Project Covert Operations and Zero Days – Controlled Compromise of Infrastructure and Code

René Pfeiffer/ April 21, 2021/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security/ 0 comments

Once you collect information, you will eventually have to decide on when to use which part for what reason. This is the dilemma of intercepting intelligence from an adversary and using it for defence (or offence). Once you act on your the knowledge no one else is supposed to have, then you will also disclose your capabilities. The digital world is full of these scenarios. The most recent case is a disclosure of Google’s Project Zero. The publication covered vulnerabilities dating back to the first half of 2020. As it turned out the discovery comprised 11 powerful weaknesses used to compromise iOS, Android and Microsoft® Windows devices. By publishing these vulnerabilities Project Zero essentially shut down a nine-month digital hacking operation by a Western government. Bugs in software have no labels. They may be

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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

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

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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The Art of testing Code

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

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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Press Release: Digitalisation without Information Security has no Future

Sanna/ July 15, 2020/ Conference, Development, Discussion

DeepSec conference warns of unsafe software and insufficient knowledge of professionals. The months in which we had to learn to deal with the effects of various quarantine measures on our everyday lives have decisively emphasized the importance of information technology. Although the Internet has long been an integral part of work and everyday life in many industries, the physical restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic could have been significantly more drastic for public authorities, the economy and society without modern telecommunications. Audio, video and chat platforms have prevented things getting worse. The call for more digitalisation, however, lacks the most important ingredient – information security. Published software is safe, isn’t it? In the world of software development, there is an unofficial saying that a product is ready when you can install it. The rest

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Communiqué de presse traduit: Les applis COVID-19 dévoilent leur logiciel pendant la crise

Sanna/ May 13, 2020/ Conference, Press, Training

En novembre, la conférence sur la sécurité DeepSec mettra en lumière la mascarade des logiciels. On dit souvent, « il y a forcément une appli pour ça ! ». Cette formule toute faite est souvent prise à la légère, même en dehors du secteur informatique. La crise actuelle du COVID-19 a de nouveau désigné le code informatique comme solution universelle aux problèmes qui ne sont pas strictement liés à la technologie de l’information. La numérisation générique semble être la réponse à tous nos problèmes. Bien sûr, le traitement des données peut aider. À condition toutefois de posséder des données réelles, vérifiables et recueillies soigneusement. C’est là qu’échouent de nombreux projets. Téléphones magiques à l’intelligence infinie La demande d’applis n’a fait qu’augmenter ces dernières années. Ces visions n’ont rien à envier aux idées créatives des

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Translated Article: Ten EU Countries already rely on decentralized Corona Virus Apps

Sanna/ May 12, 2020/ Security, Stories

Schon zehn EU-Staaten setzen auf dezentrale Coronavirus-Apps by Erich Moechel for fm4.orf.at Apple and Google also support the privacy-friendly, decentralized protocol DP-3T. Without technical support in the operating systems of these two groups, no app with Bluetooth tracing can deliver useful results. The decision by Austria and Switzerland to use a corona virus app with decentralized data storage (DP-3T) triggered a chain reaction. By Friday, ten EU countries had already left the large-scale “Pan-European Project for Data Protection-Compliant Person Tracing” (PEPP-PT). The centralized data collection of PEPP-PT leaves all possibilities for data mining open, a deanonymisation of the data is also included. Apple and Google, which support the DP-3T standard, are constantly publishing new specifications for the necessary app interfaces in Android and IOS. Without the support of these two companies, whose operating systems

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Translated Press Release: Covid-19 Apps show Software Development in Crisis

Sanna/ May 8, 2020/ Conference, Press, Training

In November, the DeepSec security conference will highlight the software masquerade. In everyday language there is the saying “There’s an app for that!”. The phrase is often used as a joke, even outside the IT industry. The current Covid-19 crisis has once again addressed computer code as a universal solution to problems that are not exclusively related to information technology. Generic digitization seems to be the answer to all problems. Of course, data processing can help. The prerequisite for this, however, is the existence of real data that has also been collected in a comprehensible and careful manner. This is exactly why many projects fail. Magical phones with infinite Intelligence The call for apps has been repeated again and again in recent years. The visions are in no way inferior to the creative ideas

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Secure Design – Combining Information Security with Software Development

