Monday, 26 December 2016

TP-LINK Modem / Router (ADSL2+) Security and Vulnerabilities

I really hope this blog post starts a small trend when it comes to the security of home-based routers. I started searching online for home routers (SOHO) and wanted to compare them based on how secure they are, up to a reasonable price for a household. I have seen all these different makes that have been found in the recent years to contain hard-coded credentials and other known backdoors, and I wanted to investigate this a bit further. 

It is very hard to find security related information about routers before deciding which one to buy. Also, it is really annoying to see that manufacturer only care and promote the features and functionality of a router, and do not consider security at all.

From where I stand, when a company sells a router, should be in their best interest that router to have no security vulnerabilities. Otherwise, it is like having a company that wants to sell bulletproof vests that doesn't stop bullets, other than those fired from Airsoft BB guns.

I do understand that most people might choose a router based on its cost, colour, shape and if it is shiny. However, from my experience, these people just want to get online and want to simply replace the really bad modem/router their ISP provided for "free". Most of the time the real reason behind that decision is because when more than two devices are connected to those "free" devices, the Internet experience becomes annoying, to say the least. For such use, it is not hard to find a replacement for these "free" routers at a very reasonable price, and 90% of the time, it is totally worth it.

Friday, 23 December 2016

in-flight entertainment vs avionics

For those of you who have had the opportunity to see one of my presentations "Can you really hack an airplane: Myths & Truths", you are already familiar with what is really happening and the confusion between in-flight entertainment systems and avionics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avionics). I was asked to put this article up by a number of friends in the security industry to highlight a few very important points. The purpose of this article is to provide food for thought. Especially, when you hear someone saying that "hacked" an airplane, or made it fly "sideways" by tampering with its systems through the in-flight entertainment system. Consider the following points and come to your own conclusions. 

Anyone who is trying to "generalise" and claim that during an actual flight, for example through the in-flight entertainment system, managed to take control of the plane and/or that it is possible to actually fly an aircraft like this, should first read what the law has to say about this. (Tokyo Convention 1963). 
Do you really want someone with the excuse of being a "security researcher" tampering with the airplane's systems while you are on an actual flight, because he/she decided that has nothing better to do? I am sorry, but from where I stand, we (security researchers) respect the law, and make sure we have permission to conduct any security assessments & penetration testing, in a safe and approved environment. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

IRISSCON 2016 - 8th IRISSCERT Cyber Crime Conference

IRISSCON 2016 - The 8th #IRISSCERT Cyber Crime Conference
Ireland's first CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team)

This year, my talk was all about Cyber Resilience. The talk provided the opportunity to participants to familiarise and understand what the term really means, and why it should not be considered as another buzzword used in the industry.  



Threats constantly evolve based on the way our defences counter-evolve, and this cycle is something that is going to happen no matter what. What matters the most is in what way we act upon, and how our decisions need to be part of a bigger strategy and not treat security in an ad-hoc manner, especially when it is too late.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

IRISSCON 2016 - IRISSCERT

The 8th IRISSCERT Cyber Crime Conference will be held this year on Thursday the 24th of November 2016 in the Ballsbridge, Pembroke Road, Dublin. www.iriss.ie 

This all day conference, focuses on providing attendees with an overview of the current cyber-threats throughout the world and focuses especially on threats that affect businesses in Ireland, and what should be the best course of action when it comes to defending against these threats. You can find my recap blog post for last year's event here.

Like every year, professionals that work in cybersecurity and tackle cybercrime / cyber threats on a daily basis, will be sharing their thoughts and experiences, while attendees have a unique opportunity to ask questions,discuss cybersecurity strategies, and most importantly will meet and network with likeminded individuals allowing them to share their views and opinions.

I am honoured to be invited to speak at this event and get to share my thoughts and views on cybersecurity and most importantly, on cyber resilience, which is also reflected by my talk's title: "All aboard, next stop; Cyber Resilience". 

