Archive for the ‘Cybersecurity’ Category

Improved Tracking of .onion links by Facebook

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Improved sharing of .onion links on Facebook by Will Shackleton.

From the post:

Today we are rolling out two new features on Facebook to improve the experience of sharing, discovering and clicking .onion links to Tor hidden services especially for people who are not on Tor.

First, Facebook can now show previews for .onion links. Hidden service owners can use Open Graph tags to customise these previews, much like regular websites do.

Second, people who are not using Tor and click on .onion links will now see a message informing them that the link they clicked may not work. The message enables people to find out more about Tor and – for hidden services which have opted in – helps visit the service’s equivalent regular website. For people who are already using Tor, we send them straight through to the hidden service without showing any message.

Try sharing your favorite .onion link on Facebook and let us know in the comments what you think about our improvements!

This is a very bad plan!

If you are:

not using Tor and click on .onion links will now see a message informing them that the link they clicked may not work.

and, Facebook captures your non-Tor accessing of that link.

Accessing .onion links on Facebook, without using Tor, in the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!”:

Consumer Warning: Stale Passwords For Sale

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Russian hackers are selling British officials’ passwords by Alfred Ng.

The important take away: the passwords are from a 2012 LinkedIn breach.

Unless you like paying for and mining low grade ore, considering passing on this offer.

Claims of stolen government passwords don’t make someone trustworthy. 😉

Concealed Vulnerability Survives Reboots – Consumers Left in Dark

Monday, June 19th, 2017

New Vulnerability Could Give Mirai the Ability to Survive Device Reboots by Catalin Cimpanu

From the post:

Until now, all malware targeting IoT devices survived only until the user rebooted his equipment, which cleared the device’s memory and erased the malware from the user’s equipment.

Intense Internet scans for vulnerable targets meant that devices survived only minutes until they were reinfected again, which meant that users needed to secure devices with unique passwords or place behind firewalls to prevent exploitation.

New vulnerability allows for permanent Mirai infections

While researching the security of over 30 DVR brands, researchers from Pen Test Partners have discovered a new vulnerability that could allow the Mirai IoT worm and other IoT malware to survive between device reboots, permitting for the creation of a permanent IoT botnet.

“We’ve […] found a route to remotely fix Mirai vulnerable devices,” said Pen Test Partners researcher Ken Munro. “Problem is that this method can also be used to make Mirai persistent beyond a power off reboot.”

Understandably, Munro and his colleagues decided to refrain from publishing any details about this flaw, fearing that miscreants might weaponize it and create non-removable versions of Mirai, a malware known for launching some of the biggest DDoS attacks known today.

Do security researchers realize concealing vulnerabilities prevents market forces from deciding the fate of insecure systems?

Should security researchers marketing vulnerabilities to manufacturers be more important than the operation market forces on their products?

More important than your right to choose products based on the best and latest information?

Market forces are at work here, but they aren’t ones that will benefit consumers.

E-Cigarette Can Hack Your Computer (Is Nothing Sacred?)

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Kavita Iyer has the details on how an e-cigarette can be used to hack your computer at: Know How E-Cigarette Can Be Used By Hackers To Target Your Computer.

I’m guessing you aren’t so certain that expensive e-cigarette you “found” is harmless after all?

Malware in e-cigarettes seems like a stretch given the number of successful phishing emails every year.

But, a recent non-smoker maybe the security lapse you need.

OpSec Reminder

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Catalin Cimpanu covers a hack of the DoD’s Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) satellite phone network in 2014 in British Hacker Used Home Internet Connection to Hack the DoD in 2014.

The details are amusing but the most important part of Cimpanu’s post is a reminder about OpSec:


In a statement released yesterday, the NCA said it had a solid case against Caffrey because they traced back the attack to his house, and found the stolen data on his computer. Furthermore, officers found an online messaging account linked to the hack on Caffrey’s computer.

Caffrey’s OpSec stumbles:

  1. Connection traced to his computer (No use of Tor or VPN)
  2. Data found on his hard drive (No use of encryption and/or storage elsewhere)
  3. Online account used in hack operated from his computer (Again, no use of Tor or VPN)

I’m sure the hack was a clever one but Caffrey’s OpSec was less so. Decidedly less so.

PS: The National Criminal Agency (NCA) report on Caffrey.

Tails 3.0 is out (Don’t be a Bank or the NHS, Upgrade Today)

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Tails 3.0 is out

From the webpage:

We are especially proud to present you Tails 3.0, the first version of Tails based on Debian 9 (Stretch). It brings a completely new startup and shutdown experience, a lot of polishing to the desktop, security improvements in depth, and major upgrades to a lot of the included software.

