Tag Archive | Windows 8

Security Concerns This Winter – Android Malware, Facebook Problems, Anonymous, among other things

We’ve discussed over the past couple of weeks some of the things that happened in 2012, and things we’re focused on coming into the new year. There is a surge in a lot of security concern over several different issues, including Android malware, Anonymous, cyberwar, among other things. Here is a comprised list of the top concerns this Winter that we’ll be investigating on a continual basis.

  1. Identity Theft – this can be a problem for most people that get viruses and other malware on their computer. It can also be a problem on social networks. It is best to have a good antivirus and keep your social networking information safe. You don’t have to enter everything in your profile. Leave some fields blank so it is more trivial for the unsuspecting stalker. Sadly, you cannot know who’s viewed your profile, which makes it more difficult to discover stalkers. Hmm…hint Facebook.
  2. Spear-Phishing – plain and clear, spear-phishing is similar to identity theft. This is done by email-spoofing, which the attacker is masking him-or-herself as a legitimate company with legitimate looking emails. However, these emails are only subject to make you click and to either steal your information, or distribute malware, or even both. Normally, this is a big problem over the holidays, but now it’s starting to become widespread no matter the time of year.
  3. Human Error and the Failure to Update – Vulnerabilities – It is true that humans forget a lot of things. One of the biggest security risks we have always faced is that users fail to update their browser plugins and programs on their computer. However, through the use of this vulnerability, attackers exploit and send malware your way. Using a vulnerability scanner can help you keep managed of this atrocity.
  4. Browser Hijackers and Junkware – we still continue to see the problem of browser hijackers and junkware being distributed in installers for legitimate programs. What’s sad is, the royalties are so high for software developers to add in the install code for junkware, that the developers don’t know how bad the issue is. From Babylon Toolbar to Claro Search…these toolbars and homepage hijackers are unnecessary and technically need to be done away with. Good thing our security community has the ability to remove this crap with our special tools.
  5. Malware growth on Other Platforms – it’s no surprise that malware problems are lighting up on the iOS now, as well as Linux. It sure will start to become a problem this year. Even more on Windows 8 and Android than any other device.
  6. Android Malware Growth – This has become one of the biggest problems right now in the computing world is the steady high growth of malware on the Android platform. It will continue to be a problem, sadly.
  7. Anonymous Cyberattacks, and Government Cyberwar – we will still see cybercrime and cyberwar problems continue this year.

Stay in tune with this blog for further updates.

Microsoft issues usual Patch Tuesday – November 2012 – includes Windows 8 & RT updates

Windows Updates

Microsoft has issued the usual Patch Tuesday round of updates, but this time – guess what? Windows 8 updates are included, as well as for RT. Isn’t that wonderful?

19 flaws have been fixed in this round of updates. All are being updated in six bulletins this month. These bulletins are listed as MS12-071 through MS12-076. Four are rated critical and two of them urgent.

Now, some have asked about Internet Explorer 10 being vulnerable yet…not at this time. It is not currently vulnerable to the current set of three related flaws in Internet Explorer 9.

However, a font parsing flaw has been found, which could affect Windows 8, as noted in CVE-2012-2897.

Here is a general CVE list of the latest vulnerabilities fixed in the current round:

Current Microsoft Security Bulletin Page

 

All about TPM Chip in Windows 8 – Microsoft is Many Years Late

What is the TPM Chip?

  • Microsoft released Windows 8, and with it came the Trusted Platform Module (TPM Chip) is a chip that allows a certain operating system to recognize a chip to verify the operating system and its modules. This provides even better security, so that Windows can only be installed on hardware that is verified through the TPM Chip.
  • Now, it is unclear whether or not it will be required for Windows 8, however, it is in testing mode at this point. In future versions of Windows, it will probably be required. Which also makes it difficult for those using Windows on a virtual machine, and will probably require people to acquire a specific compatibility license to run Windows on virtual machine, or dual boot with a Mac-based computer.
  • Confused yet? Apple was one of the first, if not the first, to introduce an OEM chip, which required people to have if they wanted to run Mac operating systems. Which meant, for example, Mac OS X couldn’t be installed onto a normal computer, it had to be on “Mac-branded hardware” as they state in their terms-of-use on Mac OS X.
  • What does this bring to the security of operating systems necessarily? It provides very low level security, and will be just another possibility to block bootkit attackers and other boot-based viruses/rootkits.
  • Some experts say that TPM will probably be included in new PCs, tablets, and other Windows-branded devices. There’s no current way to just “install it”, however, Windows 8 is engineered to be able to recognize the TPM Chip.
  • When did this idea come about? Probably the late-1990s was when this idea came about, because security experts were realizing the issue that software antivirus/firewall was not strong enough to block the threats. It would take more than just software-based protection programs.
  • What other implementations (other than Apple’s chip) are in place?The Google Chromebook is a good example of implementation, because when it boots, the TPM chip object in there checks the modules on the system. If one is bad, it automatically replaces it with its “last known good module” (in its comprised library of last known good modules), keeping itself protected.

 

For the future of TPM technology

  • It’s possible the makers of the TPM technology would be working with security/OS vendors to create antivirus that can be built over top of the TPM chip, which would scan the operating system and kernel before it starts up.
  • What’s different than boot-time scanners offered by companies like Avast, for example? Boot-time scanners offered by software companies still use Windows modules to help scan the whole computer. However, since the modules are part of the operating system, the boot-time scan cannot get to the OS kernel deep enough. Although, it can scan the system before it loads services/drivers, it cannot necessarily get a good look at all of the drivers/services or the MBR/BIOS for that matter.
  • By allowing antivirus to scan computer before operating system starts (at all), it will also keep on top of things so malware cannot hinder or suppress the scan.

