Category Archives: Security

Poodle vulnerability—what to do

October 2014 brought with it a new cyber-attack method to the Internet: POODLE, the ‘Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption’ attack. The attack is against the SSLv3 protocol, which powers the HTTPS secure browsing system we’re all used to.

What can you do?

1. Check your browser:

https://dev.ssllabs.com/ssltest/viewMyClient.html

Then disable SSLv3 support in your browser(s):

https://scotthelme.co.uk/sslv3-goes-to-the-dogs-poodle-kills-off-protocol/

Firefox was the easiest to change. Safari has no known fix yet, and Mac Chrome requires a command line tweak to modify.  Even the Chrome Canary build is still vulnerable.

 

2. Check to see if your web server is vulnerable:

https://www.tinfoilsecurity.com/poodle

Then ask your hosting company to disable SSLv3 on the server:

https://scotthelme.co.uk/sslv3-goes-to-the-dogs-poodle-kills-off-protocol/

 

Test for the Shellshock bug in BASH

From ArsTechnica:

There is an easy test to determine if a Linux or Unix system is vulnerable. To check your system, from a command line, type:

env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test"

If the system is vulnerable, the output will be:

vulnerable
 this is a test

An unaffected (or patched) system will output:

 bash: warning: x: ignoring function definition attempt
 bash: error importing function definition for `x'
 this is a test

The fix is an update to a patched version of the Bash shell. To be safe, administrators should do a blanket update of their versions of Bash in any case.

Visual Map of Internet Attacks

A computer security firm called Norse

has released a stunning data visualization map of internet attacks. It shows a fraction of the scope of constant threats affecting countries today. You can see penetration attempts in real time over services like http (web servers) and smtp (email servers), and more.

 

Norse visual map of internet attacks

Norse visual map of internet attacks

http://map.ipviking.com

via PC World from this article.

 

 

Be aware of the Heartbleed bug

On April 8 I was notified by WiredTree, our hosting company, that their servers had been patched against a newly discovered (and serious) flaw in the SSL encryption technology which underpins secure browsing over https.

It is called the Heartbleed bug.

Our servers were not affected, as they ran CentOS5 and did not use Litespeed. Other sites which did use LiteSpeed were affected.

Read more at:
http://heartbleed.com/
https://blog.cloudflare.com/staying-ahead-of-openssl-vulnerabilities

UPDATE

An article on Thursday explains how the bug crept in the Open Source software.

Heartbleed, a “catastrophic” security flaw in the OpenSSL cryptographic protocol that has affected two-thirds of the entire Internet’s communications, was committed at 10:59 pm on New Year’s Eve by Seggelmann, a 31-year-old Münster, Germany-based programmer.

That night, he made an error that has been compared to the misspelling of Mississippi, a careless but almost inevitable mistake that went undetected for over two years.

Target website hiding its data theft warning

Target’s had a big red target leveled at its data systems recently; the intrusion and theft of over 100 million consumer credit & debit card information is almost the largest in history.

It’s website features a notice to consumers; but strangely, 2 seconds after the home page loads, an ad overlay obscures the warning text and link.

Purposeful or by accident, it’s a big oops on top of the disaster.

See the site 1 second after load:

website shows theft message at page load

The Target website shows theft message at page load

And 2 seconds later:

Target homepage after 2 seconds; the warning is covered over

Target homepage after 2 seconds; the warning is covered over

Intentional or by accident?

Does the law require companies to disclose breaches?
As an aside, most States do not require the companies disclose successful network breaches to their customers. A law firm has published a useful chart to track State-by-State requirements.

http://www.perkinscoie.com/statebreachchart/

The write:

Perkins Coie’s Privacy & Security practice maintains a comprehensive chart that summarizes state laws regarding security breach notification.  The chart is for informational purposes only and is intended as an aid in understanding each state’s sometimes unique security breach notification requirements.  Lawyers, compliance professionals, and business owners have told us that the chart has been helpful when preparing for and responding to data breaches.

Maine has such a disclosure law on its book.

Website hacks are like lawn dandelions

Google acknowledged (and fixed) a major vulnerability in its google.com and gmail.com domains.

Redirection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, and SQL-injection vulnerabilities are to websites what dandelions are to suburban lawns. Even sites maintained by experienced and highly vigilant Web developers are likely to suffer from these Web-application bugs.

From ArsTechnica. Read more here.

Add a password to your Mac Zip File

Apple makes it easy to compress files using the right-click contextual compression command, but it provides no easy way to add a password to the resulting zip file. You can use the Terminal program to add a password, but it’s prone to mistakes and more time consuming.

 

Instead, use this program called Keka.

http://www.kekaosx.com/en/

Keka is a free file archiver for Mac OS X. The main compression core is p7zip (7-zip port).

Compression formats supported:  7z, Zip, Tar, Gzip, Bzip2, DMG, ISO

Extraction formats supported:  RAR, 7z, Lzma, Zip, Tar, Gzip, Bzip2, ISO, EXE, CAB, PAX, ACE (PPC)

Surviving the Latest WordPress Brute Force Attack

If you have a blog, you need to install this plug-in immediately.

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/limit-login-attempts/

There is currently a major type of internet attack being waged by botnets against webservers running WordPress. These bots brute-force their way in past your password screen by making thousands of guesses until they gain entry. WordPress currently does not limit the number of incorrect password attempts. Until it does, you need a plug-in that provides the limiting.

There is currently a significant attack being launched at a large number of WordPress blogs across the Internet. The attacker is brute force attacking the WordPress administrative portals, using the username “admin” and trying thousands of passwords. It appears a botnet is being used to launch the attack and more than tens of thousands of unique IP addresses have been recorded attempting to hack WordPress installs.

One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the attacker is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack. These larger machines can cause much more damage in DDoS attacks because the servers have large network connections and are capable of generating significant amounts of traffic. This is a similar tactic that was used to build the so-called itsoknoproblembro/Brobot botnet which, in the Fall of 2012, was behind the large attacks on US financial institutions.

Source: http://blog.cloudflare.com/patching-the-internet-fixing-the-wordpress-br

The problem with DomainKeys Identified Mail

Wired has been discussing an emerging email security vulnerability this month.

The problem lies with DKIM keys (DomainKeys Identified Mail). DKIM involves a cryptographic key that domains use to sign e-mail originating from them — or passing through them — to validate to a recipient that the domain in the header information on an e-mail is correct and that the correspondence indeed came from the stated domain. When e-mail arrives at its destination, the receiving server can look up the public key through the sender’s DNS records and verify the validity of the signature.

Learn more from the article, and ask your hosting company if they use strong — 1024-bit — DKIM. Why?

A hacker who cracks a DKIM key can use it to send out phishing attacks to victims to trick them into believing that a fake e-mail is actually a legitimate e-mail from their bank or another trusted party. Such phishing attacks can be used to trick users into handing over the login credentials to their bank or e-mail account.