Guess your password? No want if it’s stolen already! [Audio + Text] – Bare Safety

Guess your password? Crack your password? Steal your password? What if the crooks have already got considered one of your passwords, and might use it to determine all of your others as properly?

DOUG. LifeLock woes, distant code execution, and a giant rip-off meets huge hassle.

All that, and extra, on the Bare Safety podcast.


Welcome to the podcast, all people.

I’m Doug Aamoth; he’s Paul Ducklin.

And Paul, I’m so sorry… however let me want you a belated Glad ’23!

DUCK.  Versus Glad ’99, Doug?

DOUG.  How do you know? [LAUGHS]

We dovetail instantly into our Tech Historical past section.

This week, on 20 January 1999, the world was launched to the HAPPY99 worm, also called “Ska”.

Paul, you had been there, man!

Inform us about your expertise with HAPPY99, for those who please.

DUCK.  Doug. I feel essentially the most fascinating factor for me – then and now – is what you name the B-word…

…the [COUGHS APOLOGETICALLY] “sensible” half, and I don’t know whether or not this was right down to laziness or supreme cleverness on the a part of the programmer.

Firstly, it didn’t use a pre-generated listing of electronic mail addresses.

It waited until *you* despatched an electronic mail, scraped the e-mail deal with out of it, and used that, with the end result that the emails solely went to folks that you just’d already simply communicated with, giving them a better believability.

And the opposite intelligent factor it had: it didn’t hassle with issues like topic line and message physique.

It simply had an attachment, HAPPY99.EXE, that while you ran it within the foreground, confirmed fireworks.

And then you definitely closed it; appeared like no hurt carried out.

So there have been no linguistic clues, resembling, “Hey, I simply received an electronic mail in Italian from my Italian buddy wishing me Glad Christmas, instantly adopted by an electronic mail in English wishing me a Glad 1999.”

And we don’t know whether or not the programmer foresaw that or, as I mentioned, whether or not it was simply, “Couldn’t be bothered to work out all of the perform calls I want so as to add this to the e-mail…

…I do know to create an electronic mail; I do know so as to add an attachment to it; I’m not going to hassle with the remaining.”

And, consequently, this factor simply unfold and unfold and unfold and unfold.

A reminder that in malware programming, as in lots of issues in life, generally… much less is much more.

DOUG.  Alright!

Nicely, let’s transfer on to a happier topic, a kind-of sort-of distant code execution gap in a well-liked cloud safety library.

Wait, that’s not happier… however what occurred right here?

Common JWT cloud safety library patches “distant” code execution gap

DUCK.  Nicely, it’s happier in that the bug was not revealed within the wild with a proof-of-concept.

It was solely documented some weeks after it had been patched.

And happily, though technically it counts as a distant code execution [RCE] bug, which prompted a variety of drama when it was first reported…

…it did require that the crooks primarily broke into your residence first, after which latched the door open from the within for the subsequent wave of crooks who had come alongside.

So it wasn’t as if they might simply present up on the entrance door and get immediate admission.

The irony, after all, is that it includes a well-liked open supply toolkit referred to as jsonwebtoken, or JWT for brief.

A JWT is principally like a session cookie on your browser, however that’s extra geared in direction of a zero-trust method to authorising packages to do one thing for some time.

For instance, you may wish to authorise a program you’re about to run to go and do worth lookups in a worth database.

So, it’s essential to authenticate first.

Perhaps it’s important to put in a username, possibly to place a password… and then you definitely get this entry token that your program can use, and possibly it’s legitimate for the subsequent 100 requests, or the subsequent 20 minutes or one thing, which signifies that you don’t have to totally reauthenticate each time.

However that token solely authorises your program to do one particular factor that you just arrange prematurely.

It’s an important concept – it’s an ordinary approach of doing web-based coding as of late.

Now, the concept of the JWT, versus different session cookies, is that in a “zero-trusty” form of approach, it contains: who the token is for; what issues it’s allowed to do; and, in addition to that, it has a cryptographic keyed hash of the information that claims what it’s for.

And the concept is that that hash is calculated by the server when it points the token, utilizing a secret key that’s buried in some super-secure database someplace.

