Privacy, Security Archive
Internal Facebook documents seized by British lawmakers suggest that the social media giant once considered selling access to user data, according to extracts obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Back in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told congress unequivocally that, "We do not sell data." But these documents suggest that it was something that the company internally considered doing between 2012 and 2014, while the company struggled to generate revenue after its IPO.
This just goes to show that no matter what promises a company makes, once the shareholders come knocking, they'll disregard all promises, morals, and values they claim to have.
The government of The Netherlands recently commissioned the Privacy Company to perform a data protection impact assessment regarding the government's use of Microsoft Office products, and the results of this assessment are alarming.
The SLM Rijk conducts negotiations with Microsoft for approximately 300.000 digital work stations of the national government. The Enterprise version of the Office software is deployed by different governmental organisations, such as ministries, the judiciary, the police and the taxing authority.
The results of this Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) are alarming. Microsoft collects and stores personal data about the behaviour of individual employees on a large scale, without any public documentation. The DPIA report (in English) as published by the Ministry is available here.
This shouldn't surprise anyone, but it's good to see governments taking these matters seriously, and forcing technology companies to change their policies.
A major U.S. telecommunications company discovered manipulated hardware from Super Micro Computer Inc. in its network and removed it in August, fresh evidence of tampering in China of critical technology components bound for the U.S., according to a security expert working for the telecom company.
The security expert, Yossi Appleboum, provided documents, analysis and other evidence of the discovery following the publication of an investigative report in Bloomberg Businessweek that detailed how China’s intelligence services had ordered subcontractors to plant malicious chips in Supermicro server motherboards over a two-year period ending in 2015.
Fresh fuel for the fire.
But that's just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People's Liberation Army. In Supermicro, China's spies appear to have found a perfect conduit for what U.S. officials now describe as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.
One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world's most valuable company, Apple Inc. Apple was an important Supermicro customer and had planned to order more than 30,000 of its servers in two years for a new global network of data centers. Three senior insiders at Apple say that in the summer of 2015, it, too, found malicious chips on Supermicro motherboards. Apple severed ties with Supermicro the following year, for what it described as unrelated reasons.
Both Apple and Amazon aggressively deny the reports, but such was to be expected - these companies aren't going to openly admit their products and data could be vulnerable to sophisticated Chinese hacking attempts. In addition, especially Apple is beholden to remaining in the Chinese government's good graces, and won't openly admit they're being targeted by them - like no other company in the world, Apple is dependent on China, because no other country has the manpower, labour laws, and welcoming totalitarian government required to build the massive amount of devices Apple orders from China.
None of this should surprise anyone, and further illustrates that any company - especially major ones - claiming their products are secure and privacy-focused have really no way of guaranteeing as such. Whether it be domestic carriers snooping in on internet traffic or the Chinese government adding small microchips to hardware, nothing is secure or private.
Does Lenovo put backdoors in if the Chinese government asks?
"If they want backdoors globally? We don't provide them. If they want a backdoor in China, let's just say that every multinational in China does the same thing.
"We comply with local laws. If the local laws say we don't put in backdoors, we don't put in backdoors. And we don't just comply with the laws, we follow the ethics and the spirit of the laws."
This shouldn't surprise anyone, really. At this point, it's pretty safe to assume that any major technology company selling products in China are putting backdoors into their products sold in China. Microsoft, Apple, phone makers - China is simply too powerful and important to ignore.
During preparation for a workshop at DEF CON in August on locating privacy leaks in network traffic, we discovered a number of applications on both iOS and Android that were broadcasting precise location data back to the applications' developers - in some cases in unencrypted formats. Research released late Friday by Sudo Security's Guardian mobile firewall team provided some confirmation to our findings - and demonstrated that many apps are sharing location data with firms that market location data information without the users' knowledge.
Is anyone still surprised by this? Apple was recently also forced to remove one of the most popular apps in the Mac App Store because it turned out to be spyware. The one redeeming feature of closed application stores is that they're safer - if that advantage turns out to be a lot less solid than proponents of walled gardens proclaim, why do we keep insisting on maintaining them?
The US, UK, and three other governments have called on tech companies to build backdoors into their encrypted products, so that law enforcement will always be able to obtain access. If companies don't, the governments say they "may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative, or other measures" in order to get into locked devices and services.
Their statement came out of a meeting last week between nations in the Five Eyes pact, an intelligence sharing agreement between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The nations issued a statement covering a range of technology-related issues they face, but it was their remarks on encryption that stood out the most.
Break encryption, or we'll break you.
The U.S. tech industry has largely declared it is off limits to scan emails for information to sell to advertisers. Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine.
Yahoo's owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications Inc., has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath's presentations as well as current and former employees of the company.
The biggest news in this story is not that Verizon is a scummy company - but that 200 million people still use Yahoo's email service.
Some x86 CPUs have hidden backdoors that let you seize root by sending a command to an undocumented RISC core that manages the main CPU, security researcher Christopher Domas told the Black Hat conference here Thursday (Aug. 9).
The command - ".byte 0x0f, 0x3f" in Linux - "isn't supposed to exist, doesn't have a name, and gives you root right away," Domas said, adding that he calls it "God Mode."
The backdoor completely breaks the protection-ring model of operating-system security, in which the OS kernel runs in ring 0, device drivers run in rings 1 and 2, and user applications and interfaces ("userland") run in ring 3, furthest from the kernel and with the least privileges. To put it simply, Domas' God Mode takes you from the outermost to the innermost ring in four bytes.
That's one hell of a bug.
In a press briefing just two weeks ago, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the grand jury assembled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller had returned an indictment against 12 officers of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff (better known as Glavnoye razvedyvatel'noye upravleniye, or GRU). The indictment was for conducting "active cyber operations with the intent of interfering in the 2016 presidential election."
The allegations are backed up by data collected from service provider logs, Bitcoin transaction tracing, and additional forensics. The DOJ also relied on information collected by US (and likely foreign) intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Reading between the lines, the indictment reveals that the Mueller team and other US investigators likely gained access to things like Twitter direct messages and hosting company business records and logs, and they obtained or directly monitored email messages associated with the GRU (and possibly WikiLeaks). It also appears that the investigation ultimately had some level of access to internal activities of two GRU offices.
Yet, after a summit meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin just days following the indictment, Trump publicly expressed doubt that Russia was involved. The president has said that Putin strongly denied any interference in the election - even as the United States' own director of national Iintelligence, Dan Coats, reiterated the conclusion that Russia was responsible for the attacks. With such rhetoric, Trump has continued to send mixed messages about the findings of his own intelligence and law enforcement teams, while seeming to put more stock in Putin's insistence that the Russian government had nothing to do with any of this.
After digging into this latest indictment, the evidence suggests Trump may not have made a very good call on this matter. But his blaming of the victims of the attacks for failing to have good enough security, while misguided, does strike on a certain truth: the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and DCC were poorly prepared for this sort of attack, failed to learn lessons from history, and ignored advice from some very knowledgeable third parties they enlisted for help.
A detailed look at how Russia attacked the United States election process. Sadly, this being the internet, we probably won't be able to keep the discussion focused on the technical process, but can we all promise to at least try? Regardless of political affiliation, all of us should be worried about the election process of the most powerful country on earth being this easily manipulated by external forces.
That impact is now a little larger. Researchers from Graz University of Technology including one of the original Meltdown discoverers, Daniel Gruss, have described NetSpectre: a fully remote attack based on Spectre. With NetSpectre, an attacker can remotely read the memory of a victim system without running any code on that system.