Now, I ask you: If the stolen data had been encrypted, none of these incidents would be of much concern, would they? Certainly not; the data would be useless to the thieves because it would be just so much white noise. So, this being the case, why isn’t all sensitive data everywhere encrypted? For that matter, just encrypt everything all the time. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
Encryption adds processing overhead. Encryption key security is an issue. Systems that need to access the encrypted data need access to the key. Then there’s the danger of forgetting or losing the encryption key thereby rendering the data completely useless. None of these issues is a good reason not to use encryption; however, they do present challenges that make broad use of encryption difficult to implement in large organizations.
Short of encrypting every hard drive everywhere (which would be a major nightmare to implement), at least every database that contains any sensitive information should be stored on encrypted partitions or drives.
So why isn’t everyone doing it?
Here is a humorous video featuring Daddy Brad and Daddy Clay from DadLabs.com. But the message is serious, even if couched in humor. Enjoy!
Is your family prepared for disasters like floods, hurricanes, and tornados? In this episode of The Lab, Daddy Clay and Daddy Brad tackle the topic of disaster preparedness. To do this, they compare survival kits.
Download “Is Your Family Prepared for Disaster?”
It’s again time to delve into our Hacking Skills Challenge. Our last challenge was level 10 at HackThisSite.org and that was three months ago. They say these are supposed to get increasingly difficult as we climb the ladder, but the last one was fairly easy, albeit that it required a Firefox plugin to accomplish the hack. Level 11 is considerably more difficult and requires a bit of thinking out of the box. Here’s the challenge:
Sam decided to make a music site. Unfortunately he does not understand Apache. This mission is a bit harder than the other basics.
One of the biggest problems people who don’t understand Apache run into is that they end up allowing their directories to be listed. We need to keep that in mind. You’ll see why in a minute.
When you click on the challenge, you’re taken to a page that has a sentence similar to: I love my music! “I Need You to Turn To” is the best! Not much of a clue there, it seems, and where’s the password prompt? And what page are we looking at? Viewing the source produced this:
I love my music! "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is the best! <!--We even have our own collection - if you could find it!-->
Nothing listed for the actual page being viewed which made me think that it’s straight html. So, I tried ../index.php and voila! Got a password prompt. Progress, but a few tries at guessing the password were futile. On a whim, I went back to the original URL, http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/, and found that the song name had changed. This time I got:
I love my music! "Honky Cat" is the best! <!--We even have our own collection - if you could find it!-->
So, I refreshed the page a few times and kept getting different songs. Like the two above, however, they all had one thing in common: The were songs performed by Elton John. I tried “elton” as the password, but no go, so it’s time to see if we can find .htaccess to see if we can get some answers.
http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/.htaccess – no go
http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/.htaccess – no go
http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/.htaccess – no go
http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/elton/.htaccess – no go
Convinced that “elton” is the key, I tried an old trick that I’ve seen before and put this in: http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/e. I got a listing with the letters b, c, d, e, f, g, and l as other directories. Hmm. . . could it be? I tried http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/e/l and the last letter listed was “t.” Pretty obvious now: http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/e/l/t/o/n. Nothing listed there, but that has to be where .htaccess is located. Sure enough:
IndexIgnore DaAnswer.* .htaccess <Files .htaccess> order allow,deny allow from all </Files>
Think “DaAnswer.*” might be it? Yep. http://www.hackthissite.org/missions/basic/11/e/l/t/o/n/DaAnswer gives:
The answer is simple! Just look a little harder.
The answer is: simple. That’s the password.
My April 26, 2010 post, “Security Risk of Digital Copiers,” I reported on the issue of permanent storage of images on copier hard drives and the potentially serious security risks associated. Now the FTC is getting involved.
Representative Edward J Markey (D-Mass), who first raised the issue with the FTC in April, said, “Many of these machines do not just copy sensitive documents; they store them as well, providing a treasure trove for identity thieves. In short, these machines are not merely document copiers, they are document keepers.
“I am very pleased to learn that the FTC is investigating this important matter, which most consumers are unaware of when they place their tax returns, financial records and other personal information on the copier and hit the ‘Start’ button.”
In a letter to Markey, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz ensured that government data is safe: “With respect to government agencies, our own practice is to acquire ownership of the hard drives in the digital copiers we lease, and to erase and subsequently destroy these hard drives when the copiers are returned.”
Liebowitz also said that the FTC will work with manufacturers and vendors to educate customers of the security risks involved and promised to update FTC consumer and business educational materials.
Facebook apparently listened to all the feedback and recent furor over its complicated privacy settings interface and have simplified it. You can check out the details in CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s blog post and check out the new Facebook Privacy Page. I commend Zuckerberg and the whole Facebook team for actually listening to its users. That certainly gives me more confidence in their product.
. . . you have sent us lots of feedback. We’ve listened carefully in order to figure out the best next steps. We recognize that we made a lot of changes, so we really wanted to take the time to understand your feedback and make sure we address your concerns.
The number one thing we’ve heard is that there just needs to be a simpler way to control your information. We’ve always offered a lot of controls, but if you find them too hard to use then you won’t feel like you have control. Unless you feel in control, then you won’t be comfortable sharing and our service will be less useful for you. We agree we need to improve this.
Today we’re starting to roll out some changes that will make all of these controls a lot simpler. We’ve focused on three things: a single control for your content, more powerful controls for your basic information and an easy control to turn off all applications.
