RSA 2014, EMET Bypass, and Broken SSL
This week I attended the 2014 RSA Security Conference, one of the biggest information security (and cryptography) conferences of the year. This was the busiest RSA Conference in the show’s history, which suggests that more and more businesses, governments, and organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about cyber security. As a side effect, the show also kept me too busy to produce my normal infosec news video. Instead, I offer a written summary of this week’s major security news and RSA stories below.
- Apple fixes serious SSL vulnerability in their OSs – This week, Apple released security updates for iOS 6.x and 7.x, OS X, Quicktime, Safari, and Apple TV. Though these updates fix a wide swath of vulnerabilities in those forenamed products, the most astonishing fix corrects a very serious SSL/TLS vulnerability that affects the iOS and OS X operating systems (OS). SSL/TLS is designed to protect and encrypt your network communications, but this flaw allows anyone on the same network as you to intercept and read your communications in a Man-in-the-Middle attack. In short, if you use Apple products, you SSL communications have been open to interception for the last few months, making it especially scary if you joined any open Wifi networks. Apple’s updates fix the issue, and many more, so be sure to go get them. See Apple’s security update summary page for more details.
- EMET suffers from a bypass vulnerability – EMET—short for Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit—is a free Microsoft tool designed to make it harder for cyber attackers to actually exploit memory corruption type vulnerabilities. I doesn’t prevent a product from having a memory corruption flaw, rather it adds various memory protection mechanisms (like stronger Address Space Layout Randomization or ASLR) to make it harder for attackers to injection their malicious shell code into certain memory locations. It’s a tool I often recommend users install to help mitigate the risk of many vulnerabilities. Well this week, researchers at Bromium Labs proved that EMET is not bulletproof. They released a paper [PDF] showing how attackers could bypass some of EMET’s protections. Microsoft has acknowledged the flaws, and also has a new version in beta (EMET v5.0) that plugs some of the holes.
- Academic researchers disclose the first AP virus – Researchers from a number of universities in Europe released a paper describing the first ever wireless access point (WAP) virus, which they dub Chameleon. Chameleon first tries to find unsecured wireless APs (for instance, ones using weak WEP encryption, or no encryption). Once it can access the victim AP’s wireless network, it then leverages flaws in the AP firmware to try and infect the AP with its virus. Then it continues scanning for new victim APs. As a research project, this attack was only done in a lab environment, and has never been seen in the wild. However, now that it’s out I suspect criminal hackers might copy this technique in the real world one day.
- RSA Security Conference Summary – Here are a few of the big themes and news from this year’s RSA Conference.
- Government and the NSA have broken our trust – In general, the buzz on the show floor was how governments around the world, especially the U.S. and the NSA, have broken our trust with their spying campaigns. While many agree that some sort of international spy agency should exist, most think the NSA has crossed the line with the amount of data they are collecting; which includes data from normal private citizens. The lack of transparency in these government cyber espionage operations has poisoned the industry’s confidence in all online security and communications, making it difficult to know what to trust. Many speakers at the conference criticized these government operations, especially when the governments in question designed malware which they released into the wild.
- Destructive attacks get more real – In one session, researchers from CrowdStrike demonstrated a vulnerability in Apple computers that they could exploit to actually cause your device to overheat, potentially catching on fire. One of my predictions this year was to expect more destructive malware, and this example may unfortunately help that prediction come true. As an aside, other researchers at the show also demonstrated an attack against Apple iOS devices that allows malicious programs to log touch input—kind of like a keylogger for finger swipes.
- Lots of vulnerabilities in RSA mobile app – A few weeks before the show, researchers at IOActive checked out the RSA mobile app for the 2014 conference. Turns out it suffered from six vulnerabilities that attackers could leverage to do many things, including disclose the personal information of some of the attendees, or to inject additional code into the app to phish credentials, and other bad things. Check out IOActive’s blog for more details, but it’s ironic that a security conference’s app suffers from the flaws the conference is supposed to educate against.
Well that’s all I have time for this week. However, if you’d like links to other security stories from the week, check out the extra below. I’ll return with my normal video updates next Friday.
- Latest details around the Neiman Marcus Breach - Help Net Security
- Hackers and phishers target World Cup - NBC News
- Bruce Schneier on Survelliance [Audio podcast] - ThreatPost
- Harvard super computer used to mine Dogecoin - Ars Technica
- Turns out Mt Gox Bitcoin wallet may have lost everything - IB Times
- Briton accused of hacking the Federal Reserve - Mashable
- GCHQ collects millions of Yahoo images to use with facial recognition - Engadget
- Latest Gameover (Zeus) variant has a kernel rootkit - Naked Security
- Increasing Android banking trojans - Help Net Security
- Is this the latest attempt to weaken a security standard? - ISC SANS
- Is this new rootkit the Russian government’s “Stuxnet?” - Techworld