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SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.

Spend five minutes per week to keep up with the high-level perspective of all the latest security news. New issues are delivered free every Tuesday and Friday.

Volume XIV - Issue #67

August 21, 2012

At GFIRST today, the 1500 attendees got a first look at the new
Consensus 20 Critical Security Controls and many signed up for the
international consortium run by Tony Sager (recently head of VAO at NSA)
that will ensure all known threat data is reflected in the consensus.
Large companies and government agencies are eligible for inclusion. To
apply for a place in the consortium overseeing contributing to the
authority of the 20 Critical Controls, send your organization's and your
personal qualifications to



Android Trojan Infects 500,000 Devices
NIST Seeking Military Android App Testing Tools


DNSChanger IP Address Blocks Reallocated
US Magistrate Says Video Privacy Law Applies to Digital Content
UK Information Commissioner Investigating Tesco Website Security
Public Interest Groups Challenge AT&T's Plan to Restrict FaceTime Use On Network
Pirate Party member Challenging Germany's Pre-Paid SIM Card ID Requirement
iOS Messaging Vulnerability
Judge Rejects Facebook Sponsored Stories Proposed Lawsuit Settlement
Microsoft Windows 8 RTM Shows Do Not Track Default Setting Notifications
Cyber Thieves Steal Half a Million Australian Credit Card Numbers


ACLU Lawsuit

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Android Trojan Infects 500,000 Devices (August 20, 2012)

A Trojan horse program for Androids has infected 500,000 devices; most of the infections are in China. The malware, known as SMSZombie, travels as wallpaper applications. It exploits flaws in China Mobile's mobile payment system to make unauthorized payments; it also steals bankcard and other financial transaction information. SMSZombie also takes steps to make it difficult for users to remove the malware from their devices.

NIST Seeking Military Android App Testing Tools (August 17, 2012)

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has posed a solicitation seeking software-testing tools to conduct vulnerability analysis and security scanning for Android applications used by the Pentagon.


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DNSChanger IP Address Blocks Reallocated (August 20, 2012)

Two IP address blocks that were used by the perpetrators of the DNSChanger malware have been reallocated. The addresses were under the control of the FBI and the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) from the time they were seized in November 2011 until July 2012. While the European IP address authority RIPE NCC that reassigned them believes it has been long enough to reallocate the addresses, some members of the DNSChanger Working Group believe it is too soon. Infected computers that have not been wiped of DNSChanger could still be pointing to those addresses. The issue would also cause problems for the new owners of the addresses. Whoever has control of those address blocks also has the potential to control computers still infected with DNSChanger.


US Magistrate Says Video Privacy Law Applies to Digital Content (August 20, 2012)

A US federal magistrate has ruled that information collected about which videos people watch online is protected under US privacy law, possibly putting Hulu on the spot for sharing users' viewing habits with third parties. US Magistrate Laurel Beeler ruled that the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988 applies to Hulu. Hulu argued, unsuccessfully, that the law applies only to video rental stores not video streaming services. Beeler wrote that, despite Hulu's assertion that the VPPA does not specifically cover digital distribution, "Given Congress's concern with protecting consumers' privacy in an evolving technological world, the court rejects that argument."

UK Information Commissioner Investigating Tesco Website Security (August 20, 2012)

The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is investigating Tesco for alleged inadequate security practices. The retail company allegedly stores its website login and password data unhashed and unsalted. Some of the site's pages do not use HTTPS, and the company emails users' passwords in plaintext. Some have noted that it is unusual for the ICO to become involved when a breach has not occurred.

[Editor's Note (Honan): Tesco has repeatedly said they employ "robust security" but have not addressed the specific concerns brought to their attention, either by those who identified the issues or by the press. ]

Public Interest Groups Challenge AT&T's Plan to Restrict FaceTime Use On Network (August 19, 2012)

Two public interest groups are calling out AT&T for its plan to allow only customers who sign up for the company's new Mobile Share plan to use Apple's FaceTime application over its network. Free Press and Public Knowledge say the plan violates the US Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules. iOS 6, the most recent version of Apple's operating system for iPhone, allows the use of FaceTime over mobile networks. AT&T subscribers currently can use FaceTime only if they are connected to a Wi-Fi network. They will have to sign up for AT&T's Mobile Share if they want to use it over the company's cellular network. The FCC's rules place restrictions on mobile providers blocking competing applications on their networks.

[Editor's Note (Murray): AT&T and Verizon consented to the "net neutrality" rules on the condition that they would apply only to the wired side, where there is no problem, but would exclude the wireless side, where the problem is. While they may have only delayed the battle, they were ready to fight it then and they will fight it now. They are both "lawyering up." ]

Pirate Party member Challenging Germany's Pre-Paid SIM Card ID Requirement (August 19, 2012)

A member of the Pirate Party in Germany has appealed a ruling from a German Federal Constitutional Court that says it is legal to require proper identification from people who are setting up prepaid SIM cards. Patrick Breyer and his lawyer maintain that anonymous communication is protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. Anonymous prepaid SIM cards are illegal in Denmark and France, but Breyer and his lawyer say that the law is ineffective because identification is easy to forge and people can buy prepaid phones in other countries.

iOS Messaging Vulnerability (August 17 & 20, 2012)

A vulnerability in Apple's iOS could be exploited to allow attackers to send messages that appear to come form another sender. The issue lies in the way Apple handles the SMS gateway. People can specify a "reply to" number other than their own, so that replies could be sent to someone other than the sender. The flaw could be exploited though phishing attacks. The problem has existed since the inception of iOS and still exists in the beta version of OS 6. iPhones display only the reply-to number and do not keep track of the originating number. A tool that exploits the vulnerability has been released.


