Security

Research: Industrial Networks Are Vulnerable To Devastating Cyberattacks 44 44

Patrick O'Neill writes: New research into Industrial Ethernet Switches reveals a wide host of vulnerabilities that leave critical infrastructure facilities open to attackers. Many of the vulnerabilities reveal fundamental weaknesses: Widespread use of default passwords, hardcoded encryption keys, a lack of proper authentication for firmware updates, a lack of encrypted connections, and more. Combined with a lack of network monitoring, researchers say the situation showcases "a massive lack of security awareness in the industrial control systems community."
Supercomputing

Obama's New Executive Order Says the US Must Build an Exascale Supercomputer 141 141

Jason Koebler writes: President Obama has signed an executive order authorizing a new supercomputing research initiative with the goal of creating the fastest supercomputers ever devised. The National Strategic Computing Initiative, or NSCI, will attempt to build the first ever exascale computer, 30 times faster than today's fastest supercomputer. Motherboard reports: "The initiative will primarily be a partnership between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation, which will be designing supercomputers primarily for use by NASA, the FBI, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and NOAA. Each of those agencies will be allowed to provide input during the early stages of the development of these new computers."
Security

Tools Coming To Def Con For Hacking RFID Access Doors 21 21

jfruh writes: Next month's Def Con security conference will feature, among other things, new tools that will help you hack into the RFID readers that secure doors in most office buildings. RFID cards have been built with more safeguards against cloning; these new tools will bypass that protection by simply hacking the readers themselves. ITWorld reports that Francis Brown, a partner at the computer security firm Bishop Fox, says: "...his aim is to make it easier for penetration testers to show how easy it is to clone employee badges, break into buildings and plant network backdoors—without needing an electrical engineering degree to decode the vagaries of near-field communication (NFC) and RFID systems."
China

What Federal Employees Really Need To Worry About After the Chinese Hack 108 108

HughPickens.com writes: Lisa Rein writes in the Washington Post that a new government review of what the Chinese hack of sensitive security clearance files of 21 million people means for national security is in — and some of the implications are quite grave. According to the Congressional Research Service, covert intelligence officers and their operations could be exposed and high-resolution fingerprints could be copied by criminals. Some suspect that the Chinese government may build a database of U.S. government employees that could help identify U.S. officials and their roles or that could help target individuals to gain access to additional systems or information. National security concerns include whether hackers could have obtained information that could help them identify clandestine and covert officers and operations (PDF).

CRS says that if the fingerprints in the background investigation files are of high enough quality, "depending on whose hands the fingerprints come into, they could be used for criminal or counterintelligence purposes." Fingerprints also could be trafficked on the black market for profit — or used to blow the covers of spies and other covert and clandestine officers, the research service found. And if they're compromised, fingerprints can't be reissued like a new credit card, the report says, making "recovery from the breach more challenging for some."
vivaoporto Also points out that these same hackers are believed to be responsible for hacking United Airlines.
Android

Maliciously Crafted MKV Video Files Can Be Used To Crash Android Phones 82 82

itwbennett writes: Just days after publication of a flaw in Android's Stagefright, which could allow attackers to compromise devices with a simple MMS message, researchers have found another Android media processing flaw. The latest vulnerability is located in Android's mediaserver component, more specifically in how the service handles files that use the Matroska video container (MKV), Trend Micro researchers said. "When the process opens a malformed MKV file, the service may crash (and with it, the rest of the operating system). The vulnerability is caused by an integer overflow when the mediaserver service parses an MKV file. It reads memory out of buffer or writes data to NULL address when parsing audio data."
Privacy

Kentucky Man Arrested After Shooting Down Drone 1019 1019

McGruber writes: Hillview, Kentucky resident William H. Merideth describes his weekend: "Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard. And they come in and said, 'Dad, there's a drone out here, flying over everybody's yard.'" Merideth's neighbors saw it too. "It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter. Merideth grabbed his shotgun and waited to see if the drone crossed over his property. When it did, he took aim and shot it out of the sky.

