Tag Archives: 5G

Security News for the Week Ending October 16, 2020

5 Eyes Ask For Crypto Backdoor – Again

Law enforcement does not like it if they cannot snoop whenever they want. It has been a problem since encryption started to be used by the masses. The CIA, for example, even went to go so far as to BUY the Swiss encryption company Crypto AG, insert backdoors into their hardware and sell it to both our allies and our adversaries for decades before circumstances changed and made that hardware less important. They didn’t tell our allies that we were snooping on them. Part of the game.

So it is no surprise that when consumer products contain decent crypto, these same folks are not happy and they have been fighting the battle ever since.

Now they are saying that these companies should allow them to snoop on everyone – which they will do responsibly, of course – is a matter of public safety and protecting children.

And, of course, unlike the TSA, NSA, CIA and others before them who lost control of those secrets, these secret backdoors that companies should provide will not get into the wild. Trust us! credit: SCMagazine

Apple Releases New 5G Phones That Use Non-Existent 5G Service

Okay, this is not a cybersecurity issue, but it is a hot button for me. You can now buy an iPhone 12 Max with Apple care for $1700+ with 5G support.

I guess if you want to spend your money and help the economy, go for it, but if you think that you will be able to surf the web on your phone 10 times faster than today as they claim, you can. But you will have to wait around 10 years.

The problem is that none of the carriers have FAST 5G infrastructure. Verizon, does have some fast 5G – it covers about one percent of the US population. So, if you want to have a new iPhone and be one of the cool kids, go for it. Just don’t expect to surf the web any faster than you do today. Credit: Cybernews

Microsoft Takes Down TrickBot Network

On October 12, Microsoft and several partners announced that they were able to disrupt the TrickBot infrastructure by legally disabling IP addresses, making servers inaccessible and suspending services employed by the botnet. The effort was also aimed at preventing operators from registering new infrastructure.  There is a concern that the bot network, which has connections to Russia and has compromised at least a million computers may be used in an attempt by Russia to impact the U.S. Presidential elections.

That takedown lasted two days. The network is back operational again, causing mischief. This just points to the challenge of permanently stopping hackers who are living in unfriendly countries like Russia. Even with the best efforts of Microsoft and Cyber Command, it only stopped them for 2 days. Credit: ZDNet and Security Week.

And You Thought TSA was the Only Non-Secure Part of Flying? Wrong!

The aviation industry uses a system called ACAS internationally or TCAS in the U.S. It is a collision avoidance system which tells a pilot that there is another plane nearby and tells each pilot how to avoid a collision (up, down, left, right, fast, slow, etc.). Except that TCAS has no security in it and it can be spoofed by a bad guy to crash the plane. There is a new version coming out soon called ACAS X and it too can be fooled. So much for the basics of security. Credit: The Register

800,000 Sonicwall Appliances Can be Hacked by a Kid

The patch, which affects 800,000 Internet facing VPN servers, was released on Monday. The details were disclosed two days later, on Wednesday. In its simplest form, a kid can either crash the device or just make it not respond to commands. Worst case, a more skilled hacker may be able to execute arbitrary code, including bypassing login requirements. Sonicwall says that they are not AWARE OF any customers impacted YET. If I was running a Sonicwall appliance, I would treat this as an emergency and patch it as soon as possible. Credit: ZDNet

Security News for the Week Ending September 4, 2020

Centurylink Routing Issues Lead to Massive Internet Outage

Last Saturday night/Sunday morning, Centurylink had a bit of a problem, either taking down or severely impacting web site such as Cloudflare, Amazon, Steam, Twitter and many more. Just because a system was designed to stay operating in case of a nuclear attack does not mean that it is immune to human error or software bugs. Centurylink has not explained what happened. This particular attack nullified many business continuity strategies. If staying online is important to you, this would be a good time to review your DR-BC program. Credit: Bleeping Computer

The New Normal: Dell Says 60% of Their Staff Will Not be Going Back to the Office Regularly

We are seeing more companies saying that they do not plan to return to office life ever. Dell says that the majority of it’s 165,000 member workforce will never return to the office again or regularly. Dell says “work is something you do, an outcome, not a place or time”.

Ignore for the moment what this means for the commercial real estate market if this becomes the new normal.