Debian 9 (Stretch) will be released on June 17. It is the first time that we are releasing a new version of Tails almost at the same time as the version of Debian it is based upon. This was an important objective for us as it is beneficial to both our users and users of Debian in general and strengthens our relationship with upstream:

  • Our users can benefit from the cool changes in Debian earlier.
  • We can detect and fix issues in the new version of Debian while it is still in development so that our work also benefits Debian earlier.

This release also fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible.

Upgrade today, not tomorrow, not next week. Today!

Don’t be like banks and NHS and run out-dated software.

Promote software upgrades by

  • barring civil liability for
  • decriminalizing
  • prohibiting insurance coverage for damages due to

hacking of out-dated software.

Management will develop an interest in software upgrade policies.

Electric Grid Threats – Squirrels 952 : CrashOverride 1 (maybe)

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

If you are monitoring cyberthreats to the electric grid, compare the teaser document, Crash Override: Analysis of the Treat to Electric Grid Operators from Dragos, Inc. to the stats at CyberSquirrel1.com:

I say a “teaser” documents because the modules of greatest interest include: “This module was unavailable to Dragos at the time of publication” statements (4 out of 7) and:


If you are a Dragos, Inc. customer, you will have already received the more concise and technically in-depth intelligence report. It will be accompanied by follow-on reports, and the Dragos team will keep you up-to-date as things evolve.

If you have a copy of Dragos customer data on CrashOverride, be a dear and publish a diff against this public document.

Inquiring minds want to know. 😉

If you are planning to mount/defeat operations against an electric grid, a close study CyberSquirrel1.com cases will be instructive.

Creating and deploying grid damaging malware remains a challenging task.

Training an operative to mimic a squirrel, not so much.

The Hack2Win 2017 5K – IP Address 1 July 2017

Monday, June 12th, 2017

No, an annoying road race, that’s $5K in USD!

Hack2Win 2017 – The Online Version

From the post:

Want to get paid for a vulnerability similar to this one?

Contact us at: ssd@beyondsecurity.com

We proud to announce the first online hacking competition!

The rules are very simple – you need to hack the D-link router (AC1200 / DIR-850L) and you can win up to 5,000$ USD.

To try and help you win – we bought a D-link DIR-850L device and plugged it to the internet (we will disclose the IP address on 1st of July 2017) for you to try to hack it, while the WAN access is the only point of entry for this device, we will be accepting LAN vulnerabilities as well.

If you successfully hack it – submit your findings to us ssd[]beyondsecurity.com, you will get paid and we will report the information to the vendor.

The competition will end on the 1st of September 2017 or if a total of 10,000$ USD was handed out to eligible research.
… (emphasis in original)

Great opportunity to learn about the D-link router (AC1200 / DIR-850L) because hacked doesn’t count:


Usage of any known method of hacking – known methods including anything that we can use Google/Bing/etc to locate – this includes: documented default password (that cannot be changed), known vulnerabilities/security holes (found via Google, exploit-db, etc)

Makes me think having all the known vulnerabilities of the D-link router (AC1200 / DIR-850L) could be a competitive advantage.

Topic maps anyone?

PS: For your convenience, I have packaged up the D-Link files as of Monday, 12 June 2017 for the AC1200, hardware version A1, AC1200-A1.zip.

Real Talk on Reality (Knowledge Gap on Leaking)

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Real Talk on Reality : Leaking is high risk by the grugq.

From the post:

On June 5th The Intercept released an article based on an anonymously leaked Top Secret NSA document. The article was about one aspect of the Russian cyber campaign against the 2016 US election — the targeting of election device manufacturers. The relevance of this aspect of the Russian operation is not exactly clear, but we’ll address that in a separate post because… just hours after The Intercept’s article went live the US Department of Justice released an affidavit (and search warrant) covering the arrest of Reality Winner — the alleged leaker. Let’s look at that!

You could teach a short course on leaking from this one post but there is one “meta” issue that merits your attention.

The failures of Reality Winner and the Intercept signal users need educating in the art of information leaking.

With wide spread tracking of web browsers, training on information leaking needs to be pushed to users. It would stand out if one member of the military requested and was sent an email lesson on leaking. An email that went to everyone in a particular command, not so much.

Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in web zines, as ads, etc. with only the barest of tips, is another mechanism to consider.

If you are very creative, perhaps “Mr. Bill” claymation episodes with one principle of leaking each? Need to be funny enough that viewing/sharing isn’t suspicious.

Other suggestions?

Copy-n-Paste Security Alert!

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Security: The Dangers Of Copying And Pasting R Code.

From the post:

Most of the time when we stumble across a code snippet online, we often blindly copy and paste it into the R console. I suspect almost everyone does this. After all, what’s the harm?

The post illustrates how innocent appearing R code can conceal unhappy surprises!

Concealment isn’t limited to R code.

Any CSS controlled display is capable of concealing code for you to copy-n-paste into a console, terminal window, script or program.

Endless possibilities for HTML pages/emails with code + a “little something extra.”

