About Censys

 

 

 

 

Censys is a search engine that enables researchers to ask questions about the hosts and networks that compose the Internet. Censys collects data on hosts and websites through daily ZMap and ZGrab scans of the IPv4 address space, in turn maintaining a database of how hosts and websites are configured. Researchers can interact with this data through a search interface, report builder, and SQL engine. Details on the Censys architecture and functionality are available in our research paper.

https://www.censys.io/

 

 

Don’t count on STARTTLS to automatically encrypt your sensitive e-mails TLS stripping and DNS attacks allow eavesdropping on protected messages

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Researchers have some good and bad news about the availability of secure e-mail. Use ofSTARTTLS and three other security extensions has surged in recent months, but their failure rate remains high, in large part because of active attacks that downgrade encrypted connections to unencrypted ones.

That conclusion, reached in a recently published research paper, means that a significant chunk of e-mail continues to be transmitted in plaintext and with no mechanism for verifying that a message hasn’t been tampered with while it travels from sender to receiver. The downgrades are largely made possible by the simple mail transfer protocol used by many e-mail services. Because it wasn’t originally designed to provide message confidentiality or integrity, it relies on later-developed extensions including STARTTLS, domainkeys Identified Mail, sender policy framework, and domain-based message authentication that often don’t work as intended.

The researchers wrote:

This security patchwork—paired with opportunistic encryption that favors failing open and transmitting messages in cleartext, so as to allow incremental adoption—enables network attackers to intercept and surveil mail. In one such attack, network appliances corrupt STARTTLS connection attempts and downgrade messages to non-encrypted channels. We identify 41,405 SMTP servers in 4,714 ASes and 193 countries that cannot protect mail from passive eavesdroppers due to STARTTLS corruption on the network. We analyze the mail sent to Gmail from these hosts and find that in seven countries, more than 20% of all messages are actively prevented from being encrypted. In the most severe case, 96% of messages sent from Tunisia to Gmail are downgraded to cleartext.

The findings are based on Gmail SMTP connection logs spanning from January 2014 to April 2015 and a snapshot of SMTP server configurations from April 2015 from the Alexa top million domains. The Gmail data showed that incoming messages protected by transport layer security encryption grew 82 percent in one year, peaking to 60 percent of all inbound mail by the end of the study. Outgoing messages increased 54 percent, with 80 percent of messages protected. The improvement was largely the result of Yahoo, Outlook, and a small number of other large e-mail providers updating their servers to use STARTTLS.

Offsetting that progress was a finding that about 770,000 SMTP servers associated with the Alexa top million list still failed to properly secure their systems. Only 82 percent of them supported TLS, and of those, only 35 percent were properly configured to allow one server to cryptographically authenticate itself to another.

STARTTLS corruption

The researchers also found evidence of widespread corruption that prevents STARTTLS from working as intended. Like many security mechanisms, STARTTLS is designed to “fail open” rather than “fail closed,” meaning that when certain errors happen, servers will simply send e-mail in unencrypted form rather than failing to send the message at all. Network actors can exploit this design by sending certain types of packets that trigger a fail open error. The overall fraction of Gmail messages that were downgraded was relatively small, but in Tunisia, TLS was stripped out of 96 percent of e-mail. Other countries with high rates included Iraq, Papua New Guinea, and Nepal.

“It is important to note that the devices that are stripping TLS from SMTP connections are not inherently malicious, and many of these devices may be deployed to facilitation legitimate filtering,” the paper states. “Regardless of intent, this technique results in messages being sent in cleartext over the public Internet, enabling passive eavesdropping and other attacks.”

The researchers also found evidence that domain name system records are routinely spoofed in a way that redirects e-mail to servers controlled by attackers rather than to the intended destination. The evidence included more than 178,000 publicly available DNS servers that provided invalid IP addresses or mail records for either gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com, qq.com, or mail.ru.

The findings suggest that even as e-mail providers continue to deploy STARTTLS, there’s no guarantee that e-mail will be encrypted as it travels from one server to another on its way to the receiver. That leaves the truly paranoid with no other option than GPG or MIME to ensure the confidentiality of the messages they send.

DMCA Ruling Ensures You Can’t Be Sued For Hacking Your Car, Your Games Or Your iPhone

“This ‘access control’ rule is supposed to protect against unlawful copying,” said EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh. “But as we’ve seen in the recent Volkswagen scandal – where VW was caught manipulating smog tests – it can be used instead to hide wrongdoing hidden in computer code. We are pleased that analysts will now be able to examine the software in the cars we drive without facing legal threats from car manufacturers.”

