Software Architecture, Code, and Information Security

René Pfeiffer/ April 8, 2021/ Conference/ 0 comments

Information security is tightly linked with the code running on platforms and decisions made during the software architecture planning phase. One can trace a lot of results in penetration tests to workarounds caused by inadequate tools, bad design choices, trends in software development, legacy applications, and too optimistic testing strategies. Let’s visit some of the accident sites by example. Implementing the basic principles of information security can be hard. The dreaded undefined behaviour or the lack of graceful failures in error conditions happens frequently. A recent presentation about autonomous systems illustrates what we expected from your code – it must be completely self-reliant. Doing n restarts and halting is not the best way of dealing with unexpected situations. Rejecting dangerous states and input is always an option, but sysadmins frequently need to bash applications

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Translated Article: EU-US Summit Against Secure Encryption

Sanna/ March 31, 2021/ Legal, Stories/ 0 comments

Gipfel EU-USA gegen sichere Verschlüsselung by Erich Moechel for fm4.ORF.at The agenda of the virtual meeting at a high-ranking official level in two weeks features pretty much all data protection-related topics that are currently controversial in Europe. Joe Biden’s appearance before the EU Council of Ministers will be followed by a two-day video conference on April 14th at the top level of officials in the field of justice and homeland security between the EU and the USA. Practically all currently controversial issues around data protection are on the agenda, from cross-border data access for law enforcement officers to joint action against secure encryption. This is also the case with the “fight against child abuse”, which is once again being instrumentalized for these general surveillance projects. Ylyva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and Justice, commissioned a

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All your Content are belong to Us – how the Crypto Wars continue

René Pfeiffer/ March 31, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Internet, Legal/ 0 comments

Encryption is one of our favourite topics. This blog and our events feature discussions, tools, and content regarding cryptography. The first DeepSec conference in 2007 even had a presentation about a practical attack on GSM’s A5/1 algorithm. Subsequent conferences followed up on this, for example, the state of affairs of mobile network security in 2010. We use encryption and high levels of privacy in our own communication. Certain published documents emphasize the importance of using uncompromised and modern encryption algorithms. In the meantime, users have moved to messengers using TCP/IP on top of the mobile network transmissions. This enables full end-to-end encryption and privacy. The problems are still the same as in the 1990s. Enter the continuation of the Crypto Wars. On 23 March the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court) Rostock in Germany argued that

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Translated Article: Further Wrangling in the Council of Ministers over Competences for Europol

Sanna/ March 30, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Legal, Stories/ 0 comments

Weiter Gerangel im Ministerrat um Kompetenzen für Europol by Erich Moechel for fm4.ORF.at A majority led by Germany and France does not even want to give Europol the power to initiate transnational investigations itself in the event of a major cyber attack. On Monday the EU Council of Ministers decided on an approach for a new cybersecurity strategy. A network of “Security Operation Centers” across Europe will form an early warning system against attacks, and a new “Joint Cyber Unit” will be responsible for crisis management. In addition, they want to promote strong encryption methods together – but with back doors for law enforcement officers. Whether this collection of buzzwords will actually become an EU-wide implemented strategy is very much in question. The ongoing discussions in the Council of Ministers about the planned new powers of

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Translated Article: E-Privacy Regulation allows retained Data and duplicate Keys

Sanna/ March 29, 2021/ Discussion, Internet, Legal, Stories/ 0 comments

E-Privacy-Verordnung erlaubt Vorratsdaten und Nachschlüssel by Erich Moechel for fm4.ORF.at The most important EU regulation for the protection of privacy contains a license for data processing of all kinds without the consent of the user and allows political parties to spread spam mail. For four years the e-privacy regulation has been stuck in the EU Council of Ministers, but under the Portuguese presidency, it was possible to agree on a version for the first time. However, this version of the “Ordinance on the Respect of Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data” has been designed in such a way that Germany’s top data protection officer, Ulrich Kelber, sees “several red lines crossed at the same time”. In addition to the reference to data retention, which was rejected by the EU Court of Justice for the third