What are your copy-n-paste practices?

Personal Malware Analysis Lab – Summer Project

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Set up your own malware analysis lab with VirtualBox, INetSim and Burp by Christophe Tafani-Dereeper.

Whether you are setting this up for yourself and/or a restless child, what a great summer project!

You can play as well so long as you don’t mind losing to nimble minded tweens and teens. 😉

It’s never too early to teach cybersecurity and penetration skills or to practice your own.

With a little imagination as far as prizes, this could be a great family activity.

It’s a long way from playing Yahtzee with your girlfriend, her little brother and her mother, but we have all come a long way since then.

Tor 7.0! (Won’t Protect You From @theintercept)

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Tor Browser 7.0 Is Out!

The Tor browser is great but recognize its limitations.

A primary one is Tor can’t protect you from poor judgment @theintercept. No software can do that.

Change your other habits as appropriate.

Are Printer Dots The Only Risk?

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Seth Schoen gives a good summary of printer dot issues in Printer Tracking Dots Back in the News.

From the post:

Several journalists and experts have recently focused on the fact that a scanned document published by The Intercept contained tiny yellow dots produced by a Xerox DocuColor printer. Those dots allow the document’s origin and date of printing to be ascertained, which could have played a role in the arrest of Reality Leigh Winner, accused of leaking the document. EFF has previously researched this tracking technology at some length; our work on it has helped bring it to public attention, including in a somewhat hilarious video.

Schoen’s post and references are fine as far as they go, but there are other dangers associated with printers.

For example:

  • The material in or omitted from a document can by used to identify the origin of a document.
  • The order of material in a document, a list, paragraph or footnote can be used to identify the origin of a document.
  • Micro-spacing of characters, invisible to the naked eye, may represent identification patterns.
  • Micro-spacing of margins or other white space characteristics may represent identification patterns.
  • Changes to the placement of headers, footers, page numbers, may represent identification patterns.

All of these techniques work with black and white printers as well as color printers.

The less security associated with a document and/or the wider its distribution, the less likely you are to encounter such techniques. Maybe.

Even if your source has an ironclad alibi, sharing a leaked document with a government agency is risky business. (full stop)

Just don’t do it!

How NOT To Leak! (Educational Materials on Leaking?)

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

The Intercept’s Russian hacking report also seems to be a good example of how not to handle leaks by Laura Hazard Owen.

From the post:

On Monday afternoon, The Intercept published a bombshell story: “Top-secret NSA report details Russian hacking effort days before 2016 election.” The story — later confirmed by CBS — reveals that “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept,” and includes PDFs of the NSA’s report.

The story is a potentially huge one, providing the most evidence we’ve seen thus far that the Russian government attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election in ways beyond just spreading misinformation (and Russian president Vladimir Putin had even denied his government’s role in that). But another story is emerging around The Intercept’s story as well: By Monday evening, a 25-year-old federal contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, was charged with leaking the documents (the first criminal leak case under Trump). If Winner was indeed The Intercept’s source, there are questions about whether The Intercept could have done more to protect her — starting with those PDFs it published as part of its story.

FYI, the Intercept has a huffy denial at the end of Owen’s post. Huffy enough to confirm they screwed up.

In the rush to publication, the Intercept failed to observe basic information hygiene with regard to the leaked PDFs. Leaked PDFs included printer steganography that enables tracing the printer.

Numerous other failures, such as the alleged source using their work computer to leak the documents, etc., were also present.

Enough errors, between the Intercept and its alleged source, to make you think dead pages advising on how to leak properly aren’t enough.

Suggestions on how to effectively educate people on proper leaking techniques?

Google Capture the Flag 2017

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Google Capture the Flag 2017 by Josh Armour.

From the post:

On 00:00:01 UTC of June 17th and 18th, 2017 we’ll be hosting the online qualification round of our second annual Capture The Flag (CTF) competition. In a ‘Capture the Flag’ competition we create security challenges and puzzles in which contestants can earn points for solving them. We will be inviting the top 10 finalist teams to a secret undisclosed location (spoiler alert: it’s Google) to compete onsite for a prize pool of over USD$31,337 and we’ll help subsidize travel to the venue for the finals to four participants for each of the ten finalist teams. In addition to grand prizes given at the finals, we’ll be rewarding some of the best and creative write-ups that we receive during the qualifying round. We want to give you an opportunity to share with the world the clever way you solve challenges.

Sounds cool!

You playing?

Unknown Buyers + Unknown Sellers ~= Closed Source Software

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

TurkuSec Community reports another collaborative effort to buy into the Shadow Brokers malware-of-the-month club:



“What Could Go Wrong?” is a valid question.

On the other hand, you are already spending $billions on insecure software every year.

Most of which is closed-source, meaning it may contain CIA/NSA backdoors.

