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  • Silverlight Exploits Up, Java Exploits Down, Says Cisco

    angry tapir writes: Attempts to exploit Silverlight soared massively in late 2014 according to research from Cisco. However, the use of Silverlight in absolute terms is still low compared to the use of Java and Flash as an attack vector, according to Cisco's 2015 Annual Security Report. The report's assessment of the 2014 threat landscape also notes that researchers observed Flash-based malware that interacted with JavaScript. The Flash/JS malware was split between two files to make it easier to evade anti-malware protection. (The full report is available online, but registration is required.)

    55 comments | 5 days ago

  • FBI Seeks To Legally Hack You If You're Connected To TOR Or a VPN

    SonicSpike writes The investigative arm of the Department of Justice is attempting to short-circuit the legal checks of the Fourth Amendment by requesting a change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These procedural rules dictate how law enforcement agencies must conduct criminal prosecutions, from investigation to trial. Any deviations from the rules can have serious consequences, including dismissal of a case. The specific rule the FBI is targeting outlines the terms for obtaining a search warrant. It's called Federal Rule 41(b), and the requested change would allow law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search electronic data without providing any specific details as long as the target computer location has been hidden through a technical tool like Tor or a virtual private network. It would also allow nonspecific search warrants where computers have been intentionally damaged (such as through botnets, but also through common malware and viruses) and are in five or more separate federal judicial districts. Furthermore, the provision would allow investigators to seize electronically stored information regardless of whether that information is stored inside or outside the court's jurisdiction.

    373 comments | 5 days ago

  • Researchers Use Siri To Steal Data From iPhones

    wiredmikey writes "Using Apple's voice-activated Siri function, security researchers have managed to steal sensitive information from iOS smartphones in a stealthy manner. Luca Caviglione of the National Research Council of Italy and Wojciech Mazurczy of the Warsaw University of Technology warn that malicious actors could use Siri for stealthy data exfiltration by using a method that's based on steganography, the practice of hiding information. Dubbed "iStegSiri" by the researchers, the attack can be effective because it doesn't require the installation of additional software components and it doesn't need the device's alteration. On the other hand, it only works on jailbroken devices and attackers somehow need to be able to intercept the modified Siri traffic. The attack method involves controlling the "shape" of this traffic to embed sensitive data from the device. This covert channel could be used to send credit card numbers, Apple IDs, passwords, and other sensitive information from the phone to the criminal mastermind, researchers said in their paper.

    55 comments | about a week ago

  • NSA Hack of N. Korea Convinced Obama NK Was Behind Sony Hack

    Mike Lape links to a NYTimes piece which says "The evidence gathered by the 'early warning radar' of software painstakingly hidden to monitor North Korea's activities proved critical in persuading President Obama to accuse the government of Kim Jong-un of ordering the Sony attack, according to the officials and experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified N.S.A. operation." From the linked article: For about a decade, the United States has implanted “beacons,” which can map a computer network, along with surveillance software and occasionally even destructive malware in the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The government spends billions of dollars on the technology, which was crucial to the American and Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, and documents previously disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former security agency contractor, demonstrated how widely they have been deployed against China. ... The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system also raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie “The Interview,” a crude comedy about a C.I.A. plot to assassinate the North’s leader, would be “an act of war.”

    181 comments | about a week ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools?

    Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.

    What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.

    184 comments | about a week ago

  • Silicon Valley Security Experts Give 'Blackhat' a Thumbs-Up; Do You?

    HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.

    Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice."
    I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?

