Ruinous Text Format; watch those attachments!

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: rtf, microsoft, outlook, word, fud

Users of Microsoft Word 2003 to the current version on PC or the 2011 version for Mac, which means any version of Outlook or other Microsoft application in which Word is the default text editor may want to avoid RTF attachments for the next while.  There is an exploit in the wild which could allow a nefariously modified RTF file to give an attacker access to the machine which it was opened on at the same level as the user.  This does mean that those who follow the advice of most Windows admins and do not log in to an administrator level account for day to day work need not worry overly but those who ignore the advice may find themselves compromised.  As The Register points out, just previewing the attachment in Outlook is enough to trigger a possible infection.

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"Microsoft has warned its Word software is vulnerable to a newly discovered dangerous bug – which is being exploited right now in "limited, targeted attacks" in the wild. There is no patch available at this time."

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Source: The Register

Blackbery has your full IMAP/POP3 creds, next up the Pontiff's headgear and the defecation habits of Ursi

Subject: General Tech | July 18, 2013 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, fud

This story at Slashdot looks to be just the kind of FUD to spread to major news networks and talking heads everywhere, so before you get involved in the upcoming discussion know that this is how Blackberry, nee RIM, has always functioned.  POP3 and IMAP connections are not done over your BES as ActiveSync traffic and the classic Exchange interface of pre-BB10 were and if you are not using SSL or TLS then you should already know that your credentials are sent unencrypted; if you were not aware of this you should Google SSL and TLS to learn exactly what those security protocols are for.

In a corporate environment, traffic to and from the BES is encrypted actually much more secure than most email traffic over the net and for companies hosting their own BES all Blackberry did was provide direction for network traffic, though this did mean issues at RIM could and did interfere with email delivery.  If you had RIM host your BES, then obviously they had all your email credentials stored on a server they owned, though encrypted and not plain text, how else would the BES be able to push email from your Exchange server to your Blackberry.

For POP3 and IMAP traffic, RIM needs your credentials for the same reason, to be able to push email to your device instead of your device having to log into a server and pull email down.  ActiveSync is how the new Blackberry OS connects to your Exchange environment and utilizes the security designed specifically for that protocol and thus your login credentials are secured, this 'discovery' does not apply to that traffic.  On the other hand, if you are using non-ActiveSync email for your company, do not utilize SSL or TLS and created an email for your administrator account which is associated with a Blackberry ... you should be worried and frankly replaced by someone with a basic grasp of security.

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"How a phone manufacturer making a somewhat successful come-back can shoot itself in the foot: Marc "van Hauser" Heuse, who works for German technology magazine Heise, has discovered that immediately after setting up an email account on Blackberry 10 OS, full credentials for that account are sent to Research In Motion, the Canadian Blackberry manufacturer. Shortly after performing the set-up, the first successful connections from a server located within the RIM domain appear in the mail server's logs."

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Source: Slashdot

The continuing decline in desktop sales

Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2013 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: fud, desktops, pc sales

For the fifth quarter in a row, traditional desktops and laptop have seen a decline in sales globally.  This mostly represents a shift in purchasing habits as opposed to an actual decline in the sales of electronics.  Desktops have declined in sales since laptops became much more affordable and a decent alternative for light users who have no need for a powerful desktop.  Now that tablets and smartphones are capable of providing the same experience to many users as a desktop or notebook, consumers are purchasing those devices which has lead to the perceived drop in sales.  No matter what the various talking heads may claim the desktop is not dead, no tablet on the planet can play Crysis nor will it handle SPSS.  Check out the comments at Slashdot for more entertaining thoughts on the supposed death of the desktop.

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"Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the 'longest duration of decline' in history. Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner. PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets. Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies. 'In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC,' said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement."