The owners showed up shortly, and the police right after. He was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment before being released the next day. Merideth says he will pursue legal action against the drone's owner, "He didn't just fly over. If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing -- but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right. You know, when you're in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy. We don't know if he was looking at the girls. We don't know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing."
Security

Hacking a 'Smart' Sniper Rifle 59 59

An anonymous reader writes: It was inevitable: as soon as we heard about computer-aimed rifles, we knew somebody would find a way to compromise their security. At the upcoming Black Hat security conference, researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger will present their techniques for doing just that. "Their tricks can change variables in the scope's calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope's computer, or even prevent the gun from firing." In one demonstration they were able to tweak the rifle's ballistic calculations by making it think a piece of ammunition weighed 72 lbs instead of 0.4 ounces. After changing this value, the gun tried to automatically adjust for the weight, and shot significantly to the left. Fortunately, they couldn't find a way to make the gun fire without physically pulling the trigger.
Windows

Windows 10 Launches 282 282

An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft officially released Windows 10 in 190 countries as a free upgrade for anyone with Windows 7 or later. Major features include Continuum (which brings back the start menu and lets you switch between a keyboard/mouse UI and a touch UI without forcing you into one or the other), the Cortana digital assistant, the Edge browser, virtual desktops, DirectX 12 support, universal apps, an Xbox app, and security improvements. Reviews of the operating system generally consider it an improvement over Windows 8.1, despite launch-day bugs. Peter Bright writes, "Windows 8 felt unfinished, but it was an unfinished thought. ... Windows 10 feels unfinished, but in a different way. The concept of the operating system is a great deal better than its predecessor. It's better in fact than all of its predecessors. ... For all my gripes, it's the right idea, and it's implemented in more or less the right way. But I think it's also buggier than Windows 8.1, 8, 7, or Vista were on their respective launch days." Tom Warren draws similar conclusions: "During my testing on a variety of hardware, I've run into a lot of bugs and issues — even with the version that will be released to consumers on launch day. ... Everything about Windows 10 feels like a new approach for Microsoft, and I'm confident these early bugs and issues will be addressed fairly quickly."
Bug

Honeywell Home Controllers Open To Any Hacker Who Can Find Them Online 83 83

Trailrunner7 writes: Security issues continue to crop up within the so-called "smart home." A pair of vulnerabilities have been reported for the Tuxedo Touch controller made by Honeywell, a device that's designed to allow users to control home systems such as security, climate control, lighting, and others. The controller, of course, is accessible from the Internet. Researcher Maxim Rupp discovered that the vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to take arbitrary actions, including unlocking doors or modifying the climate controls in the house.
Security

Video Veteran IT Journalist Worries That Online Privacy May Not Exist (Video) 43 43

Tom Henderson is a long-time observer of the IT scene, complete with scowl and grey goatee. And cynicism. Tom is a world-class cynic, no doubt about it. Why? Cover enterprise IT security and other computing topics long enough for big-time industry publications like ITWorld and its IDG brethren, and you too may start to think that no matter what you do, your systems will always have (virtual) welcome mats in front of them, inviting crackers to come in and have a high old time with your data.

Note: Alert readers have probably noticed that we talked with Tom about cloud security back in March. Another good interview, worth seeing (or reading).
Government

Two Years Later, White House Responds To 'Pardon Edward Snowden' Petition 578 578

An anonymous reader writes: In June of 2013, a petition was posted to Whitehouse.gov demanding that Edward Snowden receive a full pardon for his leaks about the NSA and U.S. surveillance practices. The petition swiftly passed 100,000 signatures — the point at which the White House said it would officially respond to such petitions. For two years, the administration was silent, but now they've finally responded. In short: No, Edward Snowden won't be receiving a pardon.

Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it. If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions."
Chrome

Chrome Extension Thwarts User Profiling Based On Typing Behavior 60 60

An anonymous reader writes: Per Thorsheim, the founder of PasswordsCon, created and trained a biometric profile of his keystroke dynamics using the Tor browser at a demo site. He then switched over to Google Chrome and not using the Tor network, and the demo site correctly identified him when logging in and completing a demo financial transaction. Infosec consultant Paul Moore came up with a working solution to thwart this type of behavioral profiling. The result is a Chrome extension called Keyboard Privacy, which prevents profiling of users by the way they type by randomizing the rate at which characters reach the DOM. A Firefox version of the plugin is in the works.
Security

Your Stolen Identity Goes For $20 On the Internet Black Market 57 57

HughPickens.com writes: Keith Collins writes at Quartz that the going rate for a stolen identity is about twenty bucks on the internet black market. Collins analyzed hundreds of listings for a full set of someone's personal information—identification number, address, birthdate, etc., known as "fullz" that were put up for sale over the past year, using data collected by Grams, a search engine for the dark web. The listings ranged in price from less than $1 to about $450, converted from bitcoin. The median price for someone's identity was $21.35. The most expensive fullz came from a vendor called "OsamaBinFraudin," and listed a premium identity with a high credit score for $454.05. Listings on the lower end were typically less glamorous and included only the basics, like the victim's name, address, social security number, perhaps a mother's maiden name. Marketplaces on the dark web, not unlike eBay, have feedback systems for vendors ("cheap and good A+"), refund policies (usually stating that refunds are not allowed), and even well-labeled sections. "There is no shortage of hackers willing to do about anything, computer related, for money," writes Elizabeth Clarke. "and they are continually finding ways to monetize personal and business data."
Security

