A real PNG in the arse for Android users

Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2019 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Android, pie, nougat, Oreo, security

Careful what pictures you open up on your Android device as you may find yourself regretting looking at that meme.  Among the 42 new vulnerabilities listed in Android's newest Security Bulletin is a rather nasty one which could use a special PNG image to execute arbitrary code on your phone.  Currently unpatched, it affects even the newest Android Pie version and once a fix is determined, who knows how long it will take to propagate to your provider and your specific model of phone.  In the mean time surf carefully and take a peek at Slashdot for links to the other vulnerabilities, including 10 other critical ones.

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"While this certainly doesn't apply to all images, Google discovered that a maliciously crafted PNG image could be used to hijack a wide variety of Androids -- those running Android Nougat (7.0), Oreo (8.0), and even the latest Android OS Pie (9.0),"

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Source: Slashdot

Elude those electronic trails with TAILS 3.12

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2019 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: security, linux, TAILS, debian, tor

TAILS is a Debian based Linux distro, specifically designed for you to boot from a USB to avoid storing any data locally as well as providing tools to keep online eyes from prying into your business.  Even those who have become jaded over the years by their knowledge of the prevalence of online tracking raised an eyebrow over the past week with the news about tracking by Apple, Google and Facebook, to name just a few.  TAILS will protect your browsing with TOR and as you are booting from a USB you won't end up with new trackers on your system.  The new version is based on the 4.19 kernel, with the variety of updates that offers, especially when it comes to graphics cards.  The Register has some advice before you install it though, which you can check out here.

In other news, we are sad to announce Ryan failed in his attempt to takeover Intel.

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"Hot on the heels of Apple's latest privacy blunder, The Amnesic Incognito Live System (TAILS) has emitted version 3.12."

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Source: The Register

Remember when steganography was going to be used for good?

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2019 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: steganography, Java, security, ios, VeryMal

In the ancient times before the turn of the millennia, steganography was going to be the way to stick it to the man, offering a way to hide secrets in plain sight by embedding data in pictures.  It is much older than that, dating back thousands of years but it wasn't until the mid-80's that it was brought to mainstream computing.  It is in the headlines today as Confiant and Malwarebytes have detected it being used to hide code in banner ads and taking advantage of a JavaScript vulnerability on Macs to redirect browsers to a site where you get the opportunity to install a Flash 'update'.  It looks to have been most active between January 11th and 13th, but evidence suggests it was active since December, so make sure to update your protection ASAP.

If you are interested in how VeryMal works, The Register has a good write up here.

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"A strain of malware has been clocked using steganography to run malicious JavaScript on Macs via images in online banner ads, it was claimed this week."

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Source: The Register

Happy 2019, year of the UEFI infections

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2019 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: uefi, lojack, security, LoJax

Welcome to a new year and a new vulnerability which has the potential to ruin your day, even if you wipe your computer and start afresh.  Researchers have spotted a rootkit which installs itself in your motherboards UEFI using technology adopted from LoJack, which is properly used to access a stolen computer without the person who currently has it knowing about it. 

LoJax lives on your motherboard's SPI flash memory and the code silently executes on boot so it is hard to figure out if you have been infected at a glance.  If you are then the only way to remove it is to flash a BIOS which overwrites that specific area of flash ... or toss the motherboard out.  You can read a lot more about this over at Slashdot.

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"Researchers hunting cyber-espionage group Sednit (an APT also known as Sofacy, Fancy Bear and APT28) say they have discovered the first-ever instance of a rootkit targeting the Windows Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) in successful attacks."

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Source: Slashdot

Out on a branch, speculating about possible architectural flaws

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2018 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: spectre, splitspectre, speculator, security, arm, Intel, amd

The discovery of yet another variant of Spectre vulnerability is not good news for already exhausted security experts or reporters, but there is something new in this story which offers a glimmer of hope.  A collaborative team of researchers from Northeastern University and IBM found this newest design law using an automatic bug finding tool they designed, called Speculator.

They designed the tool to get around the largest hurdle security researchers face, the secrecy of AMD, Intel and ARM who are trying to keep the recipe for their special sauce secret, and rightly so.  Protecting their intellectual properly is paramount to their stockholders and there are arguments about the possible effectiveness of security thorough obscurity in protecting consumers from those with nefarious intent but it does come at a cost for those hunting bugs for good. 

Pop by The Register for details on how Speculator works.

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"SplitSpectre is a proof-of-concept built from Speculator, the team's automated CPU bug-discovery tool, which the group plans to release as open-source software."