    98 comments | about a week ago

  • How To Hijack Your Own Windows System With Bundled Downloads

    How-To Geek has tested and described something that you probably shouldn't do on your own computer -- unless, as they did, you do it on a virtual machine just for this purpose. Namely, they downloaded 10 of the most popular software titles from download.com, clicking through as a naive user might, accepting the defaults or the most obvious Next buttons, as most users surely do. They note that download.com's stated policies certainly look good on-screen; it says that the site comprehensively screens for, and disallows, malware of all kinds. But malware of various kinds, even if much of it is in a grey zone rather than actually malicious, is a fair description of what the authors encountered as they clicked through. Bundled software, some pieces of it at odds with others, was attached to each of the downloads, and from download to installation the process by design foisted more and more junk on their system, even if some of the bundled junk could have been avoided by a user jaded by previous hijackings. The conclusion: [N]o matter how technical you might be, most of the installers are so confusing that there's no way a non-geek could figure out how to avoid the awful. So if you recommend a piece of software to somebody, you are basically asking them to infect their computer. And it doesn’t matter which antivirus you have installed — we've actually done this experiment a number of times with different antivirus vendors, and most of them completely ignored all of the bundled crapware. Avast did a pretty good job this time compared to some of the other vendors, but it didn't block all of it for sure. There are also no safe freeware download sites because as you can clearly see in the screenshots in this article, it isn't just CNET Downloads that is doing the bundling it's EVERYBODY. The freeware authors are bundling crapware, and then lousy download sources are bundling even more on top of it. It's a cavalcade of crapware.

    324 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Lizard Stresser DDoS-for-Hire Service Built On Hacked Home Routers

    tsu doh nimh writes: The online attack service launched late last year by the same criminals who knocked Sony and Microsoft's gaming networks offline over the holidays is powered mostly by thousands of hacked home Internet routers, reports Brian Krebs. From the story: "The malicious code that converts vulnerable systems into stresser bots is a variation on a piece of rather crude malware first documented in November by Russian security firm Dr. Web, but the malware itself appears to date back to early 2014. As we can see in that writeup, in addition to turning the infected host into attack zombies, the malicious code uses the infected system to scan the Internet for additional devices that also allow access via factory default credentials, such as 'admin/admin,' or 'root/12345.' In this way, each infected host is constantly trying to spread the infection to new home routers and other devices accepting incoming connections (via telnet) with default credentials.

    65 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Forget Stuxnet: Banking Trojans Attacking Power Plants

    New submitter PLAR writes: Everyone's worried about the next Stuxnet sabotaging the power grid, but a security researcher says there's been a spike in traditional banking Trojan attacks against plant floor networks. The malware poses as legitimate ICS/SCADA software updates from Siemens, GE and Advantech. Kyle Wilhoit, the researcher who discovered the attacks, says the attackers appear to be after credentials and other financial information, so it looks like pure cybercrime, not nation-state activity.

    34 comments | about two weeks ago

  • In-Flight Service Gogo Uses Fake SSL Certificates To Throttle Streaming

    Amanda Parker writes In-flight internet service Gogo has defended its use of a fake Google SSL certificates as a means of throttling video streaming, adding that it was not invading its customer's privacy in doing so. The rebuttal comes after Google security researcher Adrienne Porter Felt posted a screenshot of the phoney certificate to Twitter. From the article: "The image clearly shows that Gogo signed the certificate, not Google, thus misleading customers and opening the door to malware on users' devices. It also serves as a way to throttle data and limit traffic on its networks. 'Gogo takes our customer's privacy very seriously and we are committed to bringing the best Internet experience to the sky,' CTO Anand Chari said in a Monday statement."

    163 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Inside Cryptowall 2.0 Ransomware

    msm1267 writes: If you need more evidence that ransomware is here to stay, and could turn into cybercriminals' weapon of choice, look no further than Cryptowall. Researchers at Cisco's Talos group have published an analysis of a Cryptowall 2.0 sample, peeling back many layers of known commodities around this threat, such as its use of the Tor anonymity network to disguise command-and-control communication. But perhaps more telling about the commitment around ransomware is the investment attackers made in its capabilities to detect execution in virtual environments, building in many stages of decryption present before the ransomware activates, and its ability to detect 32- and 64-bit architectures and executing different versions for each.

