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Goodbye SHA-1: NIST Retires 27-Year-Old Widely Used Cryptographic Algorithm

Goodbye SHA-1: NIST Retires 27-Year-Old Widely Used Cryptographic Algorithm
Dec 16, 2022 Encryption / Data Security
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency within the Department of Commerce,  announced  Thursday that it's formally retiring the SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm. SHA-1 , short for Secure Hash Algorithm 1, is a 27-year-old  hash function  used in cryptography and has since been  deemed   broken  owing to the risk of  collision attacks . While hashes are designed to be irreversible – meaning it should be impossible to reconstruct the original message from the fixed-length enciphered text – the lack of collision resistance in SHA-1 made it possible to generate the same hash value for two different inputs. In February 2017, a group of researchers from CWI Amsterdam and Google  disclosed  the first practical technique for producing collisions on SHA-1, effectively undermining the security of the algorithm. "For example, by crafting the two colliding PDF files as two rental agreements with different rent, it is possible to trick someone to create

Royal Ransomware Threat Takes Aim at U.S. Healthcare System

Royal Ransomware Threat Takes Aim at U.S. Healthcare System
Dec 12, 2022 Healthcare IT / Ransomware
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has cautioned of ongoing Royal ransomware attacks targeting healthcare entities in the country. "While most of the known ransomware operators have performed Ransomware-as-a-Service, Royal appears to be a private group without any affiliates while maintaining financial motivation as their goal," the agency's Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3)  said  [PDF]. "The group does claim to steal data for double-extortion attacks, where they will also exfiltrate sensitive data." Royal ransomware, per  Fortinet FortiGuard Labs , is said to be active since at least the start of 2022. The malware is a 64-bit Windows executable written in C++ and is launched via the command line, indicating that it involves a human operator to trigger the infection after obtaining access to a targeted environment. Besides deleting volume shadow copies on the system, Royal utilizes the OpenSSL cryptographic library

Open Source Ransomware Toolkit Cryptonite Turns Into Accidental Wiper Malware

Open Source Ransomware Toolkit Cryptonite Turns Into Accidental Wiper Malware
Dec 06, 2022 Endpoint Security / Data Security
A version of an open source ransomware toolkit called  Cryptonite  has been observed in the wild with wiper capabilities due to its "weak architecture and programming." Cryptonite , unlike other ransomware strains, is not available for sale on the cybercriminal underground, and was instead offered for free by an actor named CYBERDEVILZ until recently through a GitHub repository. The source code and its forks have since been taken down. Written in Python, the malware employs the  Fernet module  of the cryptography package to encrypt files with a ".cryptn8" extension. But a  new sample  analyzed by Fortinet FortiGuard Labs has been found to lock files with no option to decrypt them back, essentially acting as a destructive data wiper. But this change isn't a deliberate act on part of the threat actor, but rather stems from a lack of quality assurance that causes the program to crash when attempting to display the ransom note after completing the encryption p

CISA Warns of Multiple Critical Vulnerabilities Affecting Mitsubishi Electric PLCs

CISA Warns of Multiple Critical Vulnerabilities Affecting Mitsubishi Electric PLCs
Dec 02, 2022 ICS Security / Encryption
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) this week released an Industrial Control Systems (ICS) advisory warning of multiple vulnerabilities in Mitsubishi Electric GX Works3 engineering software. "Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow unauthorized users to gain access to the MELSEC iQ-R/F/L series CPU modules and the MELSEC iQ-R series OPC UA server module or to view and execute programs," the agency  said . GX Works3  is an  engineering workstation  software used in ICS environments, acting as a mechanism for uploading and downloading programs from/to the controller, troubleshooting software and hardware issues, and performing maintenance operations. The wide range of functions also makes the platform an attractive target for threat actors looking to compromise such systems to commandeer the  managed PLCs . Three of the 10 shortcomings relate to cleartext storage of sensitive data, four relate to the use of a hard-coded cr