The abstract for my talk can be found below and I do hope you find it interesting. If you find yourselves in Dublin during the conference, I strongly suggest getting a ticket on time and join us at IRISSCON, and please come and say hi. It is always a pleasure to meet people who are passionate about information security and cybersecurity, and want to discuss/share their thoughts and opinions. Looking forwards to seeing you all there.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

BruCON 2016 (0x08) - Speaking about POS, POI & VT (the undisclosed talk)

It was a great honour for me to present this year at a hacking conference like BruCON (brucon.org)
As many of you already know, I started this because I wanted to know how the payment process works behind the scenes (Payment Card Industry - PCI) and how secure these systems are, which we take for granted on a daily basis. 

After researching Point-of-Sales (POS), Point-of-Interaction (POI) devices and Virtual Terminals (VT) for almost 4 years, it was about time to do a presentation that wouldn't be behind closed doors as I usually do. I talked with a number of acquires, issuers, payments processors and POI OS manufacturers and let them know about my findings way before this talk. 


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition (How to)

I recently got a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition and I had a few issues with setting things up and running. After researching on the Internet many others had similar issues and a number of opinions and solutions were being suggest but without definitive answers. 
Due to the fact I had to spend a lot of time trying to find out who is right and who is wrong on the forums, I decided to make this non-security related blog-post because I believe it will really help a lot of people when it comes to that particular drone.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

IP EXPO EUROPE 2016 (..and winning a drone)

I had the opportunity to be at IP EXPO last week, in London. For those of you who are not familiar with the event, IP EXPO Europe took place at ExCel London (5-6 October 2016). 


The interesting fact about IP Expo is that you can find vendors and services across the whole spectrum related to IT. More specifically, under one roof you will find anything you need related to Cloud and Cloud services, Cyber Security, network and infrastructure solutions, data analytics, DevOps, and Open Source

Compared to InfoSecurity Europe, it is a smaller event but this ended up being good. The exhibitors had a standard booth size allocation and it was much easier to get around, talk to people and faster to find what you were looking for. Maybe it made more sense this particular layout to my OCD I guess

Monday, 3 October 2016

Towards a Cyber Resilience strategy (Cyber Security Awareness Month – Oct 2016)

As most of you already know, October is Cyber Security awareness month. The aim of the Cyber Security awareness month is to raise awareness across the international community about cyber threats, discuss best practices, and educate the public and private sector, on how to stay safe online.

Cyber Security is promoted extensively during this month and many events are being organized with the sole purpose to engage and educate public and private sector entities, while provide them with the necessary tools and resource to stay safe when connected online. Given the opportunity let’s talk about the UK’s Cyber Security Clusters and how you could get to engage, participate, network and most importantly ask any questions that you currently have regarding your organizations cyber security posture and staying safe online.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

New laptop with a noisy (annoying) fan


I will keep this short. If you bought a new laptop (it can happen for desktop computers as well) and the manufacturer did not make sure the fan is completely silent (and you really want to punch them in the face because it is not 1998) then I suggest:

a) check if there is a firmware update for your laptop (sometimes there is and it fixes many issues)
b) you download this little utility before you start breaking things around the house and see if it works for your make/model. 

(at the time of writing this blog post the version of the utility was 1.4.2)

Hope this helps, but make sure you keep an eye on your temperatures via an utility like HWmonitor to make sure the cooling still works properly. 


Monday, 19 September 2016

Securing Online Gaming 2016

The challenge of continuous security are going to be discussed at this year's annual "Securing Online Gaming" in London, on the 4th October 2016. It is a great to be among such amazing speakers and have the opportunity to speak about the challenges of securing online gaming. 

I will be representing DeepRecce which already has a leading role in the market when it comes to its cyber security solutions and its under 15 minutes deployable managed SOC solution across any number of hosts. 

My talk will discuss Online Gaming towards Cyber Resilience, and more specifically it will focus on:
  • Today's challenges & requirements towards security online gaming
  • How attacks are evolving, and what should we expect
  • Taking steps for an effective Cyber Resilience strategy

The event will take place near the St. Paul's Cathedral and The Barbican. This is directly opposite the Museum of London. Located at 200 Aldersgate etc.venues St Paul's is a state of the art conference centre with the largest room holding up to 400 along with a further 12 rooms for conference breakouts, training and meetings.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

44CON 2016

Another year, another 44CON in London. A line-up of great talks, and a very good opportunity to catch-up with friends from the industry. The event took place between 16-18/Sep 2016, at the ILEC Conference Centre
This year you were able to solder your badge while you were there. There was a nice corner dedicated to soldering, with solder irons provided and all the bits to make it work. 