Air-Gapped Computer Hacked (Again) 80 80

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Ben Gurion University managed to extract GSM signals from air gapped computers using only a simple cellphone. According to Yuval Elovici, head of the University’s Cyber Security Research Center, the air gap exploit works because of the fundamental way that computers put out low levels of electromagnetic radiation. The attack requires both the targeted computer and the mobile phone to have malware installed on them. Once the malware has been installed on the targeted computer, the attack exploits the natural capabilities of each device to exfiltrate data using electromagnetic radiation.
Security

Hacker Set To Demonstrate 60 Second Brinks Safe Hack At DEFCON 147 147

darthcamaro writes: Ok so we know that Chrysler cars will be hacked at Black Hat, Android will be hacked at DEFCON with Stagefright, and now word has come out that a pair of security researchers plan on bringing a Brinks safe onstage at DEFCON to demonstrate how it can be digitally hacked. No this isn't some kind of lockpick, but rather a digital hack, abusing the safe's exposed USB port. And oh yeah, it doesn't hurt that the new safe is running Windows XP either.
Android

950 Million Android Phones Can Be Hijacked By Malicious Text Messages 120 120

techtech writes: According to security firm Zimperium a flaw called "Stagefright" in Google's Android operating system can allow hackers take over a phone with a message even if the user doesn't open it. The vulnerability affects about 950 million Android devices. In a blog post Zimperium researchers wrote: "A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification. These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited. Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual—with a trojaned phone."
Android

'Stagefright' Flaw: Compromise Android With Just a Text 201 201

An anonymous reader writes: Up to 950 million Android phones may be vulnerable to a new exploit involving the Stagefright component of Android, which lets attackers compromise a device through a simple multimedia text — even before the recipient sees it. Researchers from Zimperium zLabs reported the related bugs to Google in April. Google quickly accepted a patch and distributed it to manufacturers, but the researchers say they don't think the manufacturers have yet passed it on to most consumers.

"The weaknesses reside in Stagefright, a media playback tool in Android. They are all "remote code execution" bugs, allowing malicious hackers to infiltrate devices and exfiltrate private data. All attackers would need to send out exploits would be mobile phone numbers, Drake noted. From there, they could send an exploit packaged in a Stagefright multimedia message (MMS), which would let them write code to the device and steal data from sections of the phone that can be reached with Stagefright's permissions. That would allow for recording of audio and video, and snooping on photos stored in SD cards. Bluetooth would also be hackable via Stagefright."
Security

Steam Bug Allowed Password Resets Without Confirmation 57 57

An anonymous reader writes: Valve has fixed a bug in their account authentication system that allowed attackers to easily reset the password to a Steam account. When a Steam user forgets a password, he goes to an account recovery page and asks for a reset. The page then sends a short code to the email address registered with the account. The problem was that Steam wasn't actually checking the codes sent via email. Attackers could simply request a reset and then submit a blank field when prompted for the code. Valve says the bug was active from July 21-25. A number of accounts were compromised, including some prominent streamers and Dota 2 pros. Valve issued password resets to those accounts with "suspicious" changes over the past several days.
Security

A Plea For Websites To Stop Blocking Password Managers 364 364

An anonymous reader writes: Password managers aren't a security panacea, but experts widely agree that it's better to use one than to have weak (but easy-to-remember) passwords. Just this week, they were listed as a tool non-experts don't use as much as experts do. I use one, and a pet peeve of mine is when a website specifically (or through bad design) interferes with the copying and pasting of a password. Thus, I appreciated this rant about it in Wired: "It's unacceptable that in an age where our lives are increasingly being played out online, and are sometimes only protected by a password, some sites deliberately stop their users from being as secure as possible, for no really justifiable reason."
Operating Systems

HardenedBSD Completes Strong ASLR Implementation 65 65

New submitter HardenedBSD writes: A relatively new fork of FreeBSD, HardenedBSD, has completed its Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) feature. Without ASLR, applications are loaded into memory in a deterministic manner. An attacker who knows where a vulnerability lies in memory can reliably exploit that vulnerability to manipulate the application into doing the attacker's bidding. ASLR removes the determinism, making it so that even if an attacker knows that a vulnerability exists, he doesn't know where that vulnerability lies in memory. HardenedBSD's particular implementation of ASLR is the strongest form ever implemented in any of the BSDs.

The next step is to update documentation and submit updates to the patches they have already submitted upstream to FreeBSD. ASLR is the first step in a long list of exploit mitigation technologies HardenedBSD plans to implement.