Phish and Chips | TechSNAP 118

Phish and Chips | TechSNAP 118

We\’ll cover Dropbox’s two-factor authentication flaw, how “Team Telecom” forced fibre providers to enable surveillance, the FBI’s warning about phishing attacks.

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Dropbox flaw allows attackers to circumvent two-factor authentication

  • If an attacker is able to get the username and password for your dropbox account, they can access your account even if you have enabled two-factor authentication
  • Dropbox does not verify the email address used to signup for a new account, because of this, the attacker can signup for a new account with your email address and just append a dot to the end of the domain name
  • Login to this new account and enable 2 factor authentication
  • Save the ‘emergency override code’, used in case you lose your phone
  • Logout and login to the victim account, when prompted for the one-time password, click “I lost my phone”
  • Enter the emergency override code (it is the same for both accounts)
  • It is not clear why having the dot at the end of the email (valid) is enough to make the account unique, but does not make the override code unique

US Government established “Team Telecom” to force foreign owned fibre providers to allow the government access to the data transitting them

  • In 2003 the “Network Security Agreement” was signed between the US Government and Global Crossing, one of the largest internet transit providers, connecting 200 major cities in 27 nations on four continents
  • “In months of private talks, the team of lawyers from the FBI and the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security demanded that the company maintain what amounted to an internal corporate cell of American citizens with government clearances”
  • The FCC would hold up approval of cable licenses until such agreements were in place
  • The agreements required the transit providers to maintain a “Network Operations Center” (NOC) on U.S. soil. This NOC must be staffed with U.S. citizens pre-screened by the government and operating under gag orders, preventing the employees for sharing the information even with their bosses.
  • Originally a US company, Global Crossing filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002
  • A deal was setup where a partnership between Singapore Technologies Telemedia and Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa would buy Global Crossing
  • The Hong Kong side of the partnership was pressured by the US Government and eventually withdrew. The US was worried that the Chinese Government would gain access to the US’s surveillance requests
  • Singapore Technologies Telemedia eventually agreed to buy the majority stake in Global Crossing and that half of the new board of directors would consist of American citizens with security clearances
  • This agreement has been used as a template for other foreign owned telcos and applied as foreign investors bought existing telcos from US investors
  • In 2011 Global Crossing was sold to US Telecom giant Level3, however ST Telemedia maintained a minority stake, resulting in another round of review by “Team Telecom”
  • A spokesman for Level 3 Communications declined to comment for this article
  • Tapping undersea cables has been a key component of US intelligence collection since WWII, the US Navy used to have a number of submarines specifically outfitted for tapping undersea copper phone lines to listen to sensitive traffic in the Soviet Union
  • Infographic

FBI issues formal warning about targetted spear phishing

  • Many of the very large compromises that we have covered lately were made possible by the attacker establishing an initial beachhead on a single machine, via spear phishing
  • The compromises at The Onion and the Financial Times were both explained in detail after the fact and showed just how much damage an attacker can do once they get inside the network, and how easily they can get inside the network with spear phishing
  • Many in the defense and aerospace industries have been targeted by highly sophisticated spear phishing campaigns, including professionally produced .pdf flyers for fake conferences that took advantage of flaws in Adobe Acrobat to infect the system
  • According to research by AV vendor Trend Micro, 91% of all targeted attacks involved spear phishing in the initial phases
  • Training firm PhishMe says their clients usually start at around 60% susceptibility, but training reduces this to single digits
  • The PhiseMe system works by sending your users different types of phishing emails, including links, attachments, etc
  • When the user falls for the phishing attempt, they are redirected to training pages, teaching them what they did wrong
  • Enhanced versions will even disguise themselves to look like your company\’s page, and prompt users to enter sensitive information. If they do, they are admonished and given further training
  • This type of ongoing proactive training seems like the only real way to increase security, because typical training does not seem to work

MIT Media lab rolls out ‘Immersion’ tool to allow you to visualize your email metadata

  • Logs in to your gmail via OAuth
  • Looks at only the headers (To, From, CC, and timestamp)
  • Builds a visualization of your ‘social graph’
  • After you view the report, you have the option to allow them to save it, or ask them to erase it
  • If you save a snapshot of your social graph, it is automatically deleted after 30 days


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