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Source: Slashdot

Beiber can be used for evil

Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: cell phone, security, fud

If you are feeling safe and secure using your cellphone in public, some research out of the University of Alabama will shatter that confidence for you.  It seems that it is possible to use sound as a trigger to activate malware from a distance, even over low quality speakers.  You already know about Shazam and other apps you can use to identify songs simply by holding up your cellphone and have it successfully connect to a remote database to get the song data, even in a loud room.  This research shows that a previously infected phone could have dormant malware installed which can be remotely activated simply by music with a hidden message contained within it, inaudible to human ears.  Pair this with the known Autoconnect to Saved WiFi Profiles vulnerability and your phone could very easily start leaking information you would much rather keep private.   Follow the links from The Register to read the research paper and reactions to it.

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"Security researchers have discovered that specific music, lighting, vibrations or magnetic fields could all be used as infection channels to trigger the activation of mobile malware on a massive scale.

The paper, titled Sensing-Enabled Channels for Hard-to-Detect Command and Control of Mobile Devices, was presented in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou earlier this month by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)."

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Source: The Register

A second tale of doom and gloom for the PC market

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2013 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: fud, sales

Last week we saw a report describing the downturn in PC sales and it has been repeated today in a report from Gartner.  With a global decline of sales this quarter totalling over 10% compared to the first quarter of 2012 the trend of falling PC sales continues for the fourth quarter in a row.  It seems that tablets and smartphones are making headway into the market and many people who would have purchased an inexpensive TV for surfing and other light-duty tasks are satisfied with a smaller mobile device.  In the US the decline was a hair under 10% and only Apple and Lenovo showed any growth.  Get the full global breakdown at DigiTimes.

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"Worldwide PC shipments totaled 79.2 million units in the first quarter of 2013, a 11.2% decline from the first quarter of 2012, according to Gartner. Global PC shipments went below 80 million units for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. All regions showed a decrease in shipments, with the EMEA region experiencing the steepest decline."

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Source: DigiTimes

Javascript + Adobe; you got your exploit in my vulnerability ...

Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2013 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: Adobe, firefox, pdf, javascript, fud

What could possibly go wrong by combining two of malwares most favourite security holes into one?  With FoxIt recently sprouting leaks and Adobe's continual duct taping of it's Reader, reading PDFs online is a great way to catch something nasty. Then again, there is always malformed Javascript commands and links which are another very popular way to give your PC a cybernetically transmitted disease.  The new Firefox combines the two in their latest version, 19.0, which is currently in beta testing and it uses an open sourced Javascript add on to open PDFs online, which will likely improve the responsiveness and loading time of PDF links.  The real question won't be answered until use of this new add on becomes commonplace and we find out if the two combine into some a gaping new hole into your PC or if somehow mismatched vulnerabilities will combine to create an actual secure way to read PDFs.  Then again, maybe it will not introduce anything new at all.  More at The Register or grab the latest Firefox and try it yourself.

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"Mozilla's Firefox web browser now includes a built-in PDF viewer - allowing users to bin plugins from Adobe and other developers.

The move to run third-party PDF file readers out of town comes after security holes were discovered in closed-source add-ons from FoxIt and Adobe. The new built-in document viewer is open source, just like Firefox, and is written in JavaScript."

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Source: The Register

Want some Raspberry Pi with a side of hashes?

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2013 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: WPAD, security, Raspberry Pi, fud

On this weeks Podcast, Ryan wondered what he could do with his new Raspberry Pi and Hack a Day has an idea for him, though it is a wee bit nefarious.  It seems that Travis over at MADSEC is using a Raspberry Pi in penetration testing, using the NetBIOS Name Service to get responses from the Web Proxy Auto-Discovery Protocol (WPAD); responses which can include LM hashes from Windows machines.  With the use of Rainbow tables you can crack those hashes and take control of existing accounts on the PCs.  This type of attack is well know, but automating the attack on something as small and easily modifiable as a Raspberry Pi adds a new layer.  Whether you use it for good or evil, you can read more about it at Hack a Day.

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"Plug in the power and Ethernet and this Raspberry Pi board will automatically collect Windows hashes from computers on the network. With a couple of RPi boards on hand [Travis] was searching for more hacks to try with them. This made a great little test to see how the board performs with the well established attack."

