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‘Badlock’ Bug Tops Microsoft Patch Batch

mercredi 13 avril 2016 à 16:32

Microsoft released fixes on Tuesday to plug critical security holes in Windows and other software. The company issued 13 patches to tackle dozens of vulnerabilities, including a much-hyped “Badlock” file-sharing bug that appears ripe for exploitation. Also, Adobe updated its Flash Player release to address at least two-dozen flaws — in addition to the zero-day vulnerability Adobe patched last week.

Source: badlock.org

Source: badlock.org

The Windows patch that seems to be getting the most attention this month remedies seven vulnerabilities in Samba, a service used to manage file and print services across networks and multiple operating systems. This may sound innocuous enough, but attackers who gain access to private or corporate network could use these flaws to intercept traffic, view or modify user passwords, or shut down critical services.

According to badlock.org, a Web site set up to disseminate information about the widespread nature of the threat that this vulnerability poses, we are likely to see active exploitation of the Samba vulnerabilities soon.

Two of the Microsoft patches address flaws that were disclosed prior to Patch Tuesday. One of them is included in a bundle of fixes for Internet Explorer. A critical update for the Microsoft Graphics Component targets four vulnerabilities, two of which have been detected already in exploits in the wild, according to Chris Goettl at security vendor Shavlik.

Just a reminder: If you use Windows and haven’t yet taken advantage of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, a.k.a. “EMET,” you should definitely consider it. I describe the basic features and benefits of running EMET in this blog post from 2014 (yes, it’s time to revisit EMET in a future post), but the gist of it is that EMET helps block or blunt exploits against known and unknown Windows vulnerabilities and flaws in third-party applications that run on top of Windows. The latest version, v. 5.5, is available here

brokenflash-aOn Friday, Adobe released an emergency update for Flash Player to fix a vulnerability that is being actively exploited in the wild and used to foist malware (such as ransomware). Adobe updated its advisory for that release to include fixes for 23 additional flaws.

As I noted in last week’s piece on the emergency Flash Patch, most users are better off hobbling or removing Flash altogether. I’ve got more on that approach (as well as slightly less radical solutions ) in A Month Without Adobe Flash Player.

If you choose to update, please do it today. The most recent version for Mac and Windows users is 21.0.0.213, and should be available from the Flash home page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.). Chrome and IE should auto-install the latest Flash version on browser restart (I had to manually restart Chrome to get the latest Flash version).

New Threat Can Auto-Brick Apple Devices

mardi 12 avril 2016 à 16:41

If you use an Apple iPhone, iPad or other iDevice, now would be an excellent time to ensure that the machine is running the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system — version 9.3.1. Failing to do so could expose your devices to automated threats capable of rendering them unresponsive and perhaps forever useless.

Zach Straley demonstrating the fatal Jan. 1, 1970 bug. Don't try this at home!

Zach Straley demonstrating the fatal Jan. 1, 1970 bug. Don’t try this at home!

On Feb. 11, 2016, researcher Zach Straley posted a Youtube video exposing his startling and bizarrely simple discovery: Manually setting the date of your iPhone or iPad all the back to January. 1, 1970 will permanently brick the device (don’t try this at home, or against frenemies!).

Now that Apple has patched the flaw that Straley exploited with his fingers, researchers say they’ve proven how easy it would be to automate the attack over a network, so that potential victims would need only to wander within range of a hostile wireless network to have their pricey Apple devices turned into useless bricks.

Not long after Straley’s video began pulling in millions of views, security researchers Patrick Kelley and Matt Harrigan wondered: Could they automate the exploitation of this oddly severe and destructive date bug? The researchers discovered that indeed they could, armed with only $120 of electronics (not counting the cost of the bricked iDevices), a basic understanding of networking, and a familiarity with the way Apple devices connect to wireless networks.

Apple products like the iPad (and virtually all mass-market wireless devices) are designed to automatically connect to wireless networks they have seen before. They do this with a relatively weak level of authentication: If you connect to a network named “Hotspot” once, going forward your device may automatically connect to any open network that also happens to be called “Hotspot.”

