The RISKS Digest
Volume 28 Issue 43

Monday, 5th January 2015

Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator

Please try the URL privacy information feature enabled by clicking the flashlight icon above. This will reveal two icons after each link the body of the digest. The shield takes you to a breakdown of Terms of Service for the site - however only a small number of sites are covered at the moment. The flashlight take you to an analysis of the various trackers etc. that the linked site delivers. Please let the website maintainer know if you find this useful or not. As a RISKS reader, you will probably not be surprised by what is revealed…


Cyber attack damages German blast furnace
Thomas Koenig
German Researchers Discover a Flaw That Could Let Anyone Listen to Your Cell Calls
Craig Timberg via ACM TechNews
"Misfortune Cookie" CVE-2014-9222
Bob Gezelter
"12 million home and business routers vulnerable to critical hijacking hack"
Dan Goodin via Gene Wirchenko
SS7 hackdoors allow ANYONE to listen to your calls
Henry Baker
"Microsoft vs. DoJ: The battle for privacy in the cloud"
Simon Phipps via Gene Wirchenko
LU Wei editorial in the *HuffPost*
Dave Farber
Public Reactions to Snowden
Bruce Schneier
FBI Agents Pose as Repairmen to Bypass Warrant Process
Bruce Schneier
After Silk Road takedowns, Dark Web drug sites still thriving Cyrus Farivar via Dewayne Hendricks)
SMB-spreadable malware: TA14-353A
Bob Gezelter
ICANN e-mail accounts, zone database breached in spearphishing attack
Dan Goodin via Werner U
Ars Technica public statement and reaction to 14 Dec hack
Werner U
Danielle Keats Citron: Hate Crimes in Cyberspace
Marc Goodman: FUTURE CRIMES: Everything is Connected, ...
Richard A, Clarke: Sting of the Drone
Review by Marc Rotenberg
Info on RISKS (comp.risks)

Cyber attack damages German blast furnace

Thomas Koenig <>
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:54:35 +0100
The German federal authority for security in information technology (BSI)
reported in their 2014 report that a steel mill was targeted in a cyber
attack.  The attack led to an uncontrolled shutdown of a blast furnace,
bringing it to an uncontrolled state that led to massive damages.

The attackers had detailed know-how both in classical IT security and in
industrial control and production processes.

  [The same report also noted by Jeremy Epstein, who also cited IT World:
  The report revealed one of the rare instances in which a digital attack
  actually caused physical damage.  PGN]

German Researchers Discover a Flaw That Could Let Anyone Listen to Your Cell Calls (Craig Timberg)

"ACM TechNews" <>
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:45:34 -0500 (EST)
  [PGN-Excerpted from ACM TechNews, Friday, December 14, 2014]

(Craig Timberg, *The Washington Post*, 18 Dec 2014)

German researchers have discovered security flaws that could enable hackers,
spies, and criminals to listen to private phone calls and intercept text
messages.  This revelation is just the most recent indication of widespread
insecurity on the SS7 network.  The flaws are actually functions built into
SS7 for other purposes that hackers can repurpose for surveillance because
of the lax security on the network.  Although researchers did not find
evidence that their latest discoveries have been marketed to governments on
a widespread basis, vulnerabilities publicly reported by security
researchers often turn out to be tools long used by secretive intelligence
services, such as the U.S. National Security Agency or Britain's GCHQ, but
not revealed to the public.  The researchers found two distinct ways to
eavesdrop on calls using SS7 technology.  In the first, commands sent over
SS7 could be used to hijack a cellphone's forwarding function.  In the
second technique, hackers would use radio antennas to collect all the calls
and texts passing through the airwaves in an area.  The researchers also
discovered new ways to track the locations of cellphone users through SS7.
In addition, they found it was possible to use SS7 to learn the phone
numbers of people whose cellular signals are collected using surveillance

"Misfortune Cookie" CVE-2014-9222

"Bob Gezelter" <>
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:46:24 -0700
Paraphrasing a blog entry on the vulnerability, "Misfortune Cookie" is
believed to afflict 12 million devices in 189 countries. The vulnerability
is a bug in the web server component RomPager from AllegroSoft, used by
many hardware vendors for embedded devices, including SOHO routers.
Reportedly, the weakness would allow an attacker to subvert the firewall,
exposing credentials and interior systems to attack.  A blog entry going
into more detail is at:
Bob Gezelter,

"12 million home and business routers vulnerable to critical hijacking hack" (Dan Goodin)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:45:33 -0800
Dan Goodin - 18 Dec 2014
Bug exposes user data, as well as computers, Web cams, and other
connected devices.

