Other


22
Mar 17

eBay Asks Users to Downgrade Security

Last week, KrebsOnSecurity received an email from eBay. The company wanted me to switch from using a hardware key fob when logging into eBay to receiving a one-time code sent via text message. I found it remarkable that eBay, which at one time was well ahead of most e-commerce companies in providing more robust online authentication options, is now essentially trying to downgrade my login experience to a less-secure option.

ebay2faIn early 2007, PayPal (then part of the same company as eBay) began offering its hardware token for a one-time $5 fee, and at the time the company was among very few that were pushing this second-factor (something you have) in addition to passwords for user authentication. In fact, I wrote about this development back when I was a reporter at The Washington Post:

“Armed with one of these keys, if you were to log on to your account from an unfamiliar computer and some invisible password stealing program were resident on the machine, the bad guys would still be required to know the numbers displayed on your token, which of course changes every 30 seconds. Likewise, if someone were to guess or otherwise finagle your PayPal password.”

The PayPal security key.

The PayPal security key.

I’ve still got the same hardware token I ordered when writing about that offering, and it’s been working well for the past decade. Now, eBay is asking me to switch from the key fob to text messages, the latter being a form of authentication that security experts say is less secure than other forms of two-factor authentication (2FA).

The move by eBay comes just months after the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft of new authentication guidelines that appear to be phasing out the use of SMS-based two-factor authentication. NIST said one-time codes that are texted to users over a mobile phone are vulnerable to interception, noting that thieves can divert the target’s SMS messages and calls to another device (either by social engineering a customer service person at the phone company, or via more advanced attacks like SS7 hacks). Continue reading →


21
Mar 17

Student Aid Tool Held Key for Tax Fraudsters

Citing concerns over criminal activity and fraud, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has disabled an automated tool on its Web site that was used to help students and their families apply for federal financial aid. The removal of the tool has created unexpected hurdles for many families hoping to qualify for financial aid, but the action also eliminated a key source of data that fraudsters could use to conduct tax refund fraud.

Last week, the IRS and the Department of Education said in a joint statement that they were temporarily shutting down the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool. The service was designed to make it easier to complete the Education Department’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — a lengthy form that serves as the starting point for students seeking federal financial assistance to pay for college or career school.

The U.S. Department of Education's FAFSA federal student aid portal. A notice about the closure of the IRS's data retrieval tool can be seen in red at the bottom right of this image.

The U.S. Department of Education’s FAFSA federal student aid portal. A notice about the closure of the IRS’s data retrieval tool can be seen in red at the bottom right of this image.

In response to requests for comment, the IRS shared the following statement: “As part of a wider, ongoing effort at the IRS to protect the security of data, the IRS decided to temporarily suspend their Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) as a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”

“The scope of the issue is being explored, and the IRS and FSA are jointly investigating the issue,” the statement continued. “At this point, we believe the issue is relatively isolated, and no additional action is needed by taxpayers or people using these applications. The IRS and FSA are actively working on a way to further strengthen the security of information provided by the DRT. We will provide additional information when we have a specific timeframe for returning the DRT or other details to share.”

The removal of the IRS’s tool received relatively broad media coverage last week. For example, a story in The Wall Street Journal notes that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration — which provides independent oversight of the IRS — “opened a criminal investigation into the potentially fraudulent use of the tool.”

Nevertheless, I could not find a single publication that sought to explain precisely what information identity thieves were seeking from this now-defunct online resource. Two sources familiar with the matter but who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on the record told KrebsOnSecurity that identity thieves were using the IRS’s tool to look up the “adjusted gross income” (AGI), which is an individual or family’s total gross income minus specific deductions.

Anyone completing a FAFSA application will need to enter the AGI as reported on the previous year’s income tax return of their parents or guardians. The AGI is listed on the IRS-1040 forms that taxpayers must file with the IRS each year. The IRS’s online tool was intended as a resource for students who needed to look up the AGI but didn’t have access to their parents’ tax returns.

