Category Archives: Alert

Security alerts

IoT is Going to Set Security Back a Decade, at Least

Axis Communications, the Swedish maker of high end security cameras (up to $1,000 each), announced patches to seven vulnerabilities that affect almost 400 camera models.

Axis is not some cheap Chinese knockoff;  these are well respected cameras used in businesses the world over.

The vulnerabilities, discovered by the security firm VDOO, comes with in depth documentation and proof of concept code for all of the kiddie hackers to copy.

The vulnerabilities, used in combination, allow an attacker to take over a camera knowing only it’s IP address and not needing the password.

If the camera has a public IP address and is not meant for public consumption, these flaws would allow a hacker to bypass the security that the owner put in place and look at whatever the camera is pointed at, in real time.

So what do you do?

One more time, this is an example of the Internet of Things at its most challenging.

Most companies do not have a patch regimen for IoT devices.

In fact, most companies don’t even check for firmware updates for IoT devices on a regular basis,

This is like PCs 10 years ago.

So, the first step is to inventory all of your IoT devices and keep the inventory current.

Step 2 is to set up a protocol for checking for firmware updates at least monthly. Since IoT devices could be a dishwasher, TV and refrigerator, you will likely be checking with multiple different manufacturers to find all the patches.

Finally, the last step is to set up a protocol to patch your smart coffee maker and security cameras whenever new firmware is available.

Definitely a pain in the <bleep>, but necessary.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather

DoD Moving Forward on Cybersecurity After Breach

In the wake of the cybersecurity disaster at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, where a contractor lost control of over 600 gigabytes of extremely sensitive weapons system data for the Sea Dragon program, the DoD is reacting.  Sea Dragon, based on the few details we have, is a disruptive offensive weapon targeting Chinese submarines.

Among the data compromised is cryptographic information about how the subs communicate.

Now the Chinese have those secrets and the billions of dollars probably spent on the program may be flushed down the toilet.

DODDAC, the Department of Defense Damage Assessment Center, is trying to assess the level of damage that was done.  It is likely that we will never find out the true impact of this breach.

The category of information that was breached is known, generally, as controlled unclassified information or CUI.  The DoD has been talking for years about implementing an acquisition rule called DFARS 204.252-7012, securing controlled unclassified information and NIST SP 800-171, the how to guide for doing that.  December 31, 2017 was supposed to be the date the regulation went into effect, but in mid December the DoD blinked.  Again.  The instructions to industry were that they just needed to have a plan for becoming compliant.

But the problem is that no one was assigned to fix the problem.

In the wake of this new and recurring scandal, Defense Secretary  Jim Mattis ordered the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to deal with this.  The Under Secretary instructed the Defense Security Service, who is accountable for managing classified information in the defense contractor community, to come up with a plan to manage controlled unclassified information too.  The challenge with that is the amount of controlled unclassified information and the number of people handling it dwarfs the amount of classified information by many times.

Given this, what should defense contractors and sub-contractors do now?

While we don’t know the how and the when, it is very likely that DoD will begin to clamp down on how contractors handle CUI and the Defense Security Service will expand their sphere of influence to contractors handling CUI.  Starting with the primes – and letting them handle the subs.  We have seen that this has already started, but we believe it will accelerate.

For the most part, what NIST 800-171 mandates is “best in industry” cyber security practices.

If you are a contractor, you should be actively working on becoming compliant.  You should have been already doing this, but there should be more urgency now.  Starting with implementing the policies, procedures and practices and moving on from there.  Adding the controls and monitoring; incident response and so on.

While we don’t know when, my guess is General Mattis does not want another disaster on his watch and he already has the regulations on the books to help fix the problem.  All he needs to do is make it happen.  Remember, Generals, especially Marine Corps Generals,  are very good at “making it happen” and I would not question his desire to not be embarrassed again.  He is going to have to, at some point, explain to Congress why the billions of dollars they gave him have been wasted.  Not a fun conversation.

Given all this, being prepared is a really good plan.  We can help.

Information for this post is based on a memo from the Pentagon.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather

Baby Monitor Takes Compromising Pictures of Mom

A 24 year old South Carolina mom, Jamie Summitt, got a rather rude lesson in cyber security.  She purchased a “smart” baby monitor that she could watch from her equally smart phone, only to wake up one day to find the baby monitor pointed at her.