For example, to use Starbuck’s free Wi-Fi service, you’ll have to connect to a network called “attwifi”. But once you’ve done that, you won’t ever have to manually connect to a network called “attwifi” ever again. The next time you visit a Starbucks, just pull out your iPad and the device automagically connects.

From an attacker’s perspective, this is a golden opportunity. Why? He only needs to advertise a fake open network called “attwifi” at a spot where large numbers of computer users are known to congregate. Using specialized hardware to amplify his Wi-Fi signal, he can force many users to connect to his (evil) “attwifi” hotspot. From there, he can attempt to inspect, modify or redirect any network traffic for any iPads or other devices that unwittingly connect to his evil network.

TIME TO DIE

And this is exactly what Kelley and Harrigan say they have done in real-life tests. They realized that iPads and other iDevices constantly check various “network time protocol” (NTP) servers around the globe to sync their internal date and time clocks.

The researchers said they discovered they could build a hostile Wi-Fi network that would force Apple devices to download time and date updates from their own (evil) NTP time server: And to set their internal clocks to one infernal date and time in particular: January 1, 1970.

Harrigan and Kelley named their destructive Wi-Fi network "Phonebreaker."

Harrigan and Kelley named their destructive Wi-Fi test network “Phonebreaker.”

The result? The iPads that were brought within range of the test (evil) network rebooted, and began to slowly self-destruct. It’s not clear why they do this, but here’s one possible explanation: Most applications on an iPad are configured to use security certificates that encrypt data transmitted to and from the user’s device. Those encryption certificates stop working correctly if the system time and date on the user’s mobile is set to a year that predates the certificate’s issuance.

Harrigan and Kelley said this apparently creates havoc with most of the applications built into the iPad and iPhone, and that the ensuing bedlam as applications on the device compete for resources quickly overwhelms the iPad’s computer processing power. So much so that within minutes, they found their test iPad had reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius), as the date and clock settings on the affected devices inexplicably and eerily began counting backwards.

 

Harrigan, president and CEO of San Diego-based security firm PacketSled, described the meltdown thusly:

“One thing we noticed was when we set the date on the iPad to 1970, the iPad display clock started counting backwards. While we were plugging in the second test iPad 15 minutes later, the first iPad said it was Dec. 15, 1968. I looked at Patrick and was like, ‘Did you mess with that thing?’ He hadn’t. It finally stopped at 1965, and by that time [the iPad] was about the temperature I like my steak served at.”

Kelley, a senior penetration tester with CriticalAssets.com, said he and Harrigan worked with Apple to coordinate the release of their findings to ensure doing so didn’t predate Apple’s issuance of a fix for this vulnerability. The flaw is present in all Apple devices running anything lower than iOS 9.3.1.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment. But an email shared by the researchers apparently sent by Apple’s product security team suggests the company’s researchers were unable to force an affected device to heat to more than 45.8 degrees Celcisus (~114 degrees Fahrenheit). The note read:

“1) We confirmed that iOS 9.3 addresses the issue that left a device unresponsive when the date is set to 1/1/1970.

2) A device affected by this issue can be restored to iOS 9.3 or later.  iTunes restored the iPad Air you provided to us for inspection.’

3) By examining the device, we determined that the battery temperature did not exceed 45.8 degrees centigrade.”

EVIL HARDWARE

According to Harrigan and Kelley, the hardware needed to execute this attack is little more than a common Raspberry Pi device with some custom software.

“By spoofing time.apple.com, we were able to roll back the time and have it hand out to all Apple clients on the network,” the researchers wrote in a paper shared with KrebsOnSecurity. “All test devices took the update without question and rolled back to 1970.”

The hardware used to automated an attack against the 1970 bug, including a Raspberry Pi and an Alfa antenna.

The hardware used to automated an attack against the 1970 bug, including a Raspberry Pi and an Alfa antenna.

