Tag Archives: cyber security

Heartbleed: routers and phones also at risk, says security expert

Heartbleed: routers and phones also at risk, says security expert

Manufacturers must patch routers, video conferencing software and desktop phones, as scale of software vulnerability continues to grow

 

The Guardian
by Alex Hern
April 14, 2014

 

The recently uncovered "Heartbleed" bug exposes data to hackers. (Photograph: Pawel Kopzynski / Reuters)
The recently uncovered “Heartbleed” bug exposes data to hackers. (Photograph: Pawel Kopzynski / Reuters)

 

Heartbleed, the software vulnerability in hundreds of thousands of web servers which laid their contents open to attackers, also affects consumer devices, security experts have warned.

Hardware including smartphones, routers and cable boxes are all potentially affected, posing the risk of anything from data theft to attackers seizing control of the vulnerable device.

“Network-connected devices often run a basic web server to let an administrator access online control panels,” says Philip Lieberman, president of security firm Lieberman Software. “In many cases, these servers are secured using OpenSSL and their software will need updating.

“However, this is unlikely to be a priority. The manufacturers of these devices will not release patches for the vast majority of their devices, and consumers will patch an insignificant number of devices.”

Some manufacturers have confirmed that their devices are not affected. Belkin says that its routers, as well as those of its Linksys subsidiary, are safe: one range does use OpenSSL, the software which contains the Heartbleed vulnerability, but uses a version which predates the flaw.

But others are not so lucky. Networking giant Cisco has confirmed that a number of its products are vulnerable, including desktop phones, video conferencing hardware and VPN software. It is investigating a further 83 products for potential vulnerabilities.

Neither Netgear nor BT returned requests for comment, and have not spoken publicly about whether or not their devices are vulnerable.

For affected devices, operators are slowly releasing patches, which must be downloaded and installed. But many users will not apply the updates, warns Lieberman.

“The list of compromised devices is huge,” he says. “Most of the devices are not going to be patched because their users do not know how to do it since they bought a router or firewall, not OpenSSL (as far as they are concerned).

“Many of the devices are from manufacturers that are no longer supporting the previously shipped devices as a matter of policy and business model,” he adds. “What do you expect in the way of support when you buy a device or embedded system for less than $100 and the company is making $10.00?”

As with affected websites, users should not change passwords until they are sure the vulnerability has been fixed. The best way to be certain is to wait for the affected company to specifically say it is time to change passwords: examples of companies who have done so include Tumblr, Flickr, IFTTT and Dogecoin service DogeAPI.

 

SSL keys stolen

One potential avenue of hope was blocked off on Friday, when online services company CloudFlare confirmed that four people had successfully stolen SSL certificates from an affected server.

SSL is the basis of security online, and is the protocol that leads to browsers displaying a padlock icon to show that a given website is secure. One of the attacks that the Heartbleed vulnerability allows is theft of the private key for SSL, allowing an attacker to decrypt intercepted messages or impersonate the site.

Cloudflare had previously written that “we have reason to believe… that it may in fact be impossible” to steal the keys from their servers, in contrast to claims made by the researchers who uncovered the flaw. But the company issued a challenge to the outside world to prove them wrong, and four separate researchers managed to steal the information over the next 48 hours.

The result of the challenge underscores that it’s not enough for a site vulnerable to Heartbleed to fix the server: it also needs to treat the SSL key as stolen, and issue a new one. Cloudflare described the possibility of a stolen key as “the disaster scenario, requiring virtually every service to reissue and revoke its SSL certificates. Note that simply reissuing certificates is not enough, you must revoke them as well.”

Since the news of Heartbleed broke on April 6, more than 10,000 sites have revoked and re-issued their certificates, giving some idea of the scale of the problem.

 

* RELATED:

Heartbleed: what you need to know

 

Direct Link:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/14/heartbleed-routers-phones-at-risk-security-expert

 

Heartbleed: 95% of detection tools ‘flawed’, claim researchers

Heartbleed: 95% of detection tools ‘flawed’, claim researchers

Free web tools and not picking up the vulnerability, leaving consumer data exposed

 

The Guardian (UK)
by Tom BrewsterApril 16, 2014

 

Tools designed to tackle high-profile Heartbleed bug have their own problematic bugs. (Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters)
Tools designed to tackle high-profile Heartbleed bug have their own problematic bugs. (Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters)

 

Some tools designed to detect the Heartbleed vulnerability are flawed and won’t detect the problem on affected websites, a cybersecurity consultancy has warned.