That means a significant leap for your cybersecurity practices going forward. When the majority of your work is being done on a network, via unencrypted wireless through a router that was last patched in 2013, what does that mean for security? If that thought keeps you up at night, call us. Credit: The Register

Users’ Browsing Can Be De-Anonymized With Little Work, Researchers Say

Mozilla (Firefox) collected two 1-week browsing history datasets from 50,000 volunteers and were able to re-identify anonymous browsing data to the individual successfully. With users who only visited 50 web sites during that period, they were able to re-identify up to 80% of them. The odds improve when the researchers have more data. After all, who visits only 50 web sites in a two week period. Therefore, assume claims of data being anonymized with great skepticism. Credit: Help Net Security

US Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA’s Mass Surveillance Disclosed by Edward Snowden is Illegal

Seven years after Edward Snowden disclosed the existence of NSA’s mass surveillance program a federal appeals court said the program is illegal. In defending the program, the NSA pointed to one case where NSA surveillance data was used, but the judge overseeing that case says that the NSA’s information was not material. However, the same court said that the folks convicted in that case are still guilty so no getting off the hook based on that. Given the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this program, the fact that the NSA can only point to one court case where the program had any effect should kill the program on effectiveness grounds anyway, but that it not the job of the court. I am sure the Republican administration will appeal this up to the Supremes, but they may or may not take the case, so stay tuned. Credit: Threatpost

Republican Plan to Ban Huawei Will Cost Americans $2 Billion

Now that the Republicans have decided (it is an election year) that Huawei is a national security threat (but wasn’t for the last three years), they have created a requirement to rip out and replace all of the existing Huawei (and ZTE) equipment that carriers are already using. The first step in this process was to ask the carriers well, how much will it cost to replace all that stuff. The carriers have come back with that initial estimate and it is $1.8 billion and change. Carriers are notoriously bad at estimating costs like this, so make it $2.5 billion or so.

BTW, I am not saying that the FCC is wrong, I just don’t understand why this wasn’t considered a problem in 2017 vs. two months before the elections.

Where is that money going to come from? There are really only two options – higher prices to customers and a taxpayer subsidy.

Curiously, the Republicans are complaining about a Chinese law that requires Chinese companies to comply with requests from the intelligence services and not tell anyone. If I was wearing a blindfold, that would sound exactly like the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA.

I have said for a long time that when it comes to telecom, the U.S. is basically a third world country (according to Wikipedia, we rank 30th in the world for mobile Internet connection speed). What the carriers will do in the short term is, except for really densely populated downtown cities, slow down the rollout of 5G Internet (Verizon, for example, only covers 5% of the population with high speed 5G – high speed means that a user can tell the difference when connecting over a 5G connection vs. connecting over a 4G connection). Other carriers cover more of the US, but with virtually no speed difference over 4G, but now, even that rollout will likely slow down.

Security News for the Week Ending August 28, 2020

Ransomware is an Equal Opportunity Business

As American businesses deal with ever increasing ransomware attacks, larger ransom demands and ransom and extortion wrapped up together, we are not alone. Not that the fact that we are not alone should make us feel better. A new Iranian hacker group is using Dharma ransomware to go after businesses in Russia, Japan, China and India. According to the researchers who discovered this, the hackers aren’t apparently quite sure what to do once they get in. Credit: Group-IB

New Zealand Stock Exchange Attacked

The New Zealand stock exchange was down for the third time in two attacks after hackers attacked with with a volumetric attack (I think that is a fancy word for big). Basically, they crushed the exchange’s servers with a lot of useless data. You have to assume that a stock exchange has a lot of security in place and has certainly considered that someone might want to use it to make a point, so the fact that they went down three times and then halted trading says that (a) they made their point and (b) the exchange’s preparations were not sufficient. Do you care if your online systems are taken down by hackers? Are you prepared in case they try? Credit: News.com

Insider Threat Is a Real Problem

A Russian national inside the U.S. offered to pay an employee of an unnamed company $500,000 to plant malware in the company’s network. When the employee didn’t go for the plan, the Russian upped the offer to a million dollars. The Russian told him that the company would pay millions to not have their data posted on the web. The employee, instead, went to the FBI and the Russian national is now in custody. Credit: Security Week

UPDATE: It turns out the unidentified company is Tesla.

