From an Information Security perspective this 2012 has begun with (too) many meaningful events, among which the most resounding so far, has been the alleged leak of portions of the source code belonging to several consumer and enterprise product by Symantec, a leading security vendor.
@YamaTough, a member of a hacking collective called “The Lords of Dharmaraja” (Dharmaraja is the Lord of Death and Justice in Hinduism) claimed paternity for an attack that, immediately after its execution, has unleashed a complicated story of Cyber Espionage full of twists and mysteries which has raised (and keeps on rising) many (un)resolved questions.
The Indian Mystery
@YamaTough, a member of an hacking group called, the Lords of Dharmaraja, leaks the source code of Symantec Endpoint Protection Enterprise Suite (SAVCE 10.2 and SEP11), approximately 5 years old. The source code was allegedly obtained from The hacking of Indian Military Servers.Symantec has admitted that “a segment of its source code used in two of our older enterprise products has been accessed”.
During the same operation the same hackers also leaked some other documents according to which:
In any case, although the leaked source code is real, it looks like the Lords of Dharmaraja faked the government memo (in order to attract more attention) since some emails there contained (and purportedly obtained by the RINOA backdoors) were allegedly stolen from the Indian Embassy on Paris and appear to have already been leaked on pastebin in December by the same hacker @YamaTough. There are also several doubts on the fact that activities of the USCC could be of any interest to Indian intelligence.
As an announced trail of the controversial Cyber Espionage affair, @YamaTough releases the source code of Norton Utilities. The author claims the leak is in support of the lawsuit between Symantec and Jame Gross, a US resident who is taking the company to court for spreading scareware. The full Source Code of Norton Antivirus is announced for Tuesday, Jan the 17th.
Not only, according to the hackers, the source code has been found on a server belonging to India Military Intelligence, but also, together with the links to the Source Code, the hackers posted an Internal Memo of India Military Intelligence entitled “Tactical Network For Cellular Surveillance”, containing potentially explosive information. According to this controversial memo “in exchange for the Indian market presence” mobile device manufacturers, including RIM, Nokia, and Apple (collectively defined in the document as “RINOA”) have agreed to provide backdoor access on their devices. Moreover it looks like the a CYCADA Team used the backdoors for espionage actions against the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) and potentially against thousands of US government networks, ranging from those of federal agencies to systems used by state and municipal entities.
Although the implicated manufacturers firmly denied any connection, at first glance the hypothesis of a backdoor on our mobile companions seemed possible, also because it came immediately after another controversial event concerning mobile privacy, the infamous Carrier IQ rootkit found on many mobile devices.
A giant case of Cyber Espionage? Not actually! It looks like the whole story is showing an unpredictable conclusion (?). In the last days evidences are emerging that the Lords Of Dharmaraja faked the memo, maybe in order to obtain a greater attention on their operations. Although, as previously stated, Symantec has recognized parts of the source code on the leaked data, there are too many inconsistencies and incorrect information inside the memo, and also several of the emails allegedly obtained by mean of the RINOA backdoor had already been posted on December after the original attack made by the collective at the Indian Embassy in Paris (where the memo was leaked). Moreover, the letterhead on the memo comes from a military intelligence unit not involved in surveillance.
The mistery deepens, but in the meantime the Lords Of Dharmaraja keep on posting Symantec Code: Saturday Jan 14 the alleged Source Code of the Norton Utilities was released, the next Tuesday Jan 17, will be the turn of the full Norton Antivirus Source Code.
It looks like the Judgment Day for iOS has finally arrived. Until today the robustness of the AppStore has always been considered one of the strengths of the Apple Model: unlike the Android Market, which is constantly under attack for its weak security model that allowed too many malicious users to upload malicious applications, a strict control policy had prevented, at least so far, the same destiny for the mobile Apple Application.
