Microsoft Issues Emergency Out-Of-Band Update to Fix “Crazy Bad” Vulnerability

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Patched Microsoft Malware Protection Engine

In an emergency out-of-band update released late last night, Microsoft fixed a vulnerability in the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine discovered by two Google security experts over the weekend, and which the two described as “crazy bad” and “the worst Windows remote code exec in recent memory.”

While initially the two Google experts didn’t reveal what Windows feature the bug was found in, the veil of mystery lifted yesterday when both Microsoft and the two experts shared more details about the issue.

Vulnerability affects Microsoft Malware Protection Engine

As per the two sources, the bug affects the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine (MsMpEng), a core service that ships with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2016, and which is the core of many of Microsoft security tools, such as:

  • Windows Defender
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Microsoft Endpoint Protection
  • Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Windows Intune Endpoint Protection
  • Microsoft Forefront Security for SharePoint Service Pack 3
  • Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010

According to the Google experts, the bug is a “type confusion” vulnerability in NScript, the MsMpEng component that handles “any filesystem or network activity that looks like JavaScript.”

The two experts say that NScript mishandles how it interprets some JavaScript object types, which allows them to deliver an exploit that can use the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine to execute malicious code.

Vulnerability is trivially exploitable

The researchers say the issue can be exploited with no user interaction needed.

This includes scenarios such as sending an email with the exploit included in the message’s body, hosting malicious JavaScript code inside a web page, or by delivering a JS exploit to thousands or millions on users, via ads on reputable sites.

“Vulnerabilities in MsMpEng are among the most severe possible in Windows, due to the privilege, accessibility, and ubiquity of the service,” Tavis Ormandy, one of the Google researchers says.

This is because the service runs without sandboxing — a basic and very efficient security feature —, but also because the service runs as
NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM, a system-level user with no limitations.

Furthermore, the service is included by default on all recent Windows operating system, exposing hundreds of millions of PCs to remote hacking.

Microsoft patches issue within days

Unlike past incidents, where Microsoft has allowed exploited zero-day vulnerabilities to fester in the wild without being bothered to deliver a patch for months, this time around, the company moved lightning fast to address the issue.

In just a few days, the company had prepared and already shipped a patch to fix the vulnerable MsMpEng service.

According to a Microsoft advisory, the first version of the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine affected by this flaw is v1.1.13701.0. The issue has been patched in v1.1.13704.0, released a few hours ago, and which has already reached some users (screenshot above).

Microsoft also said that on latest Windows platforms, the risk of exploitation should be lower if the user has turned on Windows CFG (Control Flow Guard), a security feature that can make exploitation of memory-based vulnerabilities much harder.

The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2017-0290. The two Google researchers also released proof-of-concept exploit code. The entire exploit fits in a tweet. To help spread the word about this issue, US-CERT has also released an accompanying alert.

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Need To Deploy New-school Security Awareness Training In 2018

Excerpted from CyberheistNews Vol 7 #50

2017 was a dumpster fire of privacy and security screw-ups.

To start 2018 with a simple, effective, IT security strategy is an excellent New Year’s resolution and helps your CEO to keep their job. Better yet, thousands of your peers will tell you this was the best and most fun IT security budget they ever spent… hands-down.

This list is the high-power ammo you need to get budget and roll out new-school security awareness training, ideally right now.

