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Microsoft

NHS mulling Ubuntu switch after Windows XP fail?

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Linux
Microsoft
Security

Security News, Notably Microsoft/NSA Catastrophe

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Security
  • Major cyber attack hits companies, hospitals, schools worldwide

    Private security firms identified the ransomware as a new variant of "WannaCry" that had the ability to automatically spread across large networks by exploiting a known bug in Microsoft's Windows operating system.

  • Massive cyberattack hits several hospitals across England
  • Rejection Letter

    We start with a shadowy US government agency, the NSA, systematically analyzing the software of the biggest American computer companies in search of vulnerabilities. So far, so plausible: this is one of the jobs of an intelligence and counter-espionage agency focussed on information technology. However, instead of helping Microsoft fix them, we are supposed to believe that the NSA hoard their knowledge of weaknesses in Microsoft Windows, a vitally important piece of their own nation's infrastructure, in case they'll come in handy againt some hypothetical future enemy. (I'm sorry, but this just won't wash; surely the good guys would prioritize protecting their own corporate infrastructure? But this is just the first of the many logical inconsistencies which riddle the back story and plot of "Zero Day".)

  • Microsoft issues ‘highly unusual’ Windows XP patch to prevent massive ransomware attack
  • Is it prudent to ask if Britain’s nuke subs, which also run Windows XP, have also been hit by ransomware?

    Let’s reword this to drive the point home. How likely is it that the United States NSA, through its persistent interest in keeping us unsafe, has managed to hand control of Britain’s nuclear weapons platforms to unknown ransomware authors, perhaps in Russia or Uzbekistan?

  • Current wave of ransomware not written by ordinary criminals, but by the NSA

    The lesson here is that the NSA’s mission, keeping a country safe, is in direct conflict with its methods of collecting a catalog of vulnerabilities in critical systems and constructing weapons to use against those systems, weapons that will always leak, instead of fixing the discovered weaknesses and vulnerabilities that make us unsafe.

  • Wana Decrypt0r Ransomware Outbreak Temporarily Stopped By "Accidental Hero"

    A security researcher that goes online by the nickname of MalwareTech is the hero of the day, albeit an accidental one, after having saved countless of computers worldwide from a virulent form of ransomware called Wana Decrypt0r (also referenced as WCry, WannaCry, WannaCrypt, and WanaCrypt0r).

  • DDOS attacks in Q1 2017

    In Q1 2017, the geography of DDoS attacks narrowed to 72 countries, with China accounting for 55.11% (21.9 p.p. less than the previous quarter). South Korea (22.41% vs. 7.04% in Q4 2016) and the US (11.37% vs. 7.30%) were second and third respectively.

    The Top 10 most targeted countries accounted for 95.5% of all attacks. The UK (0.8%) appeared in the ranking, replacing Japan. Vietnam (0.8%, + 0.2 p.p.) moved up from seventh to sixth, while Canada (0.7%) dropped to eighth.

  • Applied Physical Attacks and Hardware Pentesting

    This week, I had the opportunity to take Joe Fitzpatrick’s class “Applied Physical Attacks and Hardware Pentesting”. This was a preview of the course he’s offering at Black Hat this summer, and so it was in a bit of an unpolished state, but I actually enjoyed the fact that it was that way. I’ve taken a class with Joe before, back when he and Stephen Ridley of Xipiter taught “Software Exploitation via Hardware Exploitation”, and I’ve watched a number of his talks at various conferences, so I had high expectations of the course, and he didn’t disappoint.

  • SambaXP 2017: John Hixson’s Reflection

    The next talk was given by Jeremy Allison on the recent symlink CVE. Jeremy explained how it was discovered and the measures that were taken to fix it.

NHS Cautionary Tale About Windows

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Security

Windows Chaos

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Security
  • ‘CIA malware plants Gremlins’ on Microsoft machines – WikiLeaks

    WikiLeaks has released the latest instalment in the #Vault7 series, detailing two apparent CIA malware frameworks dubbed ‘AfterMidnight’ and ‘Assassin’ which it says target the Microsoft Windows platform.

  • WannaCry ransomware used in widespread attacks all over the world

    Earlier today, our products detected and successfully blocked a large number of ransomware attacks around the world. In these attacks, data is encrypted with the extension “.WCRY” added to the filenames.