    181 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Writer: How My Mom Got Hacked

    HughPickens.com writes Alina Simone writes in the NYT that her mother received a ransom note on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.."Your files are encrypted," it announced. "To get the key to decrypt files you have to pay 500 USD." If she failed to pay within a week, the price would go up to $1,000. After that, her decryption key would be destroyed and any chance of accessing the 5,726 files on her PC — all of her data would be lost forever. "By the time my mom called to ask for my help, it was already Day 6 and the clock was ticking," writes Simone. "My father had already spent all week trying to convince her that losing six months of files wasn't the end of the world (she had last backed up her computer in May). It was pointless to argue with her. She had thought through all of her options; she wanted to pay." Simone found that it appears to be technologically impossible for anyone to decrypt your files once CryptoWall 2.0 has locked them and so she eventually helped her mother through the process of making a cash deposit to the Bitcoin "wallet" provided by her ransomers and she was able to decrypt her files. "From what we can tell, they almost always honor what they say because they want word to get around that they're trustworthy criminals who'll give you your files back," says Chester Wisniewski.

    The peddlers of ransomware are clearly businesspeople who have skillfully tested the market with prices as low as $100 and as high as $800,000, which the city of Detroit refused to pay. They are appropriating all the tools of e-commerce and their operations are part of "a very mature, well-oiled capitalist machine" says Wisniewski. "I think they like the idea they don't have to pretend they're not criminals. By using the fact that they're criminals to scare you, it's just a lot easier on them."

    463 comments | about three weeks ago

  • 2014: The Year We Learned How Vulnerable Third-Party Code Libraries Are

    jfruh writes Heartbleed, Shellshock, Poodle — all high-profile vulnerabilities in widely used libraries that rocked the software industry in 2014. Sadly, experts are now beginning to believe that these aren't the only bugs lurking out there in widely used open source code, just the ones that grabbed the most attention. It's beginning to look like one of the foundation concepts of open source — that with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow — is a myth. Of course, probably no one believes that all bugs are instantly shallow, no matter how open is the source, or that open source software is immune from bugs -- particularly ESR, coiner of the phrase.

    255 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Security Research At the Hague, Netherlands: Mobile Network and Internet Threats

    MojoKid writes: The Hague Security Delta (HSD) is the official title of a collaborative effort between Netherlands businesses, their federal government and multiple research institutions, to identify emerging security threats, share best practices, and foster collaboration between industry, governments, and universities. One of the most pressing issues they're tackling is that of mobile network and internet security. One point that the Netherlands' officials made repeatedly is that the country is essentially the "digital gateway" to Europe. This might seem like hubris but once you look at the arrangement of undersea cables between the U.S. and Europe, it makes a lot more sense. The Netherlands is far from the only transatlantic connection hub between the U.S. and Europe, but it certainly accounts for a significant chunk of total cable capacity. One of the brainchildren of the HSD is the creation of what it calls the "Trusted Networks Initiative" that would allow direct denial of service attacks originating from specific countries to be cut off. By creating a network "bridge" that can be raised and lowered, the idea is that content and visitors can be cleanly isolated from the bad actors launching an attack. There's an intrinsic assumption here — specifically, the idea that attackers are gathered into a group of systems that can cleanly be split from the so-called "trusted" networks that would continue to operate. It is however, an interesting concept to thwart broad-scale DDoS attacks.

    16 comments | about a month ago

  • Lizard Squad: Xbox Live, PSN Attacks Were a 'Marketing Scheme' For DDoS Service

    blottsie writes The devastating Christmas Day attacks against the gaming networks of Sony and Microsoft were a marketing scheme for a commercial cyberattack service, according to the hackers claiming responsibility for the attacks. Known as Lizard Squad, the hacker collective says it shut down the PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live network on Dec. 25 using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, a common technique that overloads servers with data requests. The powerful attacks rendered the networks unusable for days, infuriating gamers around the world and causing yet-untold losses of revenue. Now, members of Lizard Squad say the group is selling the DDoS service they used against Sony and Microsoft to anyone willing to pay.