I ended up making six of those in order to help out a couple of friends. It was really easy to make and really fun to do, especially when it started working as it should. 

The badge is called HIDIOT and it is short for HID IO Toolkit. :) The Human Interface Device Input/Output Toolkit (HIDIOT) is a USB-based board for manipulating and experimenting with USB HID class devices. The version given out at 44CON is unreleased. In effect, we decided to make our badge a piece of 0day hardware.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

How to train your facebook ads..

Most of you use Ad Blockers and I am happy that you do for all sort of reasons, which I will not discuss here. This blog post is about how you can train the ads you get on different websites (mostly on social media) based on what you care less. Yes, that is right. If you really want to avoid being distrusted or even tempted from clicking on (sometimes malicious) ad links, then what is better than training the system behind the scenes to show you ads only on things that you really don't care about at all. :D

I will use the example of Facebook, which I have been doing for a long time and I realised just know that I haven't actually shared this with you all. 

What you see on the left hand side is a print screen from the ads I get on Facebook. Those side ads are not a problem due to way they are being displayed but, based on these ads, you get similar ads in your news feed as well. 

Thus, by training these ads, you will get relevant ads in your news feed as well. As you can see on your left, all the ads I get are about sports and sometimes about music

The reason is because I DO NOT CARE AT ALL about sports, or what is happening in the music industry

When you click to hide an ad, Facebook asks you the following:

 Why did you hide it?
 - I don't care about this
 - I keep seeing this
 - It's offensive or inappropriate 
 - Other
 - I want to see something else

When you are presented with these options, you just need to use them in a clever way. Anything that seems like you would be interested, lets say politics, environment, science, space exploration, ninjas, you select any on the options that classify it as "something you don't care". 

On the contrary, when you get ads that you really never cared about, such as sports, or gambling, you keep leaving these ads in your feed like it really matters to you. 

Doing that 3-4 times in a day, for a couple of days, trains the engine behind Facebook and starts displaying ads that you don't really care

Actually, our brains learn to ignore ads after a while, but when the content is irrelevant to your liking, your brain ignores them completely. I know it sounds weird, but you will end up going through your news feed and your brain will keep ignoring the ads. Especially ads that you don't care about, in such a way that you won't ever remember seeing the targeted add. Trust me and try it! ;)


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Security BSides Manchester 2016

Thank you all for coming to my talk at Security BSides Manchester 2016. The conference took place on Thursday 18th August 2016, at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, in the heart of Manchester.
The title of my talk was: 
Accessing the personal details of most of the InfoSec professionals & the Responsible Disclosure process.

The talk was not recorded due to the sensitive nature of the content and not much information was given in the abstract. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Electromagnetic Field 2016 - EMF Camp

Electromagnetic Field [1] is a UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

This year's badges were amazing! If you want to start hacking your badge, go to this link: https://badge.emfcamp.org/wiki/TiLDA_MK3
I actually had the opportunity to give a talk on the myths and truths when it comes to hacking airplanes. Thank you all for coming to my talk! The talk was recorded and streamed live at the same time. Soon, the video will be available on EMFcamp's youtube channel if you would like to watch.

This year the event took place between Fri 5th - Sun 7th Aug 2016. The organisers found a really nice location outside Guildford. It is an awesome camping site with power to your tent (if you remembered to bring an extension) and Internet access. Tickets are approximately £120 and if you are thinking of driving down, you need to purchase in advance a parking ticket. If you have a motor-home, you are also welcome. 

EMFcamp welcomes everyone, supports diversity and does not tolerate misconduct. So, pack your tent, some warm clothes, a couple bottles of/for water, a torch, your favourite drinks and you are all set. I suggest you get earplugs as well, especially if it is windy, you wont be able to sleep. 

Plenty of presentations to watch, a few canteens with drinks and food, and many different workshops. Many different villages [2] and a lot of fun stuff to do all day long! Except from attending interesting talks and workshops, from hacking stuff, making stuff, creating music through algorithms, practising your soldering skills, lock-picking, talking to people around the world through radio broadcast, and play fire ping pong, you can also enjoy the day with all sort of people, make new friends while have a a cold drink and warm food.