She didn’t think much about that until she watched the camera move on its own to the spot where she breast feeds her 3 month old.

The camera, a very low end $34 camera from FREDI claims that it has NO RISK of PERSONAL INFORMATION and lifetime technical support.

When she and her husband were eating dinner together while the baby slept, her phone alerted her that the camera was moving.  That prompted an Oh (fill in the blank) moment.  Clearly they were not moving the camera.

Remember that consumers are not security experts and expecting to be so is doomed to failure.

To those of us in the security industry, this is not news, the hacking of baby monitors being a well worn road.  Since manufacturers are not liable for the security of their products, they choose not to spend money on something that doesn’t generate revenue.

She unplugged the camera and called the police, but when the police arrived and plugged the camera in again, the peeping Tom had actually locked them out of their own camera – likely having heard the conversation with the police.

She contacted Amazon, who pointed her to the manufacturer.  The lifetime tech support number was disconnected and they did not respond to email.  No surprise here.

I wrote a long time about about the tests that Rapid 7 did on baby monitor security and almost all of them got an F.

So what should you do?

The first thing to do is your own research on the security of whatever baby monitor you are considering purchasing.

See if your chosen vendor offers security patches to their monitors in the past.  No patches likely does not mean a secure product – just one that the vendor doesn’t care about after the sale.

Next, change the default password and make the new password something that is complex.  And hard to guess.

But another simple and low tech thing to do is…

Get an old ski cap and drop it over the camera when you are home. Or at least when you are in the room.  Take it off when you leave and put it back on when you come back.

At least that way the only thing the peeping Tom will see is your (hopefully) sleeping baby.

And not you in a compromising state of undress.

 

Information for this post came from CSO Online.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather

Bug in Git Software Could Make Software Repositories Vulnerable

Git, the software used by millions of software developers to manage their source code – the crown jewels of most corporations – is vulnerable to two different attacks.

The first bug would allow a malicious attacker to overwrite code in folders where they should not be.

The second bug allows an attacker to read arbitrary memory and applies across development platforms.

How much damage can be done is unknown, but what is the likely scenario is that a large percentage of responsible development teams will update their Git software, but a surprisingly large number will not and that is where the attackers will head.

So, what should you do?

There is a patch for multiple versions of Git.  We are starting to see more of this as serious bugs appear and the developers know that people have not updated to the current version.

Patches are available for versions 2.13(.7), 2.14(.4), 2.15(.4), 2.16(.4) and 2.17.1 (2).

Microsoft is telling developers to download 2.17.1 (2) and has blocked malicious repositories from being uploaded to Visual Studio Team Services.  How, exactly, they know what is malicious they are not saying.  They also say that they will be releasing a patch “shortly” for Visual Studio.  Hopefully shortly is just a few days.

Linux platforms like Debian are updating their software to use the new version of Git and are telling folks to upgrade.

Bottom line, if you are a software developer and use Git, it is time to upgrade.

Information for this post came from The Register.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather

Hackers Infect 500,000 Routers and Growing

Cisco has released an advisory that a half million consumer and small business routers and growing have been infected with malware dubbed VPNFilter.

The malware was detected infecting routers from:

  • Linksys
  • MikroTik
  • Netgear
  • TP-Link
  • and QNap storage devices

The researchers have not figured out a test that a consumer or small business can use to detect whether a particular router is infected or not.

On top of that, there is no “patch” that will inoculate a router against the malware.

The infections is affecting routers in 54 countries and has grown so quickly in the last month that the researchers decided to make their research public early.  They are continuing to study it.

The malware is very flexible in what it can do – including stealing credentials and destroying the router so that the user has to buy a new one.

Among other things, the malware can, apparently, steal files and also  run commands on your router which could lead to a whole variety of different compromises of your systems.

The FBI says that it has seized a server used by the attackers.  Gee, that means that they will hijack a new server and download a new version of the malware onto the compromised devices.  Given this control server was taken offline, it *MAY* mean that the hackers have to reinfect those devices, but apparently, that wasn’t too hard to do in the first place.

Information for this post came from Ars Technica.

OK, so given that, what do you do?

