I wrote the other day (see post) about malware (called Superfish) that Lenovo intentionally installed on their computers in the name of improving your customer experience. Well, they admit that it was poorly thought out, but only for one of the two reasons I am concerned about.
They admit that snooping on your private conversations to present you with ads is probably not a good plan. The bigger problem is the Komodia software is a security train wreck.
Marc Rogers, the guy who tipped us to the problem, has done more research on Komodia and the problem is much bigger. Komodia makes a bunch of products that eavesdrop on your traffic for a bunch of different reasons and they all have the same issue. Some of the products that use this same toolkit include:
- Komodia’s “Keep My Family Secure” parental control software.
- Qustodio’s parental control software
- Kurupira Webfilter
- Staffcop (version 5.6 and 5.8)
- Easy hide IP Classic
- Lavasoft Ad-aware Web Companion
- Hide-my-ip (note: this package does not appear to utilize the SSL MITM, and the certificate is slightly different from the one found in other packages however it still utilizes an unrestricted root certificate with a simple plaintext password.
All of these products suffer from some common illnesses which include:
- They intercept your private communications
- The secret key for the software is embedded in the software and it is the same for every one of the installations around the world (no hacker would ever take advantage of that)
- The password for the secret key, which is also embedded in the software, is also the same for everyone and it is a stupid password – Komodia . I guess that is better than using 123456, but not much better.
- The Komodia software which negotiates a connection with, say, your bank on your behalf, allows a whole bunch of weak cryptographic methods that are old, weak and modern browsers eliminated them years ago. That means that on top of everything else, your traffic is susceptible to hacking.
- The Komodia software does not check (not correctly, anyway) whether the certificate of the web site you are going to is valid. This means, that, on top of everything else, you might be sent to a bogus web site and not even know it.
The web site that I reported last week (link above) has a test to see if the Superfish software is installed on your computer. The site has been updated to reflect this news and the address is:
If you do have this software on your computer, not only do you need to remove the software, but you also need to remove their certificate (basically, a skeleton key into your computer) as well. Marc has instructions for doing that on his web site.
All I can say is ARGH!!!!!
As I have said before, the internet merchants want to fool you into believing that SSL is secure. It is less unsecure when you implement it correctly, but is totally unsecure when you implement it the way Komodia implemented it. Worse than being unsecure, Komodia puts your computer at risk because of their actions.
The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (part of DHS, but run by intelligent people at Carnegie Mellon University) is now involved as well, so we may yet see more news about this.
If you are using any of these products, I would definitely uninstall them and remove the root certificate as well.