Nov 25 2014

CryptoPHP – Backdoor in Thousands of CMS Plugins and Themes Used to Hijack Web Servers

CryptoPHP BackdoorSecurity researchers have discovered thousands of backdoored plugins and themes for the popular content management systems (CMS) that could be used by attackers to compromise web servers on a large scale.

The Netherlands based security firm Fox IT has published a whitepaper revealing a new Backdoor named “CryptoPHP”. Security researchers have uncovered malicious plugins and themes for WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. However, there is a slight relief for Drupal users, as only themes are found to be infected from CryptoPHP backdoor.

In order to victimize site administrators, miscreants makes use of a simple social engineering trick. They often lured site admins to download pirated versions of commercial CMS plugins and themes for free. Once downloaded, the malicious theme or plugin included backdoor installed on the admins’ server.

By publishing pirated themes and plug-ins free for anyone to use instead of having to pay for them, the CryptoPHP actor is social-engineering site administrators into installing the included backdoor on their server“, Fox IT said in its analysis on the attack.

Once installed on a web server, the backdoor can be controlled by cyber criminals using various options such as command and control server (C&C) communication, email communication and manual control as well.

Other capabilities of the CryptoPHP backdoor include:

  • Integration into popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla
  • Public key encryption for communication between the compromised server and the command and control (C2) server
  • An extensive infrastructure in terms of C2 domains and IP’s
  • Backup mechanisms in place against C2 domain takedowns in the form of email communication
  • Manual control of the backdoor besides the C2 communication
  • Remote updating of the list of C2 servers
  • Ability to update itself

Miscreants are using CryptoPHP backdoor on compromised Web sites and Web servers for illegal Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is also known as Black Hat SEO, researchers said in its report. It is because the compromised websites link to the websites of the attackers appear higher in search engine results.

Black Hat SEO is a group of techniques and tactics that focus on maximizing search engine results with non-human interaction with the pages, thus violating search engine guidelines. These include keyword stuffing, invisible text, doorway pages, adding unrelated keywords to the page content or page swapping.

The security company has discovered 16 variants of CryptoPHP Backdoor on thousands of of backdoored plugins and themes as of 12th November 2014. First version of the backdoor was appeared on the 25th of September 2013. The exact number of websites affected by the backdoor is undetermined, but the company estimates that at least a few thousand websites or possibly more are compromised.

Sep 16 2014

Twitter Vulnerability Allows Hacker to Delete Credit Cards from any Account

Twitter Delete Credit Card VulnerabilityAt the beginning of this month, just like other social networks, Twitter also started paying individuals for any flaws they uncover on its service with a fee of $140 or more offered per flaw under its new Bug Bounty program, and here comes the claimant.

An Egyptian Security Researcher, Ahmed Aboul-Ela, who have been rewarded by many reputed and popular technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Apple, have discovered a critical vulnerability in Twitter’s advertising service that allowed him deleting credit cards from any Twitter account.

Actually he found two vulnerabilities not one but both was having the same effect and impact.

#First Vulnerability
The first vulnerability he had spotted was in the delete functionality of credit cards in payments method page

https://ads.twitter.com/accounts/[account id]/payment_methods

Twitter Vulnerability Delete Credit Card

When he choose to delete credit card and press on the delete button, an ajax POST request is sent to the server like the following:

POST /accounts/18ce53wqoxd/payment_methods/destroy HTTP/1.1
Host: ads.twitter.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 29
Accept: /
Origin: https://ads.twitter.com
X-CSRF-Token: Lb6HONDceN5mGvAEUvCQNakJUspD60Odumz/trVdQfE=
X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/37.0.2062.94 Safari/537.36
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded; charset=UTF-8
Referer: https://ads.twitter.com/accounts/18ce53wqoxd/payment_methods
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.8
Cookie: [cookies here]
account=18ce53wqoxd&id=219643

There are only two post parameters sent in request body-
account: the twitter account id
id: the credit card id and it’s numerical without any alphabetic characters

All he had to do is to change those two parameters to his twitter account id and credit card id, then reply again the request and he suddenly found that credit card have been delete from the other twitter account without any required interaction.

The funny part that the page response was “403 forbbiden” but the credit card was actually deleted from the account :D

#Second Vulnerability
Aboul-Ela found another similar vulnerability but this time the impact was higher than the previous one.
when he tried to add an invalid credit card to his twitter account it displayed an error message

“we were unable to approve the card you entered” and show a button called “Dismiss”

Hacking Twitter Delete Credit Cards

When he pressed on the Dismiss button the credit card was disappeared from his account, so he thought it have the same effect of deleteing, so he tried to add invalid credit card again and intercepted the request which looks like the following:

POST /accounts/18ce53wqoxd/payment_methods/handle_failed/220152 HTTP/1.1
Host: ads.twitter.com
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Length: 108
Cache-Control: max-age=0
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8
Origin: https://ads.twitter.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/37.0.2062.94 Safari/537.36
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Referer: https://ads.twitter.com/accounts/18ce53wqoxd/payment_methods
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.8
Cookie: [Cookies Here]
utf8=%E2%9C%93&authenticity_token=Lb6HONDceN5mGvAEUvCQNakJUspD60Odumz%2FtrVdQfE%3D
&id=220152&dismiss=Dismiss

This time account parameter doesn’t exists and only credit card id is used.

