Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

Lauren Duca Declares War!

Friday, October 6th, 2017

The latest assault on women’s health, which impacts women, men and children, is covered by Jessie Hellmann in: Trump officials roll back birth-control mandate.

Lauren is right, this is war. It is a war on behalf of women, men and children. Women are more physically impacted by reproduction issues but there are direct impacts on men and children as well. When the reproductive health of women suffers, the women, men in their lives and children suffer as well. The reproductive health of women is everyone’s concern.

For OpSec reasons, don’t post your answer, but have you picked a specific target for this war?

I ask because diffuse targets, Congress for example, leads to diffuse results.

Specific targets, now former representative Tim Murphy for example, can have specific results.

PS: Follow and support Lauren Duca, @laurenduca!

XSLT Server Side Injection Attacks

Friday, October 6th, 2017

XSLT Server Side Injection Attacks by David Turco.

From the post:

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) vulnerabilities can have serious consequences for the affected applications, often resulting in remote code execution. Examples of XSLT remote code execution vulnerabilities with public exploits are CVE-2012-5357 affecting the .Net Ektron CMS; CVE-2012-1592 affecting Apache Struts 2.0; and CVE-2005-3757 which affected the Google Search Appliance.

From the examples above it is clear that XSLT vulnerabilities have been around for a long time and, although they are less common than other similar vulnerabilities such as XML Injection, we regularly find them in our security assessments. Nonetheless the vulnerability and the exploitation techniques are not widely known.

In this blog post we present a selection of attacks against XSLT to show the risks of using this technology in an insecure way.

We demonstrate how it is possible to execute arbitrary code remotely; exfiltrate data from remote systems; perform network scans; and access resources on the victim’s internal network.

We also make available a simple .NET application vulnerable to the described attacks and provide recommendations on how to mitigate them.

A great post for introducing XML and XSLT to potential hackers!

Equally great potential for a workshop at a markup conference.

Enjoy!

Software McCarthyism – Wall Street Journal and Kaspersky Lab

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

The Verge reports this instance of software McCarthyism by the Wall Street Journal against Kaspersky Lab saying:


According to the report, the hackers seem to have identified the files — which contained “details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks” — after an antivirus scan by Kaspersky antivirus software, which somehow alerted hackers to the sensitive files.
… (emphasis added)

Doesn’t “…somehow alerted hackers to the sensitive files…” sound a bit weak? Even allowing for restating the content of the original WSJ report?

The Wall Street Journal reports in Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense:

Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.

The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said.

U.S. investigators believe the contractor’s use of the software alerted Russian hackers to the presence of files that may have been taken from the NSA, according to people with knowledge of the investigation. Experts said the software, in searching for malicious code, may have found samples of it in the data the contractor removed from the NSA.

But how the antivirus system made that determination is unclear, such as whether Kaspersky technicians programed the software to look for specific parameters that indicated NSA material. Also unclear is whether Kaspersky employees alerted the Russian government to the finding.

Investigators did determine that, armed with the knowledge that Kaspersky’s software provided of what files were suspected on the contractor’s computer, hackers working for Russia homed in on the machine and obtained a large amount of information, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The facts reported by the Wall Street Journal support guilt by association style McCarthyism but in a software context.

Here are the only facts I can glean from the WSJ report and common knowledge of virus software:

  1. NSA contractor removed files from NSA and put them on his home computer
  2. Home computer was either a PC or Mac (only desktops supported by Kaspersky)
  3. Kaspersky anti-virus software was on the PC or Mac
  4. Kaspersky anti-virus software is either active or runs at specified times
  5. Kaspersky anti-virus software scanned the home computer one or more times
  6. Hackers stole NSA files from the home computer

That’s it, those are all the facts reported in the Wall Street Journal “story,” better labeled a slander against Kaspersky Lab.

The following claims are made with no evidence whatsoever:

  1. “after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab”
  2. “believe the contractor’s use of the software alerted Russian hackers to the presence of files”
  3. “whether Kaspersky technicians programed the software to look for specific parameters”
  4. “unclear is whether Kaspersky employees alerted the Russian government to the finding”
  5. “armed with the knowledge that Kaspersky’s software provided”

The only evidence in the possession of investigators is the co-locations of the NSA files and Kaspersky anti-virus software on the same computer.

All the other beliefs, suppositions, assumptions, etc., of investigators are attempts to further the government’s current witch hunt against Kaspersky Labs.

The contractor’s computer likely also had MS Office, the home of more than a few security weaknesses. To say nothing of phishing emails, web browsers, and the many other avenues for penetration.

As far as “discovering” the contractor to get the files in question, it could have been by chance and/or the contractor bragging to a waitress about his work. We’re not talking about the sharpest knife in the drawer on security matters.

Judging hacking claims based on co-location of software is guilt by association pure and simple. The Wall Street Journal should not dignify such government rumors by reporting them.

Printer Exploitation Toolkit: PRET [398 Days to Congressional MidTerm Elections]

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Printer Exploitation Toolkit: PRET

From the post:

PRET is a new tool for printer security testing developed in the scope of a Master’s Thesis at Ruhr University Bochum. PRET connects to a device via network or USB and exploits the features of a given printer language. Currently PostScript, PJL and PCL are supported which are spoken by most laser printers today. This allows PRET to do cool stuff like capturing or manipulating print jobs, accessing the printer’s file system and memory or even causing physical damage to the device. All attacks are documented in detail in the Hacking Printers Wiki.

The main idea of PRET is to facilitate the communication between the end-user and a printer. Thus, after entering a UNIX-like command, PRET translates it to PostScript, PJL or PCL, sends it to the printer, evaluates the result and translates it back to a user-friendly format. PRET offers a whole bunch of commands useful for printer attacks and fuzzing.

Billed in the post as:

The tool that made dumpster diving obsolete (emphasis in original)

I would not go that far, after all, there are primitives without networked printers, or so I have heard. For those cases, dumpster diving remains a needed skill.

Reading Exploiting Network Printers – A Survey of Security Flaws in Laser Printers and Multi-Function Devices (the master’s thesis) isn’t required, but it may help extend this work.

Abstract:

Over the last decades printers have evolved from mechanic devices with microchips to full blown computer systems. From a security point of view these machines remained unstudied for a long time. This work is a survey of weaknesses in the standards and various proprietary extensions of two popular printing languages: PostScript and PJL. Based on tests with twenty laser printer models from various vendors practical attacks were systematically performed and evaluated including denial of service, resetting the device to factory defaults, bypassing accounting systems, obtaining and manipulating print jobs, accessing the printers’ file system and memory as well as code execution through malicious firmware updates and software packages. A generic way to capture PostScript print jobs was discovered. Even weak attacker models like a web attacker are capable of performing the attacks using advanced cross-site printing techniques.

