The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Technology]
2017-10-16 10:04 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 687 references
[Comments enabled]  

This wasn't what I wanted to wake up to this morning:

The security protocol used to protect the vast majority of wifi connections has been broken, potentially exposing wireless internet traffic to malicious eavesdroppers and attacks, according to the researcher who discovered the weakness.

This one is very bad folks; I've read the paper and related CVEs.

The attack results from a problem in how keys are negotiated between a WiFi router and client.  It's supposed to be impossible (with a proper key negotiation) to force a "favored" key or re-use of a temporal key.  This is enforced by using what is called a nonce; a sequence of random numbers that are used just once ("Number ONCE").

Unfortunately the standard itself left open a way to force the "other end" to reuse a nonce.  This is very bad because you can use this sort of attack to trick the other end into installing a session key you know; such as "all zeros."  Once you've done that you can of course decrypt anything the victim sends because you have the key, and once broken you also have access to all future key renegotiations as long as you remain "in-range".

Encryption relies on not just one but two things being unknown, especially during key negotiation: The key and the content.  If someone can force the key (including the nonce) to be reused with known content then you're in big trouble.

Note that contrary to popular belief the "key" you put into a router is not the actual encryption key.  The password is a "seed" which is used to negotiate a key; the actual negotiated key changes from time to time.

The flaw itself is not hard to patch but there's a severe problem with this particular issue because an utterly huge number of devices use "allegedly-secure" WiFi and many of them don't ever get updated.  In addition you don't need physical access to attack a device using this, of course -- you need merely to be within WiFi range of it.

Consider this: Virtually every cellphone out there has WiFi in it and many are orphaned by their manufacturers, receiving no future updates at all.  These devices, along with nearly all "consumer" WiFi access points in homes and small businesses will never be fixed.

The impact of this flaw means that the majority of consumer cellphones now in-service will never receive a patch for this and will remain vulnerable until they are discarded by their owners, and in addition the majority of consumer and small-business WiFi access points will never be patched and will remain vulnerable for years if not a decade or longer.

As things stand right now commercial WiFi networks in places such as bars, restaurants and other retail environments are extraordinarily vulnerable as these tend to rely on embedded software, some of which will probably not be patched and most of these networks carry sensitive customer data including credit card swipe data.  PCI requires encrypted storage and transmission but if the encryption is in fact worthless then the integrity of these networks are in big trouble.  The recent proliferation of "at table" tablets for bill paying and similar is going to make this much worse than it would otherwise be. 

Our failure as a nation to force chip cards across-the-board, unlike virtually every other country (chip cards have a one-time negotiated key used for transactions and thus "capturing" them is of little value) is likely going to result in severe exposures across the retail landscape for the next several years.

Yeah.

This one is "that good."

Oh by the way, when the WPA2 "standard" was being debated and discussed may we examine who was in the room? I have to wonder why this wasn't caught a long time ago, given that WPA2-AES/TKIP/etc has been around now for a hell of a long time.  When something this nasty is found you have to wonder if the process was corrupted either negligently or on purpose.

Note that the US media has thus far ignored this story; I saw it in The Guardian.

Gee, I wonder why.......

Update: THIS APPARENTLY WORKS against machine-certificate networks as well -- that is, enterprise WPA2.  This is extremely un-good as that means devices in places like hospitals and other large enterprise systems are vulnerable.

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Folks, let's make this easy.

Everyone wants to talk about how Podesta's email was penetrated, or the rest of the DNC, or that the RNC, allegedly, was not.

All the screamers are (still) out about  "Russia" and similar.

Let me restate -- while Podesta's email was apparently broken into via a "spearfishing" email (one with a reset password link embedded in it that didn't go to the real site, but rather to the person who was trying to steal) and which he was dumb enough to click and then provide his current password the real issue here isn't about this sort of attack at all.

The real issue is about the idiocy of such "email" systems or the use of any other sort of cloud provider for anything secure in the first place.

Let me explain.

I run my own email here.  It would be trivial for me to lock it down so that even if you stole my password it would be worthless.

How?

Simple, really.  You see on the same network I have a VPN gateway that does not accept passwords at all.  It only accepts a certificate.  Such a SSL certificate is (nominally) intended to sign and encrypt private emails, and can also be used as a secure identifier for a VPN.  It is, effectively, the same thing a server uses to secure web communications but with a different set of "intended use" flags set (client authentication and digital signature rather than SSL server authentication.)

All I'd have to do is change the configuration on the email system slightly so that only accesses that came from connected VPN clients could connect at all.

Now you'd have to steal a device and if you did, it would only work until I knew it was stolen (and revoked the key.)  No other means of getting in would work even with the password.

It is literally a 15 second configuration change on my Dovecot and Exchange servers to do this, and it would not impact my ability to exchange email with others one bit.

Modern smartphones (including Android, IOS and BlackBerry 10 handsets) can all use these certificates for an IPSEC/IKEv2 connection.  Such a connection can be "nailed" open as well, active even on cellular, or activated "on demand" by the user.  Modern commercial and freely available operating systems (Windows 7/8/10, MacOS, Linux and FreeBSD) can also use same.  Doing so positively encrypts all traffic coming into or leaving said device.

Such a system is extremely secure because only authorized devices, secured with a cryptographic key loaded on them, can see the service in question.  An unknown key is refused by the VPN gateway as is one that has been revoked. Only trusted certificates (which are loaded on the host in a certificate store) can connect.  I use this facility with other services here at Ticker Central so I can have my laptop with me and use it "as if I was at home" even from half the world away on an insecure, or even known to be monitored data link.