Walsh expressed disappointment the exemption would not come into force for another year. There may also be a limitation on what tinkerers can do, as the exemption does not allow for modification of “computer programs primarily designed for the control of telematics or entertainment systems for such vehicle”, though security researchers should still be allowed to poke holes in them.

“This is a significant step forward for security research and acknowledges the value research plays in protecting consumers from risk of harm. There is still more work to be done – for example the exemption is limited in its application, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act still presents many challenges – but this represents an important shift in the discussion around security research at the Government level,” added Jen Ellis, vice president of community and public affairs at Rapid7, and one of the campaigners for the exemption.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with both Congress and the administration to build even greater understanding of, and protections for, security research.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New zero-day exploit hits fully patched Adobe Flash

Attackers are exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability in fully patched versions of Adobe’s Flash Player so they can surreptitiously install malware on end users’ computers, security researchers warned Tuesday.

So far, the attacks are known to target only government agencies as part of a long-running espionage campaign carried out by a group known as Pawn Storm, researchers from antivirus provider Trend Micro said in a blog post published Tuesday. It’s not unusual for such zero-day exploits to be more widely distributed once the initial element of surprise wanes. The critical security flaw is known to reside in Flash versions 19.0.0.185 and 19.0.0.207 and may also affect earlier versions. At this early stage, no other technical details are available. The researchers wrote:

In this most recent campaign of Pawn Storm, several Ministries of Foreign Affairs received spear phishing e-mails. These contain links to sites that supposedly contain information about current events, but in reality, these URLs hosted the exploit. In this wave of attacks, the emails were about the following topics:

“Suicide car bomb targets NATO troop convoy Kabul”

“Syrian troops make gains as Putin defends air strikes”

“Israel launches airstrikes on targets in Gaza”

“Russia warns of response to reported US nuke buildup in Turkey, Europe”

“US military reports 75 US-trained rebels return Syria”

It’s worth noting that the URLs hosting the new Flash zero-day exploit are similar to the URLs seen in attacks that targeted North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members and the White House in April this year.

Pawn Storm has zeroed in on foreign affairs ministries in recent months. In the past, the group hastargeted politicians, artists, and journalists in Russia, and it has infected the iOS devices of Western governments and news organizations. Some researchers have linked the espionage campaign to the Russian government, but the usual disclaimers about attribution of hacks apply.

An Adobe spokeswoman said that company researchers received a proof-of-concept exploit on Tuesday morning and are in the process of investigating. If confirmed, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Adobe publish an emergency update in the next few days. As always, readers should consider disabling Flash on as many sites as possible, since it’s not unusual for attackers to compromise trusted sites and use them to attack the people who visit them. Most browsers by default provide a click-to-play mechanism that blocks Flash-based content for each site visited unless explicitly approved by the end user. A more thorough approach is to uninstall Flash altogether.

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North America is out of IPv4 addresses …

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Two months ago, THN reported about a similar announcement made by The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which said that the agency is no longer able to produce IPv4 addresses in North America.
Within a time frame of few months, ARIN, which handles Internet addresses in America, has announced the final exhaustion of their free pool of IPv4 addresses has reached zero…
…i.e. the availability of IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) addresses no more exists.
Meanwhile, they are going to accept requests for IPv4, which will be approved via two ways:
  1. Wait List for Unmet IPv4 RequestsJoin the waitlist for unmet requests in the hopes that a block of the desired size will be available in the future.
  2. IPv4 Transfer Market – Can be purchased from another organization that has more than it needs.
So, in the future, IPv4 address space will be allocated to the approved requests on the Waiting List for Unmet Requests, if ARIN:
  • receives any IPv4 address space from IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority),
  • recovers from cancellations, or
  • returns from organizations.
They say, “The source entity (-ies within the ARIN Region (8.4)) will be ineligible to receive any further IPv4 address allocations or assignments from ARIN for a period of 12 months after a transfer approval, or until the exhaustion of ARIN’s IPv4 space, whichever occurs first.”
These changes will impact the organizations existing in Transfers between Specified Recipients within the ARIN Region (Transfer 8.3) and Inter-RIR Transfers to Specified Recipients (Transfer 8.4).
RIR refers to Regional Internet Registry, like ARIN, which is one of the RIRs.
Also, if they are successful in allotting IPv4 address pool to the waiting list entities and are still left with IPv4 addresses, then they will open the free pool for IPv4 addresses and add them there for future use.
We see this is just the start of an era (IPv6).
IPv6 was invented in about two decades ago in 1998, and it features much longer addresses, such as — FE80:0000:0000:0000:0202:B3FF:FE1E:8329. This means that IPv6 will offer a total available pool of 340 Trillion Trillion Trillion addresses, providing capacity for a very long term.