I have been meaning to write about Joe Sullivan, Uber’s former Chief Security Officer. He was convicted of crimes related to covering up a cyberattack against Uber. It’s a complicated case, and I’m not convinced that he deserved a guilty ruling or that it’s a good thing for the industry.
I may still write something, but until then, this essay on the topic is worth reading.
Posted on November 7, 2022 at 6:17 AM •
Sometimes browser spellcheckers leak passwords:
When using major web browsers like Chrome and Edge, your form data is transmitted to Google and Microsoft, respectively, should enhanced spellcheck features be enabled.
Depending on the website you visit, the form data may itself include PII—including but not limited to Social Security Numbers (SSNs)/Social Insurance Numbers (SINs), name, address, email, date of birth (DOB), contact information, bank and payment information, and so on.
The solution is to only use the spellchecker options that keep the data on your computer—and don’t send it into the cloud.
Posted on September 26, 2022 at 6:08 AM •
Log4j is being exploited by all sorts of attackers, all over the Internet:
At that point it was reported that there were over 100 attempts to exploit the vulnerability every minute. “Since we started to implement our protection we prevented over 1,272,000 attempts to allocate the vulnerability, over 46% of those attempts were made by known malicious groups,” said cybersecurity company Check Point.
And according to Check Point, attackers have now attempted to exploit the flaw on over 40% of global networks.
And a second vulnerability was found, in the patch for the first vulnerability. This is likely not to be the last.
Posted on December 16, 2021 at 9:50 AM •
After being compelled by a Swiss court to monitor IP logs for a particular user, ProtonMail no longer claims that “we do not keep any IP logs.”
Posted on September 10, 2021 at 6:10 AM •
First California. Then Virginia. Now Colorado.
Here’s a good comparison of the three states’ laws.
Posted on July 15, 2021 at 6:08 AM •
Excellent Brookings paper: “Why data ownership is the wrong approach to protecting privacy.”
From the introduction:
Treating data like it is property fails to recognize either the value that varieties of personal information serve or the abiding interest that individuals have in their personal information even if they choose to “sell” it. Data is not a commodity. It is information. Any system of information rights—whether patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property, or privacy rights—presents some tension with strong interest in the free flow of information that is reflected by the First Amendment. Our personal information is in demand precisely because it has value to others and to society across a myriad of uses.
From the conclusion:
Privacy legislation should empower individuals through more layered and meaningful transparency and individual rights to know, correct, and delete personal information in databases held by others. But relying entirely on individual control will not do enough to change a system that is failing individuals, and trying to reinforce control with a property interest is likely to fail society as well. Rather than trying to resolve whether personal information belongs to individuals or to the companies that collect it, a baseline federal privacy law should directly protect the abiding interest that individuals have in that information and also enable the social benefits that flow from sharing information.
Posted on February 26, 2021 at 6:28 AM •
It seems to be the season of sophisticated supply-chain attacks.
This one is in the NoxPlayer Android emulator:
ESET says that based on evidence its researchers gathered, a threat actor compromised one of the company’s official API (api.bignox.com) and file-hosting servers (res06.bignox.com).
Using this access, hackers tampered with the download URL of NoxPlayer updates in the API server to deliver malware to NoxPlayer users.
Despite evidence implying that attackers had access to BigNox servers since at least September 2020, ESET said the threat actor didn’t target all of the company’s users but instead focused on specific machines, suggesting this was a highly-targeted attack looking to infect only a certain class of users.
Until today, and based on its own telemetry, ESET said it spotted malware-laced NoxPlayer updates being delivered to only five victims, located in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka.
I don’t know if there are actually more supply-chain attacks occurring right now. More likely is that they’ve been happening for a while, and we have recently become more diligent about looking for them.
Posted on February 8, 2021 at 6:34 AM •
Researchers have been able to find all sorts of personal information within GPT-2. This information was part of the training data, and can be extracted with the right sorts of queries.
Paper: “Extracting Training Data from Large Language Models.”
Abstract: It has become common to publish large (billion parameter) language models that have been trained on private datasets. This paper demonstrates that in such settings, an adversary can perform a training data extraction attack to recover individual training examples by querying the language model.
We demonstrate our attack on GPT-2, a language model trained on scrapes of the public Internet, and are able to extract hundreds of verbatim text sequences from the model’s training data. These extracted examples include (public) personally identifiable information (names, phone numbers, and email addresses), IRC conversations, code, and 128-bit UUIDs. Our attack is possible even though each of the above sequences are included in just one document in the training data.
We comprehensively evaluate our extraction attack to understand the factors that contribute to its success. For example, we find that larger models are more vulnerable than smaller models. We conclude by drawing lessons and discussing possible safeguards for training large language models.
From a blog post:
We generated a total of 600,000 samples by querying GPT-2 with three different sampling strategies. Each sample contains 256 tokens, or roughly 200 words on average. Among these samples, we selected 1,800 samples with abnormally high likelihood for manual inspection. Out of the 1,800 samples, we found 604 that contain text which is reproduced verbatim from the training set.
The rest of the blog post discusses the types of data they found.
Posted on January 7, 2021 at 6:14 AM •
This is bad:
More than 100,000 Zyxel firewalls, VPN gateways, and access point controllers contain a hardcoded admin-level backdoor account that can grant attackers root access to devices via either the SSH interface or the web administration panel.
Installing patches removes the backdoor account, which, according to Eye Control researchers, uses the “zyfwp” username and the “PrOw!aN_fXp” password.
“The plaintext password was visible in one of the binaries on the system,” the Dutch researchers said in a report published before the Christmas 2020 holiday.
Posted on January 6, 2021 at 5:44 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.