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Source: Hack a Day

OCZ might have made some money ... maybe ... we think so anyways ... possibly (UPDATED)

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: fud, ocz, income, doom

OCZ is hours away from being delisted from the stock exchange and it will be very difficult for them to make the deadline as they have to submit a plan detailing how they will provide an accurate accounting of their quarterly profits by Feb 28th.  This is a bit of a problem considering that they do not seem to have submitted an accurate profit statement since Q1 of 2012 at the most recent.  In Q2 Ryan Petersen originally forecasted profits between $110-120m but after Petersen left and Ralph Schmitt took over those predicted profits dropped drastically to somewhere around $65-$85m, not accurate enough for Wells Fargo to consider it a proper financial statement.  From what The Register has learned, OCZ cannot estimate Q2 or Q3 earnings at this time, nor are they quite sure what the economic impact incentive programme liabilities and inventory run-down charges will have.  Things do not look good.

UPDATE

We heard from OCZ that they have indeed been working hard with Crowe Horwath LLP on getting their preliminary results for 2012 and Q1 of 2013 ready for the market.  It was also brought to our attention that the Nasdaq is permitted to grant an extension of up to 180 days, which would be April 8th, for the Company to regain compliance with the SEC and other institutions.  This lessens the danger that OCZ faces and while the stock has tumbled a bit over the past few months as of this update they are at $2.09/share, flat for the days trading, traders are exhibiting confidence in the company.  According to Seeking Alpha last night it was announced that "The Company estimates that its quarterly revenue will range between $65 million to $85 million in each quarter for the second and third fiscal quarters of 2013."  That is still a wide variance but you should not count OCZ out quite yet.  We will continue to keep an eye on the market and OCZ's responses.

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"Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers noted there was no announcement of a filing of the required Nasdaq update plan today. Unless that is handed in on time, OCZ is out of Nasdaq and, as a result, getting bank credit will be much more difficult. Wells Fargo could wave goodbye and consign OCZ to the scrap heap in a forced asset sale. This is about as bad as it gets, but OCZ's survival is still possible."

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Source: The Register

Samsung tops Apple for both buying chips and malware

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2013 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, apple, andriod, Malware, fud

The good news for Samsung last year is that it bought $23.9bn worth of semiconductor orders in 2012, while Apple ordered a mere $21.4bn which implies that Samsung is buying more chips than Apple, or perhaps is just getting a worse deal.  If the information from Gartner that The Inquirer picked up on is correct, Samsung accounted for 8% of the total semiconductor market in 2012, a very impressive feat.  That is more than Dell and HP's market share combined which supports the theory that the falling sales we saw in PCs was not reflected at all in the smartphone and tablet markets. 

Unfortunately that success comes at a price as Samsung's OS of choice, Android, is expected to see more than one million malware threats by the end of 2013.  According to Trend Micro there were about 350,000 malware threats over 2012 with only one in five Android devices actually having any sort of security software installed.  Perhaps it is time to start thinking more about protecting your phone, especially if you have banking apps or the so called "pay by bonk" enabled on your phone.

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"Apple, thanks in large part to its hugely popular iPhone and iPad products, was the largest consumer of semiconductor chips, that is, until 2012. Gartner claims that Samsung has overtaken Apple to become the largest semiconductor user with eight percent of all chips sold going to the firm."

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Source: The Inquirer

That safe and secure Foxit plugin you use?

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: pdf, foxit, security, fud

The Register has some bad news about that PDF reader you prefer to Adobe's software, a new vulnerability which does not even stem from booby-trapped document but from a long link name.  It seems that you can cause a buffer overflow in Foxit simply by copying the entire URL into a fixed-sized buffer when the user clicks on a PDF which "pretty much lets you write to a memory location of your choice".  5.4.4.1128 and older version are vulnerable and we have yet to hear from the creators of Foxit.  Looks like no PDF reader is safe at this point.

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"A new security bug in the popular Foxit PDF reader plugin for web browsers allows miscreants to compromise computers and install malware. There's no patch for this zero-day vulnerability.

Italian security researcher Andrea Micalizzi discovered that the latest version of the software crashes if users are tricked into clicking on an overly long web link. The plugin is kicked into action by the browser to handle the file and promptly bombs."

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Source: The Register