There is also a kids area as well where you can let them play from 10:00 am until 20:00 pm and overseen by professional carers. 
Pick your favourite activity as you go along or plan your day in advance by looking at the schedule on the website. 

You can follow EMF camp on twitter: @emfcamp 

[1] https://www.emfcamp.org
[2] map.emfcamp.org

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

0x Haxors - Deck of Playing Cards (hexadecimal)

Ever wanted a #geek version of a deck of playing cards based on the #hexadecimal numeral system (68 cards)? At last, a deck of playing cards based on the hexadecimal numeral system, also known as HEX. (meaning this is a custom-made deck that has 68 cards, not the 52 standard deck). ..check this Kickstarter project out!



Then you should check this out: 

This project in order to be completed needs to place an order for a custom design (graphics included) and a custom cut for these cards. All existing playing-cards printing facilities (patterns) are made to print the normal 52 cards deck and in this case we need way more: 68 custom high quality prints and cuts. (special packaging for each deck is needed as well)

Thus, by backing this project you will help with the significant cost of placing a custom order for designing and printing this special set of cards
We are aiming to make the cards high quality in order to last longer when you play.

So, to summarise: 
Please note that making a deck or 68 cards, instead of the standard 52 cards, it means that even the packaging is custom-made and the cost involved is WAY HIGHER that simply changing the drawing on a standard 52 cards deck.

  • Graphics (by a professional graphic designer). 
  • High Quality print 
  • Quality cards with clear plastic coating to last longer and fill nicer (than paper cards). 
  • We want them to be water resistant as well. 
  • Special Order to print 68 cards for each deck
  • Packaging design and making to fit 68 cards. (packaging need to be custom made) 
  • Staff costs to pack all these decks and ship them worldwide.
Please, help this project to become a reality!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

SnoopCon 2016

I had the honour to be invited again this year by the Cyber Security Testing and Validation Team at British Telecoms (BT) in order to attend their annual internal conference, as a guest speaker. The conference is known as SnoopCon and it is BT’s Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking annual meet-up event which lasts five days.

The event is held behind closed doors, however it is customary that on the third day they invite people from the industry, recognising that their work would be an invaluable input if presented at their internal conference.

It was a great opportunity for me to catch-up with so many friends at SnoopCon. I also find out that Anoop Sethi has decided to retire after approximately 12302 days uptime (33 years) for BT. 

It is a great honour to have known Anoop, the man who fundamentally changed the way Security and Penetration Testing is viewed in BT. Given the opportunity, I would like to personally wish Anoop all the best with anything he decides to do and I would like to thank him for being such an amazing individual.

I had a fantastic day at BT and the quality of the guest talks was over the roof. I am going to outline here briefly the content of the talks in the order they were presented. 



Invitation to the largest European Cyber Security Challenge

ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security) is organising the European Cyber Security Challenge 2016 - the largest European challenge for cyber security talent. The Challenge will be held in November in Dusseldorf, Germany - and the Greek National Cyber Security team will compete with other national teams in various security-related challenges, such as web security, mobile security, crypto puzzles, reverse engineering, forensics.

The Greek team will be assembled in a qualifying round - in which we'd like to invite you to participate!

The qualifier will be held on Saturday, July 9 at the Department of Digital Systems of the University of Piraeus. The challenges will be similar to the ones outlined above, and the top 10 participants will comprise the Greek team that will travel to Germany. In order to be eligible, contestants need to legally reside in the country, be aged between 14-30, not have a Master's or higher degree or any professional experience in the information security sector - and of course have some InfoSec skills! Both competitions will be held in English, so contestants need to have at least basic understanding of the English language.

The Greek team is organised by TwelveSec and the Department of Digital Systems of the University of Piraeus, and supported by other major Greek universities and organisations, such as Security BSides Athens.

All you need to do to get the chance to compete in the qualifier is to register in the official website of the Greek team http://ecsc.gr/

Registrations are closing this week (Friday, July 1), so hurry up and register!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Security BSides Athens 2016



It has been a while since my last blog-post and the main reason for that, was the numerous things I had to keep track for organising:

Security BSides Athens 2016 (www.bsidesath.gr) 


It has been a very busy year trying to organise this Security BSides event for the first time in Athens, Greece, with plenty of “hiccups” to overcome in the meantime. 


