Tag Archives: Attack

'Trustjacking' Could Expose iPhones to Attack
April 18, 2018 6:04 pm|Comments (0)

Have you used a friend’s laptop to charge your iPhone and gotten a prompt that says, “Trust This Computer?” Say yes, and the computer will be able to access your phone settings and data while they’re connected. And while it doesn’t feel like your answer really matters—your phone will charge either way—researchers from Symantec warn that this seemingly minor decision has much higher stakes than you’d think.

In fact, the Symantec team has found that hacks exploiting that misplaced “Trust” comprise a whole class of iOS attacks they call “trustjacking.” Once a user authorizes a device, they open themselves to serious and persistent attacks while their phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as a hacker, or even remote attacks when the devices are separated.

Adi Sharabani, Symantec’s senior vice president of modern operating system security, and Roy Iarchy, the modern operating system research team leader, will make that case Wednesday, in a presentation at the RSA security conference in San Francisco.

“Once this trust is established, everything is possible,” Sharabani told WIRED last week. “It introduces a new vector of attack.”

Sharabani and Iarchy’s presentation focuses largely on a feature known as iTunes Wi-Fi Sync, the tool that lets iOS devices sync with desktop iTunes over Wi-Fi. For this process you physically connect a mobile device to a computer once, indicate that the iOS device can trust the computer going forward, and then enable iTunes Wi-Fi Sync from the PC. After that the two devices can sync and communicate whenever they are on the same Wi-Fi network without any further approval from the iPhone or iPad.

It’s a reasonable and useful feature when used as intended. But an attacker could also plant a malicious computer—perhaps one shaped like a charging station or external battery—and trick people into connecting their devices and granting trust out of confusion or disinterest.

Once a trusted Wi-Fi Sync connection is established, attackers can not only do basic syncing, but also take advantage of controls meant for developers to manipulate the victim iOS device. A hacker could work quickly to install malware on the phone, or initiate a backup to gather data like a victim’s photos, app information, and SMS/iMessage chats. Attackers with trust privileges could also start watching a target device’s screen in real-time by initiating screenshots on the phone and then syncing them to the attack computer. Or they could play a long game, silently retaining their trusted status until it is long forgotten, for a future attack.

“We discovered this by mistake actually,” Sharabani says. “Roy was doing research and he connected his own iPhone to his own computer to access it. But accidentally he realized that he was not actually connected to his own phone. He was connected to one of his team members’ phones who had connected their mobile device to Roy’s desktop a few weeks before. So Roy started to dig into what exactly he could do and find out if he were an attacker.”

You can imagine a number of scenarios where this could work as a targeted attack. Everyone has places they visit regularly: an office, a coffee shop, the local library. Attackers could anticipate that a victim iOS device would regularly connect to the same Wi-Fi network as the trusted attacker computer—enabling clandestine, malicious backups with iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. The researchers point out that an attacker wouldn’t necessarily be geographically limited; after gaining a foothold, they could combine trustjacking with a type of attack called “malicious profiles,” which takes advantage of how iOS manages configuration packages for apps to get around access restrictions, establish continuous remote access. Beginning in iOS 10, though, Apple started making it harder for hackers to carry out malicious profile attacks.

It’s tempting to put the onus on the iPhone owner here; you shouldn’t, after all, connect with sketchy computers an trust them in the first place. And Apple, which declined to comment for this story, seems to agree. When Sharabani and Iarchy disclosed their findings to the company, it did add a second prompt in iOS 11 to require a device’s passcode as part of authorizing a new computer as trusted. This makes it more difficult for anyone other than the device owner to establish trust.

But Sharabani and Iarchy argue that it’s unreasonable to put it entirely on the user to make the correct choice about trusting a device, especially since the authorization persists indefinitely once it’s established. There’s also currently no way to see a list of devices that have outstanding trusted status.

In these transactions, iOS’s wording is also unhelpful. The prompts say, “Trust this computer? Your settings and data will be accessible from this computer when connected,” which might seem to mean that nothing will be exposed when the devices are no longer physically connected. In fact, given that Wi-Fi sync can be enabled in desktop iTunes without any involvement of the mobile device, there’s much more potential for long-term connection than users may realize.