As of July of 2016, Appendix A.1 offers a complete list of printer CVEs. (CVE = Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.)

The author encountered a mapping issue when attempting to use vFeed to map between CVEs to CWE (CWE = Common Weakness Enumeration).


Too many CWE identifier however match a single CVE identifier. To keep things clear, we instead grouped vulnerabilities into nine categories of attack vectors as shown in Table 3.2. It is remarkable that half of the identified security flaws are web-related while only one twelfth are caused by actual printing languages like PostScript or PJL.
… (page 11 of master’s thesis)

I haven’t examined the mapping problem but welcome suggestions from those of you who do. Printer exploitation is a real growth area in cybersecurity.

I mentioned the 398 Days to Congressional MidTerm Elections in anticipation that some bright lasses and lads will arrange for printers to print not only at a local location but remote one as well.

Think of printers as truthful but not loyal campaign staffers.

Enjoy!

Searching for Butt Plugs in Congressional Offices

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

It’s a click-bait title but I’m entirely serious. There are security flaws in IoT adult toys, flaws that enable you to discover and manipulate those toys. I use Congress as an example but the same principles apply to banks, Wall Street offices, government agencies, law firms, etc.

Discovering such a device could result in a lower mortgage interest rate, a favorable administrative decision, changes to pending legislation, dismissal of charges, any number of things normally associated with class-based privilege.

I encountered John Leyden‘s report Dildon’ts of Bluetooth: Pen test boffins sniff out Berlin’s smart butt plugs – You’ve heard of wardriving – say hello to screwdriving (warning NSFW image) first:

Security researchers have figured out how to locate and exploit smart adult toys.

Various shenanigans are possible because of the easy discoverability and exploitability of internet-connected butt plugs and the like running Bluetooth’s baby brother, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a wireless personal area network technology. The tech has support for security but it’s rarely implemented in practice, as El Reg has noted before.

The shortcoming allowed boffins at Pen Test Partners to hunt for Bluetooth adult toys, a practice it dubbed screwdriving, in research that builds on its earlier investigation into Wi-Fi camera dildo hacking earlier this year.

BLE devices also advertise themselves for discovery. The Lovense Hush, an IoT-enabled butt plug, calls itself LVS-Z001. Other Hush devices use the same identifier.

The Hush, like every other sex toy tested by PTP (the Kiiroo Fleshlight, Lelo, Lovense Nora and Max), all lacked adequate PIN or password protection. If the devices did have a PIN it was generic (0000 / 1234 etc). This omission is for understandable reasons. PTP explains: “The challenge is the lack of a UI to enter a classic Bluetooth pairing PIN. Where do you put a UI on a butt plug, after all?
… (bold emphasis added)

Indeed, a UI for a butt plug is difficult to imagine. 😉

For the technical details, with more NSFW images, Alex Lomas describes the insecurity of adult toys in great detail in Screwdriving. Locating and exploiting smart adult toys.

From the post:

Alex is using LightBlue Explorer® — Bluetooth Low Energy (Google Play), (AppStore), although other Bluetooth discovery apps would work just as well.

Searching Congressional Offices For Newbies

If you are comfortable with Bluetooth and hex commands, you have all you need to surf for butt plugs in congressional offices.

Others, especially those who only use smart phone apps, may need some additional instructions.

At the risk of more NSFW images, the Hush butt plug homepage advises:

(Google Play), (AppStore),

You install the Hush app, fire it up (sorry), walk about waiting for a connection to appear. How hard is that? (Scanning tip, 360 degrees, standing, up to 30 feet; sitting, 5 to 10 feet.)

Cautions?

Unauthorized interception of even advertised signals may be a crime in some jurisdictions. Not to mention unauthorized interaction with a remote device is likely to constitute battery (a crime).

That said, the insecurity of Bluetooth devices and other cyberinsecurities are opportunities to challenge existing privilege systems. Whether you take up that challenge or choose to support the status quo, is entirely up to you.

Who Does Cyber Security Benefit?

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Indoctrinating children to benefit the wealthy starts at a young age: ‘Hackathon’ challenges teens to improve cyber security.

Improving cyber security is taught as an ethical imperative, but without asking who that “imperative” benefits.

OxFam wrote earlier this year:

Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report published by Oxfam today to mark the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos.

Oxfam’s report, ‘An economy for the 99 percent’, shows that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been feared. It details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. It calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.

New and better data on the distribution of global wealth – particularly in India and China – indicates that the poorest half of the world has less wealth than had been previously thought. Had this new data been available last year, it would have shown that nine billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet, and not 62, as Oxfam calculated at the time.
… From: Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world

It’s easy to see the cyber security of SWIFT, “secure financial messaging system,” benefits:

the “[the e]ight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity”

more than “…the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.”

Do you have any doubt about that claim in principle? The exact numbers of inequality don’t interest me as much as the understanding that information systems and their cyber security benefit some people more than others.

Once we establish the principle of differential in benefits from cyber security, then we can ask: Who does cyber security X benefit?

To continue with the SWIFT example, I would not volunteer to walk across the street to improve its cyber security. It is an accessory to a predatory financial system that exploits billions. You could be paid to improve its cyber security but tech people at large have no moral obligation to help SWIFT.

If anyone says you have an obligation to improve cyber security, ask who benefits?

Yes?

Tails 3.2 Out! [Questions for Journalists]

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Tails 3.2 is out

From the about page:

Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a USB stick or a DVD independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.

Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.

Does your editor keep all reporters supplied with a current version of Tails?

Are reporters trained on a regular basis in the use of Tails?

If your answer to either question is no, you should be looking for another employer.

#1 of the “Big Four” Falls – Odds On Your Mid-Term Candidate?

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms has suffered an email leak. Ben Miller reports varying accounts of the breach in Deloitte Admits Email Hack, Says No Government Clients Impacted.

Deloitte minimizes the breach while others report the entire system was breached, months ago. Too early to know the details but I’m betting on complete breach.

Which is made all the more amusing by this description of the “Big Four:”

The majority of the world’s auditing services are performed by only four accounting firms.

Known as the ‘Big 4’, these firms completely dominate the industry, auditing more than 80 percent of all US public companies.

In addition, these mammoth organizations advise on tax and offer a wide range of management and assurance services.

Although usually identified as single companies, each one of the Big 4 Accounting Firms is actually a network of independent corporations who have entered into agreements with one another to set quality standards and share a common name.

