Between 2002 and 2009, the [Industrial Control System Cyber Emergency Response Team] conducted more than 100 site assessments across multiple industries–oil and natural gas, chemical, and water–and found more than 38,000 vulnerabilities. These included critical systems that were accessible over the internet, default vendor passwords that operators had never bothered to change or hard-coded passwords that couldn’t be changed, outdated software patches, and a lack of standard protections such as firewalls and intrusion-detection systems.

But despite the best efforts of the test-bed and site-assessment researchers, they were battling decades of industry intertia–vendors took months and years to patch vulnerabilities that government researchers found in their systems, and owners of crucial infrastructure were only willing to make cosmetic changes to their systems and networks, resisting more extensive ones.

– Kim Zetter, Countdown to Zero-Day


US-CERT: Stop using your remotely exploitable Netgear routers

From Network World:

In case you are wondering, that firmware for the R7000 – Nighthawk AC1900 smart router – is the newest firmware available by Netgear. Here are Netgear’s links to the R8000 – Nighthawk AC3200 tri-band gigabit router and the R6400. Hopefully those – and any other vulnerable models – will soon be updated with less insecure firmware.

Hopefully less insecure firmware will be provided to turn a burning dumpster fire into a merely-smouldering-mess. Hurray for (possible, but don’t bet on it) progress.


1 million Google accounts compromised by Android malware called Gooligan

From Ars Technica:

Researchers say they’ve uncovered a family of Android-based malware that has compromised more than 1 million Google accounts, hundreds of them associated with enterprise users.

Gooligan, as researchers from security firm Check Point Software Technologies have dubbed the malware, has been found in at least 86 apps available in third-party marketplaces. Once installed, it uses a process known as rooting to gain highly privileged system access to devices running version 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and KitKat) and version 5 (Lollipop) of Google’s Android operating system. Together, the vulnerable versions account for about 74 percent of users.

Update: In a separate blog post also published Wednesday morning, Android security engineer Adrian Ludwig said he and other Google officials have worked closely with Check Point over the past few weeks to investigate Gooligan and to protect users against the threat it poses. He said there’s no evidence data was accessed from compromised accounts or that individual users were targeted. He also said Google has been using a service called Verify Apps to scan individual handsets for signs of Gooligan and other Ghost Push apps. When detected, device owners receive a warning and installations are halted.

“We’ve taken many actions to protect our users and improve the security of the Android ecosystem overall,” Ludwig wrote. “These include: revoking affected users’ Google Account tokens, providing them with clear instructions to sign back in securely, removing apps related to this issue from affected devices, deploying enduring Verify Apps improvements to protect users from these apps in the future and collaborating with ISPs to eliminate this malware altogether.”

While Google is taking this threat seriously – which is a good thing! – there is the problem where handsets shipping without the Google Play Store will remain vulnerable to this and other kinds of malware, unless those other app stores also try to warn users. Even Google’s warning system is, really, some chewing gum to cover up a broader security issue: a huge majority of Android phones have an outdated version of Android installed and will likely never see operating system or security updates. These vulnerabilities will continue, unabated, until Google actually can force updates to its partners. And history says that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.


Google rebuilt a core part of Android to kill the Stagefright vulnerability for good

Google rebuilt a core part of Android to kill the Stagefright vulnerability for good:

Android’s security team patched the initial bug within weeks, but it inspired a wave of new attacks on the way Android processes audio and video files. The first copycat bugs were reported just days after the first patch, with more serious exploits arriving months later. The most recent Android patch report, released today, patches three separate vulnerabilities in Android’s media-processing function, including one critical flaw that could be used for remote code execution.

Now, Android is rebuilding that system from the ground up. When Android 7.0 Nougat began rolling out to phones last month, it came with a rebuilt media playback system, specifically designed to protect against the Stagefright family of attacks. In a post today, Android’s security team revealed new details on exactly how Nougat security has changed and what the team learned from last year’s string of bugs.

The vulnerability is more fully and truly patched! Hurray!

A shame that few users will ever receive an update to the new version of Android, let alone the patches in the previous (version 6) of Android. The best/easiest way for most users to ‘update’ an Android-based mobile phone is to throw their current phone in the trash and buy a new one…and even then, the phone they buy will likely lack recent patches. Heck, they’ll be lucky if it has the most recent operating system!

This stands directly in contrast to iOS. Apple can push out a global patch and there are remarkably high levels of uptake by end-users. Google’s method of working with handset manufacturers and carriers alike puts end-users are greater and greater risk. They’re simply making available dangerous products. They’re behaving worse than Microsoft in the Windows XP days!


