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Security Configuration Guide – Viasat Mobile Dynamic Defense

The ACSC has developed this guidance to assist organisations to understand the risks of deploying and provide specific configuration requirements for the Viasat Mobile Dynamic Defense (MDD) system to handle sensitive or classified data.

Introduction

This guide has been provided by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), which is located within the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

The ACSC has developed this guidance to assist organisations to understand the risks of deploying and provide specific configuration requirements for the Viasat Mobile Dynamic Defense (MDD) system to handle sensitive or classified data. This security configuration guide does not replace the Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM), however where a technical conflict arises the most current document shall take priority. The current version of the ISM can be found at https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/ism.

Audience

To use this guide, readers should be familiar with basic networking concepts, be an experienced mobile device system administrator, and be or have access to an experienced network administrator.

Parts of this guide will make reference to product features that will require the engagement of other software, networking equipment or other Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors. While every effort has been made to ensure content involving any third-party vendor products is correct at the time of writing, organisations should always check with these vendors when planning their system implementation. Note, mention of third-party products is not a specific endorsement of that vendor over another, and they are used for illustrative purposes only.

Some security configuration instructions within this guide are complex, and if implemented incorrectly could reduce the security of the device, the network or the organisation’s overall security posture. These instructions should only be implemented by experienced systems administrators and should be used in conjunction with thorough testing.

Purpose

This guide provides information for organisations on Viasat Mobile Dynamic Defense (MDD) and potential security risks that should be considered before being introduced into their mobile fleet. A threat risk assessment should be undertaken by organisations so that they completely understand the risks present in the deployment model they have selected.

This guide is to be used with the security configuration guides for mobile devices found at https://www.cyber.gov.au. Organisations are required to meet all existing PROTECTED level security configurations as outlined in the configuration guides for the mobile devices.

The advice in this guide relates to use of the MDD platform within Australia. Organisations and individuals seeking to use devices overseas should also refer to the ACSC’s Travelling Overseas with Electronic Devices publication.

System functionality and user experience will be affected by the implementation of this guide. Authorising officers should consider the balance of user requirements and security, as not all advice may be appropriate for every user or environment.

Organisations should seek approval from their authorising officer to allow for the formal acceptance of the risks. Refer to the ‘applying a risk-based approach to cyber security’ section of the Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM) for more information.

General advice

When newer versions of MDD are released, there is potential for new security implications and authorising officers should seek additional guidance if required. In the absence of additional guidance, ASD advises:

  • Upgrade to the latest version of MDD as new versions provide security enhancements and address known vulnerabilities. This is consistent with ASD’s advice to install the latest versions of software and patch operating system vulnerabilities as communicated in the ISM and the Strategies to Mitigate Targeted Cyber Intrusions.

Mobile device vendors and software providers provide explanatory notes regarding the content of their security updates. This information may help organisations quantify the risk posed if they do not update.

Introduction to mobile device security

In this guide, mobile device security advice centres on the three security tenets of:

  • device integrity
  • data at rest
  • data in transit.

ASD evaluates device cryptographic implementations, to determine the device configuration necessary to reduce handling requirements of devices used for the processing or storing of sensitive or classified data. It is each organisation’s responsibility to configure the device according to ASD advice, and assess that the applications implemented by an organisation use the available cryptographic protections appropriately.

Configuration advice regarding device integrity, aims to provide a level of protection suitable for sensitive or classified mobile devices, assuming an adversary has physical access to the device while it is powered on and in a locked state. Configuration advice and device evaluation draws upon:

  • key hierarchy and architecture evaluation
  • cryptographic implementation assessment
  • operating system architecture
  • configuration assessment under typical deployment scenarios.

It is the organisation’s responsibility to configure the device according to this advice in order to achieve the desired integrity outcomes.

Configuration advice regarding the protection of data at rest, aims to provide a level of protection suitable for sensitive or classified data stored on mobile devices. This advice assumes an adversary has physical access to the device while it is powered on and in a locked state. Configuration advice and device evaluation draw upon configuration assessment and details of application implementation including availability of security features.

Configuration advice regarding the protection of data in transit, aims to provide a suitable level of protection for the sensitive or classified data traversing a network, while assuming an adversary is able to intercept traffic.

It is each organisation’s responsibility to configure their devices according to ASD advice and support and maintain appropriate VPN infrastructure to support the VPN tunnels. Such infrastructure is out of scope for this guide.

Supervised devices

ASD guidance advises that all devices handling sensitive or classified data be supervised. Supervision is configured via MDD enrolment. Supervision of devices handling government data is necessary to ensure that the correct policies and configurations are applied throughout the lifecycle of a device.