Once we had a team of people who were equally excited and passionate about this, we started working towards the event details.  


Given the opportunity, I would like to personally thank the team once again, all the volunteers who helped out on the day, the review committee who provided constructive feedback to all submissions, the speakers who travelled from all over the world to be there and present, and last but not least, all of YOU who attended the event. 

Special thanks goes to our sponsors, who trusted us on our promise to deliver this information security community based conference. We couldn't be able to bring this event to Athens, especially for the first time if it wasn’t for them, and for that we really appreciate their contribution and support.

Of course, such an event would not be able to exist without the community support we had from fellow conferences all over Europe, the Universities that promoted the conference, the Hellenic Army General Staff, and all the people how were involved and made this event a success story. 

We had some great feedback already and we are committed to tweak things according to the recommendations and suggestions we received in order to make the event next year even better. There is always room for improvement and for more people to get involved. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Ransomware - Did you update your incident response plan?

At the beginning of 2016 an article was published about the increasing threat of ransomware and provided advice on having an incident response plan that is ready to face this emerging threat. Our article focused on tips related to prevention, response and evading extortion. If you did not have a chance to read our article from January, we recommend that you read it as soon as possible.
Now, at the end of the first quarter of 2016, it is evident that ransomware has become a headache for those who did not take all the necessary precautions to avoid being the next target. Recently, the FBI released a statement to The Wall Street Journal that ransomware is a prevalent and increasing threat. As this recent article describes, attackers are trying new approaches to infection, such as ransomware ‘malvertising’, and have succeeded in creating the first Mac OS X ransomware.

Have a plan, Be Prepared
Due to the fact that it is not easy to deal with the situation after an organisation is hit by ransomware, the best course of action is to ensure there is a backup plan in place. It might come as a surprise but in order to understand the seriousness of the situation, consider that an official in the FBI’s Boston field office went against normal FBI policy and suggested to a conference audience that often the only solution is to pay the ransom. Sysnet wants to make sure you do not have to face that moral dilemma and for that reason we are trying to inform you about the increasing threat and ensure you have taken all the necessary steps towards prevention.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Badlock day has arrived!

Badlock is a a crucial security bug in Windows and Samba. Samba 4.4.2, 4.3.8 and 4.2.11 Security Releases are available [here]. 
Microsoft and the Samba Team have been working together in order to get this problem fixed and for a patch to be released. You will have to update your systems as this security flaw is expected to be actively exploited soon enough. 

Badlock is referenced by CVE-2016-2118 (SAMR and LSA man in the middle attacks possible).

There are additional CVEs related to Badlock. Those are:
  • CVE-2015-5370 (Multiple errors in DCE-RPC code)
  • CVE-2016-2110 (Man in the middle attacks possible with NTLMSSP)
  • CVE-2016-2111 (NETLOGON Spoofing Vulnerability)
  • CVE-2016-2112 (LDAP client and server don't enforce integrity)
  • CVE-2016-2113 (Missing TLS certificate validation)
  • CVE-2016-2114 ("server signing = mandatory" not enforced)
  • CVE-2016-2115 (SMB IPC traffic is not integrity protected)
Please, find more information about badlock at the dedicated website created for that reason: badlock.org

Friday, 1 April 2016

Start Google Chrome in Incognito Mode by Default

I tend to use different browsers for different tasks, and that makes my life a lot easier when it comes to managing all the different things I have to do. From my point of view, the Google Chrome web browser is the ideal browser for its incognito mode when accessing known safe websites. 

In order to speed things up, I tend to start it in incognito mode by default. Not many people know this, but it is really easy to start Chrome in incognito mode by default. 
If you already have Chrome already installed, locate the executable on  your system. You can R-Click on your existing shortcut (i.e. on the Start menu) and choose, "Open file location". 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Building a Security Operations Centre (SOC)

Building a Security Operations Centre (SOC) is undoubtedly the best move you can make towards protecting not only your organisation’s data, systems and services, but also any sensitive information about your clients that you handle or store. This article is a brief overview of the task of building a SOC, introducing not only the key elements but also how the challenges of increased security requirements and rapid response are addressed.