Consider, too, that an attacker who successfully infects a target’s PC with malware can exploit the trust a victim grants his own computer. A user will obviously trust their own computer, and their phone and PC will frequently be on the same Wi-Fi network. So an attacker who has infected a target’s computer can get a two-for-one of also having regular access to the victim’s iOS devices.

“Apple took the very quick act of adding the passcode,” Sharabani notes. “With that said, this is a design problem. They could better design the future behavior of the features, but it will take them time to implement. That’s why it’s so important to alert users and raise awareness. Users need to understand the implications.”

Sharabani and Iarchy say they haven’t seen trustjacking attacks in the wild so far, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there or coming. And though Apple doesn’t offer a list of the computers an iOS device trusts, it is possible to scrub the trusted computers list entirely. In iOS 11 users can go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy to get a clean slate, after which people can start to be more cognizant of which computers they authorize. (Note that doing this reset also revokes all specially granted app permissions.) Another helpful defense for users is to encrypt iOS device backups with a strong password. With this turned on, an attacker abusing Wi-Fi Sync can still make their own backups of a victim device, but they will be encrypted with whatever password the target chose.

The researchers see iOS’s authorization prompts as a single point of failure, where the operating system could provide a few more prompts in exchange for more layers of defense against trustjacking. No one wants one seemingly insignificant mistake to blow up in their face weeks or months later. But while users wait for Apple to architect long-term solutions, their best defense is to become discerning and extremely selective about doling out trust.

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Games organizers confirm cyber attack, won't reveal source
February 11, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organizers confirmed on Sunday that the Games had fallen victim to a cyber attack during Friday’s opening ceremony, but they refused to reveal the source.

The Games’ systems, including the internet and television services, were affected by the hack two days ago but organizers said it had not compromised any critical part of their operations.

“Maintaining secure operations is our purpose,” said International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams.

“We are not going to comment on the issue. It is one we are dealing with. We are making sure our systems are secure and they are secure.”

Asked if organizers knew who was behind the attack, Adams said: “I certainly don’t know. But best international practice says that you don’t talk about an attack.”

The Winter Games are being staged only 80km (50 miles) from the border with North Korea, which is technically still at war with the South since their 1950-1953 war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

The two teams marched together at an Olympics opening ceremony for the first time since 2006.

South Korea has been using the Pyeongchang Games to break the ice with the reclusive North, which has been trading nuclear threats with the United States recently.

“All issues were resolved and recovered yesterday morning,” Pyeongchang organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you told reporters.

“We know the cause of the problem but that kind of issues occurs frequently during the Games. We decided with the IOC we are not going to reveal the source (of the attack),” he told reporters.

Russia, which has been banned from the Games for doping, said days before the opening ceremony that any allegations linking Russian hackers to attacks on the infrastructure connected to the Pyeongchang Olympic Games were unfounded.

“We know that Western media are planning pseudo-investigations on the theme of ‘Russian fingerprints’ in hacking attacks on information resources related to the hosting of the Winter Olympic Games in the Republic of Korea,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

“Of course, no evidence will be presented to the world.”

Cyber security researchers said in January they had found early indications that Russia-based hackers may be planning attacks against anti-doping and Olympic organizations in retaliation for Russia’s exclusion from the Pyeongchang Games.

Stakeholders of the Olympics have been wary of the threat from hacking and some sponsors have taken out insurance to protect themselves from a cyber attack. [nL4N1PX1HV]

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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U.S. to blame North Korea for 'WannaCry' cyber attack: sources
December 19, 2017 12:50 am|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to publicly blame North Korea for unleashing a cyber attack that crippled hospitals, banks and other companies across the globe earlier this year, said two sources familiar with the matter.

The accusation that the North Korean government was behind the so-called WannaCry attack comes as worries mount about North Korea’s hacking capabilities and its nuclear weapons program.

The U.S. government has assessed with a “very high level of confidence” that a hacking entity known as Lazarus Group, which works on behalf of the North Korean government, carried out the WannaCry attack, a senior administration official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet public.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The public condemnation will not include any indictments or name specific individuals, the official said. But the shaming is designed to hold North Korea accountable for its actions and “erode and undercut their ability to launch attacks,” the official said.

