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Security News

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Security
  • Security updates for Thursday
  • Reproducible Builds: week 81 in Stretch cycle
  • Security-hardened Android, bounties for Tcl coders, and more open source news

    In a blog post yesterday, the Tor project announced a refresh of a prototype of a Tor-enabled Android phone aimed at reducing vulnerability to security and privacy issues. Combining several existing software packages together, the effort has created an installation tool for hardening your phone. While designed for a Nexus 6P reference device, the project hopes to expand to provide greater hardware choice.

  • Linux flaw exposed in a minute by pressing enter key

    Researchers have discovered a major vulnerability in the Cryptesetup utility that can impact many GNU/Linux systems, which is activated by pressing the enter key for about 70 seconds.

  • Chinese IoT Firm Siphoned Text Messages, Call Records

    A Chinese technology firm has been siphoning text messages and call records from cheap Android-based mobile smart phones and secretly sending the data to servers in China, researchers revealed this week. The revelations came the same day the White House and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued sweeping guidelines aimed at building security into Internet-connected devices, and just hours before a key congressional panel sought recommendations from industry in regulating basic security standards for so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices.

  • Google security engineer slams antivirus software, cites better security methods

    Google senior security engineer Darren Bilby isn’t a fan of antivirus software, telling a conference in New Zealand that more time should be spent on more meaningful defenses such as whitelisting applications.

    Speaking at the Kiwicon hacking conference, Bilby said that antivirus apps are simply ineffective and the security world should concentrate its efforts on things that can make a difference.

    “Please no more magic,” Bilby told the conference, according to The Register. “We need to stop investing in those things we have shown do not work. Sure, you are going to have to spend some time on things like intrusion detection systems because that’s what the industry has decided is the plan, but allocate some time to working on things that actually genuinely help.”

    Antivirus software does some useful things, he said, “but in reality it is more like a canary in the coal mine. It is worse than that. It’s like we are standing around the dead canary saying, ‘Thank god it inhaled all the poisonous gas.’”

  • Dutch government wants to keep “zero days” available for exploitation

    The Dutch government is very clear about at least one thing: unknown software vulnerabilities, also known as “zero days”, may be left open by the government, in order to be exploited by secret services and the police.

    We all benefit from a secure and reliable digital infrastructure. It ensures the protection of sensitive personal data, security, company secrets and the national interest. It is essential for the protection of free communication and privacy. As a consequence, any vulnerability should be patched immediately. This is obviously only possible when unknown vulnerabilities are disclosed responsibly. Keeping a vulnerability under wraps is patently irresponsible: it may be found simultaneously by others who abuse it, for example to steal sensitive information or to attack other devices.

Mission Improbable: Hardening Android for Security And Privacy

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Security

This prototype is meant to show a possible direction for Tor on mobile. While I use it myself for my personal communications, it has some rough edges, and installation and update will require familiarity with Linux.

The prototype is also meant to show that it is still possible to replace and modify your mobile phone's operating system while retaining verified boot security - though only just barely. The Android ecosystem is moving very fast, and in this rapid development, we are concerned that the freedom of users to use, study, share, and improve the operating system software on their phones is being threatened. If we lose these freedoms on mobile, we may never get them back. This is especially troubling as mobile access to the Internet becomes the primary form of Internet usage worldwide.

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Security News

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Security
  • Wickedly Clever USB Stick Installs a Backdoor on Locked PCs

    You probably know by now that plugging a random USB into your PC is the digital equivalent of swallowing a pill handed to you by a stranger on the New York subway. But serial hacker Samy Kamkar‘s latest invention may make you think of your computer’s USB ports themselves as unpatchable vulnerabilities—ones that open your network to any hacker who can get momentary access to them, even when your computer is locked.

  • How does your encrypted Linux system respond to the Cryptsetup bug?

    In all three case, the encrypted system partition is still encrypted, so you data is still save. However, as detailed in the bug report, unencrypted partitions, like ones mounted at /boot and /boot/efi (on UEFI systems) might still be open for exploitation. But how far can an attacker go on such system, when the system partition is still encrypted? Not far, I hope.

    A bug always has a solution, and in this case, the authors provided an easy-to-apply workaround. I’ve expanded on it a bit in the code block below. If after applying the workaround you discover that it does not work, welcome to the club. It didn’t work on all the encrypted systems I applied it on – Ubuntu 16.10, Manjaro 16.10, and Fedora Rawhide. By the way, all three distributions were running either Cryptsetup 1.7.2 or 1.7.3.

  • Holding down the Enter key can smash through Linux's defenses
  • 7 open source security predictions for 2017

    Everyone uses open source. It’s found in around 95 per cent of applications and it’s easy to understand why. Open source’s value in reducing development costs, in freeing internal developers to work on higher-order tasks, and in accelerating time to market is undeniable.

    The rapid adoption of open source has outpaced the implementation of effective open source management and security practices. In the annual ‘Future of Open Source Survey’ conducted earlier this year by Black Duck, nearly half of respondents said they had no formal processes to track their open source, and half reported that no one has responsibility for identifying known vulnerabilities and tracking remediation.