Eligible FAFSA applicants could use the IRS’s data retrieval tool to populate relevant fields in the application with data pulled directly from the IRS. Countless college Web sites explain how the tool works in more detail; here’s one example (PDF).

As it happens, the AGI is also required to sign and validate electronic tax returns filed with the IRS. Consequently, the IRS’s data retrieval tool would be a terrific resource to help identity thieves successfully file fraudulent tax refund requests with the agency.

A notice from the IRS states that the adjusted gross income (AGI) is needed to validate electronically-filed tax returns.

A notice from the IRS states that the adjusted gross income (AGI) is needed to validate electronically-filed tax returns.

Continue reading →


17
Mar 17

Govt. Cybersecurity Contractor Hit in W-2 Phishing Scam

Just a friendly reminder that phishing scams which spoof the boss and request W-2 tax data on employees are intensifying as tax time nears. The latest victim shows that even cybersecurity experts can fall prey to these increasingly sophisticated attacks.

athookOn Thursday, March 16, the CEO of Defense Point Security, LLC — a Virginia company that bills itself as “the choice provider of cyber security services to the federal government” — told all employees that their W-2 tax data was handed directly to fraudsters after someone inside the company got caught in a phisher’s net.

Alexandria, Va.-based Defense Point Security (recently acquired by management consulting giant Accenture) informed current and former employees this week via email that all of the data from their annual W-2 tax forms — including name, Social Security Number, address, compensation, tax withholding amounts — were snared by a targeted spear phishing email.

“I want to alert you that a Defense Point Security (DPS) team member was the victim of a targeted spear phishing email that resulted in the external release of IRS W-2 Forms for individuals who DPS employed in 2016,” Defense Point CEO George McKenzie wrote in the email alert to employees. “Unfortunately, your W-2 was among those released outside of DPS.”

W-2 scams start with spear phishing emails usually directed at finance and HR personnel. The scam emails will spoof a request from the organization’s CEO (or someone similarly high up in the organization) and request all employee W-2 forms.

Defense Point did not return calls or emails seeking comment. An Accenture spokesperson issued the following brief statement:  “Data protection and our employees are top priorities. Our leadership and security team are providing support to all impacted employees.”

The email that went out to Defense Point employees Thursday does not detail when this incident occurred, to whom the information was sent, or how many employees were impacted. But a review of information about the company on LinkedIn suggests the breach letter likely was sent to around 200 to 300 employees nationwide (if we count past employees also).

Among Defense Point’s more sensitive projects is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Security Operations Center (SOC) based out of Phoenix, Ariz. That SOC handles cyber incident response, vulnerability mitigation, incident handling and cybersecurity policy enforcement for the agency.

Fraudsters who perpetrate tax refund fraud prize W-2 information because it contains virtually all of the data one would need to fraudulently file someone’s taxes and request a large refund in their name. Scammers in tax years past also have massively phished online payroll management account credentials used by corporate HR professionals. This year, they are going after people who run tax preparation firms, and W-2’s are now being openly sold in underground cybercrime stores.

Tax refund fraud affects hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of U.S. citizens annually. Victims usually first learn of the crime after having their returns rejected because scammers beat them to it. Even those who are not required to file a return can be victims of refund fraud, as can those who are not actually due a refund from the IRS. Continue reading →


16
Mar 17

Google Points to Another POS Vendor Breach

For the second time in the past nine months, Google has inadvertently but nonetheless correctly helped to identify the source of a large credit card breach — by assigning a “This site may be hacked” warning beneath the search results for the Web site of a victimized merchant.

A little over a month ago, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by multiple financial institutions whose anti-fraud teams were trying to trace the source of a great deal of fraud on cards that were all used at a handful of high-end restaurants around the country.

