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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: encryption

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
December 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
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

LockFile Ransomware Bypasses Protection Using Intermittent File Encryption

LockFile Ransomware Bypasses Protection Using Intermittent File Encryption
August 28, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new ransomware family that emerged last month comes with its own bag of tricks to bypass ransomware protection by leveraging a novel technique called "intermittent encryption." Called  LockFile , the operators of the ransomware have been found exploiting recently disclosed flaws such as  ProxyShell  and  PetitPotam  to compromise Windows servers and deploy file-encrypting malware that scrambles only every alternate 16 bytes of a file, thereby giving it the ability to evade ransomware defences. "Partial encryption is generally used by ransomware operators to speed up the encryption process and we've seen it implemented by BlackMatter, DarkSide and LockBit 2.0 ransomware," Mark Loman, Sophos director of engineering, said in a statement. "What sets LockFile apart is that, unlike the others, it doesn't encrypt the first few blocks. Instead, LockFile encrypts every other 16 bytes of a document." "This means that a file such as a text documen

Dozens of STARTTLS Related Flaws Found Affecting Popular Email Clients

Dozens of STARTTLS Related Flaws Found Affecting Popular Email Clients
August 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Security researchers have disclosed as many as 40 different vulnerabilities associated with an opportunistic encryption mechanism in mail clients and servers that could open the door to targeted man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, permitting an intruder to forge mailbox content and steal credentials. The now-patched flaws, identified in various STARTTLS implementations, were  detailed  by a group of researchers Damian Poddebniak, Fabian Ising, Hanno Böck, and Sebastian Schinzel at the 30th USENIX Security Symposium. In an Internet-wide scan conducted during the study, 320,000 email servers were found vulnerable to what's called a command injection attack. Some of the popular clients affected by the bugs include Apple Mail, Gmail, Mozilla Thunderbird, Claws Mail, Mutt, Evolution, Exim, Mail.ru, Samsung Email, Yandex, and KMail. The attacks require that the malicious party can tamper connections established between an email client and the email server of a provider and has login cr

Users Can Be Just As Dangerous As Hackers

Users Can Be Just As Dangerous As Hackers
August 09, 2021The Hacker News
Among the problems stemming from our systemic failure with cybersecurity, which ranges from decades-old software-development practices to Chinese and Russian cyber-attacks, one problem gets far less attention than it should—the insider threat. But the reality is that most organizations should be at least as worried about user management as they are about Bond villain-type hackers launching compromises from abroad. Most organizations have deployed single sign-on and modern identity-management solutions. These generally allow easy on-boarding, user management, and off-boarding. However, on mobile devices, these solutions have been less effective. Examples include mobile applications such as WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, or even SMS-which are common in the workforce. All of these tools allow for low-friction, agile communication in an increasingly mobile business environment. Today, many of these tools offer end-to-end encryption (e2ee), which is a boon when viewed through the lens of

Google Workspace Now Offers Client-side Encryption For Drive and Docs

Google Workspace Now Offers Client-side Encryption For Drive and Docs
June 14, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Monday announced that it's rolling out client-side encryption to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), thereby giving its enterprise customers direct control of encryption keys and the identity service they choose to access those keys. "With client-side encryption, customer data is indecipherable to Google, while users can continue to take advantage of Google's native web-based collaboration, access content on mobile devices, and share encrypted files externally," the search giant  said .  "When combined with our other encryption capabilities, customers can add new levels of data protection for their Google Workspace data." The development coincides with the Google Workspace and Google Chat's  broader availability to all users  with a Google account. Workspace is the company's enterprise offering consisting of Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and other tools. Businesses using Google Workspace have the choice o

