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Posts Tagged ‘Security’

February 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline

March 5, 2012 1 comment

Find here February 2012 Cyber Attacks Timelime Part I.

With a small  delay (my apologies but the end of February has been very busy for me and not only for Cybercrooks as you will soon see), here it is the second part of my compilation with the main Cyber Attacks for February 2012.

Easily Predictable, the Hacktivism is still the main concern for System Administrators, in particular for the ones of Stratfor who suffered a huge leak of 5 million of emails.

On the same front, the threats of the Anonymous for the Friday actions have come true and as a matter of fact Law Enforcement Agencies suffered other remarkable breaches in this month: Infragard for the second time and also Interpol (a new entry) that was taken down after the arrest of 25 members of the collective. Anti ACTA protest also continue to shake Europe as also the delicate economical and social situation in Greece.

Last but not least, this month has also seen an unforgettable leak, affecting potentially more than 1.000.000 Youporn users.

As usual, the chart does not include the events related to Middle East Cyber War Timeline, that you may find at this link, as they “deserve” a dedicated timeline.

After the jump you find all the references, follows @paulsparrows for the latest updates on a regular basis and also have a look to the 2012 Cyber Attacks Timeline Master Index.

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Middle East Cyberwar Update (Part VI)

February 28, 2012 2 comments

Looks like Israel has approached a “wait and see” strategy, as these last days of cyber war have seen almost exclusively actions against that country without any appreciable response. In a certain sense, most of all at the Israeli site, the cyber conflict seems to have fallen into a rest, even if new actors have entered the scene, as is the case of the Mauritania Hacker Team, who opened with the leak of 2500 Israeli emails and claimed to have hacked the Central Bank of Israel. Despite these events the number and intensity of the attacks is no longer that of the early days.

The frequency of the attacks has drastically fallen, even because the early cyber fighters seem to have disappeared, apart from the AlienZ who, every now and then reappear with some dumps against arab sites (and not only).

In the meantime, Iran is suffering several sparse attacks from the Anonymous, targeting that country in the name of #OpIran, and in contemporary attacks its Azerbaijani neighbors considered close to Israel.

Interesting to notice I also found evidence of internal attacks in Iran against reformist websites considered close to former President Mohammad Khatami. The storyboard follows the same line both in real and virtual world.

Apparently Israel seems not to respond to attacks. A temporary truce or a real turnaround?

(At this link you can find the complete Middle East Cyber War Update and follows @paulsparrows for the latest updates.)

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Looking Back…

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Actually this post is nearly a couple of weeks in delay (last week I was skiing in at the Italian Dolomites!!). (Un)fortunately now that I am back to home (and to work), I have choosen this Friday The 13th, while preparing my traditional Cyber Attacks Master Index for the first half of January 2012, to give a quick look to the past year in terms of my blogging activity in order to discover which where the posts which collected most views (more than 60,000 in total), of course excluding the home page.

As you will easily notice the articles related to cyber attack statistics dominate the Top 10. For sure it is not a coincidence that some of the included articles were also quoted by leading security firms such as Kaspersky and IBM). Of course, for a correct interpretation of the chart you should also consider the period of the year in which each article was written (before the article is written, greater is the number of potential readers) and also the fact that the master index is continuously updated.

Date

Title

Views

Aug 11, 2011

One Year Of Android Malware (Full List)

16,737

Dec 31, 2011

2011 Cyber Attacks Timeline Master Index

3,668

Aug 16, 2011

Antisec hacks another Defense Contractor

2,406

Apr 17,2011

TCP Split Handshake Attack Explained

2,110

Jun 22, 2011

2011 CyberAttacks Timeline

1,535

Jun 28, 2011

2011 Cyber Attacks (and Cyber Costs) Timeline (Updated)

1,195

Dec 15, 2011

One Year Of Lulz (Part I)

1,090

Sep 15, 2011

Anatomy Of A Twitter Scam

938

May 1, 2011

Social Espionage

696

Sep 2, 2011

August 2011 Cyber Attacks Timeline

590

Yes, the post dedicated to Android Malware ranked undoubtely at number 1 (it even deserved a mention on Engadget) but also the Cyber Attacks Master index “performed well” even if at a great distance (but it was destined for a more professional audience) being quoted in many information security forums.

