November 26, 2014

Apple release iOS 8.1 and Apple TV 7.0.1 with new security patches

Apple-logo(LiveHacking.Com) – Apple has released iOS 8.1, primarily to activate Apple Pay, but also to patch five CVE-listed vulnerabilities including fixes for a Bluetooth flaw and  a fix for the infamous SSL 3.0 POODLE security vulnerability.

POODLE (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption) is the moniker given to a flaw in the SSL 3.0 protocol. SSL 3.0 is considered old and obsolete. It has been replaced by its successors TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2. However many system still support SSL 3.0 for compatibility reasons. Many systems retry failed secure connections with older protocol versions, including SSL 3.0. This means that a hacker can trigger the use of SSL 3.0 and try to exploit POODLE.

The vulnerability only exists when the SSL 3.0 cipher suite uses a block cipher in CBC mode. As a result, Apple has disabled CBC cipher suites when TLS connection attempts fail in iOS 8.1.

Apple also fixed a flaw would could allow a malicious Bluetooth device to bypass pairing. According to Apple, “unencrypted connections were permitted from Human Interface Device-class Bluetooth Low Energy accessories. If an iOS device had paired with such an accessory, an attacker could spoof the legitimate accessory to establish a connection. The issue was addressed by denying unencrypted HID connections.”

With the recent spate of leaked celebrity photos, Apple’s iCloud service has remained under the spotlight. According to Apple a flaw has been fixed which could allow an attacker in a privileged network position to force iCloud data access clients to leak sensitive information. The problem is connected with a TLS certificate validation vulnerability that existed in the iCloud data access clients on previous versions of iOS.

Apple TV 7.0.1

The update to Apple TV is smaller than the changes to iOS, however just as significant. Like the iOS 8.1 release, Apple TV 7.0.1 denies unencrypted HID connections to block malicious Bluetooth input devices that try to bypass pairing. iOS 8.1 also disables CBC cipher suites when TLS connection attempts fail, this is needed to stop hackers trying to exploit the POODLE flaw in SSL 3.0.

Apple TV will periodically check for software updates and will install the update on the next check. However if you want to manually check for software updates go to “Settings -> General -> Update Software”.

Alleged Dropbox hack underlines danger of reusing passwords

Dropbox(LiveHacking.Com) – News broke yesterday of an alleged hack on Dropbox that could have potentially leaked the passwords of millions of users. An anonymous hacker posted a few hundred usernames and passwords on Pastebin and claimed that they were for Dropbox accounts. The leaked list is for accounts with email addresses starting with the letter “b”. The opening text stated that Dropbox had been hacked and that the hacker had access to some 6,937,081 credentials. The hacker then asked for Bitcoin donations in exchange for more leaked passwords.

Dropbox was swift to reply to the allegations and said that recent news articles claiming that it was hacked weren’t true. “The usernames and passwords referenced in these articles were stolen from unrelated services, not Dropbox. Attackers then used these stolen credentials to try to log in to sites across the internet, including Dropbox,” wrote Anton Mityagin from Dropbox.

In a further update Dropbox said it had also checked a subsequent list of usernames and passwords that had been posted online, and that the second list was also not associated with Dropbox accounts.

If Dropbox is telling the whole truth, then it seems likely that the hackers have generated a list of user names and passwords from previous security breaches on non-Dropbox related sites and have tried their luck to see which users are using the same password on multiple sites. “Attacks like these are one of the reasons why we strongly encourage users not to reuse passwords across services,” added Mityagin.

Dropbox users who have used the same password on their Dropbox account and on another websites should change their Dropbox password immediately. For an added layer of security, Dropbox users can also enable 2 step verification.

Source code for BadUSB vulnerability posted on GitHub

usb-flash-drive(LiveHacking.Com) – Back in August, security researchers  Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell demonstrated how a USB device can be reprogrammed and used to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. Dubbed BadUSB, the pair published their findings during the Black Hat conference, however they did not publish the source code or the reversed engineered firmware needed to perform the attack. Nohl and Lell said they did not release code in order to give firms making USB-controller firmware time to work out how to combat the problem.