So he changed the id in the url and body to his credit card id from other twitter account then replied the request, and guess what?
Credit card got deleted from the other twitter account !

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION:

Sep 15 2014

A 16-Year Old Invents Device that Converts Breath to Speech

TALK Converting Breath to SpeechA High-school student Arsh Shah Dilbagi has invented a portable and affordable device that converts breath into speech, helping people suffering from different developmental disabilities like locked-in syndrome, Parkinson’s, or ALS to communicate using only their breath.

A 16-year-old Dilbagi who hails from Harayana’s Panipat region in India has come up as the only entry from Asia in the 15 global finalists at the Google Science Fair 2014, a competition open to 13 to 18 year old thinkers.

This augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device, Dilbagi dubbed it as ‘Talk’, can turn breath signals into speech using the assistance of Morse code. This innovative device can be used by people with developmental disabilities whose communication abilities are impaired.

Over 1.4 percent of the world’s total population suffers from some disorder that renders victims almost completely paralyzed, making them difficult in speaking and forcing them to use an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device to communicate with others.

EASILY AFFORDABLE – JUST $80
A majority of AAC devices use eye tracking in order to help people communicate with each other, but according to Dilbagi, the amateur inventor, most of those devices are very expensive, very expensive, slow and bulky, so in an effort to create a device that offers faster and more affordable alternative to victims, he invented “Talk.” It took him three months of research and another seven months to build the final prototype.

The device uses a basic $25 Arduino microcontroller, and the total invention costs only $80 (Rs 5000) about a hundred times less than the sort of Augmentative and Alternative Communication device used by Stephen Hawking, making it affordable to the large number of population.

HOW TALK WORKS
The device translates breath signals into electric signals using a special device called MEMS Microphone. This technology uses a pressure-sensitive diaphragm etched directly onto a silicon microchip, and an amplifying device to increase the sound of the user’s breath.

Breath to Speech Converter

The user is required to give two distinguishable exhales, varying in intensity or time, so that they can spell words out using the assistance of Morse code. The morse code can either be translated into English, or specific commands and phrases. The device features nine different voices varying in age and gender.

A microprocessor is used to interpret these breathes into dots and dashes that converts them into words. Once the breath is converted into words, they are sent to a second microprocessor that then converts them into voice.

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION
You can see the video demonstration of the device in which Dilbagi is explaining about the device.

Mar 01 2014

Outernet – Free Global Wi-Fi Internet Access from Outer Space

Outernet Free WiFi Internet Access The Outernet is a global networking project currently under development by the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), a United States-based non-profit organization. The Outernet’s goal is to provide free access to internet data through wifi, made available effectively to all parts of the world.

How Does it Work?
Outernet consists of a constellation of low-cost, miniature satellites (CubeSats) in Low Earth Orbit. Each satellite receives data streams from a network of ground stations and transmits that data in a continuous loop until new content is received. In order to serve the widest possible audience, the entire constellation utilizes globally-accepted, standards-based protocols, such as DVB, Digital Radio Mondiale, and UDP-based WiFi multicasting.

The network would initially support only one-way traffic, with two-way traffic being implemented once adequate funding is raised. Initial prototype satellite deployments is planned for June 2014, with the final deployment run scheduled for mid-2015. According to MDIF, the initial content access includes international and local news, crop prices for farmers, Teachers Without Borders, emergency communications such as disaster relief, applications and content such as Ubuntu, movies, music games, and Wikipedia in its entirety.

MDIF plans to formally request NASA to use the International Space Station to test their technology in September 2014. Manufacturing and launching of satellites would begin in early 2015, and Outernet is planned to begin broadcasting in June 2015.

India based “Spacify Inc” is a private non-profit company by Silicon Valley based technocrat and entrepreneur Siddharth Rajhans along with Space debris mitigation expert Sourabh Kaushal, which is privately working on using this technology to provide global free wi-fi access.

Source: Outernet – Official Website

Feb 28 2014

Tor to Release Instant Messaging Bundle (TIMB)

Tor Instant Messaging BundleThe TOR project is about to join the world of secure instant messaging, laying out a roadmap that would see its first code for a new project delivered by the end of March 2014.

The first aim of the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle will be to get experimental builds happening with Instantbird providing the messaging interface.

As explained, Instantbird was considered to be the best of the three messaging platforms considered by the TOR people. Pidgin/libpurple and xmpp-client were also looked at but didn’t make the cut.

The developers’ “mild preference” for Instantbird is tempered by a couple of open questions. One is what attack profile it presents to the outside world; the other, its OTR support, is being addressed by the TOR developers. Libpurple, which is currenly an Instantbird dependency, is being removed.

As this document notes, the group also plans to have the Tor Instant Messaging Bundle audited so “people in countries where communication for the purpose of activism is met with intimidation, violence, and prosecution will be able to avoid the scrutiny of criminal cartels, corrupt officials, and authoritarian governments.”

With Facebook’s recent US$16bn takeover of the messaging service that has more than 450m monthly users, some of the more worried corners of the online communities have questioned the move and whether this will mean their messages will become more susceptible to being monitored, something Facebook has been accused of in the past.

That is why Tor has timed its announcement perfectly!