Two of those fraud teams shared a list of restaurants that all affected cardholders had visited recently. A bit of searching online showed that nearly all of those establishments were run by Select Restaurants Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio company that owns a number of well-known eateries nationwide, including Boston’s Top of the Hub; Parker’s Lighthouse in Long Beach, Calif.; the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore, Md.; Parkers Blue Ash Tavern in Cincinnati, Ohio; Parkers’ Restaurant & Bar in Downers Grove, Illinois; Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar with locations in Oak Park, Illinois and Princeton and Summit, New Jersey; and Black Powder Tavern in Valley Forge, PA.

Google's search listing for Select Restaurants, which indicates Google thinks this site may be hacked.

Google’s search listing for Select Restaurants, which indicates Google thinks this site may be hacked.

Knowing very little about this company at the time, I ran a Google search for it and noticed that Google believes the site may be hacked (it still carries this message). This generally means some portion of the site was compromised by scammers who are trying to abuse the site’s search engine rankings to beef up the rankings for “spammy” sites — such as those peddling counterfeit prescription drugs and designer handbags.

The “This site may be hacked” advisory is not quite as dire as Google’s “This site may harm your computer” warning — the latter usually means the site is actively trying to foist malware on the visitor’s computer. But in my experience it’s never a good sign when a business that accepts credit cards has one of these warnings attached to its search engine results.

Case in point: I experienced this exact scenario last summer as I was reporting out the details on the breach at CiCi’s Pizza chain. In researching that story, all signs were pointing to a point-of-sale (POS) terminal provider called Datapoint POS. Just like it did with Select Restaurants’s site, Google reported that Datapoint’s site appeared to be hacked.

Google thinks Datapoint's Web site is trying to foist malicious software.

Google believed Datapoint’s Web site was hacked.

Select Restaurants did not return messages seeking comment. But as with the breach at Cici’s Pizza chains, the breach involving Select Restaurant locations mentioned above appears to have been the result of an intrusion at the company’s POS vendor — Geneva, Ill. based 24×7 Hospitality Technology. 24×7 handles credit and debit card transactions for thousands of hotels and restaurants.

On Feb. 14, 24×7 Hospitality sent a letter to customers warning that its systems recently were hacked by a “sophisticated network intrusion through a remote access application.” Translation: Someone guessed or phished the password that we use to remotely administer point-of-sale systems at its customer locations. 24×7 said the attackers subsequently executed the PoSeidon malware variant, which is designed to siphon card data when cashiers swipe credit cards at an infected cash register (for more on PoSeidon, check out POS Providers Feel Brunt of PoSeidon Malware).

KrebsOnSecurity obtained a copy of the letter (PDF) that 24×7 Hospitality CEO Todd Baker, Jr. sent to Select Restaurants. That missive said even though the intruders apparently had access to all of 24×7 customers’ payment systems, not all of those systems were logged into by the hackers. Alas, this was probably little consolation for Select Restaurants, because the letter then goes on to say that the breach involves all of the restaurants listed on Select’s Web site, and that the breach appears to have extended from late October 2016 to mid-January 2017. Continue reading →


15
Mar 17

Four Men Charged With Hacking 500M Yahoo Accounts

“Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.” -Karim Baratov (paraphrasing Mae West)

The U.S. Justice Department today unsealed indictments against four men accused of hacking into a half-billion Yahoo email accounts. Two of the men named in the indictments worked for a unit of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that serves as the FBI’s point of contact in Moscow on cybercrime cases. Here’s a look at the accused, starting with a 22-year-old who apparently did not try to hide his tracks.

According to a press release put out by the Justice Department, among those indicted was Karim Baratov (a.k.a. Kay, Karim Taloverov), a Canadian and Kazakh national who lives in Canada. Baratov is accused of being hired by the two FSB officer defendants in this case — Dmitry Dokuchaev, 33, and Igor Sushchin, 43 — to hack into the email accounts of thousands of individuals.

Karim Baratov, as pictured in 2014 on his own site, mr-karim.com.

Karim Baratov (a.k.a. Karim Taloverov), as pictured in 2014 on his own site, mr-karim.com. The license plate on his BMW pictured here is Mr. Karim.