Now two other researchers, Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson have done their own research on BadUSB and produced code that can be used to exploit it. The source-code can be found on Github. Unlike Nohl and Lell, Caudill and Wilson think it is in the public’s interest to release the source code for public consumption.

“We’re releasing everything we’ve done here, nothing is being held back,” said Mr Wilson during his presentation at DerbyCon. “We believe that this information should not be limited to a select few as others have treated it. It needs to be available to the public.”

The BBC contacted Karsten Nohl about the new release, he said that “full disclosure” can motivate USB device makers to improve the security on their devices. However he also noted that the problem with BadUSB is not one particular device but rather, “the standard itself is what enables the attack and no single vendor is in a position to change that.” He added that, “it is unclear who would feel pressured to improve their products by the recent release.”

According to the GitHub page for the new source-code the following devices can be reprogrammed and used as attack vectors:

  • Patriot 8GB Supersonic Xpress
  • Kingston DataTraveler 3.0 T111 8GB
  • Silicon power marvel M60 64GB
  • Toshiba TransMemory-MX™ Black 16 GB
  • Patriot Stellar 64 Gb Phison

Researchers at Black Hat conference demo USB’s fatal flaw

usb-flash-drive(LiveHacking.Com) – Security experts Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell have demonstrated how any USB device can be reprogrammed and used to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge.

During a presentation at the Black Hat Security conference, and in a subsequent interview with the BBC, the duo have raised the question about the future security of USB devices.

As part of the demo, a normal looking smartphone was connected to a laptop, maybe something a friend or colleague might ask you to do so they can charge the device. But the smartphone was modified to present itself as a network card and not a USB media device. The result was that the malicious software on the phone was able to redirect traffic from legitimate web sites to shadow servers, which fake and the look and feel of the genuine sites, but are actually designed just to steal login credentials.

According to a blog entry posted by the pair, USB’s great versatility is also its Achilles heel. “Since different device classes can plug into the same connectors, one type of device can turn into a more capable or malicious type without the user noticing,” wrote the researchers.

The experts, who work for Security Research Labs in Germany, gave a presentation at the Black Hat conference called “BadUSB — On accessories that turn evil.” Every USB device has a micro-controller that isn’t visible to the user. It is responsible for talking with the host device (e.g. a PC) and interfacing with the actual hardware. The firmware for these microcontrollers is different on every USB device and what the micro-controller software does is different on every device. Webcams, keyboards, network interfaces, smartphones and flash drives all perform different tasks and the software is developed accordingly.

However, the team managed to reverse engineer and hack the firmware on different devices in under two months. As a result they can re-program the devices and get them to act as something they are not.

During their Black Hat presentation, a standard USB drive was inserted into a computer. Malicious code implanted on the stick tricked the PC into thinking a keyboard had been plugged in. The fake keyboard then began typing in commands – and forced the computer to download malware from the internet.

Defending against this type of attack includes tactics like code-signing of the micro-controller firmware updates or the disabling of firmware changes in hardware. However these must all be implemented by the USB device makers and isn’t something that end users can enforce.

You can download the slides from the presentation here: https://srlabs.de/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SRLabs-BadUSB-BlackHat-v1.pdf

Presentation on how to break Tor removed from Black Hat schedule

Tor project logo(LiveHacking.Com) – A highly anticipated briefing about a low-cost technique for de-anonymising Tor users has been removed from the Black Hat 2014 talk schedule for as-yet unknown reasons. The talk, which would have presented a method on how to identify Tor users, was cancelled at the request of attorneys for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where the speakers work as researchers.

The spokesperson for the conference, which is running in Las Vegas on August 6-7, said that a Carnegie Mellon attorney informed Black Hat that one of the speakers could not give the Tor talk because the material he would reveal has not been approved for public release by the university or by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI).