The researchers continued: “An interesting side effect was that this caused almost all web browsing traffic to cease working due to time mismatch. Typically, this would prompt a typical user to reboot their device. So, we did that. At this point, we could confirm that the reboot caused all iPads in test to degrade gradually, beginning with the inability to unlock, and ultimately ending with the device overheating and not booting at all. Apple has confirmed this vulnerability to be present in 64 bit devices that are running any version less than 9.3.1.”

Harrigan and Kelley say exploiting this bug on an Apple iPhone device is slightly trickier because iPhones get their network time updates via GSM, the communications standard the devices use to receive and transmit cell phone signals. But they said it may be possible to poison the date and time on iPhones using updates fed to the devices via GSM.

They pointed to research by Brandon Creighton, a research architect at software testing firm Veracode who is perhaps best known for setting up the NinjaTel GSM mobile network at the massive DefCon security conference in 2012. Creighton’s network relied on a technology called OpenBTS — a software based GSM access point. Harrigan and Kelley say an attacker could set up his own mobile (evil) network and push date and time updates to any phones that ping the evil tower.

“It is completely plausible that this vulnerability is exploitable over GSM using OpenBTS or OpenBSC to set the time,” Kelley said.

Creighton agreed, saying that his own experience testing and running the NinjaTel network shows that it’s theoretically possible, although he allows that he’s never tried it.

“Just from my experimentation, theoretically from a protocol level you can do it,” Creighton wrote in a note to KrebsOnSecurity. “But there are lots of factors (the carrier; the parameters on the SIM card; the phone’s locked status; the kind of phone; the baseband version; previously joined networks; neighboring towers; RF signal strength; and more).  If you’re just trying to cause general chaos, you don’t need to work very hard. But if, say, you were trying to target an individual device, it would require an additional amount of prep time/recon.”

Whether or not this attack could be used to remotely ruin iPhones or turn iPads into expensive skillets, it seems clear that failing to update to the latest version of Apple iOS is a less-than-stellar idea. iPad users who have not updated their OS need to be extremely cautious with respect to joining networks that they don’t know or trust.

iOS and Mac OS X have a feature that allows users to prevent the devices from automatically joining wireless networks. Enabling this “ask to join networks” feature blocks Apple devices from automatically joining networks they have never seen before — but the side effect is that the device may frequently toss up prompts asking if you wish to join any one of several available wireless networks (this can be disabled by unselecting “Ask to Join Networks”). But enabling it doesn’t prevent the device from connecting to, say, “attwifi” if it has previously connected to a network of that name.

The researchers have posted a video on Youtube that explains their work in greater detail.

Update, 1:08 p.m. ET: Added link to video and clarified how Apple’s “ask to join networks” feature works.

Adobe Patches Flash Player Zero-Day Threat

vendredi 8 avril 2016 à 16:25

Adobe Systems this week rushed out an emergency patch to plug a security hole in its widely-installed Flash Player software, warning that the vulnerability is already being exploited in active attacks.

brokenflash-aAdobe said a “critical” bug exists in all versions of Flash including Flash versions 21.0.0.197 and lower (older) across a broad range of systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome OS. Find out if you have Flash and if so what version by visiting this link.

In a security advisory, the software maker said it is aware of reports that the vulnerability is being actively exploited on systems running Windows 7 and Windows XP with Flash Player version 20.0.0.306 and earlier. 

Adobe said additional security protections built into all versions of Flash including 21.0.0.182 and newer should block this flaw from being exploited. But even if you’re running one of the newer versions of Flash with the additional protections, you should update, hobble or remove Flash as soon as possible.

The smartest option is probably to ditch the program once and for all and significantly increase the security of your system in the process. I’ve got more on that approach (as well as slightly less radical solutions ) in A Month Without Adobe Flash Player.

If you choose to update, please do it today. The most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.). Chrome and IE should auto-install the latest Flash version on browser restart (I had to manually restart Chrome to get the latest Flash version).

By the way, I’m not the only one trying to make it easier for people to put a lasso on Flash: In a blog post today, Microsoft said Microsoft Edge users on Windows 10 will auto-pause Flash content that is not central to the Web page. The new feature will be available in Windows 10 build 14316.