At rank number 3 there is a summer post dedicated to cyber attacks targeting contractors (clearly it is updated to August and could not include STRATFOR), which, actually a surprise for me, gained an unexpected attention under the Dog Days (a prolific period for blogging).

Clearly my readers have shown a great interest for security statistics, since in order to find a more technical article we have to browse the chart until number 4 with my post dedicated to TCP Split Handshake. In that circumstance I forced myself to investigate the question since when I first stumbled upon it after the NSS report (and the consequent turmoil) I must confess I had never heard about it.

Again statistics at ranks number 5, 6, and 7, until number 8 which is hold by a post dedicated to a scam targeting Twitter and mobile users. At that time the scam lured so many victims, who consequently “googled” the phrase “This made me laugh so hard when i saw this about you lol” (the symptom of the scam) and were hence redirected to that article.

A particular mention is also deserved by the Social Espionage at number 9, dealing with the threats hidden behind social networks: the Social Network Poisoning seen from the perspective of several resounding examples such as Primoris Era and Robin Sage.

In any case, forgive me if I could not do it before, I really would like to say thank you to all the Information Security Professionals who inspired my work (which I decided to quote in a very special manner)…

But most of all I want to say thank you to all the readers who stumbled upon my blog and decided to keep on reading (and retweeting) the articles regularly. Hope they will find in 2012 the same level of interest shown in the past year. Since it is not so easy to conciliate my professional and personal life with my blogging activity (thanks to my wife Romina for her patience), their appreciation is the scope of my work and a crucial driver to improve the level of quality…

Discover The Misplaced Detail

December 19, 2011 2 comments

It is time of huge dumps in Italy. Yesterday Cyberwarnews reported of 9000 accounts leaked from qualitapa.gov.it, a website linked to Italian Minister of Public Administration and Innovation. It is not the first time a similar occurrence happens in “Belpaese” (you will remember the Hot Summer with the controversial hack of CNAIPIC, The Italian Cyber Police and the subsequent hack of some contractors), for sure it is the first time such a huge number of accounts is dumped in Italy.

I would not prefer to comment, I only noticed in particular one account that looks familiar, extremely familiar and dangerously reminds the name (and the initial of the surname) of the former Minister of Justice. I hope it is only a coincidence… On the other hand if even the UN Account of The President Barack Obama is dumped, why should not it happen for the account of a former Italian Minister…

One Year Of Lulz (Part I)

December 15, 2011 2 comments

Update December 26: 2011 is nearly gone and hence, here it is One Year Of Lulz (Part II)

This month I am a little late for the December Cyber Attacks Timeline. In the meantime, I decided to collect on a single table the main Cyber Attacks for this unforgettable year.

In this post I cover the first half (more or less), ranging from January to July 2011. This period has seen the infamous RSA Breach, the huge Sony and Epsilon breaches, the rise and fall of the LulzSec Group and the beginning of the hot summer of Anonymous agsainst the Law Enforcement Agencies and Cyber Contractors. Korea was also affected by a huge breach. The total cost of all the breaches occurred inthis period (computed with Ponemon Institute’s estimates according to which the cost of a single record is around 214$) is more than 25 billion USD.

As usual after the page break you find all the references.

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Again On The Carrier IQ Saga

December 13, 2011 2 comments

Yesterday I posted evidence about the presence of the infamous Carrier IQ Software in Italy. Today another episode (I presume will not be last) of what it si becoming an endless Saga. Following the forthcoming investigations of privacy regulators in the U.S. and Europe, and the last-minute speculations concerning the fact Carrier IQ technology has been used by FBI, Carrier IQ has just published a 19 pages document trying to explain in detail what the IQ agent does. After reading the document, it is clear that the affair will not stop here.

