This Week In Security: Blast-RADIUS, Gitlab, And Plormbing

The RADIUS authentication scheme, short for “Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service”, has been widely deployed for user authentication in all sorts of scenarios. It’s a bit odd, in that individual users authenticate to a “RADIUS Client”, sometimes called a Network Access Server (NAS). In response to an authentication request, a NAS packages up the authentication details, and sends it to a central RADIUS server for verification. The server then sends back a judgement on the authentication request, and if successful the user is authenticated to the NAS/client.

The scheme was updated to its current form in 1994, back when MD5 was considered a cryptographically good hash. It’s been demonstrated that MD5 has problems, most notably a chosen-prefix collision attack demonstrated in 2007. The basis of this collision attack is that given two arbitrary messages, it is possible to find a pair of values that, when appended to the end of those messages, result in matching md5 hashes for each combined message. It turns out this is directly applicable to RADIUS.
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This Week In Security: Hide Yo SSH, Polyfill, And Packing It Up

The big news this week was that OpenSSH has an unauthorized Remote Code Execution exploit. Or more precisely, it had one that was fixed in 2006, that was unintentionally re-introduced in version 8.5p1 from 2021. The flaw is a signal handler race condition, where async-unsafe code gets called from within the SIGALARM handler. What does that mean?
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This Week In Security: Kaspersky Ban, Project Naptime, And More

The hot news this week is that Kaspersky is banned in the USA. More specifically, Kaspersky products will be banned from sale in the US starting on September 29. This ban will extend to blocking software updates, though it’s unclear how that will actually be accomplished. It’s reasonable to assume that payment processors will block payments to Kaspersky, but will ISPs be required to block traffic that could contain antivirus updates?

WordPress Plugin Backdoor

A Quartet of WordPress plugins have been found to have recently included backdoor code. It’s a collection of five Open Source plugins, seemingly developed by unrelated people. Malicious updates first showed up on June 21st, and it appears that all five plugins are shipping the same malicious code.

Rabbit AI API

The Rabbit R1 was released to less than thunderous applause. The idea is a personal AI device, but the execution has been disappointing, to the point of reviewers suggesting some of the earlier claims were fabricated. Now it seems there’s a serious security issue, in the form of exposed API keys that have *way* too many privileges.

The research seems to be done by the rabbitude group, who found the keys back in May. Of the things allowed by access to the API keys, the most worrying for user privacy was access to every text-to-speech call. Rabbitude states in their June 25 post, that “rabbit inc has known that we have had their elevenlabs (tts) api key for a month, but they have taken no action to rotate the api keys.” On the other hand, rabbit pushed a statement on the 26th, claiming they were just then made aware of the issue, and made the needed key rotations right away.

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This Week In Security: Chat Control, Vulnerability Extortion, And Emoji Malware

Way back in 2020, I actually read the proposed US legislation known as EARN IT, and with some controversy, concluded that much of the criticism of that bill was inaccurate. Well what’s old is new again, except this time it’s the European Union that’s wrestling with how to police online Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). And from what I can tell of reading the actual legislation (pdf), this time it really is that bad.

The legislation lays out two primary goals, both of them problematic. The first is detection, or what some are calling “upload moderation”. The technical details are completely omitted here, simply stating that services “… take reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of their services being misused for such abuse …” The implication here is that providers would do some sort of automated scanning to detect illicit text or visuals, but exactly what constitutes “reasonable measures” is left unspecified.

The second goal is the detection order. It’s worth pointing out that interpersonal communication services are explicitly mentioned as required to implement these goals. From the bill:

Providers of hosting services and providers of interpersonal communications services that have received a detection order shall execute it by installing and operating technologies approved by the Commission to detect the dissemination of known or new child sexual abuse material or the solicitation of children…

This bill is careful not to prohibit end-to-end encryption, nor require that such encryption be backdoored. Instead, it requires that the apps themselves be backdoored, to spy on users before encryption happens. No wonder Meredith Whittaker has promised to pull the Signal app out of the EU if it becomes law. As this scanning is done prior to encryption, it’s technically not breaking end-to-end encryption.

You may wonder why that’s such a big deal. Why is it a non-negotiable for the Signal app to not look for CSAM in messages prior to encryption? For starters, it’s a violation of user trust and an intentional weakening of the security of the Signal system. But maybe most importantly, it puts a mechanism in place that will undoubtedly prove too tempting for future governments. If Signal can be forced into looking for CSAM in the EU, why not anti-government speech in China?