The Heartbleed flaw, which undermined the common security software for internet connections called OpenSSL, caused mass panic last week due to the ease with which it could be exploited to acquire passwords or encryption keys, potentially leaking sensitive personal data from popular consumer websites.

A deluge of tools then hit the internet promising to help people determine whether the web services they were using or hosting were affected. But 95% of the most popular ones are not reliable, according to London-based security consultancy and penetration testing firm Hut3.

 

‘Absolute panic’

“A lot of companies out there will be saying they’ve run the free web tool and they’re fine, when they’re not,” Hut3’s Edd Hardy told the Guardian. “There’s absolute panic. We’re getting calls late at night going ‘can you test everything’.”

Most of the tools checked by Hut3 rely on code designed to highlight the flaw created by developer Jared Stafford, which itself contained problematic bugs, said Hut3 penetration tester Adrian Hayter. These included tools created by major tech companies such as Intel-owned security firm McAfee and password management provider LastPass.

Hayter uncovered three problems with the Heartbleed checkers, which could lead to many cases of sites remaining vulnerable. One of the issues was to do with compatibility with different versions of SSL, the Secure Sockets Layer kind of web encryption affected by the Heartbleed flaw.

“The Heartbleed Checker is designed to work with common system configurations found in the wild,” said Raj Samani, CTO for Europe, the middle east and Asia at McAfee. “There have been reports of detection failure rates of around 2.8% due to these configurations. We were aware of the possibility and have provided a disclosure directly above our checker. We are continually reviewing and revising our code and technique.”

Joe Siegrist, CEO at LastPass, said: “Unlike all other tests, LastPass is not actually attempting to exploit the bug to test if it’s currently present – we’ve been unsure if that’s legal for a US entity to do.

“Our focus has been in ensuring people are updating/revoking their certificates, and that we’re reflecting what major organisations are saying about their exposure. Can you update or make a new certificate and keep the heartbleed bug in place? Sure, but that’s what all the other tests are for.”

 

Widespread consequences

“It is yet another symptom of the ‘hit the ground running’ approach that has characterised the response to this vulnerability,” said Rik Ferguson, vice president of security research at Trend Micro.

“The consequences are so widespread and the technology involved so arcane or invisible to the average user, that knee-jerk reactions and well-meaning advice have been offered up with little planning. From the initial Tumblr blog advising user to change all passwords everywhere ‘now’, before most of the vulnerable services would have been patched, to self-confessed ‘quick and dirty’ demonstration tools being incorporated into complete vulnerability scanning tools.”

“The key to success with protection and mitigation of Heartbleed is more haste, less speed – otherwise you may well be sitting in the comfortable haze of a false sense of security. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s dangerous.”

There are various versions of SSL and servers hosting websites can support some or all of them. If the server doesn’t support the version that the user machine selects, then it will respond by either dropping the connection or trying to use a different type of SSL which the server does support.

Herein lies the problem with the detection tools: in many of them, only one version, known as TLSv1.1, is checked. If the server being tested for Heartbleed doesn’t support TLSv1.1, it will either reject the connection or suggest another version. But the failed detectors do not check for another version and assume any server that does not provide a successful response is not vulnerable, said Hayter.

Similar problems lie in compatibility with “cipher suites”, the selections of algorithms used to set up a secure connection over the internet. “Once again, if the server does not support any of the cipher suites that the client sends, the connection will disconnect,” said Hayter.

Most of the tools he examined only told the server they supported about 51 cipher suites, when there are at least 318 cipher suites that could be used by a website. “Granted, most servers will support at least one of the ciphers in the list of 51, but there could be instances where a server does not support any of them, and in these cases, the server would respond with an error, which the scripts interpret as ‘not vulnerable’.”

The third bug was more simplistic: it meant that on slow internet connections some tools would stop working when processing the response of the server, as they would have a time limit. This would again interpret a server as not vulnerable, even if the partially downloaded response would have been enough to confirm the vulnerability, Hayter added.

Given the panic around Heartbleed, with many prematurely being told to change passwords for all web services, even before those sites had been fixed, the latest findings will do nothing to appease the confusion. Hut3 has created its own tool which it believes could help alleviate some of the pain.