The Million Dollar Dissident: NSO Group’s iPhone Zero-Days used against a UAE Human Rights Defender – The Citizen Lab

The place I work at did some stuff.

But the major takeaway for most people should probably be this:


  1. Open Settings >> General >> Software Update
  2. Tap Download and Install. If a message asks to temporarily remove apps because iOS needs more space for the update, tap Continue or Cancel.

The vulnerabilities we identified in iOS are incredibly severe. Please update your device immediately.


Linux bug leaves 1.4 billion Android users vulnerable to hijacking attacks

Linux bug leaves 1.4 billion Android users vulnerable to hijacking attacks:

“The tl;dr is for Android users to ensure they are encrypting their communications by using VPNs, [or] ensuring the sites they go to are encrypted,” Lookout researcher Andrew Blaich told Ars. “If there’s somewhere they’re going to that they don’t want tracked, always ensure they’re encrypted.”

The vulnerability makes it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to determine whether any two parties are communicating over a long-lived transport control protocol connection, such as those that serve Web mail, news feeds, or direct messages. In the event the connections aren’t encrypted, attackers can then inject malicious code or content into the traffic. Even when the connection is encrypted, the attacker may still be able to determine a channel exists and terminate it. The vulnerability is classified as CVE-2016-5696.

One of the more likely ways exploits might target Android users is for them to insert JavaScript into otherwise legitimate Internet traffic that isn’t protected by the HTTPS cryptographic scheme. The JavaScript could display a message that falsely claims the user has been logged out of her account and instruct her to re-enter her user name and password. The login credentials would then be sent to the attacker. Similar injection attacks might also attempt to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in the browser or e-mail or chat app the targeted Android user is using.

Another day, and another massive vulnerability disclosed about Android.


Waiting for Android’s inevitable security Armageddon

Waiting for Android’s inevitable security Armageddon:

Android has around 75-80 percent of the worldwide smartphone market—making it not just the world’s most popular mobile operating system but arguably the most popular operating system, period. As such, security has become a big issue. Android still uses a software update chain-of-command designed back when the Android ecosystem had zero devices to update, and it just doesn’t work. There are just too many cooks in the kitchen: Google releases Android to OEMs, OEMs can change things and release code to carriers, carriers can change things and release code to consumers. It’s been broken for years.

This editorial was written over a year ago. And it’s as true, today, as it was the day it was written. Imagine if car companies just kept releasing the same dangerous, flawed, and fixable devices despite rampant car crashes, accidents, and other mishaps.

That’s Google today, as it continues to push flawed versions of Andrew, and today’s OEMs (e.g. Samsung, HTC) and carriers (e.g. Rogers, AT&T, Vodafone). The insecurity of Android constitutes a basic safety and human rights issue at this point given how states exploit Android vulnerabilities to target dissidents, journalists, academics, writers, and the public more generally. And yet none of the core parties reponsible for these major security failures are making genuine efforts to actually fix the problem because they don’t think they have to care.

Testing for “reverse” Heartbleed

Testing for “reverse” Heartbleed:

Importantly, even if the server that you are querying (e.g. Tumblr.com) is patched against this OpenSSL vulnerability the servers behind the front-end of the server may not be. As a result, payment gateways, agents responsible for fetching URLs, some identity federation protocols, and so forth may also be vulnerable. In Meldium’s tests, who have they announced was vulnerable?

  • An unnamed top 5 social network (we’re waiting for confirmation of their fix) that fetched our URL to generate a preview. The memory we extracted from their agent included results from internal API calls and snippets of python source code.
  • Reddit, which can use a URL to suggest a name for a new post, used a vulnerable agent that they’ve now patched. The memory we were able to extract from this agent was less sensitive, but we didn’t get as many samples because they patched so quickly (nice work!).
  • We registered a webhook to our malicious URL at rubygems.org to notify us whenever a gem was published. Within a few minutes, we captured chunks of S3 API calls that the Rubygems servers were making. After the disclosure, they quickly updated OpenSSL and are now protected (really nice work, especially from an all-volunteer staff!).

This is just a very, very small snippet of vulnerable parties. And given how many backend systems will simply not be updated for fear of breaking compatibility (e.g. in the case of payment gateways) this will be a long-term vulnerability.

SSL: the solution to a problem that is persistently generating problems unsolvable by SSL itself.


Heartbleed may lead to more security audits, advanced security services

Missed this when it went up, but posting because I think it touches on something that is important to track as things move forward: despite experts inside and outside of industry recognizing the need for more audits of critical packages like OpenSSL, will resources actually be devoted to enable such work?

Source: Heartbleed may lead to more security audits, advanced security services