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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

Forever 21 Confirms Security Breach Exposed Customer Credit Card Details

Forever 21 Confirms Security Breach Exposed Customer Credit Card Details
January 01, 2018Swati Khandelwal
First notified in November of a data breach incident, popular clothing retailer Forever 21 has now confirmed that hackers stole credit card information from its stores throughout the country for several months during 2017. Although the company did not yet specify the total number of its customers affected by the breach, it did confirm that malware was installed on some point of sale (POS) systems in stores across the U.S. at varying times between April 3, 2017, and November 18, 2017. According to the company's investigation, which is still ongoing, the malware was designed to search for and likely steal sensitive customer credit card data, including credit card numbers, expiration dates, verification codes and, in some cases, cardholder names. Forever 21 has been using encryption technology since 2015 to protect its payment processing systems, but during the investigation, the company found that some POS terminals at certain stores had their encryption switched off, whic

ROBOT Attack: 19-Year-Old Bleichenbacher Attack On Encrypted Web Reintroduced

ROBOT Attack: 19-Year-Old Bleichenbacher Attack On Encrypted Web Reintroduced
December 12, 2017Swati Khandelwal
A 19-year-old vulnerability has been re-discovered in the RSA implementation from at least 8 different vendors—including F5, Citrix, and Cisco—that can give man-in-the-middle attackers access to encrypted messages. Dubbed ROBOT ( Return of Bleichenbacher's Oracle Attack ), the attack allows an attacker to perform RSA decryption and cryptographic operations using the private key configured on the vulnerable TLS servers. ROBOT attack is nothing but a couple of minor variations to the old Bleichenbacher attack on the RSA encryption protocol. First discovered in 1998 and named after Swiss cryptographer Daniel Bleichenbacher, the Bleichenbacher attack is a padding oracle attack on RSA-based PKCS#1 v1.5 encryption scheme used in SSLv2. Leveraging an adaptive chosen-ciphertext attack which occurred due to error messages by SSL servers for errors in the PKCS #1 1.5 padding, Bleichenbacher attack allows attackers to determine whether a decrypted message is correctly padded.

IEEE P1735 Encryption Is Broken—Flaws Allow Intellectual Property Theft

IEEE P1735 Encryption Is Broken—Flaws Allow Intellectual Property Theft
November 07, 2017Mohit Kumar
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

Google to add "DNS over TLS" security feature to Android OS

Google to add "DNS over TLS" security feature to Android OS
October 23, 2017Mohit Kumar
No doubt your Internet Service Provides (ISPs), or network-level hackers cannot spy on https communications. But do you know — ISPs can still see all of your DNS requests, allowing them to know what websites you visit. Google is working on a new security feature for Android that could prevent your Internet traffic from network spoofing attacks. Almost every Internet activity starts with a DNS query, making it a fundamental building block of the Internet. DNS works as an Internet's phone book that resolves human-readable web addresses, like thehackernews.com, against their IP addresses. DNS queries and responses are sent in clear text (using UDP or TCP) without encryption, which makes it vulnerable to eavesdropping and compromises privacy. ISPs by default resolve DNS queries from their servers. So when you type a website name in your browser, the query first goes to their DNS servers to find the website's IP address, which eventually exposes this information (metada

Microsoft Cortana Can Now Read Your Skype Messages to Make Chat Smarter

 Microsoft Cortana Can Now Read Your Skype Messages to Make Chat Smarter
October 10, 2017Mohit Kumar
Microsoft today announced built-in support for Cortana—an artificial intelligence-powered smart assistant—in Skype messenger on Android as well as iOS devices. What purpose does it serve? Microsoft wants its AI-based smart assistance to understand your conversations and help you with quick suggestions, ideas and information right inside your chat window. "Cortana can also help you organize your day—no need to leave your conversations. Cortana can detect when you're talking about scheduling events or things you have to do and will recommend setting up a reminder, which you will receive on all your devices that have Cortana enabled," Skype said in a blog post . In other words, it typically means — Microsoft's Cortana can now read your private Skype conversations. Should You Worry About Your Privacy? Yes, Cortana needs continuous monitoring of your private chats in order to come up with useful suggestions such as movie bookings, travel plans, nearby restaura

A Company Offers $500,000 For Secure Messaging Apps Zero-Day Exploits

A Company Offers $500,000 For Secure Messaging Apps Zero-Day Exploits
August 24, 2017Swati Khandelwal
How much does your privacy cost? It will soon be sold for half a Million US dollars. A controversial company specialises in acquiring and reselling zero-day exploits is ready to pay up to US$500,000 for working zero-day vulnerabilities targeting popular secure messenger applications, such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. Zerodium announced a new pricing structure on Wednesday, paying out $500,000 for fully functional remote code execution (RCE) and local privilege escalation (LPE) vulnerabilities in Signal, WhatsApp, iMessage, Viber, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Telegram. The payouts for all these secure messengers have been increased after tech companies introduced end-to-end encryption in their apps, making it more difficult for anyone to compromise their messaging platforms. The same payout is offered for remote code execution and local privilege escalation security flaws in default mobile email applications. Launched in 2015, Zerodium is a Washington, DC-based p

