The week in security: Who’s really behind the wheel?

Thinking of hopping in your car to head out to the country for a break from the ever-present flood of new malware? Think again: recent security demonstrations show even our four-wheeled homes are vulnerable to attack. Dutch researchers railed against a court ban on revealing details of a flaw they discovered in a car’s locking system, while a UK academic was similarly banned from publishing a paper that reveals the codes used to start luxury cars (he subsequently agreed to present at the USENIX Security Symposium).

Similar US government-funded work was being taken as a sign that increasingly computer-dependent cars are being seen as a safety threat – something confirmed during a Black Hat conference presentation where researchers explained how they took over control of a car’s steering, acceleration, brakes and more.

Even home security and home automation systems are coming under the spotlight, with some arguing they are full of security holes. Ditto D-Link network video recorders, which are apparently vulnerable to remote spying. Such vulnerabilities have some vendors looking for ways to pick out and protect key personal information from an outgoing data stream, while a crowdsourced security service from AlienVault promises to notify you if any of your public IP addresses or domains turn up on hacker forums.

Meanwhile, researchers have shown how to circumvent Apple iOS security using nothing more than a charger; perhaps it’s time to reconsider before you plug your device into a public charger and visiting a fake Facebook page.

Other presenters highlighted a way to build botnets easily using cheap online ads. Others were targeting industrial control systems. Then there were the researchers who highlighted their ability to bypass Windows 8 Secure Boot, while yet others figured out a way to use a man-in-the-middle attack to hijack a PC’s IPv6 capability and intercept all Web traffic on a target network.

Critics were sceptical of a proposed voluntary code of practice for mobile data collection, while others were sceptical of the ability of Web browser privacy settings to actually protect online privacy. Similar criticism was being pointed at many US universities, which are risking students’ and parents’ personal and financial information by transmitting it as open-text. And, on similar lines, US university MIT said it had never sought to prosecute a programmer who stole millions of academic papers from an MIT online archive; online critics didn’t believe its claims.

No wonder UK ministers were claiming that country is losing its war on cybercrime, with some arguing that the government is too focused on top-down defences while ignoring basic best-practices and others considering the implications of the US government’s £100m “investment” in UK intelligence gathering. With even industry-standard RSA encryption set to become easily crackable within five years, they may not have long to change before they are overrun.

Cyberdefences won’t be the major issue during Australia’s upcoming election, but the Pirate Party Australia is nonetheless ramping up the rhetoric around the Australian government’s role in the US government’s online spying. Their concerns won’t be assuaged by Twitter figures showing Australia’s government is punching well above its weight when it comes to lodging requests for Twitter users’ personal information – making us the third most-investigated country in the world.

Symantec echoed industry sentiment by calling out the steady stream of questionable applicationsflowing into the Google Play app store, while efforts to develop a Ubuntu-based smartphone seemed to be struggling. An IT-executive survey had some wondering whether bring your own device (BYOD) practices weren’t being rushed, even as an iPhone fingerprint scanner is mooted and signs suggest there may be more Android ‘master keys’ to enable corruption of existing apps.

Meanwhile, the adoption of the hybrid cloud is driving changes to traditional firewall-security models. Indeed, a Gartner report warned that the language of software-as-a-service (SaaS) contracts isn’t adequately addressing cloud-security concerns. Adding fuel to the fire, hackers were said to be planting malware within cloud services.

More botnets were discovered to be hiding within the TOR anonymity network, while DDoS fighter Arbor Networks reported that average DDoS attack sizes have passed 2Gbpsfor the first time. They’re getting shorter, however, if the activities of one hacking group are any indication.

A prize-winning Google security staffer was advocating the elimination of the US National Security Agency on the ground that it will damage prospects for US Internet companies. That may be unlikely, but that doesn’t mean opponents of the agency’s surveillance program are giving up any time soon.

After all, a US appeals court upheld the warrantless collection of phone location data, reflecting the continued belief in the importance of surveillance activities (on a related note, researchers exploited flaws in mobile carriers’ femtocell technology to harvest phone calls, text messages and other data). However, there was a slight victory as US senators pushed for changes in the NSA’s data collection.

Even as two former NSA analysts set up a company, called Synack, to manage bug-bounty experts, the head of the NSA went on a charm offensive at the Black Hat hacker conference, with controls keeping the NSA’s spying program legal, but he was heckled by an audience that was less than ready to accept his claims – even after he asked them for their guidance on building a similar system without the same civil-liberties infringements.

Follow @CSO_Australia and sign up to the CSO Australia newsletter.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags security

More about AppleArbor NetworksArbor NetworksCSOD-Link AustraliaFacebookGartnerGoogleMITNational Security AgencyNSARSASymantecUbuntu

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by David Braue

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts