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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 XVII - Issue #5

January 20, 2015


UK and US to Conduct Joint Cyber Attack Simulation
US Infiltrated North Korea's Networks in 2010


New Documents On China Theft of F-35 Fighter Jet Data
Chinese Government Allegedly Responsible for Attack Against
Verizon Fixes Data Exposure Vulnerability in My FiOS
Proposed Changes to US Laws Could Have Chilling Effect on Research
Google Discloses More Unpatched Windows Flaws
UK Police Make Arrest in Connection with Sony Attacks
UPI and New York Post Twitter Accounts Hijacked
New Jersey Law Requires Stored Health Data be Encrypted



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UK and US to Conduct Joint Cyber Attack Simulation (January 16 & 19, 2015)

US and UK Intelligence agencies will collaborate on a simulated cyber attack against financial sector companies. The countries will also establish a joint cyber cell that will include FBI and NSA staff and their UK counterparts.


[Editor's Note (Murray): In the past, such exercises (remember Michael Chertoff on TV) have demonstrated the impotence of government in the face of the (Hollywood?) scenarios used. One would hope that the network operators and the banks, who must play the central roles in any such defense, will be included in any such exercises. Otherwise, the results will be used to justify that government must be given more power. ]

US Infiltrated North Korea's Networks in 2010 (January 18 & 19, 2015)

According to reports in The New York Times and Der Spiegel, US officials' confidence in blaming North Korea for the attacks against Sony Pictures' networks is due to the fact that the NSA infiltrated North Korean computers in November 2010.



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New Documents On China Theft of F-35 Fighter Jet Data (January 19, 2015)

The BBC reports that Chine stole 50 terabytes of data regarding the US military's F-35 fighter jet. The information about the theft was in leaked NSA documents. The theft was originally reported in 2009. China has denied the allegations.

Chinese Government Allegedly Responsible for Attack Against (January 19, 2015)

A company that monitors censorship in China says that the country's government may be responsible for an attack on Microsoft's Outlook email system there. GreatFire says that the website was the target of a man-in-the-middle attack which lasted about 24 hours. The attack comes just a few weeks after China blocked Gmail in that country.



Greatfire Post:

[Editor's Note (Ullrich): Oddly, these attacks use simple, self-signed certificates, while the Chinese government would have access to valid certificates. Bulletin boards within China have attributed some of these attacks to criminal activity vs. government interference. At the same time, we keep receiving reports about misconfigurations of the DNS servers that are part of the "Great Chinese Firewall" redirecting users within China to random web sites which as a result experience DoS conditions. ]

Verizon Fixes Data Exposure Vulnerability in My FiOS (January 18 & 19, 2015)

Verizon has fixed a security flaw in its My FiOS mobile application that exposed inboxes and private messages of as many as five million user accounts. The data could be viewed by manipulating user ID numbers in web requests.

[Editor's Note (Ullrich): Great save by Verizon to not only fix the flaw within 2 days, but also reward the user for responsible disclosure. ]

Proposed Changes to US Laws Could Have Chilling Effect on Research (January 18, 2015)

Proposed changes to the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act could make the law more open to interpretation and could potentially criminalize certain research activity. For example, the changes could criminalize accessing a public document without the approval of the owner.


Google Discloses More Unpatched Windows Flaws (January 16, 2015)

Google has disclosed two additional vulnerabilities in Windows 90 days after alerting Microsoft to their presence. The disclosures are part of Google's Project Zero program, which aims to get companies to issue patches more quickly. A patch for one of the flaws had been planned for Microsoft's January updates but it was pulled due to compatibility issues. It will likely be included in the next round of Microsoft updates, which are scheduled for February 10. Google has been facing criticism for its strict adherence to the program's 90-day policy.



UK Police Make Arrest in Connection with Sony Attacks (January 16, 2015)

UK police have arrested one person in connection with the December attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live. The individual, an 18-year-old male, also faces charges related to swatting attacks.


UPI and New York Post Twitter Accounts Hijacked (January 16, 2015)

The Twitter accounts of UPI and the New York Post appear to have been hijacked. Fake news headlines were posted on both accounts. The attacks follow close on the heels of attacks on the YouTube and twitter accounts of the US Central Command.


[Editor's Note (Murray): Twitter needs to enable the use of their strong authentication by supporting multiple users of these kinds of accounts. ]

New Jersey Law Requires Stored Health Data be Encrypted (January 12, 13 & 16, 2015)

A newly enacted New Jersey law in requires health insurance companies doing business in that state to encrypt personal data they retain on computers. The law, which takes effect later this year, goes beyond data protection requirements specified in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The law was prompted by health data breaches in New Jersey.


Text of the Bill:
[Editor's Note (Ullrich): Not a bad idea, but the law appears to apply only to "end user systems" not servers. The legislation appears to address the "lost laptop" problem, not so much the bulk theft of data from servers. ]


Traffic Patterns For CryptoWall 3.0

LizardStresser Database Leaked

Verizon Mobile App API Allows Authentication Bypass

Shellshock Keeps On Giving

Odd HTTP Requests For PHP Scripts

Details And Possible PoC For Telnet Vulnerability (Google cache link below. May not survive much longer)

Vulnerable OBD2 Vehicle Ports

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,

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 (

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.