    The flip side of the open source coin is that if you’re using open source, the chances are good that you’re also including vulnerabilities known to the world at large. Since 2014, the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) has reported over 8,000 new vulnerabilities in open source software.

Security News

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Security
  • How to fix the Cryptsetup vulnerability in Linux

    Linux enjoys a level of security that most platforms cannot touch. That does not, in any way, mean it is perfect. In fact, over the last couple of years a number of really ugly vulnerabilities have been found — and very quickly patched. Enough time has passed since Heartbleed for those that do to find yet another security issue.

  • Get root on Linux: learn the secret password
  • Security advisories for Wednesday
  • The Web-Shaking Mirai Botnet Is Splintering—But Also Evolving

    Over the last few weeks, a series of powerful hacker attacks powered by the malware known as Mirai have used botnets created of internet-connected devices to clobber targets ranging from the internet backbone company Dyn to the French internet service provider OVH. And just when it seemed that Mirai might be losing steam, new evidence shows that it’s still dangerous—and even evolving.

    Researchers following Mirai say that while the number of daily assaults dipped briefly, they’re now observing development in the Mirai malware itself that seems designed to allow it to infect more of the vulnerable routers, DVRs and other internet-of-things (IoT) gadgets it’s hijacked to power its streams of malicious traffic. That progression could actually increase the total population available to the botnet, they warn, potentially giving it more total compute power to draw on.

    “There was an idea that maybe the bots would die off or darken over time, but I think what we are seeing is Mirai evolve,” says John Costello, a senior analyst at the security intelligence firm Flashpoint. “People are really being creative and finding new ways to infect devices that weren’t susceptible previously. Mirai is not going away.”

  • This $5 Device Can Hack Your Locked Computer In One Minute

    Next time you go out for lunch and leave your computer unattended at the office, be careful. A new tool makes it almost trivial for criminals to log onto websites as if they were you, and get access to your network router, allowing them to launch other types of attacks.

    Hackers and security researchers have long found ways to hack into computers left alone. But the new $5 tool called PoisonTap, created by the well-known hacker and developer Samy Kamkar, can even break into password-protected computers, as long as there’s a browser open in the background.Kamkar explained how it works in a blog post published on Wednesday.

Gone in 70 seconds: Holding Enter key can smash through defense

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Linux
Security

Attackers with a little more than a minute to spare can get their foot in the door on Linux boxes by holding down the Enter key for 70 seconds – an act that gifts them a root initramfs shell .

The simple exploit, which requires physical access to the system, exists due to a bug in the Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS) used in popular variations of Linux. With access to an initramfs environment shell, an attacker could then attempt to decrypt the encrypted filesystem by brute-force. The attack also potentially works on virtual Linux boxen in clouds.

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Also: Press the Enter Key For 70 Seconds To Bypass Linux Disk Encryption Authentication

Evolution of the SSL and TLS protocols

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Security

The Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol is undoubtedly the most widely used protocol on the Internet today. If you have ever done an online banking transaction, visited a social networking website, or checked your email, you have most likely used TLS. Apart from wrapping the plain text HTTP protocol with cryptographic goodness, other lower level protocols like SMTP and FTP can also use TLS to ensure that all the data between client and server is inaccessible to attackers in between. This article takes a brief look at the evolution of the protocol and discusses why it was necessary to make changes to it.

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Security Leftovers

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Security News

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Security
  • You Can Bypass Linux Disk Encryption Authentication by Pressing the Enter Key for 70 Seconds

    An error in the implementation of the Cryptsetup utility used for encrypting hard drives allows an attacker to bypass the authentication procedures on some Linux systems just by pressing the Enter key for around 70 seconds. This results in the attacked system opening a shell with root privileges.

  • TalkTalk hack: 17-year-old admits to seven offences in court

    A 17-YEAR OLD has appeared in court today and admitted seven offences in relation to last October's TalkTalk hack.

    The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested in Norwich in November 2015 and charged with breaching the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

    The attacks on TalkTalk resulted in the personal data of almost 160,000 people, and the banking details of 15,656 people, being accessed.

  • 5 ways President Trump may affect computer security

    Trump campaigned as the “law and order” candidate, so I expect law enforcement to be better funded and sentences for breaking the law to be intensified. Law enforcement will probably be enabled with more ways to catch and identify hackers and those able to be brought to American justice will likely face longer and more severe sentences.

    I, of course, support these measures. Unfortunately, all administrations learn how hard it is to catch and prosecute hackers, especially when they are located in unreachable areas. On a related note, I don’t think the new administration will be any more successful in trying to put down all the Russian ransomware campaigns.

Tails 2.7 Anonymous Live CD Ships with Let's Encrypt Certificates, Tor 0.2.8.9

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Security
Debian

After a small delay, the Debian-based Tails amnesic incognito live system has been updated today, November 15, 2016, to version 2.7, bringing us all the latest tools and technologies for surfing the Web anonymously.

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Major Cryptsetup Vulnerability Affects Some LUKS-Encrypted GNU/Linux Systems

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Security

According to a recent security advisory published by Hector Marco and Ismael Ripoll as CVE-2016-4484 and entitled "Cryptsetup Initrd root Shell," it would appear that there's a major vulnerability in Cryptsetup affecting many GNU/Linux systems.

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