A few hires in the right places and unbeknownst to the vendor, they would be distributing CIA/NSA malware.

If you credit denials of such activities by the CIA/NSA or any other government spy agency, you should stop using computers. You are a security risk to your employer.

A Shadow Brokers subscription, where 2,500 people risk $100 each for each release, on the other hand, is far safer than commercial software. If the the first release prove bogus, don’t buy a second one.

Contrast that with insecure closed source software for an OS or database that may contain CIA/NSA/etc. backdoors. You don’t get to avoid the second purchase. (You bought the maintenance package too. Am I right?)

I can’t and won’t counsel anyone to risk more than $100, but shared risk is the fundamental principle of insurance. Losses can and will happen. That’s why we distribute the risk.

That link again: https://t.co/wjMn3DjzQp.

PS: Shadow Brokers: Even a list of the names with brief descriptions might help attract people who want to share the risk of subscribing. The “big” corporations are likely too arrogant to think they need the release.

Another Patriarchy Triumph – Crowd Funding Shadow Brokers Fails

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Hackers shelve crowdfunding drive for Shadow Brokers exploits by Bill Brenner.

From the post:

To some, it was a terrible idea akin to paying bad people to do harm. To others, it was a chance to build more powerful defenses against the next WannaCry.

It’s now a moot point.

Forty-eight hours after they started a crowdsourcing effort on Patreon to raise $25,000 a month for a monthly Shadow Brokers subscription service, security researchers Matthew Hickey – perhaps better known as Hacker Fantastic – and x0rz, announced the fund’s cancellation. Thursday morning, the page was empty:

Brenner covers alleged reasons for the cancellation and concludes with poor advice:

Better to not go there.

As I pointed out yesterday, if 2500 people each contributed %100, the goal of raising $25,000 would be met without significant risk to anyone. Cable bills, to say nothing of mobile phone charges, easily exceed $100 for a month.

If a subscription were purchased for one month and either the Shadow Brokers don’t release new malware or what they release was cobbled up from standard malware sites, don’t buy a second one. At $100 each, isn’t that a risk you would take?

Assuming Shadow Brokers are serious about their malware-by-the-month club, a crowd funded subscription, premised on the immediate and public release of each installment, damages existing systems of patriarchy among/at:

  • Blackhat hackers
  • Governments (all levels)
  • Software vendors
  • Spy agencies (worldwide)
  • Whitehat advisors/hackers

Whitehat-only distribution follows that old saw of patriarchy, “we know what is best for you to know, etc.”

Some innocent people will be hurt by future malware releases. That’s a fact. But it’s an odd complaint for governments, spy agencies and their whitehat and vendor allies to raise.

Governments, spy agencies, whitehats and vendors have jointly participated in the slaughter of millions of people and the oppression of millions more.

Now facing some sharing of their cyberpower, they are concerned about potential injuries?

Looking forward to a deeply concealed entity stepping forward to purchase or crowd fund a release on delivery copy of the first Shadow Brokers malware-by-the-month, month 1.

Take a chance on damaging those patriarchies? Sure, that’s worth $100.

You?

Malware Subscriptions and the Long Tail of Patching (What you get for $100)

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Hacker Fantastic and x0rz have been deriding Shadow Brokers Response Team is creating open & transparent crowd-funded analysis of leaked NSA tools.

In part because whitehats will get the data at the same time.

Even if whitehats could instantly generate patches for all the vulnerabilities in each monthly release, if the vulnerabilities do have value, always an open question, they will retain that value for years, even more than a decade.

Why?

Roger Grimes recites the folk wisdom:


Folk wisdom says that patching habits can be divided into quarters: 25 percent of people patch within the first week; 25 percent patch within the first month; 25 percent patch after the first month, and 25 percent never apply the patch. The longer the wait, the greater the increased risk.

Or to put that another way:


50% of all vulnerable systems remain so 30+ days after the release.

25% of all vulnerable systems remain so forever.

Here’s a “whitehat” graphic that makes a similar point:

(From: Website Security Statistics Report 2015)

For $100 each by 2500 people, assuming there are vulnerabilities in the first Shadow Brokers monthly release, you get:

Vulnerabilities for 25% of systems forever (assuming patches are possible), vulnerabilities for 50% of systems are vulnerable for more than a month (assuming patches are possible), for some industries offer years of vulnerability, especially government systems.

For a $100 investment?

Modulo my preference for a group buy, then distribute model, that’s not a bad deal.

If there are no meaningful vulnerabilities in the first release, then don’t spend the second $100.

A commodity marketplace for malware weakens the NSA and its kindred. That’s reason enough for me to invest.