Advice to authorising officers

The ACSC has developed the Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents to help organisations and their authorising officers mitigate cyber security incidents caused by various cyber threats. The most prominent set of these mitigation strategies is known as the Essential Eight. While the strategies were developed for workstations and servers, much of the functionality described exists on modern smartphones as well. Consequently, the risks are just as important to consider on mobile devices.

The assessed MDD product interacts with Samsung Galaxy mobile devices. Users and administrators will need to implement all of the security configurations as specified in the Security Configuration Guide – Samsung Galaxy S10, S20 and Note 20 Devices publication. The minimal configuration requirements for mobile devices shall target the PROTECTED level controls. The configuration guide outlines the risks of deploying and specific configuration requirements for the Samsung Galaxy mobile devices to handle sensitive or classified data.

MDD platform features and risk considerations

The following table describes certain features within MDD and the risk considerations that users, administrators and risk owners will need to consider.

Feature Description and Risk Considerations Requirement at PROTECTED

‘Whitelist’, ‘Signature Whitelist’ and ‘Blacklist’

The ‘Whitelist’ will allow third-party applications onto the device, but it does not disable system apps. ‘Signature Whitelist’ enables the ability to define a set of android application signatures to the ‘Whitelist’ on the provisioned device. When the device is provisioned, third-party applications are uninstalled. However, if third-party applications are installed through the MDD, they are automatically allowed. ‘Blacklist’ will block third-party applications and disable system applications.

For simplicity, ‘Whitelist’ and ‘Signature Whitelist’ should be enabled and leave the accepted applications list blank, unless there is a use case the ‘Blacklist’ should be the focus of administrators to deny unrequired system applications.

Without this control, unauthorised applications may be installed onto the mobile device and affect the security of the device and network.

Mandatory

Firewall

This control will allow mobile devices to connect to a specified set of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, hosts or subnets. Enabling the firewall control allows devices to only connect to pre-defined networks.

Mandatory

Auditing

MDD allows administrators to configure the audit logging on the mobile device. Monitoring the logs of the mobile devices will provide administrators additional context regarding unusual or suspicious activity.

Mandatory

Actuations

Actuations allows configuration of mobile devices to perform certain actions when a specified event occurs on the device (e.g. A user enters their password incorrectly 5 consecutive times the phone, actuations can automatically reset the phone to factory defaults).

Organisation decision

Mandatory Apps

The behaviour of mandatory applications (installed or always running) on the device can be adjusted in accordance with operational requirements and threat risk assessments.

Organisation decision

Managed Wi-Fi

Configuration of Wi-Fi SSID ‘Whitelist’ will allow devices to only connect to known networks.

Mandatory

Password Policy

Configuration of type, history, screen timeout, lifetime, maximum number of failures until wipe, minimum password length, sequential and repeating characters and customisation of the lock screen banner.

Refer to the ISM password controls for additional guidance.

Mandatory

Local Admin

Allow Local Administrator on the device. This allows for policy changes on device even after the device has been provisioned. If local admin is disabled, the only way to reprovision device is through a factory reset through the device, QR code or the MDD provisioning portal.

Organisation decision

Operator

Allows for operator mode on the device that can modify a defined subset of the basic policy configurations on the device.

Organisation decision

QR scanner

Reprovision/Modify device profiles without using USB tethered connection. There is a requirement for the client to trust a provisioning station before accepting QR code to modify profile settings.

Recommended

Managed certificates

QR certificate management for devices.

Mandatory if QR scanner is enabled.

MDD – Recommended configuration items

The following outlines the MDD configuration items on mobile devices and the requirement for use at the PROTECTED classification. Administrators must include a threat risk assessment matrix for PROTECTED and bespoke use cases, and have a complete understanding of the risks associated with their decision around implementing a particular control.

Item Description and Risk Considerations Requirement at PROTECTED

New Admins

Enables new device administrator applications.

Organisation decision

Factory Reset

This configuration item will disable a local reset of the device to factory settings.

If this setting is enabled and the device under goes factory reset, the device will be unsupervised.

Organisation decision

Android VPN

Allows the VPN to be specified in the device settings.

All data communications for the Samsung Galaxy platform handling government data must be through an Always On ‘StrongSwan’ VPN. The Samsung Galaxy platform offers two versions of VPN client – OpenVPN and StrongSwan. The StrongSwan client is enforced via the kernel and therefore offers a stronger security claim for the VPN tunnel.

Recommended

Audio Recording

Disables applications from using audio recordings. If enabled applications may inadvertently record sensitive conversations.