 

** RELATED:

Heartbleed: what you need to know to stay secure

Heartbleed: routers and phones also at risk

Developer who introduced Heartbleed error regrets ‘oversight’

US government denies being aware of Heartbleed bug

 

Direct Link:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/16/heartbleed-bug-detection-tools-flawed

 

 

 

Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw

Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw

 

PC WORLD
by Lucian Constantin
April 17, 2014

 

 

Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw
Tor anonymity network to shrink as a result of Heartbleed flaw

 

 

The Tor Project has flagged 380 Tor relays vulnerable to the critical Heartbleed flaw to be rejected from the Tor anonymity network, reducing the network’s entry and exit capacity.

The decision has already been implemented on a Tor directory authority—a server that maintains a list of Tor relays—controlled by Roger Dingledine, the Tor Project leader, and is likely to be followed by other directory authority operators.

The 380 relays flagged for rejection are trusted entry relays, also known as guards, and exit relays. As a result, the immediate impact of this decision would be a 12 percent reduction in the network’s guard and exit capacity, Dingledine said Wednesday in an email sent to the tor-relays mailing list.

Traffic from clients typically flows through the Tor network in three hops. The first hop is through a guard relay and the final hop, before the traffic is returned on the Internet to reach its intended destination, is through an exit relay.

Twelve percent might not sound like much, but guard and exit relays play an important role on the network and are not easy to replace. Many relays are run by volunteers, but they need to be trusted and need to have enough bandwidth at their disposal to handle traffic from multiple clients.

“I thought for a while about taking away their Valid flag rather than rejecting them outright, but this way they’ll get notices in their logs,” Dingledine said.

 

Tardy patches seem to be the reason

It seems that the ban might be permanent. Dingledine said that he wouldn’t want those relays back on the Tor network even if they upgraded their versions of OpenSSL because their operators didn’t patch the flaw in a timely manner.

The Heartbleed vulnerability was announced on Apr. 7 and affects versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f of OpenSSL, a library that implements the TLS (Transport Layer Security) encrypted communication protocol and which is used by many operating systems, web servers, browsers and other desktop and mobile applications.

The flaw allows attackers to extract information from the memory of an application that relies on OpenSSL for TLS communications, whether that application acts as a client or a server.

Both the Tor client and relay software is potentially vulnerable if the OpenSSL library is not updated on the underlying OS.

“Tor relays and bridges could maybe be made to leak their medium-term onion keys (rotated once a week), or their long-term relay identity keys,” Dingledine wrote in a blog post last week after the Heartbleed flaw was announced.

“An attacker who has your relay identity key, has your onion key, and can intercept traffic flows to your IP address can impersonate your relay (but remember that Tor’s multi-hop design means that attacking just one relay in the client’s path is not very useful). In any case, best practice would be to update your OpenSSL package, discard all the files in keys/ in your DataDirectory, and restart your Tor to generate new keys.”

In addition to the 380 guard and exit relays that have been banned already there are over 1,000 other relays that are also vulnerable and should be added to the rejection list at some point soon, Dingledine said.

 

Direct Link:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/2145280/tor-anonymity-network-to-shrink-as-a-result-of-heartbleed-flaw.html

Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity

Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity

 

WIRED / Threat Level
by Kevin Poulsen
August 5, 2013

Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity
Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity (Photo: Andrewfhart / Flickr)

 

Security researchers tonight are poring over a piece of malicious software that takes advantage of a Firefox security vulnerability to identify some users of the privacy-protecting Tor anonymity network.

The malware showed up Sunday morning on multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting. That would normally be considered a blatantly criminal “drive-by” hack attack, but nobody’s calling in the FBI this time. The FBI is the prime suspect.

“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsyrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.”

If Tsrklevich and other researchers are right, the code is likely the first sample captured in the wild of the FBI’s “computer and internet protocol address verifier,” or CIPAV, the law enforcement spyware first reported by WIRED in 2007.

Court documents and FBI files released under the FOIA have described the CIPAV as software the FBI can deliver through a browser exploit to gather information from the target’s machine and send it to an FBI server in Virginia. The FBI has been using the CIPAV since 2002 against hackers, online sexual predators, extortionists, and others, primarily to identify suspects who are disguising their location using proxy servers or anonymity services, like Tor.

The code has been used sparingly in the past, which kept it from leaking out and being analyzed or added to anti-virus databases.

The broad Freedom Hosting deployment of the malware coincides with the arrest of Eric Eoin Marques in Ireland on Thursday on an U.S. extradition request. The Irish Independent reports that Marques is wanted for distributing child pornography in a federal case filed in Maryland, and quotes an FBI special agent describing Marques as “the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.”

