Sunday, 31 January 2016

The "prediction" frenzy for 2016 in CyberSecurity and the Black Swan effect

The past few days, a number of articles have hit the web, which have as their main subject the attempt to predict emerging threats for 2016. Moreover, numerous webinars and discussion panels are being organized, mainly to express an opinion on these claimed predictions. I would like to share with the readers of my blog that this “prediction” frenzy is happening for a very specific underlying reason. 
The information security industry and more specifically the vendors, attempt to shift their value proposition once more in 2016, and make it the year of “predicting” attacks, initially from detection to prevention, and now to prediction. This is going to be the InfoSec buzzword for this coming year. 

Detection > Prevention >  Prediction 

It is sometimes annoying to see that some industry professionals (especially tied to specific vendors, as a publicity stand for quick profit) discuss/present such ideas as novel, when in reality researchers, especially in academia, have worked upon the evolution of threat assessment, and detection, many years back. Several PhD theses have been written on how intrusion detection will evolve, and even more on how unification of networkevents will address the problem of managing the vast amounts of information generated (later called “Big Data”). Also, how prevention can be effective across different geographic locations, how will this lead to “Threat Intelligence” needs, by sharing attack patterns across heterogeneous systems in real-time (including IoT), and what are the realistic expectations for predicting cyber threats, based on the abstraction of network events, and the behavioural analysis of cyber-criminals, and trends in cybercrime.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Rise of Ransomware - Tips on prevention, response and evading extortion

Ransomware, a malware that prevents or in some cases limits users from accessing their data has been on the rise. Last year, 2015 saw a considerable increase with Crowti (also known as CryptoWall) and FakeBSOD being the two instances that affected more than 850,000 systems between June and November. In the first quarter of 2015, ransomware saw a 165% increase compared to the previous year. In the second quarter of 2015, 4 million samples of ransomware were identified indicating 58% ransomware growth. Ransomware is expected to grow in 2016 considering that more than half of malware attacks in 2015 also carried ransomware.
The main function of ransomware is to prevent the user (or users if it infects a server) from using that particular system. It does this by encrypting the files that it finds stored in the filesystem and connected drives. Usually, ransomware also tries to prevent certain applications and services from running.

Malicious files
These malicious files are called ransomware because they demand a payment (a ransom) in order to allow the users to decrypt their files; the attacker provides the decryption key in exchange for the payment. Some of these types of malicious files try to convince individuals that they have done something illegal in an attempt to scare them into making the payment (ransomware acting as scareware). In order to be more believable, some ransomware payment demands pretend to be from a law enforcement agency. The ransom usually starts at a few US dollars to hundreds of dollars or its Bitcoin equivalent.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Browse Safely & Tools for Looking up Potentially Malicious Websites

The following list contains free online tools for looking up a potentially malicious websites. Some of these tools will lookup their own historical data for a particular website, while others perform live tests. The URLs are in alphabetical order. 

Even though these websites allow you to initiate an online check on-demand, it is not the most convenient way for everyday use, especially when you jump from one website to the next. In that case, I strongly suggest the use of a browser plug-in (extension) that will do this for you automatically. On that note, know that there are several extensions that will do this check for you in real-time. 

I tested a bunch of them and to be completely honest the most lightweight and effective one I found was the Avira Browser Safety. This is a tiny extension that will not only lookup and check each website you visit for any malicious content but it will also list all trackers on the website. Also, the Avira Browser Safety extension allow you to select which trackers would you like to turn off by flipping a switch next to each tracker listed. Combining this with you favourite extension that blocks ads makes visiting website a little bit less scary process. 

Please note that I am referring to legitimate websites that have been breached with the only purpose to deliver malware to its visitors. In many cases, this breach stays undetected for days or weeks before it is picked up by the developers or the security team. Also, the reason why I am suggesting an ads blocker is because there have been many cases where ads have been compromised, and contain malicious JavaScript that infects visitors. (see: Malvertising) 
If you think you know of a site that can do something similar but it is not on this list, let me know and I will be happy to add it. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Temporary & Disposable Email / SMS List

Sometimes it is very useful to have a temporary email address which you will be only using briefly. I admit it, I personally use these disposable email providers because I need to download for example a free whitepaper or register to an online form that I know I won't be using again in the future for a very long time and I don't want to get bombarded with advertising material afterwards (or have my email shared with undisclosed third-parties).

Before I move on telling you about the temporary/disposable email addresses, let me point out another interesting online service that sometimes might come in handy. These are temporary mobile numbers to receive actual text messages (aka SMS). There are websites which allow you to receive an SMS online and won't parse or modify the content. (Yes, this means you can do XSS if you manage to fit your JavaScript code within one SMS.) Basically, the only thing you need to do is to look for the country you want the SMS to be sent to, and pick an available number from the list. 

I am surprised to see that major companies in the information security community don't maintain a black-list of these temporary emails and public phone numbers for SMS messages, at least the same way Google does. Google knows these temporary/disposable email addresses and publicly accessible phone numbers for SMS, and won't allow you to use them when registering for a new gmail account. 