Dell, HP, and Lenovo Devices Found Using Outdated OpenSSL Versions

Dell, HP, and Lenovo Devices Found Using Outdated OpenSSL Versions
Nov 25, 2022
An analysis of firmware images across devices from Dell, HP, and Lenovo has revealed the presence of outdated versions of the  OpenSSL  cryptographic library, underscoring a supply chain risk. EFI Development Kit, aka  EDK , is an open source implementation of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface ( UEFI ), which functions as an interface between the operating system and the firmware embedded in the device's hardware. The firmware development environment, which is in its second iteration (EDK II), comes with its own cryptographic package called  CryptoPkg  that, in turn, makes use of services from the OpenSSL project. Per firmware security company Binarly, the firmware image associated with Lenovo Thinkpad enterprise devices was found to use three different versions of OpenSSL: 0.9.8zb, 1.0.0a, and 1.0.2j, the last of which was released in 2018. What's more, one of the firmware modules named InfineonTpmUpdateDxe relied on OpenSSL version 0.9.8zb that was shipped on Au

NIST Announces First Four Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms

NIST Announces First Four Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms
Jul 06, 2022
The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has  chosen  the first set of quantum-resistant encryption algorithms that are designed to "withstand the assault of a future quantum computer." The post-quantum cryptography ( PQC ) technologies include the  CRYSTALS-Kyber  algorithm for general encryption, and  CRYSTALS-Dilithium ,  FALCON , and  SPHINCS+  for digital signatures. "Three of the selected algorithms are based on a family of math problems called structured lattices, while SPHINCS+ uses hash functions," NIST, which kicked off the standardization process in January 2017,  said  in a statement. Cryptography, which underpins the security of information in modern computer networks, derives its strength from the difficulty of solving mathematical problems — e.g., factoring large composite integers — using traditional computers. Quantum computers, should they mature enough, pose a  huge impact  on the current pu

Researchers Uncover Ways to Break the Encryption of 'MEGA' Cloud Storage Service

Researchers Uncover Ways to Break the Encryption of 'MEGA' Cloud Storage Service
Jun 22, 2022
A new piece of research from academics at ETH Zurich has identified a number of critical security issues in the MEGA cloud storage service that could be leveraged to break the confidentiality and integrity of user data. In a paper titled " MEGA: Malleable Encryption Goes Awry ," the researchers point out how MEGA's system does not protect its users against a malicious server, thereby enabling a rogue actor to fully compromise the privacy of the uploaded files. "Additionally, the integrity of user data is damaged to the extent that an attacker can insert malicious files of their choice which pass all authenticity checks of the client," ETH Zurich's Matilda Backendal, Miro Haller, and Kenneth G. Paterson said in an analysis of the service's cryptographic architecture. MEGA, which  advertises  itself as the "privacy company" and claims to provide user-controlled end-to-end encrypted cloud storage, has more than 10 million daily active users, w

Microsoft Warns of "Cryware" Info-Stealing Malware Targeting Crypto Wallets

Microsoft Warns of "Cryware" Info-Stealing Malware Targeting Crypto Wallets
May 18, 2022
Microsoft is warning of an emerging threat targeting internet-connected cryptocurrency wallets, signaling a departure in the use of digital coins in cyberattacks. The tech giant dubbed the new threat "cryware," with the attacks resulting in the irreversible theft of virtual currencies by means of fraudulent transfers to an adversary-controlled wallet. "Cryware are information stealers that collect and exfiltrate data directly from non-custodial cryptocurrency wallets, also known as  hot wallets ," Berman Enconado and Laurie Kirk of the Microsoft 365 Defender Research Team  said  in a new report.  "Because hot wallets, unlike custodial wallets, are stored locally on a device and provide easier access to cryptographic keys needed to perform transactions, more and more threats are targeting them." Attacks of this kind are not theoretical. Earlier this year, Kaspersky  disclosed  a financially-motivated campaign staged by the North Korea-based Lazarus Gr