The article lists some of the routers affected.  Some of them, like the Linksys E1200 and E2500 and Netgear R7000 and R8000, are extremely popular.  If you have one of the routers listed in the article, you should raise your alert level.

Rebooting the router WILL NOT remove the malware.  Given that there is no easy way to detect the malware, Cisco is recommending that users of the listed routers perform a factory reset.  Beware if you do that you will lose the router’s configuration and someone will have to reprogram it.  This may involve sending out a service technician to your house or office.  This, right now, is the only known way to disinfect infected routers.

I  recommend putting a separate firewall between your ISP’s router and your internal computers.  This is another level of defense.  Two good firewalls are pfSense (which comes both as open source software and a commercial package) and the Ubiquiti Edge Router X.  Note that you will have to have some expertise or hire someone to configure  it.  This will however, give you an extra layer of protection.  And, since you are buying it, your ISP will not have the password to it.

Make sure that you change the default password in your existing router.  One possible way the infection is getting in is via default credentials.

Check to see if there are any patches to your router available from your router manufacturer.  If so, install them and repeat that process every month.

Unfortunately, unlike some attacks where there is an easy fix, this one is a bit of a dumpster fire and since it affects so many different devices, it is not likely to get fixed quickly.

 

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather

Friday News Bites for May 18, 2018

Signal Does it Right

Matt Green, the well known cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins said this about the encrypted messaging app Signal: “After reading the code, I literally discovered a line of drool running down my face.  It’s really nice.”  But even nice code isn’t perfect.  Last Friday, researchers announced very serious bug in Signal’s Windows and Linux implementation and within hours, Signal had it fixed and available for download.  I wish every vendor moved at this speed.  Signal may not auto update, so make sure that you download the new version [1.10.1] (Source: The Hacker News).

Google Gets It RIght – Probably.  Finally.

One of my big complaints about Android is the lack of consistent patching from vendor to vendor.  Some vendors were even caught lying saying that they had patched software that was not patched.  Google has announced that with Android P (version 9), OEMs will be required to release regular patches as part of their license agreement.  Details are not out yet, so stay tuned, but this, if it happens, will close down a major security difference between Android and iOS (Source: The  Hacker News).

Facebook isn’t the Only One Selling Your Data

The big 4 cell carriers – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint – and others are selling your location data to data aggregators such as LocationSmart, who in turn sell it to companies like Securus, sometimes through distributors.  Securus is the company who put its head in a noose by giving location data of judges and state police officers to a sheriff without a warrant and for reasons unknown.  While this data is likely only accurate to a few hundred yards because it uses cell tower data rather than GPS data, it works perfectly even if you have location tracking turned off.  And, of course, everyone makes money off the deal – the carriers, the aggregators and the distributors.  Sounds like a win for everyone but you and me.  They say that due to what may be sloppy drafting of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, selling this data may not be illegal.  While the Sheriff who used it should have had a warrant, private companies who buy the data just need to pay for it – no questions asked as to what or why.  (Source: ZDNET).

Securus Attacked By Hackers

Securus (as in Secure Us), the incredibly unsecure company that gave a Missouri sheriff location information on state police and judges (that we can assume he did not like) with no judicial oversight, has been hacked.  We also don’t know if the attacker was somehow thinking that they deserved it.

One example of the data stolen by the hacker and given to Motherboard was a spreadsheet with names, emails, phone numbers, weakly hashed passwords and security questions for over 2,500 law enforcement customers.  Assuming this data makes it to the black market, it could be used as a hit list for cops – who already are being attacked on a daily basis.

We also don’t know what else the attacker took or what he plans to do with it.

Securus, who has a track record of poor security, says they are “investigating it” (Source: Motherboard).

For the Second Time in a Week – Another Critical Signal Bug

Right after I upgraded my copy of Signal for Windows to version 1.10.1 (see the first item in this post), I noticed that it upgraded itself to 1.11.1 .  Yup!  That means that they found another bug – a critical one – that could reveal data and even Windows passwords.

Does this mean that Signal is bad?  Actually not,  Think about the number of patches for Windows that Microsoft has released over the years.  The number is likely in the tens of thousands.  Signal has released 10.  BUT, no software is perfect.  Or invincible.  So upgrade your copy of Signal and don’t assume that Signal is invincible.   It is not.  It is good, but that is different. (Source: The Hacker News).

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmailby feather