The documents analyzes what the software really does, tries to confute Trevor Eckhart’s assertions and, most of all, admits that some SMS may have been collected (even if not in human readable form), because of a software flaw.

Interesting to mention, there are three ways in which Carrier IQ’s customers (the operators, not the end users!) install the IQ Agent: pre-load, aftermarket and embedded. The pre-load and embedded versions which differ among themselves for the fact that the pre-loaded agent may not provide RF data, cannot “typically” be deleted by an end user.

In any case Network Operators and handset manufacturers determine whether and how they deploy Carrier IQ software and what metrics that software will gather and forward to the Network Operator.

Several Remarkable Points:

The IQ Agent is able to summarize the diagnostic information before it is uploaded to the network, greatly reducing the amount of data transmitted and subsequent data processing costs. (as you will read later, looks like summarization is not done for security purposes).

In typical deployments, the IQ Agent uploads diagnostic data once per day, at a time when the device is not being used. This upload, which averages about 200 kilobytes, contains a summary of network and device performance since the last upload, typically 24 hours.

The profile, written by Carrier IQ based on information requested by operators, defines which of the available metrics may to be gathered and contains the following information:

  1. Should information be collected in anonymous mode or with the hardware serial number and the subscriber serial number being used (e.g. IMEI & IMSI)?
  2. The frequency of metrics uploads and instructions on what to do if the user is roaming or not on the network
  3. The specific metrics from which to gather data
  4. Instructions for pre-processing of metrics to create summary information

Profiles may also be subsequently updated.

As far as Trevor Eckhart’s video is concerned, and his findings related to the fact that the agent logs SMS and keystrokes in clear text, Carrier IQ indicates this log log essentially as a consequence of debug enabled, which is not a common (and recommended) situation in normal usage. Moreover the only captured keystroke is a specific numeric key code entered by the user to force the IQ Agent software to start an upload.

Our privacy is safe? Not at all, few lines after the above quoted statement the company declares that:

Carrier IQ has discovered that, due to [....] bug, in some unique circumstances, such as a when a user receives an SMS during a call, or during a simultaneous data session, SMS messages may have unintentionally been included in the layer 3 signaling traffic that is collected by the IQ Agent. These messages were encoded and embedded in layer 3 signaling traffic and are not human readable.

Although the company states that no encoded content of the SMS is available to anyone.

As far as phone numbers and URLs are concerned, this kind of information is collected by the agent if selected on a profile by the Network Operator. In any case, according to the company:

The metrics gathered by the IQ Agent are held in a secure temporary location on the device in a form that cannot be read without specifically designed tools and is never in human readable format.

About the gathered data, Carrier IQ has no rights to the data that collected into its Mobile Service Intelligence Platform.

Did you find the clarifications enough satisfactory? At first glance I am not able to understand how the collected data may be considered anonymous (as supposed from the first statement of Carrier IQ), if the operator may select a profile in which it can grab (and correlate) IMSI, IMEI or Phone Number together with the URLs visited by the (unaware) user. In this moment I cannot tell if, with a clause hidden between the lines of the contracts, mobile operators advise their customers that some personal information may be collected to improve the user experience. In any case the user should be at least provided with the option to choose. Some Device Manufacturers ask for user consent to perform similar operations. I am not aware of a similar approach by operators.

Mmh… The story will not finish here, indeed I guess the affair will soon spread to Mobile Carriers.

Another Certification Authority Breached (the 12th!)

December 10, 2011 1 comment

2011 CA Attacks Timeline (Click To Enlarge)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.

(Click below for references)

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Beware Of The Red Dragon

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I have dedicated several posts to NG-IPS, the next step of the evolution in network security (or better to say context security). I have pointed out that one of the main features of this kind of devices is the capability to enforce Location Based security services. Now it is time to make some practical examples indicating how Geo Protection features may be helpful and why they are needed in this troubled days.