Sadly, if the crooks might break into your residence prematurely by jimmying the lock…

…and if they might get into the key database, and if they might implant a modified secret key for a specific person account, after which sneak out, apparently leaving nothing behind?

Nicely, you’d think about that for those who mess up the key key, then the system simply isn’t going to work, since you’re not going to have the ability to create dependable tokens anymore.

So that you’d *assume* it will fail secure.

Besides it seems that, for those who might change the key key in a particular approach, then subsequent time the authentication occurred (to see whether or not the token was appropriate or not), fetching the key key might trigger code to execute.

This might theoretically both learn any file, or completely implant malware, on the authentication server itself…

…which clearly can be a really unhealthy factor certainly!

And provided that these JSON net tokens are very extensively used, and provided that this jsonwebtoken toolkit is among the standard ones on the market, clearly there was an crucial to go and patch if had been utilizing the buggy model.

The good factor about that is that patch truly got here out final 12 months, earlier than Christmas 2022, and (presumably by association with the jsonwebtoken workforce) the corporate that discovered this and wrote it up solely disclosed lately, a couple of week in the past.

So that they gave loads of time for folks to patch earlier than they defined what the issue was in any element.

So this *ought to* finish properly.

DOUG.  Alright, allow us to keep as regards to issues ending properly… if you’re on the facet of the nice guys!

We’ve received 4 nations, thousands and thousands of {dollars}, a number of searches, and several other arrested, in a reasonably large funding rip-off:

Multi-million funding scammers busted in four-country Europol raid

DUCK.  This was a very good, old style, “Hey, have I received an funding for you!”.

Apparently, there have been 4 name centres, tons of of individuals questioned, and 15 already arrested…

… this rip-off was “cold-calling folks for investing in a non-existing cryptocurrency.”

So, OneCoin over again… we’ve spoken about that OneCoin rip-off, the place there was one thing like $4 billion invested in a cryptocurrency that didn’t even exist.

OneCoin scammer Sebastian Greenwood pleads responsible, “Cryptoqueen” nonetheless lacking

On this case, Europol talked about cryptocurrency *schemes*.

So I feel we will assume that the crooks would run one till folks realised it was a rip-off, after which they’d pull the rug out from underneath them, run off with the cash, begin up a brand new one.

The concept was: begin actually small, saying to the the particular person, “Look, you solely have to speculate just a little bit, put in €100 possibly, as your first funding.”

The concept was that folks would assume, “I can nearly afford this; if this works out, *I* could possibly be the subsequent Bitcoin-style billionaire.”

They put within the cash… and naturally, you know the way the story goes.

There’s a unbelievable wanting web site, and your funding principally simply retains inching up some days, leaping up on different days.

Mainly, “Nicely carried out!”

So, that’s the issue with these scams – they simply *look* nice.

And you’ll get all of the love and a focus you want from the (huge air quotes right here) “funding advisors”, till the purpose that you just realise it’s a rip-off.

After which, properly… you possibly can complain to the authorities.

I like to recommend you do go to the police for those who can.

However then, after all, regulation enforcement have the troublesome job of attempting to determine who it was, the place they had been primarily based, and getting them earlier than they simply begin the subsequent rip-off.

DOUG.  OK, we’ve got some recommendation right here.

We’ve given this recommendation earlier than – it applies to this story, in addition to others.

If it sounds too good to be true, guess what?

DUCK.  It IS too good to be true, Doug.

Not “it may be”.

It IS too good to be true – simply make it so simple as that.

That approach, you don’t should do any extra analysis.

If you happen to’ve received your doubts, promote these doubts to the equal of a full-blown truth.

You possibly can save your self a variety of heartache.

DOUG.  We’ve received: Take your time when on-line speak turns from friendship to cash.

And we talked about this: Don’t be fooled as a result of a rip-off web site appears to be like well-branded {and professional}.

As a reformed net designer, I can let you know it’s unattainable to make a nasty wanting web site these days.

And one more reason I’m not an online designer anymore is: nobody wants me.

Who wants an online designer when you are able to do all of it your self?

DUCK.  You imply you click on the button, select the theme, rip off some JavaScript from an actual funding web site…

DOUG.  …drop a few logos in there.


DUCK.  It’s a surprisingly straightforward job, and also you don’t must be a very skilled programmer to do it properly.