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Call for IoT Trainings: Secure Development for embedded Devices

René Pfeiffer/ March 24, 2021/ Discussion, Training/ 0 comments

The world is much easier to handle without limits. If you have all your frameworks freely available and have the luxury of running your code with a multi-MB (or -GB) runtime environment, then you are in paradise. The world of embedded devices and the Internet of Things looks different. Saving energy is the prime directive. The power supply might be a battery or the connector pin of another device. Multiple cores are rare, memory is even rarer. If you are acquainted with the container and cloud lifestyle, then embedded systems will be a culture shock. Think kilo instead of mega or giga. Small devices run code, too. So this is where security comes into play. What can you do to design your embedded code to be small and secure? Secure design and coding have

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Secure Operation of IT Systems requires Skills, no Shortcuts

René Pfeiffer/ March 19, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy/ 0 comments

The recent vulnerability in the Microsoft® Exchange server application has sparked many discussions. One of the topics is connected to the skills of IT departments responsible for patching systems in time. How can n weeks or months pass until upgrades are rolled out and in place? Well, the answer is easy. Some upgrades do not work flawlessly. In anticipation of problems during the change, IT departments need a copy of the live system and time to test the updates. This takes time, even if you have the budget to run additional copies of your systems. Furthermore, sometimes upgrades go wrong. Theoretically, these changes should just eliminate security problems and enable the application to work as before. IT departments bitten by the “this should not have happened but it did anyway” situation will hesitate to

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Bug Disclosure Policies and the Eternal Discussion about Security ♨

René Pfeiffer/ March 15, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security/ 0 comments

In theory, there is the evolution from bug over to weakness, vulnerability and finally the exploit. Errors in code and application behaviour are interesting for any serious developer. Security researchers also look for bugs and ways to make code do something it wasn’t designed for. In the absence of critical failures in applications, the process of reporting bugs and getting them fixed everything is smooth and less prone to heated discussions (YMMV, some software projects feature persons with very strong opinions). All of this changes when the code can be remotely exploited. Enter the recent CVEs regarding the Microsoft® Exchange server. CVE-2021-26855 is as bad as it sounds. It is a remote code execution with low complexity requiring no user interaction and no privileges. Disclosure of bugs impacting security has a long history. Knowing

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DeepSec 2021 – Call for Papers is open

René Pfeiffer/ March 1, 2021/ Call for Papers, Conference/ 0 comments

DeepSec 2021 is looking for your ideas, solutions, incident reports, insights, and expertise. The call for papers is open. You can submit your contribution via our call for papers manager online. If you have questions or want to submit additional material, please use the online form and send an email to us. DeepSec has always presented a mix of attack and defence presentations. The motto for 2021 connects both approaches. Studying how adversaries work, what tools they employ, how they plan their attack, and what they do once they get access is vital to your defence. IT infrastructure has grown over the years. Defence has a lot to take care of. If you have any ideas how to help the defenders, please let us know. Topics covering attacks should always contain some advice on

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Management Console Access – Obscurity by Security and vice versa

René Pfeiffer/ February 28, 2021/ Discussion, Security/ 0 comments

Every discussion about security sooner or later connects to the wonderful word obscurity. Mentioning security by obscurity is a guaranteed way of losing sight of the facts. It is vital to actually fix weaknesses and introduce strong separation of systems when implementing security. Furthermore, the leakage of useful information to potential adversaries should be eliminated. That’s the theory. Enter the discussions we have witnessed in real life and in the Internet. A common tactic is to strip information from communication protocols that is not needed for transporting the message. Version numbers, host names, addresses, and other pieces of data are often removed when a server answers requests. Especially web applications send a ton of useful information to clients. You can see the structure of the web space, components used for rendering, server systems involved,

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The Art of testing Code

René Pfeiffer/ February 4, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security/ 0 comments