Feds Secretly Ran a Fake Encrypted Chat App and Busted Over 800 Criminals

Feds Secretly Ran a Fake Encrypted Chat App and Busted Over 800 Criminals
June 08, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
In an unprecedented sting operation, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Australian Federal Police (AFP) ran an encrypted chat service called ANoM for nearly three years to intercept 27 million messages exchanged between criminal gang members globally. Dubbed Operation Ironside (AFP), Operation Greenlight (Europol), and Operation Trojan Shield (FBI), the long-term covert probe into transnational and serious organized crime culminated in the arrests of 224 offenders on 526 charges in Australia, with 55 luxury vehicles, eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin, 250 firearms, and more than $48 million in various currencies and cryptocurrencies seized in raids around the world.  A total of more than 800 arrests have been reported across 18 countries, including New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden. Europol  called  it the "biggest ever law enforcement operation against encrypted communication." The communications allegedly involved plots to kil

Agora SDK Bug Left Several Video Calling Apps Vulnerable to Snooping

Agora SDK Bug Left Several Video Calling Apps Vulnerable to Snooping
February 17, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A severe security vulnerability in a popular video calling software development kit (SDK) could have allowed an attacker to spy on ongoing private video and audio calls. That's according to new research published by the McAfee Advanced Threat Research (ATR) team today, which found the aforementioned flaw in Agora.io's SDK used by several social apps such as eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, MeetMe, and Skout; healthcare apps like Talkspace, Practo, and Dr. First's Backline; and in the Android app that's paired with "temi" personal robot. California-based Agora is a video, voice, and live interactive streaming platform, allowing developers to embed voice and video chat, real-time recording, interactive live streaming, and real-time messaging into their apps. The company's SDKs are estimated to be embedded into mobile, web, and desktop applications across more than 1.7 billion devices globally. McAfee disclosed the flaw (CVE-2020-25605) to Agora.io on April 20

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

Google Discloses Severe Bug in Libgcrypt Encryption Library—Impacting Many Projects
January 31, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
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

NSA Suggests Enterprises Use 'Designated' DNS-over-HTTPS' Resolvers

NSA Suggests Enterprises Use 'Designated' DNS-over-HTTPS' Resolvers
January 15, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on Friday said DNS over HTTPS (DoH) — if configured appropriately in enterprise environments — can help prevent "numerous" initial access, command-and-control, and exfiltration techniques used by threat actors. "DNS over Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Transport Layer Security (HTTPS), often referred to as DNS over HTTPS (DoH), encrypts DNS requests by using HTTPS to provide privacy, integrity, and 'last mile' source authentication with a client's DNS resolver," according to the NSA's  new guidance . Proposed in 2018,  DoH  is a protocol for performing remote Domain Name System resolution via the HTTPS protocol. One of the major shortcomings with current DNS lookups is that even when someone visits a site that uses HTTPS, the DNS query and its response is sent over an unencrypted connection, thus allowing third-party eavesdropping on the network to track every website a user is visiting. Even worse, the

This Unpatchable Flaw Affects All Intel CPUs Released in Last 5 Years

This Unpatchable Flaw Affects All Intel CPUs Released in Last 5 Years
March 06, 2020Wang Wei
All Intel processors released in the past 5 years contain an unpatchable vulnerability that could allow hackers to compromise almost every hardware-enabled security technology that are otherwise designed to shield sensitive data of users even when a system gets compromised. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-0090 , resides in the hard-coded firmware running on the ROM ("read-only memory") of the Intel's Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME), which can't be patched without replacing the silicon. Intel CSME is a separate security micro-controller incorporated into the processors that provides an isolated execution environment protected from the host opening system running on the main CPU. It is responsible for the initial authentication of Intel-based systems by loading and verifying firmware components, root of trust based secure boot, and also cryptographically authenticates the BIOS, Microsoft System Guard, BitLocker, and other security features