The Onion Router (TOR) Project network was originally developed with the US Naval Research Laboratory as part of an investigation into privacy and cryptography on the Internet. Tor re-directs Internet traffic through a set of encrypted relays to conceal a user’s location or usage from anyone monitoring their network traffic. Using Tor makes it more difficult for online activity to be traced including “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms.”

According to Roger Dingledine, one of the original Tor developers, the project did not “ask Black Hat or CERT to cancel the talk. We did (and still
do) have questions for the presenter and for CERT about some aspects of the research, but we had no idea the talk would be pulled before the announcement was made.” He went on to say that the project encourages research on the Tor network along with responsible disclosure of all new and interesting attacks. “Researchers who have told us about bugs in the past have found us pretty helpful in fixing issues, and generally positive to work with,” he added.

Security researcher Alexander Volynkin was scheduled to give the talk titled ‘You Don’t Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget’ at the Black Hat conference. It would have outlined ways that individuals can try to find the original source of Tor traffic without the need for large amounts of computing power.

Phishing and cyber-attacks likely to rise during the World Cup

World-Cup-2014-logo(LiveHacking.Com) – As is often the case with large, well known events, cyber-criminals and spammers will be using the World Cup as a chance to steal more personal information and disrupt services in “cyber protests.”

According to TrendLabs phishing campaigns have intensified and are evening targeting Brazilian nationals in a attempt to steal from them during the fervor of the World Cup. Typical campaigns try to solicit information like credit card numbers or personal identifiable information (including name, date of birth and even national identity numbers), from unsuspecting victims. This data is later sold on the black market.

The example given by TrendLabs was for a $2.2 million lottery. As with legitimate lotteries you need to pay to enter. Since the lottery is a scam the credit details entered are harvested for sale. TrendLabs has  identified more than 80,000 people whose credentials have been stolen. Of those 83% had email address from providers with domain names in the .br top-level domain.

But it isn’t only phishing that will be increasing during the World Cup. According to reports by Reuters, the hacker group Anonymous is preparing cyber-attacks on the corporate sponsors of the World Cup.

“We have already conducted late-night tests to see which of the sites are more vulnerable,” said the hacker who operates under the alias of Che Commodore. “We have a plan of attack.”

The threats by Anonymous and the increased amount of phishing are just another problem for the Brazilian government. The event has been marred by delays in the building of the stadiums and widespread discontent among Brazilians over the excessive cost of hosting the event in a country.

Recently Anonymous attacked the Brazil’s Foreign Ministry computer networks and leaked dozens of confidential emails. In what is a massive security breach, Anonymous posted 333 Foreign Ministry documents including documents about the briefing of talks between Brazilian officials and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and a list of sport ministers that plan to attend the World Cup.

The World Cup 2014 kicks off on 12 June with a game between hosts Brazil and Croatia. The event continues until Sunday 13 July when the final will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

LulzSec Hacker Sabu helps stop over 300 cyber attacks

LulzSec(LiveHacking.Com) – Hector Xavier Monsegur, a.k.a. the hacker “Sabu,” the former “leader” of hacking group LulzSec has been helping the FBI prevent cyber attacks since his 2011 arrest. As a result the court has been petitioned to have his sentence greatly reduced.

According to court documents filed by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the work of Hector Xavier Monsegur has helped to prevent losses of millions of dollars. Under current sentencing guidelines Sabu could face prison time of up to 26 years for hacking companies like Fox Television, PBS, Sony, and Nintendo.

In addition to Sabu’s direct involvement in criminal hacking activities, he also had knowledge of other major criminal hacking activities, including hacks into the computer servers of the Irish political party Fine Gael and the Sony PlayStation Network.

Sabu was arrested in June 2011 and pleaded guilty, as part of a co-operation agreement with the US government. As part of that co-operation Sabu “proactively cooperated with ongoing Government investigations” and sometimes worked “literally around the clock.” The court documents also say that Sabu’s “cooperation was complex and sophisticated, and the investigations in which he participated required close and precise coordination with law enforcement officers in several locations.”

