Category Archives: Resources

AVIEN resource updates 3rd August 2018

Updates to Anti-Social Media 

A fascinating article for Quartz by Nikhil SonnadEverything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason – “Facebook only does the right thing when it’s forced to. Instead, it needs to be willing to sacrifice the goal of total connectedness and growth when this goal has a human cost; to create a decision-making process that requires Facebook leaders to check their instinctive technological optimism against the realities of human life.” Recommended. (Hat tip to Daring Fireball.)

The Next Web: Telegram Passport is already drawing fire for not being secure enough – “Its password encryption could be cracked for just $5”

Updates to Internet of (not necessarily necessary) Things

[Many of the Things that crop up on this page are indeed necessary. But that doesn’t mean that connecting them to the Internet of Things (or even the Internet of Everything) is necessary, or even desirable, given how often that connectivity widens the attack surface.]

US-CERT advised that the FBI published an article on securing the internet of things. US-CERT also flagged the NCCIC Tip Securing the Internet of Things.

David Harley

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AVIEN Resource updates 2nd August

Updates to Anti-Social Media 

(1)

New York Times: Facebook Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign – “Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November’s midterm elections.”

Commentary from The Register: Facebook deletes 17 accounts, dusts off hands, beams: We’ve saved the 2018 elections – “Yeah, that’ll do the trick, Mark”

Facebook’s own blog post: Removing Bad Actors on Facebook

(2)

Luana Pascu: GDPR directly impacts Facebook, 1 million European users lost 

(3)

The Register: UK ‘fake news’ inquiry calls for end to tech middleman excuses, election law overhaul  “British lawmakers have been told to create tougher rules for social media giants claiming to be neutral platforms, establish a code of ethics for tech firms, and plump up the UK’s self-styled “data sheriff”.”

(4)

Roger Thompson (Thompson Cyber Security Labs): Ok, this was scary – a disquieting example of how much more information is ‘publicly available’ than you probably think. Even scarier is the question of how much publicly available information is actually accurate.

Updates to Cryptocurrency/Crypto-mining News and Resources

Graham Cluley: Steam game Abstractism pulled after cryptomining accusations

The Register: ‘Unhackable’ Bitfi crypto-currency wallet maker will be shocked to find fingernails exist – “A crypto-currency wallet heavily promoted as “unhackable” – complete with endorsements from the security industry’s loopy old uncle John McAfee and a $350,000 bounty challenge – has, inevitably, been hacked within a week.”

Bleeping Computer: Massive Coinhive Cryptojacking Campaign Touches Over 200,000 MikroTik Routers – “Security researchers have unearthed a massive cryptojacking campaign that targets MikroTik routers and changes their configuration to inject a copy of the Coinhive in-browser cryptocurrency mining script in some parts of users’ web traffic.” Lengthy analysis by Trustwave: Mass MikroTik Router Infection – First we cryptojack Brazil, then we take the World?

Updates to GDPR page

The Register: India mulls ban on probes into anonymized data use – with GDPR-style privacy laws – “Thought having your call center in India was a good idea? Maybe not so much now”

Luana Pascu: GDPR directly impacts Facebook, 1 million European users lost 

Updates to Internet of (not necessarily necessary) Things

[Many of the Things that crop up on this page are indeed necessary. But that doesn’t mean that connecting them to the Internet of Things (or even the Internet of Everything) is necessary, or even desirable, given how often that connectivity widens the attack surface.]

Pierluigi Paganini: Tens of flaws in Samsung SmartThings Hub expose smart home to attack
““Cisco Talos recently discovered several vulnerabilities present within the firmware of the Samsung SmartThings Hub.” reads the analysis published by Talos.”

The SANS OUCH! newsletter for August offers basic but generally sensible advice on Smart Home Devices. “There is no reason to be afraid of new technologies but do understand the risk they pose. By taking these few simple steps you can help create a far more secure Smart Home.”

Updates to Mac Virus

Android and OneDrive, and iOS-targeting phish

David Harley

27th July 2018 Resource updates

Updates to Cryptocurrency/Crypto-mining News and Resources 

John Leyden for The Register: Criminal mastermind injects malicious script into Ethereum tracker. Their message? ‘1337’ – “The Etherscan incident could have been far worse. Rather than a cheeky pop-up, a more mendacious mind might just have easily used the same flaw to run a crypto-mining scam.”