….

Deloitte LLP is the number one firm in the United States (and in the world). The company began as the separate companies of William Deloitte, Charles Haskins, Elijah Sells, and George Touche. The three companies eventually merged to become Deloitte & Touche. Today the company is known primarily as Deloitte LLP, and has four subsidiaries: Deloitte & Touche LLP, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP and Deloitte Tax LLP.

The Big 4 Accounting Firms

With serious people failing at cybersecurity, what are the odds for your candidate for the 2018 congressional mid-terms? Or the odds for candidates you oppose in the same election?

All the more reason to mourn the passing of Leonard Cohen.

He could have written: Transparency is coming to the USA.

Are you on the side of transparency or opaqueness and privilege?

PS: A scoreboard for cybersecurity breaches of the “Big Four:”

Updates to: patrick@durusau.net

Evidence of Government Surveillance in Mexico Continues to Mount [Is This News?]

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Evidence of Government Surveillance in Mexico Continues to Mount by Giovanna Salazar, translated by Omar Ocampo.

From the post:

In early September, further attempts to spy on activists in Mexico were confirmed. The president of Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), an organization dedicated to investigative journalism, received several SMS messages that were intended to infect his mobile device with malicious software.

According to The New York Times, Claudio X. González Guajardo was threatened with Pegasus, a sophisticated espionage tool or “spyware” sold exclusively to governments that was acquired by the Mexican government in 2014 and 2015, with the alleged intention of combating organized crime. Once installed, Pegasus spyware allows the sender or attacker to access files on the targeted device, such as text messages, emails, passwords, contacts list, calendars, videos and photographs. It even allows the microphone and camera to activate at any time, inadvertently, on the infected device.

Salazar’s careful analysis of the evidence leaves little doubt:

these intrusive technologies are being used to intimidate and silence dissent.

But is this news?

I ask because my starting assumption is that governments buy surveillance technologies to invade the privacy of their citizens. The other reason would be?

You may think some targets merit surveillance, such as drug dealers, corrupt officials, but once you put surveillance tools in the hands of government, all citizens are living in the same goldfish bowl. Whether we are guilty of any crime or not.

The use of surveillance “to intimidate and silence dissent” is as natural to government as corruption.

The saddest part of Salazar’s report is that Pegasus is sold exclusively to governments.

Citizens need a free, open source edition of Pegasus Next Generation with which to spy on governments, businesses, banks, etc.

A way to invite them into the goldfish bowl in which ordinary citizens already live.

The ordinary citizen has no privacy left to lose.

The question is when current spy masters will lose theirs as well?

Awesome Windows Exploitation Resources (curated)

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Awesome Windows Exploitation Resources

Not all of these resources are recent but with vulnerability lifetimes of a decade or more, there is much to learn here. I count two hundred and fifty (250) resources as of today.

Including election day, November 6, 2018, there are only 408 days left until the 2018 mid-term Congressional elections. You have a lot of reading to do.

You can contribute materials for listing.

540,000 Car Tracking Devices – Leak Discovery Etiquette – #ActiveLeak

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Passwords For 540,000 Car Tracking Devices Leaked Online by Swati Khandelwal.

From the post:

Login credentials of more than half a million records belonging to vehicle tracking device company SVR Tracking have leaked online, potentially exposing the personal data and vehicle details of drivers and businesses using its service.

Just two days ago, Viacom was found exposing the keys to its kingdom on an unsecured Amazon S3 server, and this data breach is yet another example of storing sensitive data on a misconfigured cloud server.

Stands for Stolen Vehicle Records, the SVR Tracking service allows its customers to track their vehicles in real time by attaching a physical tracking device to vehicles in a discreet location, so their customers can monitor and recover them in case their vehicles are stolen.

The leaked cache contained details of roughly 540,000 SVR accounts, including email addresses and passwords, as well as users’ vehicle data, like VIN (vehicle identification number), IMEI numbers of GPS devices.

Since the leaked passwords were stored using SHA-1, a 20-years-old weak cryptographic hash function that was designed by the US National Security Agency (NSA), which can be cracked with ease.

Interestingly, the exposed database also contained information where exactly in the car the physical tracking unit was hidden.

It’s not known if anyone else uncovered this data but as usual, there’s no penalty for misconfiguring your Amazon Web Server (AWS) S3 cloud storage bucket.

You will suffer a few minutes, perhaps hours of shame before other data leaks takes your place on the wall of shame, but it won’t be long.

But only after some enterprising security firm has discovered your error and the leak has been fixed. Translate: No adverse consequences for poor security practices. None.

When (not if) you find a mis-configured Amazon Web Server (AWS) S3 cloud storage bucket, post it with #ActiveLeak to Twitter. Makes it a race between the owner and hackers for the data.

You will still get credit for discovering the leak and the owner will learn a valuable lesson. The owner’s lesson being reinforced by whatever other consequences flow from the data leak.

MS Finds Some Bug In Chrome – What Bug? Don’t Know

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

[$7500][765433] High CVE-2017-5121: Out-of-bounds access in V8. Reported by Jordan Rabet, Microsoft Offensive Security Research and Microsoft ChakraCore team on 2017-09-14

From Stable Channel Update for Desktop Thursday, September 21, 2017

As of 22 September 2017, 17:14 ESDT, the URL 765433 displays only a lack of access notice, for me.

Unlike hackers, who have a tradition of sharing information, Microsoft and Google believe what they know is unknown to others. That works, sort of, if your’re an ostrich, not so well in cybersecurity.

I mention this posting mostly to list some of the tools Google uses for bug testing:

AddressSanitizer

AFL

Control Flow Integrity

libFuzzer

MemorySanitizer

UndefinedBehaviorSanitizer

Enjoy!

Torrent Sites: Preserving “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material”

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

I mentioned torrent sites in Responding to Theresa May on Free Speech as a way to help preserve and spread “terrorist propaganda” and “evil material.”

My bad, I forgot to post a list of torrent sites for you to use!

Top 15 Most Popular Torrent Sites 2017 reads in part:

The list of the worlds most popular torrent sites has seen a lot of changes in recent months. While several torrent sites have shut down, some newcomers joined the list. With the shutdown of Torrentz.eu and Kickass Torrents, two of the largest sites in the torrenting scene disappeared. Since then, Torrentz2 became a popular successor of Torrentz.eu and Katcr.co is the community driven version of the former Kickass Torrents.

Finding torrents can be stressful as most of the top torrent sites are blocked in various countries. A torrent proxy let you unblock your favorite site in a few seconds.