SS7 hackdoors allow ANYONE to listen to your calls

Henry Baker <>
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 16:14:00 -0800
FYI—“When I really need a confidential conversation, I use a
fixed-line''—which shows how clueless this politician is (SS7 is used for
ALL phone calls, fixed-line OR wireless).

"Microsoft vs. DoJ: The battle for privacy in the cloud" (Simon Phipps)

Gene Wirchenko <>
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:58:40 -0800
Simon Phipps, InfoWorld, 17 Dec 2014
Is a U.S. warrant enough to force an American company to breach privacy laws
abroad? Microsoft with the support of friends and foes
alike, says no.

selected text:

To put it more succinctly, the position Microsoft and so many others are
opposing "argues that, unlike your letters in the mail, emails you store in
the cloud cease to belong exclusively to you. Instead, according to the
government, your emails become the business records of a cloud provider."

This is a fundamentally important case for cloud computing, so it's no
surprise to see OpenStack cornerstones HP and Rackspace standing
shoulder-to-shoulder with their competitor. It's also fundamentally
important to digital rights globally, which is why the EFF and the ACLU are
joined by Digital Rights Ireland and the U.K.'s Open Rights Group (of which
I am a director). Let's hope the Supreme Court can see past the technical
and business details to the real issue—the privacy of the citizens of
every country where America trades, as well as American citizens.

LU Wei editorial in the *HuffPost*

"Dave Farber via ip" <>
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:31:13 -0500
China's new cyber Czar, Minister LU Wei has a new editorial on the
HuffingtonPost of all places that emphasizes the need for "cyber
sovereignty" see below.

His remarks below are nearly identical to those he gave at the U.S.-China
Internet Industry Forum earlier this month in Washington D.C.

Public Reactions to Snowden

Bruce Schneier <>
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:43:47 -0600

There's a new international survey on Internet security and trust, of
"23,376 Internet users in 24 countries," including "Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India,
Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South
Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States." Amongst
the findings, 60% of Internet users have heard of Edward Snowden, and 39% of
those "have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a
result of his revelations."

The press is mostly spinning this as evidence that Snowden has not had an
effect: "merely 39%," "only 39%," and so on. (Note that these articles are
completely misunderstanding the data. It's not 39% of people who are taking
steps to protect their privacy post-Snowden, it's 39% of the 60% of Internet
users—which is not everybody—who have heard of him. So it's much less
than 39%.)

Even so, I disagree with the "Edward Snowden Revelations Not Having Much
Impact on Internet Users" headline. He's having an enormous impact. I ran
the actual numbers country by country, combining data on Internet
penetration with data from this survey. Multiplying everything out, I
calculate that 706 million people have changed their behavior on the
Internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ are doing. (For example, 17% of
Indonesians use the Internet, 64% of them have heard of Snowden and 62% of
them have taken steps to protect their privacy, which equals 17 million
people out of its total 250-million population.)

Note that the countries in this survey cover only 4.7 billion out of a total
7 billion world population. Taking the conservative estimates that 20% of
the remaining population uses the Internet, 40% of them have heard of
Snowden, and 25% of those have done something about it, that's an additional
46 million people around the world.  [...]

FBI Agents Pose as Repairmen to Bypass Warrant Process

Bruce Schneier <>
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:15:29 -0600
This is a creepy story. The FBI wanted access to a hotel guest's room
without a warrant. So agents broke his Internet connection, and then posed
as Internet technicians to gain access to his hotel room without a warrant.