Homeland Security Releases 5G Strategy

Homeland Security’s CISA released a strategy document for the migration of the country to 5G. While those trying to sell 5G gear are pretending that the country is ready for 5G, the reality is that 5G that lives up to the 5G hype is years away except for small pockets.

The strategy document calls for 5G policy and standards emphasizing security and resilience, expanding awareness of 5G supply chain risk (code for beware of HUAWEI and China), encourage other companies to get into the 5G game and identifying risk based on potential 5G uses.

All of this is good, but unless this is more than a press release, it will not make any difference. Credit: SC Magazine

Security News Bites for the Week Ending July 31, 2020

Many Cyberspace Solarium Commission Recommendations Likely to Become Law

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission was a blue ribbon commission that made recommendations to Congress earlier this year on improving government cybersecurity. It appears that many of their recommendations are being added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is “must pass” bill to fund the military. President Trump has said that he will veto it because it directs the Pentagon to rename bases named after Confederate Generals. Stay tuned; that sausage is still being made. If they do remain in the bill, that would be a great thing. Credit: CSO Online

Fintech “Dave” Exposed 7.5 Million Customers’ Data

Fintechs, those Internet firms that act as an intermediary between your financial institutions and you, are not regulated in the same way that say, banks are. Fintech Dave (yes, that is their name) exposed data on 7.5 million customers as a result of a breach at one of their vendors. One more time, vendor cyber risk management is an issue and Dave will wind up with the lawsuits and fines. While credit card data was not exposed, passwords, which were very weakly encrypted, were compromised. Credit: Dark Reading

IRS “Recommends” 2FA – Makes it Mandatory Next Year

IRS is “Recommending” Tax Pros Use Multi-factor Authentication, especially when working from home. They say that most of the data thefts reported to the IRS this year by tax pros could have been avoided if they used multi-factor authentication. Starting in 2021, this will be mandatory for all providers of tax software. The IRS seems to recommend two factor apps like Google Authenticator over SMS messages which are easier to hack. Credit: Bleeping Computer

5G is Here – Sort Of

The article says “After years of hype, 5G making progress in the US”. While true, there is less to the statement than most people would like. Last week AT&T joined T-Mobile in claiming that have deployed 5G nationwide. While this is a true statement, they are doing it using the low frequency band. They are doing this because they can cover the country with an order of magnitude less cell sites. Unfortunately, this also means that the speed that you will see after you fork over a thousand bucks for a new 5G phone is basically the same as the speed you currently have with your current phone without spending the money on the new phone and new plan. For details, read the article in USA Today.

Security News for the Week Ending April 24, 2020

Corona Virus Puts Brakes on 5G Deployment

A research reports says that global cloud revenue from the operation of core 5G networks will fall 25% to 30% shy of the $9 billion forecasted for this year.

They predict that this will only be a short term problem and that 5G deployment will pick up next year.

*I* think a bigger problem is going to be network congestion, but what do I know; I am not trying to sell consumers and businesses a dream.

Samsung just demonstrated a 5G phone on a commercial cell site (TEST) was able to transmit at 4.2 gigabits a second. Two phones doing that fully consumes one 10 gigabit fiber. 100 of those at one cell site would consume 50 fiber strands from that site. One hundred cell sites with each filling up 50 fiber strands would, in the aggregate fill up 50×100= 5,000 strands of fiber and that is for just 100 cell sites. The forecast is for hundreds of thousands of cell sites in the U.S. Where do we get all of that network capacity? The answer of course, is to throttle down your speed to something they can digest, unless you pay a lot of money (which they would like). Most people will say that it is not worth it. That spells a problem, I predict. Credit: Computer Weekly.

Space Crime – Astronaut Accused of Hacking Spouse’s Bank Account from Space

In possibly the first space crime ever, the spouse of an astronaut on the U.S. space station, who was separated and filing for divorce, accused the astronaut of hacking into her bank account from outer space. I used to say that you could hack from half way around the globe, but I guess now I have to amend that to include outer space. It turns out that the spouse is now being charged with lying to the cops – she had given her spouse access to that bank account years earlier and never changed the password, even though she said that she had. Credit: CNN

Ticketmaster Changes Refund Policy After the Fact

While this is not really a security issue, I find the numbers staggering. And a warning.

