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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

XP still Continues though "eXPired"

1.    XP has now got the authorized prefix and suffix to get renamed as "eXPired" since it has been now officially announced by Microsoft as discontinued and has advised XP and Office 2003 users to migrate to Windows 7 and Office 2010 and thus systems are left vulnerable to new forms of malware. No further support to XP...no patches to update...no updates by Microsoft.....but certainly it will take time for XP to get disowned by more then a decade old loyal user population most of whom made their first PC experience with a XP machine...for a home guy who surfs net...it will be difficult to make him/her understand about how vulnerable he/she is now....actually very difficult.

2.    But what about the corporates and govt sector offices? I am sure private sector will make a fast change since it may adversely effect their business model in case of a undesired info leakage or a hack!!!Only recently I made a visit to a post office in Delhi for doing a speed post...wherein the dedicated  loyal postmaster was using a xp machine connected to Internet.I informally asked him about any upgrades in OS planned in their department to which he replied confidently that it's not required since it is working fine.Today the Indian postal department is slowly getting online.Today thanks to vision implementation of the government(though late) that we are able to locate the movement of a speed post letter...what time it was opened..whats the location and when it got delivered...etc etc..but all this can go waste and get a setback if the backbone nodes are not updated and monitored....more so if the staff handling all the machines are low on security aspect.

3.   Well...this postal department is one of the examples cited here since I just interacted with one of them today...but the risk stakes are high when we see this at national level...all the online-governance machines located in remote areas...have they been ensured removed of XP?....if it has not been done....this can be just on the lines of zero day exploits...in this case there must be millions of machines thrown open to hacking....and invasion to classified information.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

NULL MEET: Open Source Security Testing & OSSTMM

1.    NULL,Delhi chapter organised this wonderful meet with the OSSTMM Guys incl  Joerg Simon and Fabian Affolter...well...at the time of registration I never knew what's OSSTMM but then we have google to answer that and after reading about OSSTMM....its a great way to broaden your horizons of security domain....It stands for "Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual" ie OSSTMM...few pics from the meet



2.    More about OSSTMM at the following links :

www.osstmm.org/
https://www.facebook.com/OSSTMM


3.    Thanks to the delhi NULL chapter moderators Sandeep and Vaibhav for arranging the meet and great interaction....




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Best IT SECURITY INFO & NEWS SItes

1.         IT Security enthusiasts guys/girls always keep looking forwards to discovering new sites that keep them enriched with latest happenings in the buzzing IT SECURITY world...I am listing out a list of sites that I keep abuzz with.These are not necessarily in the order of my preference or have any kind of ratings or ranking....but a whole lot of enriching info is available for every cyber security guy!!!

http://www.schneier.com/

http://thehackernews.com/

https://www.privacyrights.org/

https://www.owasp.org is specific to web application security subjects

http://www.itsecurity.com/

http://technet.microsoft.com has more of MS related aspects

http://csrc.nist.gov/

http://www.sans.org/

http://www.securityfocus.com/ : by Symantec

http://www.cert.org/

http://www.scmagazine.com/

http://www.securityweek.com/

http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/

http://www.darkreading.com/

....surf few of them and enrich your self!!!!all the best

Treat your E-Mail address classified : ADVISORY

1.    Do you know that simply your E-MAIL disclosure to a person with malicious intent can be a key to disclosing your E-mail content and other personal attributes of life?...I mean it can invade your privacy...and just for info this is an active organised crime in the cyber world.

2.   What is the most important first thing that a hacker desires to know?....and the answer is the IP Address of the victim..and all it takes to know the IP address is to send a dummy mail at the victims id.. that's it....strange it may sound but there are so many websites offering you free solutions on how to get not only the IP address but also the browser and OS system details of the victim.One of the leading sites offering a free solution is SPYPIG...this site facilitates to let you know when your email has been read by the recipient! ...this happens in form of a intimation by SPYPIG as and when the e-mail is read by the recipient.

3.   Now some thing about SpyPig ....is a simple email tracking system that sends you a notification by email when the recipient opens your message.It works with virtually all modern email programs: Outlook, Eudora, Yahoo Email, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Email and many others.In addition to the notification it actually sends you additional but undesired details also which can be exploited by malicious intent person.Thde details that can be used and exploited are shown here in the screen shot below in one test mail....