Disclosure = No action/change/consequences

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

What would you do if you discovered:


A cache of more than 60,000 files were discovered last week on a publicly accessible Amazon server, including passwords to a US government system containing sensitive information, and the security credentials of a lead senior engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation’s top intelligence and defense contractors. What’s more, the roughly 28GB of data contained at least a half dozen unencrypted passwords belonging to government contractors with Top Secret Facility Clearance.

?

Dell Cameron reports in: Top Defense Contractor Left Sensitive Pentagon Files on Amazon Server With No Password this result:


UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery discovered the Booz Allen server last week while at his Santa Rosa home running a scan for publicly accessible s3 buckets (what Amazon calls its cloud storage devices).

The mission of UpGuard’s Cyber Risk Team is to locate and secure leaked sensitive records, so Vickery’s first email on Wednesday was to Joe Mahaffee, Booz Allen’s chief information security officer. But after received no immediate response, he went directly the agency. “I emailed the NGA at 10:33am on Thursday. Public access to the leak was cut off nine minutes later,” he said.

What an unfortunate outcome.

Not faulting Chris Vickery, who was doing his job.

But responsible disclosure to Booz Allen Hamilton and then NGA, will result in no change to Booz Allen Hamilton’s position as a government IT supplier.

Public distribution of these files might not result in significant changes at government agencies and their IT contractors.

On the other hand, no consequences for agencies and their IT contractors hasn’t improved security.

Shouldn’t we give real world consequences a chance?

Crowd-Funding Public Access to NSA Tools!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Awesome! (with a caveat below)

Shadow Brokers Response Team is creating open & transparent crowd-funded analysis of leaked NSA tools.

The group calling itself the Shadow Brokers have released several caches of exploits to date. These caches and releases have had a detrimental outcome on the Internet at large, one leak especially resulted in the now in-famous WannaCry ransomware worm – others have been used by criminal crackers to illegally access infrastructure. Many have been analysing the data to determine its authenticity and impact on infrastructure, as a community it has been expressed that the harm caused by exploits could have been mitigated against had the Shadow Brokers been paid for their disclosures.

The leaks of information seen so far have included weaponized reliable exploits for the following platforms:

  • Cisco
  • Juniper
  • Solaris
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Linux

The Shadow Brokers have announced they are offering a “monthly dump” service which requires a subscription of 100 ZCASH coins. Currently this is around £17688.29 but could change due to the fleeting nature of cryptocurrency. By paying the Shadow Brokers the cash they asked for we hope to pool resources and avert any future WannaCry type incidents. This patreon is a chance for those who may not have large budgets (SME, startups and individuals) in the ethical hacking and whitehat community to pool resources and buy a subscription for the new monthly released data.

The goal here is to raise sufficient funds from interested parties to purchase a subscription to the new data leak. We are attempting to perform the following task:

  • Raise funds to purchase 100 ZCASH coins
  • Purchase 100 ZCASH coins from a reputable exchange
  • Transfer 100 ZCASH coins to ShadowBrokers with email address
  • Access the data from the ShadowBrokers and distribute to backers
  • Perform analysis on data leak and ascertain risk / perform disclosures

The Shadow Brokers have implied that the leak could be any of the following items of interest:

  • web browser, router, handset exploits and tools
  • newer material from NSA ops disk including Windows 10 exploits
  • misc compromised network data (SWIFT or Nuclear programmes)
  • … (emphasis in original)

An almost excellent plan that with enough contributors, reduces the risk to any one person to a manageable level.

Two-hundred and fifty contributors at $100 each, makes the $25,000 goal. That’s quite doable.

My only caveat is the “…whitehat ethical hacker…” language for sharing the release. Buying a share in the release should be just that, buying a share. What participants do or don’t do with their share is not a concern.

Kroger clerks don’t ask me if I am going to use flour to bake bread for the police and/or terrorists.

Besides, the alleged NSA tools weren’t created by “…whitehat ethical hackers….” Yes? No government has a claim on others to save them from their own folly.

Any competing crowd-funded subscriptions to the Shadow Brokers release?

The “blue screen of death” lives! (Humorous HTML Links)

Monday, May 29th, 2017

A simple file naming bug can crash Windows 8.1 and earlier by Steve J. Vaughan-Nichols.

From the post:

In a blast from the past, a Russian researcher has uncovered a simple bug in the NTFS file system that consistently crashed Windows Vista to 8.1 PCs.

Like the infamous Windows 95/98 /con/con bug, by simply entering a file name with “$MFT” the file-system bug locks up Windows at best, or dumps it into a “blue screen of death” at worse.

The bug won’t deliver malware but since it works in URLs (except for Chrome), humorous HTML links in emails are the order of the day.

Enjoy!

Hacking Fingerprints (Yours, Mine, Theirs)

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Neural networks just hacked your fingerprints by Thomas McMullan.

From the post:

Fingerprints are supposed to be unique markers of a person’s identity. Detectives look for fingerprints in crime scenes. Your phone’s fingerprint sensor means only you can unlock the screen. The truth, however, is that fingerprints might not be as secure as you think – at least not in an age of machine learning.

