Java Releases Patch Addressing Vulnerability Used By McRat Trojan

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2013 - 06:26 AM |
Tagged: security, patch, mcrat trojan, Java, exploit

Java developer Oracle recently released a patch to its Java Platform Standard Edition client to address two exploits used by attackers to install the McRAT trojan onto users machines. Specifically, Oracle is issuing the patch for vulnerabilities CVE-2013-1493 and CVE-2013-0809.

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The vulnerabilities were related to Java running in a web browser. When users visit a malicious web site with vulnerable versions of Java installed, attackers are able to remote execute the McRAT trojan. That trojan was subsequently used to download additional malware to further compromise the machines in question. According to Oracle, the vulnerability was first discovered on February 1st, 2013 but did not make it in time to be rolled into that month’s scheduled update. As a result, Oracle slated it for inclusion in the Java platform update on April 16, 2013, but reconsidered after seeing exploits using these vulnerabilities in the wild. While servers and standalone Java installations are not affected, consumers will need to apply the patch via Java SE’s automatic updater or by manually installing the patch from this page. Currently, all Java SE versions prior to this patch are affected, including JDK and JRE 7 Update 15, 6 Update 41, and 5.0 Update 40 (or earlier).

Oracle states that the patch is a critically important update, and users should update as soon as possible. If you have not already applied the update (or given up on Java and uninstalled it completely--heh), start up Java and check for updates to grab the patch.

Source: Oracle

McAfee always checks the sandbox for feline footprints

Subject: General Tech | February 26, 2013 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: mcafee, security, RSA 2013, sandbox

McAfee has been showing off their stuff at RSA 2013 specifically the new heuristic malware detection capabilities which they will be using instead of their current malware signature database which has over 113 million core samples.  That signifies a huge change for the antivirus company as it moves to real time monitoring of all the processes on your machine for suspicious activity instead of matching patterns directly.  While this could lead to some interesting side effects for verification software such as you find in some games, McAfee claims 100% effectiveness against current rootkits on Intel hardware compatible with Deep Defender, though they did not give many specifics about that test to The Register.

That is not all they are up to, McAfee just purchased Validedge's sandboxing technology to allow them to watch malware as it arrives and infects a machine to allow them to study its patterns.  Strangely, The Inquirer mentions that they will be recording the signature so it is possible that it is an exaggeration that they are completely abandoning their signature database altogether and will be using a hybrid database and heuristic monitoring.  The first software using this new option will be available in the second half of this year.  Also briefly mentioned in the story is a suggestion that McAfee will be able to repair infected computers automatically via the ePO Agent.

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"Signature-based malware identification has been around since the dawn of the computer security industry, but McAfee has said it's dumping the system – or rather, adapting it – in an upgraded security suite which will (it claims) virtually eliminate susceptibility to botnets."

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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

Bad day for cellphone security

Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2013 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: Android, iOS 6, apple, security, FROST

Two different mobile phone security concerns were revealed today, one for devices using iOS 6.1 and one for Androids.  DailyTech has posted text instructions as well as linking to a video which shows how an iPhone 5's password protection can be completely bypassed and allow anyone with physical access to your phone to log into the phone with full access.  The second vulnerability, tested with Android 4.0 but possibly wide spread, was discovered by a team at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, and it allows you to recover  information from a phone which has used the Android disk encryption.  They used both a freezer to drop the temperature of the phone and a trick with the battery which puts the phone into 'fastboot' mode and allows the loading of a custom image via a Linux PC which installs their Forensic Recovery Of Scrambled Telephones tool, aka FROST.  As you can see from the images below, that gives you the ability to get the encryption key or even brute force some passwords. 

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"First part:
-Go to emergency call, push down the power button and tap cancel.
-Dial 112 and tap green and inmediately red.
-Go to lock screen.

Ok...ready for second part:
-Go to passcode screen.
-Keep pushing down the power button ...1...2...3...seconds and before showing the slider "turn off"...tap the emergency call button and ...voilá!
-Then without releasing the power button press the home button and ready..."

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Source: DailyTech

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

A light in the quantum cryptography tunnel

Subject: General Tech, Networking | November 21, 2012 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: quantum encryption, security

One of the biggest hurdles to implementing quantum cryptography has been vaulted, with researchers finding a way to transmit the key over a non-dedicated connection.  Previously because of the inherent noise in a fibre channel transmitting general data the key would be lost and so a separate fibre channel was needed which only the keys were able to transmit but thanks to researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Laboratory it is now possible to send the keys on existing fibre which also carries other data.  They have created a detector which can open for a mere 100 millionths of a micro-second and receive the key, with the detection window being so quick there is not time for noise to interfere and the wrong photon be detected as the key.  The Register reports they can transmit keys over a line running at 500kbps for 50km and still have the key properly detected.