Few days ago I had the opportunity to analyze the data collected from a network security equipment, placed at the perimeter of an important Italian customer, with IPS engine turned on and Geo Protection feature enabled. I show here a brief summary of the collected data, that span approximatively a thirty days period ranging from 1 to 27 November 2011.

As you may easily notice, collected data show Geo Protection events undoubtedly at number one with 713,117 occurences. The enforced Geo Protection Policy blocked traffic from and to several “bad countries”. Just try to Guess which country was detected by the Geo Protection Policy with the highest rate of attacks? The top attack source report contains the answer to this question, but if yoy want I can suggest you a quick hint: one of the countries which appeared in the unwelcomed list of Geo Protection Policy was just China.

The top 5 attack sources generated together nearly 150,000 events. I was not that surprised when I looked up the IP Addresses (which I did not explicitly report on the graph) and realized that all of them came from China. These addresses were blocked a priori by Geo Protection.

The tabular report is also more explicit: 9 out of  10 sources at the top for the number of attacks, came from China whilst 1 was shown to be an internal address (revealed to be a misconfigured device generating bogus events). Together the 9 top sources generated nearly 260,000 on a total of 800,000 events collected from nearly 90,000 addresses.

As far as the impacted services are concerned, traditional protocols ranked at the first positions of the chart with some strange occurrences (TCP/0 or UDP/0 that might mean malformed packets or also the attempt to exploit old attacks targeting security devices). It is worthwhile to notice the presence of the well-known TCP port 1433 (MS-SQL).

Of course the attempts to exploit Microsoft Ports and (maybe) to harvest the network were detected by the geo protection engine as shown in the following table.

While I was analysing these data I could not help but think to the recent post by Brian Kerbs suggesting that the same attack perpetrated against RSA targeted more than 760 other organizations (almost 20 percent of the current Fortune 100 companies were on the alleged list). The same post indicated that the location of 299 (on more than 300) command and control networks used in these attacks were located in China.

Besides some concern regarding the Chinese Cyber Strategy, the parallelism suggested me that Geo Protection might provide a valuable support for thwarting APTs or, more in general, for thwarting attacks phoning home to C&C Server located in “bad” countries, provided that Geo Protection Service Database is constantly updated. Unfortunately I am afraid that attackers will not take so long to learn and enforce some workarounds using (un)secure compromised C&C servers in “good” (i.e. not classified by the Geo Protection) countries. In any case Geo Protection cannot be considered the only cure, but at the end this is the reason why NG-IPS are capable to enforce different algorithms to provide a context base security model.

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The Missing BlackBerry Of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

November 28, 2011 2 comments

Examples in which political news provide hints for Information Security are happening too often (think for instance to the UK Phone Hacking Scandal). The latest comes from the affair involving Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his alleged sexual encounter with a maiden during the horrible day of May, 14th 2011. The details which are being disclosed on that story show that the BlackBerry owned by DSK played a crucial role in the event, both because it had likely been hacked, and because it was used as a decoy to catch DSK at the airport.

All the traditional ingredients of Mobile Security are mixed up in this story: a device used for both personal and business purposes, which is hacked and whose stolen information is used to harm the victim.

The details were given on Friday, the 25th of November, when Financial Times published an anticipation of an investigation carried on by the journalist Edward Epstein to be published in full by the New York Reviews of Books. The investigation tells with an unprecedented level of details the two hours that sank Dominique Strauss-Kahn and wrecked his political career on May, 14th 2011 during his stay at the Sofitel New York Hotel, and the alleged sexual assault encounter with Nafissatou Diallo, the maid he had encountered in the presidential suite.

DSK was then head of International Monetary Fund and leading Socialist Contender against Nicolas Sarkozy (well ahead him in opinion polls) for the French Presidential Election in April 2012. As known the aftermaths of the scandal (although all the charges were dismissed by the prosecutor on August 23rd, 2011) destroyed his political ambitions for the rush at the French Presidential Chair.