A team of researchers has demonstrated that, with the help of neural networks, a “masterprint” can be used to fool verification systems. A masterprint, like a master key, is a fingerprint that can be open many different doors. In the case of fingerprint identification, it does this by tricking a computer into thinking the print could belong to a number of different people.

“Our method is able to design a MasterPrint that a commercial fingerprint system matches to 22% of all users in a strict security setting, and 75% of all users at a looser security setting,” the researchers ­– Philip Bontrager, Julian Togelius and Nasir Memon – claim in a paper.

The tweet that brought this post to my attention didn’t seem to take this as good news.

But it is, very good news!

Think about it for a moment. Who is most likely to have “strict security settings?”

Your average cubicle dweller/home owner or …, large corporation or government entity?

What is more, if you, as a cubicle dweller are ever accosted for a breach of security, leaking fingerprint protected files, etc., what better defense than known spoofing of fingerprints?

Not that you would be guilty of such an offense but its always nice to have a credible defense in addition to being innocent!

For further details:

DeepMasterPrint: Generating Fingerprints for Presentation Attacks by Philip Bontrager, Julian Togelius, Nasir Memon.

Abstract:

We present two related methods for creating MasterPrints, synthetic fingerprints that a fingerprint verification system identifies as many different people. Both methods start with training a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) on a set of real fingerprint images. The generator network is then used to search for images that can be recognized as multiple individuals. The first method uses evolutionary optimization in the space of latent variables, and the second uses gradient-based search. Our method is able to design a MasterPrint that a commercial fingerprint system matches to 22% of all users in a strict security setting, and 75% of all users at a looser security setting.

Defeating fingerprints as “conclusive proof” of presence is an important step towards freedom for us all.

Samba Flaw In Linux PCs

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Samba Flaw Allows Hackers Access Thousands of Linux PCs Remotely

From the post:

A remote code execution vulnerability in Samba has potentially exposed a large number of Linux and UNIX machines to remote attackers. The code vulnerability (CVE-2017-7494) affects all machines with Samba versions newer than the 3.5.0 released last March 2010, making it a 7-year old flaw in the system.

Samba is a software that runs on most of the operating systems used today like Windows, UNIX, IBM, Linux, OpenVMS, and System 390. Due to its open source nature resulting from the reimplementation of the SMB (Server Message Block) networking protocol, Samba enables non-Windows operating systems like Mac OS X or GNU/Linux to give access to folders, printers, and files with Windows OS.

All affected machines can be remotely controlled by uploading a shared library to a writable program. Another command can then be used to cause the server to execute the code. This allows hackers access Linux PC remotely according to the published advisory by Samba last Wednesday, May 24.

Cited but not linked:

The Rapid7 Community post in particular has good details.

Not likely a repeat of WannaCry. It’s hard imagine NHS trusts running Linux.

😉

Banking Malware Tip: Don’t Kill The Goose

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Dridex: A History of Evolution by Nikita Slepogin.

From the post:

The Dridex banking Trojan, which has become a major financial cyberthreat in the past years (in 2015, the damage done by the Trojan was estimated at over $40 million), stands apart from other malware because it has continually evolved and become more sophisticated since it made its first appearance in 2011. Dridex has been able to escape justice for so long by hiding its main command-and-control (C&C) servers behind proxying layers. Given that old versions stop working when new ones appear and that each new improvement is one more step forward in the systematic development of the malware, it can be concluded that the same people have been involved in the Trojan’s development this entire time. Below we provide a brief overview of the Trojan’s evolution over six years, as well as some technical details on its latest versions.

Compared to the 2015 GDP of the United States at ~$18 trillion, the ~$40 million damage from Dridex is a rounding error.

The Dridex authors are not killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

Compare the WannaCry ransomware attack, which provoked a worldwide, all hands on deck response, including Microsoft releasing free patches for unsupported software!

Maybe you can breach an FBI file server and dump its contents to Pastebin. That attracts a lot of attention and is likely to be your only breach of that server.

Strategy is as important in cyberwarfare as in more traditional warfare.

China Draws Wrong Lesson from WannaCry Ransomware

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Chinese state media says US should take some blame for cyberattack

From the post:


China’s cyber authorities have repeatedly pushed for what they call a more “equitable” balance in global cyber governance, criticizing U.S. dominance.

The China Daily pointed to the U.S. ban on Chinese telecommunication provider Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, saying the curbs were hypocritical given the NSA leak.

Beijing has previously said the proliferation of fake news on U.S. social media sites, which are largely banned in China, is a reason to tighten global cyber governance.

The newspaper said that the role of the U.S. security apparatus in the attack should “instill greater urgency” in China’s mission to replace foreign technology with its own.