Unfortunately Charlie Miller, an old acquaintance of the Apple Supporters, thought that winning three Pwn2Owns in the last four years (2008, 2009 and 2011) exploiting practically every Apple Vulnerability was not enough. So he decided consequently to attack Cupertino directly inside its AppStore security model.
The story begins early last year, after the release of iOS 4.3 when the researcher became suspicious of a possible flaw in the code signing of Apple’s mobile devices.
As stated in the original article by Forbes:
The next step was to discover a bug that allowed to expand that code-running exception to any application, and that is exactly what he did, but still this was not enough.
After discovering the bug, he submitted an App to the App Store exploiting the vulnerability. The App was approved and behaved as expected (actually a behaviour to which the victims of Android malware are quite familiar): the app was able to phone home to a remote computer downloading new unapproved commands onto the device and executing them at will, including stealing the user’s photos, reading contacts, making the phone vibrate or play sounds, or otherwise repurposing normal iOS app functions for malicious ends.
This method will be presented at the SysCan Conference in Taiwan next week even if a video demonstrations of the exploit is already available.
Last but not least: as a reward for discovering the bug, Apple has decided to revoke to Miller the Developer’s License.
Probably Android users will be the happiest to learn that, as stated by Miller:
Android has been like the Wild West. And this bug basically reduces the security of iOS to that of Android.
At least for one thing (security), iOS and Android are identical.
So here it is, also for this month, the first part of My Cyber Attacks Timeline covering the first half of September.
Apparently It looks like the wave of the Anonymous attacks that characterized August has stopped. Even if several isolated episodes occurred, their impact was slightly lower than the previous months.
Probably the most important security incident for this month was the Diginotar Hack, not only because the Dutch Certification Authority has been banned forever by the main browsers and OSes but also because all the authentication model based on CAs is under discussion. Moreover once again a cyber attack has been used as a mean of repression. This incident is a turnkey point for information security but in my opinion also the DNS hacks by Anonymous Sri Lanka and Turkguvenligi are noticeable since they reinforce the need for a quick adoption of DNSSEC.
For the first time not even the Linux Operating System (an open world) was immune from hackers: both the Linux Kernel and the Linux Foundation Web Sites were hacked during this month, two episodes that Penguin Lovers will remember for a long time.
Easily predictable an attack recalling 9/11 carried on against the Twitter Account of NBC News was also reported.
Other noticeable events: three huge data breaches were reported, four attacks with political motivations targeting India, Nigeria, Colombia, and the Russia Embassy in London were perpetrated and another security vendor (Panda Security) was indirectly targeted.
The remainder of the month was characterized by many smaller attacks (mostly defacements and data leaks) and an actress (Scarlett Johansson) was also victim of data leaks.
Useful Resources for compiling the table include:
- Cyber War News
- CNET Hackers Chart
- Naked Security
- Office Of Inadequate Security (DataBreaches.net)
- The Hacker News
And my inclusion criteria do not take into consideration simple defacement attacks (unless they are particularly resounding) or small data leaks.
The site of Kernel.org suffered a security breach leading which caused the server to be rooted and 448 credential compromised. Although it is believed that the initial infection started on August the 12th, it was not detected for another 12 days.
|Sep 1||Apple, Symantec, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.
The Sri Lankan branch of Anonymous claims to have hacked into the DNS servers of Symantec, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and several other large organizations over the past few days, posting the news and records of its exploits on Pastebin.
|DNS Cache Snoop Poisoning|
||Birdville Independent School District
Two students hack into their school district’s server and accessed a file with 14,500 student names, ID numbers, and social security numbers. Estimated cost of the breach is around $3,000,000.
|Sep 2||Texas Police Chiefs Association
As usual happens on Fridady, Texas Police Chiefs Association Website is hacked by Anonymous for Antisec Operation. Hacker defaced their website and posted 3GB of data in retaliation for the arrests of dozens of alleged Anonymous suspects. According to Hackers the site has been owned for nearly one month.
|Sep 2||EA Game Battlefield Heroes
|Sep 2||vBTEAM Underground
Vbteam.info, the underground vBulletin Hacking website is hacked by “Why So Serious?“, who leaks 1400+ accounts of the Vbteam.info forum in pastebin.
