An android app you really should install

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: security, Android, antimalware, PUPs

Malwarebytes have recently updated their Android app to hunt down and slay PUPs, aka potentially unwanted programs or bloatware.  These are the apps which harvest an excessive amount of personal data without making it clear why they do so as well as those which use questionable tricks to present ads to the user even when they are not actively using those apps.  This is more than security, it will hunt down apps that drain the battery or simply demand more access that they reasonably should.  This could be somewhat of a concern for developers who's apps are flagged as PUPs but the user will get the choice to allow the app to continue to run as it has in the past.  Learn more at The Inquirer.

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"ANTI-MALWARE FIRM Malwarebytes has updated its free mobile security app to protect users from the rise of what it calls "Potentially Unwanted Programs" (PUPs) affecting Android users."

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Source: The Inquirer

A wee little Linux bug

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2014 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: linux, security

It would seem that there is a fairly problematic bug in the way that GnuTLS library applies encryption for many Linux users.  According to the story on The Inquirer this bug could allow an improperly setup certificate to be reported as valid and while your connection states it is secure it will not in fact be encrypted.  Red Hat has already issued a patch to solve this problem but the vulnerability would apply to any distro which uses the GnuTLS library.  It would be wise to follow the link from the story to locate a patch for your system before attackers start using it in the wild.

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"THOUSANDS OF LINUX USERS might be vulnerable to hackers after it emerged that a significant certificate checking bug exists in a low level library.

The problem stems from the GnuTLS library that provides an API to enable SSL, TLS and DTLS encryption protocols, as used particularly by web servers."

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Source: The Inquirer

BYOD is going to lead to BYOB in the IT Room

Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: security, nightmare, byod

The new generation of workers arriving on the scene are of a connected generation, fully conformable with technology and ways of sharing; though with neither clue nor care about security.  That extends from doing an end run around Sharepoint and sFTP sites in favour of Dropbox and Google Drive, blissfully unaware that the Terms and Service agreement spell out that they now have a copy of your proprietary data for quality assurance purposes thus breaking security agreements made with clients.  The software is only a part of the problem as Bring Your Own Device arrives on the scene with your new hires.  Benchmark Reviews has put up an overview of what that may mean for many companies and discusses the benefits of implementing true Mobile Device Management software.  With proper MDM you can, for the most part, retain some control over the devices connected to your systems, attempting to blacklist the many apps which will happily share any of your company's information stored on the phone and in many cases be able to wipe the device remotely after the inevitable accidental loss of such a device.

MDM's mitigating the problems created by BYOD is good in theory but it overlooks one major issue that this will cause.  Your IT staff are now going to be bombarded by requests to fix these random devices, from Microsoft and Apple to Sony and Google through Lenovo and Samsung, every tablet or portable device in every possible configuration of OS and software will show up on your IT peoples desks.  Regardless the original official policy, once you accept BYOD your IT people will spend huge amounts of time figuring out basic troubleshooting for devices they've never seen before as you can bet there is no budget to give IT one of each device and time to get familiar with it. 

In many cases your techies won't even be able to say with certainty that the device is capable of doing what the user wants in the first place.  How will you explain to someone who picked up a Surface that WinRT is not going to be able to be added to the domain for ActiveSync access or that your Samsung just isn't going to connect to that Sharepoint site you do a lot of work on?  What will you do when someone hands you a Huawei MediaPad X1?  BYOD may attract young new minds to your company but realize that there is a cost to be paid in both lawyers fees when your client discover how much of their data has been accidentally shared as well as in the time your already overworked IT staff have to support your actual infrastructure.

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"Let’s face it, smart phones and tablets have become a common part of life. It is not unusual to walk into a place and see a majority of the people with their eyes down, totally engrossed in a mobile device. This is something that happens out in everyday life and is becoming increasingly more common in the workplace. Laptops and desktops are starting to be replaced by tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids. No matter the business industry, just like computers, tablets and smartphones are becoming essential in almost all areas of business."

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Another reason to toss a Tomato onto your router

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2014 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: security, router, TheMoon

A worm known as TheMoon has been in the news recently but the actual infection of Linksys routers has likely been spreading for quite a while now.  You may have also read about the backdoor on Linksys/Cisco and Netgear routers which as been open for almost a decade and can be as simple as connecting to port 8083 if you can get direct access to the router.  Some of these vulnerabilities can be mitigated by turning off remote administration and uPNP services but it seems your consumer level router is still a huge security risk.  Your best bet is to spend a weekend and follow the advice of most Slashdot commentators; flash your router with OpenWRT or a version of Tomato and you will have better security and control over your router.  Just don't do it to the modem your ISP provided you with.

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"The remote-access management flaw that allowed TheMoon worm to thrive on Linksys routers is far from the only vulnerability in that particular brand of hardware, though it might be simpler to call all home-based wireless routers gaping holes of insecurity than to list all the flaws in those of just one vendor. An even longer list of Linksys (and Cisco and Netgear) routers were identified in January as having a backdoor built into the original versions of their firmware in 2005 and never taken out."

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Source: Slashdot

The TIFF of Doom!

Subject: General Tech | November 6, 2013 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: security, Malware, TIFF, windows

A newly discovered flaw in the handling of TIFF image files effects machines running Windows Vista or Server 2008 as well as Office 2003 to 2010 and Microsoft Lync products on WinXP and Win7 with Windows 8 being the only one that does not contain this vulnerability.  According to The Register attack code is launched when the image is display with tricks the "OS into copying malicious code stashed in the file into memory and then hijacking the processor to execute it."

