Encryption system used to exploit protected Wifi networks

Everyone knows that they could be a potential target for cyber-crime; as it often appears in the news almost every day. But just how vulnerable is an individual? CERT recently made a statement about how your Wifi network could be exploited if proper precautions are not taken.

On October 16th, 2017, the Computer Emergency Readiness Team made an announcement that addresses the protection of your sensitive information. In short, its advice is to update all your devices when security advancements are available. The reason for this is that a widely used encryption system used on wireless networks can lead to a breach of your credit card information, emails, passwords, etc.

Essentially, the system allows a hacker to gain access to the internet traffic that occurs between computers. Once in, the hacker can manipulate the data that is recovered. Depending on the target’s network configurations, it is even possible for the attacker to inject malware into the network. The unsettling part about this encryption system is that it has the capability of effecting a very wide range of devices including Android, Apple, Linux, and Windows.

Companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have heeded this advice and have released updates that will help protect people with their devices from this issue.

– Jared Albert



Equifax: The Work Number

Everyone has heard about the Equifax security breach that had compromised an unknown number of Americans. but not everyone has heard about another of Equifax’s services: The Work Number

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.03.01 AM

The Work Number is a service that provides an individual’s detailed salary and employment history. It was designed to provide automated employment and income verification to employers. It can also provide proof of income should someone be applying for a loan.

With such a large database of private information and the above image the first thing you see when going to: www.theworknumber.com/Employees you would expect a large number of security protocols defending it. Initially, yes, but after the recent Equifax breach, maybe not so much.

To access he information requires one to input their employer’s code, which would be easy to look up if the Equifax system wasn’t down for maintenance. Then it asks for a “User ID” which in most cases it your SSN or a portion of it. Finally it asks for your “PIN” which is defaulted to be some variation of your Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy or yyyy/mm/dd). After gaining access is does require you to change the PIN and set up half a dozen security questions for verification. Then it allows you to access any of your income or employer history on its database.

The troubling thing about this is that in the Equifax security breach some of the major pieces of information stolen was DOB and SSN, allowing someone to access your information as long as they could learn who your current employer is, in order to get the employer code. After they gain access to the Work Number, a potential hacker can change your PIN and set up security questions and lock you out of the whole system.

-Spencer Mycek

source: Krebsonsecurity

The Hard Apple: Why It’s Difficult to Acquire Malware on a Mac

It always seems like there is a new virus, new malware, new adware, that happens to pop up on a computer running Windows. But why do we not here about this happening on a Mac? The answer is hidden under the operating system, tracing it to it’s roots, along with the attacker’s target audience.

Apple Mac computers are a Unix based operating system. Unix is normally a very secure operating system with their own built in features. Along with this, Apple has added its own type of security features along with this. One of these features is called Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper blocks any software than hasn’t been digitally signed and approved by Apple. A second feature  used by Mac’s is known as the act of Sandboxing. The process involves the checking of applications to confirm that they are only doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Sandboxing also isolates the applications from system components and other parts of the computer that do not have anything to do with the app’s initial designed purpose. The final security that is used by Apple is called FileVault2, which is a simple file management system that encrypts all of the files on the Mac computers. These embedded securities created by Apple help to create a more secure system for their users.

Normally, it would be thought that Mac users would be an easy group to target, but based on recent data, it is seen by most attackers that the amount of people present in the Apple community is not worth the overall effort of making a virus or malware that can be successful for passing through all of the Apple security obstacles. The reason why there are very limited viruses/malware for Mac devices, is because the attackers have a greater and easier target audience for Windows users.

Regardless of the very few amount of Mac related viruses and malware, there have still been instances of them occurring. In just 2017, there has been a 230% increase in Mac malware. An example of this is the OSX/Dok malware. OSX/Dok occurred in April 2017 and was a trojan that would hijack all incoming and outgoing traffic with the Mac computer. The trojan was signed with a valid certificate from Apple, meaning that the hackers could have used a legitimate developers account to initialize this attack. Another attack that took place in February of 2017 was called MacDownloader. This adware would display to a user as a free update for the Adobe Flash Player. When the installer ran, the program would prompt the user that there is adware on the Mac and would prompt for the system password. This would then begin the process of transmitting data (ie. usernames, passwords, etc.) to a remote server. The final example of successful Mac malware would be one called Safari-Get. Happening in November of 2016, this was a type of social engineering that involved sending out links through emails and the link either opening multiple iTunes windows, or multiple draft emails (just depending on the Mac operating system version). This would cause the system to freeze or cause a memory overload and force a shutdown.