SecureList (Kaspersky): A mining multitool – “Symbiosis of PowerShell and EternalBlue for cryptocurrency mining… The creators of PowerGhost …  started using fileless techniques to establish the illegal miner within the victim system. It appears the growing popularity and rates of cryptocurrencies have convinced the bad guys of the need to invest in new mining techniques – as our data demonstrates, miners are gradually replacing ransomware Trojans.”

Graham Cluley: Mind your company’s old Twitter accounts, rather than allowing them to be hijacked by hackers  – “DEFUNCT FOX TV SHOW HAS ITS TWITTER ACCOUNT COMPROMISED BY CRYPTOCURRENCY SCAMMERS.” “…it appears that hackers seized control of the moribund Twitter account and gave it a new lease of life promoting cryptocurrency scams.

Updates to Tech support scams resource page

ZDnet: US makes an example of Indian call center scam artists with stiff sentences – “The worst offenders have been thrown behind bars for up to 20 years… a number of call centers were established in Ahmedabad, India, in which operators impersonated the IRS and USCIS… in order to threaten US victims with arrest, prison, fines, and deportation unless they paid money they apparently owed.”

Updates to Chain Mail Check

An excellent article has just been published by my ESET colleague Lysa Myers. Companies actually compound the phishing problem when they send poorly thought-out messages that are indistinguishable from phishing messages, both to their own staff and to customers (some banks are particularly culpable here). As a result, recipients of such messages are conditioned into accepting without suspicion messages that don’t conform to good practice, and are more susceptible to being taken in by phishing messages. Hook, line, and sinker: How to avoid looking ‘phish-y’  In addition, Lysa points out an issue I hadn’t really considered: “An increasingly common scenario is phishy-looking emails sent by Software as a Service (SaaS) apps like those for fax or shipping services, human resource or accounting portals, collaboration tools, newsletters or even party planners.”

Another colleague (and long-time friend), Bruce P. Burrell, expands on the story I referred to briefly here – Sextortion and leaked passwords – with this article: I saw what you did…or did I? – “It might seem legit but there are several reasons why you should not always hit the panic button when someone claims to have your email password.” Not just a rehash of the news story, but the precursor to what I expect to be a very useful second article with advice from a seasoned security researcher.

Updates to Mac Virus

[update:  for ESET – Fake banking apps on Google Play leak stolen credit card data – “Fraudsters are using bogus apps to convince users of three Indian banks to divulge their personal data”]

Catalin Cimpanu: Chrome Extensions, Android and iOS Apps Caught Collecting Browsing Data – “An investigation by AdGuard, an ad-blocking platform, has revealed a common link between several Chrome and Firefox extensions and Android & iOS apps that were caught collecting highly personal user data through various shady tactics.”

Pierluigi Paganini: CSE Malware ZLab – APT-C-27 ’s long-term espionage campaign in Syria is still ongoing. After ESET’s Lukas Stefanko revealed the existence of a repository containing Android applications, researchers from CSE Cybsec Z-Lab identified spyware that was “part or the arsenal of a APT group tracked as APT-C-27, aka Golden Rat Organization.” In recent years the group has been focusing its activities in Syria. Here’s the ZLAB Malware Analysis Report.

The Hacker News: iPhone Hacking Campaign Using MDM Software Is Broader Than Previously Known – “India-linked highly targeted mobile malware campaign, first unveiled two weeks ago, has been found to be part of a broader campaign targeting multiple platforms, including windows devices and possibly Android as well.”

Sophos: Red Alert 2.0: Android Trojan targets security-seekers – “A malicious, counterfeit version of a VPN client for mobile devices targets security-minded victims with a RAT.”

David Bisson for Tripwire: Exobot Android Banking Trojan’s Source Code Leaked Online -“Bleeping Computer said it received a copy of the source code from an unknown individual in June. In response, it verified the authenticity of the code with both ESET and ThreatFabric…Exobot is a type of malware that targets Android users via malicious apps. Some of those programs made their way onto the Google Play Store at one point.”

David Harley

July 23rd resources updates

[Updates that haven’t been flagged in my other AVIEN articles today]

Updates to Specific Ransomware Families and Types

Catalin Cimpanu for Bleeping Computer: Vaccine Available for GandCrab Ransomware v4.1.2 Cimpanu reckons that “The GandCrab ransomware has slowly become the most widespread ransomware strain in use today.” At the moment Ahnlab’s vaccine app only works with version 4.1.2 of GandCrab, but Cimpanu suggests that it might be backported. The app can be downloaded from here or here.