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"Traditionally it has been necessary to use dedicated fibre to send the single photons (particles of light) that are required for Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). This has restricted any applications of quantum cryptography technology to specialist and small-scale systems in banks and high-level government, essentially because of the extra inconvenience and cost required in allocating a dedicated fibre strand for quantum key distribution."

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Source: The Register

Apple No Longer Updating Safari for Windows, Users Should Switch To A More Secure Browser

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2012 - 05:55 AM |
Tagged: windows, webkit, security, safari for windows, safari, browser, apple

The Apple-developed Safari is one of the least popular webkit-based browsers on Windows. Even so, it still commands 5% marketshare (across all platforms), and that is a problem. You see, many sites are reporting that Apple has dropped support for Safari on Windows. Windows users will not get the update to Safari 6–the new version available to Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 Mountain Lion users. As well, it seems that Apple has removed just about every reference to ever having a Windows version of any Safari browser from its website.

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Image Credit: MacLife

The issue is that the final version that Windows users are stuck with–version 5.1.7–has a number of documented security vulnerabilities that are never going to get patched by Apple. According to Maximum PC, there are at least 121 known security holes listed in Apple’s own documentation. And as time goes by, it is extremely likely that the number of unpatched security holes will increase. Running an outdated browser is not good security practice, and running a browser that is EOL and has known vulnerabilities is just asking for trouble.

While the number of PC Perspective readers running Safari for Windows is likely extremely small, I would advise that you be on the lookout next time you are doing tech support for your friends and relatives, and if they managed to get roped into using Safari thanks to Apple’s Itunes software updater convince them to move to a (dare I say better) more secure browser like Google’s Chrome, Opera, or Firefox. At least those are still getting updates, and some are even automatically done in the background.

Have you ever used Apple’s Safari for Windows browser? What would you recommend as the best alternative? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Forbes

Firefox 12 will be able to bypass UAC and possibly corporate security settings

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: UAC, security, firefox

One of the causes of the adoption of Google's Chrome browser in the workplace is that for the most part, since it installs under your user directory it can bypass the limited permissions on most business computers, letting the user install something without consulting IT.  This is a minor security concern as Chrome runs with limited permissions and is certainly not more inherently vulnerable than the old corporate standby, IE6.

According to The Inquirer Firefox will be starting to do something similar but with larger repercussions.  FireFox 12 will be whitelisted on UAC, allowing system level access to the program.  While this does mean that if they are successful users will be running up to date software and not require IT resources to upgrade FireFox every month or so, it also introduces a powerful attack vector for infections.  A silent FireFox update might not be from Mozilla and could instead be from malware online, creating a system vulnerability that the user is completely unaware of until obvious symptoms start to show, by which time it could be too late to stop the spread of an infection to the network or to clients machines.  The update is due out today, so keep a close eye on your FireFox installation for now.

 

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"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla will bypass Windows' user account control (UAC) to implement silent updating in its Firefox 12 web browser.

Mozilla's Firefox 12 is expected to be released today, and the outfit claims it will bypass Windows UAC in order to enable silent updating. Since Mozilla put Firefox on its rapid release schedule, it has put out new versions of the web browser every six weeks, leading some users to complain about the number of releases."

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Source: The Inquirer

You might want to rethink enabling RDP unless you have NLA set up

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2012 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: remote desktop protocol, patch tuesday, fud, rdp, security

Remote Desktop Protocol is a very handy tool, as the name suggests it allows you to take remote control of a desktop and is commonly used for everything from logging into a remote server to change settings to helping a long distance friend to get their printer installed to logging onto your home machine to start a Steam download and install so your game will be ready for you when you get home from work.  Unfortunately it does open up a way into your PC for attackers, though thanks to the Network Level Authentication feature which was added into Vista and later versions of Windows, PCs on an authenticated network are much safer than they would be without it.  Unfortunately NLA will not exist on home workgroups, nor is it supported by versions of Windows previous to Vista.  That is why The Register warns of a RDP vulnerability that Microsoft will be patching next patch Tuesday, as older machines as well as home machines could be at risk if someone launches an attack before the patch is released and installed.  For the mean time you might want to disable RDP unless you actually use it regularly.