 

This is just one of the many security features included in Windows 8. Take a look!

Windows 8 Security Features Explained (mini-whitepaper)

Windows 8 is apparently more secure than Windows 7. Perhaps this is true, and it is best to learn what security features there are for the new operating system. Some of these security features are verified to help out very well in the security of Windows 8, and some may not be in time, or lastly some may not work at all.

One of the most discussed security features is Secure Boot. Now, Secure Boot is a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) specified in the boot process to check cryptographic signatures of kernel-mode drivers, making sure they aren’t modified or corrupted. In other words, the boot process is now made to check if the operating system has been corrupted by malware or some other issue.

This is all part of a hardware restriction process called Hardware DRM. All non-ARM devices have the option to turn Secure Boot off, however ARM devices must keep it on. Experts state that it will be resistant to rootkits, since the MBR and BIOS cannot be accessed, unless if someone working on the computer penetrates it.

Next, Windows 8 features better built in antivirus software, with a much better improved Windows Defender. The software in Windows 8 is combined with the optional tool Microsoft Security Essentials. Now, with Windows Defender super-powered with MSE, it has much more anti-malware features.

With better anti-malware features, Internet Explorer is now made with better features as well. It has the ability to prevent zero-day exploits much greater than previous versions of Internet Explorer. With the challenges of exploiting Windows 7, there was the issue risen up again for Java and Flash Player, so hackers can gain control over the operating system. Those browser plugins are now easier to exploit than the Internet Explorer’s code.

A new application sandboxing environment called AppContainer provides the ability to run all apps in a controlled environment, where it controls how apps work. This prevents apps from disrupting the operating system. Of course, this is just supplemented by Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen filter, which prevents the download/install of known malicious software. However, Windows 8 now has SmartScreen available for any app, allowing even more prevention. Of course, this means Microsoft employees are going to increase in numbers, if they really want to keep up. Now that hackers know their new challenges, they will be relentless.

The questions are still played on whether Windows 8 will be a repeat of Vista or not. The reality of the situation, is if Windows 8 has big popularity, then the security issues will also light up big time. However, many will stick to Windows 7, so the security issues for Windows users are not close to be over. Feel free to take a look at related articles below for Symantec’s opinions, which aren’t too well on the new OS.

Added October 31, 2012: Trusted Platform Module, read more

Keep up with the latest security tips on our blog here. In addition, please donate to help us continue to write these awesome whitepapers.

Windows 8 medical app, EMR Surface launched

Many sources are talking about the new Windows 8 app, EMR Surface, that is now available for $499 (USD). It is apparently the most pricey app so far, which is fine, because most other solutions for the Windows platforms are much more expensive. This app provides a break from the cost and takes advantage of the new Windows 8 operating system.

The development team Pariscribe has engineered this app. This app was made specifically for the medical industry, and should be treated as such. It offers the ability, according to the app page, to check up on patient information and to “Add Appointment, Billing, Family History, Family History Details, Problems, Progress Note, Risk Factor, Vital Sign, Prescription, Drug Interactions, Reminders.”

Right now, apparently it is in pilot mode, being used in Samsung Series 7 Slate tablets. In 12 MB in size, it comes packed with tons of features, and provides an easy-to-use visual interface. Just may be the future of in-office consultations, instead of the medical laptop usage.

Now available on the Windows Store.

Rakshasa Case Study: Really Undetectable?

By Jay Pfoutz
Editor

Apparently, the new showy security threat is Rakshasa… At Black Hat Las Vegas, this new security technique was unveiled.

This new malware by researcher Jonathan Brossard is apparently ‘impossible to disinfect’.

Now, FIRST OF ALL!! – Anything created with man’s hands can be destroyed. I’d like to see this opinion last: undetectable, can’t be disinfected, etc.

The paper on Rakshasa can be found here. It describes a hardware backdoor. Unbeknownst to this artist researcher, companies like Kaspersky or ESET have already begun to craft hardware antivirus drivers. So, this backdoor hardware malware scheme is a bit late, but maybe just in time, too.

Will it be used? Who knows. That’s the scary part!

It is realistically a BIOSkit, a rootkit that infects the BIOS of the computer. What’s wrong with this…? It can be easily disinfected by flashing all of the devices of the computer, which apparently would be infected.

However, this malware has not been tested in an enterprise-based beta, which means just because it worked on a couple of machines does not mean it would work on any other computer. Impressive? Yes! But, not at all scary, yet.

What makes me more shocked, is that people will actually believe that this malware will not be able to be disinfected. But, this is the turnaround: it can be! This is nothing more than a BIOSkit, and we have seen BIOSkits removed in our leagues many times.

But, then again, people commonly believe rootkits are impossible to be removed too. Look…we proved them wrong!

By inflicting code signing for BIOS, just like all other hardware driver signing, can easily keep it blocked. Also, if BitLocker evolves in Windows 8 and further technologies, it could easily secure the OS. Also, things like device encryption, could be taken to a new level.

This is not a new vulnerability, and Brossard agrees.

I’m sure we’ll have more on this story as it develops in the future. Stay tuned to seCURE Connexion!

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