John Leyden for The Register: Will this biz be poutine up the cash? Hackers demand dosh to not leak stolen patient records – “Tens of thousands of Canadian medical files, healthcare worker details snatched” Not ransomware, but still extortion.

Updates to Chain Mail Check

HelpNet Security: Microsoft tops list of brands impersonated by phishers. Summarizes an article by Vade Secure’s Phishers’ Favorites Top 25 List. Trailing quite a long way behind are PayPal, Facebook, Netflix etc. Vade reckon that Microsoft is such a favourite because it can be so profitable to get into a Microsoft Office 365 account.

Updates to Mac Virus

  1. Following up this story: USB restricted mode: now you don’t see it, now you do…

Elcomsoft’s claims hinged on the assertion that “…iOS will reset the USB Restrictive Mode countdown timer even if one connects the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory, one that has never been paired to the iPhone before…Most (if not all) USB accessories fit the purpose — for example, Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter from Apple.”

Andrew O’Hara, for AppleInsider, tells us that iOS 12 developer beta 4 requires device to be unlocked before connecting any USB accessories. “In the fourth developer beta of iOS 12, a passcode is required any time a computer or USB accessory is connected…Before the change, authorities or criminals would have an hour since last unlock to connect a cracking device, like the GreyKey box. Now, they don’t have that hour, making it that much more difficult to brute force a password attempt into a device.”

2. SecureList: Calisto Trojan for macOS – “The first member of the Proton malware family? … Conceptually, the Calisto backdoor resembles a member of the Backdoor.OSX.Proton family: … it masquerades as a well-known antivirus (a Backdoor.OSX.Proton was previously distributed under the guise of a Symantec antivirus product) … Like Backdoor.OSX.Proton, this Trojan is able to steal a great amount of personal data from the user system, including the contents of Keychain”

David Harley

Anti-Social Media Updates

Nick Statt for The Verge: Undercover Facebook moderator was instructed not to remove fringe groups or hate speech – “A new documentary details how third-party Facebook moderators ignore the company’s rules … The accusation is a damning one, undermining Facebook’s claims that it is actively trying to cut down on fake news, propaganda, hate speech, and other harmful content that may have significant real-world impact.” The investigation focuses on CPL Resources, which provides a third-party content moderation service.

In an interview with Kara Swisher, Zuckerberg tries to explain why Facebook hasn’t simply taken down InfoWars presence on the platform, but simply moved them ‘down the line’ by reducing distribution. Hmm.  Good interview, though, and lots of glimpses into the man’s head.

The Register: ‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it – “‘USENET was a pretty clear warning’ of things to come, says new draft IETF standard” I don’t think this IETF draft is entirely serious, but perhaps it should be. IT security remains fixated on technical security and has tended to fight shy of the psychosocial aspects of Internet interaction. Certainly the anti-malware industry in general could have paid more attention to the psychology of the victim than it has. And yes, USENET was a pretty good indication of how awful social media might (and did) turn out to be. And yes, abstention from social media and whisky do both have some appeal… A joke with teeth.

David Harley

AVIEN resource updates: July 15th 2018

Updates to Anti-Social Media 

(1) ESET: Facebook fined over data privacy scandal

You’re probably already aware of the gentle tap on the wrist administered by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but this does actually indicate why the penalty was so much less than you might have expected (in theory, up to 4% of the company’s total income).

(2) An article from The Next Web: Experts warn DeepFakes could influence 2020 US election – “Fake AI-generated videos featuring political figures could be all the rage during the next election cycle, and that’s bad news for democracy.”

(3) Graham Cluley: Facebook doesn’t want to eradicate fake news. If it did they’d kick out InfoWars – “Social networks giving sick conspiracy theorists a platform to spread hate.” Graham points out that InfoWars misinformation is also an issue on YouTube.

Updates to Meltdown/Spectre and other chip-related resources

John Leyden for The Register: Google’s ghost busters: We can scare off Spectre haunting Chrome tabs – “Site Isolation keeps pages fully separate on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS … Rather than solely defending against cross-site scripting attacks, the technology is now positioned as a necessary defence against infamous data-leaking Spectre CPU vulnerabilities, as a blog post by Google explained this week…”

Updates to Chain Mail Check

Brian Krebs: Sextortion Scam Uses Recipient’s Hacked Passwords

The scammer claims to have made a video of the intended victim watching porn, and threatens to send it to their friends unless payment is made. Not particularly novel: the twist with this one is that it “references a real password previously tied to the recipient’s email address.” Krebs suggests that the scammer is using a script to extract passwords and usernames from a known data breach from at least ten years ago.