So, I have done the hard work for you. Instead of listing the websites where you can go get a temporary/disposable email (for example, see here or use a search engine), I am listing all the domains being used by these websites that offer temporary/disposable email addresses. (its too much work to list all the phone numbers as well and by the way, these are modified/change too often to put them in a static list similar to the temporary/disposable email domains).

This information is fully up-to-date today (19/Jan/2016) and I will try to update it again as often as it is possible. Of course, if you find any domain used for such purpose which is not on my list, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to update the list. I believe this list is good to be shared among the infosec community, so anyone who might have a domain or domains to add, will be able to do so. 

You can find all these hundreds of domain names in this PDF FileFollow me on Twitter (@drgfragkos) and let me know if you found this list useful. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A serious bug with SSH that requires immediate action

Two issues have been identified in OpenSSH (CVE-2016-0777 and CVE-2016-0778). Theo de Raadt in a mailing list posting gave us a heads up earlier today. 
More or less, you will need to add the option UseRoaming no to your /etc/ssh/ssh_config (or your user's ~/.ssh/config) file, or start your SSH client with -oUseRoaming=no included on the command line. Adding the option to the config file can be done with a single command:

# echo -e 'Host *\nUseRoaming no' >> /etc/ssh/ssh_config

This is a basically a workaround until you are able to patch all affected systems. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

First Patch Tuesday for 2016

The new year brought a set of new patches for the vulnerabilities identified in the Microsoft product family. I know there is no point saying it once more but for those who need to hear it, make sure you patch your systems as soon as possible! :

See here:

MS16-010 Security Update in Microsoft Exchange Server to Address Spoofing (3125573) Microsoft Exchange
MS16-008 Security Update for Windows Kernel to Address Elevation of Privilege (3124605) Microsoft Windows
MS16-007 Security Update for Microsoft Windows to Address Remote Code Execution (3124901) Microsoft Windows
MS16-006 Security Update for Silverlight to Address Remote Code Execution (3126036) Microsoft Developer Tools & Software
MS16-005 Security Update for Windows Kernel-Mode Drivers to Address Remote Code Execution (3124584) Microsoft Windows
MS16-004 Security Update for Microsoft Office to Address Remote Code Execution (3124585) Microsoft Office
MS16-003 Cumulative Security Update for JScript and VBScript to Address Remote Code Execution (3125540) Microsoft Windows
MS16-002 Cumulative Security Update for Microsoft Edge (3124904) Microsoft Edge & Microsoft Windows
MS16-001 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (3116180) Internet Explorer & Microsoft Windows

SSH vulnerability in Fortinet Fortigate products

It was stated that an SSH "backdoor" was identified in Fortinet Fortigate products and the proof-of-concept source code was posted on the Full Disclosure mailing list. 

Fortinet released a brief statement regarding the issues found with FortiOS on January 12, 2016. The brief statement says that the issue that was recently disclosed publicly was resolved and a patch was made available in July 2014. 

Fortinet stated that: "This was not a “backdoor” vulnerability issue but rather a management authentication issue. The issue was identified by our Product Security team as part of their regular review and testing efforts. After careful analysis and investigation, we were able to verify this issue was not due to any malicious activity by any party, internal or external."

Have you heard of "Cyber Insurance"?

The Cyber Liability Insurance Cover (CLIC) or otherwise referred to as cyber insurance, is a market that grew significantly in 2015. One of the main factors that contributed significantly to this growth is the constant increase of threats in the cyber space and more specifically the high profile data breaches that took place during the past years. Due to these data breaches companies were taken to court and were forced not only to cover the losses, but to take upon the extra costs for the data breaches as well. In most cases, these additional costs included crisis management, legal costs, reputational damages, engaging in identity theft resolution, credit and fraud monitoring and further technical costs as well.
Under the potential threat of a breach and the inevitable consequences, this has established not only a need but also a demand for a cyber insurance market. This has also been highlighted by a cyber survey conducted by RIMS. The survey showed that 74 percent of the companies without Cyber insurance will be purchasing one within the next two years. Likewise, by 2025 the total annual premiums for stand-alone cyber insurance are projected to grow to $20 billion.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Quickly detect CMS & other technologies being used on a website

Ever wanted to uncover quickly the Content Management System (CMS) being used on a particular website? Well, if you are a developer or responsible for assessing the security of Web Applications, this might be a good tip on how to do this quickly and effectively. 

First of all, let me point out that there are several websites online that offer to analyse a given URL and then return results not only about the particular CMS being used, but on other technologies utilised in each case as well. These technologies may be the use of Apache, the presence of Google Analytics, other technologies such as jQuery, reCaptcha, etc. 

The problem with all these online services however is privacy. When checking a particular website, especially if you have been contracted to assess the security of the web application in place, you do not want this information to be shared with a third party or to be included in a publicly available "recently checked" list. 

I actually spent some time trying to locate a button or a check box on these website that would allow me to opt-out from allowing them to cache or display the information, but I couldn't. Thus, I had to find a different way that would respect my privacy and I think that I did.