    Our analysis indicates the attack, dubbed “WannaCry”, is initiated through an SMBv2 remote code execution in Microsoft Windows. This exploit (codenamed “EternalBlue”) has been made available on the internet through the Shadowbrokers dump on April 14th, 2017 and patched by Microsoft on March 14.

  • NHS left reeling by cyber-attack: ‘We are literally unable to do any x-rays’

    Thousands of patients across England and Scotland have been in limbo after an international cyber-attack hit the NHS, with many having operations cancelled at the last minute.

    Senior medics sought to reassure patients that they could be seen in the normal way in emergencies, but others were asked to stay away if possible.

    According to one junior doctor who works in a London hospital, the attack left hospitals struggling to care for people. “However much they pretend patient safety is unaffected, it’s not true. At my hospital we are literally unable to do any x-rays, which are an essential component of emergency medicine,” the doctor told the Guardian.

  • "Worst-Ever Recorded" Ransomware Attack Strikes Over 57,000 Users Worldwide, Using NSA-Leaked Tools

    Update 4: According to experts tracking and analyzing the worm and its spread, this could be one of the worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind. The security researcher who tweets and blogs as MalwareTech told The Intercept “I’ve never seen anything like this with ransomware," and "the last worm of this degree I can remember is Conficker.” Conficker was a notorious Windows worm first spotted in 2008; it went on to infect over nine million computers in nearly 200 countries.

Microsoft Windows and Ransom

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Security
  • Massive ransomware attack hits UK hospitals, Spanish banks [Ed: Microsoft shows its real cost]

    A large number of hospitals, GPs, and walk-in clinics across England have been locked down by a ransomware attack, reports suggest. There are also some reports of a ransomware attack hitting institutions in Portugal and Spain, with telecoms provider Telefonica apparently hit hard. Further attacks have been reported in Russia, Ukraine, and Taiwan. Batten down the hatches: we might be in the middle of a global ransomware attack.

    Multiple sources point to this ransomware attack being based on the EternalBlue vulnerability, which was discovered by the NSA but was leaked by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers last month.

    NHS Digital has confirmed the attack and issued a brief statement, stating that there's no evidence that patient data had been accessed and that the attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS. At this point it isn't clear whether a central NHS network has been knocked offline by the ransomware or whether individual computers connected to the network are being locked out. In any case, a number of hospitals and clinics are reporting that their computer systems are inaccessible, and some telephone services are down too.

  • New ransomware Jaff demands $3,700 payments
  • Updates on CyberSecurity, WordPress and what we're cooking in the lab today.

    This is a Wordfence public service security announcement for all users of computers running any version of Windows.

    We have confirmed that a serious virulent ransomware threat known as WannaCrypt0r/WannaCry has affected Windows computers on shared networks in at least 74 countries worldwide, with 57,000 reported individual cases being affected. And according to the analysis team at Kaspersky Lab, that number is growing fast.

CIA Uses "AfterMidnight" and "Assassin" Against Windows

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Microsoft

Today, May 12th 2017, WikiLeaks publishes "AfterMidnight" and "Assassin", two CIA malware frameworks for the Microsoft Windows platform.

"AfterMidnight" allows operators to dynamically load and execute malware payloads on a target machine. The main controller disguises as a self-persisting Windows Service DLL and provides secure execution of "Gremlins" via a HTTPS based Listening Post (LP) system called "Octopus". Once installed on a target machine AM will call back to a configured LP on a configurable schedule, checking to see if there is a new plan for it to execute. If there is, it downloads and stores all needed components before loading all new gremlins in memory. "Gremlins" are small AM payloads that are meant to run hidden on the target and either subvert the functionality of targeted software, survey the target (including data exfiltration) or provide internal services for other gremlins. The special payload "AlphaGremlin" even has a custom script language which allows operators to schedule custom tasks to be executed on the target machine.

"Assassin" is a similar kind of malware; it is an automated implant that provides a simple collection platform on remote computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system. Once the tool is installed on the target, the implant is run within a Windows service process. "Assassin" (just like "AfterMidnight") will then periodically beacon to its configured listening post(s) to request tasking and deliver results. Communication occurs over one or more transport protocols as configured before or during deployment. The "Assassin" C2 (Command and Control) and LP (Listening Post) subsystems are referred to collectively as" The Gibson" and allow operators to perform specific tasks on an infected target.