> From the motion to suppress:

  The next time you call for assistance because the Internet service in your
  home is not working, the "technician" who comes to your door may actually
  be an undercover government agent.  He will have secretly disconnected the
  service, knowing that you will naturally call for help and—when he
  shows up at your door, impersonating a technician—let him in.  He will
  walk through each room of your house, claiming to diagnose the problem.
  Actually, he will be videotaping everything (and everyone) inside.  He
  will have no reason to suspect you have broken the law, much less probable
  cause to obtain a search warrant.  But that makes no difference, because
  by letting him in, you will have "consented" to an intrusive search of
  your home.

Basically, the agents snooped around the hotel room, and gathered evidence
that they submitted to a magistrate to get a warrant. Of course, they never
told the judge that they had engineered the whole outage and planted the
fake technicians.

This feels like an important case to me. We constantly allow repair
technicians into our homes to fix this or that technological thingy. If we
can't be sure they are not government agents in disguise, then we've lost
quite a lot of our freedom and liberty.

  [PGN-Excerpted from CRYPTO-GRAM, 15 Dec 2014.
  Incidentally that issue of CRYPTO-GRAM also has items on Regin,
  the AURORA attack, and the Sony hack.]

Since 1998, CRYPTO-GRAM has been a free monthly newsletter providing
summaries, analyses, insights, and commentaries on security: computer and
otherwise. You can subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your address on the Web
at <>. Back issues are also
available at that URL.

CRYPTO-GRAM is written by Bruce Schneier. See <>.
Crypto-Gram is a personal newsletter. Opinions expressed are not necessarily
those of Co3 Systems, Inc.

After Silk Road takedowns, Dark Web drug sites still thriving

"Dewayne Hendricks" <>
Dec 19, 2014 12:59 PM
Evolution sells drugs, guns, and more—but no “services related to murder.''
Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, 19 Dec 2914 [via Dave Farber]

Over a year after the shuttering of the original Silk Road website and over
a month after the seizure of Silk Road 2 and other similar sites, the
sketchiest of Dark Web sites still persist.

According to a new report published Thursday from the Digital Citizens
Alliance (DCA), an advocacy group, Evolution Marketplace has long passed
Silk Road “as the largest illegal black market for drugs before the
takedown.'' Others include Agora Marketplace, Nucleus Marketplace, and a
number of smaller ones.

As of this week, Evolution has over 26,000 listings for drugs, weapons,
pornography, and more.

“Evolution Marketplace is a much different animal than Silk Road,'' Dan
Palumbo, the group's research director, said in a statement.  “They sell
weapons, stolen credit cards, and more nefarious items that were forbidden
on both versions of Silk Road. Silk Road sold a lot of dangerous things, but
operators drew the line at their version of `victimless crimes', i.e.. no
child pornography, weapons, or identity theft. Now, four of the top five
DarkNet Marketplaces sell weapons while three of the top five sell stolen
financial data. This is a darker DarkNet. It speaks to the challenge facing
law enforcement as they knock one set of bad actors offline, another comes
along with bigger and bolder intentions."

We have standards, after all(!)

Like the previous incarnations of Silk Road, Evolution (or `Evo' as it's
known to its users) requires Tor to use and boasts a slew of questionable
goods, all available for sale in bitcoins. Evo itself takes in between 2.5
and 4 percent of all transactions.  Signing up for the site takes just a few
moments --no e-mail address or anything else is even required. Ars decided
to create an account and take a dive into Evolution. (Like our previous
account on Silk Road 2, this reporter has created an account on Evolution
under the username `cfarivar', but has zero intention to purchase or sell
any items.)

In a look on Thursday, Ars found nearly 15,000 drug-related listings, by far
the most popular on the site: cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other
controlled substances were listed. Amongst other popular categories of
digital goods were various hacking guides, pirated software, and even
malware. A fake Colorado driver's license sells for just 0.257 bitcoins
($80). [...]

