Department of Homeland Security Urges Users to Update Firefox now

The United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) this week urged customers who are using the Firefox browser to upgrade to version 72.0.1, as there is a major vulnerability that could allow attackers to take control of affected computers.

Mozilla has released security updates to address a vulnerability in Firefox and Firefox ESR.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security encourages users and administrators to review the Mozilla Security Advisory for Firefox 72.0.1 and Firefox ESR 68.4.1 and apply the necessary updates.

The vulnerability was first discovered by Chinese company Qihoo 360 two days after the release of Firefox 72, but there is no word on how long the bug has been exploited nor who used the vulnerability or who might have been targeted. This is the third zero-day vulnerability that Mozilla has addressed within the last year, with the company patching two other major vulnerabilities in June 2019.

To update Firefox, users can open the browser, click on the Firefox menu, then on About Firefox. This will start the update.

International money transfer service Travelex extorted by hackers

Foreign exchange company Travelex was hit by cyber attackers wielding the Sodinokibi (aka REvil) ransomware demanding $6 million (£4.6 million). More than a week later, the company’s websites and online services are still offline despite the company’s remediation efforts.

The ransomware gang known as Sodinokibi — also as REvil — says it has downloaded more than 5GB of sensitive customer data, including dates of birth, credit card information and national insurance numbers, which it will publish if payment is not made within a week. The hackers originally demanded $3 million, but doubled the sum after two days of non-payment.

The attackers claim to have had access to the company’s computer network for the last six months, which allowed them to download customer data.

Following the attack — which took place on New Year’s Eve when many employees were on vacation — the company displayed “planned maintenance” messages on its websites across Europe, Asia and the US in order to “contain the virus and protect data.” That message has since been changed to an official press release in which Travelex says that while “it does not yet have a complete picture of all the data that has been encrypted, there is still no evidence to date that any data has been exfiltrated.”

“Having completed the containment stage of its remediation process, detailed forensic analysis is fully underway and the company is now also working towards recovery of all systems. To date Travelex has been able to restore a number of internal systems, which are operating normally.”

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has yet to receive a data breach report from the company and neither have the customers who ordered currency from Travelex before the attack and paid for it, but are unable to collect it.




Apple, Amazon, Google, and Zigbee Alliance, working on open standard for Smart Home Devices

Apple, Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new IP-based connectivity standard for smart home products, with a focus on increased compatibility, security, and simplified development for manufacturers.

Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify, Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also onboard to join the working group and contribute to the project.

The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol.

The Project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and others by defining a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

The project will be based on four existing proprietary standards, such as Apple’s HomeKit, Google’s Weave and Thread, Amazon’s Alexa Smart Home and Zigbee Alliance’s Dotdot data models.

The new connectivity standard will be open source and royalty free, with code to be maintained on GitHub. The working group has a goal to release a draft specification and a preliminary reference implementation in late 2020.

Google’s bug bounty program will cover all popular Android apps

The Google Play Security Rewards program will extend to any app in the Google Play Store that has more than 100 million installations.

The Google Play Security Reward program is a reward for developers who discover issues in apps on the Google Play Store. Previously, the program covered only
a set list of eight top-level apps, but now it will be extended to any app installed more than 100 million times in the Google Play Store.

If developers discover and disclose a vulnerability in an app to Google, Google will be offered a reward of up to $20,000.

A Google spokesperson said: “This opens the door for security researchers to help hundreds of organizations identify and fix vulnerabilities in their apps.”

In addition, Google is launching a Developer Data Protection Reward Program to address “data abuse issues” in Android apps, OAuth projects and Chrome extensions.

This means the apps that use or sell user data without their consent will be removed from the Google Play Store or Chrome Online Store if they are reported to have misused user data, and Google will reward the reporter for up to $50,000.

Apple vastly expands bug bounty program covers all operating systems, payouts up to $1M

Apple has confirmed at the Black Hat conference,  the bug bounty system has been expanded to cover Apple’s other operating systems.

Before that, Apple has restricted its bug bounty program to iOS and limited those who can participate in it. One of the first big changes announced today by Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture Ivan Krstic, is that the program will be opening up to include all of Apple’s platforms, even macOS and watchOS.

Going further, the expanded program will be open to all security researchers come this fall and Apple also shared a list of some of the new payouts which will go up to $1 million. The original iOS bounty program maxed out at a $200,000 payout.

During the conference, Apple provided a list of maximum possible payouts for finding issues, scaling with the difficulty of the attack.

  • Bounties for finding bugs that allow Lock screen bypass or unauthorized access to iCloud pay out $100,000.
  • Discovering vulnerabilities that could allow an attack via a user-installed app or network attacks pay up to $250k, while uncovering bugs that would allow network attacks with no user interaction pay up to $1 million.
  • That top payout is reserved for discovering a zero-click kernel code execution with persistence.
  • Furthermore, if a researcher finds a vulnerability in a pre-release beta build that is reported to Apple ahead of its public release, they stand to earn a bonus of up to 50% on top.

Apple also detailed its new iOS Security Research Device program. It will be launching next year and will also be open to all, as long as applicants have a “track record of high-quality systems security research…”

This is will be set up with permissions to provide more access to the inner workings of iOS, a move which could help increase the number of issues caught before they appear in beta or public-release software.

Latest Mac malware OSX/CrescentCore hides from security software

The latest Mac malware OSX/CrescentCore  trying to avoid detection by security researchers, according to security company Intego.

The company  says it has found CrescentCore on multiple websites, including one claiming to offer free downloads of new comic books.

Dubbed “CrescentCore,” the malware comes as it usually does —in the form of a DMG file pretending to be an Adobe Flash Player installer. If a user opens the .dmg disk image and opens the Player app, the malware will first check to see whether it is running inside a virtual machine.