An Indian Hacker named “nomcat” claims to have been able to hack into the Indian Prime Ministers Office Computers and install a Remote Administration Tool) in them. He also Exposes the Vulnerability in Income Tax website and Database Information.
Popular websites including The Register, The Daily Telegraph, UPS, and others fall victim to a DNS hack that has resulted in visitors being redirected to third-party webpages. The authors of the hack, a Turkish group called Turkguvenligi, are not new to similar actions and leave a message declaring this day as World Hackers’ Day.
|Sep 5||Mobile App Network Forum
One of the Sub domain of European Union (Institute for Energy) is hacked and Defaced by Inj3ct0r. Hackers deface the web page, release some internal details and leave a message against Violence in Lybia and Russian influence in Ukraine.
|Sep 5||Cocain Team Hackers||United Nations Sub Domain of Swaziland
United Nations Sub-Domain of Swaziland is hacked and defaced by Cocain Team Hackers.
|Sep 5||Uronimo Mobile Platform
The Uronimo Mobile platform is hacked by Team Inj3ct0r. They leak the web site database and release on Pastebin internal data including Username, Hash Password, emails and Phone Numbers of 1000 users. Estimated Cost of the Breach is $214,000.
|Sep 6||Comodo Hacker
The real extent of the Diginotar breach becomes clear: 531 bogus certificates issued including Google, CIA, Mossad, Tor. Meanwhile in a pastebin message Comodo Hacker states he own four more CAs, among which GlobalSign which precautionally suspends issuance of certificates.
||Beaumont Independent School District
The superintendent of schools for Beaumont Independent School District announces that letters are being mailed to parents of nearly 15,000 of its 19,848 students to inform them of a potential breach of data that occurred recently. Inadvertently, private information including the name, date of birth, gender, social security number, grade and scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exam of students who were in the third through 11th grades during the 2009-2010 school year–were potentially exposed. Estimated cost of the breach is $3,210,000.
||Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto, Calif.
A medical privacy breach leads to the public posting on a commercial Web site of data for 20,000 emergency room patients at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., including names and diagnosis codes. The information stayed online for nearly a year from one of its vendors, a billing contractor identified as Multi-Specialty Collection Services, to a Web site called Student of Fortune, which allows students to solicit paid assistance with their schoolwork. Estimated Cost of The Breach is $4,280,000.
|Sep 9||Comodo Hacker
After suspending issuing certificates, GlobalSign finds evidence of a breach to the web server hosting the www website. The breached web server has always been isolated from all other infrastructure and is used only to serve the http://www.globalsign.com website.
|| Comodo Hacker
As consequence of the infamous Diginotar Breach Google advises its users in Iran to change their Gmail passwords, and check that their Google accounts have not been compromised. Google also indicates that it is directly contacting users in Iran who may have been hit by a man-in-the-middle attack.
|Man In The Middle|
|Sep 9||NBC News
The NBC News Twitter account is hacked and starts to tweet false reports of a plane attack on ground zero. The account is suspended and restored after few minutes.
|Trojan Keylogger via Email|
Data of up to 800,000 Samsung Card clients may have been compromised after an employee allegedly extracted their personal information. The Breach was discovered on Aug. 25 and reported to police on Aug. 30. It is not clear what kind of information has been leaked, maybe the first two digits of residence numbers, the names, companies and mobile phone numbers were exposed. Estimated cost of the breach is $171,200.000.
||BuyVIP (Amazon Owned)
Although not officially confirmed, BuyVIP users received an e-mail informing that their database had been hacked. Apparently, the website had been offline for a couple days and it looks like that not only names and email addresses were retrieved, but also birth dates, real shipping addresses as well as phone numbers.