Reading the Justice Department’s indictment, it would seem that Baratov was perhaps the least deeply involved in this alleged conspiracy. That may turn out to be true, but he also appears to have been the least careful about hiding his activities, leaving quite a long trail of email hacking services that took about 10 minutes of searching online to trace back to him specifically.

Security professionals are fond of saying that any system is only as secure as its weakest link. It would not be at all surprising if Baratov was the weakest link in this conspiracy chain.

A look at Mr. Baratov’s Facebook and Instagram photos indicates he is heavily into high-performance sports cars. His profile picture shows two of his prized cars — a Mercedes and an Aston Martin — parked in the driveway of his single-family home in Ontario.

A simple reverse WHOIS search at domaintools.com on the name Karim Baratov turns up 81 domains registered to someone by this name in Ontario. Many of those domains include the names of big email providers like Google and Yandex, such as accounts-google[dot]net and www-yandex[dot]com.

Other domains appear to be Web sites selling email hacking services. One of those is a domain registered to Baratov’s home address in Ancaster, Ontario called infotech-team[dot]com. A cached copy of that site from archive.org shows this once was a service that offered “quality mail hacking to order, without changing the password.” The service charged roughly $60 per password.

Archive.org's cache of infotech-team.com, an email hacking service registered to Baratov.

Archive.org’s cache of infotech-team.com, an email hacking service registered to Baratov.

The proprietors of Infotech-team[dot]com advertise the ability to steal email account passwords without actually changing the victim’s password. According to the Justice Department, Baratov’s service relied on “spear phishing” emails that targeted individuals with custom content and enticed the recipient into clicking a link.

Antimail[dot]org is another domain registered to Baratov that was active between 2013 and 2015. It advertises “quality-mail hacking to order!”:

antimail

Another email hacking business registered to Baratov is xssmail[dot]com, which also has for several years advertised the ability to break into email accounts of virtually all of the major Webmail providers. XSS is short for “cross-site-scripting.” XSS attacks rely on vulnerabilities in Web sites that don’t properly parse data submitted by visitors in things like search forms or anyplace one might enter data on a Web site.

In the context of phishing links, the user clicks the link and is actually taken to the domain he or she thinks she is visiting (e.g., yahoo.com) but the vulnerability allows the attacker to inject malicious code into the page that the victim is visiting.

This can include fake login prompts that send any data the victim submits directly to the attacker. Alternatively, it could allow the attacker to steal “cookies,” text files that many sites place on visitors’ computers to validate whether they have visited the site previously, as well as if they have authenticated to the site already.

Archive.org's cache of xssmail.com

Archive.org’s cache of xssmail.com

Perhaps instead of or in addition to using XSS attacks in targeted phishing emails, Baratov also knew about or had access to other cookie-stealing exploits collected by another accused in today’s indictments: Russian national Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan.

According to government investigators, Belan has been on the FBI’s Cyber Most Wanted list since 2013 after breaking into and stealing credit card data from a number of e-commerce companies. In June 2013, Belan was arrested in a European country on request from the United States, but the FBI says he was able to escape to Russia before he could be extradited to the U.S. Continue reading →


14
Mar 17

Adobe, Microsoft Push Critical Security Fixes

Adobe and Microsoft each pushed out security updates for their products today. Adobe plugged at least seven security holes in its Flash Player software. Microsoft, which delayed last month’s Patch Tuesday until today, issued an unusually large number of update bundles (18) to fix dozens of flaws in Windows and associated software.

brokenwindowsMicrosoft’s patch to fix at least five critical bugs in the Windows file-sharing service is bound to make a great deal of companies nervous before they get around to deploying this week’s patches. Most organizations block internal file-sharing networks from talking directly to their Internet-facing networks, but these flaws could be exploited by a malicious computer worm to spread very quickly once inside an organization with a great many unpatched Windows systems.