The FBI estimates that with Sabu’s help it was able to disrupt or prevent at least 300 separate computer hacks. The victims included divisions of the United States Government such as the United States Armed Forces, the United States Congress, the United States Courts, and NASA. Although difficult to quantify, it is likely that Sabu’s help prevented at least millions of dollars in loss to these victims.

Because of the extent of his help Sabu has received threats which meant the FBI needed to relocate the hacker and some members of his family, presumably under some form of witness protection scheme.

The court filings note that Sabu was repeatedly “approached on the street and threatened or menaced about his cooperation once it became publicly known. Monsegur was also harassed by individuals who incorrectly concluded that he participated in the Government’s prosecution of the operators of the Silk Road website.”

He is due to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Apple updates OS X, iOS, Apple TV and AirPort

Apple-logoApple has released a slew of updates for several of its key platforms to fix a range of security issues including some related to the OpenSSL HeartBleed bug. According to the release notes for AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.7.3, the new software contains a fix for an out-of-bounds memory issue in the OpenSSL library when handling TLS heartbeat extension packets (i.e. the HeartBleed bug). Only AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule base stations with 802.11ac are affected.

For iOS, Apple TV and OS X, Apple also released a set of patches one of which also applies to sessions protected by SSL. Known as a “triple handshake” attack, it was possible for an attacker to create two connections using the same keys and handshake. As a result an attacker could insert data into one connection and renegotiate so that the connections are forwarded to each other. To work around this scenario Apple has changed the SSL renegotiation code so that  the same server certificate needs to be presented as in the original connection.

The update to OS X is called Security Update 2014-002 and has various changes for  OS X 10.7 Lion, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.9 Mavericks. The changes are as follows:

  • Set-Cookie HTTP headers would be processed even if the connection closed before the header line was complete. An attacker could strip security settings from the cookie by forcing the connection to close before the security settings were sent, and then obtain the value of the unprotected cookie.
  • A format string issue existed in the CoreServicesUIAgent’s handling of URLs.
  • A buffer underflow existed in the handling of fonts in PDF files.
  • A reachable abort existed in the Heimdal Kerberos’ handling of ASN.1 data. This meant that a remote attacker could cause a denial of service.
  • A buffer overflow issue existed in ImageIO’s handling of JPEG images.
  • A validation issue existed in the Intel Graphics Driver’s handling of a pointer from userspace. As a result a malicious application could take control of the system.
  • A set of kernel pointers stored in an IOKit object could be retrieved from userland.
  • A kernel pointer stored in a XNU object could be retrieved from userland.
  • If a key was pressed or the trackpad touched just after the lid was closed, the system might have tried to wake up while going to sleep, which would have caused the screen to be unlocked. This issue was addressed by ignoring keypresses while going to sleep.
  • An integer overflow issue existed in LibYAML’s handling of YAML tags as used by Ruby.
  • A heap-based buffer overflow issue existed in Ruby when converting a string to a floating point value.
  • WindowServer sessions could be created by sandboxed applications.

Apple has also updated iOS 7 with the release of iOS 7.1.1. It patches the same Set-Cookie HTTP headers bug as found in OS X plus it updates WebKit (the HTML rendering engine used by mobile Safari) to fix a number of issues, many of which were found by Google (for its Chrome browser). The new Apple TV 6.1.1 firmware has the same changes as iOS 7.1.1 and addresses the Set-Cookie HTTP headers bug and also patches WebKit.

You can get more information on Apple’s security updates here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1222

NSA denies it knew about Heartbleed, says it is in the national interest for it to disclose vulnerabilities

odniIt looks like the ramifications of the Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL will be felt for quite a while to come. While security analysts are asking if the NSA had prior knowledge of the bug, cyber criminals are at work stealing data from sites which haven’t patched their servers and changed their SSL certificates. The Canadian Revenue Agency has said that the Heartbleed bug was the reason why an attacker was able to steal 900 social insurance numbers, and British parenting website Mumsnet said that username and password data used to authenticate users during log in was accessed before the site was able to patch its servers.

