zen about the experience. Once the test was underway, I stopped stressing about it. I took frequent breaks. I used earplugs. I was methodical and deliberate. I only made one "transcription" mistake (from book to scantron).

I took two passes through the material. The first pass was to answer the questions I was pretty sure about. On the second pass, I double-checked my answers both making sure I transcribed the write answer but that I actually chose the right answer. The ones I didn't know, and there were a few, I was able to make a semi-educated guess on most of them, the rest I just threw out a guess. It's not like the SAT's where you lose points for a wrong answer.

I walked out of the test feeling pretty comfortable with my performance. I'm sure I answered a few questions wrong, but that's life. Now I just need to wait for ISC2 to come back with my certification results so I can jump through the remaining hoops to be certified.

Meanwhile, I am exhausted after all that. Early bedtime for me.

From the latest SANS NewsBites:

The Pirate Bay, a website that helps users find files over BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software, has reportedly been the victim of attack; the intruder stole a copy of the site's user database.  User passwords are encrypted, but Pirate Bay's site operator encourages users to change their passwords nonetheless, and if they use the same password elsewhere, to change those as well.  The attacker got in through a hole in the site directory's blogging software.  Pirate Bay has a reported

1.4 million members.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/14/pirate_bay_hacked/

http://www.securityfocus.com/brief/499

Guess even the pirates get hacked once in a while.  ;)

Russell Shaw reports that there is now a new "attack vector" utilizing Java and Quicktime on a web page. This is basically the security bug that was recently found against MacOS, but it's actually not against MacOS per-se, but rather Quicktime. That means not only is MacOS vulnerable, but Windows is potentially vulnerable too.

From nist.org article:

Currently Safari and Firefox are confirmed vectors on the MacIntel OSX platform. Currently it is known that Windows Quicktime is vulnerable as well. What is not known is to what degree. If the attack is a buffer overflow an actual "exploiting the box" type attack may be OS specific. In other words Quicktime under Windows may simply crash or hang the computer if the same exploit code is used. Converting a buffer overflow in to a full fledged exploit takes time and is not always possible. But they did it on the OSX platform so it is entirely possible that someone can do it on the Windows platform as well. However, if the exploit simply takes advantage of a function built-in to Quicktime than the current exploit may work on both platforms.

The mitigation for this issue?  Disable Java, Uninstall Quicktime, or if you're a Firefox user, use the NoScript extension and ensure Java is disabled on untrusted sites. Not getting rid of Java or Quicktime, but I sure use NoScript. Yes, it's a pain, but these kinds of issues are precisely why I am willing to go through the trouble of running it.

Presumably, Apple is now aware of this issue and is working quickly to patch this issue both in Windows and MacOS.

Everyone blew this supposed "Mac" security issue out of the water, it seems. The Mac was "hacked," but it wasn't exactly specific to the Mac as the issue could be replicated in any browser on any system. It was a local exploit, at best, and it involved cross-site scripting, something that is inherently dangerous on all computers.

Please let me know when the Mac can be remotely rooted, though. That will be some serious news.

I am currently taking a CISSP Prep class online thru Global Knowledge. They are using a tool called iLinc for the class, and I have to say, I'm throughly unimpressed with the experience.

First off, the voice quality frequently goes from mediocre to worse. When the instructor drops off and comes back--which happens on more than one occasion--when the voice comes back, it chipmunks big-time until the voice buffer clears and everything returns to normal. The iLinc client has crashed on my relatively vanilla Windows XP machine a half-dozen times. Oh yeah, it requires Internet Explorer, which means Windows only. Yuck! The chat client stinks and they do a lousy job of providing ways for participants to give feedback. In a previous online class I took with Global Knowledge, they use a tool called Interwise, which required installing a Windows client, but seemed like it was much more stable.

Probably my biggest complaint with the whole experience is the instructor's Internet connection, which seems to be causing at least some of the issues. But it really sucks whatever it is.

Meanwhile, next week, I will be starting an online class with SANS on Intrusion Detection Systems. Their online class tool seems to be Java-based and should work on the Mac, which I would prefer for obvious reasons.

I've also played with WebEx, Lotus Sametime, and Windows LiveMeeting. They all have their issues. None of them provide an optimal experience and they all certainly aren't cross-platform. I do want to check out Unyte Meeting, which is working on a new version that has gone into public beta. The pertinent deets from their press release:

WebDialogs¬†is seeking users to participate in the beta test, which will run through April 25, 2007. As a registered user, participants can sample Unyte Meeting‚Äôs unified voice, video and Web conferencing capabilities without charge for up to 1,500 minutes or until April 25‚ÄĒwhichever comes first. To sign up, visit¬†http://www.webdialogs.com/umbeta/¬†

Unyte Meeting Spring ’07 is faster, yet still completely browser-based, with no downloads required for hosts, presenters or participants. The service is based on WebDialogs’ proprietary conferencing technology that is currently used in the market today by more than 200 brand names through 70 partner agreements.

I did play with their Skype remote desktop product, which I was suitably impressed with. Still waiting for them to come out with a Mac version of the "host" part of their application--the Mac client piece worked fine.

Meanwhile, all this training is paying a price on my ability to blog, so continue to expect light blogging over the next couple of weeks.