Freedom Hosting has long been notorious for allowing child porn to live on its servers. In 2011, the hactivist collective Anonymous singled out Freedom Hosting for denial-of-service attacks after allegedly finding the firm hosted 95 percent of the child porn hidden services on the Tor network.

Freedom Hosting is a provider of turnkey “Tor hidden service” sites — special sites, with addresses ending in .onion — that hide their geographic location behind layers of routing, and can be reached only over the Tor anonymity network.

Tor hidden services are ideal for websites that need to evade surveillance or protect users’ privacy to an extraordinary degree – which can include human rights groups and journalists. But it also naturally appeals to serious criminal elements.

Shortly after Marques’ arrest last week, all of the hidden service sites hosted by Freedom Hosting began displaying a “Down for Maintenance” message. That included websites that had nothing to do with child pornography, such as the secure email provider TorMail.

Some visitors looking at the source code of the maintenance page realized that it included a hidden iframe tag that loaded a mysterious clump of Javascript code from a Verizon Business internet address located in Virginia.

By midday Sunday, the code was being circulated and dissected all over the net. Mozilla confirmed the code exploits a critical memory management vulnerability in Firefox that was publicly reported on June 25, and is fixed in the latest version of the browser.

Though many older revisions of Firefox are vulnerable to that bug, the malware only targets Firefox 17 ESR, the version of Firefox that forms the basis of the Tor Browser Bundle – the easiest, most user-friendly package for using the Tor anonymity network.

“The malware payload could be trying to exploit potential bugs in Firefox 17 ESR, on which our Tor Browser is based,” the non-profit Tor Project wrote in a blog post Sunday. “We’re investigating these bugs and will fix them if we can.”

The inevitable conclusion is that the malware is designed specifically to attack the Tor browser. The strongest clue that the culprit is the FBI, beyond the circumstantial timing of Marques’ arrest, is that the malware does nothing but identify the target.

 

The payload for the Tor Browser Bundle malware is hidden in a variable called “magneto”.
The payload for the Tor Browser Bundle malware is hidden in a variable called “magneto”.

The heart of the malicious Javascript is a tiny Windows executable hidden in a variable named “Magneto.” A traditional virus would use that executable to download and install a full-featured backdoor, so the hacker could come in later and steal passwords, enlist the computer in a DDoS botnet, and generally do all the other nasty things that happen to a hacked Windows box.

But the Magneto code doesn’t download anything. It looks up the victim’s MAC address — a unique hardware identifier for the computer’s network or Wi-Fi card — and the victim’s Windows hostname. Then it sends it to the Virginia server, outside of Tor, to expose the user’s real IP address, and coded as a standard HTTP web request.

“The attackers spent a reasonable amount of time writing a reliable exploit, and a fairly customized payload, and it doesn’t allow them to download a backdoor or conduct any secondary activity,” says Tsyrklevich, who reverse-engineered the Magneto code.

The malware also sends, at the same time, a serial number that likely ties the target to his or her visit to the hacked Freedom Hosting-hosted website.

In short, Magneto reads like the x86 machine code embodiment of a carefully crafted court order authorizing an agency to blindly trespass into the personal computers of a large number of people, but for the limited purpose of identifying them.

But plenty of questions remain. For one, now that there’s a sample of the code, will anti-virus companies start detecting it?

Update 8.5.13 12:50:  According to Domaintools, the malware’s command-and-control IP address in Virginia is allocated to Science Applications International Corporation. Based in McLean, Virginia, SAIC is a major technology contractor for defense and intelligence agencies, including the FBI. I have a call in to the firm.

13:50  Tor Browser Bundle users who installed or manually updated after June 26 are safe from the exploit, according to the Tor Project’s new security advisory on the hack.

14:30:  SAIC has no comment.

15:10:  There are incorrect press reports circulating that the command-and-control IP address belongs to the NSA. Those reports are based on a misreading of domain name resolution records. The NSA’s public website, NSA.gov, is served by the same upstream Verizon network as the Tor malware command-and-control server, but that network handles tons of government agencies and contractors in the Washington DC area.

8.6.13 17:10:  SAIC’s link to the IP addresses may be an error in Domaintools’ records. The official IP allocation records maintained by the American Registry for Internet Numbers show the two Magneto-related addresses are not part of SAIC’s publicly-listed allocation. They’re part of a ghost block of eight IP addresses that have no organization listed. Those addresses trace no further than the Verizon Business data center in Ashburn, Virginia, 20 miles northwest of the Capital Beltway. (Hat tip: Michael Tigas)
Direct Link:  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/08/freedom-hosting/