The process for building a SOC can be time consuming and it is directly related to the available budget. The best approach is to create a plan that allows for incremental phases of implementation. Starting with a gap analysis, you will be able to define and prioritise the milestones for incremental improvements by setting the appropriate expectations and timelines. To start with, take a look at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and more specifically the Top 20 Critical Security Controls guidance.

The incremental improvements need to take under consideration the collaboration and communication between people, technology, and processes. These are the three equally important components that define a SOC.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Format a memory card back to its original size

After using an SD card to install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi, I decided I had to reformat it to its original size. If you try to do this using the format tool on Windows you won't be able to format your card. 

The best way to do this, if you want to use Windows, is to start the command prompt and use the diskpart command line tool. Insert your memory card and follow the instructions below.

Start the command prompt and run the command: diskpart
This will open up a new command prompt window similar to the following screen.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and Kali Linux 2.1 - quick setup

In order to install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi, you will need to download the new image for Raspberry Pi 2 version 2.1 from https://www.offensive-security.com/kali-linux-arm-images/ (filename: kali-2.1-rpi2.img.xz). 

Many people want to play around with this combination of a Raspberry Pi and Kali Linux, but they do not want to waste any time figuring out why something is not working as it should. This quick setup guide is structured in a way that will allow you to streamline the process and make sure you have your Raspberry Pi up and running within a few minutes. 
[Extraction]
The .xz extension (for more info on xz see: http://tukaani.org/xz/) means that the image file is compressed and needs to be extracted. You can download the xz utilities using the command: apt-get install xz-utils 

Under Linux, in order to decompress the file you can use the command:
unxz filename.any.xz or the command xz -d filename.any.xz 

Since version 9.04 the package p7zip manages xz files and can extract them using the command: 7za e filename.any.xz

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Decrypting RSA with Obsolete and Weakened eNcryption (DROWN)


An OpenSSL security hole enables Secure Sockets Layer (SSLv2), to be used to attack modern web sites. Even though this is a  an ancient, long deprecated security protocol, it is estimated to be able to "kill" at least one-third of all HTTPS servers (approx. 11.5 million servers). 

The attack is dubbed as DROWN based on the words: 
Decrypting RSA with Obsolete and Weakened eNcryption

Obsolete Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) versions 7 and earlier are vulnerable as well, and editions of Network Security Services (NSS), a common cryptographic library built into many server products prior to 2012's 3.13 version, are also open to attack. 

OpenSSL 1.0.2 users should upgrade to 1.0.2g
OpenSSL 1.0.1 users should upgrade to 1.0.1s

If you're using another version move up to 1.0.2g or 1.0.1s

OpenSSL 1.0.2g is available for download via HTTP and FTP from the following master locations (you can find the various FTP mirrors under http://www.openssl.org/source/mirror.html):
  • http://www.openssl.org/source/
  • ftp://ftp.openssl.org/source/
The flaw was identified by academics and the code for the attack has not yet been released. The main reason for this, is to allow people to patch their systems before the vulnerability starts being exploited. 

For further information on the issue, please visit the site: https://drownattack.com

Migration/Protection: https://drownattack.com/#mitigation
Instructions for Apache: https://drownattack.com/apache.html
Instructions for Postfix: https://drownattack.com/postfix.html
Instructions for Nginx: https://drownattack.com/nginx.html

There is also an offline scanner available on GitHub: 
https://github.com/nimia/public_drown_scanner

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Teach your brain to regenerate passwords instead of remembering them

@TripwireInc posted a brief article about my talk for @AbertayHackers and #SecuriTayV happening this Friday 26/Feb. For those attending, you will learn how to teach your brain to regenerate passwords instead of remembering them! 
Let's cut to the chase. Despite the existence of a number of advanced authentication mechanisms, such as Single Sign-On (SSO), different types of Biometrics, multi-factor authentication, etc., the use of passwords is still the most popular means of authenticating users.

The need to generate, and hopefully to remember these passwords, has become even more demanding due to the rapid increase in the number of systems and online accounts being used. 

Best practice is that these passwords need to be as strong as the assets they protect, and password management applications are supposed to be the most straightforward solution for storing them safely.