Organisation decision

Autofill service

Enables the Autofill service application to be used. Similar to a password manager, the device stores user information such as usernames and passwords and then automatically completes forms when asked for them.

Recommended

Backup services

Disables applications from using the Samsung cloud services to back up data from the device.

Enabling this service may allow the transfer of sensitive government data to the Samsung cloud service.

Not recommended

Bluetooth

Allows the device to use Bluetooth to connect to other devices and be used to increase location accuracy.

If the use case does not require this feature, then this feature should be disabled. This will reduce the attack surface on the device.

Organisation decision

Bluetooth Tethering

Allows the mobile device to share their network connection to other device through Bluetooth connection.

If this item is enabled, the network can be exposed to other devices.

Not recommended

Camera

Photos and videos taken with the camera application are stored locally and may be transferred automatically to locations that do not have sufficient protection for sensitive government data.

Organisation decision

Cell Data

Mobile devices can be enabled to use cell data for internet connectivity. The use of the always on StrongSwan VPN is recommended if using GSM cellular data.

Organisation decision

Certificate management

Disable the ability of the user to modify the certificates on the device.

If this feature is enabled users will be able to manage the certificates on the device. This includes self-signed certificates.

Organisation decision

Developer mode

Developer mode can be enabled allowing for mobile application development. This configuration item will allow users to access system level controls and should only be used for testing and development.

Not recommended

External Encrypt

Enforces encryption of external storage such as SD cards.

If this item is not enabled, external storage can be ejected from the mobile device and contents read on another device.

Mandatory

Google Auto Sync

Enables synchronisation of the data on a mobile device to a google account.

This configuration item allows data on a mobile device to be stored and updated on an external server hosted by Google.

Not recommended

Google Backups

The mobile device is backed up with a google account.

This configuration item allows data on a mobile device to be stored and updated on an external server hosted by Google.

Not recommended

GPS

This item configuration enables GPS to be used by the mobile device. Information based on the device’s physical location is obtained and used by the mobile device and third-party applications for various location-based services.

Organisation decision

Lock Notifications

This will enable notifications to appear while the device is in a locked state. Applications can send notification to the device, which can reveal information and details of applications on the device.

Not recommended

Microphone

Applications requiring the devices microphone can be enabled or disabled. This configuration item provides an additional control on apps and services that are allowed to access the device microphone.

Organisation decision

MMS

Multimedia messaging service can be enabled on the device allowing images, videos or sound clips to be sent and received. Sensitive information can be transmitted through this service without appropriate safeguards in place.

Not recommended

Mock Locations

The location of the physical device can be specified, instead of using the device’s actual location. This enabled when developer mode is on. This mode is usually used for testing and development purposes.

Not recommended

Over-The-Air Updates

The mobile device can be enabled to use Over-The-Air (OTA) android updates. This will enable wireless updates of the OS, firmware or application software.

Recommended

SD card

Enables SD cards to be used by the device.

If the SD card contains malicious software, it can infect the mobile device. Furthermore, sensitive information can be stored on the SD card and easily transferred to another device. If enabled, the External Encrypt feature must also be enabled.

Organisation decision

Smart Lock

Android can allow the bypass of security locked screen based on constant movement (proximity to user), location, recognised voice or connection to a device.

Not recommended

SMS

Short message service (SMS) allows text messaging to be sent and received from the device.

Organisation decision

Unknown Sources

Disable the installation of APKs from Unknown Sources onto the device.

If enabled, APKs from unknown source/s can be installed on to the device. Installing APKs from unknown sources can compromise the mobile device.

Recommended

USB Debugging

Enabled in conjunction with developer mode turned on, this configuration item allows applications to be copied via USB to the device.

Applications with malicious code can be transferred to the device. This configuration is primarily used for testing purposes.

Not recommended

USB Host Storage

Allows the mobile device to act as a host for another device through a USB connection (i.e. with an On The Go [OTG] adapter).

This configuration allows a mobile device to connect to external peripherals such as a USB storage device.

Not recommended

USB Mass Storage

Through a physical USB connection and enabling this configuration item, external mass storage such as flash drives and USB sticks can be connected to the mobile device.

This would enable transfer of information between the device and external storage. This can expose the device to malicious applications or executables, and potentially unauthorised transfer of information.

Not recommended.

USB Tethering

The mobile device can be configured to share network connection to other devices via USB connection. If this configuration is enabled, the mobile device can act as an open gateway to the network.

Not recommended

Video Recording

Videos taken with the camera application are stored locally and may be transferred automatically to locations that do not have sufficient protections for government data.

Organisation decision

WAP Push

Wireless application protocol (WAP) push allows content such as web links to be pushed to the mobile device.