Apple has suggested using iMessage as a "work-around" to the SMS vulnerability issue.

Judge Rejects Facebook Sponsored Stories Proposed Lawsuit Settlement (August 18, 2012)

A US District Court judge in California has rejected the proposed settlement of a lawsuit brought against Facebook over its Sponsored Stories feature. The lawsuit was filed by five Facebook users and is seeking class action status on behalf of as many as 100 million users; it alleges that Facebook violated users' rights by using their images in Sponsored Stories. The settlement would allow adults to limit how their images are used in Sponsored Stories; minors would be able to opt out altogether. The settlement would have Facebook change its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and provide users with more information about how their names and pictures are used with Sponsored Stories. The settlement would also give users more control over their data. The proposed settlement would have Facebook pay US $10 million to Internet privacy organizations and to pay attorney's fees of up to US $10 million. Judge Richard Seeborg said he had "serious concerns" about the settlement, asking why Facebook should not be asked to pay US $100 million, because it seemed as though the legal team was making money on the case, but the users they were representing were not receiving much in return.

Microsoft Windows 8 RTM Shows Do Not Track Default Setting Notifications (August 17, 2012)

Microsoft has made available Windows 8 RTM (release to manufacturers), which provides details of how users will be informed of the default Do Not Track (DNT) setting for Internet Explorer 10 (IE10). The option will be automatic if users select the default settings while performing the initial operating system (OS) setup. However, to assuage critics of the plan, users will have the opportunity to change the DNT setting even when they select the default settings. The DNT option in Internet Explorer is one of seven pieces of information that Windows setup requests. Choosing "Use express settings" gives users Microsoft's default settings, including the DNT being switched on. Users will have the option of changing the DNT settings through the Customize setup option. Users can also change the setting later through the IE10 Internet Options dialog box. This article includes screenshots of the Windows 8 setup. When E10 is released, there will also be a version for Windows 7; users will see a notice telling them that DNT is switched on in the new browser and will also offer a link for more information.

[Editor's Note: (Honan): Microsoft should be commended for taking this step to turn DNT on by default. I recently installed the Collusion plug in for Chrome and it is scary to see how many websites try to track your online activities. ]

Cyber Thieves Steal Half a Million Australian Credit Card Numbers (August 17, 2012)

A cyberattack has resulted in the theft of 500,000 credit card numbers in Australia. The incident occurred at an unnamed business in Australia and appears to be the work of hackers located in Eastern Europe. They allegedly placed keystroke loggers on point-of-sale (POS) terminals and remotely downloaded the information. The unnamed company was using default passwords on the POS terminals and stored transaction data unsecured. The thieves appear to have used an unsecured Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to harvest the data. The people behind the attack are believed to be the same ones that conducted a similar attack in the US on Subway sandwich restaurants. Police are investigating the incident.


Last edition Stephen Northcutt asked readers if they would send further information about the ACLU lawsuit. Thanks to Thelma, David and Janis for the help. This is a lawsuit following an ignored FOIA request for FBI surveillance and tracking policy following the Supreme Court decision that the government could not use GPS devices on cars without a court order. Here is the complaint in all its glorious legalese:

The following links are the ACLU perspective:





Here are a couple of the better articles on the topic:


The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

John Pescatore is Vice President at Gartner Inc.; he has worked in computer and network security since 1978.

Stephen Northcutt founded the GIAC certification and is President of STI, The Premier Skills-Based Cyber Security Graduate School,

Dr. Johannes Ullrich is Chief Technology Officer of the Internet Storm Center and Dean of the Faculty of the graduate school at the SANS Technology Institute.

Ed Skoudis is co-founder of CounterHack, the nation's top producer of cyber ranges, simulations, and competitive challenges, now used from high schools to the Air Force. He is also author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker Exploits and Incident Handling course, and Penetration Testing course..

William Hugh Murray is an executive consultant and trainer in Information Assurance and Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Rob Lee is the curriculum lead instructor for the SANS Institute's computer forensic courses ( and a Director at the incident response company Mandiant.

Tom Liston is a Senior Security Consultant and Malware Analyst for InGuardians, a handler for the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, and co-author of the book Counter Hack Reloaded.

Dr. Eric Cole is an instructor, author and fellow with The SANS Institute. He has written five books, including Insider Threat and he is a founder with Secure Anchor Consulting. Mason Brown is one of a very small number of people in the information security field who have held a top management position in a Fortune 50 company (Alcoa). He is leading SANS' global initiative to improve application security.

David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology Institute.

Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute.

Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin, Ireland.

David Turley is SANS infrastructure manager and serves as production manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.

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