Intel has an ambitious goal for 2014: get its Atom chips into 40 million tablets, or four times the number of tablets that had Intel inside in 2013. But rather than do it by tailoring its products to what tablets now demand, the cash-rich company has another plan: pay tablet makers to use its chips.
Some of the most futuristic features envisioned in networked cars will depend on 5G mobile technology that probably won't be available in full until 2020, according to Ericsson's chief technology officer.

One of the coolest things about Chrome is the silent, automatic updates that always ensure that users are always running the latest version. While Chrome itself is updated automatically by Google, that update process also includes Chrome's extensions, which are updated by the extension owners. This means that it's up to the user to decide if the owner of an extension is trustworthy or not, since you are basically giving them permission to push new code out to your browser whenever they feel like it.

To make matters worse, ownership of a Chrome extension can be transferred to another party, and users are never informed when an ownership change happens. Malware and adware vendors have caught wind of this and have started showing up at the doors of extension authors, looking to buy their extensions. Once the deal is done and the ownership of the extension is transferred, the new owners can issue an ad-filled update over Chrome's update service, which sends the adware out to every user of that extension.

We ought to clarify here that Google isn't explicitly responsible for such unwanted adware, but vendors are exploiting Google's extension system to create a subpar—and possibly dangerous—browsing experience. Ars has contacted Google for comment, but we haven't heard back yet. We'll update this article if we do.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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President Obama's proposals to reform the National Security Agency's surveillance practices reflect the enormous challenges the administration faces in finding the right balance between national security needs and privacy and civil rights concerns.
(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Computer security systems may one day get a boost from quantum physics, as a result of recent research from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Computer scientist Yi-Kai Liu has devised a way to make a security ...
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President Obama's proposals to reform the National Security Agency's surveillance practices reflect the enormous challenges the administration faces in finding the right balance between national security needs and privacy and civil rights concerns.
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Aurich Lawson

Security researchers have published a report that Ars is having a tough time swallowing, despite considerable effort chewing—a botnet of more than 100,000 smart TVs, home networking routers, and other Internet-connected consumer devices that recently took part in sending 750,000 malicious e-mails over a two-week period.

The "thingbots," as Sunnyvale, California-based Proofpoint dubbed them in a press release issued Thursday, were compromised by exploiting default administration passwords that hadn't been changed and other misconfigurations. A Proofpoint official told Ars the attackers were also able to commandeer devices running older versions of the Linux operating system by exploiting critical software bugs. The 100,000 hacked consumer gadgets were then corralled into a botnet that also included infected PCs, and they were then used in a global campaign involving more than 750,000 spam and phishing messages. The report continued:

The attack that Proofpoint observed and profiled occurred between December 23, 2013 and January 6, 2014 and featured waves of malicious email, typically sent in bursts of 100,000, three times per day, targeting Enterprises and individuals worldwide. More than 25 percent of the volume was sent by things that were not conventional laptops, desktop computers or mobile devices; instead, the emails were sent by everyday consumer gadgets such as compromised home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions and at least one refrigerator. No more than 10 emails were initiated from any single IP address, making the attack difficult to block based on location – and in many cases, the devices had not been subject to a sophisticated compromise; instead, misconfiguration and the use of default passwords left the devices completely exposed on public networks, available for takeover and use.

The Proofpoint report quickly went viral, with many mainstream news outlets breathlessly reporting the findings. The interest is understandable. The finding of a sophisticated spam network running on 100,000 compromised smart devices is extraordinary, if not unprecedented. And while the engineering effort required to pull off such a feat would be considerable, the botnet Proofpoint describes is possible. After all, many Internet-connected devices run on Linux versions that accept outside connections over telnet, SSH, and Web interfaces.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Concern about secret U.S. surveillance programs is fueling the development of another homegrown operating system in China, one that promises to offer a more secure alternative to rival OSes such as Android and Windows.
[security bulletin] HPSBUX02961 SSRT101420 rev.1 - HP-UX Running BIND, Remote Denial of Service (DoS)

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January 16, 2014

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The computer network at Neiman Marcus was penetrated by hackers as far
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16 Jan 2014

The CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge, Stephanie Daman, has hit back at
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Ars Technica
Jan 16 2014

The federal government's HealthCare.gov website continues to be riddled
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On 9 JAN, Bojan discussed reports of massive RFI scans. One of the repetitive artifacts consistent with almost all the reports we've received lately is that the attackers are attempting to include http://www.google.com/humans.txt. I investigated a hunch, and it turns out this incredibly annoying script kiddie behavior is seemingly, rather than bots, thanks to the unfortunate misuse of the beta release of Vega, the free and open source web application scanner from Subgraph.

One of the numerous Vega modules is Remote File Include Checks found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Vega\scripts\scanner\modules\injection\remote-file-include.js.

Of interest in remote-file-include.js:

var module = {
  name: "Remote File Include Checks",
  category: "Injection Modules"
function initialize(ctx) {
  var ps = ctx.getPathState();
  if (ps.isParametric()) {
    var injectables = createInjectables(ctx);
    ctx.submitMultipleAlteredRequests(handler, injectables);
function createInjectables(ctx) {
  var ps = ctx.getPathState();
  var injectables = ["http://www.google.com/humans.txt",
    var ret = [];
    for (var i = 0; i < injectables.length; i++)
     return ret;

Great, now the kiddies don't even need to figure out how to make RFI Scanner Bot or the VopCrew Multi Scanner work, it's been dumbed down all the way for them!

What steps can you take to prevent and detect possible successful hits?

  • Remember that the likes of Joomla and WordPress, amongst others, are favorite targets.
    • If you're using add-on components/modules you're still at risk even if keeping these content management systems (CMS) or frameworks (CMF) fully up to date. As always, you're only as strong as your weakest link.
    • Component/module developers are not always as diligent as the platform developers themselves; believe me when I say the Joomla team cares a great deal about the security of their offering.
    • Audit add-on components/modules you have installed, see if there are any open vulnerabilities for them via https://secunia.com/advisories/search, and ensure you're utilizing the most current version.
  • Check your web site directories for any files written during or soon after scans.
    • If the remote file inclusion testing proved successful, the attackers will turn right around and drop a file(s) typically.
    • Such files could be a TXT, PHP, or JS file but they also like image file extensions too and will often drop them in the images directory if the vulnerability permits.
  • Yours truly has been dinged by this issue; you have to remember to keep ALL related code current or kiddies will have their way with you.
  • Check your logs for successful 200 (successful) responses where the humans.txt file was attempted, particularly where the GET string includes a path specific to your CMS/CMF.
  • Hopefully you see only 404 (not available) responses, but if you do see a 200 it warrants further investigation.
    • 404 example entry: - - [05/Jan/2014:18:16:13 +0800] "GET /A-Blog/navigation/search.php?navigation_end=http://www.google.com/humans.txt? HTTP/1.0" 404 927 "-" "-"
    • 200 example entry: - - [05/Jan/2014:18:29:29 +0800] "GET /configuration.php?absolute_path=http://www.google.com/humans.txt? HTTP/1.0" 200 - "-" "-"

Now that we know it's less likely bot behavior and more likely annoying miscreants, take the opportunity to audit your Internet-facing presence particularly if you use a popular CMS/CMF.

Cheers and feel free to comment or send additional log samples.

Russ McRee | @holisticinfosec
(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. http://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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