October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. By now you’ve heard a story—or you have a story—about someone mentioning a product casually in a conversation and later seeing an online ad for the product. Once is coincidence. Twice is surprising. But every other day? How do web and mobile ads somehow seem to know what your interests are? How about the gadgets in your home? Do you ever wonder if they are spying on you? You’re not alone.
The internet wouldn’t be the same if websites didn’t track us. We’d probably spend a lot more on impulse buys if we didn’t have persistent shopping carts. And no one wants to have to log into Facebook every time they want to share an article. Websites have many ways of tracking users. You’re probably familiar with cookies, but cookies are just one tracking method. Websites can also track users through many other mechanisms, including unique identifiers in cached content, web storage, and more. There are also sneakier means, such as browser fingerprinting, which don’t rely on a website storing data on your device.
Posted in General | Comments Off on Shield your home from spies | NCSAM at Synopsys
Google started releasing monthly security updates for Android back in August 2015. Modern Android devices show you the latest monthly patch level that has been applied. The responsibility for deploying the patches ultimately falls on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and carriers, who need to test the security updates on their devices to ensure that they do not break any functionality. Google does provide updates for its Nexus and Pixel devices directly to end users, but given how Android is designed, Google cannot simply push out arbitrary security updates to all Android devices.
Do OEMs have to push out updates?
The problem is that OEMs and carriers are responsible not only for pushing out the updates but also for displaying the latest month for which Google’s monthly updates have been applied to a device. There may be legitimate reasons why an OEM or carrier may choose not to push out a security update for a particular type of device. For example:
Posted in Mobile Application Security | Comments Off on Are Android OEMs responsible for the gap in mobile security updates?
The year 2017 broke records for the number of reported security vulnerabilities in software. We also saw one of the worst data breaches ever in terms of impact. Let’s look back at some of the security news from 2017.
Record number of vulnerabilities
The number of publicly disclosed vulnerabilities in 2017 far exceeds the number from any previous year. Below is a graph generated by the National Vulnerability Database that shows the number of publicly disclosed vulnerabilities by year:
Posted in Data Breach | Comments Off on Top security breaches of 2017 (+2018 cyber security predictions)
In recent days, more details concerning the Equifax breach have come to light. There’s now speculation that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Apache Struts to steal data. There has also been plenty of speculation regarding the exact vulnerability that may have been exploited.
The Apache Struts theory
The Apache Struts Program Management Committee released a statement regarding the hack. It reaffirms the uncertainty as to the specific vulnerability. At this point, we don’t have any official confirmation whether the exploited vulnerability was in Apache Struts.
Posted in Data Breach, Open Source Security | Comments Off on Did an Apache Struts vulnerability trigger the Equifax hack?
On Sept. 7, Equifax announced that attackers had stolen information from about 143 million people in the United States. Canadian and U.K. residents’ data was also stolen. However, Equifax has not yet revealed the number of people affected. We do not know the exact vulnerability that was exploited. Equifax stated only that “criminals exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.” Whenever these types of events happen, it’s natural to ask questions such as what the vulnerability was, how this could have been prevented, and what lessons can be learned. Let’s try to answer some of these questions.
We don’t have much information about the exact vulnerability that was exploited. However, based on Equifax’s statement, it was probably a directory traversal vulnerability, a command injection vulnerability, or an insecure direct object reference vulnerability. All these are well-known web application vulnerabilities that can be used to get unauthorized access to files.
Could this have been prevented?
These types of events are generally the result of organizations not following secure software development practices. There are many layers in which problems can often be prevented but aren’t:
Posted in Data Breach | Comments Off on What can your firm learn from the unfolding Equifax hack?
As we near the end of 2016, it’s time to reflect on some of the biggest security issues that we saw this year. 2016 was an interesting year in which many security issues came into focus. We saw many attacks with a goal of financial gain. We saw nation-states threatening cyber attacks around the US election. And, we saw the revival of the security versus privacy debate that rages on.
Posted in Data Breach | Comments Off on Top cyber security trends of 2016
The DES encryption algorithm was designed in the early 1970s by researchers at IBM. It was adopted as a FIPS standard in 1977. The algorithm uses 56-bit keys, which were long enough to be secure at the time. However, as it became feasible to brute-force 56-bit keys, 3DES was adopted as a standard in the 1990s. 3DES involves performing three DES operations to encrypt/decrypt each 64-bit block of data using either two or three distinct 56-bit keys. The result is an encryption algorithm with an effective key strength of 112 bits, which is still considered secure against brute-force attacks today.
Posted in General | Comments Off on Sweet32: Time to retire 3DES?
Java SecureRandom updates as of April 2016
There have been several changes to Java’s SecureRandom API since creating this post back in 2009. According to Oracle, the following interesting changes have been made:
Posted in Developer Enablement | Comments Off on Proper use of Java SecureRandom