A Summary of the Recent Open Source Security News

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2014 - 04:04 AM |
Tagged: TrueCrypt, security, openssl, openssh, heartbleed

This week has been most notable for security, as previous news suggests. TrueCrypt, the popular file encryption suite, lost its developers when they wanted to call it quits -- right in the middle of its audit. While on that topic, OpenSSL is being given money and full-time developers, in response to the recent Heartbleed fiasco. OpenSSH and Network Time Protocol, and others in the future, are also being given love.

Yes, these are two separate pieces of news that are combined into a single article.

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Earlier, we reported on TrueCrypt's mysterious implosion. The developers' alleged last advice, use closed source solutions or whatever comes up on a random package manager search, I considered too terrible to have been from them. Seriously, from "Trust No-One" to "Trust Who Knows". Just does not seem right...

Since the article, they have apparently been contacted and confirmed that the project is being shut down. That said, it seems like basically every source cites the third-party auditors and no-one else seemed to have direct contact with them -- so who knows. Regardless, the audit is apparently still going on and might lead to a usable fork maintained by someone else.

As for the second piece of news -- several other libraries are getting serious security audits. Apparently, The Linux Foundation has arranged for a long list of companies to commit $5.4 million, over three years, to audit and maintain these projects. As mentioned, OpenSSL, OpenSSH, and Network Time Protocol are the first three mentioned, but others will be included later. Also, that budget can increase as other companies and donors step up.

Currently, the donors are: Adobe, Amazon, Bloomberg, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, Qualcomm, Rackspace, Salesforce, and VMware. Eighteen companies, each pledging $100,000 per year for three years.

All in all, it seems like the world is on the path to righting itself, somewhat.

Source: Ars Technica

Securing the Internet of Things

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2014 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: internet of things, security, Intel

Karen Lomas is Intel's director of the Internet of Things, from smart buildings to fridges and watched and she sat down to discuss the security of these devices and the future of ubiquitous computing.  Intel expects that by 2020 there will be 26 billion internet connected devices and if we do not start to think about how to secure them now it will have serious repercussions in the future.  There is a balance which needs to be struck so that consumers will not avoid using these devices because of security concerns nor because they are too restrictive to easily be used.  As befits a Friday the discussion comes in video form.

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"THE INQUIRER and Intel held an Internet of Things (IoT) event in London this week, where we sat down with IT professionals from a range of industry sectors to discuss how the growing thirst for internet-connected devices can be used in business, and how this should be done."

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Source: The Inquirer

Why should you be worried about the FreeBSD credentials leak?

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2014 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: freebsd, security

You may not use it as your main OS but there is a chance your TV, PlayStation and quite possibly a lot of your networking gear runs on a version of FreeBSD.  While the repercussions are likely to be limited to a kernel crash which is annoying but not overly concerning researchers do suggest it is possible a talented attacker could get hold of at least some of the contents of the kernel's memory.  You probably shouldn't panic like your kernel could but following the link from The Register and patching is probably a good idea.

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"Got FreeBSD? Get busy on the patch, because a problem with its TCP ordering has emerged, with both denial-of-service and data leakage as possible effects."

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Source: The Register

Beema Mullins down for your next mobile system

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2014 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: TrustZone, security, Puma+, Mullins, mobile, Kabini, Jaguar, boost, beema, amd, AM1

Beema and Mullins have arrived and by now you must have read Josh's coverage but you might be aching for more.  The Tech Report were present at the unveiling and came prepared, with a USB 3.0 solid-state drive containing their own preferred testing applications and games.  Not only do you get a look at how the Mullins tablet handled the testing you can see how it compares to Kabini and Bay Trail.  Check out the performance results as well as their take on the power consumption and new security features on the new pair of chips from AMD which come bearing more gifts than we had thought they would.

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"A couple weeks ago, AMD flew us down to its Austin, Texas campus for a first look at Mullins and Beema, two low-power APUs aimed at the next wave of Windows tablets and low-cost laptops. Today, we're able to share what we learned from that expedition—as well as benchmarks from the first Mullins tablet."

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Makes some Lemonade...

I guess we could say that AMD has been rather busy lately.  It seems that a significant amount of the content on PC Perspective this month revolved around the AMD AM1 platform.  Before that we had the Kaveri products and the R7 265.  AMD also reported some fairly solid growth over the past year with their graphics and APU lines.  Things are not as grim and dire as they once were for the company.  This is good news for consumers as they will continue to be offered competing solutions that will vie for that hard earned dollar.

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AMD is continuing their releases for 2014 with the announcement of their latest low-power and mainstream mobile APUs.  These are codenamed “Beema” and “Mullins”, but they are based on the year old Kabini chip.  This may cause a few people to roll their eyes as AMD has had some fairly unimpressive refreshes in the past.  We saw the rather meager increases in clockspeed and power consumption with Brazos 2.0 a couple of years back, and it looked like this would be the case again for Beema and Mullins.

It isn’t.

I was again expecting said meager improvements in power consumption and clockspeeds that we had received all those years ago with Brazos 2.0.  Turns out I was wrong.  This is a fairly major refresh which does a few things that I did not think were entirely possible, and I’m a rather optimistic person.   So why is this release surprising?  Let us take a good look under the hood.

Click here to read the entire Beema/Mullins introduction!

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