As for the NSA, the Director of National Intelligence has issued a statement saying that the NSA was not aware of the Heartbleed vulnerability until it was made public. The statement went on to say that the Federal government relies on OpenSSL the same as everyone else to protect the privacy of users of government websites and other online services.

However, what is even more important is that the statement categorically says that had the NSA, or any other of the agencies and organizations which make up the U.S. intelligence community, found the bug they would have reported it to the OpenSSL project.

“If the Federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL,” said the statement issued by the ODNI Public Affairs Office. The statement also said that when Federal agencies discover a new vulnerability “it is in the national interest to responsibly disclose the vulnerability rather than to hold it for an investigative or intelligence purpose.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence also said that in response to the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report that it had reinvigorated an interagency process for deciding when to share vulnerabilities.  According to the report, “The US Government should take additional steps to promote security, by (1) fully supporting and not undermining efforts to create encryption standards; (2) making clear that it will not in any way subvert, undermine, weaken, or make vulnerable generally available commercial encryption; and (3) supporting efforts to encourage the greater use of  encryption technology for data in transit, at rest, in the cloud, and in storage.” Such a statement is important following the accusations that the NSA tried (and succeeded) in weakening certain encryption standards.

The report also says that, “US policy should generally move to ensure that Zero Days are quickly blocked, so that the underlying vulnerabilities are patched on US Government and other networks. In  rare instances, US policy may briefly authorize using a Zero Day for high priority intelligence collection, following senior, interagency review involving all appropriate departments.”

This “rare” use of zero-day vulnerabilities was reiterated by the ODIN statement. “Unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need, this process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities.”

Heartbleed bug exposes OpenSSL’s secrets, patches available

heartbleedA serious security bug has been found in the ubiquitous OpenSSL encryption library that allows data to be stolen in its unencrypted form. According to the heartbleed.com website, which was set up expressly to inform system admins about the potential dangers, the Heartbleed bug can be exploited from the Internet and it allows an attacker to read up to 64k of the server’s memory at one time. By reading the memory an attacker can gain access to “the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic” along with “the names and passwords of the users and the actual content.” It means that attackers can eavesdrop communications that should have been otherwise encrypted.

A patched version of OpenSSL has already been published. According to the release notes, “a missing bounds check in the handling of the TLS heartbeat extension can be used to reveal up to 64k of memory” on a connected client or server. The OpenSSL project publicly thanked Neel Mehta of Google Security for discovering this bug and Adam Langley with Bodo Moeller for preparing the fix. It is recommended that all OpenSSL 1.0.1 users should upgrade to OpenSSL 1.0.1g. Those unable to immediately upgrade should recompile OpenSSL with -DOPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS. OpenSSL 1.0.0 and OpenSSL 0.9.8 are not vulnerable.

Heartbleed isn’t a design flaw in the SSL/TLS protocol specification but rather a bug in OpenSSL’s implementation of the TLS/DTLS (transport layer security protocols) heartbeat extension (RFC6520).

Because the bug can expose the keys used for encrypting the connection, attackers are able to decrypt any past and future traffic to the encrypted connection since the primary keys have been exposed. Unfortunately to remedy the problem, not only does the server require patching but all the compromised keys need to be revoked and new keys reissued. It also means that users who have used an encrypted service (say a web mail service, online shopping or cloud service) will need to change their passwords as potentially the connection used to log in was not secure.

One very worrying aspect of this bug is not only the widespread use of OpenSSL, but also that the first vulnerable version was published two years ago. If this bug has been previously found (but not disclosed) by cyber criminals or government run security agencies then the last two years worth of encrypted traffic should be deemed as exposed. Even if it wasn’t found but the traffic was recorded then there are probably lots of state level agencies working right now to siphon off keys from around the net before things are revoked and changed.