What do you think?
The tool is called “Reclaim Privacy” and I want to acknowledge Gizmo’s Best-ever Freeware for sending me the alert. Here’s the scoop:
To use it, go to www.reclaimprivacy.org and add the utility to your browser favorites. Then log into Facebook and go to your security settings page (there’s a link on the reclaimprivacy site to help you). Then run the Reclaim Privacy script by selecting it from your bookmarked favorites, and the analysis of your security exposure will be ready in just a second or 2.
Here’s what it looks like:
This reminds me of Secunia’s PSI vulnerability scanner that I’ve written about on numerous occasions; the difference is that Reclaim Privacy is application-specific.
I never did arrive a perfect “secure” score on all things, but the “caution” items don’t bother me – I’ve set my Facebook account privacy settings to a level that I’m comfortable with.
If you use Facebook, give this tool a try and let me know what you think.
Do you trust your mechanic? If you have any doubts, you had better find one you can trust because your safety – maybe even your life – is in his hands. A recently completed study by researchers in the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington and University of California San Diego entitled “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile” reveals alarming vulnerabilities.
Someone—such as a mehanic, a valet, a person who rents a car, an ex-friend, a disgruntled family member, or the car owner—can, with even momentary access to the vehicle, insert a malicious component into a car’s internal network via the ubiquitous OBD-II port (typically under the dash). . . . A similar entry point is presented by counterfeit or malicious components entering the vehicle parts supply chain—either before the vehicle is sent to the dealer, or with a car owner’s purchase of an aftermarket third-party component (such as a counterfeit FM radio). . . . In our car we identified no fewer than five kinds of digital radio interfaces accepting outside input, some over only a short range and others over indefinite distance. While outside the scope of this paper, we wish to be clear that vulnerabilities in such services are not purely theoretical.
Feeling a bit uneasy now? I was, too. I was quite disturbed by the time I finished reading what the researchers were able to do to the car. See the illustration above? Not only were they able to display an arbitrary message, but also a false speedometer reading (Note that the car is in park). They had full control of the instrument panel cluster. They were also able to completely control – and disable user control of – the radio and display arbitrary messages as well as produce various sounds. The really scary stuff involves the ability completely disable the brakes and power steering, disrupt engine timing, kill the engine, lock the doors and windows.
Theoretically, someone could pull off a perfect murder with the right malware. Enter the dangerous new world of murder-by-software.
We also present composite attacks that leverage individual weaknesses, including an attack that embeds malicious code in a car’s telematics unit [think OnStar] and that will completely erase any evidence of its presence after a crash. . . . Combining our control over various BCM components, we created a “Self-Destruct” demo in which a 60-second count-down is displayed on the Driver Information Center (the dash), accompanied by clicks at an increasing rate and horn honks in the last few seconds. In our demo, this sequence culminated with killing the engine and activating the door lock relay (preventing the occupant from using the electronic door unlock button).
What if the sequence culminated in locking the brakes on the two wheels on the driver’s side of the car?
As you know, I advocate keeping everything up to date on your PC, not just the OS. Applications, accessories and browser plugins are all subject to security vulnerabilities. Mozilla’s Plugin Check makes it easy to see if your browser plugins are up to date.
The beauty of this site is that it works with all popular browsers as noted by Steve Gibson of Security Now!:
The big news is they’ve decided to expand this service beyond Firefox, which is so cool. They’re now offering it for not only Firefox, but Safari, Chrome, Opera, and IE.
Just do it!
Adobe’s Shockwave (this is NOT flash – flash is sometimes labeled “Shockwave Flash”) has a bucket full of vulnerabilities (11 in all). It’s not a widely used platform and I recommend you uninstall it immediately. It will be labeled simply as “Shockwave” or “Shockwave Player” and will have a version number of 11.x.x.xxx. Shockwave Flash is at version 10.x. (See image.) In this @RISK: The Consensus Security Vulnerability Alert Volume: IX, Issue: 20, May 13, 2010 article, SANS outlines the vulnerabilities:
The first issue is caused by a boundary error while processing Shockwave 3D block. The second issue is a memory corruption vulnerability caused by a signedness error while processing malicious Shockwave files. The third issue is a memory corruption vulnerability caused by an array indexing error while processing malicious Shockwave files.
. . .
The eleventh issue is caused by a signedness error while processing Director files. There are some more unspecified errors which can be exploited to cause memory corruption.
Unless you have a specific use for this plugin, just get rid of it. I found I don’t even have it, so it’s not really an issue for website functionality.
Google just released SSL Search to beta. Earlier today, it was being selectively rolled out and wasn’t available to everyone. It appears to be more widely available now; at least, it works for me. With end-to-end SSL encryption, your searches are now completely private. Here’s what Google has to say in their Help article:
With Google search over SSL, you can have an end-to-end encrypted search solution between your computer and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party. This provides you with a more secure and private search experience.
To use the new feature, you have to explicitly enter https://www.google.com each time you want to perform a secure search. Google Images and Google Maps are not available over SSL yet. Also note that due to SSL overhead, you may notice that such searches are not as fast as regular searches. Google has created a new search logo (see below) to let you know when you’re using the new feature, but it’s good practice to make sure you see the lock icon in your browser and https:// in the address bar.
Google plans to make SSL the default but they first want to see how it affects users’ search experience and gather feedback. Hence the beta designation. Yahoo and Bing haven’t implemented encryption in their engines.