“Peripheral content like animations or advertisements built with Flash will be displayed in a paused state unless the user explicitly clicks to play that content,” wrote the Microsoft Edge team. “This significantly reduces power consumption and improves performance while preserving the full fidelity of the page. Flash content that is central to the page, like video and games, will not be paused. We are planning for and look forward to a future where Flash is no longer necessary as a default experience in Microsoft Edge.”

Additional reading on this vulnerability:

Kafeine‘s Malware Don’t Need Coffee Blog on active exploitation of the bug.

Trend Micro’s take on evidence that thieves have been using this flaw in automated attacks since at least March 31, 2016.

FBI: $2.3 Billion Lost to CEO Email Scams

jeudi 7 avril 2016 à 16:36

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) this week warned about a “dramatic” increase in so-called “CEO fraud,” e-mail scams in which the attacker spoofs a message from the boss and tricks someone at the organization into wiring funds to the fraudsters. The FBI estimates these scams have cost organizations more than $2.3 billion in losses over the past three years.

In an alert posted to its site, the FBI said that since January 2015, the agency has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed losses from CEO scams. The alert noted that law enforcement globally has received complaints from victims in every U.S. state, and in at least 79 countries.

A typical CEO fraud attack. Image: Phishme

A typical CEO fraud attack. Image: Phishme

CEO fraud usually begins with the thieves either phishing an executive and gaining access to that individual’s inbox, or emailing employees from a look-alike domain name that is one or two letters off from the target company’s true domain name. For example, if the target company’s domain was “example.com” the thieves might register “examp1e.com” (substituting the letter “L” for the numeral 1) or “example.co,” and send messages from that domain.

Unlike traditional phishing scams, spoofed emails used in CEO fraud schemes rarely set off spam traps because these are targeted phishing scams that are not mass e-mailed. Also, the crooks behind them take the time to understand the target organization’s relationships, activities, interests and travel and/or purchasing plans.

They do this by scraping employee email addresses and other information from the target’s Web site to help make the missives more convincing. In the case where executives or employees have their inboxes compromised by the thieves, the crooks will scour the victim’s email correspondence for certain words that might reveal whether the company routinely deals with wire transfers — searching for messages with key words like “invoice,” “deposit” and “president.”

On the surface, business email compromise scams may seem unsophisticated relative to moneymaking schemes that involve complex malicious software, such as Dyre and ZeuS. But in many ways, CEO fraud is more versatile and adept at sidestepping basic security strategies used by banks and their customers to minimize risks associated with account takeovers. In traditional phishing scams, the attackers interact with the victim’s bank directly, but in the CEO scam the crooks trick the victim into doing that for them.

The FBI estimates that organizations victimized by CEO fraud attacks lose on average between $25,000 and $75,000. But some CEO fraud incidents over the past year have cost victim companies millions — if not tens of millions — of dollars. 

Last month, the Associated Press wrote that toy maker Mattel lost $3 million in 2015 thanks to a CEO fraud phishing scam. In 2015, tech firm Ubiquiti disclosed in a quarterly financial report that it suffered a whopping $46.7 million hit because of a CEO fraud scam. In February 2015, email con artists made off with $17.2 million from The Scoular Co., an employee-owned commodities trader. More recently, I wrote about a slightly more complex CEO fraud scheme that incorporated a phony phone call from a phisher posing as an accountant at KPMG.

The FBI urges businesses to adopt two-step or two-factor authentication for email, where available, and to establish other communication channels — such as telephone calls — to verify significant transactions. Businesses are also advised to exercise restraint when publishing information about employee activities on their Web sites or through social media, as attackers perpetrating these schemes often will try to discover information about when executives at the targeted organization will be traveling or otherwise out of the office.

For an example of what some of these CEO fraud scams look like, check out this post from security education and awareness firm Phishme about scam artists trying to target the company’s leadership.