Few weeks after the kernel.org Linux archive site suffered a hacker attack, the Linux Foundation has pulled its websites from the web to clean up from a security breach. A notice posted on the Linux Foundation said the entire infrastructure including LinuxFoundation.org, Linux.com, and their subdomains are down for maintenance due to a security breach that was discovered on September 8, 2011.
Anonymous leaks the complete database from a well known nazi website AryansBook.com and posts the content on The Pirate Bay. This is a fight towards racism of any kind.
|0-day exploit in SMF|
||Nigerian Government Website
Nigerian Government Website is hacked and defaced by Brazilian Hackers that leave a message in the main page.
A hacker gains unauthorized access to the card processing systems at Wilderness Waterpark Resort and improperly acquires 40,000 credit card and debit card information. Estimated Cost of the Breach is $8,560,000.
|Sep 12||X-Nerd||Panda Security
Another Security Company Hacked: a hacker going by the name of X-Nerd hacks and defaces the Pakistan Server of a very well known security software website: Panda Security.
||Russian UK Embassy
Just before Prime Minister David Cameron’s first visit to Moscow, the website belonging to the Embassy Of The Russian Federation in London was taken down by hackers. It seems as the attack was launched in sign of protest to the upcoming visit after a 5-year break in which no British leader went to Moscow.
Cyb3rSec dumps a list of 3500+ Accounts from the forum thetvdb.com.
|Sep 14||President of Bolivia (presidencia.gob.bo)
SwichSmoke crew hacks the site belonging to President of Bolivia and dumps the leaked data on pastebin.
||Bright House Networks
Bright House Networks, the sixth largest owner and operator of cable systems in the U.S., has sent a letter to customers warning that they may have been exposed after servers used to process Video on Demand (VOD) were breached.
Also an actress may be victim of hackers: The FBI investigate reports that nude photos of a famous celebrity (allegedely Scarlett Johansson) have been leaked onto the web. The day before Twitter was flooded with messages claiming to link to naked pictures of her, which were allegedly stolen from her iPhone by a hacker earlier this year.
More than 101 sites, with huge amount of data and personal information which ranges from emails, phone numbers, to full names and addresses, have been hacked by an hacker dubbed Stohanko. At this link a list of the hacked sites and the links to dumped data.
As you will probably know my Birthday post for Android Malware has deserved a mention from Engadget and Wired. Easily predictable but not for me, the Engadget link has been flooded by comments posted by Android supporters and adversaries, with possible trolls’ infiltrations, up to the point that the editorial staff has decided to disable comments from the article. The effect has been so surprising that someone has also insinuated, among other things, that I have been paid to talk s**t on the Android.
Now let me get some rest from this August Italian Sun and let me try to explain why I decided to celebrate this strange malware birthday for the Android.
First of all I want to make a thing clear: I currently do own an Android Device, and convinced, where possible, all my relatives and friends to jump on the Android. Moreover I do consider the Google platform an inseparable companion for my professional and personal life.
So what’s wrong? If you scroll the malware list you may easily notice that the malware always require an explicit consent from the user, so at first glance the real risk is the extreme trust that users put in their mobile devices which are not considered “simple” phones (even if smart), but real extensions of their personal and professional life.
You might say that this happens also for traditional devices (such as laptops), but in case of mobile devices there is a huge social and cultural difference: users are not aware to bring on their pocket dual (very soon four) cores mini-PCs and are not used to apply the same attention deserved for their old world traditional devices. Their small display size also make these devices particularly vulnerable to phishing (consider for instance the malware Android.GGTracker).
If we focus on technology instead of culture (not limiting the landscape to mobile) it easy to verify that the activity of developing malware (which nowadays is essentially a cybercrime activity) is a trade off between different factors affecting the potential target which include, at least its level of diffusion and its value for the attacker (in a mobile scenario the value corresponds to the value of the information stored on the device). The intrinsic security model of the target is, at least in my opinion, a secondary factor since the effort to overtake it, is simply commensurate with the value of the potential plunder.