The state-run People’s Daily compared the cyber attack to the terrorist hacking depicted in the U.S. film “Die Hard 4”, warning that China’s role in global trade and internet connectivity opened it to increased risks from overseas.

China is certainly correct to demand a place at the table for China and other world powers in global cyber governance.

But China is drawing the wrong lesson from the WannaCry ransomeware attacks if that is used as a motivation for closed source Chinese software to replace “foreign” technology.

NSA staffers may well be working for Microsoft and/or Oracle, embedding NSA produced code in their products. With closed source code, it isn’t possible to verify the absence of such code or to prevent its introduction.

Sadly, the same is true if closed source code is written by Chinese programmers, some of who may have agendas, domestic or foreign, of their own.

The only defense to rogue code is to invest in open source projects. Not everyone will read every line of code but being available for being read, is a deterrent to obvious subversion of an applications security.

China should have “greater urgency” to abandon closed source software, but investing in domestic closed source only replicates the mistake of investing in foreign closed source software.

Opensource projects cover every office, business and scientific need.

Chinese government support for Chinese participation in existing and new opensource projects can make these projects competitors to closed and potential spyware products.

The U.S. made the closed source mistake for critical cyber infrastructure. China should not make the same mistake.

More Dicking With The NSA

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Privacy-focused Debian 9 ‘Stretch’ Linux-based operating system Tails 3.0 reaches RC status by Brian Fagioli.

From the post:

If you want to keep the government and other people out of your business when surfing the web, Tails is an excellent choice. The Linux-based operating system exists solely for privacy purposes. It is designed to run from read-only media such as a DVD, so that there are limited possibilities of leaving a trail. Of course, even though it isn’t ideal, you can run it from a USB flash drive too, as optical drives have largely fallen out of favor with consumers.

Today, Tails achieves an important milestone. Version 3.0 reaches RC status — meaning the first release candidate (RC1). In other words, it may soon be ready for a stable release — if testing confirms as much. If you want to test it and provide feedback, you can download the ISO now.

Fagioli covers some of the details but the real story is this:

The sooner testers (that can include you) confirm the stability, etc., of Tails Version 3.0 (RC1), the sooner it can be released for general use.

In part, the release schedule for Tails Version 3.0 (RC1) depends on you.

Your response?

Check Fagoli’s post for links to the release and docs.

Don’t Blame NSA For Ransomware Attack!

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Stop Blaming NSA For The Ransomware Attack by Patrick Tucker.

Most days I think the NSA should be blamed for everything from global warming to biscuits that fail to rise.

But for leaked cyber weapons? No blame whatsoever.

Why? The answer lies in the NSA processing of vulnerabilities.

From the post:


“You’ve heard my deputy director say that in excess of 80-something percent of the vulnerabilities are actually disclosed—responsibly disclosed —to the vendors so that they can then actually patch and remediate for that,” Curtis Dukes, NSA’s former deputy national manager for national security systems, said at an American Enterprise Institute event in October. “So I do believe it’s a thoughtful process that we have here in the U.S.”

Dukes said the impetus to conceal an exploit vanishes when it is used by a criminal gang, adversarial nation, or some other malefactor.

We may choose to restrict a vulnerability for offensive purposes, like breaking into an adversary’s network, he said. But that doesn’t mean we’re not also constantly looking for signs whether another nation-state or criminal network has actually found that same vulnerability and now are using it. As soon as we see any indications of that, then that decision immediately flips, and we move to disseminate and remediate.

You may think that is a “thoughtful process” but that’s not why I suggest the NSA should be held blameless.

Look at the numbers on vulnerabilities:

80% disclosed by the NSA for remediation.

20% concealed by the NSA.

Complete NSA disclosure means the 20% now concealed, vanishes for everyone.

That damages everyone seeking government transparency.

Don’t wave your arms in the air crying “ransomware! ransomeware! Help me! Help me!,” or “Blame the NSA! “Blame the NSA.”

Use FOIA requests, leaks and cyber vulnerabilities to peel governments of their secrecy, like lettuce, one leaf at a time.

Correction to Financial Times on EsteemAudit

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Hackers prime second classified US cyber weapon by Sam Jones and Max Seddon.

From the post:

Criminal hacking groups have repurposed a second classified cyber weapon stolen from US spies and have made it available on the so-called dark web after the success of the WannaCry attack that swept across the globe on Friday.

The hacking tool, developed by the US National Security Agency and called EsteemAudit, has been adapted and is now available for criminal use, according to security analysts.

Correction:

“…is now available for criminal use…” should read:

“…is now available for widespread criminal use….”

NSA cyber weapons have always in use by criminals. The debate now is over more criminals using the same weapons.

If those weapons are used against the NSA and its co-conspirators, I don’t see a problem.

