Android Rooting Easier for Malware with DRAMMER attack

Last year security researchers had gotten access to Linux operating systems by using a design flaw in the memory storage to get higher kernel privileges on the system. Now for the first time with dynamic random access memory exploit called Rowhammer, which was already known about but not implemented on a mobile device, hackers will be able to gain “root” access to many android phones.

VUSec Lab at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam was able to gain access for the first time using the Rowhammer exploit. The exploit works by “executing a malicious application that repeatedly accesses the same “row” of transistors on a memory chip in a tiny fraction of a second in a process called Hammering.” This can disturb a neighboring row causing energy to leak into more rows which causes a bit to flip. Bit flipping allows anyone to change the contents of memory in an operating system.

Drammer has no quick fix so it could become a very big problem for android phone users. They were able to gain access to many phones but none of the newer phones they only got up to the s5 for Samsung’s Galaxy model. The way they were able to access the phones was using something called ION in the android phones DRAM memory. Once the malicious app is downloaded within minutes it will have root access to your phone.

source: http://thehackernews.com/2016/10/root-android-phone-exploit.html

-Gavin Millikan

OurMine Strikes Again: Hacks Variety, Floods Readers with Spam

The hacking group OurMine carried out another cyberattack on September 3, 2016. This time it was on the news publication, Variety. In addition to that, the hackers also targeted the readers by bombarding their emails with spam stating that it’s just testing its security. Along with that message, a link was provided to the website ourmine.org and a video; although it does not state what the content was and has been removed. Variety quickly responded to subscribers saying that they are working to resolve the unauthorized communications, and to ignore and delete the messages.

What’s interesting is that OurMine isn’t out to steal data or take down websites. The group states that their purpose is to make “bigwigs in the industry aware of their security flaws by hacking them.” Variety also states that OurMine doesn’t shut down websites and abscond with data. The group positions itself as a cybersecurity group that raises awareness by hacking into prominent people and brands.

Along with Variety, OurMine has also hacked the Quora account of Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the Twitter account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and the Twitter and Pinterest accounts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. They also claim to be the ones responsible for the distributed denial of service attacks on the servers of Pokemon Go in July.

Source: OurMine Strikes Again

-AJ Agena

Way to go VTech.

One month ago a hacker revealed that he had broken into the toymaker VTech and retrieved a lot of information that was disturbing. Apparently, VTech had been storing  images, chat logs, home addresses, emails, names, genders and even birthdays of every customer. This would include the parents and their children who the products were most likely being used by.  Around 4,000,000 parents and 200,000 of the children using the products information was readily available for anyone who knew what they were doing. The hacker did not relinquish the way he was able to break into VTech, probably in an attempt to keep this information secret from people who want it but do not know how to hack, but has commented that he retrieved 190GB worth of photos and shared 3832 images with motherboard, a blogging site, with all the faces blocked out.VTech has yet to concretely say what their exact reasoning was but the wording of their attempt to justify it was so that they can send the password to the user directly. You know because that is such a GREAT idea, instead of just having them reset their password every time they forgot it because the company made it entirely impossible for them to access it on their own and with ease, I will just send you it back. The person that thought this was a good idea should get fired, like, two years ago.

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2015/12/01/photos-of-kids-and-parents-chatlogs-audio-files-stolen-in-vtech-breach/

Covert Communications: Using Gaming Networks to Plot Terror

With all of the monitoring software that has been turned from legend into fact in the recent years, it can be perplexing that terroist organizations are still able to remotly plan and, as we have seen in recent days, execute attacks on high profile targets. However, officials in Belgum have come up with a way they were able to plan attackes such as Paris: using gaming networks such as Sony’s Playstation Network used on their Playstation 4

This is just the most recent in commercial networks and applications being used to plan terrorist activities. Before the use of the Playstation Network, terrorist organizations have been seen using a mobile application called WhatsApp, which uses the internet to send messages from person to person, and has been shown to be difficult to monitor due to its high traffic and method of sending messages.