René Pfeiffer/ February 5, 2020/ Discussion, High Entropy

Information security researchers usually see software fail. Sometimes they try to make software fail on purpose. The result is a bug description, also called vulnerability report in case the bug has a security impact. The the best case scenario this information reaches the software developers who in turn fix the problem. Then the cycle continues. This process is fun for the first iterations. After a while it gets boring. Even a while after that you ask yourself why integer overflow, injection attacks, and basic cross-anything is still an issue. Some bug classes are well over 40 years old. Polio is far older, and yet we got rid of it (mostly). What’s different in the field of software creation? The answers are simple, endless, and change depending on the current trend. Just as computing changed

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Translated Article: Campaign of the Spy Alliance “Five Eyes” against WhatsApp and Co

Sanna/ January 8, 2019/ Discussion, High Entropy, Security

Feldzug der Spionageallianz „Five Eyes“ gegen WhatsApp und Co for fm4 by Erich Moechel The current scattered news and reports on “encryption” belong together. The military secret services of the “Five Eyes” conduct a global campaign; in Australia they’ve already reached their first milestone. Every two years, around the same time, a campaign of the espionage alliance “Five Eyes” against encryption programs takes place. Unlike in 2016, the new campaign has reached its first goal in a flash. In early December, a bill was passed in the Australian Parliament obliging Internet companies to break up encrypted communications. The providers of Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Co are hereby required to build surveillance interfaces into their apps to give hidden access to the Australian law enforcement. In a parliamentary coup – without discussion or amendments – the “Assistance

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ROOTS 2018: Library and Function Identification by Optimized Pattern Matching on Compressed Databases – Maximilian von Tschirschnitz

Sanna/ January 7, 2019/ ROOTS

[Editor’s note: This article belongs to the Reversing and Offensive-oriented Trends Symposium 2018 (ROOTS). It was misplaced, so we publish it today. Maximilian’s talk was recorded and can be watched on Vimeo.] The goal of library and function identification is to find the original library and function to a given machine-code snippet. These snippets commonly arise from penetration tests attacking a remote executable, static malware analysis or from an IP infringement investigation. While there are several tools designed to achieve this task, all of these seem to rely on varied methods of signature-based identification. In this work, the author argues that this approach is not sufficient for many cases and propose a design and implementation for a multitool called KISS. KISS uses lossless compression and highly optimized pattern matching algorithms to create a very

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ROOTS 2018 Talk: The Swift Language from a Reverse Engineering Perspective – Malte Kraus & Vincent Haupert

Sanna/ November 13, 2018/ Conference, ROOTS

Over the last decade, mobile devices have taken over the consumer market for computer hardware. Almost all these mobile devices run either Android or iOS as their operating systems. In 2014, Apple introduced the Swift programming language as an alternative to Objective C for writing iOS and macOS applications. The rising adoption of this new language has to some extent obsoleted existing techniques for program analysis for these platforms, like method swizzling and “class-dump”. In this paper we discuss features of Swift binaries that help in reverse engineering the functionality of the contained code: We document the memory layout of compound data types and the calling convention used by the Swift compiler, as well as the runtime type information that is used by runtime and debugger when data types are not known statically. This

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Last Call for your Web Application Security Training – Break all teh Web and enjoy it!

René Pfeiffer/ November 9, 2018/ Conference, Security

The Internet is full of web applications. Sysadmins used to joke that HTTP is short for Hypertext Tunnelling Protocol, because anything but web content is transported via HTTP these days. It’s the best way to break out of restricted environment, too. So the chances are good that you will need the skills for dealing with all kinds web. Fortunately our training Bug Hunting Millionaire: Mastering Web Attacks with Full-Stack Exploitation conducted by Dawid Czagan has a few seats left. Don’t get distracted by the title. Focus on the phrase full-stack exploitation. It’s not just about sending HTTP requests and seeing what the application does. It’s all about using the full spectrum of components and technologies used for modern web applications. The training is not only suited for information security researchers. The course addresses REST

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DeepSec 2018 Talk: Injecting Security Controls into Software Applications – Katy Anton

Sanna/ September 20, 2018/ Conference, Security

“SQL Injection was first mentioned in a 1998 article in Phrack Magazine. Twenty years later, injection is still a common occurrence in software applications (No.1 in latest OWASP Top 10 2017). For the last 20 years, we have been focusing on vulnerabilities from an attacker’s point of view and SQL injection is still King. Something else must be done.”, says Katy Anton. “What if there is another way to look at software vulnerabilities? Can vulnerabilities be decomposed into security controls familiar to developers? Which security controls are an absolute must-have, and which additional security measures do you need to take into account? These are hard questions as evidenced by the numerous insecure applications we still have today. Attend this talk to explore security vulnerabilities from a different angle. As part of this talk, we

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