North Korean government representatives could not be immediately reached for comment. The country has repeatedly denied responsibility for WannaCry and called other allegations about cyber attacks a smear campaign.

Lazarus Group is widely believed by security researchers and U.S. officials to have been responsible for the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which destroyed files, leaked corporate communications online and led to the departure of several top studio executives.

Sony also suspended release of a comedy film that portrayed North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, because of threats issued by the hackers.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Pyongyang for the Sony hack, vowing at the time to “respond proportionally.” No indictments have been brought in the Sony case.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Peter Cooney

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British shipping firm Clarkson reports cyber attack
November 29, 2017 12:16 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – British shipping services provider Clarkson Plc said it was subject to a cyber security incident and warned that the person or persons behind the incident may release some data on Wednesday.

“As soon as it was discovered, Clarkson took immediate steps to respond to and manage the incident,” the company said.

“Our initial investigations have shown the unauthorized access was gained via a single and isolated user account which has now been disabled,” Clarkson said.

The London-headquartered company said it had been working with the police on the incident.

Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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In WannaCry’s Wake, a New Rapidly Spreading Ransomware Attack Appeared Today
June 21, 2017 5:20 am|Comments (0)

A week after WannaCry induced worldwide panic, another vicious ransomware attack is currently underway.

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Supply chain attack hits Mac users of HandBrake video converter app
May 8, 2017 3:40 pm|Comments (0)

Hackers compromised a download server for HandBrake, a popular open-source program for converting video files, and used it to distribute a macOS version of the application that contained malware.

The HandBrake development team posted a security warning on the project’s website and support forum on Saturday, alerting Mac users who downloaded and installed the program from May 2 to May 6 to check their computers for malware.

The attackers compromised only a download mirror hosted under download.handbrake.fr, with the primary download server remaining unaffected. Because of this, users who downloaded HandBrake-1.0.7.dmg during the period in question have a 50/50 chance of having received a malicious version of the file, the HandBreak team said.

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Why Trump’s Latest Attack on the FDA Was Total Nonsense
March 2, 2017 8:55 am|Comments (0)

Tuesday night, in his address to Congress, President Trump invited as his guest a college sophomore with a rare disease to illustrate why the Food and Drug Administration needs to be ripped to pieces. After 20-year-old Megan Crowley was diagnosed with the neuromuscular disorder Pompe disease as a young child, her…

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Largest DDoS attack ever delivered by botnet of hijacked IoT devices
December 15, 2016 5:10 pm|Comments (0)

Securing the internet of things should become a major priority now that an army of compromised devices – perhaps 1 million strong – has swamped one of the industry’s top distributed denial-of-service protection services.

A giant botnet made up of hijacked internet-connected things like cameras, lightbulbs, and thermostats has launched the largest DDoS attack ever against a top security blogger, an attack so big Akamai had to cancel his account because defending it ate up too many resources.

It wasn’t that Akamai couldn’t mitigate the attack – it did so for three days – but doing so became too costly, so the company made a business decision to cut the affected customer loose, says Andy Ellis the company’s chief security officer.

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Oracle unleashes attack on Amazon in push for cloud computing crown
December 6, 2016 8:10 am|Comments (0)

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has launched a scathing attack on Amazon claiming that his own business can lower prices and faster technology …


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Apple will host Xcode on Chinese servers following malware attack
December 3, 2015 9:20 am|Comments (0)

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Apple’s developer software Xcode will soon be available to Chinese developers.

First spotted by Apple Insider, this news comes on the heels of a malware attack on apps in the App Store.

Last week, security researchers at Palo Alto Networks discovered the infected apps and publicized an analysis report detailing the malware’s spread and impact. Xcode is a set of software tools developers use to create iOS apps, but a modified version of Xcode containing the malware, dubbed XcodeGhost, made its way into the App Store.

As Palo Alto Networks explains, the standard Xcode installer is nearly 3GB, which means it could take even longer to download large files from Apple’s servers in other countries. In response to this, some Chinese developers choose to download the software from other sources or obtain copies from colleagues. It’s also hard for developers to detect malware like XcodeGhost because it’s deeply hidden. Read more…

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