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 XVII - Issue #4
January 16, 2015
TOP OF THE NEWSThe Crypto Question
GE Multilink Switch Vulnerabilities
LinkedIn Account Credentials Targeted in Phishing Scheme
THE REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWSAd Company Using Verizon Tracking Header
NOAA Forecasting Supercomputer Upgrade Drawing GAO Attention
Marriott to Stop Blocking Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots
Mozilla Updates Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird
Microsoft Issues Windows Patches
Adobe Patches Flash Vulnerabilities
Oracle Warns of Phony Patches
Google Stops Malicious Advertisement Attack
Military Social Media Security
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TOP OF THE NEWS
The Crypto Question (January 15, 2015)UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to ban encrypted communications without backdoors for government. Cameron is urging President Obama to pressure Apple, Google and Facebook to stop using stronger encryption in their communications products. An article published in The Guardian on Thursday includes details from a 2009 report from the US National Intelligence Council that has surfaced expresses concern that both government and private computers are not adequately protected because encryption is not being implemented as quickly as it ideally should be.
[Editor's Note (Northcutt): I suspect the richer nations are going to have to develop their own encryption systems. The NSA may say that maintaining a known flawed algorithm was regrettable, but that dog won't hunt.
(Honan): Interesting to note the day after Mr Cameron made the above promise the European Network and Information Agency (ENISA) issued a report called "Privacy and Data Protection by Design - from policy to engineering Agency" which urges governments within the European Union to use strong encryption.
(Weatherford): This is absurd. For the past two decades we've been evangelizing for better security to protect our infrastructures and our information to ultimately advance our societies through the economic benefits of technology. This position is essentially saying, technology has advanced too far too fast so let's dumb down security to make law enforcement's job easier. It's a Bizarro World argument. Dumbing down security simply makes the bad guys job easier and the security professional's job harder - much harder. I understand (and truly don't mean to minimize) the dilemma it presents to the intelligence community and law enforcement but that's why the legal system has an entire branch of the U.S. Federal government dedicated to it. ]
GE Multilink Switch Vulnerabilities (January 15, 2015)The US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Industrial Control System Computer Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) has issued an advisory about hard-coded credentials in certain GE Ethernet switches. The issue lies in the RSA key used to encrypt SSL traffic, which is hard-coded into the devices' firmware.
LinkedIn Account Credentials Targeted in Phishing Scheme (January 15, 2015)Attackers are using phony security alerts to steal LinkedIn account access credentials. The messages pretend to come from LinkedIn support staff saying that users must download an attachment that will tell users how to install an update. The attachment appears to be the LinkedIn website but it sends entered data to the attackers. Users can protect themselves by activating LinkedIn's two-factor authentication.
[Editor's Note (Pescatore): Forgive me for waxing lyrical, but a great line in John McCutcheon's "Step by Step" is, "Drops of water turn a mill, singly none singly none." The vast number of phishing attacks succeeding at capturing reusable passwords are drops of water slowly starting to turn the wheel of stronger authentication... ]
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THE REST OF THE WEEK'S NEWS
Ad Company Using Verizon Tracking Header (January 15, 2015)An advertising company appears to be using Verizon unique identifier token headers (UIDH) to track users' online behavior. Clearing cookie caches will not prevent this tracking.
NOAA Forecasting Supercomputer Upgrade Drawing GAO Attention (January 15, 2015)Auditors from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) are monitoring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) forecasting supercomputer upgrade as the contractor, IBM, is selling a portion of its business to Lenovo, a Chinese company. NOAA is also facing scrutiny regarding its polar satellite system, which will be addressed at a House Science and Technology Committee in February.
Marriott to Stop Blocking Personal Wi-Fi Hotspots (January 15, 2015)Marriott International will no longer block personal wi-fi hotspots in its hotels. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigated the issue after a customer complained, and found that a hotel in Tennessee was using a monitoring system that de-authenticated guests' hotspots. The FCC fined Marriott US $600,000. Marriott believed it was acting within its rights to block the hotspots and maintained that blocking customers' wi-fi hotspots was a security measure.
Mozilla Updates Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird (January 15, 2015)Mozilla has released Firefox 35. The latest version of the browser includes fixes for a number of security issues. Several of the flaws have been rated critical. Mozilla has also issued updates for Firefox ESR, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird.
[Editor's Note (Murray): Browsers continue to be the weak spot on the desktop and the desktop continues to be the weak spot in the Internet. We appear to have chosen to tolerate it. ]
Microsoft Issues Windows Patches (January 13 & 14, 2015)On Tuesday, January 13, Microsoft issued eight bulletins to address security issues in various versions of Windows. Included in the patches are fixes for two flaws in Windows 8.1 that Google recently disclosed as part of its Project Zero security program. Both flaws are also exploitable in other versions of Windows, although Google tested them in Windows 8.1 only. None of the bulletins address flaws in Internet Explorer, a rare occurrence for Microsoft. Internet Storm Center:
Adobe Patches Flash Vulnerabilities (January 14, 2015)Adobe has issued fixes for nine flaws in Flash Player. The flaws could be exploited to record keystrokes or take control of vulnerable systems. Flash Player 18.104.22.1687 is available for Windows and Mac OS X, and FlashPlayer 22.214.171.1249 is available for Linux. Flash will be automatically updated in Google's Chrome browser and in Internet Explorer running on Windows 8 and 8.1.
[Editor's Note (Murray): Flash is historically broken and appears to be resistant to anything that even approaches a permanent fix. Whatever happened to HTML5? ]
Oracle Warns of Phony Patches (January 13 & 14, 2015)Oracle has issued a warning alerting users that attackers are touting phony security patches. The company has not provided details about what the downloads actually contain, but it is likely that they are not good for people's systems.
Google Stops Malicious Advertisement Attack (January 14, 2015)Google has stopped a malicious advertising, or malvertising, attack that redirected users to suspect websites. The malicious ads were served to websites that had signed up to use Google's AdSense program, which provides banner ads.
Military Social Media Security (January 14, 2015)The US Office of the Secretary of Defense has instructed its social media managers to ensure that their accounts are secure, days after the Twitter and YouTube accounts of Centcom were hijacked. The compromised accounts were back online under Centcom control on Monday night, January 12.
[Editor's Note (Pescatore): More drops of water! ]
STORM CENTER TECH CORNERWordpress Scans with Fake Google User Agent
Scans for NoSQL Databases (Redis)
Spam Migrates to WhatsApp
New DANE validation service
AMD Fixes Firmware Bug
Gitrob: Searching Github For Sensitive Information
Asus Published Update to Fix "Port 9999" Bug
Banking Trojans Hit Scada Networks
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The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites
John Pescatore was Vice President at Gartner Inc. for fourteen years. He became a director of the SANS Institute in 2013. He has worked in computer and network security since 1978 including time at the NSA and the U.S. Secret Service.
Shawn Henry recently retired as FBI Executive Assistant Director responsible for all criminal and cyber programs and investigations worldwide, as well as international operations and the FBI's critical incident response. He is now president of CrowdStrike Services.
Stephen Northcutt teaches advanced courses in cyber security management; he founded the GIAC certification and was the founding President of STI, the premier skills-based cyber security graduate school, www.sans.edu.
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.
Michael Assante was Vice President and Chief Security Officer at NERC, led a key control systems group at Idaho National Labs, and was American Electric Power's CSO. He now leads the global cyber skills development program at SANS for power, oil & gas and other critical infrastructure industries.
Mark Weatherford is a Principal at The Chertoff Group and the former Deputy Under Secretary of Cybersecurity at the US Department of Homeland Security.
William Hugh Murray is an executive consultant and trainer in Information Assurance and Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.
Sean McBride is Director of Analysis and co-founder of Critical Intelligence, and, while at Idaho National Laboratory, he initiated the situational awareness effort that became the ICS-CERT.
Rob Lee is the SANS Institute's top forensics instructor and director of the digital forensics and incident response research and education program at SANS (computer-forensics.sans.org).
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 leads SANS' efforts to raise the bar in cybersecurity education around the world.
David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology Institute.
Gal Shpantzer is a trusted advisor to CSOs of large corporations, technology startups, Ivy League universities and non-profits specializing in critical infrastructure protection. Gal created the Security Outliers project in 2009, focusing on the role of culture in risk management outcomes and contributes to the Infosec Burnout project.
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 operations manager and serves as production manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.