What does this mean in simple words? It means that Android devices are growing exponentially in terms of market shares and are increasingly being used also for business. As a consequence there is a greater audience for the attackers, a greater value for the information stored (belonging to the owner’s personal and professional sphere) and consequently the sum of these factors is inevitably attracting Cybercrooks towards this platform.
Have a look to the chart drawing Google OS Market share in the U.S. (ComScore Data) compared with the number of malware samples in this last year (Data pertaining Market Share for June and July are currently not available):
So far the impact of the threats is low, but what makes the Google Platform so prone to malware? For sure not vulnerabilities: everything with a line of code is vulnerable, and, at least for the moment, a recent study from Symantec has found only 18 vulnerabilities for Google OS against 300 found for iOS (please do no question on the different age of the two OSes I only want to show that vulnerabilities are common and in this context Android is comparable with its main competitor).
Going back to the initial question there are at least three factors which make Android different:
- The application permission model relies too heavily on the user,
- The security policy for the market has proven to be weak,
- The platform too easily allows to install applications from untrusted sources with the sideloading feature.
As far as the first point is concerned: some commenters correctly noticed that apps do not install themselves on their own, but need, at least for the first installation, the explicit user consent. Well I wonder: how many “casual users” in your opinion regularly check permissions during application installation? And, even worse, as far as business users are concerned, the likely targets of cybercrime who consider the device as a mere work tool: do you really think that business users check app permission during installation? Of course a serious organization should avoid the associated risks with a firm device management policy before considering a wide deployment of similar devices, most of all among CxOs; but unfortunately we live in an imperfect world and too much often fashion and trends are faster (and stronger) than Security Policies and also make the device to be used principally for other things than its business primary role, hugely increasing risks.
This point is a serious security concern, as a matter of fact many security vendors (in my opinion the security industry is in delay in this context) offer Device Management Solution aimed to complete the native Application Access Control model. Besides it is not a coincidence that some rumors claim that Google is going to modify (enhance) the app permission security process.
As far as the second point is concerned (Android Market security policy), after the DroidDream affair, (and the following fake security update), it is clear that the Android Market Publishing (and Security) model needs to be modified, making it more similar to the App Store. There are several proposals in this context, of course in this place is not my intention to question on them but only to stress that the issue is real.
Last but not least Sideloading is something that makes Android very different from other platforms (read Apple), Apple devices do not allow to install untrusted apps unless you do not Jailbreak the devices. Android simply needs the user to flag an option (By The Way many vendors are opening their Android devices to root or alternate ROMs, consider for instance LG which in Italy does not invalidate the Warranty for rooted devices) or HTC which, on May 27, stated they will no longer have been locking the bootloaders on their devices.
So definitively the three above factors (together with the growing market shares) make Android more appealing for malware developers and this is not due to an intrinsic weakness of the platform rather than a security platform model which is mainly driven by the user and not locked by Manufacturer as it happens in case of Cupertino.
This awful infosec July is over, and finally we can sum up the Cyber Attacks reported during this month. I collected all the available information and inserted it inside the following chart. Where possible (that is enough information available) I tried to estimate the cost of the attacks using the indications from the Ponemon’s insitute according to which the average cost of a Data Breach is US $214 for each compromised record. The total sum (for the known attacks) is around $7.6 billion, mainly due to the “National Data Breach” of the South Korean Social Network Cyworld.
Approximately 16 attacks were directly or indirectly related to Antisec or Anonymous, they promised an hot summer and unfortunately are keeping their word…
Useful resources for compiling the (very long) chart were taken from:
- 2011 Cyber Attacks (and Cyber Costs) Timeline (Updated) (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)
- 2011 CyberAttacks Timeline (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)
- 50 Days of Hunt (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)
- LulzSec hacking: a timeline (telegraph.co.uk)
- Anonymous Denies Paternity For the CNAIPIC Hack (paulsparrows.wordpress.com)