While browsing the movies, music or tv torrents sites list you can find some good alternatives to The Pirate Bay, Extratorrent, RARBG and other commonly known sites. This list features the most popular torrent download sites:

The list changes over time so check back at Torrents.me.

As a distributed hash storage system, torrent preserves content across all the computers that downloaded the content.

Working towards the mention of torrent sites making Theresa May‘s sphincter eat her underpants. (HT, Dilbert)

99% of UK Law Firms Ripe For Email Fraud

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

The actual title of the report is: Addressing Cyber Risks Identified in the SRA Risk Outlook Report 2016/17. Yawn. Not exactly an attention grabber.

The report does have this nifty graphic:

The Panama Papers originated from a law firm.

Have you ever wondered what the top 100 law firms in the UK must be hiding?

Or any of the other 10,325 law firms operating in the UK? (Total number of law firms: 10,425.)

If hackers feasting on financial fraud develop a sense of public duty, radical transparency will not be far behind.

Testing Next-Gen Onions!

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Please help us test next-gen onions! by George Kadianakis.

From the webpage:

this is an email for technical people who want to help us test next-gen onion services.

The current status of next-gen onion services (aka prop224) is that they have been fully merged into upstream tor and have also been released as part of tor-0.3.2.1-alpha: https://blog.torproject.org/tor-0321-alpha-released-support-next-gen-onion-services-and-kist-scheduler

Unfortunately, there is still no tor browser with tor-0.3.2.1-alpha so these instructions are for technical users who have no trouble building tor on their own.

We are still in a alpha testing phase and when we get more confident about the code we plan to release a blog post (probs during October).

Until then we hope that people can help us test them. To do so, we have setup a *testing hub* in a prop224 IRC server that you can and should join (ideally using a VPS so that you stick around).

Too late for me to test the instructions today but will tomorrow!

The security you help preserve may be your own!

Enjoy!

W3C’s EME/DRM: Standardizing Abuse and Evasion

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Among the bizarre arguments in favor of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), this one stuck with me:

Standardizing an API for Abuse of Users.

The argument runs something like this:

DRM is already present on the Web using plugins for browsers, each with a different API. EME, standardizing a public API, enables smaller browsers to compete in offering DRM. Not to mention avoiding security nightmares like Flash.

As a standards geek, I often argue the advantages of standardization. Claiming standardizing an API for abuse of users as beneficial, strikes me as odd.

Conceptually DRM systems don’t have to infringe on the rights of users to fair use, first sale, modification for accessibility, but I don’t have an example of one from a commercial content provider that doesn’t. Do you?

Moreover, confessed corporate behavior, false bank accounts (Wells Fargo), forged mortgage documents (Ally (formerly known as GMAC), Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo), etc., leave all but the most naive certain user rights will be abused via the EME API.

A use of the EME API that does not violate user rights would be a man bites dog story. Sing out in the unlikely event you encounter such a case.

(I got to this point and my post ran away from me.)

Is there an upside to ending the crazy quilt of DRM plugins and putting encrypted media delivery directly into browsers for users?

With EME as the single interface for delivery of encrypted web content, what else must be true?

Ah, there is a single point of failure for encrypted web content, meaning if the security of EME is broken, then it is broken for all encrypted web content.

There’s a pleasant thought. Over-reaching to gut user’s rights, the DRM crowd created a standardized, single point of failure. A single breach spells disaster on a large scale.

Looking forward to the back-biting and blame allocation sure to follow the failure of this plan to rain greed over the world. (Wasn’t some company named ContentGuard (sp?) involved in an earlier one?)

Not happy with a standardized API for abusing users but having a single API is like the Windows market share. Breach one and you have breached them all. I take some consolation from that fact.

An Honest Soul At The W3C? EME/DRM Secret Ballot

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Billions of current and future web users have been assaulted and robbed in what Jeff Jaffe (W3C CEO) calls a “respectful debate.” Reflections on the EME Debate.

Odd sense of “respectful debate.”

A robber demands all of your money and clothes, promises to rent you clothes to get home, but won’t tell you how to make your own clothes. You are now and forever a captive of the robber. (That’s a lay persons summary but accurate account of what the EME crowd wanted and got.)

Representatives for potential victims, the EFF and others, pointed out the problems with EME at length, over years of debate. The response of the robbers: “We want what we want.

Consistently, for years, the simple minded response of EME advocates continued to be: “We want what we want.

If you think I’m being unkind to the EME advocates, consider the language of the Disposition of Comments for Encrypted Media Extensions and Director’s decision itself:


Given that there was strong support to initially charter this work (without any mention of a covenant) and continued support to successfully provide a specification that meets the technical requirements that were presented, the Director did not feel it appropriate that the request for a covenant from a minority of Members should block the work the Working Group did to develop the specification that they were chartered to develop. Accordingly the Director overruled these objections.

The EME lacks a covenant protecting researchers and others from anti-circumvention laws, enabling continued research on security and other aspects of EME implementations.

That covenant was not in the original charter, the director’s “(without any mention of a covenant),” aka, “We want what we want.

There wasn’t ever any “respectful debate,” but rather EME supporters repeating over and over again, “We want what we want.

A position which prevailed, which bring me to the subject of this post. A vote, a secret vote was conducted by the W3C seeking support for the Director’s cowardly and self-interested support for EME, the result of which as been reported as:


Though some have disagreed with W3C’s decision to take EME to recommendation, the W3C determined that the hundreds of millions of users who want to watch videos on the Web, some of which have copyright protection requirements from their creators, should be able to do so safely and in a Web-friendly way. In a vote by Members of the W3C ending mid September, 108 supported the Director’s decision to advance EME to W3C Recommendation that was appealed mid-July through the appeal process, while 57 opposed it and 20 abstained. Read about reflections on the EME debate, in a Blog post by W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe.

(W3C Publishes Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) as a W3C Recommendation)

One hundred and eight members took up the cry of “We want what we want.” rob billions of current and future web users. The only open question being who?

To answer that question, the identity of these robbers, I posted this note to Jeff Jaffe:

Jeff,

I read:

***

In a vote by Members of the W3C ending mid September, 108 supported the Director’s decision to advance EME to W3C Recommendation that was appealed mid-July through the appeal process, while 57 opposed it and 20 abstained.

***

at: https://www.w3.org/2017/09/pressrelease-eme-recommendation.html.en

But I can’t seem to find a link to the vote details, that is a list of members and their vote/abstention.

Can you point me to that link?

Thanks!

Hope you are having a great week!