If you think about it for a moment, no one has ever actually taught you how to think when choosing a password. Due to the fact, it is generally considered a straightforward task, it is assumed that you actually know how to choose the appropriate password for protecting a particular asset (email, social media account, OS login, etc.).

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The rise of the (Chief) Data Protection Officer

Back in August 2015, Sysnet discussed the complexity of what the term CyberSecurity represents, especially in the context of today’s threat landscape. This complexity is not only constantly increasing but it is also expanding at an exponential rate. The risks involved demand constant attention and very good understanding of the new technologies being introduced onto the cyber defence ‘chessboard’.
Sysnet also explored the noticeable shift in the traditional roles of the CSO (Chief Security Officer) and the CIO (Chief Information Officer) which have changed a great deal over the past five years. Their focus on managing security by applying resources to the most crucial system components, in order to reduce the likelihood of a successful breach, is now considered an insufficient approach in the current environment of cyber threats. Threats are changing faster than traditional risk management approaches can cope with, and a more proactive and adaptive approach is needed for an effective cybersecurity strategy.

Looking back a bit further, Sysnet discussed the new EU Data Protection Regulation, which requires the appointment of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) for most organisations, and explained the role and responsibilities of the appointed DPO. 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Critical vulnerability found in glibc

A critical vulnerability has been found in Glibc. The critical flaw affects nearly all Linux machines, as well as API web services and major web frameworks. Glibc is the GNU C library which was at the core of last year’s GHOST vulnerability. 
The flaw, CVE-2015-7547, effects all Linux servers and web frameworks such as Rails, PHP and Python, as well as Android apps running Glibc. The vulnerability was discovered by researchers at Google and Red Hat and a patch has been made available. Google has released further information on the issue in its advisory

It is strongly suggested to patch all effected systems immediately, as this vulnerability is considered critical and could be exploited for malicious reasons (allows remote code execution). More specifically, the vulnerability effects all versions of Glibc since version 2.9 and there are no temporary mitigations that can be implemented until Linux machines are patched. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tim Cook's letter..

Tim Cook's letter about a recent demand made to Apple by the US government. (February 16, 2016)

A Message to Our Customers

The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step
which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has
implications far beyond the legal case at hand. This moment calls for public
discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to
understand what is at stake.

The Need for Encryption

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People
use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private
conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts,
our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we
are going. All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals
who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission.
Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our
power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply
committed to safeguarding their data. Compromising the security of our personal
information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why
encryption has become so important to all of us. For many years, we have used
encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the
only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our
own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our
business.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Critical Security updates for all Windows versions

Microsoft has released a number of security updates to address vulnerabilities across all of its Operating Systems. All the vulnerabilities were reported to Microsoft under a responsible disclosure agreement, thus, these are not believed to have been actively exploited by attackers. 

  • MS16-009: A security update for Internet Explorer 9 through 11 to patch 13 security issues, including remote-code-execution (RCE) and information disclosure issues.
  • MS16-011: An update for Microsoft's Edge browser in Windows 10 patches 6 security issues, 4 of which address remote code execution vulnerabilities.
  • MS16-012: An update to address two remote-code-execution flaws in Windows PDF Library and Reader for Windows 8.1, Windows 10 and Server 2012. These could allow attackers to run malicious code on an affected system by tricking users into opening a specially-crafted PDF file.
  • MS16-013: An update for a memory-corruption flaw that could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code as the logged-in user by tricking a user into opening a specially crafted Journal file.
  • MS16-015: An update to patch 6 memory-corruption vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office, each of which could allow a remote attacker to run arbitrary code by tricking a user into opening a specially-crafted Office file.
  • MS16-022: A security update for vulnerabilities found in Adobe Flash Player across all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows RT 8.1.


It is highly recommended to ensure that any systems running any version of the Microsoft Operating System are updated as soon as possible. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Abertay Ethical Hacking Society: 5th annual Security Conference: Securi-Tay V

Securi-Tay [1] is an Information Security conference held by the Abertay Ethical Hacking Society [2], and supported by the Abertay University in Dundee. The aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity to industry professionals, students and information security enthusiasts to attend and share knowledge and information. This year will be the fifth year the conference is taking place (hence the V) and it will be held on February 26th - 27th, 2016. Personally, I believe this conference offers a fantastic opportunity to students to meet and network with experts in the area of security, share information and have a first glance on how their future in the security industry can be like. 

