Exploits are in the wild that can take down critical infrastructure equipment, and some highly trusted sites were attacked this week and used against their own visitors.
Plus – We’ll tell you how to build the ultimate home router, that can do more than many Enterprise grade systems, with the press of a few buttons – and for FREE!
All that and more, on this week’s TechSNAP!
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- SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) are Industrial control systems
- The Stuxnet worm targeted the specific SCADA system used by the Iranian centrifuges
- These exploits could cause serious disruption if the systems are not properly protected from external access
- SCADA systems are used to control numerous important industrial systems including water and sewage treatment, dams and power plants, as well as manufacturing automation systems.
- In January 2000, the remote compromised of a SCADA system was responsible for pumping sewage into a nearby park and contaminated an open surface-water drainage ditch.
- News Article
- On or before Tuesday September 13th, the Official uTorrent.com website was compromised, and on the 13th, the attackers replaced the download files with spyware.
- Users who downloaded uTorrent on the 13th instead received a scareware fake anti-virus package called ‘Security Shield’
- The scareware told them they were infected with malware and demanded payment to remove it
- Any users who downloaded uTorrent between 12.20 and 14.10 BST likely received the malware instead of uTorrent.
- In this case, the attack was fairly obvious, but a similar hack against popular software distribution points could have resulted in the stealth infection of 1000s of systems via the auto-update feature built in to most modern applications.
- This is always the nightmare security situation, when legitimate trusted sites are compromised and start to distribute harmful content.
- The virus can infect most any computer with an Award BIOS (very popular, used in most all Motherboards that I own).
- The virus dumps a copy of the BIOS, and then adds an ISA ROM that will rewrite the MBR (Master Boot Record) on the hard drive at each bootup.
- The MBR virus then rootkits winlogon.exe to take over control of the system
- The rootkit then prevents modification of the MBR, making it harder to remove the virus
- Even if the MBR is repaired, it is reinfected at the next boot by the BIOS portion of the virus
- The rootkit also downloads a trojan and allows the system to be remotely controlled.
- This attack is related to the attack we discussed in a previous episode of TechSNAP where a researcher was able to infect the battery in a MacBook with a virus. If the virus was similar to this one, it would add an additional layer of complexity, if the BIOS could be reinfected from the battery.
- Details from Symantec
- The popular TWiT.tv page was compromised and a snippet of malicious code was added, an iframe that directed users’ browsers to a page that attempted to use Java and PDF exploits.
- Google’s safe browsing started blocking the site. Firefox and Google Chrome users will be presented with a warning before visiting the site.
- At approximately 4:00 PM facility local time on Sunday, September 11, 2011, the Seattle 1 data center experienced an unexpected service interruption. It was determined that the cause of the issue was a malfunction in one of the edge routers servicing the facility.
- The device was rebooted to correct the issue and we proceeded to work with the device manufacturers TAC (Technical Assistance Center) to determine the cause of the issue and proper resolution to avert any future problems.
- At 6:20 PM facility local time, the same issue occurred again, and the device was again rebooted.
- To prevent any future unexpected service interruptions, it was decided that the best course of action would be to replace the device with the standby device available at the facility.
- At approximately 7:00 PM facility local time, we began the process of replacing the faulting device with a new one. The old device was removed and the new device was put in its place.
- Once powered on the replacement device alerted us to a number of errors within the switch fabric modules that were causing inter-line card communication to not work properly.
- We again contacted the device manufactures TAC, and at approximately 8:30 PM, we decided with the TAC that the best option was to replace the switch fabrics in the replacement device with the switch fabrics from the old device.
- Once this was completed the device was restarted but produced the same errors.
- The issue was then escalated to tier 2 support at the device manufactures TAC.
- We concluded that the issue was likely a problem somewhere within the replacement device’s chassis, and proceeded to replace the chassis with the one from the old device.
- Upon doing so, we began getting a different set of errors, this time with the management modules communication to the line cards.
- At approximately 4:30 AM facility local time, the matter was escalated to tier 3 support at the device manufactures TAC. At this time, we also dispatched our head network technician to the facility from Phoenix with a spare device which is stored at our office in the event of issues such as this one.
- At approximately 6:30 AM facility local time, the TAC tier 3 technician concluded that the likely cause of the issue was an electrical problem either within the switch fabric modules or the replacement device chassis which resulted in improper current being sent to various parts of the device and damaging several of the sensitive electronic components in the line card, forwarding engines and switch fabrics. Because the electrical subsystem within the device had potentially caused damage to all of the switch fabric modules that we had available at the facility, we were advised that we should power down both devices and not use either of them any further until a full diagnostic of the electrical sub-system could be completed by the manufacturer.
- At approximately 12:00 PM our head network technician arrived at the Seattle airport, and by 1:00 PM was at the facility with the replacement device from our Phoenix office.
- At approximately 2:00 PM our head network technician completed the installation of the replacement device from our Phoenix office and service was fully restored.
- Total time offline: 19 hours 8 minutes.
- A few questions about home servers
Q: crshbndct I’ve built a spare computer out of some spare parts and I want to use it as a home server. I’d like to use it as a router, a DNS server, a caching server, and maybe also throttle the usage of my servers. What should I use?
A: Chris and I both love pfSense, it is a FreeBSD based router appliance. You can basically turn any computer with 2 network cards into a Router/Firewall, with DHCP, DNS/DDNS, VPN (IPSec, PPTP, OpenVNP), VLANs, Captive Portal, Traffic Shaping and Graphing. It has a web interface similar but more expansive than what most people are already used to from a normal off the shelf home router.
Next Week: RAID types, what they are and some use cases for each.
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