QNAP Warns of OpenSSL Infinite Loop Vulnerability Affecting NAS Devices

QNAP Warns of OpenSSL Infinite Loop Vulnerability Affecting NAS Devices
Mar 31, 2022
Taiwanese company QNAP this week revealed that a selected number of its network-attached storage (NAS) appliances are affected by a recently-disclosed bug in the open-source OpenSSL cryptographic library. "An infinite loop vulnerability in OpenSSL has been reported to affect certain QNAP NAS," the company  said  in an advisory published on March 29, 2022. "If exploited, the vulnerability allows attackers to conduct denial-of-service attacks." Tracked as  CVE-2022-0778  (CVSS score: 7.5), the issue relates to a bug that arises when parsing security certificates to trigger a denial-of-service condition and remotely crash unpatched devices. QNAP, which is currently investigating its line-up, said it affects the following operating system versions – QTS 5.0.x and later QTS 4.5.4 and later QTS 4.3.6 and later QTS 4.3.4 and later QTS 4.3.3 and later QTS 4.2.6 and later QuTS hero h5.0.x and later QuTS hero h4.5.4 and later, and QuTScloud c5.0.x To date, t

Researchers Demonstrate New Side-Channel Attack on Homomorphic Encryption

Researchers Demonstrate New Side-Channel Attack on Homomorphic Encryption
Mar 03, 2022
A group of academics from the North Carolina State University and Dokuz Eylul University have demonstrated what they say is the "first side-channel attack" on homomorphic encryption that could be exploited to leak data as the encryption process is underway. "Basically, by monitoring power consumption in a device that is encoding data for homomorphic encryption, we are able to read the data as it is being encrypted," Aydin Aysu, one of the authors of the study,  said . "This demonstrates that even next generation encryption technologies need protection against side-channel attacks." Homomorphic Encryption is a  form of encryption  that allows certain types of computation to be performed directly on encrypted data without having to decrypt it in the first place. It's also meant to be privacy-preserving in that it allows sharing of sensitive data with other third-party services, such as data analytics firms, for further processing while the underlyin

100 Million Samsung Galaxy Phones Affected with Flawed Hardware Encryption Feature

100 Million Samsung Galaxy Phones Affected with Flawed Hardware Encryption Feature
Feb 28, 2022
A group of academics from Tel Aviv University have disclosed details of now-patched "severe" design flaws affecting about 100 million Android-based Samsung smartphones that could have resulted in the extraction of secret cryptographic keys. The shortcomings are the result of an analysis of the cryptographic design and implementation of Android's hardware-backed Keystore in Samsung's Galaxy S8, S9, S10, S20, and S21 flagship devices, researchers Alon Shakevsky, Eyal Ronen, and Avishai Wool  said . Trusted Execution Environments ( TEEs ) are a secure zone that provide an isolated environment for the execution of Trusted Applications (TAs) to carry out security critical tasks to ensure confidentiality and integrity. On Android, the hardware-backed  Keystore  is a system that facilitates the creation and storage of cryptographic keys within the TEE, making them more difficult to be extracted from the device in a manner that prevents the underlying operating system fr

Critical Bug in Mozilla's NSS Crypto Library Potentially Affects Several Other Software

Critical Bug in Mozilla’s NSS Crypto Library Potentially Affects Several Other Software
Dec 02, 2021
Mozilla has rolled out fixes to address a critical security weakness in its cross-platform Network Security Services ( NSS ) cryptographic library that could be potentially exploited by an adversary to crash a vulnerable application and even execute arbitrary code. Tracked as CVE-2021-43527, the flaw affects NSS versions prior to 3.73 or 3.68.1 ESR, and concerns a  heap overflow  vulnerability when verifying digital signatures such as  DSA  and  RSA-PSS  algorithms that are encoded using the  DER  binary format. Credited with reporting the issue is Tavis Ormandy of Google Project Zero, who codenamed it " BigSig ." "NSS (Network Security Services) versions prior to 3.73 or 3.68.1 ESR are vulnerable to a heap overflow when handling DER-encoded DSA or RSA-PSS signatures," Mozilla  said  in an advisory published Wednesday. "Applications using NSS for handling signatures encoded within CMS, S/MIME, PKCS #7, or PKCS #12 are likely to be impacted." NSS is a