Satellite Phone Encryption Calls Can be Cracked in Fractions of a Second

Satellite Phone Encryption Calls Can be Cracked in Fractions of a Second
July 10, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers have discovered a new method to decrypt satellite phone communications encrypted with the GMR-2 cipher in "real time" -- that too in mere fractions of a second in some cases. The new attack method has been discovered by two Chinese security researchers and is based on previous research by German academicians in 2012, showing that the phone's encryption can be cracked so quickly that attackers can listen in on calls in real time. The research, disclosed in a paper published last week by the security researchers in the International Association for Cryptologic Research, focused on the GMR-2 encryption algorithm that is commonly being used in most modern satellite phones, including British satellite telecom Inmarsat, to encrypt voice calls in order to prevent eavesdropping. Unlike previous 2012 research by German researchers who tried to recover the encryption key with the help of 'plaintext' attacks, the Chinese researchers attempted

Researchers Crack 1024-bit RSA Encryption in GnuPG Crypto Library

Researchers Crack 1024-bit RSA Encryption in GnuPG Crypto Library
July 04, 2017Mohit Kumar
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

Telegram Agrees to Register With Russia to Avoid Ban, But Won't Share User Data

Telegram Agrees to Register With Russia to Avoid Ban, But Won't Share User Data
June 29, 2017Mohit Kumar
After being threatened with a ban in Russia , end-to-end encrypted Telegram messaging app has finally agreed to register with new Russian Data Protection Laws, but its founder has assured that the company will not comply to share users' confidential data at any cost. Russia's communications watchdog Roskomnadzor had recently threatened to block Telegram if the service did not hand over information required to put the app on an official government list of information distributors. The Russian government requirement came following terrorists' suicide bombings that killed 15 people in Saint Petersburg in April in which terrorists allegedly used the Telegram 's app to communicate and plot attacks. "There is one demand, and it is simple: to fill in a form with information on the company that controls Telegram," said Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor.  "And to officially send it to Roskomnadzor to include this data in the registry of organizers

Russia Threatens to Ban Telegram Messaging App, Says It Was Used By Terrorists

Russia Threatens to Ban Telegram Messaging App, Says It Was Used By Terrorists
June 26, 2017Mohit Kumar
Russia has threatened to ban Telegram end-to-end encrypted messaging app, after Pavel Durov, its founder, refused to sign up to the country's new data protection laws. Russian intelligence service, the FSB, said on Monday that the terrorists that killed 15 people in Saint Petersburg in April had used the Telegram encrypted messaging service to plot their attacks. According to the new Russian Data Protection Laws, as of January 1, all foreign tech companies have been required to store the past six months' of the personal data of its citizens and encryption keys within the country; which the company has to share with the authorities on demand. "There is one demand, and it is simple: to fill in a form with information on the company that controls Telegram," Alexander Zharov said, head of communications regulator Roskomnadzor (state communications watchdog). "And to officially send it to Roskomnadzor to include this data in the registry of organizers of d

European Parliament Proposes Ban On Encryption Backdoors

European Parliament Proposes Ban On Encryption Backdoors
June 19, 2017Mohit Kumar
Prime Minister Theresa May wants tech companies, like Facebook, Apple, and Google, to create controversial 'backdoors' for police, but even somewhere she knows that it's not that easy as it sounds. The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has released a draft proposal [ PDF ] for new laws on privacy and electronic communications, recommending end-to-end (E2E) encryption on all communications and forbidding backdoors that offer access to law enforcement. "The protection of confidentiality of communications is also an essential condition for the respect of other related fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression and information," the draft reads. Draft Says, Your Security is Our Top Priority According to the draft, EU citizens need more protection, not less and they need to know that the "confidentiality and safety" of their

Dutch Police Seize Another Company that Sells PGP-Encrypted Blackberry Phones

Dutch Police Seize Another Company that Sells PGP-Encrypted Blackberry Phones
May 11, 2017Swati Khandelwal
The Dutch police arrested four suspects on Tuesday on suspicion of money laundering and involvement in selling custom encrypted BlackBerry and Android smartphones to criminals. The Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), dedicated team within the Dutch National Police Agency aims to investigate advanced forms of cyber crimes, carried out investigation and found that the phone brand "PGPsafe" was selling customized BlackBerry and Android smartphones with the secure PGP-encrypted network to the "possible criminal end users." PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is an open source end-to-end encryption standard that can be used to cryptographically sign emails, documents, files, or entire disk partitions in order to protect them from being spied on. Selling custom security-focused encrypted phones does not involve any crime itself, but Dutch police have discovered evidence, which indicates over the years such phones had been sold to organized criminals involved in

Telegram Messenger Adds AI-powered Encrypted Voice Calls

Telegram Messenger Adds AI-powered Encrypted Voice Calls
March 31, 2017Mohit Kumar
Joining the line with rival chat apps WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and Signal, the Telegram instant messaging service has finally rolled out a much-awaited feature for the new beta versions of its Android app: Voice Calling . And what's interesting? Your calls will be secured by Emojis, and quality will be better using Artificial Intelligence. No doubt the company brought the audio calling feature quite late, but it's likely because of its focus on security — the voice calls on Telegram are by default based on the same end-to-end encryption methods as its Secret Chat mode to help users make secure calls. Unlike Signal or WhatsApp, Telegram does not support end-to-end encryption by default; instead, it offers a 'Secret Chat' mode, which users have to enable manually, to completely secure their chats from prying eyes. However, the voice calling feature in Telegram supports end-to-end encryption by default, enabling users to secure their chats in a way
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