Red Encircled are the Critical Info

4.     But sadly,the recipient will never know of the fact that he is being tracked and so much of critical info has already swapped hands with unknown guys...I mean the OS,the browser with their respective versions etc....so in the state today the following preventions can be taken to avoid such a hijack :

-           Avoid opening E-mails from unknown sources

-      Disable Image display by default in E-Mail settings.This is important because this works on the funda of a hidden script in the image sent along with the mail.So if you disable the images display by default,it is unlikely that this will be executed.

-           Avoid sharing and disclosing your E-Mail addresses openly.

5.     To know about spypig visit : http://www.spypig.com

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Terms & Conditions Apply" : Bon Voyage to your Privacy

1.   How many of you actually read the complete word set of "Terms and Conditions" of an application like Chrome browser ,Facebook or some thing like WhatsApp,Truecaller etc.....m sure no one hardly has time for that....ok...just for info please read the excerpt below :

Google's terms of service, for instance, clocks in at 1,711 words, according to an AFP count, not including a separate 2,382-word privacy policy that is still about 1,000 words shorter than the Google Chrome browser policy

Facebook's terms of service clocks in at 4525 words....(I did a word count with a libre office)

WhatsApp terms of service clocks in at 6549 words....(I did a word count with a libre office for this too :-)

2.    So at the above rate for a typical Internet user who installs the regular OS,Word ,PDF,VLC, it would take about 200 hours the equivalent of about one full month of work a year to fully read all the terms and conditions attached to his or her favorite websites.Will any person on earth do it?Now think over the fact that why would a company legally bind every user with thousand of words of legal agreement...what could be the motive...the motive of any company on the web is not just to save its own credibility and ass but the real motive is mining data...that's why most of it is free...why would chrome be free or for that matter why so many applications are free?...I am not trying to demean the OPENSOURCE community here who are doing a great job and I am a strict FOSS for that matter...but I would like to focus on other applications like WhatsApp,Truecaller...and so many uncountable Android,Gaba,Windows mobile applications etc....


3.   A simple click by you on Accepting the Terms and Conditions of the the application company allows your consent to online lives being archived, shared with third parties or passed on to government agencies without notice....and that's a very very serious privacy breach today when we know that in another about 4-5 years to come when our digital dependence would be like never before...this can mean havoc....for example a school student who has a home computer based on pirated or for this matter even genuine OS with loads of software's with separate set of terms and conditions.....will have his/her literally whole life profile including his FB posts,his/her preferences,his phone calls,his phone contacts,audio recordings,photographs,his/her secrets of life and anything that can be his/her privacy attribute known to the third parties with whom he has no concern...and these third parties will have their ways and means to effect his/her life in so many ways then....!!!!!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Keep Changing Your Antivirus : CRUDE but EFFECTIVE Solution to curb Virus menace

1.    We all understand the importance of anti virus today.From a naive user point of view, a user can go for the cheapest of the lot or may be if some one is worried enough he would go for the costliest one....but does that matter in an overall context? I mean w.r.t to the serious business model that this antivirus corporate sector has emerged like....lets see it here down below that brings out the country association of each leading antivirus company :

AVG                                                        :  Czech Republic

Kaspersky                                                :  Russia

Avast                                                        :  Czech Republic

Norton Symantec                                      :  U.S

Avira                                                         :  Germany

E-Set                                                        :  Slovakia

F-Secure                                                   : Finland

McAfee                                                     : U.S

MSE(Microsoft Software Essentials)          :  U.S

Panda                                                        :Spain

2.   Sadly we see,there are no Indian companies in this short list.Besides these,if we get specific to India we can quote two companies viz : Quick-heal and K7 Computing..well....that's not the point that I am here to share....the thing to note here is that all these leading companies have got a affiliation with some other country and none is Indian.So when we blindly load a antivirus or a internet security suite in our systems just on faith and word of mouth publicity from peers and friends...are we doing the right thing ? Do we know what is running in the background ? In the name of uploading our dumps what actually goes to their servers? What information does it contain?How does that company identify a virus or a malware?what's the logic that finds a virus?...all these questions are critical because this all is happening in our own machines.....but most of us hardly bother about all this...coz we have faith!!! :-)...and also because there are no standards existing for defining a QR for a antivirus....there is none to cross check what's being cooked?

