Security News for the Week Ending September 13, 2019

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Suit Moves Forward

Facebook tried to convince a judge that when users share information privately on Facebook they have no expectation of privacy.  The judge didn’t buy it and the suit against Facebook moves forward.  Source: Law.com  (registration required)

Equifax Quietly Added More Hoops for you to get your $0.21

Yes, if everyone who was compromised in the Equifax breach asks for the $125, the total pot, which is only $31 million, will be divided up and everyone will get 21 cents.  Not sure how the courts will handle that when the cost of issuing 150 million checks for 21 cents is tens of millions.  Often times the courts say donate the money to charity in which case, you get nothing.

The alternative is to take their credit monitoring service, which is really worthless if you were hit by one the many other breaches and already have credit monitoring services.

So what are they doing?  Playing a shell game – since the FTC is really a bunch of Bozos.  Equifax is adding new requirements after the fact and likely requirements that you will miss.

End result, it is likely that this so called $575 million fine is purely a lie.  Publicity is not Equifax’s friend, but  it will require Congress to change the law if we want a better outcome. Source: The Register.

End of Life for Some iPhones Comes Next Week

On September 19th  Apple will release the next version of it’s phone operating system, iOS 13.  At that moment three popular iPhones will instantly become antiques.

On that date, the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus will no longer be supported.  Users will not be able to run the then current version of iOS and will no  longer get security patches.

This doesn’t mean that hackers will stop looking for bugs;  on the contrary, they will look harder because they know that any bugs they find will work for a very long time.

As an iPhone user, you have to decide whether it is time to get a new phone or run the risk of getting hacked and having your identity stolen.

What Upcoming End of Life for One Operating Systems Means to Election Security

While we are on the subject of operating system end of life, lets talk about another one that is going to happen in about four months and that is Windows 7.

After the January 2020 patch release there will be no more security bug fixes for Windows 7.

The good news is that, according to statcounter, the percentage of machines running Windows 7 is down to about 30%.

That means that after January, one third of the computers running Windows will no longer get security fixes.

Where are those computers?  Well, they are all over the world but the two most common places?

  1. Countries that pirate software like China, Russia and North Korea
  2. Most election computers, both those inside the voting machines and those managing those machines.

That means that Russia will have almost a year of no patches to voting systems to try and find bugs which will compromise them.

Microsoft WILL provide extended support to businesses and governments for a “nomimal” fee – actually a not so nominal fee.  ($50 per machine for the first year and $100 per machine for the next year with carrots for certain users – see here), but will cash strapped cities cough up the money?  If it is my city, I would ask what their plan is.  Source: Government Computer News

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DoD Releases Draft CMMC Guidelines

The Department of Defense is probably the largest software development (and hardware development) organization in world but unlike say Microsoft or Cisco, almost all of the development is performed by third parties – the so called defense industrial base or DIB.

It is also likely the number one target of nation state hackers since a major weapons system like the F-35 might cost a trillion dollars over its lifetime and it is way cheaper for countries like China to steal the tech than to develop it.  For example, China stole the plans for the F-35 and built the J-31 (see news item here).  Unfortunately, that is far from an exception.

The DoD has been trying to tighten up security among the base of hundreds of thousands of contractors (there are 300,000 + contractors that handle sensitive unclassified information called CUI and that is just one category of information).

The government wrote a security spec called NIST SP 800-171 but enforcement has been weak.

This year, working with Carnegie Mellon, Johns Hopkins and Mitre, the DoD is developing a “Cybersecurity Maturity Model Capability” (CMMC) very similar in concept to the model Carnegie Mellon developed for software developers (CMM) back in the 1990s.

The plan is that all DoD suppliers will be required to be certified by a third party. Every year,

While the model is only at version 0.4 and will not be finalized until next January, here is what it looks like right now.

  • There are 18 domains
  • The domains are comprised of capabilities
  • The capabilities have processes and practices
  • Certification runs from level 1 to level 5
  • Level 1 requires basic cybersecurity in an ad hoc manner and is designed for small companies who are not working on very sensitive projects
  • Level 5 is advanced security practiced in an optimized fashion
  • There are 35 practices for level 1
  • For level 5, which includes levels 1-4, there are 370 practices – all subject to change at this point
  • Very few companies will need to be certified at level 5

Click here to review the overview document for version 0.4.

