Tag Archives: security

Breaking the iris scanner locking Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is laughably easy

By Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: Chaos Computer Club)

Hackers have broken the iris-based authentication in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone in an easy-to-execute attack that’s at odds with the manufacturer’s claim that the mechanism is “one of the safest ways to keep your phone locked.”

The cost of the hack is less than the $725 price for an unlocked Galaxy S8 phone, hackers with the Chaos Computer Club in Germany said Tuesday. All that was required was a digital camera, a laser printer (ironically, models made by Samsung provided the best results), and a contact lens. The hack required taking a picture of the subject’s face, printing it on paper, superimposing the contact lens, and holding the image in front of the locked Galaxy S8. The photo need not be a close up, although using night-shot mode or removing the infrared filter helps. The hackers provided a video demonstration of the bypass.

Starbug, the moniker used by one of the principal researchers behind the hack, told Ars he singled out the Samsung Galaxy S8 because it’s among the first flagship phones to offer iris recognition as an alternative to passwords and PINs. He said he suspects future mobile devices that offer iris recognition may be equally easy to hack. Despite the ease, both Samsung and Princeton Identity, the manufacturer of the iris-recognition technology used in the Galaxy S8, say iris recognition provides “airtight security” that allows consumers to “finally trust that their phones are protected.” Princeton Identity also said the Samsung partnership “brings us one step closer to making iris recognition the standard for user authentication.”

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Source:: Ars Technica Gadgets

I fail to see the actual security flaw here, unless the hacker knows you and can get you to pose for a picture. The entire idea behind the Iris scanning software is to keep the jackass who stole your phone from getting into it. However, it will certainly make it quite easy for law enforcement to unlock your phone if they need to…

Tim


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Windows 7, not XP, was the reason last week’s WCry worm spread so widely

By Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: Kaspersky Lab)

Eight days ago, the WCry ransomware worm attacked more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries. The outbreak prompted infected hospitals to turn away patients and shut down computers in banks and telecoms. Now that researchers have had time to analyze the self-replicating attack, they’re learning details that shed new and sometimes surprising light on the world’s biggest ransomware attack.

Chief among the revelations: more than 97 percent of infections hit computers running Windows 7, according to attacks seen by antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab. By contrast, infected Windows XP machines were practically non-existent, and those XP PCs that were compromised were likely manually infected by their owners for testing purposes. That’s according to Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis Team, who spoke to Ars.

While the estimates are based only on computers that run Kaspersky software, as opposed to all computers on the Internet, there’s little question Windows 7 was overwhelmingly affected by WCry, which is also known as “WannaCry” and “WannaCrypt.” Security ratings firm BitSight found that 67 percent of infections hit Windows 7, Reuters reported.

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Source:: Ars Tecnica


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More people infected by recent WCry worm can unlock PCs without paying ransom

By Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: Ed Westcott / American Museum of Science and Energy)

New hope glimmered on Friday for people hit by last week’s virulent ransomware worm after researchers showed that a broader range of PCs infected by WCry can be unlocked without owners making the $300 to $600 payment demand.

A new publicly available tool is able to decrypt infected PCs running Windows XP and 7, and 2003, and one of the researchers behind the decryptor said it likely works for other Windows versions, including Vista, Server 2008, and 2008 R2. The tool, known as wanakiwi, builds off a key discovery implemented in a different tool released Thursday. Dubbed Wannakey, the previous tool provided the means to extract key material from infected Windows XP PCs but required a separate app to transform those bits into the secret key required to decrypt files.

Matt Suiche, cofounder of security firm Comae Technologies, has tested wanakiwi and reports that it works. He provided the following screenshot of the tool in action:

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Source:: Ars Tecnica


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Virulent WCry ransomware worm may have North Korea’s fingerprints on it

By Dan Goodin

Enlarge / Identical code found in WCry and 2015 malicious backdoor could be a smoking gun that provides crucial clues about the origin of Friday’s ransomware worm. (credit: Jo Christian Oterhals)

A researcher has found digital fingerprints that tie the WCry ransomware worm that menaced the world on Friday to a prolific hacking operation that previously generated headlines by attacking Sony Pictures, the Bangladesh Central Bank, and South Korean banks.

The link came in a cryptic Twitter message from Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Google. The tweet referenced identical code found in a WCry sample from February and an early 2015 version of Cantopee, a malicious backdoor used by Lazarus Group, a hacking team that has been operating since at least 2011. Previously discovered code fingerprints already tied Lazarus Group to the highly destructive hack that caused hard drives in South Korea to self-destruct in 2013, wiped almost a terabyte’s worth of data from Sony Pictures in 2014, and siphoned almost $1 billion from the Bangladesh Central Bank last year by compromising the SWIFT network used to transfer funds.

Over a matter of hours on Friday, Wcry used leaked National Security Agency-developed code to attack an estimated 200,000 computers in 150 countries. Also known as WannaCry, the self-replicating malware encrypted hard drives until victims paid ransoms ranging from $300 to $600. Infected hospitals soon responded by turning away patients and rerouting ambulances. Businesses and government agencies all over the world quickly disconnected computers from the Internet, either because they were no longer working or to prevent them from being hit. The outbreak was largely contained because the attackers failed to secure a domain name hard-coded into their exploit.

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Source:: Ars Tecnica


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iOS 10.3.2 arrives with nearly two dozen security fixes

By Andrew Cunningham

Enlarge

Apple has just released iOS 10.3.2 to the public, following around a month and a half of beta testing that began shortly after iOS 10.3 came out. It’s available as an over-the-air update or through iTunes for any devices that run iOS 10: the iPhone 5 and newer, the fourth-generation iPad and newer, the iPad Mini 2 and newer, both iPad Pros, and the sixth-generation iPod Touch.

Like the intervening iOS 10.3.1 update, the release notes for 10.3.2 only say that it “includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad,” which suggests that the release is primarily focused on security updates.

According to Apple’s security update page, it fixes quite a wide range of bugs that affect everything from the iPhone 5 on up: one in the AVEVideoEncoder, one in CoreAudio, two in iBooks, one in IOSurface, two in the kernel, one Notifications bug, one in Safari, four SQLite bugs, one TextInput problem, a whopping eight WebKit-related fixes that address an even larger number of vulnerabilities, and an update to the certificate trust policy. As with any update that fixes a large number of bugs, you should patch as soon as you can to prevent exploits of the now-public vulnerabilities.

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Source:: Ars Technica Gadgets


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