3.  Besides having a question mark  on the privacy issues...lets think about the logic being applied or the signatures being released to thwart the known threats....but do we know that more then the known virus list it is the ZERO DAY threats that are getting serious by the day....off-course few bright companies are trying to check that by working on behavioral aspects of a virus or a suspected file...but that has it's set of constraints and is often limited in detecting....so whats the solution.....i recommend using all trial versions for a month each of all leading companies that will pass your one year and then format your windows PC and then start again.....a cheap...crude method of using the best without spending a penny!!!!!!!!!!!!

4.   By the way,just for info...virus detection by various companies have their own speeds...a company like kaspersky may be able to detect a virus soon and another company may detect it later or may not even at times detect one....and this time lag of detection is critical to all users!!!!!a second of compromise is enough on your PC with loads of bytes to upload in a matter of a seconds!!!

Comments invited!!!!



Friday, July 12, 2013

Cyber Security Tips for Home Users

Maximum percentage of internet users will remain the naive Home users and it is this major percentage that needs to be acquainted with the basic cyber security hygiene. This presentation will equip the basic user with a small set of skills to be slightly better on handling security front on their respective PCs.

Hacked PC : I Don't Care attitude!!!!

If you feel that you are safe even with a hacked PC at home or office... because you think you don't have any thing to loose from your PC...or you feel that u simply share unclassified info on your PC..so even if it is lost there is nothing to worry.....please see this brief presentation....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Striking the balance : Privacy & Security

1.   Over the decade, Security and Privacy issues have been striking the key notes often at high decibels and the trend is only increasing in the webosphere.I was just thinking if there will be a day when there will be 100% Privacy as well as 100% IT Security...if privacy becomes 100% ensured then how will anyone's data be monitored or will it be all algorithm based that will have a standing as well as active encryption method.

2.  At a health care event in San Jose, California some time in June 2013, President Obama had said "It's important to recognize that you can't have 100 per cent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience."(Source here)

3.  Is it actually possible in lives of the present generation ? I have my doubts!!!!!Our generation is likely to be a turning era of a new kind of civilization ie the digital age.We are part of just the beginning of the IT revolution but it will take another good time to realize a stable IT architecture.

4.  Its a mad race if we see it from top...mad race about leading from the front without realizing that to do so first the need is to plan and move.Short term gains and achievements in such a scenario of unstable internet(i mean unable to handle security and privacy) is not worth a pie.From aka India we have CMS ie the Central Monitoring System that claims to monitor each and every byte(I wonder how would it be done without any known info of set data centers in India......)....then we have PRISM...and actually each country would claim to have a sole application project on similar lines!!!

5.   Confidentiality,Integrity and Availability,the three key corner stones of a security framework....how will these fit in maintaining the privacy issues.The road map is long and lots needs to be done...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Windows 8 and Live USBs & CDs at logger Heads!!

1.  One feature of Windows 8 launched recently has been disabling the option to boot from a Live CD/DVD or a USB right at the beginning.....recently got hold of a Windows 8 laptop of a friend and being in the habit of recommending opensource software's I tried showing him a live DVD of Ubuntu 13.04 but was surprised that every time it booted I could never see the option of selecting option of where to boot from?...that was it...i had no option but to Google and got the answer....the option to boot any windows PC with a live DVD is passe with Windows 8....now the user has to be specific of selection of boot device only once he is inside the OS interface.Bad...Bad...Bad......that's SECURE BOOT by terminology of Microsoft

2.   Dedicated Linux users and communities are the once who immediately start getting irritating owing to this feature that has no choice as on date.The purpose of Secure Boot is to put an end to computer viruses that sneak between the hardware and the operating system. These bootkits work by getting themselves before the OS is loadde, then they make changes to the operating system while it lies defenseless on disk, and then they load the now defenseless operating system and have their way with it. Secure Boot counters the bootkit by ensuring the hardware verifies the identity and authenticity of the software that sits between the hardware and the operating system - the bootloader, and also the software embedded in hardware devices like network and graphics adapters.Although going by the past threats Secure Boot sounds like a smart solution to the bootkit problem but this would be a problem for the majority of users in long run who rely solely on pirated copies of Windows OS.!!!!