I was very pleased to get accepted to speak at the conference again this year and I am already looking forward to it. The talk is about passwords and more specifically on how to train your brain to "regenerate" different passwords for different accounts, instead of remembering them. I know that this is not very clear at the moment, but I promise you that everything will be explained during the presentation. This is something I started working more than 10 years ago. I actually published two papers on the subject, one paper describing the thought process and one paper on how to reverse the password generation process during a computer forensics investigation based on an individual's profile. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Temporary and Disposable Email: Anonymity, Privacy or Security?

There are several websites available that offer temporary and disposable email addresses, which have become quite popular among Internet users today, as they provide a quick alternative to anyone who wishes for their email address to remain private when sending and receiving emails. 
Some of these temporary and disposable email addresses are available only for a few minutes, while others remain publicly available for anyone to access once they have been created. The same goes for websites that offer access to publicly available mobile numbers for receiving text messages (SMS). There is a wide range of numbers available, from different countries.

Effectively, a user can register to an online service by using a publicly available mobile number and receive any verification texts online.

Some may argue that these temporary and disposable email addresses and SMS services provide some sort of privacy. That might be true, especially under specific circumstances, but do not confuse anonymity with privacy, and security.

Entering fake details while using a disposable email allows users to subscribe avoiding any future incoming communications from that particular website to their email or phone, but at what cost?

Sunday, 31 January 2016

The "prediction" frenzy for 2016 in CyberSecurity and the Black Swan effect

The past few days, a number of articles have hit the web, which have as their main subject the attempt to predict emerging threats for 2016. Moreover, numerous webinars and discussion panels are being organized, mainly to express an opinion on these claimed predictions. I would like to share with the readers of my blog that this “prediction” frenzy is happening for a very specific underlying reason. 
The information security industry and more specifically the vendors, attempt to shift their value proposition once more in 2016, and make it the year of “predicting” attacks, initially from detection to prevention, and now to prediction. This is going to be the InfoSec buzzword for this coming year. 

Detection > Prevention >  Prediction 

It is sometimes annoying to see that some industry professionals (especially tied to specific vendors, as a publicity stand for quick profit) discuss/present such ideas as novel, when in reality researchers, especially in academia, have worked upon the evolution of threat assessment, and detection, many years back. Several PhD theses have been written on how intrusion detection will evolve, and even more on how unification of networkevents will address the problem of managing the vast amounts of information generated (later called “Big Data”). Also, how prevention can be effective across different geographic locations, how will this lead to “Threat Intelligence” needs, by sharing attack patterns across heterogeneous systems in real-time (including IoT), and what are the realistic expectations for predicting cyber threats, based on the abstraction of network events, and the behavioural analysis of cyber-criminals, and trends in cybercrime.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Rise of Ransomware - Tips on prevention, response and evading extortion

Ransomware, a malware that prevents or in some cases limits users from accessing their data has been on the rise. Last year, 2015 saw a considerable increase with Crowti (also known as CryptoWall) and FakeBSOD being the two instances that affected more than 850,000 systems between June and November. In the first quarter of 2015, ransomware saw a 165% increase compared to the previous year. In the second quarter of 2015, 4 million samples of ransomware were identified indicating 58% ransomware growth. Ransomware is expected to grow in 2016 considering that more than half of malware attacks in 2015 also carried ransomware.
The main function of ransomware is to prevent the user (or users if it infects a server) from using that particular system. It does this by encrypting the files that it finds stored in the filesystem and connected drives. Usually, ransomware also tries to prevent certain applications and services from running.

Malicious files
These malicious files are called ransomware because they demand a payment (a ransom) in order to allow the users to decrypt their files; the attacker provides the decryption key in exchange for the payment. Some of these types of malicious files try to convince individuals that they have done something illegal in an attempt to scare them into making the payment (ransomware acting as scareware). In order to be more believable, some ransomware payment demands pretend to be from a law enforcement agency. The ransom usually starts at a few US dollars to hundreds of dollars or its Bitcoin equivalent.