Researchers Find New Hack to Read Content Of Password Protected PDF Files

Researchers Find New Hack to Read Content Of Password Protected PDF Files
October 01, 2019Mohit Kumar
Looking for ways to unlock and read the content of an encrypted PDF without knowing the password? Well, that's now possible, sort of—thanks to a novel set of attacking techniques that could allow attackers to access the entire content of a password-protected or encrypted PDF file, but under some specific circumstances. Dubbed PDFex , the new set of techniques includes two classes of attacks that take advantage of security weaknesses in the standard encryption protection built into the Portable Document Format, better known as PDF. To be noted, the PDFex attacks don't allow an attacker to know or remove the password for an encrypted PDF; instead, enable attackers to remotely exfiltrate content once a legitimate user opens that document. In other words, PDFex allows attackers to modify a protected PDF document, without having the corresponding password, in a way that when opened by someone with the right password, the file will automatically send out a copy of the decry

Google Created Faster Storage Encryption for All Low-End Devices

Google Created Faster Storage Encryption for All Low-End Devices
February 08, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Google has launched a new encryption algorithm that has been built specifically to run on mobile phones and smart IoT devices that don't have the specialized hardware to use current encryption methods to encrypt locally stored data efficiently. Encryption has already become an integral part of our everyday digital activities. However, it has long been known that encryption is expensive, as it causes performance issues, especially for low-end devices that don't have hardware support for making the encryption and decryption process faster. Since data security concerns have recently become very important, not using encryption is no more a wise tradeoff, and at the same time, using a secure but slow device on which apps take much longer to launch is also not a great idea. Currently Android OS supports AES-128-CBC-ESSIV for full-disk encryption and AES-256-XTS for file-based encryption, and Google has already made it mandatory for device manufacturers to include AES encry

Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Bill—Here's Everything You Need To Know

Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Bill—Here's Everything You Need To Know
December 07, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Australia's House of Representatives has finally passed the "Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill 2018," also known as the Anti-Encryption Bill , on Thursday that would now allow law enforcement to force Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Signal, and other tech giants to help them access encrypted communications. The Australian government argues the new legislation is important for national security and an essential tool to help law enforcement and security agencies fight serious offenses such as crime, terrorist attacks, drug trafficking, smuggling, and sexual exploitation of children. Since the bill had support from both major parties (the Coalition and Labor), the upper house could vote in support of the Assistance and Access Bill to make it law, which is expected to come into effect immediately during the next session of parliament in early 2019. Although the new legislation does not properly clarify specifics around the potential power that the Assistance

Signal Secure Messaging App Now Encrypts Sender's Identity As Well

Signal Secure Messaging App Now Encrypts Sender's Identity As Well
October 30, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Signal, the popular end-to-end encrypted messaging app, is planning to roll out a new feature that aims to hide the sender's identity from potential attackers trying to intercept the communication. Although messages send via secure messaging services, like Signal , WhatsApp , and Telegram , are fully end-to-end encrypted as they transmit across their servers, each message leaves behind some of the metadata information that reveals who sent the message to whom and when. The new feature, dubbed " Sealed Sender ," announced by Signal is going to further reduce the amount of information that is accessible to the company itself. However, you should note that Signal never stores metadata or logs of information on its users like who sends messages to each other and when, but the new feature would protect the sender's identity in case the communication is somehow intercepted. How Does the Signal's Sealed Sender Feature Protect Metadata? According to a blog post

WPA3 Standard Officially Launches With New Wi-Fi Security Features

WPA3 Standard Officially Launches With New Wi-Fi Security Features
June 26, 2018Swati Khandelwal
The Wi-Fi Alliance today officially launched WPA3 —the next-generation Wi-Fi security standard that promises to eliminate all the known security vulnerabilities and wireless attacks that are up today including the dangerous KRACK attacks . WPA, or Wi-Fi Protected Access, is a standard designed to authenticate wireless devices using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) protocol and is intended to prevent hackers from eavesdropping on your wireless data. However, in late last year, security researchers uncovered a severe flaw in the current WPA2 protocol, dubbed KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack), that made it possible for attackers to intercept, decrypt and even manipulate WiFi network traffic. Although most device manufacturers patched their devices against KRACK attacks, the WiFi Alliance, without much delay, rushed to finalize and launch WPA3 in order to address WPA2's technical shortcomings from the ground. What is WPA3? What New Security Features WPA3 Offers? WP