For those people who are familiar with the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) or NIST SP 800-53, this will all look very familiar.

The problem is that a large number of defense suppliers are small businesses that have no security program at all.  For these companies, they will be required to get to at least CMMC Level 1 and be certified annually by a third party.  This could come as  a shock to some.

While DoD messed around with enforcing NISP SP 800-171, there have been a number of serious DoD breaches over the last few years which have embarrassed the Pentagon brass, so it APPEARS that they are serious about this.  WE. SHALL. SEE.

The plan is for the standard to be done by January – warp speed for DoD, be included in RFIs by June and be included in RFPs by September.  Assuming they don’t blink (and it would be easy to put it into selective RFPs as opposed to making it a mandatory requirement), that would mark a huge change for the Department.

A complete copy of the draft can be found here.

My suggestion – if you are anywhere in the DoD supply chain – is to start learning about the CMMC and begin implementing basic cybersecurity practices now.  If you are at the more sensitive end of the DoD food chain – Secret, Top Secret and SCI – start looking at CMMC Levels 3 thru 5.

DoD has also said that they are going to start including security along with cost, schedule and function in contract awards and Katie Arrington has publicly said that DoD understands that they are going to have to pay for some of this.  Katie is the special assistant for cybersecurity, reporting up to Ellen Lord, who is the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment – the person who is responsible for buying tens of billions of dollars of weapons every year.

Read these documents and get started now because if DoD actually does what it says, it will be a scramble to comply and if they actually make security an award criteria, doing it later won’t matter – you won’t get the award.

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Business Roundtable Lobbying Group Wants Weak National Privacy Law

O P I N I O N

50 Very Data Hungry CEOs (Out of About 30 Million) Try to Fool Congress into Letting Them Abuse Your Data

A group of big data CEOs wrote a letter to Congressional leaders requesting a Federal privacy law which would usurp the state’s rights to protect their consumers as they see fit.

A spokesperson for Facebook responded several months ago to a reporter’s question about a New York bill requiring companies to be a data fiduciary with the response that if the bill passed (it didn’t), Facebook might as well shut down in New York.  The spin doctors tried to walk that back the next day, but the reality is, if that law passed, it would require Facebook and companies like them to change their business models.

In fairness, it is difficult for companies to keep up with all the privacy laws (we help companies do that), but unless your business model requires that you sell your customer’s data to stay in business, complying is manageable, but it does take work.  Unfortunately, the Facebooks and Googles of the world have made things more complex for everyone else.

The state of data privacy is roughly in the same place that cybersecurity was in after California passed it’s landmark security bill (CA SB 1386) in 2003.  SB 1386 is the model that every other state drew from for enact their security laws.  Now CA AB 375 (the new California Consumer Privacy Act) has already begun this process over again with privacy laws.

Even though they don’t say this, what they really want is for Congress to pass a law because they know that their lobbying billions will allow them to buy a very weak law that will nullify laws like the ones in California, New York, Nevada, Vermont and other states.

The longer Congress doesn’t act, the more states will pass strong privacy laws, because that is what consumers want and the harder it will be to get votes at the national level to obliterate rights people already have – hence the urgency from these CEOs.

The California law would allow people to sue businesses that have breaches, which would dramatically change the economics of lax security practices – right now, at the federal court level, you have to prove that you have been tangibly damaged to sue after a breach.  The defense that some companies are using is that there are so many breaches, how do you know that your damage was from our breach.  The California law removes that requirement to prove that the consumer had tangible damages.  That alone scares the crap out of the Facebooks and Googles – and it should.

They are trying to pass this off as stopping consumers from being confused about their rights (like the right to tell Facebook not to sell your data – that is certainly confusing and hard to understand), but that is completely bull.  The 6 rights that the California law gives consumers are each spelled out in one sentence and are easy to understand. For example:

  • The right to know what data a company has and to get a copy of it
  • The right to request that my data be deleted subject to a list of exclusions
  • The right to stop a company from selling my data
  • The right to equal price and service even if I tell you not to sell my data

And a couple of more rights.  These rights are easy to understand and the real problem for CEOs like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is that people will likely actually use these rights and that might force companies like Amazon to change their business models.