Ticketmaster has postponed or cancelled 30,000 events and still has another 25,000 events scheduled for the rest of this year. Just the cancelled events represents $2 billion in ticket sales and, I am sure, hundreds of millions of dollars of profit. As a result, Ticketmaster decided to change their refund policy, AFTER PEOPLE PURCHASED THEIR TICKETS to say that you won’t get a refund unless the event is cancelled and not “indefinitely postponed”. Since the performer, venue and Ticketmaster all have a vested interest in keeping people’s money, many events will be “indefinitely postponed”. Not surprisingly, Ticketmaster is being sued.

Ticketmaster is working on offering refunds for 18,000 postponed events, likely due to a combination of the shaky legal strategy of changing contract terms after the fact and the bad publicity, but that still leaves maybe 30,000 to 40,000 events, representing maybe 100-500 million tickets (depending on average venue size), in limbo.

For consumers, this is a bit of a security warning in the sense that you should consider that any money that you spent on tickets for concerts and travel should be treated as a total loss for now. Plan for the worst and be happy if you wind up better than that. I assume that no one is buying tickets right now, but consider this when that option resumes.

For example, a high school class trip got cancelled here in the Denver area and the travel agency refunded 25% of the cost of the trip. The other 75% is, apparently, unknown.

Credit: Blabbermouth. For more information on the behind the scenes challenges that Ticketmaster is dealing with, see this article in Billboard.

Remote Worker’s Lack of Corporate Firewalls Blamed for Rise in Malicious Activity

SC Magazine says that the number of devices that have been commandeered to work for the bad guys has more than doubled since the pandemic.

The researchers believe that many of these devices were infected before the pandemic but the devices were blocked from the Internet by corporate firewalls.

Now that people are home and have a range of protection from NO firewalls to crappy firewalls that have never been patched to OK firewalls – but probably very few great firewalls, the malware can do it’s damage.

As a side note, reports from some corporate IT departments say that the availability of corporate grade firewalls suitable for home deployment is non-existent, so even companies that want to fix the problem by providing firewalls to employees can’t. The study says that the number of OBSERVED compromised companies increased by 400% between January and March in some countries. Credit: SC Magazine

Half a Billion iPhones at Risk Due to Email App Bug

While Apple is claiming that they don’t have any concrete evidence that hackers abused a bug in Apple’s default email application, they are not denying that the bug exposes email users to to having their phones compromised and data stolen just by receiving a blank email.

Apple is also saying that while they are developing a patch, the three bugs in mail that were reported were not enough to compromise phones.

Security firm Zecops says that at least 6 firms were targeted as far back as 2018. The bug dates back to iOS 6 — 2012!

For now, high risk users should not read their emails on their phones.

Credit: Tech Crunch and Engadget

5G Security Is a Mess and Banning Huawei WILL NOT Help

The President is right that cellular security is a problem, but not for the reason that he thinks – although that is a problem too.

Researchers at Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum have discovered a way to compromise 4G cellular security – the cell service that almost all of us use now.

It allows them to impersonate the phone’s owner and book fee based services that get charged to the owner’s phone bill.

It also could impact law enforcement investigations because it would also allow a hacker to access websites using the victim’s identity. In fact do anything the real owner can do.

If the attacker wanted to blackmail someone, they could upload sensitive or compromising information and then lead the cops to that info. The cops would believe the owner did it. Hackers could threaten to do that in order to blackmail someone.

The vulnerability affects all LTE devices – Apple, Android, Windows – even Cellular IoT devices.

And the only way to fix it is by changing the hardware – at both the user end and the cell company end. Any bets on that getting fixed? I didn’t think so.

The team is trying to figure a fix for the next generation (5G). They say that it is possible.

But it is going to cost the cell carriers money.

The additional security requires the phones to transmit more bits, costing the carriers overhead.

And all 5G phones would have to be replaced (DO NOT buy one if you have not already done so).

And the base stations would have to be expanded.

Other than that, it is a piece of cake.

The problem is the lack of integrity protection: data packets are transmitted encrypted between the mobile phone and the base station, which protects the data against eavesdropping. However, it is possible to modify the exchanged data packets.

For more info see Help Net Security and CSO Magazine.