The Twitterverse, various blogs, and some news portals published discussions about a bug in libgcrypt. The code contained a loop which could read past the end of a buffer. The error condition was found by using a test suite. Given the C code base of libgcrypt cases like this can often be found by using the static code analysing features of modern compilers. If you read the ticket concerning the particular overrun bug, then you will notice that it contains more than just the error description. The reason for emotional discussion around bugs are the many ways to find them. Modern compilers contain a lot of helpful tools to audit your code. Even if the compiler lacks auditing/testing features, you can resort to other tools such as Valgrind (which turned 20 years of age

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DeepSec / DeepINTEL 2021 Preparations – Save the Dates! Document your Projects!

René Pfeiffer/ February 2, 2021/ Administrivia/ 0 comments

Usually we are radio silent during December and the beginning of January. This is due to some well-deserved rest, infrastructure updates (we run a lot ourselves), content creation (in our own projects), and the general Christmas holidays. The COVID-19 lock-down made it different to tell if there are holidays or not. Every day looks mostly like yesterday. We would like to change this. So please keep the following dates in your mind and in your calendar: DeepSec 2021 Trainings – 16 / 17 November 2021 DeepSec 2021 Conference – 18 / 19 November 2021 (including ROOTS & ACOD) DeepINTEL 2021 Conference – 18 November 2021 The Call for Papers will open soon and will be published here in our blog (along with push messages to Twitter and Xing). If you are interested in getting

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Translated Article: EU Decryption Plans apparently “Done Deal”

Sanna/ December 30, 2020/ Stories/ 0 comments

EU-Entschlüsselungspläne offenbar „beschlossene Sache“ by Erich Moechel for fm4.ORF.at Even without an official mandate from the Council for such a regulation, the Commission has already started to anchor a decryption requirement in other regulation projects. Chronicle of the second Cyberwars from 2014 to today, Part II. You can find part one here. The controversial resolution of the Council of Ministers against secure encryption was anchored in the new draft guidelines for “high-class cyber security” of December 16. Since resolutions are not binding per se, this indicates a “Fait Accompli”, an informally already decided matter. From data retention (until 2006) to the currently adopted regulation against online terrorist propaganda (start in 2016) , all major EU surveillance projects have started in this way. So much more than the public information available so far should have already

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Translated Article: EU Directive for “High-Class Cybersecurity” with Duplicate Keys

Sanna/ December 29, 2020/ Conference, Security, Stories/ 1 comments

EU-Richtlinie für „hochklassige Cybersicherheit“ mit Nachschlüsseln by Erich Moechel for fm4.ORF.at. The key message of the Council of Ministers’ resolution against secure encryption has already arrived in a first draft directive. For this reason here’s a historical outline of the new Crypto Wars since 2014. The resolution of the EU Council of Ministers against secure encryption, which resulted in so much criticism, has already appeared in a first draft directive. A corresponding passage can be found in the new draft directive on “Measures for high-quality cybersecurity in the Union”. The date of December 16 of the document shows that it was already drawn up before the Council resolution was passed (on December 19). Here, too, it is claimed that secure end-to-end encryption remains intact if duplicate keys are generated for third parties. Meanwhile the EU

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DeepSec 2020 Mission Control – Behind the Scenes

René Pfeiffer/ November 20, 2020/ Administrivia, Conference/ 0 comments

The fully virtual DeepSec conference was very different from the usual configuration and setting. While we learned a lot over the years, there is one constant: What’s the difference between hardware and software? Well, hardware can be kicked. There is always one converter, one computer, one network devices, one USB device, or something else that doesn’t quite fit into the ensemble. Then there are the many desktop oddities and multimedia formats. So we had to do some damage control during the first day of streaming (having damage control teams and replacement parts ready is not just for ships). Networking did its own magic by introducing delays between the speaker’s feed and the live stream. Fortunately the stream connections held, and we had no losses in terms of connectivity. Mission control at the office used

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