The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

TAG | vulnerability

sudo make me a sandwich

Security researcher Emil Kvarnhammar of TrueSec announced the discovery of a new vulnerability in Mac OS X from 10.8.5 though the current 10.10.

The attack is against a unix utility called “sudo” which allows commands to run as the “root” user (which has absolute power on the system). Normally a user with admin privileges needs to type in their password and approve the running of these tasks, but this attack bypasses the user authentication step.

They have not released details on the vulnerability to give Apple time to issue a fix. In the mean time, it looks like you can protect yourself by making your your normal account is not an admin account. (more…)

· ·

USB connectorA couple of months ago researcher Karsten Nohl demonstrated a security vulnerability that he called BadUSB. Basically it was a demonstration that an attacker could alter the firmware in a USB device to automatically attack anything it was plugged in to. At the recent DerbyCon, researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson demonstrated their version of the attack and released sample code for how to implement it. This really opens pandora’s box.

The problem here is that this is not actually a bug in USB. It is exactly how USB is designed to work (as insecure as that might be), and changing that behavior is likely to break a lot of other things. A good and effective fix for this vulnerability is probably years away.

In the mean time, take great care with USB devices. My suggestion is to never use another person’s USB device. Don’t use USB to transfer files, and make sure that any USB devices you do use are obtained directly in unopened packaging. There could still be exploits introduced in manufacturing, but at least you are as safe as reasonably possible.


Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

· · · · ·

Internet Explorer 10 start screen tile svg

Governments urge Internet Explorer users to switch browsers until fix found | ZDNet

This and many other articles are relaying the information that governments are encouraging users to move to Chrome, Firefox, or Safari until this Microsoft Internet explorer bug is fixed. The vulnerability seems to have been in every version of IE since 6 through the current version 11. It is a remote exploitation vulnerability, so attackers can use it to run arbitrary code on your computer, effectively “owning” it. There are some work arounds within IE that may prevent the attack, but for now it is much safer and easier to simply move to a different browser.

It is important to remember that using a VPN like Anonymizer Universal does NOT provide any protection against this kind of attack. This is an attack directly against the browser using the content you have “requested”. The attack is launched from the site you are visiting, so the hostile content would flow through the VPN unhindered. 

Anonymizer strongly encourages its users to move to Firefox, Safari, or Chrome, at least until this problem is resolved.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

· · · · ·


Apple released an update for Mac OS X 10.9 fixing the serious GOTO FAIL SSL vulnerability. This update appears to resolve the problem for The Safari browser, and many other Apple applications that use SSL/TLS.

If you use a Mac, make sure you install this update ASAP. Go to Software Update and you should see the update available.



Apple SSL vulnerability

Cracked EncryptionEverybody has been talking about the Apple SSL vulnerability, but just in case you have missed it….

It turns out that for several years Safari has failed to properly check the cryptographic signatures on Server Key Exchanges allowing attackers to mount man in the middle attacks against your browser sessions. Anyone with the ability to intercept your traffic could read and modify the data to or from any secure website you visit (of course they can always do it with insecure websites). This would include any WiFi you are using, the local ISP, backbone ISPs, and government entities wherever you might be, or anywhere along the path yo the server you are trying to reach.

This vulnerability impacts both iOS as well as Mac OS X. You can test whether you are vulnerable here.

There is a patch already available for iOS so update your device now!

If you are on a Mac, switch to using some browser other than Safari. Chrome and Firefox are both safe from this particular attack.

If you are on Windows, Linux, BSD, or Android, you would appear to be safe.

· ·

Older posts >>