The malware also checks to see whether any popular Mac antivirus programs are installed. If the malware determines that it’s running within a VM environment or with anti-malware software present, it will simply exit and not proceed to do anything further.

If there’s nothing in the way one version will install “LaunchAgent,” described as a “persistent infection,” while another will install either “Advanced Mac Cleaner” or a Safari extension.

“Nobody should be installing Flash Player in 2019—not even the real, legitimate one. Nearly all sites have stopped relying on Flash, as Adobe is discontinuing it; the company plans to no longer release security updates for Flash after 2020.” Intego commented.

CrescentCore is signed with multiple developer IDs registered to a “Sanela Lovic,” which Apple has already disabled. Intego’s own antivirus software is already scrubbing the code.

Flipboard discloses breach that gave hackers access to user data

Magazine-style news service Flipboard has revealed that hackers gained access to user passwords several times over the last nine months.

Between June 2, 2018 and April 22 this year databases were hit by “unauthorized access,” Flipboard said in an email to customers. The hackers may have “potentially” stolen information such as names, email addresses, and passwords, although the passwords were reportedly salted and hashed rather than saved in plain text.

The hacks exposed a variety of information connected to Flipboard user accounts, with the intruder able to access usernames, passwords, email addresses, and tokens used for connecting to third-party social networks such as Twitter. The passwords were protected using “salted hashing,” so long as they had been updated since March of 2012. Passwords from March 2012 and earlier were hashed with a weaker SHA-1 function.

As for the third-party account tokens, Flipboard says that it has “not found any evidence the unauthorized person accessed third-party account(s) connected to users’ Flipboard accounts.”

The company didn’t say how many people may have been impacted. As a safeguard however it’s notifying police, deleting any third-party tokens, and resetting all passwords, which may suggest widescale impact.

Security researcher exposes macOS malware vulnerability

Security researcher Filippo Cavallarin has worked out a way that malware makers can bypass the macOS Gatekeeper protections to run malicious code. The bypass remains unaddressed by Apple as of last week’s macOS 10.14.5 release.

Gatekeeper is a macOS security tool that verifies applications immediately after they are downloaded. This prevents applications from being run without user consent. When a user downloads an app from outside of the Mac App Store, Gatekeeper is used to check that the code has been signed by Apple. If the code has not been signed, the app won’t open without the user giving direct permission.

Cavallarin writesthe security hole on his blog and explains how it gets around Gatekeeper – the feature that prompts users to confirm they want to install applications from outside the Mac App Store.

Gatekeeper considers network shares to be ‘safe’ locations that don’t require permission checks, an intruder just has to trick the user into mounting one of those shares to run the apps they like.

Cavallarin said he notified Apple of the vulnerability on February 22nd, and that was supposed to have been resolved as of macOS 10.14.5. He said it wasn’t, though, and that Apple had stopped responding to his emails. He was publishing the flaw after giving Apple 90 days to address the issue.


New ‘ZombieLoad’ Intel chip Vulnerability Affects Dating Back to 2011

Security researchers have discovered a new set of vulnerabilities named ZombieLoad that affect Intel chips dating back to 2011.

These vulnerabilities are as serious as the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities that were discovered in early 2018 and take advantage of the same speculative execution process, which is designed to speed up data processing and performance.

ZombieLoad impacts almost every Intel computer dating back to 2011, but AMD and ARM chips are not affected. A demonstration of ZombieLoad was shared on YouTube, displaying how it works to see what you’re doing on your computer. While spying on web browsing is demoed, it can also be used for other purposes like stealing passwords.

A white paper shared by notable security researchers (including some who worked on Spectre and Meltdown) offers details on how ZombieLoad functions. [PDF]

Intel has released microcode for vulnerable processors. Apple addressed the vulnerability in the macOS Mojave 10.14.5 update that was released and in security patches for older versions of macOS that were also released.


WhatsApp discloses a security flaw that enabled spyware to be installed on Phone

A report from The Financial Times  details a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allowed attackers to install Israeli spyware onto phones via the app’s call feature.

The sophisticated spyware, called Pegasus, was developed by Israeli company NSO Group and transmitted by calling users via WhatsApp on iOS and Android.

The software could be installed on Android and iPhone handsets simply by calling the targeted person through WhatsApp.  It could be injected even if a user did not answer the WhatsApp call. In many cases, call logs would even disappear from the target’s device, erasing any evidence that their phone had been tampered with.

Many details about the vulnerability remain unclear, but the report suggests that the loophole was open for several weeks. In a statement, WhatsApp said:

This attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems,” the company said. “We have briefed a number of human rights organizations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society.

WhatsApp said it’s still investigating the matter and it was too early to say how many users had been impacted by the spyware, suggesting only that it was a “select number” of people. WhatsApp reportedly disclosed the issue to the United States Department of Justice last week, and started deploying a fix to its servers on Friday.

WhatsApp told users to check that they’re running the latest version of the app on their devices. It also advised users to make sure their mobile operating system is up to date to ensure proper protection against potential targeted exploits designed to access information stored on mobile devices.

The Pegasus spyware is usually licensed to governments who use it to gain access to the devices of individuals targeted in investigations.

In a statement, NSO Group said its technology is used by “authorized government agencies for the sole purpose of fighting crime and terror. The company does not operate the system, and after a rigorous licensing and vetting process, intelligence and law enforcement determine how to use the technology to support their public safety missions.”

The company said it always investigates any “credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system.”

It added: “Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. NSO would not or could not use its technology in its own right to target any person or organization.”

Read the full report from The Financial Times here.