SMB-spreadable malware: TA14-353A

Bob Gezelter <>
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 02:11:00 -0700
US CERT has released an bulletin concerning malware which was used at a
"major entertainment company" (presumably Sony Pictures). The bulletin
contains details of the malware operations, list of known components, and
other details.  The CERT bulletin is at:
Bob Gezelter,

ICANN e-mail accounts, zone database breached in spearphishing attack (Dan Goodin)

Werner U <>
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:59:22 +0100
Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 17 Dec 2014
ICANN e-mail accounts, zone database breached in spearphishing attack
Password data, other personal information of account holders exposed.

Unknown attackers used a spearphishing campaign to compromise sensitive
systems operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN), a coup that allowed them to take control of employee e-mail
accounts and access personal information of people doing business with the

ICANN, which oversees the Internet's address system, said in a release
published Tuesday <>
that the breach also gave attackers administrative access to all files
stored in its centralized zone data system <>, as
well as the names, postal addresses, e-mail addresses, fax and phone
numbers, user names, and cryptographically hashed passwords of account
holders who used the system. Domain registries use the database to help
manage the current allocation of hundreds of new generic top level domains
(gTLDs) currently underway. Attackers also gained unauthorized access to
the content management systems of several ICANN blogs.

"We believe a 'spear phishing' attack was initiated in late November 2014,"
Tuesday's press release stated. "It involved email messages that were
crafted to appear to come from our own domain being sent to members of our
staff. The attack resulted in the compromise of the email credentials of
several ICANN staff members."

Earlier this month, ICANN officials discovered the compromised credentials
were used to gain unauthorized access to the zone data system. Other
compromised systems included the ICANN GAC Wiki
where attackers were able to view a members-only index page and one
individual user's profile page; the ICANN Whois information portal
<>; and the ICANN blog <>.  The
most sensitive information exposed appears to be the personal information of
account holders of the centralized zone system. ICANN recommended holders
immediately change their accounts passwords...

As the group controlling the Internet's domain name system, ICANN is a
prime target for all kinds of attacks from hackers eager to obtain data
that can be used to breach other targets. Tuesday's advisory warning that
several employees were successfully breached should come as a wake up call
to similar groups and serve as a reminder of just how hard it is to prevent
social-engineering attacks.

Ars Technica public statement and reaction to 14 Dec hack

Werner U <>
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:22:21 +0100
Ars was briefly hacked yesterday; here's what we know
Readers, please change your passwords.
by Ars Staff - Dec 16, 2014 9:52 pm UTC
(If you have an account on Ars Technica, please change your password
today. See below for more details.)

At 20:00 CT on December 14, an Internet intruder gained access to one of the
Ars Web servers and spent the next hour attempting to get from the Web
server to a more central machine. At 20:52, the attempt was successful
thanks to information gleaned from a poorly located backup file. The next
day, at 14:13, the hacker returned to the central server and replaced the
main Ars webpage with a defacement page that streamed a song from the band
Dual Core. That song, "All the Things
<>," features the

Drink all the booze,
hack all the things!

The hacker didn't have long to drink all the booze and hack all the things,
fortunately; by 14:29, our technical team had removed the defaced page and
restored normal Ars operations. We spent the afternoon changing all internal
passwords and certificates and hardening server security even further.

Log files show the hacker's movements through our servers and suggest that
he or she had the opportunity to copy the user database. This database
contains no payment information on Ars subscribers, but it does contain user
e-mail addresses and passwords. Those passwords, however, are stored in
hashed form (using 2,048 iterations of the MD5 algorithm and salted with a
random series of characters). ...

  [NOTE the interesting discussion in the "PROMOTED COMMENTS" about MD5+salt
  encrypted passwords in the user database.]

Danielle Keats Citron: Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:54:57 PST
Danielle Keats Citron
Hate Crimes in Cyberspace
Harvard University Press
343 pp.

This book by a law professor at the University of Maryland Law School
appears to be a well researched, insightful, and rather comprehensive
analysis of many of the legal issues surrounding cyberstalking,
harassment, anonymity, and related subjects.

