This year is nearly at the end but it looks like it is really endless, at least from an Information Security Perspective. As a matter of fact this 2011 will leave an heavy and embarassing heritage to Information Security: the Certification Authority authentication model, which has been continuously under siege in this troubled year; a siege that seems endless and which has shown its ultimate expression on the alleged compromise of yet another Dutch Certification Authority: Gemnet.
Gemnet, an affiliate of KPN, has suspended certificate signing operation after an intrusion on its publicly accessible instance of phpMyAdmin (a web interface for managing SQL Database) which was, against any acceptable best practice, exposed on the Internet and not protected by password. As in case of Diginotar, another Dutch Certification Authority which declared Bankrupt few days after being compromised by the infamous Comodo Hacker, Gamnet has the Dutch government among its customers including the Ministry of Security and Justice, Bank of Dutch Municipalities and the police.
After the intrusion, the attacker claimed to have manipulated the databases, and to allegedly have been able to gain control over the system and all of the documents contained on it, although KPN, claims the documents contained on the server were all publicly available. Moreover the attacker claimed the attack was successful since he could obtain the password (braTica4) used for administrative tasks on the server. As a precaution, while further information is collected about the incident, Gemnet CSP, KPN’s certificate authority division, has also suspended access to their website.
The breach is very different, in purpose and motivations, from the one occurred to Diginotar, at the end of July, which led to the issuance of more than 500 bogus Certificates (on behalf of Google, Microsoft, and other companies). In case of Diginotar the certificates were used to intercept about 300,000 Iranians, as part of what was called “Operation Black Tulip“, a campaign aimed to eavesdrop and hijack dissidents’ emails. For the chronicles, the same author of the Diginotar hack, the Infamous Comodo Hacker, had already compromised another Certification Authority earlier this year, Comodo (which was at the origin of his nickname). In both cases, the hacks were performed for political reasons, respectively as a retaliation for the Massacre of Srebrenica (in which the Comodo Hacker claimed the Dutch UN Blue Helmets did not do enough to prevent it), and as a retaliation for Stuxnet, allegedly developed in a joint effort by Israel and US to delay Iranian Nuclear Program.
But although resounding, these are not the only examples of attacks or security incidents targeting Certification Authorities: after all, the attacks against CAs started virtually in 2010 with the infamous 21th century weapon Stuxnet, that could count among its records, the fact to be the first malware using a driver signed with a valid certificate belonging to Realtek Semiconductor Corps. A technique also used by Duqu, the so called Duqu’s son.
Since then, I counted 11 other breaches, perpetrated for different purposes: eavesdropping (as is the case of the Infamous Comodo Hacker), malware driver signatures, or “simple” compromised servers (with DDoS tools as in case of KPN).
At this point I wonder what else we could deploy to protect our identity, given that two factor authentication has been breached, CAs are under siege, and also SSL needs a substantial revision. Identity protection is getting more and more important, since our privacy is constantly under attack, but we are dangerously running out of ammunitions.
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Update 12/01/2011: November Cyber Attacks Timeline (Part II)
This first half of November has been very hard for Steam. The Valve Online Gaming Platform suffered a security breach putting at risk a potential sample of 37 million of users and hence wins the crown for the Major Breach of the First Half of November.
Also a sportswear giant like Adidas fell among the victims of cybercriminals, with a “sophisticated attack” targeting 500,000 users.
This month was also hot for the Cold Finland which has suffered two security breaches involving more than 30,000 users (a third breach also happened on November, the 16th, affecting 16,000 users but of course will be reported in the next report).
Two other CAs (KPN and Digicert Sdn Bhd Malaysia, not to be confused with Digicert US-based CA) were compromised. Also F-secure discovered a sample of malware signed with a valid certificate stolen from a Malasyan company.
On a larger scale, after 2 years of hunt, FBI uncovered a huge Botnet in Estonia, which stole $14 million from 4 million users worldwide, while on the other side of the Globe, Brazilian ISPS were targeted by a massive DNS Poisoning attack.
Not even Facebook was safe this month, whose (too) many users were targeted with a malware posting pornographic images on their wall exploiting an Internet Explorer Vulnerability.
As far as hactivism is concerned, the political events in the real world had a predictable echo in the Cyber space, with an attack to Palestine the day after the nation was admitted as a full member of UNESCO.
As a retaliation, some Israeli Government web sites were targeted with a wave of DDoS attacks by the infamous Anonymous hacking group. In any case the Anonymous were active also in other Cyberwar fronts acting a couple of defacements and DDoS (in one case they targeted the Muslim Brotherhood) and were also the authors to one of the two attacks in Finland (the one towards a right-wind party).
A group of Hackers called TeaMp0isoN claimed to have hacked more than 150 Email Id’s of International Foreign Governments even if this statement is controversial.
What is not controversial is the Cyberwar declared against Mexico which was targeted, in November, by a massive waves of Cyber Attacks.
Besides these noticeable events, the month was characterized by many other minor attacks and dumps among which, particularly noticeable are: the attacks to a couple of banks (DDoS and defacements) and Universities (UCLA and Standford hit by data breaches), and the Fox Business Twitter Account Hacking (Oops they did it again!).
The month ends with the first example of malware targeting ambulance.
Please notice that I decided henceforth not to insert attacks targeting a limited amount of users and most of all, claimed without clear evidence: in this month I discovered a claimed fake attack to Italian Police announced recycling old data.
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In this blog I express my personal opinion, which does not necessarily reflects the opinion of my organization, about events and news or interest, concerning information security, winking to mobile world and, why not, to some curious personal event.
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