DOUG.  And final, however definitely by no means least: Don’t let scammers drive a wedge between you and your loved ones

…see Level 1 one about one thing being too good to be true.

DUCK.  Sure.

There are two ways in which you can inadvertently get into a very nasty state of affairs together with your family and friends due to how the scammers behave.

The primary is that, fairly often, in the event that they realise that you just’re about to surrender on the rip-off as a result of family and friends have nearly satisfied you that you just’ve been scammed, then they are going to exit of their solution to poison your opinion of your loved ones so as to try to lengthen the rip-off.

So that they’ll intentionally drive that wedge in.

And, nearly worse, if it’s a rip-off the place it appears to be like such as you’re doing properly, they are going to give you “bonuses” for drawing in members of your loved ones or shut mates.

If you happen to handle to persuade them… sadly, they’re happening with you, they usually’re in all probability going to carry you responsible since you talked them into it within the first place.

So bear that in thoughts.

DOUG.  OK, our final story of the day.

Common id safety service LifeLock has been breached, kind-of, but it surely’s difficult… it’s not fairly as easy as a *breach* breach:

Severe Safety: Unravelling the LifeLock “hacked passwords” story

DUCK.  Sure, that’s an fascinating approach of placing it, Doug!


DUCK.  The rationale that I believed it was essential to put in writing this up on Bare Safety is that I noticed the notification from Norton LifeLock, about unauthorised login makes an attempt en masse into their service, that they despatched out to some customers who had been affected.

And I believed, “Uh-oh, right here we go – folks have had their passwords stolen at a while up to now, and now a brand new load of crooks are coming alongside, they usually’re knocking on the door, and a few doorways are nonetheless open.”

That’s how I learn it, and I feel that I learn it accurately.

However I out of the blue began seeing headlines a minimum of, and in some case tales, within the media that invited folks to assume that, “Oh, golly, they’ve received into Norton LifeLock; they’ve received in behind the scenes; they’ve dug round within the databases; they’ve truly recovered my passwords – oh, pricey!”

I assume, within the mild of latest disclosures by LastPass the place password databases had been stolen however the passwords had been encrypted…

…this, for those who simply comply with the “Oh, it was a breach, they usually’ve received the passwords” line, sounds even worse.

However plainly that is an outdated listing of potential username/password combos that some bunch of crooks acquired in some way.

Let’s assume they purchased it in a lump from the darkish net, after which they set about seeing which of these passwords would work on which accounts.

That’s often called credential stuffing, as a result of they take credentials which are thought to work on a minimum of one account, and stuff them into the login kinds on different websites.

So, ultimately the Norton LifeLock crew despatched out a warning to prospects saying, “We predict you’re one of many folks affected by this,” in all probability simply to folks the place a login had truly succeeded that they assumed had come from the fallacious form of place, to warn them.

“Any individual’s received your password, however we’re not fairly positive the place they received it, as a result of they in all probability purchased it off the Darkish Internet… and due to this fact, if that occurred, there could also be different bunches of crooks who’ve received it as properly.”

So I feel that’s what the story provides as much as.

DOUG.  And we’ve received some methods right here how these passwords find yourself on the darkish net within the first place, together with: Phishing assaults.

DUCK.  Sure, that’s fairly apparent…

…if anyone does a mass phishing try in opposition to a specific service, and N folks fall for it.

DOUG.  And we’ve received: Keylogger spy ware.

DUCK.  That’s the place you get contaminated by malware in your laptop, like a zombie or a bot, that has all types of remote-control triggers that the crooks can hearth off every time they need:

How bots and zombies work, and why it’s best to care

And clearly, the issues that bots and zombies are likely to have pre-programmed into them embrace: monitor community site visitors; ship spam to an enormous listing of electronic mail addresses; and activate the keylogger every time they assume you’re at an fascinating web site.

In different phrases, as an alternative of attempting to phish your passwords by decrypting otherwise-secure net transactions, they’re principally what you’re typing *as you hit the keys on the keyboard*.

DOUG.  Alright, beautiful.

We’ve received: Poor server-side logging hygiene.

DUCK.  Usually, you’d wish to log issues just like the particular person’s IP quantity, and the particular person’s username, and the time at which they did the login try.