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This Week In Security: Unicode Strikes Again, Trust No One (Redditor), And More

There’s a popular Sysadmin meme that system problems are “always DNS”. In the realm of security, it seems like “it’s always Unicode“. And it’s not hard to see why. Unicode is the attempt to represent all of Earth’s languages with a single character set, and that means there’s a lot of very similar characters. The two broad issues are that human users can’t always see the difference between similar characters, and that libraries and applications sometimes automatically convert exotic Unicode characters into more traditional text.

This week we see the resurrection of an ancient vulnerability in PHP-CGI, that allows injecting command line switches when a web server launches an instance of PHP-CGI. The solution was to block some characters in specific places in query strings, like a query string starting with a dash.

The bypass is due to a Windows feature, “Best-Fit”, an automatic down-convert from certain Unicode characters. This feature works on a per-locale basis, which means that not every system language behaves the same. The exact bypass that has been found is the conversion of a soft hyphen, which doesn’t get blocked by PHP, into a regular hyphen, which can trigger the command injection. This quirk only happens when the Windows locale is set to Chinese or Japanese. Combined with the relative rarity of running PHP-CGI, and PHP on Windows, this is a pretty narrow problem. The XAMPP install does use this arrangement, so those installs are vulnerable, again if the locale is set to one of these specific languages. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Unicode character set is huge, and it’s very likely that there are other special characters in other locales that behave similarly.

Downloader Beware

The ComfyUI project is a flowchart interface for doing AI image generation workflows. It’s an easy way to build complicated generation pipelines, and the community has stepped up to build custom plugins and nodes for generation. The thing is, it’s not always the best idea to download and run code from strangers on the Internet, as a group of ComfyUI users found out the hard way this week. The ComfyUI_LLMVISION node from u/AppleBotzz was malicious.

The node references a malicious Python package that grabs browser data and sends it all to a Discord or Pastebin. It appears that some additional malware gets installed, for continuing access to infected systems. It’s a rough way to learn. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Unicode Strikes Again, Trust No One (Redditor), And More”

This Week In Security: Recall, Modem Mysteries, And Flipping Pages

Microsoft is racing to get into the AI game as part of Windows 11 on ARM, calling it Copilot+. It’s an odd decision, but clearly aimed at competing with the Apple M series of MacBooks. Our focus of interest today is Recall, a Copilot+ feature that not only has some security problems, but also triggers a sort of visceral response from regular people: My computer is spying on me? Eww.

Yes, it really sort of is. Recall is a scheme to take screen shots of the computer display every few seconds, run them through character recognition, and store the screenshots and results in a database on the local machine hard drive. There are ways this could be useful. Can’t remember what website had that recipe you saw? Want to revisit a now-deleted tweet? Is your Google-fu failing you to find a news story you read last week? Recall saw it, and Recall remembers. But what else did Recall see? Every video you watched, ever website you visited, and probably some passwords and usernames you typed in.

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This Week In Security: Operation Endgame, Appliance Carnage, And Router Genocide

This week saw an impressive pair of takedowns pulled off by law enforcement agencies around the world. The first was the 911 S5 botnet, Which the FBI is calling “likely the world’s largest botnet ever”. Spreading via fake free VPN services, 911 was actually a massive proxy service for crooks. Most lately, this service was operating under the name “Cloud Router”. As of this week, the service is down, the web domain has been seized, and the alleged mastermind, YunHe Wang, is in custody.

The other takedown is interesting in its own right. Operation Endgame seems to be psychological warfare as well as actual arrests and seizures. The website features animated shorts, a big red countdown clock, and a promise that more is coming. The actual target was the ring that manage malware droppers — sort of middlemen between initial shellcode, and doing something useful with a compromised machine. This initial volley includes four arrests, 100+ servers disrupted, and 2,000+ domains seized.

The arrests happened in Armenia and Ukraine. The messaging around this really seems to be aimed at the rest of the gang that’s out of reach of law enforcement for now. Those criminals may still be anonymous, or operating in places like Russia and China. The unmistakable message is that this operation is coming for the rest of them sooner or later. Continue reading “This Week In Security: Operation Endgame, Appliance Carnage, And Router Genocide”