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"The software giant said the flaw allows attackers to remotely execute code and install malware on a vulnerable system by sending an email or instant message or convincing a user to open a specially crafted webpage."

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Source: The Register

Everything you wanted to know about safe charging but were afraid to ask

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: usb, cellphone, security

The USB condom is an adapter which disables the two data ports present on your USB connector to prevent a malicious charger from installing interesting things on your smartphone, if you decide to stick it into a strange charger.  Many will immediately point out that this device is much larger than a simple power adapter which makes it easier to leave behind as well as being large enough to hide nasties of its own, so you wouldn't want to borrow someones condom.  If you read through the comments on Slashdot you can pick up some interesting problems that this device could cause, from devices which refuse to charge without their data connections active to devices which actively communicate the amount of power they will accept for a charge.  It is unlikely your device would have an expected amperage less than the USB spec and go up in flames but it is worth knowing that the possibility exists.

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"Yep, a USB condom. That term is mostly a dose of marketing brilliance, which is to say that grabs your attention while also serving as an apt description of the product. A little company called int3.cc has developed a product—a USB condom—that blocks the data pins in your USB device while leaving the power pins free. Thus, any time you need to plug a device such as a smartphones into a USB port to charge it—let's say at a public charging kiosk or a coworker's computer--you don't have to worry about compromising any data or contracting some nasty malware. It's one of those simple solutions that seems so obvious once someone came up with it."

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Source: Slashdot

How to ruin your company in (Blackberry) 10 steps

Subject: General Tech | September 12, 2013 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: blackberry, flash, blackberry q10, blackberry z10, playbook, security

Oh RIM, is this what happens when you change your name, celebrity spokesperson and infrastructure?  First you gave up on what we thought was an incredibly secure way to communicate and moved to the same ActiveSync environment of Android and iOS and then we find out that we were fooling ourselves and even the old BES encryption was broken.  Then we find out that our data plans might or might not work if we roam outside of our home carriers network, regardless of what travel plan we might have requested.  A patch Tuesday cycle could be the last straw for many; announcing two ancient Adobe vulnerabilities on the new BB10 OS which will need to be patched might assure some that you still have a passing acquaintance with security but for most it is just one too many flaws.  The Inquirer links to the BB security threads in this article.

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"The Z10, Q10 and PlayBook all need patching for Adobe Flash vulnerabilities. If a user were led to a page containing crafted Flash content, an attacker could execute arbitrary code on an affected device. BSRT-2013-007 notes that an alternative attack would be to trick users into downloading an Adobe AIR application."

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Source: The Register

Microsoft Will Continue Windows XP Support, For a Price

Subject: General Tech | September 3, 2013 - 12:17 AM |
Tagged: windows xp, windows, security, microsoft, legacy, enterprise, custom support

Windows XP seems to be the OS that simply will not die, and it seems that Microsoft has given in slightly on its plans to no longer support the aging operating system. For those customers willing to pay, Microsoft will continue patching Windows XP through its Custom Support program.

Custom Support is mainly aimed at large enterprise and industrial customers who, for legacy or other reasons, have yet to move on to newer OS versions from XP. The program will pick up from where Microsoft ends its public extended support for Windows XP (Service Pack 3) on April 8, 2014.

Businesses that elect to go the Custom Support route and stick with XP will pay approximately $200 per PC for the first year alone. The systems in the program will continue to receive patches for vulnerabilities rated as “Critical” with optional patches for “Important” security issues available for additional fees, according to Gregg Keizer writing for PCWorld. Security issues classed by Microsoft as being of low or moderate importance will not be patched at all.

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Microsoft will reportedly be delivering these patches through a secure channel other than the standard Windows Update in an attempt to keep non-paying Windows XP users from getting their hands on the patches.

For now, it seems that Windows XP is still here to stay in a big way, at least in the enterprise space where it is likely cheaper to keep XP in circulation than to upgrade PCs, retrain employees, and re-code legacy applications. It will cost a pretty penny to keep the old OS up to date and (mostly) secure, however.

Source: PC World

Intel can now monitor every transaction on their network in real time

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2013 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: Intel, security

We have heard of another success in Intel's move into the security market from an 80 person team headed by Moty Fania which has created a device capable of real time scanning of everything that occurs on a corporate network.  It can handle four to six billion network events a day in its current state and the team claims a very high rate of true positives when scanning the internal Intel network for signs of breaches and industrial espionage attempts.  Sadly they did not disclose the hardware on which this tool is running to The Register but it is possible the custom software could be released by McAfee seeing as how Intel purchased them not too long ago.  With the current global climate they might have chosen a better response when asked the name of the software, the statement "it would not be "productive" to disclose its name" is perhaps not the most reassuring statement to make right now.

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Worth trying out.

"Intel has created a Hadoop-based rig that analyses just about every network event in the company – four to six billion of them on business days - in close to real time so it can spot threats including industrial espionage."

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Source: The Register

Did you know your SIM card probably relies on 56bit DES?

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2013 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: SIM card, security, encryption, black hat 2013

The revelation that SIM cards rely on outdated encryption method make it surprising that an exploit has not been revealed long before now, but there is one that has been discovered and will be featured at this years Black Hat security conference.  The proof of concept used was to send an improperly signed binary SMS to a device over the air which returns an error that contains the entire cryptographic signature for the SIM that received the signal, from there it is rather simple to crack the 56bit DES with modern hardware.  Once you have the key you can send out a variety of commands to the device up to an including an OS update with certain customizations.  Follow the links from The Inquirer for more information.

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"A SIM CARD EXPLOIT that could leave millions of mobile phones vulnerable to hacking has been uncovered by German security firm Security Research Labs (SRL)."

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Source: The Inquirer