Another critical patch (MS17-013) covers a slew of dangerous vulnerabilities in the way Windows handles certain image files. Malware or miscreants could exploit the flaws to foist malicious software without any action on the part the user, aside from perhaps just browsing to a hacked or booby-trapped Web site. Continue reading →


14
Mar 17

If Your iPhone is Stolen, These Guys May Try to iPhish You

KrebsOnSecurity recently featured the story of a Brazilian man who was peppered with phishing attacks trying to steal his Apple iCloud username and password after his wife’s phone was stolen in a brazen daylight mugging. Today, we’ll take an insider’s look at an Apple iCloud phishing gang that appears to work quite closely with organized crime rings — within the United States and beyond  — to remotely unlock and erase stolen Apple devices.

Victims of iPhone theft can use the Find My iPhone feature to remotely locate, lock or erase their iPhone — just by visiting Apple’s site and entering their iCloud username and password. Likewise, an iPhone thief can use those iCloud credentials to remotely unlock the victim’s stolen iPhone, wipe the device, and resell it. As a result, iPhone thieves often subcontract the theft of those credentials to third-party iCloud phishing services. This story is about one of those services.

The iCloud account phishing text that John's friend received months after losing a family iPhone.

The iCloud account phishing text that John’s friend received months after losing a family iPhone.

Recently, I heard from a security professional whose close friend received a targeted attempt to phish his Apple iCloud credentials. The phishing attack came several months after the friend’s child lost his phone at a public park in Virginia. The phish arrived via text message and claimed to have been sent from Apple. It said the device tied to his son’s phone number had been found, and that its precise location could be seen for the next 24 hours by clicking a link embedded in the text message.

That security professional source — referred to as “John” for simplicity’s sake — declined to be named or credited in this story because some of the actions he took to gain the knowledge presented here may run afoul of U.S. computer fraud and abuse laws.

John said his friend clicked on the link in the text message he received about his son’s missing phone and was presented with a fake iCloud login page: appleid-applemx[dot]us. A lookup on that domain indicates it is hosted on a server in Russia that is or was shared by at least 140 other domains — mostly other apparent iCloud phishing sites — such as accounticloud[dot]site; apple-appleid[dot]store; apple-devicefound[dot]org; and so on (a full list of the domains at that server is available here).

While the phishing server may be hosted in Russia, its core users appear to be in a completely different part of the world. Examining the server more closely, John noticed that it was (mis)configured in a way that leaked data about various Internet addresses that were seen recently accessing the server, as well as the names of specific directories on the server that were being accessed.

After monitoring that logging information for some time, my source discovered there were five Internet addresses that communicated with the server multiple times a day, and that those address corresponded to devices located in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

He also found a file openly accessible on the Russian server which indicated that an application running on the server was constantly sending requests to imei24.com and imeidata.net — services that allow anyone to look up information about a mobile device by entering its unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. These services return a variety of information, including the make and model of the phone, whether Find My iPhone is enabled for the device, and whether the device has been locked or reported stolen.

John said that as he was conducting additional reconnaissance of the Russian server, he tried to access “index.php” — which commonly takes one to a site’s home page — when his browser was redirected to “login.php” instead. The resulting page, pictured below, is a login page for an application called “iServer.” The login page displays a custom version of Apple’s trademarked logo as part of a pirate’s skull and crossbones motif, set against a background of bleeding orange flames.

The login page for an Apple iCloud credential phishing operation apparently used to unlock and remotely wipe stolen iPhones.

The login page for an Apple iCloud credential phishing operation apparently used to unlock and remotely wipe stolen iPhones.

John told me that in addition to serving up that login page, the server also returned the HTML contents of the “index.php” he originally requested from the server. When he saved the contents of index.php to his computer and viewed it as a text file, he noticed it inexplicably included a list of some 137 user names, email addresses and expiration dates for various users who’d apparently paid a monthly fee to access the iCloud phishing service.

“These appear to be ‘resellers’ or people that have access to the crimeware server,” my source said of the user information listed in the server’s “index.php” file.

priceperreseller

John told KrebsOnSecurity that with very little effort he was able to guess the password of at least two other users listed in that file. After John logged into the iCloud phishing service with those credentials, the service informed him that the account he was using was expired. John was then prompted to pay for at least one more month subscription access to the server to continue.