Google Discloses Severe Bug in Libgcrypt Encryption Library—Impacting Many Projects

Google Discloses Severe Bug in Libgcrypt Encryption Library—Impacting Many Projects
Feb 01, 2021
A "severe" vulnerability in GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG)'s Libgcrypt encryption software could have allowed an attacker to write arbitrary data to the target machine, potentially leading to remote code execution. The flaw, which affects version 1.9.0 of libgcrypt, was discovered on January 28 by Tavis Ormandy of Project Zero, a security research unit within Google dedicated to finding zero-day bugs in hardware and software systems. No other versions of Libgcrypt are affected by the vulnerability. "There is a  heap buffer overflow  in libgcrypt due to an incorrect assumption in the block buffer management code," Ormandy  said . "Just decrypting some data can overflow a heap buffer with attacker controlled data, no verification or signature is validated before the vulnerability occurs." GnuPG addressed the weakness almost immediately within a day after disclosure, while urging users to  stop using  the vulnerable version. The latest version can be dow

Researchers Discover TPM-Fail Vulnerabilities Affecting Billions of Devices

Researchers Discover TPM-Fail Vulnerabilities Affecting Billions of Devices
Nov 13, 2019
A team of cybersecurity researchers today disclosed details of two new potentially serious CPU vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to retrieve cryptographic keys protected inside TPM chips manufactured by STMicroelectronics or firmware-based Intel TPMs. Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a specialized hardware or firmware-based security solution that has been designed to store and protect sensitive information from attackers even when your operating system gets compromised. TMP technology is being used widely by billion of desktops, laptops, servers, smartphones, and even by Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices to protect encryption keys, passwords, and digital certificates. Collectively dubbed as TPM-Fail , both newly found vulnerabilities, as listed below, leverage a timing-based side-channel attack to recover cryptographic keys that are otherwise supposed to remain safely inside the chips. CVE-2019-11090 : Intel fTPM vulnerabilities CVE-2019-16863 : STMicroelectronics

IEEE P1735 Encryption Is Broken—Flaws Allow Intellectual Property Theft

IEEE P1735 Encryption Is Broken—Flaws Allow Intellectual Property Theft
Nov 07, 2017
Researchers have uncovered several major weaknesses in the implementation of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) P1735 cryptography standard that can be exploited to unlock, modify or steal encrypted system-on-chip blueprints. The IEEE P1735 scheme was designed to encrypt electronic-design intellectual property (IP) in the hardware and software so that chip designers can protect their IPs from hackers and other prying eyes. Majority of mobile and embedded devices include a System-on-Chip (SoC), a single integrated circuit that can consist of multiple IPs—a collection of reusable design specifications—like a radio-frequency receiver, an analogue-to-digital converter, a digital signal processing unit, a graphics processing unit, a cryptographic engine, from different vendors. Therefore, these licensed IPs are quite valuable to their vendors, so to protect them from being reverse engineered after being sold, the IEEE developed the P1735 standard to encryp

Serious Crypto-Flaw Lets Hackers Recover Private RSA Keys Used in Billions of Devices

Serious Crypto-Flaw Lets Hackers Recover Private RSA Keys Used in Billions of Devices
Oct 17, 2017
If you think KRACK attack for WiFi is the worst vulnerability of this year, then hold on… ...we have got another one for you which is even worse. Microsoft, Google, Lenovo, HP and Fujitsu are warning their customers of a potentially serious vulnerability in widely used RSA cryptographic library produced by German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies. It's noteworthy that this crypto-related vulnerability (CVE-2017-15361) doesn't affect elliptic-curve cryptography and the encryption standard itself, rather it resides in the implementation of RSA key pair generation by Infineon's Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Infineon's Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a widely-used, dedicated microcontroller designed to secure hardware by integrating cryptographic keys into devices and is used for secured crypto processes. This 5-year-old algorithmic vulnerability was discovered by security researchers at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, who have relea