Here are the Top 5 reasons…

  1. Social Engineering is the No. 1 go-to strategy for the bad guys. Unfortunately, their time is money too. Why spend 2 months of research uncovering a 0-day when you (literally) can create an effective spear-phishing attack in 2 hours? They are going after the human—the weakest link in IT security—and your last line of defense.
  2. Ransomware is only going to get worse in 2018. Email is still their favorite attack vector, and their sophistication is increasing by the month. The downtime caused by ransomware can be massive.
  3. Compliance requirements for awareness training are being sharpened up. Thinking that today you can get away with a yearly one-time, old-school awareness training session is whistling past the graveyard. A good example is May 25, 2018 when enforcement actions for GDPR begin. We have compliance training for GDPR ready in 24 languages.
  4. Legally you are required to act “reasonably” and take “necessary” measures to cope with a threat. If you don’t, you violate either compliance laws, regulations, or recent case law. Your organization must take into account today’s social engineering risks and “scale security measures to reflect the threat”. Don’t trust me, confirm with your lawyer, and next insist on getting budget. Today, data breaches cause practically instant class action lawsuits. And don’t even talk about all employees filing a class action against your own company because your W-2 forms were exfiltrated with CEO fraud.
  5. Board members’ No. 1 focus today is cyber security. Some very pointed questions will be asked if they read in the Wall Street Journal that your customer database was hacked and the breach data is being sold on the dark web. Once it becomes clear that your organization did not deploy a simple, effective strategy that could have prevented this, a few (highly placed) heads will roll. Target’s CEO and CISO are just an example. Help your CEO to keep their job.

Former US CISO on Why Awareness Training Is Priority Number 1:

In an information technology environment where personnel are on the cyber front line at work and also at the house, the key to ensuring security is still awareness training, says former U.S. CISO Gregory Touhill, who was the Air Force General responsible for Cyber Training before he became the first US CISO.

“A congressman asked me when I took my post as the first federal CISO: ‘If I gave you an extra dollar, how would you spend it on cybersecurity?’ And I told him I would spend it on better training my people. I find a very well-trained, well-informed workforce is better prepared to help an organization buy down their cyber risk,” Touhill says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

Training at All Levels

Touhill calls for daily security drills and exercises at all levels of an organization to help reinforce defensive strategies.

“Board and C-suite officers are increasingly large targets for whale phishing,” Touhill says. “Everybody has a stake in cybersecurity and I would contend everyone is on cyber front lines. That training needs to be tailored and continuous for the entire workforce.”

Touhill discusses:

  • The effectiveness of techniques such as gamification;
  • Why he believes one-and-done annual training fails;
  • Continuous phishing training;
  • His recommendations for improving training in 2018.

Touhill is now president of the Cyxtera Federal Group and teaches cybersecurity and risk management for the CISO certification program at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College.

Scam of the Week: New Massive Data Breach Poses Major Threat

Here’s a fun question to pose to the family dinner table: Have you ever heard of Alteryx?

100 to 1 you never heard of them, but chances are good that they have heard of you. Alteryx is a data analytics company that makes its money by repackaging data that it’s collected from different sources. And it became the latest reminder of how much data little-known companies have collected on us – and how little oversight there is over the security of that data.

Companies You’ve Never Heard of Are Exposing Your Personal Data

Earlier this week, an analyst from the security firm Upguard shared that Alteryx had not properly protected detailed information it had collected on 123 million U.S. households (All told, there are about 126 million American households, according to the Census Bureau.)

This data leak was discovered by a researcher, and not (we hope) by a criminal. But the leak affects about as many people as the massive hack Equifax reported in September, which affected 145.5 million Americans, or nearly every adult.

Another Leaky AWS Bucket

The data had been left unprotected in an Amazon Web Services storage bucket available to anyone with a free AWS account. After being informed of the data breach, Alteryx secured the information, however, it had been available to identity thieves and scammers for a considerable period of time.

Alteryx and credit reporting agency Experian—which was the source of the data—both downplayed the risk of identity theft because no names were included in the data included in the data breach. This response is just PR and disingenuous as 248 data fields for every household were included in the data breach which are easy to map to the names.

This is just another example of the lack of important laws in the United States protecting people from data aggregators’ negligence and requiring these companies to employ security measures to protect our personal data. Many other countries require such measures by law, the new European GDPR is an excellent example.

What to Do About It

I suggest you send the following to your employees, friends, and family. You’re welcome to copy, paste, and/or edit:

“There is another major data breach, that pretty much covers every living adult in the United States. At this point you have to assume that cyber criminals have highly personal information that they can use to trick you. You need to watch out for the following things:

  • Phishing emails that claim to be from your financial institution where you can “check if your data was compromised”
  • Phishing emails that claim there is a problem with a credit card, your credit record, or other personal financial information
  • Calls from scammers that claim they are from your bank or credit union
  • Fraudulent charges on any credit card because your identity was stolen

Here are 5 things you can do to prevent identity theft:

  1. First sign up for credit monitoring – dozens of companies do that.
  2. Next freeze your credit files at the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember that generally it is not possible to sign up for credit monitoring services after a freeze is in place. Advice for how to file a freeze is available here on a state-by-state basis:
    http://consumersunion.org/research/security-freeze/
  3. Check your credit reports via the free annualcreditreport.com
  4. Check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized activity
  5. If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, here is a site where you can learn more about how to protect yourself:
    www.idtheftcenter.org.