Patrick

It didn’t take long for Jeff to respond:

On 9/19/2017 9:38 AM, Patrick Durusau wrote:
> Jeff,
>
> I read:
>
> ***
>
> In a vote by Members of the W3C ending mid September, 108 supported the
> Director’s decision to advance EME to W3C Recommendation that was
> appealed mid-July through the appeal process, while 57 opposed it and 20
> abstained.
>
> ***
>
> at: https://www.w3.org/2017/09/pressrelease-eme-recommendation.html.en
>
> But I can’t seem to find a link to the vote details, that is a list of
> members and their vote/abstention.
>
> Can you point me to that link?

It is long-standing process not to release individual vote details publicly.

I wonder about a “long-standing process” for the only vote on an appeal in W3C history but there you have it, the list of robbers isn’t public. No need to search the W3C website for it.

If there is an honest person at the W3C, a person who stands with the billions of victims of this blatant robbery, then we will see a leak of the EME vote.

If there is no leak of the EME vote, that is a self-comment on the staff of the W3C.

Yes?

PS: Kudos to the EFF and others for delaying EME this long but the outcome was never seriously in question. Especially in organizations where continued membership and funding are more important than the rights of individuals.

EME can only be defeated by action in the trenches as it were, depriving its advocates of any perceived benefit and imposing ever higher costs upon them.

You do have your marker pens and sticky tape ready. Yes?

Darkening the Dark Web

Monday, September 18th, 2017

I encountered Andy Greenberg‘s post, It’s About to Get Even Easier to Hide on the Dark Web (20 January 2017), and was happy to read:

From the post:


The next generation of hidden services will use a clever method to protect the secrecy of those addresses. Instead of declaring their .onion address to hidden service directories, they’ll instead derive a unique cryptographic key from that address, and give that key to Tor’s hidden service directories. Any Tor user looking for a certain hidden service can perform that same derivation to check the key and route themselves to the correct darknet site. But the hidden service directory can’t derive the .onion address from the key, preventing snoops from discovering any secret darknet address. “The Tor network isn’t going to give you any way to learn about an onion address you don’t already know,” says Mathewson.

The result, Mathewson says, will be darknet sites with new, stealthier applications. A small group of collaborators could, for instance, host files on a computer known to only to them. No one else could ever even find that machine, much less access it. You could host a hidden service on your own computer, creating a way to untraceably connect to it from anywhere in the world, while keeping its existence secret from snoops. Mathewson himself hosts a password-protected family wiki and calendar on a Tor hidden service, and now says he’ll be able to do away with the site’s password protection without fear of anyone learning his family’s weekend plans. (Tor does already offer a method to make hidden services inaccessible to all but certain Tor browsers, but it involves finicky changes to the browser’s configuration files. The new system, Mathewson says, makes that level of secrecy far more accessible to the average user.)

The next generation of hidden services will also switch from using 1024-bit RSA encryption keys to shorter but tougher-to-crack ED-25519 elliptic curve keys. And the hidden service directory changes mean that hidden service urls will change, too, from 16 characters to 50. But Mathewson argues that change doesn’t effect the dark web addresses’ usability since they’re already too long to memorize.

Your wait to test these new features for darkening the dark web are over!

Tor 0.3.2.1-alpha is released, with support for next-gen onion services and KIST scheduler

From the post:

And as if all those other releases today were not enough, this is also the time for a new alpha release series!

Tor 0.3.2.1-alpha is the first release in the 0.3.2.x series. It includes support for our next-generation (“v3”) onion service protocol, and adds a new circuit scheduler for more responsive forwarding decisions from relays. There are also numerous other small features and bugfixes here.

You can download the source from the usual place on the website. Binary packages should be available soon, with an alpha Tor Browser likely by the end of the month.

Remember: This is an alpha release, and it’s likely to have more bugs than usual. We hope that people will try it out to find and report bugs, though.

The Vietnam War series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick makes it clear the United States government lies and undertakes criminal acts for reasons hidden from the public. To trust any assurance by that government of your privacy, freedom of speech, etc., is an act of madness.

Will you volunteer to help with the Tor project or place your confidence in government?

It really is that simple.

Upsides of W3C’s Embrace of DRM

Monday, September 18th, 2017

World Wide Web Consortium abandons consensus, standardizes DRM with 58.4% support, EFF resigns by Cory Doctorow.

From the post:

In July, the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium overruled dozens of members’ objections to publishing a DRM standard without a compromise to protect accessibility, security research, archiving, and competition.

EFF appealed the decision, the first-ever appeal in W3C history, which concluded last week with a deeply divided membership. 58.4% of the group voted to go on with publication, and the W3C did so today, an unprecedented move in a body that has always operated on consensus and compromise. In their public statements about the standard, the W3C executive repeatedly said that they didn’t think the DRM advocates would be willing to compromise, and in the absence of such willingness, the exec have given them everything they demanded.

This is a bad day for the W3C: it’s the day it publishes a standard designed to control, rather than empower, web users. That standard that was explicitly published without any protections — even the most minimal compromise was rejected without discussion, an intransigence that the W3C leadership tacitly approved. It’s the day that the W3C changed its process to reward stonewalling over compromise, provided those doing the stonewalling are the biggest corporations in the consortium.

EFF no longer believes that the W3C process is suited to defending the open web. We have resigned from the Consortium, effective today. Below is our resignation letter:

In his haste to outline all the negatives, all of which are true, about the W3C DRM decision, Cory forgets to mention there are several upsides to this decision.

1. W3C Chooses IP Owners Over Web Consumers

The DRM decision reveals the W3C as a shill for corporate IP owners. Rumors have it that commercial interests were ready to leave the W3C for the DRM work, rumors made credible by Tim Berners-Lee’s race to the head of the DRM parade.

We are fortunate the Stasi faded from history before the W3C arrived, lest we have Tim Berners-Lee leading a march for worldwide surveillance on the web.

The only value being advanced by the Director (Tim Berners-Lee) is the relevance of the W3C for the web. Consumers aren’t just expendable, but irrelevant. Best you know than now rather than later.

2. DRM Creates “unauditable attack-surface” (for vendors too)

Cory lists the “unauditable attack surface” for browsers like it was a bad thing. That’s true for consumers, but who else is that true for?

Oh, yes, IP owners who plan on profiting from DRM. Their DRM efforts will be easy to circumvent, the digital equivalent of a erasable marker no doubt and offer the advantage of access to their systems.

Take the recent Equifax breach as an example. What is the one mission critical requirement for Equifax customers?