3.  This is because today most of the vendors dealing in piracy or the users using pirated DVDs of OS have a option of formatting the PC and then reloading a new OS if the present OS has some issues....and this was possible since he/she would simply choos the BOOT FROM DVD option in the beginning...but now what?If some thing goes awry with your Windows 8 OS,there is no way to access your windows or at the best you need to run to your MS maintenance site.....so there is one good aspect that it is certainly going to curb piracy....but what about the security professionals ???

4. No denying the fact that a LIVE DVD is one of the prized possession of every IT security professional that has a plethora of advantages...so does windows 8 mean an end to all those advantages!!!!its a land lock situation for windows users.I am sure this is not going to last long...may be by windows 8.1 they do something about it!!!!

Big Data & Security Challenges : Geo-Intelligence India 2013

The Audio in the video cast is pretty aghast so I am planning to place Subtitles for understanding the content....Will be placed shortly....thanks


Saturday, July 06, 2013

Spying your friend at WhatsApp : Cause of concern

1.   In my last post here,I discussed about the growing lure of using WhatsApp and the basic security concerns that comes with it from point of a naive user.Now will take you one step higher to the level of a script kiddie....

2.  How does WhatApp identify you in billions?The answer is the unique MAC address that each digital device on this earth holds. If any one changes his/her device,then automatically the MAC address also changes and the user is requested to re-verify their WhatsApp account. Means he/she cannot access same WhatsApp account from two devices. But is MACSPOOFING not existing ?So,if the Mac is spoofed,then who stops from seeing your friends traffic that includes his/her chats,downloads etc!!!although for a naive user this may be look of some technical nature but for the young gen which has lots of techno enthusiasts there should be no stopping....that would include rooting your phone and installing Busybox. How to get your friends MAC address,here it goes :

For Android phone users simply go to settings—> About phone—> Status—> Wi-Fi MAC address.

For iPhone users go to Settings—> General—> About—> Wi-Fi address.

For Windows Phone users go to Settings—> About—> More info—> MAC address.

and for BlackBerry users go to options—> Device—> Device and Status info—> WLAN MAC.


3.   And the best part is that your Andorid can be anyone starting from 1.6 on wards till date.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Security Issues : Whats App !!!!

1.   WhatsApp had set a new record with 27 billion messages in a day on 13th Jun 2013...now that's hell of a lot!!!!!a huge success by any means in terms of revenue generation and collection of info...as I really wonder if all these naive users most of them who are actually not aware of the kind of critical information they have allowed to be passed on...such applications are currently enjoying huge success banking on the naive users....who don't actually realize the repercussions owing to this valuable personal info loss.....just read these few eye raising conditions before any one installs this app :

- Prevent Phone from sleeping

- Change Wifi state

- write sync settings

- Modify/delete SD card contents

- read phone state

- Read contact data

- Write contact data

- Record audio

- Read my location

- Read my other accounts credentials

2.  If one goes through the deeper insights of all these aspects that the user has to invariably accept for enjoying the application thinking its free(when he has given invaluable personal info to a stranger) from point of view of security...it starts getting scary...!!!!going through the above terms it is invariably understood that all your contacts info is already gone....now how much is that info depends on how much have you stored...if you have stored the residential address,his email,his other phone numbers etc...that's all gone the moment you install!!!!..and add to this location and hardware details....from a hacker point of view the attack surface is already prepared vide one shot of installation only.....



3.  If Whatsapp says that they respect user privacy and would not submit all the info to any advertising agency or any third party...then y are they collecting all this ?Whats their security architecture?How reliable is that?Do they guarantee a NO-HACK situation?......

Monday, July 01, 2013

E-Governance and Security Challenges

Copy of the presentation that I gave at the Mini Seminar held under the aegis of IETE at AVCC,NOIDA on the subject : E-Governance and Security Challenges.