(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

(credit: Motherboard)

VTech, the hacked maker of electronic toys and apps that leaked the data of 4.8 million customers, including hundreds of thousands of children, exposed gigabytes' worth of pictures and chat histories on the same compromised servers, according to an article published on Motherboard, the website that first broke news of the breach.

The news website said a hacker who asked to remain anonymous was able to download almost 200 gigabytes' worth of photos of both parents and children who had registered with the site. The hacker also obtained logs of chats conducted between parents and their kids and in some cases recordings of conversations. VTech encouraged parents to take the headshots and use them with apps that allow them to interact with children. The hacker, who said he didn't intend to publish or sell the data, provided Motherboard with 3,832 image files and at least one audio recording for verification purposes.

It's not clear why VTech stored the data on its servers in the first place. The article reported:

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In response to a demand for backdoor access to its enterprise messaging products, BlackBerry is completely pulling out of the Pakistan market. The announcement comes as a ban on providing BlackBerry Enterprise Services over mobile networks in Pakistan was due to take effect today.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority's ban on BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) was issued this summer, and it was planned to become effective on November 30, as Ars reported in July. "Security reasons" were cited as the cause of the ban. But just before the restriction was announced, Privacy International issued a report that warned of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency's efforts to gain network surveillance capabilities within the country that rival those of the National Security Agency.

While the government has pushed back the effective date of that order to December 30, BlackBerry COO Marty Beard announced today that the company would exit the Pakistani market completely rather than meet government demands for unfettered access to the service's message traffic.

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Enlarge (credit: Malwarebytes)

An active hacking campaign is forcing Reader's Digest and many other websites to host malicious code that can surreptitiously infect visitors with malware and linger for days or weeks before being cleaned up.

Reader's Digest has been infected since last week with code originating with Angler, an off-the-shelf hack-by-numbers exploit kit that saves professional criminals the hassle of developing their own attack scripts, researchers from antivirus provider Malwarebytes told Ars. People who visit the site with outdated versions of Adobe Flash, Internet Explorer, and other browsing software are silently infected with malware that gains control over their computers. Malwarebytes researchers said they sent Reader's Digest operators e-mails and social media alerts last week warning the site was infected but never got a response. The researchers estimate that thousands of other sites have been similarly attacked in recent weeks and that the number continues to grow.

"This campaign is still ongoing and we see dozens of new websites every day being leveraged to distribute malware via the Angler exploit kit," Malwarebytes Senior Security Researcher Jérôme Segura wrote in an e-mail. "This attack may have been going on for some time but we noticed a dramatic increase in infections via WordPress sites in the past couple of weeks."

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SHA1 (Secure Hashing Algorithm 1) has been in use for about 20 years. More recently, some weaknesses have been identified in SHA1, and in general, faster computing hardware makes it more and more likely that collisions willbe found. As a result, SHA2 starts to replace SHA1and you should see this impacting your users next year. Various software will stop trusting SHA1 signatures, and users may receive warnings about invalid signatures or certificates as a result.

First a very quick primer on digital signatures. The signature verifies who created the document (the signer) and that the document wasnt altered after the fact. In order to do so, a hash of the document is created. Then, the author uses a private key to encrypt the hash. Anybody else may now use the signers public key to decrypt the hash, and verify that the hash is correct. If I can create a second document with the same hash, then I could just copy the signature from the first document and claim the second document is valid. This is the type of collision that a secure hash function is trying to make very difficult. Collisions are always possible with the hash being shorter then the original document. But for a good hash function,it is very very hard to create a second document that matches the firstone.SHA2, which is going to replace SHA1, is actually a set of different hash functions (SHA-224through SHA-512).

The most likely area where you will see issues are SSL certificates. SSL certificates are digitally signed by the certificate authority. Until recently, SHA1 was the default hashing algorithm and there are many certificates still out there that are signed using a SHA1 hash. In addition, some intermediate certificates used by certificate authorities to sign server certificates are still based on SHA1 (and more of a problem as these certificates tend to have a long live time). Thereare a couple legacy operating systems where you will have issues implementing SHA2, in particular Windows XP SP2 and earlier.

To create SHA2 compliant certificate requests with openssl, you need to add the -sha256 option. For example:

openssl req -out mydomain.csr -key mydomain.key -new -sha256 . Some old versions of openssl may not support this option.

A good overview of operating systems supporting or not supporting SHA256 can be found here:https://support.globalsign.com/customer/portal/articles/1499561-sha-256-compatibility

Here is a quick table to summarize when SHA1 based certificates are no longer going to work:

Server Authentication (e.g. https) 1/1/2017
Code Signing 1/1/2016 This is your first deadline. But it will not affect web browsers. However, make sure software you distribute is signed using SHA2.
Timestamping Certificates 1/1/2017 SHA1 certificates may not be issuedafter 1/1/2016
S/MIME Certificates N/A recommended to no longer issue SHA1certificates
OSCP/CRL Signing Certificates N/A SHA2 recommended, but no policy enforced
OCSPResponses 1/1/2017 if certificate is SHA2, then OCSP signature has to be SHA2 after 1/1/2016
CRL Signatures N/A no specific policy enforced
Code Signature File Hashes N/A no specific policy enforces
Timestamp Signatures Hashes 1/1/2017 (some 1/1/2016)
Mozilla TLS Server Certificates not be valid after 1/1/2017
not issues after 1/1/2016
existing certificates will be fine unless they expire after 1/1/2017
Google Chrome TLS Server Certificates secure, but with minor errors if valid until 12/31/2016
affirmatively insecure if valid beyond 1/1/2017

I was not able to find any announcement from Apple regarding OS X or iOS and how it will deal with SHA1 in the future.

If you are concerned about a web server and if it still uses a SHA1based certificate, then please check ssllabs.com, orhttp://sha1affected.com.

And what about SHA3? It got ratified recently, and should start showing up in standard libraries soon. But at this point, there is no timetable to phase out SHA2.

Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D.

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. https://isc.sans.edu Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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