The Playstation Network, however, has proven more difficult than WhatsApp when it comes to intercepting terrorist communications, due to their lack of ability to intercept peer-to-peer IP based voice chat. This would mean that a terrorist meet up could happen in something as simple as an online game, and authorities would never know about it.

This doesn’t mean that they haven’t tried to gain legal access to VoIP communications. In 2010, the FBI pushed to have all lanes of communication monitoried, though the FCC had declined to give them access to the network then.

The main issue, however, is beyond the legal scope. While we are able to profile potential terror affiliates based on their internet usage, it is very hard to do so based on their console usage (uless we already know a terror affiliate uses a certain account). This, along with the Playstation Network having over 110 million users (for scope, that would make it the 11th largest country in the world), makes it a really hard field to narrow down.

And that is just for voice communication. If you start thinking about it, there are even ways to conduct non-verbal communication over a gaming network, from in-game destructables to placing items to form words or symbols that could mean something, that would not be traceable later, as they would be reset according to the loading of the game.

With these in mind, communicating over gaming networks may be the next large step in clandestine communications between persons or bodies that do not want anyone listening in to their conversations, as there are currently no real steps to trace anything that might happen there. This could lead to governments and groups not being able to trace the traditonal methods of communication, and increases the likelyhood of an unexpected attack on a high profile target.

-Will G. Eatherly

Sources:

Daily Mail article on topic: http://tinyurl.com/pxxekka

List of Countries according to population: http://tinyurl.com/qb8f8mv

Forbes article on topic: http://tinyurl.com/omftmlk

 

The Implications of the Paris Attacks in Respect to Consumer Encrypted Communication Services

It is highly probable that the effects of the recent Paris attacks will be seen throughout all aspects of cyber-security and privacy. In particular it is rather interesting to consider the effects in regards to consumer encrypted messaging services. It is often the case that there is change in security policy and measures that commensurate with a terror attack. Therefore it is reasonable and practical to envisage western governments to express interest and attention in encrypted messaging services.

On the market today there is a significant amount services that offer the consumer end to end encryption. Examples of such services are: What’s App, Silent Circle, and Wickr. What end to end encryption is, in respect to communications, is the ability for users to communicate to both end completely encrypted. The result of this technology is that the only users able to read and interpret data are either the sender or the receiver. The implications of this is that there is no method of which any organization has the ability to read and interpret the communications being sent, even the company hosting the service.

In the wake of these attacks, there will be a greater desire of law enforcement agencies of the western civilizations to have access to intercept these messages. Senator Dianne Feinstein from California is calling for a “back door” into these services, stating that it is a problem that these services can “create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate in this way.” It his highly reasonable to extrapolate that this is only the start of a conversation on consumer encrypted communication services.

These government agencies are calling for these “back doors” in the wake of these attacks because it allows terrorists to communicate and coordinate with the messages being completely encrypted. An organization named Middle East Media Research Institute has released a report stating that a significant number of radical groups are using these services to communicate. However it is important to review these reports with caution, because the institute who released these reports are a not for profit political organization located in Washington.  In addition it is dubious how the information was found, because according to the mechanics of end to end encryption this information is impossible to recover. However regardless of the verisimilitude of these reports, it is important to acknowledge the potential implications of these technologies.

In final it is significantly important to consider the technical implications of creating this “back door”. Creating this back door also creating an additional set of probable problems in regards to this topic. Nickolas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, stated “You cannot hack a back door that lets only the good guys in… If you add one, it becomes usable by Chinese intelligence, Russian intelligence, and criminals.” Therefore if following these calls for an intercept-able encrypted messaging, would also ruin the purpose of using these services for communications.

In conclusion the future of consumer encrypted messaging services is uncertain in the wake of these attacks. The conversation in regards to public safety, in respect to these service is just beginning. It is also important to consider the technical consequences of creating a “back door.” The Paris attacks will a have a wide-reaching effect in the realm of information security, consumer encrypted messaging is only one of the many aspects that may be altered in the wake of these attacks.

Michael Henry Boc

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/paris-terror-attacks/paris-attack-could-renew-debate-over-encrypted-messaging-apps-n464276

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/hacker-lexicon-end-to-end-encryption/

http://www.memri.org/