The only way to get packets onto the "private" network from the outside and thus be able to "see" the email store is to connect to the VPN and establish a tunnel and the only way to do that is to have a trusted certificate on the device in question.  No certificate, no connection, no access, password or no password -- period.

This sort of facility is essential if you intend to allow remote access to services that are themselves of questionable security (or worse) such as, for example, Windows file shares.

So why didn't the DNC do this?

Because it takes more than 30 seconds of thought to do it and in addition it means not using email providers like Google -- you have to do it yourself, in-house, or all these security steps are worthless since your certificates and such have to be where someone else, who is unvetted, can get at them.

In other words they were stupid, and so have been the others.  They chose the equivalent of an unlocked front door for their house, and then are surprised when someone walks in and takes all the beer out of the fridge.

Oh, and all the guns and money in the house too, along with the nice widescreen TV!

Just remember folks that these are the very same people who claim to be smart enough to run the country.

PS: All the cloud providers are unlocked houses.  Always. They have to be in order for a cloud service to work; it's not a choice, it's an inherent part of any public "cloud" architecture. Claims otherwise are like putting a 25 cent TSA lock on your suitcase and calling it "secure."  The reason you have not and will not see this discussed in the media, especially the "business media", is that the minute this fact reaches the level of general knowledge all of said "cloud providers" have their stock prices collapse.

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2016-10-31 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 299 references
 

Give me a break.

A task force of more than 30 major technology and communication companies said they have made progress but have not found a solution to eliminate "robocalls" or automated, prerecorded phone calls, but a top U.S. regulator urged faster action.

Throw some people in prison and you'll get their attention.  Yes, right here in the US, and yes, I'm talking about carrier executives.  Why?  We'll get to that:

Wheeler wrote major companies in July urging them to take new action to block robocalls, saying it was the top source of consumer complaints at the FCC. Scam artists often times based abroad try to appear to call from a bank or a government phone to trick consumers into disclosing confidential financial or account information.

How do they "appear" to call from a bank or government phone when they're not in the United States?

Ah, now see, there's the fraud and the US carriers are complicit in it.

Along with a call setup request (from one carrier to another) comes some information, which includes the "originating" number.  The carriers do exactly nothing to validate that for other than 800 (free to calling party) numbers.

But they could very trivially prevent, for example, foreign calls from appearing with US numbers.

How?  Refuse to route a call that comes from the UK unless the "originating" number is in the correct format including the country code prefixfor example.

That would stop instantly any of these calls that are originating outside of the United States.

As for those within the United States the FCC has jurisdiction, and can require that one of two things be the case:

1. The "originating" number be the actual originating number.  This will be the appropriate setting for all individual lines; simply do not allow an overridden number from a consumer account -- period.

2. For those that are overridden require, under penalty of law, that the party overriding accept both civil and criminal legal responsibility for the authenticity of their override under existing criminal fraud statutes.

There are very good reasons to allow such an override on outbound calls.  For example, at MCSNet we had outbound trunks that were all "rolled up" into high-capacity circuits (at the time DS1s); each of those trunks had a "real" phone number, but it was unpublished.  We then had DID mapping for certain people who needed "private lines" and in addition we had our "main" number (312) - 803-MCS1 that would ring into the PBX on the next available trunk in the group.  If you dialed out from our PBX those trunks (set up for bidirectional signalling) were configured to show 312-803-MCS1 as the "originating" number even though technically it was not.  That's fine, because we owned the originating number, it was "real", and it really was our number.

It would not be difficult at all to require that all such entities that purchase service from a telco provider in the United States and wish to provide "originating number" overrides do so under a contractual requirement, carrying criminal criminal penalties for lying, that any such number they put through be truthful and belong to the actual originating party of the call.

If you were to do this and at the same time hold carriers criminally responsible for accepting "foreign" calls that have originating numbers that violate the country code format of the originating nation, a software check they could easily implement, this problem would disappear instantly.

Of course there are "telco providers" (such as the SIP folks) that would scream about such a requirement -- but let's face reality here.  Enabling fraud as a business model makes you an accessory before the fact and recognizing that along with appropriate criminal sanction would go a long way to draining this swamp -- quickly and permanently.

Instead we "accept" a bunch of handwaving nonsense that comes from the FCC and various telcos.

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Public cloud computing, that is, computers at a remote location you do not own but lease space on, which have a hypervisor and clients running under it where you do not have complete, 100% control of said hypervisor are not secure.

If you have allegedly "encrypted" data there that is accessed, modified and used on said machine then the key to decrypt said data must also be on the machine and unprotected so it can be used.  If that is the case it can be trivially stolen since the hypervisor has complete access to all of the memory and disk resources of the client process and once stolen any pretense of security vanishes like a fart in the wind.

This is the lesson of the Wikileaks "Podesta" and related hacks.  It is not that Russia was involved (or not), it is not whether the "hack" was criminal, it is nothing of the sort.  It is that many of these people had their data (email in this case) on a public cloud environment and said environment was trivially broken into and the data stolen within minutes of being targeted.

The media and "business channels" have not and will not talk about this underlying fact for the simple reason that a huge percentage of the current market bubble is being driven and sustained by these so-called "innovations" and what they've done to market valuation.

This is continually claimed to be the "future" of corporate computing, but if you follow this road, embrace this path, and do so with data that needs to be secure then this is what's coming to you the moment your data is specifically targeted, whether you like it or not.

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