Easy and reliable access. You could have any number of enhanced authentication schemes for access to Equifax, but that conflicts with the mission-critical need for customers to have ready access to its data.

Content vendors dumb enough to invest in W3C DRM, which will be easy to circumvent, have a similar mission critical requirement. Easy and reliable approval. Quite often as the result of a purchase at any number of web locations.

So we have N vendors sites, selling N products, for N IP owners, to N users, using N browsers, from N countries, err, can you say: “DRM opens truck sized security holes?”

I feel sorry for web consumers but not for any vendor that enriches DRM vendors (the only people who make money off of DRM).

DRM Promotes Piracy and Disrespect for IP

Without copyright and DRM, there would be few opportunities for digital piracy and little disrespect for intellectual property (IP). People can and do photocopy individual journal articles, violating the author’s and possibly the journal’s IP, but who cares? Fewer than twenty (20) people are likely to read it ever.

Widespread and browser-based DRM will be found on the most popular content, creating incentives for large numbers of users to engage in digital piracy. The more often they use pirated content, the less respect they will have for the laws that create the crime.

To paraphrase Princess Leia speaking to Governor Tarkin:

The more the DRM crowd tightens its grip, the more content that will slip through their fingers.

The W3C/Tim Berners-Lee handed IP owners the death star, but the similarity for DRM doesn’t stop there. No indeed.

Conclusion

Flying its true colors, the W3C/Tim Berners-Lee should be abandoned en masse by corporate sponsors and individuals alike. The scales have dropped from web users eyes and it’s clear they are commodities in the eyes of the W3C. Victims if you prefer that term.

The laughable thought of effective DRM will create cybersecurity consequences for both web users and the cretins behind DRM. I don’t see any difficulty in choosing who should suffer the consequences of DRM-based cybersecurity breeches. Do you?

I am untroubled by the loss of respect for IP. That’s not surprising since I advocate only attribution and sale for commercial gain as IP rights. There’s no point in pursuing people who are spending their money to distribute your product for free. It’s cost free advertising.

As Cory points out, the DRM crowd was offered several unmerited compromises and rejected those.

Having made their choice, let’s make sure none of them escape the W3C/DRM death star.

Tax Phishing

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

The standard security mantra is to avoid phishing emails.

That assumes your employer’s security interests coincide with your own. Yes?

If you are being sexually harassed at work, were passed over for a job position, your boss has found a younger “friend” to mentor, etc., there are an unlimited number of reasons for a differing view on your employer’s cybersecurity.

The cybersecurity training that enables you to recognize and avoid a phishing email, also enables you to recognize and accept a phishing email from “digital Somali pirates” (HT, Dilbert).

Acceptance of phishing emails in tax practices could result in recovery of tax returns for public officials (Trump?), financial documents similar to those in the Panama Papers, and other data (Google’s salary data?).

If you don’t know how to recognize phishing emails in the tax business, Jeff Simpson has adapted tips from the IRS in: 10 tips for tax pros to avoid phishing scams.

Just quickly (see Simpson’s post for the details):

  1. Spear itself.
  2. Hostile takeovers.
  3. Day at the breach.
  4. Ransom devil.
  5. Remote control.
  6. BEC to the wall.
  7. EFIN headache.
  8. Protect clients.
  9. Priority No. 1. (Are you the “…least informed employee…?)
  10. Speak up.

Popular terminology for phishing attacks varies by industry so the terminology for your area may differ from Simpson’s.

Acceptance of phishing emails may be the industrial action tool of the 21st century.

Thoughts?

Red Scare II (2016 – …) – Hacker Opportunities

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

I’m not old enough to remember the Red Scare of the 1950s, but it was a time where accusation, rumors actually, were enough to destroy careers and lives. Guilt was assumed and irrefutable.

The same tactics are being used against Kaspersky Lab today. I won’t dignify those reports with citation but we share the experience that none of them cite facts or evidence, only the desired conclusion, that Kaspersky Lab is suspect.

Neil J. Rubenking routs Kaspersky Lab critics with expert opinions and facts in: Should You Believe the Rumors About Kaspersky Lab?.

From the post:

If you accuse me of stealing your new car, I have a lot of options to prove my innocence. I was out of the country at the time of the alleged theft. I don’t have the car. Security cameras show it’s sitting in a garage. And so on.

But if you accuse me of hacking in and stealing the design documents for your new car, things get dicey, especially if you start a whispering campaign. Neil sometimes consorts with known hackers (true). Neil regularly meets with representatives of foreign companies (true). Neil maintains a collection of all kinds of malware, including ransomware and data-stealing Trojans (true). Neil has the programming skills to pull off this hack (I wish!).

After a while the original accusation doesn’t even matter; you’ve successfully damaged my reputation. And that’s exactly what seems to be happening with antivirus maker Kaspersky Lab.

You can find any number of news articles suggesting improper activities by Kaspersky Lab. The US government removed Kaspersky from its list of approved programs and, more recently, added it to a list of banned programs. Best Buy dropped Kaspersky products from its stores. Kaspersky has hired security experts who previously worked for the Russian government. Kaspersky is a Russian company, darn it!

The list goes on, but what’s impressively absent is any factual evidence of security-related misbehavior. To get a handle on this situation, I asked for thoughts from security experts I know, both in the US and around the world.

A moment of disclosure, first. While I wouldn’t say I know him well, I have certainly met Eugene Kaspersky and been impressed by his knowledge. I follow him on Twitter, and he follows me. I’ve even ridden a tour boat with Eugene (and others) into McCovey Cove during a Giants game. Go Giants!

It’s a great post and one you should forward to Kaspersky critics, repeatedly.

As Rubenking mentions in his post, the Department of Homeland Security (sic): US government bans agencies from using Kaspersky software over spying fears:


On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a directive, first reported by the Washington Post, calling on departments and agencies to identify any use of Kaspersky antivirus software and develop plans to remove them and replace them with alternatives within the next three months.

Which sets a deadline of December 12, 2017 for federal agencies to abandon Kaspersky software.

That’s not a serious/realistic date but moving from known and poorly used software (Kaspersky) to unknown and poorly used software (to replace Kaspersky), can’t help but create opportunities for hackers.

The United States federal government maybe the first government to become completely transparent in fact, if not by intent.

Enjoy!

“Should We Talk About Security Holes? An Old View”

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Michael Sikorski, @mikesiko, tweeted a quote forwarded by @SteveBellovin in a discussion about open sharing and discussion of malware.

The quote was an image and didn’t reduce well for display. I located the source of the quote and quote the text below.

Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Door Locks: For Commercial and Domestic Purposes : with Mr. Smyth’s Letter on the Bramah Locks by J. Weale (by the book’s pagination, starting on page 2 and ending on page 4).


A commercial, and in some respects a social, doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not is it right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by shewing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and know already much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery. Rogues knew a good deal about lock-picking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock—let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker—is not so inviolate as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is in the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to be the first to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of the knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance. It cannot be too earnestly urged, that an acquaintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties. Some time ago, when the reading public was alarmed at being told how London milk is adulterated, timid persons deprecated the exposure, on the plea that it would give instructions in the art of adulterating milk; a vain fear—milkmen knew all about it before, whether they practiced it or not; and the exposure only taught purchasers the necessity of a little scrutiny and caution, leaving them to obey this necessity or not, as they pleased. So likewise in respect to bread, sugar, coffee, tea, wine, beer, spirits, vinegar, cheap silks, cheap wollens—all such articles are susceptible of debasement by admixture with cheaper substances—much more good than harm is effected by stating candidly and scientifically the various methods by which debasement has been, or can be produced. The unscrupulous have the command of much of this kind of knowledge without our aid; and there is moral and commercial justice in placing on their guard those who might possibly suffer therefrom. We employ these stray expressions concerning adulteration, debasement, roguery, and so forth, simply as a mode of illustrating a principle—the advantage of publicity. In respect to lock-making there can scarcely be such a thing as dishonesty of intention: the inventor produces a lock which he honestly thinks will possess such and such qualities; and he declares his belief to the world. If others differ from him in opinion concerning those qualities, it is open for them to say so; and the discussion, truthfully conducted, must lead to public advantage: the discussion stimulates curiosity, and the curiosity stimulates invention. Nothing but a partial and limited view of the question could lead to the opinion that harm can result: if there be harm, it will be much more than counterbalanced by good.

More to follow but here’s a question to ponder:

Can you name one benefit that white hats gain by not sharing vulnerability information?

Unpatched Windows Vulnerability – Cost of Closed Source Software

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Bug in Windows Kernel Could Prevent Security Software From Identifying Malware by Catalin Cimpanu.

From the post:

Malware developers can abuse a programming error in the Windows kernel to prevent security software from identifying if, and when, malicious modules have been loaded at runtime.

Continue on with Cimpanu for a good overview or catch Windows’ PsSetLoadImageNotifyRoutine Callbacks: the Good, the Bad and the Unclear (Part 1).

Symantec says proactive security includes:

  • Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Devices
  • Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Software
  • Secure Configurations for Hardware & Software
  • Constant Vulnerability Assessment and Remediation
  • Malware Defense

But since Windows is closed source software, you can’t remedy the vulnerability. Whatever your cyberdefenses, closed source MS Windows leaves you vulnerable.

Eternal (possibly) vulnerability – the cost of closed source software.

It’s hard to think of a better argument for open source software.

Open source software need not be free, just open source so you can fix it if broken.

PS: Open source enables detection of government malware.

Chess Captcha (always legal moves?)

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

I saw this on Twitter. Other games you would use for a captcha?

Graham Cluley says chess captchas aren’t hard to defeat in: Chess CAPTCHA – a serious defence against spammers?

But Cluley, like most users, is assuming a chess captcha has a chess legal solution.

What if the solution is an illegal move? Or more than one illegal move?

An illegal move would put the captcha beyond any standard chess program.

Yes?

Reserving access to those told of the solution.

DACA: 180 Days to Save 800,000 : Whose Begging Bowl to Choose? (Alternative)

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Trump administration ending DACA program, which protected 800,000 children of immigrants by Jacob Pramuk | @jacobpramuk.

From the post:

  • President Trump is ending DACA, the Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of “dreamers.”
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions says there will be a six-month delay in terminating it to give Congress time to act.
  • Sessions says the immigration program was an unlawful overreach by Obama that cannot be defended.

Check out Pramuk’s post if you are interested in Attorney General Sessions’ “reasoning” on this issue. I refuse to repeat it from fear of making anyone who reads it dumber.

Numerous groups have whipped out their begging bowls and more are on the way. All promising opposition, not success, but opposition to ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Every group has its own expenses, lobbyists, etc., before any of your money goes to persuading Congress to save all 800,000 children of immigrants protected by the DACA.

Why not create:

  • low-over head fund
  • separate funds for house and senate
  • divided and contributed to the campaigns* of all representatives and senators who vote for replacement to DACA within 180 days
  • where replacement for DACA protects everyone now protected
  • and where replacement DACA becomes law (may have to override veto)

*The contribution to a campaign, as opposed to the senator or representative themselves, is important as it avoids the contributions being a “gratuity” for passage of the legislation, which is illegal. 2041. Bribery Of Public Officials.

Such funds would avoid the overhead of ongoing organizations and enable donors to see the results of their donations more directly.

I’m not qualified to setup such funds but would contribute to both.

You?

PS: You do the math. If some wealthy donor contributed 6 $million to the Senate fund, then sixty (60) senatorial campaigns would each get $600,000 in cash. Nothing to sneeze at.

Charity Based CyberSecurity For Mercenaries?

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

That was my question when I read: Insecure: How A Private Military Contractor’s Hiring Files Leaked by Dan O’Sullivan.

The UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now disclose that a publicly accessible cloud-based data repository of resumes and applications for employment submitted for positions with TigerSwan, a North Carolina-based private security firm, were exposed to the public internet, revealing the sensitive personal details of thousands of job applicants, including hundreds claiming “Top Secret” US government security clearances. TigerSwan has recently told UpGuard that the resumes were left unsecured by a recruiting vendor that TigerSwan terminated in February 2017. If that vendor was responsible for storing the resumes on an unsecured cloud repository, the incident again underscores the importance of qualifying the security practices of vendors who are handling sensitive information.

The exposed documents belong almost exclusively to US military veterans, providing a high level of detail about their past duties, including elite or sensitive defense and intelligence roles. They include information typically found on resumes, such as applicants’ home addresses, phone numbers, work history, and email addresses. Many, however, also list more sensitive information, such as security clearances, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers and at least partial Social Security numbers. Most troubling is the presence of resumes from Iraqi and Afghan nationals who cooperated with US forces, contractors, and government agencies in their home countries, and who may be endangered by the disclosure of their personal details.

While the process errors and vendor practices that result in such cloud exposures are all too common in the digital landscape of 2017, the month-long period during which the files remained unsecured after UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team notified TigerSwan is troubling.

Amazing story isn’t it? Even more amazing is that UpGuard sat on the data for a month, waiting for TigerSwan to secure it. Not to mention UpGuard not publicly posting the data upon discovery.