However for those who’re in a programming hurry, and also you by chance logged *all the things* that was within the net kind…

…what for those who by chance recorded the password within the log file in plaintext?

DOUG.  All proper, then we’ve received: RAM-scraping malware.

That’s an fascinating one.

DUCK.  Sure, as a result of if the crooks can sneak some malware into the background that may peek into reminiscence whereas your server is working, they are able to sniff out, “Whoa”! That appears like a bank card quantity; that appears just like the password subject!”

7 forms of virus – a brief glossary of up to date cyberbadness

Clearly, that form of assault requires, as within the case we spoke of earlier… it requires the crooks to interrupt into your residence first to latch the door open.

But it surely does imply that, as soon as that’s occurred, they’ll have a program that doesn’t really want to undergo something on disk; it doesn’t want to look by outdated logs; it doesn’t have to navigate the community.

It merely wants to observe specific areas of reminiscence in actual time ,within the hope of getting fortunate when there’s stuff that’s fascinating and essential.

DOUG.  We’ve received some recommendation.

If you happen to’re within the behavior of reusing passwords, don’t do it!

I feel that’s the longest working piece of recommendation I can keep in mind on report within the historical past of computing.

We’ve received: Don’t use associated passwords on completely different websites.

DUCK.  Sure, I believed I might sneak that tip in, as a result of lots of people assume:

“Oh, I do know what I’ll do, I’ll select a very difficult password, and I’ll sit down and I’ll memorize X38/=?..., so I’ve received an advanced password – the crooks won’t ever guess it, so I solely should keep in mind that one.

As an alternative of remembering it because the grasp password for a password supervisor, which is a trouble I don’t want, I’ll simply add -fb for Fb, -tt for Tik Tok, -tw for Twitter, and that approach, actually, I’ll have a unique password for each web site.”

The issue is, in an assault like this, the crooks have *already received the plaintext of considered one of your passwords.*

In case your password has complicated-bit sprint two-letters, they’ll in all probability then guess your different passwords…

…as a result of they solely should guess the spare letters.

DOUG.  Alright, and: Think about turning on 2FA for any accounts you possibly can.

DUCK.  Sure.

As at all times, it’s just a little little bit of an inconvenience, but it surely does imply that if I’m going on the darkish net and I purchase a password of yours, and I then come steaming in and try to use it from some unknown a part of the world…

…it doesn’t “simply work”, as a result of out of the blue I want the additional one-time code as properly.

DOUG.  Alright, and on the LifeLock story, we’ve received a reader remark.

Pete says:

“Good article with good ideas and a really factual method (smileyface emoticon).”

DUCK.  I agree with the remark already, Doug! [LAUGHS]

However do go on…

DOUG.  “I assume folks prefer to blame corporations like Norton LifeLock […], as a result of it’s so straightforward to only blame everybody else as an alternative of telling folks how you can do it accurately.”

DUCK.  Sure.

You possibly can say these are barely harsh phrases.

However, as I mentioned on the finish of that exact article, we’ve had passwords for greater than 50 years already within the IT world, despite the fact that there are many companies which are attempting to maneuver in direction of the so-called passwordless future – whether or not that depends on {hardware} tokens, biometric measurements, or no matter.

However I feel we’re nonetheless going to have passwords for a few years but, whether or not we prefer it or not, a minimum of for some (or maybe even many) of our accounts.

So we actually do should chunk the bullet, and simply try to do it in addition to we will.

And in 20 years time, when passwords are behind us, then we will change the recommendation, and we will give you recommendation on the way you shield your biometric data as an alternative.

However in the interim, this is only one in a variety of reminders that when important private information like passwords get stolen, they’ll find yourself having an extended lifetime, and getting extensively circulated among the many cybercrime group.

DOUG.  Nice.

Thanks, Pete, for sending that in.

When you have an fascinating story, remark or query you’d prefer to submit, we’d like to learn it on the podcast.

You’ll be able to electronic mail [email protected], you possibly can touch upon any considered one of our articles, or you possibly can hit us up on social: @NakedSecurity.

That’s our present for at present – thanks very a lot for listening.

For Paul Ducklin, I’m Doug Aamoth reminding you, till subsequent time, to…

BOTH.  Keep safe!