Playing along, John said he clicked the “OK” button indicating he wished to renew his subscription, and was taken to a shopping cart hosted on the domain hostingyaa[dot]com. That payment form in turn was accepting PayPal payments for an account tied to an entity called HostingYaa LLC; viewing the HTML source on that payment page revealed the PayPal account was tied to the email address “admin@hostingyaa[dot]com.”

According to the file coughed up by the Russian server, the first username in that user list — demoniox12 — is tied to an email address admin@lanzadorx.net and to a zero-dollar subscription to the phishing service. This strongly indicates the user in question is an administrator of this phishing service.

A review of Lanzadorx[dot]net indicates that it is a phishing-as-a-service offering that advertises the ability to launch targeted phishing attacks at a variety of free online services, including accounts at Apple, Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, among others.

A reverse WHOIS lookup ordered from Domaintools.com shows that the admin@lanzadorx.net email is linked to the registration data for exactly two domains — hostingyaa[dot]info and lanzadorx[dot]net [full disclosure: Domaintools is currently one of several advertisers on KrebsOnSecurity].

Hostingyaa[dot]info is registered to a Dario Dorrego, one of the other zero-dollar accounts included near the top of the list of users that are authorized to access the iCloud phishing service. The site says Dorrego’s account corresponds to the email address dario@hostingyaa[dot]com. That name Dario Dorrego also appears in the site registration records for 31 other Web site domains, all of which are listed here.

John said he was able to guess the passwords for at least six other accounts on the iCloud phishing service, including one particularly interesting user and possible reseller of the service who picked the username “Jonatan.” Below is a look at the home screen for Jonatan’s account on this iCloud phishing service. We can see the system indicates Jonatan was able to obtain at least 65 “hacked IDs” through this service, and that he pays USD $80 per month for access to it.

"Jonatan," a user of this iCloud account credential phishing service. Note the left side panel indicates the number of records and hacked IDs recorded for Jonatan's profile.

“Jonatan,” a user of this iCloud account credential phishing service. Note the left side panel indicates the number of records and hacked IDs recorded for Jonatan’s profile.

Continue reading →


10
Mar 17

Dahua, Hikvision IoT Devices Under Siege

Dahua, the world’s second-largest maker of “Internet of Things” devices like security cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs), has shipped a software update that closes a gaping security hole in a broad swath of its products. The vulnerability allows anyone to bypass the login process for these devices and gain remote, direct control over vulnerable systems. Adding urgency to the situation, there is now code available online that allows anyone to exploit this bug and commandeer a large number of IoT devices.

dahuaOn March 5, a security researcher named Bashis posted to the Full Disclosure security mailing list exploit code for an embarrassingly simple flaw in the way many Dahua security cameras and DVRs handle authentication. These devices are designed to be controlled by a local Web server that is accessible via a Web browser.

That server requires the user to enter a username and password, but Bashis found he could force all affected devices to cough up their usernames and a simple hashed value of the password. Armed with this information, he could effectively “pass the hash” and the corresponding username right back to the Web server and be admitted access to the device settings page. From there, he could add users and install or modify the device’s software. From Full Disclosure:

“This is so simple as:
1. Remotely download the full user database with all credentials and permissions
2. Choose whatever admin user, copy the login names and password hashes
3. Use them as source to remotely login to the Dahua devices

“This is like a damn Hollywood hack, click on one button and you are in…”

Bashis said he was so appalled at the discovery that he labeled it an apparent “backdoor” — an undocumented means of accessing an electronic device that often only the vendor knows about. Enraged, Bashis decided to publish his exploit code without first notifying Dahua. Later, Bashis said he changed his mind after being contacted by the company and agreed to remove his code from the online posting.

Unfortunately, that ship may have already sailed. Bashis’s exploit code already has been copied in several other places online as of this publication.

Asked why he took down his exploit code, Bashis said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity that “The hack is too simple, way too simple, and now I want Dahua’s users to get patched firmware’s before they will be victims to some botnet.”