In case you don’t recognize “TigerSwan,” let me refresh your memory:

UpGuard finds 9,402 resumes, applicants seeking employment with TigerSwan/Blackwater type employers.

Did they expose these resumes to the public?

Did they expose these resumes to the press?

Did they expose these resumes to prosecutors?

None of the above.

UpGuard spends a month trying to keep the data hidden from the public, the press and potential prosecutors!

Unpaid charity work so far as I know.

Thousands of mercenaries benefit from this charity work by UpGuard. Their kind can continue to violate the rights of protesters, murder civilians, etc., all the while being watched over by UpGuard. For free.

Would you shield torturers and murderers from their past or future victims?

Don’t be UpGuard, choose no.

Sharing Mis-leading Protest Data – Raspberry Pi PirateBox

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

Police surveillance of cellphone and Wi-Fi access points is standard procedure at all protests.

The Raspberry Pi PirateBox enables protesters to re-purpose that surveillance to share mis-leading data with police officers, anonymously.

Using prior protests as a model, even re-using audio/video footage, create “fake” reports and imagery for posting to your “My Little Protest News Site.” (Pick a less obvious name.)

With any luck, news media reps will be picking up stories your news site, which will increase the legitimacy of your “fake” reports. Not to mention adding to the general confusion.

Mix in true but too late to be useful news and even some truthful, prior to happening calls for movement so your reports are deemed mostly credible.

Predicting flare gun attacks on reserve formations, only moments before it happens, will go a long way to earning your site credibility with its next prediction of an uptick in action.

The legality of distributing fake reports and use of flare guns at protests varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Always consult with legal counsel about such conduct.

US Labor Day (sic) Security Reading

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I know, for the US to have a “labor day” holiday is a jest too cruel for laughter.

But, many people will have a long weekend, starting tomorrow, so suggested reading is in order.

Surveillance Self-Defense, a project of the EFF, has security “playlists” for:

Academic researcher? Learn the best ways to minimize harm in the conduct of your research.

Activist or protester? How to keep you and your communications safe wherever your campaigning takes you.

Human rights defender? Recipes for organizations who need to keep safe from government eavesdroppers.

Journalism student? Lessons in security they might not teach at your j-school.

Journalist on the move? How to stay safe online anywhere without sacrificing access to information.

LGBTQ Youth Tips and tools to help you more safely access LGBTQ resources, navigate social networks, and avoid snoopers.

Mac user? Tips and tools to help you protect your data and communications.

Online security veteran? Advanced guides to enhance your surveillance self-defense skill set.

Want a security starter pack? Start from the beginning with a selection of simple steps.

Have a great weekend!

Secure Data Deletion on Windows (Or Not)

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

How to: Delete Your Data Securely on Windows

From the post:

Most of us think that a file on our computer is deleted once we put the file in our computer’s trash folder and empty the trash; in reality, deleting the file does not completely erase it. When one does this, the computer just makes the file invisible to the user and marks the part of the disk that the file was stored on as “available”—meaning that your operating system can now write over the file with new data. Therefore, it may be weeks, months, or even years before that file is overwritten with a new one. Until this happens, that “deleted” file is still on your disk; it’s just invisible to normal operations. And with a little work and the right tools (such as “undelete” software or forensic methods), you can even still retrieve the “deleted” file. The bottom line is that computers normally don’t “delete” files; they just allow the space those files take up to be overwritten by something else some time in the future.

The best way to delete a file forever, then, is to make sure it gets overwritten immediately, in a way that makes it difficult to retrieve what used to be written there. Your operating system probably already has software that can do this for you—software that can overwrite all of the “empty” space on your disk with gibberish and thereby protect the confidentiality of deleted data.

Note that securely deleting data from solid state drives (SSDs), USB flash drives, and SD cards is very hard! The instructions below apply only to traditional disk drives, and not to SSDs, which are becoming standard in modern laptops, USB keys/USB thumb drives, or SD cards/flash memory cards.

This is because these types or drives use a technique called wear leveling. (You can read more about why this causes problems for secure deletion here.)

If you’re using an SSD or a USB flash drive, you can jump to the section below.

On Windows, we currently suggest using BleachBit. BleachBit is a free/open source secure deletion tool for Windows and Linux, and is much more sophisticated than the built-in Cipher.exe.

BleachBit can be used to quickly and easily target individual files for secure deletion, or to implement periodic secure deletion policies. It is also possible to write custom file deletion instructions. Please check the documentation for further information.

The EFFs reminder:


Time required: 10 minutes to several hours (depending on size of files/disks to be securely deleted)

is reassurance that most drives retired from government and industry may be loaded with goodies.

If in doubt, share this EFF resource with office level decision makers. It’s almost certain they will not tax their users with secure data deletion duties.

Monitoring Malware Sinkhole Traffic

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Consolidated Malware Sinkhole List by Lesley Carhart, Full Spectrum Cyber-Warrior Princess.

From the post:

A common practice of researchers studying a piece of malware is to seize control of its malicious command and control domains, then redirect traffic to them to benign research servers for analysis and victim notification. I always highly recommend monitoring for traffic to these sinkholes – it is frequently indicative of infection.

I’ve found no comprehensive public list of these sinkholes. There have been some previous efforts to compile a list, for instance by reverse engineering Emerging Threats Signatures (mikesxrs – I hope this answers your questions, a little late!). Some sinkholes are documented on the vendors’ sites, while others are clearly labeled in whois data, but undocumented. Still others are only detectable through behavior and hearsay.

Below, I share my personal list of publicly-noted sinkholes only. Please understand that with few exceptions I have not received any of this information from the vendors or organizations mentioned. It is possible there is some misattribution, and addresses in use do change over time. This is merely intended as a helpful aid for threat hunting, and there are no guarantees whatsoever.

An incomplete malware sinkhole list by her own admission but an interesting starting point for data collection/analysis.

When I read Carhart’s:

I always highly recommend monitoring for traffic to these sinkholes – it is frequently indicative of infection.

I had to wonder, at what level will you be monitoring traffic “…to these sinkholes?”

Sysadmins monitor their own networks, but traffic monitoring at higher levels is possible as well.

Above network level traffic monitoring for sinkhole would give a broader picture of possible “infections.”

Upon discovery, a system already infected by one type of malware, may be found to be vulnerable to other malware with a similar attack vector.

It certainly narrows the hunt for vulnerable systems.

If you don’t already, follow Lesley Carhart, @hacks4pancakes, or visit her blog, tisiphone.net.