    139 comments | about a month ago

  • Norse Security IDs 6, Including Ex-Employee, As Sony Hack Perpetrators

    chicksdaddy writes Alternative theories of who is responsible for the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment have come fast and furious in recent weeks -- especially since the FBI pointed a finger at the government of North Korea last week. But Norse Security is taking the debate up a notch: saying that they have conclusive evidence pointing to group of disgruntled former employees as the source of the attack and data theft. The Security Ledger quotes Norse Vice President Kurt Stammberger saying that Norse has identified a group of six individuals — in the U.S., Canada, Singapore and Thailand — that it believes carried out the attack, including at least one 10-year employee of SPE who worked in a technical capacity before being laid off in May. Rather than starting from the premise that the Sony hack was a state sponsored attack, Norse researchers worked their investigation like any other criminal matter: starting by looking for individuals with the "means and motive" to do the attack.

    HR files leaked in the hack provided the motive part: a massive restructuring in Spring, 2014, in which many longtime SPE employees were laid off. After researching the online footprint of a list of all the individuals who were fired and had the means to be able to access sensitive data on Sony's network, Norse said it identified a handful who expressed anger in social media posts following their firing. They included one former employee — a 10-year SPE veteran who he described as having a "very technical background." Researchers from the company followed that individual online, noting participation in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) forums where they observed communications with other individuals affiliated with underground hacking and hacktivist groups in Europe and Asia. According to Stammberger, the Norse investigation was eventually able to connect an individual directly involved in conversations with the Sony employee with a server on which the earliest known version of the malware used in the attack was compiled, in July, 2014.

    158 comments | about a month ago

  • North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force

    mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)

    166 comments | about 1 month ago

  • How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us To Greater Harm

    An anonymous reader writes: Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software is going to hurt us in the long run. The reason? Because we're on an irreversible trajectory toward integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves. Doctorow writes, "Any law or regulation that undermines computers' utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief.

    Code always has flaws, and those flaws are easy for bad guys to find. But if your computer has deliberately been designed with a blind spot, the bad guys will use it to evade detection by you and your antivirus software. That's why a 3-D printer with anti-gun-printing code isn't a 3-D printer that won't print guns—the bad guys will quickly find a way around that. It's a 3-D printer that is vulnerable to hacking by malware creeps who can use your printer's 'security' against you: from bricking your printer to screwing up your prints to introducing subtle structural flaws to simply hijacking the operating system and using it to stage attacks on your whole network."

    116 comments | about a month ago

  • Thunderbolt Rootkit Vector

    New submitter Holi sends this news from PC World: Attackers can infect MacBook computers with highly persistent boot rootkits by connecting malicious devices to them over the Thunderbolt interface. The attack, dubbed Thunderstrike, installs malicious code in a MacBook's boot ROM (read-only memory), which is stored in a chip on the motherboard. It was devised by a security researcher named Trammell Hudson based on a two-year old vulnerability and will be demonstrated next week at the 31st Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg.

    163 comments | about a month ago

  • Apple Pushes First Automated OS X Security Update

    PC Magazine reports (as does Ars Technica) that Apple this week has pushed its first automated security update, to address critical flaws relating to Network Time Protocol: The flaws were revealed last week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute—the latter of which identified a number of potentially affected vendors, including FreeBSD Project, NTP Project, OmniTI, and Watchguard Technologies, Inc. A number of versions of the NTP Project "allow attackers to overflow several buffers in a way that may allow malicious code to be executed," the Carnegie Mellon/DHS security bulletin said. ... The company's typical security patches come through Apple's regular software update system, and often require users to move through a series of steps before installing. This week's update, however, marks Cupertino's first implementation of its automated system, despite having introduced the function two years ago, Reuters said.

    115 comments | about a month ago

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