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"The critical flaw covers all versions of Windows and is found in the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It allows attackers to run code remotely behind the firewall, although Vista users and above can activate the Remote Desktop’s Network Level Authentication (NLA) to trigger an authentication request. RDP is disabled by default, but is often activated."

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Source: The Register

DNS Redirect Provision Suspended From SOPA (and PIPA)

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2012 - 06:21 AM |
Tagged: SOPA, senate, security, pipa, Internet, house, freedom, dnssec, dns, Copyright, congress, bill

SOPA, the ever controversial bill making its way through the House of Representatives, contained a provision that would force ISPs to block any website accused of copyright infringement from their customers. This technical provision was highly contested by Internet security experts and the standards body behind DNSSEC. The experts have been imploring Congress to reconsider the SOPA DNS provision as they feel it poses a significant threat to the integrity and security of the Internet.

In a somewhat surprising move, on Friday, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont both announced that the DNS provisions included in their respective bills (SOPA in the House and companion bill PIPA in the Senate) would be removed until such time that security experts could provide them with more conclusive information on the implications of such DNS interference.

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Many sites are preparing protests to SOPA, most will be forced to shut down should SOPA pass.

As a quick primer, DNS (Domain Name System) is the Internet equivalent of a phone book (or Google/Facebook contact list for the younger generation) for websites, allowing people to reach websites at difficult to remember IP (Internet Protocol) addresses by typing in much simpler text based URLs. Take the PC Perspective website- pcper.com- for example; the website is hosted on a server that is then access by other computers using the IP address of "208.65.201.194." Humans; however cannot reasonably be expected to remember an IP address for every website they wish to visit, especially IPV6 addresses which are even longer numerical strings. Instead, people navigate using text based URLs. By typing a URL (universal resource locator) into a browser such as "pcper.com," the software then polls other computers on the Internet running DNS software to match the URL to an IP address. This IP is then used to connect to the website's server. Further, DNSSEC (the Domain Name System Security Extensions) is a standard and set of protocols backed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that seeks to make looking up IP addresses more secure. DNSSEC seeks to protect look-up requests by using multiple servers to verify that the URL look-up returns the correct IP address. By securing DNS requests, users are protected from malicious redirects on compromised servers. Browsers will request IP addresses from multiple DNS servers to reduce the risk that they will receive a malicious IP address to a compromises site.

Security experts are opposed to the DNS blocking provisions in SOPA because the methods contradict the very secure environment that standards bodies have been working for years to implement. SOPA would require ISPs to filter every person's DNS requests (the URL typed into the browser), and to block and/or redirect any requests for websites accused of copyright infringement of US rights holders. This very action goes against DNSSEC and opens the door to a less secure Internet. If ISPs are forced to invalidate DNSSEC, browsers will be forced to poll otherwise untrusted servers and what is to stop so called hacking groups and others of malicious intent from compromising DNS servers oversees and redirecting legal and valid URLs to compromised web sites and drive by downloads of malware and trojan viruses? DNSSEC is not perfect; however, it was a big step in the right direction in keeping DNS look-up requests reasonably secure. SOPA tears down that wall with a reckless abandon for the well being of citizens. Stewart Baker, former first Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS and former General Counsel of the NSA has stated that SOPA would result in "great damage to Internet security" by undermining the DNSSEC standard, and that SOPA was "badly in need of a knockout punch." Various other Internet experts have expressed further concerns that the DNS provisions in SOPA would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the DNS system and would greatly effect the integrity of the Internet including the CEO of (anti-virus company) ESET, the head of OpenDNS, and security experts Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky.

While the suspension of the DNS redirecting provisions is a good thing, such actions are too little and too late. And in one respect, by (for now) removing the DNS provisions, Congress may have made it that much easier to pass the bill into law. After all, it would be much easier to amend DNS blocking onto SOPA once it's law later than fight to get the foothold passed at all. From the perspective of an Internet user and content creator, I really do not want to see SOPA or PIPA pass (I've already ranted about the additional reasons why so I'll save you this time from having to read it again). While I really want to be excited about this DNS provision removal, it's just not anywhere near the same thing as stopping the entire bill. I can't shake the feeling that removing DNS blocking is only going to make it that much easier for Congress to pass SOPA, and for the Internet to become much less free. We hear about the death of PC gaming or any number of other proclamations made by content creators expressing themselves and exercising their rights to free speech every year, but PC gaming and most things are still around. Please, call and write you congressmen and implore them to vote against SOPA and PIPA so that the last proclamation I read about is not about the death of the Internet!