Messages containing web links can direct users to untrusted websites, which can present additional risks to the user and the device.

If there is a requirement to use this feature, organisations needs to understand and accept the risks. Infrastructure (push proxy gateway) will be required to support this feature.

Organisation decision

Wi-Fi

Enabling this configuration item will enable the mobile device to establish a Wi-Fi connection.

System risk owners and administrators will need to assess risks associated with the type of network that the mobile device will be connecting too.

Organisation decision

Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct allows a mobile device to have a direct connection with another device, to transfer and receive data. If the connecting device is not with an organisation supervised device, transferring and receiving of sensitive government data will not have sufficient protection.

Not recommended

Wi-Fi Tethering

Wi-Fi tethering allows mobile device to share mobile data connection with external devices.

Not recommended

Knox – Recommended configuration items

The following table outlines the Knox configuration items available on Knox enabled mobile devices and the requirement for use at the PROTECTED classification. Administrators need to perform a formal threat risk assessment and have a complete understanding of the risks associated with their decision around implementing a particular control.

Item Description and Risk Considerations Requirement at PROTECTED

Airplane

Forces airplane mode to be on. The user will still be able to disable airplane mode but this will trigger a fault and audit event.

Organisation decision

Android Beam

Enable Android beam, a NFC data transfer.

Not recommended

Block Non-Mil Accounts

Switching this feature off will not block accounts which do not end in ‘.mil’.

If this feature is switched on, only accounts ending in ‘.mil’ are allowed to be accessed by the mobile device. All other accounts are blocked.

Organisation decision

Browser Autofill

Enables login and personal information to be stored and automatically filled into web forms. This will support different complex passwords/passphrases to be used on webpages.

Recommended

Cell Voice

Enabling this feature will allow voice calls to be made. A potential risk is communication of sensitive information.

Recommended

Crash report

Enabling this feature allows crash reports to be generated by the mobile device in the event of an application not responding.

If disabled, technical reporting is not provided, making identification of technical errors or potentially malicious applications difficult to determine.

Organisation decision

Fingerprint Unlock

If disabled the mobile device will not be able to be unlocked through fingerprint recognition. Depending on the mobile device, the fingerprint recognition system and the reliability can vary.

Organisation decision

Google Play

Enable the Google play store application to run.

Google play is a shop front for Android applications that can be installed onto the mobile device. Unauthorised or potentially malicious applications can be installed onto the device. The ‘Whitelist’, ‘Signature Whitelist’ and ‘Blacklist’ feature can minimise this risk.

Not recommended

Lockscreen Camera

Enable the camera icon to appear on the phone lock screen.

If enabled, the camera can be easily used even when the mobile device is in a locked state. This allows sensitive material to be photographed.

Organisation decision

Lockscreen Icons

Icons such as phone will be allowed to appear on the locked screen. This will allow shortcuts to different applications (login will still be required).

The associated risk depends on the application. If an application contains sensitive information then displaying the icon on the locked screen can expose the types of applications, and the role of the device, to adversaries if the device is lost or stolen.

Organisation decision

Multi-user mode

This is applied to tablet devices, if enabled multiple users are able to access a single tablet device. As multiple users are able to access the tablet, users can potentially access sensitive data from other accounts on that tablet device.

Organisation decision

NFC

Enable Near-Field-Communication (NFC) will allow other devices to communicate with the mobile device.

Organisation decision

Samsung beam

Builds on the functionality of the Android beam feature, where content can be shared using NFC and Wi-Fi direct (peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection).

If enabled, peer-to-peer communication can occur between devices. A peer-to-peer connection to other devices, which may be external to the organisation fleet, can present high risk to the device and the network.

Not recommended

Samsung Voice

Google Assistant

Bixby

Personal voice activated assistant applications carry out the user’s command by voice input. These applications may process conversation taking place around the device at any time. Should these applications be used, there is a risk that sensitive or classified conversations will be transmitted, and the data could then be stored and processed by the voice assistant servers without sufficient protections for classified government data.

Not recommended

Share via list

Enable the ‘Share Via’ list to appear. If enabled, the user would be able to share sensitive information through different applications with insufficient protection for sensitive or classified data.

Not recommended

YouTube

Enable the use of the YouTube application. Allows videos to be streamed to the device. User activities can also be monitored and tracked by the application.

Not recommended

MDD Premium – Recommended configuration items

The following table outlines the MDD premium configuration items. It requires a premium Samsung Knox licence. The table displays the requirement for use at the PROTECTED classification. Administrators need to perform a formal threat risk assessment and have a complete understanding of the risks associated with their decision around implementing a particular control.