The account of Edward Epstein reveals several shadow zones which seem to support the hypothesis according to which DSK was the victim of a plot (for instance the strange visits of Nafissatou Diallo to room 2820, a room on the same floor of the Presidential Suite borrowed by DSK, whose occupant’s identity was never released by Sofitel on grounds of privacy).

You may guess at this point what this history has to deal with Information Security. Well, it has much to deal with, since one of the Shadow Zones just concerns one of DSK’s Blackberry cell phones, the one he called IMF Blackberry, used to send and receive texts and e-mails for both personal and IMF business, which DSK believed had probably been hacked, and which has not been found since then. Moreover the lost BlackBerry was used as a decoy to catch him on board of Flight 23, few minutes before living for Paris.

If you think the mobile security risks are exaggerated and the promiscuous use of mobile devices for personal and professional purposes is not harmful and do not constitute a security hazard, you should better read the following lines.

The account of Mr. Epstein tells that, the morning of May, the 14th, DSK had received a text message from Paris from a woman friend temporarily working as a researcher at the Paris offices of the UMP, Sarkozy’s political party. The message warned him that at least one private e-mail he had recently sent from his BlackBerry to his wife, had been read at the UMP offices in Paris. It is unclear how the UMP offices might have received this e-mail, but if it had come from his IMF BlackBerry, he had reason to suspect he might be under electronic surveillance in New York.

At 10:07 AM he called his wife in Paris on his IMF BlackBerry, telling her of his problem. He asked her to contact a friend who could arrange to have both his BlackBerry and iPad examined by an expert. An exam that would never happen for his Blackberry…

The call records show that DSK used his IMF BlackBerry for the last time at 12:13 PM to tell his Daughter Camille he would be late for lunch. This happened approximately 7 minutes after the maiden entered his room, which occurred at 12:06 PM according to Hotel key records, and most of all after the controversial encounter, likely occurred in this Time Interval, which is still a matter of dispute.

DSK realized his IMF BlackBerry was missing only nearly two hours later, at 14:15 PM while going to the Airport in taxi. At the beginning he believed he had left the cellphone to the Restaurant and immediately called his daughter (with a spare mobile phone) asking her to go back there for a check. The footage at the Restaurant shows that she effectively went there looking for the lost object. Of course she was not able to find it and at 14:28 PM she sent him a message indicating she could not find it.

At 15:01 PM, while approaching the airport, DSK was still attempting to find his missing phone, calling it from his spare with no answer. According to the records of the BlackBerry company, the IMF device had been disabled at 12:51 PM.

At 15:29 PM, he called the hotel from the taxi, indicating his room number and giving a phone number, so that he could be called back, in case his phone was found.

Thirteen minutes later he was called back from a hotel employee who was in the presence of a police detective. The hotel employee falsely told him that his phone had been found and asked where it could be delivered. DSK told him that he was at JFK Airport and that he had a problem since his flight left at 4:26 PM. He was reassured that someone could bring it to the airport in time, so he gave her the Gate and Flight number which allowed the police to call DSK off the plane and take him into custody at 4:45 PM.

 DSK’s BlackBerry is still missing and the records obtained from BlackBerry show that the missing phone’s GPS circuitry was disabled at 12:51 PM. Probably the cell phone was “lost” inside the Sofitel, for sure this occurrence has prevented DSK to verify if he was under surveillance or not.

The reasons why DSK was so concerned about the possible interception of his messages on this BlackBerry are not clear even if Epstein suggests a couples of scenarios. The phone could contain some embarrassing information related to the scandal occurred to Carlton Hotel in Lille where high-class escort women were allegedly provided by corporation to government officials (I believed this kind of affair only happened in Italy)  (DSK denies that he was connected to the prostitution ring.). Otherwise his concern could also derive from other matters, related to his IMF role, such as the sensitive negotiations he was conducting for the IMF to stave off the euro crises.

Still doubtful about Mobile Security Risks?

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