A lengthy review of this book by Martha C. Nussbaum in *The Nation* (24
Nov 2014) ends with this paragraph:

  In the end, the Internet is only a conduit.  It may exacerbate, but
  does not cause, the underlying problems of hatred and harassment.
  Danielle Citron's legal prescriptions can curb, but will not cure, the
  deformation of human beings that vexes our society.  That sad fact
  should not discourage us from improving the law; but we must not
  imagine that law alone can fix the deeper problems that make law

Overall the law is an asset, but not a solution by itself.  The same is
true of technology.

Marc Goodman: FUTURE CRIMES: Everything is Connected ...

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:35:28 PST
Marc Goodman
FUTURE CRIMES: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable,
  and What We Can Do About It

Highly relevant to the entire history of the ACM Risks Forum, this book
deserves a detailed review here when it is published on 24 Feb 2015.  It is
likely to be a very strong addition to the RISKS-related literature.  There
are three basic parts --

 * A Gathering Storm
 * The Future of Crime (including especially Chapter 16: Next-Generation
   Security Threats: Why Cyber Was Only the Beginning)
 * Surviving Progress (including Chapter 18: The Way Forward)

Marc Goodman is a global strategist with over two decades of experience in
law enforcement, former FBI Futurist-in-Residence, advisor to Interpol and
over 70 countries in transnational cyberrisks, founder of the Future Crimes
Institute, and Chair for Policy, Law, and Ethics at Silcon Valley's
Singularity University.

Keep an eye open for it.

Richard A, Clarke: Sting of the Drone (Review by Marc Rotenberg)

"Peter G. Neumann" <>
Mon, 5 Jan 2015 13:55:15 PST
Richard A. Clarke
Sting of the Drone
Thomas Dunne Books, New York, St. Martin's Press

White House National Security veteran Richard Clarke's new action thriller
"Sting of the Drone" may establish a new genre for Washington policymakers.

This book is not just a quick-paced novel about a clever plot to turn drone
warfare against the United States, it is also a stinging critique of current
US policy by a former Presidential advisor. Toss the briefing books and the
PowerPoint presentations - if you want to get your point across in
Washington, an action thriller may be the way to go.

And it is an excellent thriller. Clarke brings us into the drone operations
center outside of Las Vegas, where drone pilots track foreign targets and
direct their weaponized flying machines. Clarke also takes us into a White
House meeting for an agency head sign-off on the target list, a process that
the President has claimed he oversees. Clark tells a different story. And
then he takes us into DC hotel rooms for a little spy colleagues rendezvous:
"I meant what I said that night at the Ritz. I like being single, too. I get
that right now your career is central, mine is for me, too."

The tradecraft also keeps clicking. Clarke takes us through IP mapping, GPS
spoofing, data mining, signal jamming, and facial recognition. We learn a
lot about the maneuverability of the Predator drone and the battery
requirements of Stinger missiles. Clarke is very good on detail. How many of
his specifics are, or could be, real is an interesting question, considering
that he is intimately familiar with these techniques.

Clarke's take on the drone program is damning. Collateral damage is
significant and understated by the White House. The key players are out of
their depth. The oversight is weak. The legal boundaries are not clear. And
for every target the US successfully takes out the blowback is greater.

Pushbutton warfare has consequences. Clarke pushes the premise further by
describing a world in which the targets are fed up and decide to change the
rules of the game. This premise is all the more frightening because it has
probably occurred, and the US is about to embark on a significant expansion
of drone deployment within our borders. Clarke speaks not only to our policy
abroad but also to the flying machine here at home.

Unfortunately, Clark's skepticism about drone warfare does not extend to
some of the other military technologies that have made their way to US
shores. Facial recognition turns out to be surprisingly effective in one key
sequence, using a remarkable data mining tool codenamed Minerva that pretty
much knows everything about everything. And it's always right.

Perhaps someone will write a novel about a crowd-sourced effort to identify
a bombing suspect. A good twist would include a hi-tech company trying to
establish its bona fides as a press organization and a college student with
a foreign name who commits suicide.

In the meantime, EPIC will continue to help the ACLU and *The New York
Times* force the release of the legal memo that justified the killing of
American citizens by drone.  Whatever the legal theory is for shooting down
Americans with Flying Killer Robots, it should be made public.

Marc Rotenberg, President, Electronic Privacy Information Center

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