Item Description and Risk Considerations Requirement at PROTECTED

Audit Log

Enable Knox audit logging.

If disabled, monitoring the device activities will become difficult for error identification and detecting possible security breaches.

Recommended

Auto Touch sensitivity

If enabled the touchscreen sensitivity is enabled, the device is able to automatically adjust the touchscreen’s sensitivity.

Organisation decision

Bluetooth low energy

Enables Bluetooth low energy which is used for increased location accuracy and connection to devices.

If the use case does not require this feature, then this feature should be disabled. This will reduce the attack surface on the device.

Organisation decision

Certificate revocation

Enable Knox certificate revocation.

Without this enabled, certificates will not be validated for against a known list of revoked certificates. This can potentially allow invalid and untrustworthy certificates to be used on the mobile device.

Recommended

LED indicator

Disable the light emitting diode (LED) indicator on the device.

The LED indicator is used to indicate the status of the device and for application notifications.

Organisation decision

Online certificate status protocol

The online certificate status protocol (OCSP) is an internet protocol used to obtain the revocation status of certificates.

If disabled, the status of revocation certificates will be unknown to the device.

Recommended

Tactical mode

The mobile device is forced into airplane mode. User will not be able to disable airplane mode.

If disabled the mobile device is not locked down and able to communicate.

Organisation decision

Wi-Fi scanning

Disables Wi-Fi scanning for increase location accuracy.

If enabled, the mobile device will use the Wi-Fi antenna to complement the GPS and mobile tower information to increase the location accuracy of the device.

Organisation decision

Glossary of cyber security terms

Term

Meaning

application control

An approach in which only an explicitly defined set of approved applications permitted to execute on systems.

ASD Cryptographic Evaluation

The rigorous investigation, analysis, verification and validation of cryptographic software and equipment by ASD against a stringent security standard.

authorising officer

An executive with the authority to formally accept the security risks associated with the operation of a system and to authorise it to operate.

classification

The categorisation of information or systems according to the business impact level associated with that information or system.

Common Criteria

An international standard for software and ICT equipment evaluations.

cryptographic software

Software designed to perform cryptographic functions.

cyber security

Measures used to protect systems and information processed, stored or communicated on such systems from compromise of confidentiality, integrity and availability.

cyber security incident

An occurrence or activity that may threaten the confidentiality, integrity or availability of systems or information.

data at rest

Information that resides on media or a system.

data in transit

Information communicated across a communication medium.

ICT equipment

Any device that can process, store or communicate electronic information.

integrity

The assurance that information has been created, amended or deleted only by authorised individuals.

Internet Protocol Security (IP Sec)

A suite of protocols for secure communications through authentication or encryption of Internet Protocol packets as well as including protocols for cryptographic key establishment.

key management

The use and management of cryptographic keys and associated hardware and software. It includes their generation, registration, distribution, installation, usage, protection, storage, access, recovery and destruction.

media

A generic term for hardware, often portable in nature, which stores information.

mobile device

A portable computing or communications device. For example, a laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

NFC

Near-Field-Communication, a set of communication protocols used between two electronic devices in close proximity.

passphrase

A sequence of words used for authentication.

password

A sequence of characters used for authentication.

patch

A piece of software designed to remedy security vulnerabilities, or improve the usability or performance of software and ICT equipment.

product

A generic term used to describe software or hardware.

protective marking

An administrative label assigned to information that not only shows the value of the information but also defines the level of protection afforded to it.

Protection Profile

A document that stipulates the security functionality that must be included in Common Criteria evaluation to meet a range of defined threats. Protection Profiles also define the activities to undertaken to assess the security function of an evaluated product.

security risk

Any event that could result in the compromise, loss of integrity or unavailability of information or resources, or deliberate harm to people measured in terms of its likelihood and consequences.

server

A computer that provides services to users or other systems. For example, a file server, email server or database server.

system

A related set of hardware and software used for the processing, storage or communication of information and the governance framework in which it operates.

system manager

An individual that the system owner has delegated the day-to-day management and operation of a system.

system owner

The executive responsible for a system.

user

An individual that is authorised to access a system.

Virtual Private Network

A private data network that maintains privacy through a tunnelling protocol and security procedures. VPNs may use encryption to protect traffic.

workstation

A stand-alone or networked single-user computer.

Further information

The Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM) assists in the protection of information that is processed, stored or communicated by organisations’ systems.

The Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents complements the advice in the ISM and contains a complete list of strategies.

Contact details

If you have any questions regarding this guidance you can contact us via 1300 CYBER1 (1300 292 371) or https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/contact.