In an advisory published March 6, Dahua said it has identified nearly a dozen of its products that are vulnerable, and that further review may reveal additional models also have this flaw. The company is urging users to download and install the newest firmware updates as soon as possible. Here are the models known to be affected so far:

DH-IPC-HDW23A0RN-ZS
DH-IPC-HDBW23A0RN-ZS
DH-IPC-HDBW13A0SN
DH-IPC-HDW13A0SN
DH-IPC-HFW13A0SN-W
DH-IPC-HDBW13A0SN
DH-IPC-HDW13A0SN
DH-IPC-HFW13A0SN-W
DHI-HCVR51A04HE-S3
DHI-HCVR51A08HE-S3
DHI-HCVR58A32S-S2

It’s not clear exactly how many devices worldwide may be vulnerable. Bashis says that’s a difficult question to answer, but that he “wouldn’t be surprised if 95 percent of Dahua’s product line has the same problem,” he said. “And also possible their OEM clones.”

Dahua has not yet responded to my questions or request for comment. I’ll update this post if things change on that front.

This is the second time in a week that a major Chinese IoT firm has urgently warned its customers to update the firmware on their devices. For weeks, experts have been warning that there are signs of attackers exploiting an unknown backdoor or equally serious vulnerability in cameras and DVR devices made by IoT giant Hikvision. Continue reading →


9
Mar 17

WikiLeaks: We’ll Work With Software Makers on Zero-Days

When WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped thousands of files documenting hacking tools used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, many feared WikiLeaks would soon publish a trove of so-called “zero days,” the actual computer code that the CIA uses to exploit previously unknown flaws in a range of software and hardware products used by consumers and businesses. But on Thursday, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange promised that his organization would work with hardware and software vendors to fix the security weaknesses prior to releasing additional details about the flaws.

“After considering what we think is the best way to proceed, and hearing these calls from some of the manufacturers, we have decided to work with them to give them exclusive access to additional technical details we have, so that fixes can be developed and pushed out,” Assange said in a press conference put on by his organization. “Once this material is effectively disarmed by us, we will publish additional details about what has been occurring.”

Source: Twitter

Source: Twitter

So-called “zero-day” flaws refer to vulnerabilities in hardware or software products that vendors first learn about when those flaws are already under active attack (i.e., the vendor has “zero days” to fix the vulnerability before it begins affecting its customers and users). Zero-day flaws are highly prized by cybercriminals and nation states alike because they potentially allow attackers to stealthily bypass a target’s digital defenses.

It’s unclear if WikiLeak’s decision to work with software makers on zero-days was impacted by a poll the organization took via its Twitter page over the past few days. The tweet read: “Tech companies are saying they need more details of CIA attack techniques to fix them faster. Should WikiLeaks work directly with them?”

So far, just over 38,000 people have responded, with a majority (57 percent) saying “Yes, make people safe,” while only 36 percent selected “no, they’re part of the problem.”

Assange didn’t offer additional details about the proposed information-sharing process he described, such as whether WikiLeaks would seek to work with affected vendors individually or if it might perhaps rely on a trusted third-party or third-parties to assist in that process. Continue reading →


8
Mar 17

WikiLeaks Dumps Docs on CIA’s Hacking Tools

WikiLeaks on Tuesday dropped one of its most explosive word bombs ever: A secret trove of documents apparently stolen from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detailing methods of hacking everything from smart phones and TVs to compromising Internet routers and computers. KrebsOnSecurity is still digesting much of this fascinating data cache, but here are some first impressions based on what I’ve seen so far.

First, to quickly recap what happened: In a post on its site, WikiLeaks said the release — dubbed “Vault 7” — was the largest-ever publication of confidential documents on the agency. WikiLeaks is promising a series of these document caches; this first one includes more than 8,700 files allegedly taken from a high-security network inside CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Va.

The home page for the CIA's "Weeping Angel" project, which sought to exploit flaws that could turn certain 2013-model Samsung "smart" TVs into remote listening posts.

