May, 2017


10
May 17

SSA.GOV To Require Stronger Authentication

The U.S. Social Security Administration will soon require Americans to use stronger authentication when accessing their accounts at ssa.gov. As part of the change, SSA will require all users to enter a username and password in addition to a one-time security code sent their email or phone. In this post, we’ll parse this a bit more and look at some additional security options for SSA users.

The SSA recently updated its portal with the following message:

The Social Security Administration's message to Americans regarding the new login changes coming in July 2017.

The Social Security Administration’s message to Americans regarding the new login
changes coming in July 2017.

I read that to mean even though an email address is required to sign up at ssa.gov, the SSA also is treating email as a second authentication factor. But the above statement seemed open to interpretation, so I put my questions to the SSA: Here’s what SSA’s press office came back with:

“Beginning June 10, 2017, we will require all my Social Security account holders (both new and returning) to use a stronger authentication method to create an account or access their account. In addition to entering the username and password, people must select either of the following options to receive a one-time use security code:

A text message; or
An email.

During registration and each subsequent login, customers will receive a new, one-time use security code by text message or email – depending on their choice.

The combination of the username, password, and one-time use security code will provide access to their personal my Social Security account.”

ANALYSIS

The idea that one can reset the password using the same email account that will receive the one-time code seems to lessen the value of this requirement as a security measure.

Notice the SSA isn’t referring to its new security scheme as “two-factor authentication,” which requires the user to supply something he knows and something he is or has. Continue reading →


9
May 17

Emergency Fix for Windows Anti-Malware Flaw Leads May’s Patch Tuesday

Adobe and Microsoft both issued updates today to fix critical security vulnerabilities in their software. Microsoft actually released an emergency update on Monday just hours ahead of today’s regularly scheduled “Patch Tuesday” (the 2nd Tuesday of each month) to fix a dangerous flaw present in most of Microsoft’s anti-malware technology that’s being called the worst Windows bug in recent memory. Separately, Adobe has a new version of its Flash Player software available that squashes at least seven nasty bugs.

crackedwinLast week, Google security researchers Natalie Silvanovich and Tavis Ormandy reported to Microsoft a flaw in its Malware Protection Engine, a technology that exists in most of Redmond’s malware protection offerings — including Microsoft Forefront, Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. Rather than worry about their malicious software making it past Microsoft’s anti-malware technology, attackers could simply exploit this flaw to run their malware automatically once their suspicious file is scanned.

“To exploit this vulnerability, a specially crafted file must be scanned by an affected version of the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine,” Microsoft warned. “If the affected antimalware software has real-time protection turned on, the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine will scan files automatically, leading to exploitation of the vulnerability when the specially crafted file scanned.”

On May 8, Microsoft released an out-of-band fix for the problem, demonstrating unusual swiftness in addressing a serious issue with its software.

“Still blown away at how quickly @msftsecurity responded to protect users, can’t give enough kudos.” Google’s Ormandy tweeted on Monday. “Amazing.”

In addition to the anti-malware product update, Microsoft today released fixes for dangerous security flaws in a range of products, from Internet Explorer and Edge to Windows, Microsoft Office, .NET, and of course Adobe Flash Player. Continue reading →


8
May 17

Website Flaw Let True Health Diagnostics Users View All Medical Records

Over the past two weeks readers have pointed KrebsOnSecurity to no fewer than three different healthcare providers that failed to provide the most basic care to protect their patients’ records online. Only one of the three companies — the subject of today’s story — required users to be logged on in order to view all patient records.

thgA week ago I heard from Troy Mursch, an IT consultant based in Las Vegas. A big fan of proactive medical testing, Mursch said he’s been getting his various lab results reviewed annually for the past two years with the help of a company based in Frisco, Texas called True Health Diagnostics.

True Health is a privately held health services company specializing in “comprehensive testing for early detection of chronic diseases,” according to the company’s Web site.

The medical reports that True Health produces contain vast amounts of extremely personal information on patients, including indicators of genetic abnormalities as well as markers of potentially current and future diseases.

To demonstrate the flaw, Mursch logged into his account at True Health and right clicked on the PDF file for his latest health report. He showed how the site would readily cough up someone else’s detailed health records and blood tests if he modified a single digit in the link attached to that PDF record and then refreshed the page.

I alerted True Health Diagnostics immediately after verifying the flaw, and they responded by disabling the healthcare records data portal within minutes of our call. Over the weekend, True Health said it discovered and fixed the source of the problem.

“Upon discovering the potential for registered users of our patient portal to access data for individuals other than themselves, we immediately shut down the system in order to resolve any vulnerabilities,” the company said in a statement emailed to this author.  “True Health has total confidence that all patient records are fully secure at this time. We regret this situation and any harm it may have caused.”

The statement said True Health CEO Chris Grottenthaler has ordered an immediate investigation to determine which files, if any, were improperly accessed.

“It will be thorough, speedy and transparent,” the statement concludes. “Nothing is more important to us than the trust that doctors and patients put in our company.”

The company says it is still investigating how long this vulnerability may have existed. But Mursch said it appears his healthcare record was assigned by True Health a record number that was issued as part of a numerical sequence, and that the difference between the record numbers attached to a result he received recently and another set of test results produced two years ago indicate at least two million records may have been exposed in between.

“I would assume all patient records were exposed,” Mursch wrote in an email.

Alex Holden, founder of cybersecurity consultancy Hold Security, said he’s responded to a number of inquiries of late regarding clients who inadvertently published patient data online with little or no authentication needed to view sensitive health records.

Holden said he advises clients to add security components to their links to encrypt any portion of the link that contains data so that it can’t be easily reversed or manipulated. He also tells clients not to use sequential account numbers that can be discovered by simply increasing or decreasing an existing account number by a single digit.

“A lot of times the medical records are stored sequentially as PDF files and they all just sit in the same folder that patients can access with a Web browser,” Holden said. “And in many cases they are not even protected by a username and password.” Continue reading →


2
May 17

Breach at Sabre Corp.’s Hospitality Unit

Breaches involving major players in the hospitality industry continue to pile up. Today, travel industry giant Sabre Corp. disclosed what could be a significant breach of payment and customer data tied to bookings processed through a reservations system that serves more than 32,000 hotels and other lodging establishments.

sabreIn a quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, Southlake, Texas-based Sabre said it was “investigating an incident of unauthorized access to payment information contained in a subset of hotel reservations processed through our Hospitality Solutions SynXis Central Reservations system.”

According to Sabre’s marketing literature, more than 32,000 properties use Sabre’s SynXis reservations system, described as an inventory management Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application that “enables hoteliers to support a multitude of rate, inventory and distribution strategies to achieve their business goals.”

Sabre said it has engaged security forensics firm Mandiant to support its investigation, and that it has notified law enforcement.

“The unauthorized access has been shut off and there is no evidence of continued unauthorized activity,” reads a brief statement that Sabre sent to affected properties today. “There is no reason to believe that any other Sabre systems beyond SynXis Central Reservations have been affected.”

Sabre’s software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than $110 billion of estimated travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers.

Sabre told customers that it didn’t have any additional details about the breach to share at this time, so it remains unclear what the exact cause of the breach may be or for how long it may have persisted.

A card involving traveler transactions for even a small percentage of the 32,000 properties that are using Sabre’s impacted technology could jeopardize a significant number of customer credit cards in a short amount of time.

The news comes amid revelations about a blossoming breach at Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), the parent company that manages some 5,000 hotels worldwide, including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. Continue reading →