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Embrace and Extend: Microsoft Wants to Control the Competition

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

--Bill Gates

Microsoft Spin

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Openwashing and Microsoft, Antitrust Déjà Vu

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Microsoft
  • Microsoft contributing Open-Source OPC UA stack [Ed: Microsoft openwashing of .NET, which is NOT "Open Source" but at best Open Core]
  • Nuanced Déjà Vu in Microsoft's Desktop Monopoly

    When I was in late high school, which was in the early days of this blog, I had recently switched to Linux and was essentially an evangelist, singing its praises and loudly cursing the misdeeds of Microsoft with respect to the desktop market; many of my blog posts at that time were in that vein. In the nearly 8 years since then, I, my blog, Linux, Microsoft, and the consumer device market have all evolved and matured: I've become less evangelistic and more realistic about many things (or so I'd like to think), my blog has correspondingly shifted focus in various ways, Linux distributions have become less of a "wild west" than they were 8 years ago and have gained more support for popular things like proprietary video drivers and game platforms like Steam, Microsoft has been more open about supporting free and open-source software initiatives, and the consumer device market has shifted much more toward mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets which are very different from the desktops, laptops, and netbooks of 8 years ago (the latter of which doesn't really exist anymore as it once did). That said, I recently read a post on Slashdot (original article by Brian Fagioli of Betanews) about how Microsoft is locking the configuration settings for changing the default browser (Microsoft Edge) and search engine (Bing) choices in Windows 10 S, which is its version of Microsoft Windows 10 designed for lower-end hardware used in schools. For the sake of old times, I thought it might be nice to post about it, but hopefully with a bit more nuance than what I was capable of 8 years ago (and with the benefit of having seen the last 8 years of intervening technological development).

    [...]

    Overall, I don't think Microsoft really has the leverage to ensure total dominance of its own web browser that it did 16 years ago. Too many ordinary consumers have moved onto other browsers and other platforms entirely. The default browser issue will only affect the rare cases of opening specific locally-hosted HTML and similar files, so for all other cases, users can put their preferred browser shortcut on the main screen or menu of Microsoft Windows 10. While it certainly pays to be vigilant about anticompetitive behavior and trends toward proprietary software, I don't see a need to hyperventilate like I might have 8 years ago.

A look at Windows Alternatives in Linux

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GNU
Linux
Microsoft

GNU/Linux users are well aware of the fact that many pieces of software commonly used in Microsoft Windows, do not function for us using things like WINE; and so we must find alternatives to use.

Granted, you could use a virtual machine to run Windows, but as I have encountered and I am sure others as well; not everything runs smoothly when you go down that route.

One example using my laptop was that Adobe Premiere for video editing was extremely challenging to use in a Virtual Machine due to resources...So, what options do we have?

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More in Tux Machines

Plasma 5.12 LTS beta available in PPA for testing on Artful & Bionic

Adventurous users, testers and developers running Artful 17.10 or our development release Bionic 18.04 can now test the beta version of Plasma 5.12 LTS. Read more Also: Kubuntu 17.10 and 18.04 Users Can Now Try the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS Desktop

Leftovers: Proprietary Software, HowTos, and GXml

Debian Developers: Google Summer of Code, Quick Recap of 2017

  • RHL'18 in Saint-Cergue, Switzerland
    In between eating fondue and skiing, I found time to resurrect some of my previous project ideas for Google Summer of Code. Most of them are not specific to Debian, several of them need co-mentors, please contact me if you are interested.
  • Quick recap of 2017
         After the Stretch release, it was time to attend DebConf’17 in Montreal, Canada. I’ve presented the latest news on the Debian Installer front there as well. This included a quick demo of my little framework which lets me run automatic installation tests. Many attendees mentioned openQA as the current state of the art technology for OS installation testing, and Philip Hands started looking into it. Right now, my little thing is still useful as it is, helping me reproduce regressions quickly, and testing bug fixes… so I haven’t been trying to port that to another tool yet. I also gave another presentation in two different contexts: once at a local FLOSS meeting in Nantes, France and once during the mini-DebConf in Toulouse, France. Nothing related to Debian Installer this time, as the topic was how I helped a company upgrade thousands of machines from Debian 6 to Debian 8 (and to Debian 9 since then). It was nice to have Evolix people around, since we shared our respective experience around automation tools like Ansible and Puppet.

Devices: Raspberry Pi and Android