Quotes of the Week

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” – Terry Pratchett

“Here is an example of a young man gaining wisdom by experience. LOL:”
http://mashable.com/2017/12/22/man-fails-slide-london-tube-escalator/#leLSSc2WJqqR

 

Windows 10 included a password manager complete with massive password-stealing potential

 

Stealing password from codeMicrosoft has been bundling a password manager that features a dangerous flaw with some versions of Windows 10, a Google security researcher has revealed. Tavis Ormandy noticed that his copy of Windows 10 included Keeper, which he had previously found to be injecting privileged UI into pages.The version that Microsoft was including with Windows 10 featured the same bug. What does this mean? In short, it allows any website to steal passwords from you.

Keeper was included in some Windows 10 installations as a browser plugin, and it included the very same vulnerability that Ormandy had reported nearly a year and half earlier. With little more than a couple of very easily implemented tweaks, he found that it was possible to steal passwords that are stored within Keeper.

Ormandy shared details of the vulnerability on Twitter:

I created a new Windows 10 VM with a pristine image from MSDN, and noticed a third party password manager is now installed by default. It didn’t take long to find a critical vulnerability. https://bugs.chromium.org/p/project-zero/issues/detail?id=1481 

 He also posted on the Project Zero page, saying:

I recently created a fresh Windows 10 VM with a pristine image from MSDN, and found that a password manager called “Keeper” is now installed by default. I’m not the only person who has noticed this:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Windows10/comments/6dpj78/keeper_password_manager_comes_preinstalled_now/

I assume this is some bundling deal with Microsoft. I’ve heard of Keeper, I remember filing a bug a while ago about how they were injecting privileged UI into pages (   issue 917   ). I checked and, they’re doing the same thing again with this version. I think I’m being generous considering this a new issue that qualifies for a ninety day disclosure, as I literally just changed the selectors and the same attack works.

Nevertheless, this is a complete compromise of Keeper security, allowing any website to steal any password.

Having been made aware of the problem, the developers of Keeper issued a patch within 24 hours, saying:

This potential vulnerability requires a Keeper user to be lured to a malicious website while logged into the browser extension, and then fakes user input by using a ‘clickjacking’ technique to execute privileged code within the browser extension.

There have been no reports of the vulnerability having been exploited.

Image credit: Maddas / Shutterstock

It’s time to update WordPress

update-wordpress

WordPress 4.9.1 Security and Maintenance Release

WordPress 4.9.1 is now available. This is a security and maintenance release for all versions since WordPress 3.7. We strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

WordPress versions 4.9 and earlier are affected by four security issues which could potentially be exploited as part of a multi-vector attack. As part of the core team’s ongoing commitment to security hardening, the following fixes have been implemented in 4.9.1:

  1. Use a properly generated hash for the newbloguser key instead of a determinate substring.
  2. Add escaping to the language attributes used on html elements.
  3. Ensure the attributes of enclosures are correctly escaped in RSS and Atom feeds.
  4. Remove the ability to upload JavaScript files for users who do not have the unfiltered_html capability.

Thank you to the reporters of these issues for practicing responsible security disclosureRahul Pratap Singh and John Blackbourn.

Eleven other bugs were fixed in WordPress 4.9.1. Particularly of note were:

  • Issues relating to the caching of theme template files.
  • A MediaElement JavaScript error preventing users of certain languages from being able to upload media files.
  • The inability to edit theme and plugin files on Windows based servers.

This post has more information about all of the issues fixed in 4.9.1 if you’d like to learn more.

Spearhead Multimedia clients, as well as all Wordpress users, may contact us to perform the update for you.

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