May has been at least as rich on cybersecurity incidents and events as any of the previous months of the year. Some of the more important are described in the following text. The VENOM (Virtual Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation) vulnerability may be considered to be a very significant one. VENOM is a vulnerability in the code of a virtual floppy drive which is used by some of the virtualization platforms (QEMU, KVM, Xen).
During April, we have witnessed - among others - a discovery of an 18 years old “Redirect to SMB” vulnerability which can be used to attack all versions of Windows released since then. The vulnerability can be exploited in cases when attacker has some control over the network, enabling him to gain user login information by redirecting of network traffic to a malicious SMB (server message block) server. The server forces the target to automatic authorization process during which the target sends users login, domain and hashed password.
Looking back at March, probably the most important information security news has been discovery of a significant vulnerability (which could be exploited using a FREAK attack) in some TLS/SSL implementations, including the ones used by Windows operating systems. Another worth while news has been a discovery of a new campaign aimed at energy sector companies in the Middle East. Trojan Laizok - a reconnaissance malware for gathering information about infected systems - has been used in the campaign, along with other malicious programs which have been modified for specific systems based on the information gathered by Laizok.
Researchers from Google’s Project Zero have released information about a new attack based on flipping bits in DDR3 memory. The attack uses approach called Rowhammer which was devised last year by a team from Carnegie Mellon University and Intel Labs. It is based on repeated writing to and reading from a part of memory in a very short time which causes flipping values of bits in adjacent memory (the flipping is made possible by interaction between adjacent memory cells caused by their close proximity).
An international research team has devised attack called FREAK (Factoring attack on RSA Export Keys) with which it is possible to lower the level of encryption used in SSL connections. Attack is based on forcing server and client to use legacy (the vulnerability has been present for a long time) weak cryptographic suites which are still supported by some of the mainstream browsers (Safari and OpenSSL-based Android browser among others) and servers.
Dramatic information security incidents and news were unfortunately fairly common in February – we will shortly remember three of the most interesting ones. Most attention was probably gained by a story about an alleged theft of massive amount of encryption keys used in mobile communication from the network of Dutch company Gemalto (a major SIM card supplier) by NSA and GCHQ. The keys could be used to decrypt live communication and also, for example, remotely inject malicious code into end devices.