Regardless of the lack of effort put forth by attackers towards Mac users, there still should be some safety concern for users. This can be made easily by updating applications and being careful when clicking links or even opening certain files.

-Ryan Keihm


Do Macs get viruses, and do Macs need antivirus software?

16 Apple Security Advances to Take Note of in 2016

A More “Intimate” IoT Issue

As humans get more attached to technology, it appears that we also get more detached from reality and those around us. The meaning of interpersonal relationships gets foggier as our practical need for face-to-face interaction is lost. But the loss of the practicality of it in day-to-day life does not mean that humans do not desire personal relationships. To be more specific, the human desire for a romantic relationship does not dwindle even as our desire to go out and create one does. Some would say that a solution to this issue would be, gently put, robotic escort services.

Whether these robotic prostitutes are for hire or are personally owned is beyond the scope of this discussion. As is whether this is a good direction for humanity to go in. The issue to be discussed is much graver than that.

As the IoT grows more populous with frivolous devices, one cannot help but come across articles stating the dangers of having these devices on the internet. Sure, hacking a toaster can allow you access to someones home network. And yes, a juice press that connects to World Wide Web seems more than a little bit silly. But they are merely pocket change when compared to the possibility of being killed by an IoT device. If during use, one of these sex robots was to be hacked it could be commanded to kill you. If this sounds ridiculous to you, I’m certain that you’re not alone. But Dr. Nick Patterson of Deankin University in Australia will have you know that this is not at ridiculous as it may seem.

“Hackers can hack into a robot or a robotic device and have full control of the connections, arms, legs and other attached tools like in some cases knives or welding devices,” Patterson says. “Often these robots can be upwards of 200 pounds, and very strong. Once a robot is hacked, the hacker has full control and can issue instructions to the robot. The last thing you want is for a hacker to have control over one of these robots. Once hacked they could absolutely be used to perform physical actions for an advantageous scenario or to cause damage.”

While an immediate threat is not thought to be present, it is certainly a consideration one should make before purchasing one of these machines in the future.

-Alan Richman

Sources: Patterson initially gave this information to the Daily Star in the United Kingdom. The given link is to the source with this information containing no graphic, explicit, or sexual imagery.


BlueBorne, a Bluetooth Vulnerability

Armis has identified a new threat to almost every device we own. There are eight vulnerabilities that have been identified, four of which are critical. These vulnerabilities affect over 5 billion Android, Windows, iOS, and Linux devices. This vulnerability is known as BlueBorne.

What makes this vulnerability different than most cyber attacks is that there is no link that a user has to click on or a malicious file that the user has to download to become a victim. The user doesn’t even have to be connected to the internet. Instead, BlueBorne is spread through a devices Bluetooth connection. The attack doesn’t require the targeted device to be paired to the attackers device or even for the targeted device to be set to discoverable mode.

Image result for BlueBorne

This all contributes to BlueBorne being easily spread to devices at a possible unprecedented rate. Bluetooth processes have high privileges on all operating systems which allows this exploit to completely take over the device. Android devices are vulnerable to remote code execution, information leaks, and Man-in-The-Middle attacks. Windows devices are vulnerable to the Man-in-The-Middle attack. Linux devices running BlueZ are affected by the information leak vulnerability, and Linux devices from version 3.3-rc1 (released in October 2011) are affected by the remote code execution vulnerability (This includes many smart watches, smart tvs, and smart refrigerators). iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices with iOS 9.3.5 and lower, and AppleTV devices with version 7.2.2 and lower are affected by the remote code execution vulnerability, but this vulnerability was already patched for users running iOS 10. Even networks that are “air gapped” are at risk of this attack, and includes industrial systems, government agencies, and critical infrastructure.

Examples of attacks:

  • Taking a picture on a phone and sending it to the hacker
  • Listening to a conversation through a wearable device
  • Redirecting a user to a fake login page to steal their login information
  • Cyber espionage
  • Data theft
  • Ransomware
  • Creating large botnets out of IoT devices

Many companies are pushing out updates for their users, but for many it is too late, and for others they have older devices that will not receive the updates.

As of 9/13/17:

  • Apple users with iOS 10 are safe
  • Google has released a patch for this vulnerability for Android Marshmallow and Nougat, but it might be weeks before the patch is available to some Android users
  • Microsoft patched the vulnerabilities in July
  • A patch for Linux is expected to be released soon

The problem is that even with these patches, there are many users who are unaware of this exploitation and/or do not update their devices regularly. For users that haven’t updated their devices or do not have an update for their device, the safest thing to do is to turn Bluetooth off on your phone and leave it off until there is a patch for your device


Source: https://www.armis.com/blueborne/


-Matthew Smith