I’m always amazed when I hear security professionals I know and respect make comments suggesting that phishing and spam are solved problems. The right mix of blacklisting and email validation regimes like DKIM and SPF can block the vast majority of this junk, these experts argue.

But CEO fraud attacks succeed because they rely almost entirely on tricking employees into ignoring or sidestepping some very basic security precautions. Educating employees so that they are less likely to fall for these scams won’t block all social engineering attacks, but it should help. Remember, the attackers are constantly testing users’ security awareness. Organizations might as well be doing the same, using periodic tests to identify problematic users and to place additional security controls on those individuals.

After Tax Fraud Spike, Payroll Firm Greenshades Ditches SSN/DOB Logins

mercredi 6 avril 2016 à 23:38

Online payroll management firm Greenshades.com is an object lesson in how not to do authentication. Until very recently, the company allowed corporate payroll administrators to access employee payroll data online using nothing more than an employee’s date of birth and Social Security number. That is, until criminals discovered this and began mass-filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS on large swaths of employees at firms that use the company’s services.

A notice on the Greenshades Web site.

A notice on the Greenshades Web site.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Greenshades posted an alert on its homepage stating that the company “has seen an abnormal increase in identity thieves using personal information to fraudulently log into the company’s system to access personal tax information.”

Many online services blame these sorts of attacks on customers re-using the same password at multiple sites, but Greenshades set customers up for this by allowing access to payroll records just by supplying the employee’s Social Security number and date of birth.

As this author has sought repeatedly to demonstrate, SSN/DOB information is extremely easy and cheap to obtain via multiple criminal-run Web sites: SSN/DOB data is reliably available for purchase from underground online crime shops for less than $4 per person (payable in Bitcoin only).

The spike in tax fraud against employees of companies that use Greenshades came to light earlier this month in various media stories. A number of employees at public high schools in Chicago discovered that crooks beat them to the punch on filing tax returns. An investigation into that incident suggested security weaknesses at Greenshades were to blame.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote last month about tax fraud perpetrated against local county workers, fraud that also was linked to compromised Greenshades accounts. In Nebraska, the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and Fremont Health hospital had a number of employees with tax fraud linked to compromised Greenshades accounts, according to a report in the Fremont Tribune.

Greenshades co-CEO Matthew Kane said the company allowed payroll administrators to access W2 information with nothing more than SSN and DOB for one simple reason: Many customers demanded it.

“There’s a valid reason to have what I call weak login credentials,” Kane told KrebsOnSecurity. “Some of our clients clamor for weaker login credentials, such as companies that have a large staff of temporary workers.”

Kane said customers have a “wide range of options” to select from in choosing how they will authenticate to Greenshades.com, but that the most secure option currently offered is a simple username and password.

When asked whether the company offers any sort of two-step or two-factor authentication, Kane argued that corporate email addresses assigned to company employees serve as a kind of second factor.

“In this case, the second factor would be having access to that corporate inbox,” Kane reasoned. He added that Greenshades is working on rolling out a 2-factor authentication feature that may not be optional going forward.

Kane said that although Greenshades heard from a “significant number” of its customers about unauthorized access to employee records, the company believes the overall percentage of affected employees at individual customer organizations was low.

However, in at least some of the reported incidents tied to this mess at Greenshades, the overall percentage has been quite high. In the case of the Lower Platt North NRD, for example, 90 percent of employees had their taxes filed fraudulently this year.

It’s remarkable that a company which specializes in helping firms manage sensitive tax and payroll data could be so lax with authentication. Unfortunately, shoddy authentication is still quite common — even among banks. In February, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based First National Bank alerted customers gained through a recent merger with Metro Bank that they could access the company’s bill pay and electronic banking portal by supplying their Metro Bank username and the last four digits of their Social Security number.

A letter from First National Bank to its customers.

A letter from First National Bank to its customers.

Relying on static data elements like SSNs and birthdays for authentication is a horrible idea all around. These data points are no longer secret because they are broadly available for sale on most Americans, and companies have no business using them for authentication.

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