Z-Wave Downgrade Attack Left Over 100 Million IoT Devices Open to Hackers

Z-Wave Downgrade Attack Left Over 100 Million IoT Devices Open to Hackers
May 25, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Researchers have found that even after having an advanced encryption scheme in place, more than 100 million Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices from thousands of vendors are vulnerable to a downgrade attack that could allow attackers to gain unauthorized access to your devices. The issue resides in the implementation of Z-Wave protocol —a wireless, radio frequency (RF) based communications technology that is primarily being used by home automation devices to communicate with each other. Z-Wave protocol has been designed to offer an easy process to set up pairing and remotely control appliances—such as lighting control, security systems, thermostats, windows, locks, swimming pools and garage door openers—over a distance of up to 100 meters (330 feet). The latest security standard for Z-Wave, called S2 security framework, uses an advanced key exchange mechanism, i.e., Elliptic-Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) anonymous key agreement protocol, to share unique network keys between the con

Apple macOS Bug Reveals Passwords for APFS Encrypted Volumes in Plaintext

Apple macOS Bug Reveals Passwords for APFS Encrypted Volumes in Plaintext
March 29, 2018Swati Khandelwal
A severe programming bug has been found in APFS file system for macOS High Sierra operating system that exposes passwords of encrypted external drives in plain text. Introduced two years ago, APFS ( Apple File System ) is an optimized file system for flash and SSD-based storage solutions running MacOS, iOS, tvOS or WatchOS, and promises strong encryption and better performance. Discovered by forensic analyst Sarah Edwards, the bug leaves encryption password for a newly created APFS volume (e.g., encrypting USB drive using Disk Utility) in the unified logs in plaintext, as well as while encrypting previously created but unencrypted volumes. "Why is this a big deal? Well, passwords stored in plaintext can be discovered by anyone with unauthorized access to your machine, and malware can collect log files as well and send them off to someone with malicious intent," Edwards said. The password for an encrypted APFS volume can easily be retrieved by running following sim

Skype Finally Adds End-to-End Encryption for Private Conversations

Skype Finally Adds End-to-End Encryption for Private Conversations
January 12, 2018Mohit Kumar
Good news for Skype users who are concerned about their privacy. Microsoft is collaborating with popular encrypted communication company Signal to bring end-to-end encryption support to Skype messenger. End-to-end encryption assured its users that no one, not even the company or server that transmits the data, can decrypt their messages. Signal Protocol is an open source cryptographic protocol that has become an industry-wide standard—which is used in  Facebook Messenger , Whatsapp , and Google Allo for secure messaging. Dubbed Private Conversations , the new feature which is about to be introduced in Skype will offer end-to-end encryption for audio calls, text, and multimedia messages like videos and audio files. "Skype Private Conversations give you enhanced security through end-to-end encryption with an additional layer of security for conversations between you and your friends and family," the company announced .  "Private Conversations can only be betwe

WhatsApp Flaw Could Allow 'Potential Attackers' to Spy On Encrypted Group Chats

WhatsApp Flaw Could Allow 'Potential Attackers' to Spy On Encrypted Group Chats
January 10, 2018Swati Khandelwal
A more dramatic revelation of 2018—an outsider can secretly eavesdrop on your private end-to-end encrypted group chats on WhatsApp and Signal messaging apps. Considering protection against three types of attackers—malicious user, network attacker, and malicious server—an end-to-end encryption protocol plays a vital role in securing instant messaging services. The primary purpose of having end-to-end encryption is to stop trusting the intermediate servers in such a way that no one, not even the company or the server that transmits the data, can decrypt your messages or abuse its centralized position to manipulate the service. In order words—assuming the worst-case scenario—a corrupt company employee should not be able to eavesdrop on the end-to-end encrypted communication by any mean. However, so far even the popular end-to-end encrypted messaging services, like WhatsApp, Threema and Signal, have not entirely achieved zero-knowledge system. Researchers from Ruhr-Universität
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