Marketing Advice For Shadow Brokers

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Shadow Brokers:

I read your post OH LORDY! Comey Wanna Cry Edition outlining your plans for:

In June, TheShadowBrokers is announcing “TheShadowBrokers Data Dump of the Month” service. TheShadowBrokers is launching new monthly subscription model. Is being like wine of month club. Each month peoples can be paying membership fee, then getting members only data dump each month. What members doing with data after is up to members.

TheShadowBrokers Monthly Data Dump could be being:

  • web browser, router, handset exploits and tools
  • select items from newer Ops Disks, including newer exploits for Windows 10
  • compromised network data from more SWIFT providers and Central banks
  • compromised network data from Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or North Korean nukes and missile programs

More details in June.

OR IF RESPONSIBLE PARTY IS BUYING ALL LOST DATA BEFORE IT IS BEING SOLD TO THEPEOPLES THEN THESHADOWBROKERS WILL HAVE NO MORE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES TO BE TAKING CONTINUED RISKS OF OPERATIONS AND WILL GO DARK PERMANENTLY YOU HAVING OUR PUBLIC BITCOIN ADDRESS
… (emphasis in original)

I don’t know your background in subscription marketing but I don’t see Shadow Brokers as meeting the criteria for a successful subscription business. 9 Keys to Building a Successful Subscription Business.

Unless you want to get into a vulnerability as commodity business, with its attendant needs for a large subscriber base, advertising, tech support, etc., with every service layer adding more exposure, I just don’t see it. The risk of exposure is too great and the investment before profit too large.

I don’t feel much better about a bulk purchase from a major government or spy agency. The likely buyers already have the same or similar data so don’t have an acquisition motive.

Moreover, likely buyers don’t trust the Shadow Brokers. As a one time seller, Shadow Brokers could collect for the “lost data” and then release it for free in the wild.

You say that isn’t the plan of Shadow Brokers, but likely buyers are untrustworthy and expect the worst of others.

If I’m right and traditional subscription and/or direct sales models aren’t likely to work, that doesn’t mean that a sale of the “lost data” is impossible.

Consider the Wikileak strategy with the the Podesta emails.

The Podesta emails were replete with office chatter, backbiting remarks, and other trivia.

Despite the lack of intrinsic value, their importance was magnified by the release of small chunks of texts, each of which might include something important.

With each release, main stream media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others went into a frenzy of coverage.

That was non-technical data so a similar strategy with “lost data” will require supplemental, explanatory materials for the press.

Dumping one or two tasty morsels every Friday, for example, will extend media coverage, not to mention building public outrage that could, no guarantees, force one or more governments to pony up for the “lost data.”

Hard to say unless you try.

PS: For anyone who thinks this post runs afoul of “aiding hackers” prohibitions, you have failed to consider the most likely alternate identity of Shadow Brokers, that of the NSA itself.

Ask yourself:

Who wants real time surveillance of all networks? (NSA)

What will drive acceptance of real time surveillance of all networks? (Hint, ongoing and widespread data breaches.)

Who wants to drive adoption of Windows 10? (Assuming NSA agents wrote backdoors into the 50 to 60 million lines of code in Windows 10.)

Would a government that routinely assassinates people and overthrows other governments hesitate to put ringers to work at Microsoft? Or other companies?

Is suborning software verboten? (Your naiveté is shocking.)

WCry/WanaCry Analysis – Reading For Monday, May 15, 2017.

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

The chief of Europol warns the WCry/WanaCry crisis to grow Monday, May 15, 2017. That exhausted Europol’s reservoir of the useful comments for this “crisis.”

“Crisis” with parentheses because only unpatched but supported Windows systems and no longer supported Windows systems are vulnerable to WCry/Wanacry.

Exception for non-supported systems: Microsoft issued a patch for Windows XP, unfortunately, to protect against WCry/WanaCry.

Translation: If you are running Windows XP without the WCry/WanaCry patch, you can still be a victim.

For the more technically minded, Amanda Rousseau writes in: WCry/WanaCry Ransomware Technical Analysis:

As we discussed when this outbreak began, the WCry or WanaCrypt0r ransomware spread quickly across Europe and Asia, impacting almost 100 countries and disrupting or closing 45 hospitals in the UK. As the ransomware continued to propagate, I got my hands on a sample and quickly began analyzing the malware. This post will walk through my findings and provide a technical overview of the strain of WCry ransomware which caused the massive impact on Friday. Many have done great work analyzing this malware in action and helping contain its spread, and I hope my comprehensive static analysis will provide a good overall picture of this particular ransomware variant on top of that.

I assume you are:

  1. Not running Windows
  2. Are running supported and patched Windows
  3. Are running patched Windows XP (please don’t tell anyone)

If any of those are true, then Rousseau’s post makes great reading material for Monday, May 15, 2017.

If you are exposed, you should take steps to end your exposure now. Rousseau’s post can wait until you are safe.