If companies are transparent about their data collection practices, then this is a pretty simple choice.  People can choose to do business with companies that want to sell their data.  Or not.

One thing that makes this conversation different than the conversation around security in 2003 is that places like Europe, Japan and a significant number of others have already given their consumers these rights, so the big data companies already have to deal with this.  No matter what happens in the US, this will happen in the rest of the world.

At that point, as we are already beginning to see, the lack of a strong national privacy law in the US makes it MORE difficult and MORE expensive for US companies to compete in the rest of the world.

In Europe, the first EU/US privacy agreement, Safe Harbor, was struck down by the EU courts as not protecting EU citizens’ rights.  That was replaced by Privacy Shield (which many people say was just Safe Harbor with lipstick) and Privacy Shield is being attacked in the EU courts.  We do not know the outcome of that court battle, but we will soon.  If the courts strike down or force substantial changes to Privacy Shield, that will make the arguments of these 50 CEOs even less intelligent.    Many companies have already decided that it is cheaper, simpler and better PR to have one set of consumer friendly privacy policies worldwide.

Stay tuned;  this will not end any time soon.

Source: C-Net.

NOTE:  This is likely a hot button topic for folks.  Please post your comments to this.  I promise to approve any comment that is moderately sane and rated PG or less.

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Best Practices for Office 365 Monitoring

Logging, monitoring and alerting is probably the single biggest weakness that most organizations have.

Office 365 is also likely the single biggest vulnerability.

So what actions should you be monitoring in Office?

According to AT&T’s Alien Vault division, here is the answer.

  1.  User access – who is there normally; what is your user baseline.  Are you seeing more failed logins than normal?
  2. Administrator actions – a hacker will likely try to become an administrator, assuming the account they hacked doesn’t belong to an administrator already.  Any change in patterns could be a warning sign.
  3. Changes to Office policies –  if the attacker wants to get away with something would normally normally not be allowed, they will want to change the policy to let them do it.
  4. Current threat intelligence – use your threat intel sources such as the FBI, Secret Service, public alert feeds and others to tweak what you are alerting on based on attacks that the industry is currently seeing.

What are the details (see the link for even more detail)?

  • Logins – both success and failures including time and location
  • New users, deleted users, permission changes
  • Changes to logging rules
  • Access –  to Sharepoint,  One drive and other resources
  • Changes to Sharepoint and One drive permissions
  • Changes to O.365 policies including spam, DLP and other policies that might allow an attacker to get data out or malware in
  • Contact with known malicious IPs (see indicators of compromise from various alerts)
  • File uploads of file types known to be used in ransomware attacks (exfiltration of data)

You do need to review the alerts that you get in real time and that will take some resources, but you should be able to train lower level staff to perform first level triage.

This is not simple and it will take resources.  However, being hacked, having a breach or dealing with a ransomware attack is not free either.

Source: AT&T Alienvault

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Security News for the Week Ending September 6, 2019

Cisco: Critical Bug Allows Remote Takeover of Routers

Cisco rated this bug 10 out of 10.  For users of Cisco 4000 series ISRs, ASR 1000 series aggregation routers, 1000v cloud routers and integrated services virtual routers, an unauthenticated user can gain full control just by sending a malicious HTTP request.  So yet another reminder that patching your network gear is critical.  For Cisco, that means having to purchase their maintenance agreement every year.  Source: Threatpost.

USBAnywhere – Especially Places You Don’t Want

Eclypsium announced a vulnerability in the Baseband Management Controller (BMC) in Supermicro motherboards that allow any attacker anywhere, without authorization, to access the BMC chipset and mount a virtual USB device, wreaking all kinds of havoc as you might imagine.  Like stealing your data, installing malware or even disabling the server entirely.  The researchers found 14,000 servers publicly exposed, which is a small number, but as soon as a hacker compromises a single user’s computer anywhere in the enterprise, public equals private – no difference.  Part of the problem is that almost no one knows who’s motherboard is inside their server.  The only good news, if there is any, is that Supermicro has released patches, but you have to figure out if your boards are vulnerable and patch them manually.  Isn’t that exciting?  Source: The Hacker News.