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Source: The Register

Open the pod bay doors Google ...

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2018 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: google, security, iot, Home Hub

There is an undocumented web API in Google's Home Hub which is causing a bit of concern over at The Register and elsewhere.  This mysterious connection is available to anything on the same WiFi network as the Home Hub and it does not check for any authentication or tokens which means anyone connected to your WiFi can successfully connect and start to play with your settings.  Currently there is code which is capable of rebooting the device or to completely delete the current configured network, requiring you to rebuild it from scratch.  That could be very annoying if the delete command is coming from malware already inside the house, as it were. 

Hopefully there will be some basic authentication added ASAP, as that is a very blatant oversight.

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"A spokesperson for Google confirmed that any device, computer, or smartphone on the Wi-Fi network of a Home Hub can command the assistant as described above – that includes mischievous malware on a PC, for example."

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Source: The Register

Do Not Track is no more effective than placebo

Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2018 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: do not track, placebo, fooled you, security

To the cynics among us it will come as no surprise that the Do Not Track option on your browser does almost nothing to protect your privacy.  The option was conceived as an additional string sent out with your metadata, DNT:1, which the website you connected to would receive and honour.  That, of course, is the rub.  You have to trust sites which depend, at least in part, on advertising revenue to refrain from targeting you with advertisements.  This does not happen apart for a very few exceptions which has led Mozilla to consider incorporating stronger protections in their browser. 

Follow the links from Slashdot to learn more.

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"According to a recent survey by Forrester Research, a quarter of American adults use "Do Not Track" to protect their privacy. (Our own stats at Gizmodo Media Group show that 9% of visitors have it turned on.) We've got bad news for those millions of privacy-minded people, though: "Do Not Track" is like spray-on sunscreen, a product that makes you feel safe while doing little to actually protect you. "

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Source: Slashdot

Wondering if your email was included in a data dump?

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2018 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: security, firefox, Have I Been Pwned

Have I Been Pwned has been around for some time now, letting you determine if your email address was included in one of the disturbingly frequent data breaches which have occurred in the past few years.  FireFox Monitor is a new site which uses that database to search email addresses users enter, with two added features. When you submit your email, it turns it into an SHA-1 hash which is then compared to the emails in the database, offering you a bit more protection if you so desire.  You can also request that your email address be monitored, with automated searches sent in occasionally so you don't need to remember to check on them yourself.  According to the discussion The Inquirer has with Mozilla, there are plans to integrate this into Firefox to make it even easier to keep tabs on your emails.

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"Mozilla on Tuesday debuted a service called Firefox Monitor that it has been testing to help people see whether their email addresses have been compromised."

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Source: The Register

Are you sure you want to bite into that Apple?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2018 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: apple, security, webroot, webkit, SecureAnywhere

There is a bit of a fuss being made by Apple fans today, as once again reality contradicts their claims of the invulnerability of their favourite devices.  The less serious but still active bug is more an inconvenience than a threat, but having your device crash simply because you visited a webpage is more than a little embarrassing.

The second vulnerability involves SecureAnywhere and while it has been mitigated in recent updates (9.0.8.34) it was unpatched for quite a while.  The patch was released several months ago, but it is only this week we are learning about it, with the justification offered to The Register following the usual claims that letting people know might expose more devices to the threat.  Security through obscurity can lead to delayed upgrades as users wait to see if a patch has negative effects, while leaving themselves open to attack.  In this case the vulnerability was only effective on an already compromised device, hopefully that reduced the number of people targetted.

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"Details of a locally exploitable but kernel-level flaw in Webroot's SecureAnywhere macOS security software were revealed yesterday, months after the bug was patched."

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Source: The Register

Reopening a cold boot case

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2018 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: security, Lenovo, dell, apple

Many, many moons ago a vulnerability was discovered which would let you grab some or all of the data last written to RAM.  A computer in sleep mode could be powered off, the firmware specifically modified and then booted from a USB drive, allowing an attacker to extract data from the RAM.  This requires physical access and a specific skill set but does not take all that long.  This new attack is used to grab the encryption keys from memory, which then allows them to gain access to the data stored on your encrypted drives.  The Inquirer reports that there is a solution to this resurrected vulnerability, however it is only easy to implement before a system is provided to customers, worrying for companies using these commonly deployed brands.

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"But F-Secure principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl, along with other researchers from the security outfit, claim they've discovered a way to disable that safety measure and extract data using the ten-year-old cold boot attack method."

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Source: The Inquirer