Researchers Crack 1024-bit RSA Encryption in GnuPG Crypto Library

Researchers Crack 1024-bit RSA Encryption in GnuPG Crypto Library
Jul 04, 2017
Security boffins have discovered a critical vulnerability in a GnuPG cryptographic library that allowed the researchers to completely break RSA-1024 and successfully extract the secret RSA key to decrypt data. Gnu Privacy Guard (GnuPG or GPG) is popular open source encryption software used by many operating systems from Linux and FreeBSD to Windows and macOS X. It's the same software used by the former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden to keep his communication secure from law enforcement. The vulnerability, labeled CVE-2017-7526 , resides in the Libgcrypt cryptographic library used by GnuPG, which is prone to local FLUSH+RELOAD side-channel attack. A team of researchers — from Technical University of Eindhoven, the University of Illinois, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, and the University of Adelaide — found that the "left-to-right sliding window" method used by the libgcrypt library for carrying out the mathematics o

Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the Web, Wins $1 Million Turing Award 2016

Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the Web, Wins $1 Million Turing Award 2016
Apr 05, 2017
Sir Tim Berners-Lee — the inventor of the World Wide Web — has won this year's A.M. Turing Award, which is frequently described as the "Nobel Prize of Computing," by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Turing Award is named after Alan Mathison Turing , the British mathematician and computer scientist who was a key contributor to the Allied cryptanalysis of German Enigma cipher and German "Tunny" encoding machine in World War II. The ACM announced the 2016 Turing Award on Tuesday, which also includes the top prize of $1 Million that has been awarded to Sir Berners-Lee, who is long known for inventing World Wide Web, which becomes a way for scientists to share information on the Internet. "I'm humbled to receive the namesake award of a computing pioneer who showed that what a programmer could do with a computer is limited only by the programmer themselves," Sir Berners-Lee said on receiving the award.  "It's an hon

NIST Calls Development of Quantum-Proof Encryption Algorithms

NIST Calls Development of Quantum-Proof Encryption Algorithms
Dec 22, 2016
Quantum Computers – Boon or Bane? Quantum computers can perform operations much more quickly and efficiently even with the use of less energy than conventional computers, but that's bad news for encryption — a process which scrambles data according to a massively complex mathematical code. In theory, quantum computers can break almost all the existing encryption algorithms used on the Internet today due to their immense computing power. Quantum computers are not just in theories; they're becoming a reality. With countries like China that holds the top two position in the world's most powerful supercomputers (Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2), followed by the United States' Titan, the day is not far when Quantum computers will work on an industrial scale. Although it's hard to move quantum computing to an industrial scale, it has become a matter of concern for the United States' National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over the fact that

Crack for Charity — GCHQ launches 'Puzzle Book' Challenge for Cryptographers

Crack for Charity — GCHQ launches 'Puzzle Book' Challenge for Cryptographers
Oct 15, 2016
The UK's Signals Intelligence and Cyber Security agency GCHQ has launched its first ever puzzle book, challenging researchers and cryptographers to crack codes for charity. Dubbed " The GCHQ Puzzle Book ," the book features more than 140 pages of codes, puzzles, and challenges created by expert code breakers at the British intelligence agency. Ranging from easy to complex, the GCHQ challenges include ciphers and tests of numeracy and literacy, substitution codes, along with picture and music challenges. Writing in the GCHQ Puzzle Book's introduction, here's what GCHQ Director, Robert Hannigan says: "For nearly one hundred years, the men and women of GCHQ, both civilian and military, have been solving problems. They have done so in pursuit of our mission to keep the United Kingdom safe. GCHQ has a proud history of valuing and supporting individuals who think differently; without them, we would be of little value to the country. Not all are geniuses
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