The giveaway is that very few people are likely to be using the same password now – and it’s unlikely that there are that many people receiving the email who might think that such a video could have been made. Still, it seems that some people have actually paid up, and it’s possible that a more convincing attack might be made sending a more recent password to a given email address, and perhaps using a different type of leverage.

Commentary from Sophos here.

David Harley

Other resource updates 11th July 2018

Updates to GDPR page

John Leyden for The Register: Thomas Cook website spills personal info – and it’s fine with that
– “Decides not to report code blunder despite Europe’s new GDPR privacy rules” Commentary from Graham Cluley  here.

Funny. I thought it was Nelson who turned a blind eye, not Captain Cook.

Updates to Internet of (not necessarily necessary) Things

[Many of the Things that crop up on this page are indeed necessary. But that doesn’t mean that connecting them to the Internet of Things (or even the Internet of Everything) is necessary, or even desirable, given how often that connectivity widens the attack surface.]

ESET: Polar Flow app exposes geolocation data of soldiers and secret agents plus: Zack Whittaker for ZDNet: Fitness app Polar exposed locations of spies and military personnel – “Location data revealed the home addresses of intelligence officers — even when their profiles were set to private.”

Updates to Meltdown/Spectre and other chip-related resources

The Register: Another Spectre CPU vulnerability among Intel’s dirty dozen of security bug alerts today – “Chipzilla preps for quarterly public patch updates”

Updates to Specific Ransomware Families and Types

The Hacker News: New Virus Decides If Your Computer Good for Mining or Ransomware – “Researchers at Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs have discovered a new variant of Rakhni ransomware family, which has now been upgraded to include cryptocurrency mining capability as well.”

John Leyden for The Register: Microsoft might not support Windows XP any more, but GandCrab v4.1 ransomware does

Updates to Mac Virus

Graham Cluley: New iOS security feature can be defeated by a $39 adapter… sold by Apple – “Unfortunately for Apple, and customers who like to believe that their phone is private, a workaround has been discovered whereby police could prevent an iPhone or iPad entering USB Restricted Mode if they act quickly enough … Researchers at Elcomsoft discovered that the one hour countdown timer can be reset simply by connecting the iPhone to an untrusted USB accessory.” Further commentary from Pierluigi Paganini: Just using a $39 device it is possible to defeat new iOS USB Restricted Mode.

This is what was supposed to happen, according to The Verge: Apple releases iOS 11.4.1 and blocks passcode cracking tools used by police. While the Register told us that Apple emits iPhone cop-block update – plus iOS, macOS, Safari patches, and Help Net said Apple releases security updates, adds new privacy protection for iOS users. Well, that didn’t last long…

Help Net: Android devices with pre-installed malware sold in developing markets – “This malware, designed to commit digital ad fraud, collects users’ personal information, depletes their mobile data allowance and triggers fraudulent charges to their pre-paid credit, without their knowledge or consent.”

Sophos: Apple and Google questioned by Congress over user tracking – “Inquiring minds want to know, for one thing, whether our mobile phones are actually listening to our conversations, the committee said in a press release.

David Harley

Resource updates 5th July 2018

Updates to Anti-Social Media 

Graham Cluley: Carole Cadwalladr takes us behind the scenes of the Cambridge Analytica investigation – HOW MILLIONS OF FACEBOOK USERS’ PERSONAL DATA WERE USED TO INFLUENCE THE US ELECTION AND BREXIT. “Last week, Carole Cadwalladr won The Orwell Prize for Journalism for her work investigating the impact of big data on the EU Referendum at the US Presidential election.”

John E. Dunn for Sophos: Facebook gave certain companies special access to customer data – “What do Russian internet company Mail.ru, car maker Nissan, music service Spotify, and sports company Nike have in common? They, and 57 other companies, were revealed by Facebook in a US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee submission to have been given temporary extensions to access private Friends data API despite the company supposedly changing the policy allowing this in May 2015.”

The Hacker News: Facebook Admits Sharing Users’ Data With 61 Tech Companies

Rhett Jones for Gizmodo: Google Says It Doesn’t Go Through Your Inbox Anymore, But It Lets Other Apps Do It

Updates to Cryptocurrency/Crypto-mining News and Resources

Pierluigi Paganini: Crooks leverage obfuscated Coinhive shortlink in a large crypto-mining operation – “Crooks leverage an alternative scheme to mine cryptocurrencies, they don’t inject the CoinHive JavaScript miner directly into compromised websites.”