Remember When we Thought iPhones Were Secure?

Apparently that myth is beginning to get a little tarnished.  In fact, Android zero days are worth more than iPhone attacks.  Why?  Because, exploit broker Zerodium says, iPhone exploits, mostly based on Safari and iMessage, two core parts of the iPhone, are FLOODING the market.

I don’t think that users need to panic, but I think that they need to understand that iPhones are computers running software and software has bugs.  All software has bugs.  Practice safe computing, no matter what platform you are using.  Source: Vice.

Unencrypted Passwords from Poshmark Breach For Sale on the Dark Web

When Poshmark put up a information free notice last year that some user information had been hacked (turns out it was 36 million even though they didn’t say so), but that no financial information was taken, so they didn’t feel too bad about it, most people said, another day, another breach.

The 36 million accounts were for sale for $750 which means that even the hacker didn’t think they were valuable.  But now there are reports that one million of those accounts are available with the passwords decrypted, likely at a much higher price.  Does this mean they are working on the other 35 million?  Who knows but if you have a Poshmark account, you should definitely change that password and if the password was used elsewhere, change that too.  Source: Bleeping Computer .

Researchers Claim to Have Hacked the Secure Enclave

CPU makers have created what they call a “secure enclave” as a way to protect very sensitive information in the computer.  Intel calls their feature SGX.  Researchers claim to have created an attack based on Intel’s and AMD’s assumption that only non-malicious code would run in a secure enclave.  If this all proves out, it represents a real threat and reiterates the fact that you have to keep hackers out, because once they are in, nothing is safe.  Source: Bruce Schneier.

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Securing DNS

Most people don’t know what DNS is, but it is almost as old as the Internet and you use it hundreds of times a day, probably thousands of times a day.

Every time you check for new email on your phone or browse to a web site, you are using DNS.  The Internet uses numeric addresses called IP addresses to route requests, but you use names like ESPN.Com, Foxnews.com and Facebook.com.  DNS is what translates Facebook.com to 157.240.28.35 (IPv4) or 2a03:2880:f003:c07:face:b00c::2 (IPv6).

Virtually all of your communications on the Internet these days are encrypted.  Except for DNS.  That means that anyone listening on your connection can see what web sites you are visiting and, if they are  malicious, route you to an alternative, malicious site.  That is because DNS traffic is not encrypted.

Until now.

There was an experiment called DNSCrypt that encrypted your DNS traffic, but it required that you install and configure software.  It never gained any traction.

After that came (of course) two competing standards, one called DNS over TLS and the other called DNS over HTTPS.    It looks like DNS over HTTPS won.

It does require that you turn it on in your browser, but beyond that, nothing is required.  That will probably change in the future to be the default.

In England, the Internet Service Provider Association named Firefox and Google villains of the year for encrypting your DNS traffic and GCHQ (their version of NSA) wasn’t thrilled either.  Probably a great reason to do it all by itself.

Firefox is the first to do it.  In Firefox, it is a bit confusing, but here is a ZDNet article on how to do it.

1. Type about:preferences in the address bar

2. scroll down to network settings and click on settings

3. click on enable DNS over HTTPS

4. Click OK.

You can change the default provider, but you don’t have to.

That’s pretty simple.  That is all it takes.

Now all of your DNS requests are private and cannot be spoofed by your local coffee shop WiFi.

Chrome is a little behind, but it should be there in a couple of months and since Microsoft Edge is really Chrome with a different decal, it will likely show up there too.

Having someone listen in on your browsing is maybe a problem if you care about your privacy.

Having someone redirect your browser to a malicious version of the web site you want to go to and steal your password or install malware.  That is a legitimate problem.

One more security/privacy thing that you should enable and it doesn’t cost anything.

 

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Privacy, Security and Cyber Risk Mitigation in the Digital Age

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