The home page for the CIA’s “Weeping Angel” project, which sought to exploit flaws that could turn certain 2013-model Samsung “smart” TVs into remote listening posts.

“Recently, the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation,” WikiLeaks wrote. “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.”

Wikileaks said it was calling attention to the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of weaponized exploits against “a wide range of U.S. and European company products, includ[ing] Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

The documents for the most part don’t appear to include the computer code needed to exploit previously unknown flaws in these products, although WikiLeaks says those exploits may show up in a future dump. This collection is probably best thought of as an internal corporate wiki used by multiple CIA researchers who methodically found and documented weaknesses in a variety of popular commercial and consumer electronics.

For example, the data dump lists a number of exploit “modules” available to compromise various models of consumer routers made by companies like Linksys, Microtik and Zyxel, to name a few. CIA researchers also collated several pages worth of probing and testing weaknesses in business-class devices from Ciscowhose powerful routers carry a decent portion of the Internet’s traffic on any given day. Craig Dods, a researcher with Cisco’s rival Juniper, delves into greater detail on the Cisco bugs for anyone interested (Dods says he found no exploits for Juniper products in the cache, yet). Meanwhile, Cisco has published its own blog post on the matter.

WHILE MY SMART TV GENTLY WEEPS

Some of the exploits discussed in these leaked CIA documents appear to reference full-on, remote access vulnerabilities. However, a great many of the documents I’ve looked at seem to refer to attack concepts or half-finished exploits that may be limited by very specific requirements — such as physical access to the targeted device.

The “Weeping Angelproject’s page from 2014 is a prime example: It discusses ways to turn certain 2013-model Samsung “smart TVs” into remote listening devices; methods for disabling the LED lights that indicate the TV is on; and suggestions for fixing a problem with the exploit in which the WiFi interface on the TV is disabled when the exploit is run.

ToDo / Future Work:
Build a console cable

Turn on or leave WiFi turned on in Fake-Off mode

Parse unencrypted audio collection
Clean-up the file format of saved audio. Add encryption??

According to the documentation, Weeping Angel worked as long as the target hadn’t upgraded the firmware on the Samsung TVs. It also said the firmware upgrade eliminated the “current installation method,” which apparently required the insertion of a booby-trapped USB device into the TV.

Don’t get me wrong: This is a serious leak of fairly sensitive information. And I sincerely hope Wikileaks decides to work with researchers and vendors to coordinate the patching of flaws leveraged by the as-yet unreleased exploit code archive that apparently accompanies this documentation from the CIA.

But in reading the media coverage of this leak, one might be led to believe that even if you are among the small minority of Americans who have chosen to migrate more of their communications to privacy-enhancing technologies like Signal or WhatsApp, it’s all futility because the CIA can break it anyway.

Perhaps a future cache of documents from this CIA division will change things on this front, but an admittedly cursory examination of these documents indicates that the CIA’s methods for weakening the privacy of these tools all seem to require attackers to first succeed in deeply subverting the security of the mobile device — either through a remote-access vulnerability in the underlying operating system or via physical access to the target’s phone.

As Bloomberg’s tech op-ed writer Leonid Bershidsky notes, the documentation released here shows that these attacks are “not about mass surveillance — something that should bother the vast majority of internet users — but about monitoring specific targets.”

By way of example, Bershidsky points to a tweet yesterday from Open Whisper Systems (the makers of the Signal private messaging app) which observes that, “The CIA/Wikileaks story today is about getting malware onto phones, none of the exploits are in Signal or break Signal Protocol encryption.”

The company went on to say that because more online services are now using end-to-end encryption to prevent prying eyes from reading communications that are intercepted in-transit, intelligence agencies are being pushed “from undetectable mass surveillance to expensive, high-risk, targeted attacks.”

A tweet from Open Whisper Systems, the makers of the popular mobile privacy app Signal.

A tweet from Open Whisper Systems, the makers of the popular mobile privacy app Signal.

Continue reading →