Paul Ducklin for Sophos: Serious Security: How to cut-and-paste your way to Bitcoin riches – “Whether it’s cryptocurrency addresses, payment card details, ID numbers or other snippets of personal information, malware that sneakily changes data in the clipboard as you work online can trick you into paying the wrong people.”

Updates to GDPR page

The Register: United States, you have 2 months to sort Privacy Shield … or data deal is for the bin – Eurocrats – “MEPs call for urgent fix”

Updates to Internet of (not necessarily necessary) Things

[Many of the Things that crop up on this page are indeed necessary. But that doesn’t mean that connecting them to the Internet of Things (or even the Internet of Everything) is necessary, or even desirable, given how often that connectivity widens the attack surface.]

DZone Security Zone: Glimpse Inside IoT-Triggered DDoS Attacks and Securing IT Infrastructures

Tech support scams resource page

SANS Ouch Newsletter: Phone Call Attacks & Scams

Updates to Mac Virus

Andrew Orlowski for The Register: Uh-oh. Boffins say most Android apps can slurp your screen – and you wouldn’t even know it – “Over 89 per cent of apps in the Google Play store make use of an API that requests screen capture or recording – and the user is oblivious as it evades the Android permission framework.” Summary of a paper”…titled Panoptispy: Characterizing Audio and Video Exfiltration from Android Applications (summary and PDF).”

Pierluigi Paganini: A Samsung Texting App bug is sending random photos to contacts – ”

“The problem affected Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices, but we cannot exclude that other devices may have been affected…several users reported the anomalous behavior on Reddit and the company official forums.”

John E. Dunn for Sophos: Samsung phones sending photos to contacts without permission and also Your smartphone can watch you if it wants to, study finds.

Elcomsoft:  Apple Warns Users against Jailbreaking iOS Devices: True or False? Not whether Apple has issued the warnings – of course it has – but more about how justified the warnings are. The conclusion seems to be mostly true, with “with few caveats and one major exception.” Interesting article, anyway.

David Harley

June 29th AVIEN resource updates

Updates to Cryptocurrency/Crypto-mining News and Resources

FireEye: RIG Exploit Kit Delivering Monero Miner Via PROPagate Injection Technique

The Register: – How polite: Fun-bucks coin miners graciously ease off CPU pounding “…according to Johannes Ullrich, head of research at SANS, who today pointed out that malicious mining apps are scaling down activity and employing built-in encryption to make them harder for antivirus packages to detect.”

Updates to Meltdown/Spectre and other chip-related resources

Catalin Cimpanu for Bleeping Computer: Some Spectre In-Browser Mitigations Can Be Defeated “According to research published by Aleph Security … researchers were able to put together proof-of-concept code that retrieves sensitive data from a browser’s protected memory … their PoC bypassed Spectre mitigations and retrieved data from browsers such as Edge, Chrome, and Safari.” (But not Firefox, apparently.)

See also these anti-social media page updates.

David Harley

Updates to the ‘(Anti-)social media’ page

Tomáš Foltýn for ESET: How (over)sharing on social media can trip you up. In case you’d forgotten just how many ways there are in which oversharing information can harm you…

The Register: Facebook shells out $8k bug bounty after quiz web app used by 120m people spews profiles – “Facebook has forked out an $8,000 reward after a security researcher flagged up a third-party web app that potentially exposed up to 120 million people’s personal information from their Facebook profiles.” In case you thought Facebook was past all that…

Maria Varmazis for Sophos: Are you happy with this technology that Facebook’s developing? – actually commentary on a story in the New York Times about what Facebook’s patent applications tell us. It seems that there are few aspects of our personal lives that Facebook isn’t  interested in tracking.  Though Maria rightly points out that “these patents are not a product roadmap for Facebook, so it is entirely possible we’ll never see them in action.” Unless, perhaps, FB is encouraged to pursue them by future commercial and political developments…

Also from Sophos:

Facebook and Google accused of manipulating us with “dark patterns” – “In a report called Deceived By Design, the Norwegian Consumer Council (Forbrukerrådet) calls out Facebook and Google for presenting their GDPR privacy options in manipulative ways that encourage users to give up their privacy.” However, there are lots of more blatant manipulations to be seen: in many cases, it’s just a case of ‘let us drop our cookies or miss out on what we’re offering.”

David Harley