U.S. Government security keys vulnerable to hackers, for the dumbest imaginable reason

Physical security keys, like those sold by Yubico, Thetis and Kensington, are a great way to lock down your digital lives. They also tend to be wicked fast compared to the wait you have to put on while you're waiting for a 2FA password to arrive via SMS or typing in a verification code from an app like Google Authenticator.

Unless of course said security key is deeply, deeply borked.

From Engadget:

Yubico is recalling a line of security keys used by the U.S. government due to a firmware flaw. The company issued a security advisory today that warned of an issue in YubiKey FIPS Series devices with firmware versions 4.4.2 and 4.4.4 that reduced the randomness of the cryptographic keys it generates. The security keys are used by thousands of federal employees on a daily basis, letting them securely log-on to their devices by issuing one-time passwords.

The problem in question occurs after the security key powers up. According to Yubico, a bug keeps "some predictable content" inside the device's data buffer that could impact the randomness of the keys generated. Security keys with ECDSA signatures are in particular danger. A total of 80 of the 256 bits generated by the key remain static, meaning an attacker who gains access to several signatures could recreate the private key.

If someone reading this can school me on why anyone working at Yubico would think that keeping 'predictable content' on a device meant to secure highly-sensitive governmental systems and information, I'd appreciate it. Read the rest

Weekend SIM-swapping blitz targets US cryptocurrency holders

SIM swapping attacks involve tricking or bribing a phone company into assigning someone else's phone number to you; once you have the number, you can intercept SMS-based two-factor authentication messages and use them to take over accounts. Read the rest

It's time to stop asking users for periodic password changes

Image: Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ars Technica outlines the case for a policy that might sound counter-intuitive at first: not forcing password rotation. Read the rest

Research shows that 2FA and other basic measures are incredibly effective at preventing account hijacking

Google has published the results of a study of the efficacy of standard anti-account-hijacking techniques like two-factor authentication (2FA), secret questions, and passwords: the good news is that when these are used, they are incredibly effective at stopping both automated and targeted attacks, including "advanced" attacks of the sort that are often characterized as unstoppable. Read the rest

DOJ accuses Verizon and AT&T employees of participating in SIM-swap identity theft crimes

The DOJ has indicted three former Verizon and AT&T employees for alleged membership in a crime-ring known as the "The Community"; the indictment says the telco employees helped their confederates undertake "port-out" scams (AKA "SIM-swapping" AKA "SIM hijacking"), which allowed criminals to gain control over targets' phone numbers, thereby receiving SMS-based two-factor authentication codes. Read the rest

Security keys are "transformative" and "revolutionary" for information security

Mark Risher adapts his viral Twitter thread about the security advantages of security keys like Ubikey and Google's Titan Security Key, and how they are game-changers for information security. Read the rest

Facebook forces you to expose your phone number to the whole world in order to turn on two-factor authentication

Last September, Facebook drew fire for abusing the phone numbers users provided for two-factor authentication messages, sending spam advertising messages over the same channel -- now, rather than reforming its ways, Facebook has doubled down on poisoning the security well, by adding a no-opt-out policy of allowing anyone in the world to search for you by phone number if you provide that number for two-factor auth. Read the rest

Comcast assigned every mobile customer the same unchangeable PIN to protect against SIM hijack attacks: 0000

If someone wants to steal your phone number -- say, to intercept the two-factor authentication SMSes needed to break into your bank account or other vital service -- they hijack your SIM by impersonating you to your phone company (or by bribing someone at the company to reassign your phone number to them), and this has made the security of phone numbers into a top concern for security experts and telcoms companies, as there are millions of dollars at stake. Read the rest

SMS text two-factor authentication "bypassed at scale"

Gmail's text-message two-factor authentication is not only insufficiently secure, but "bypassed at scale", reports Joseph Cox.

A new Amnesty International report gives more insight into how some hackers break into Gmail and Yahoo accounts at scale, even those with two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled.

They do this by automating the entire process, with a phishing page not only asking a victim for their password, but triggering a 2FA code that is sent to the target’s phone. That code is also phished, and then entered into the legitimate site so the hacker can login and steal the account.

I use Authy. Read the rest

A leaky database of SMS messages is a reminder that SMS is really, really insecure

Berlin-based security researcher Sébastien Kaul discovered that Voxox (formerly Telcentris) -- a giant, San Diego-based SMS gateway company -- had left millions of SMSes exposed on an Amazon cloud server, with an easily queried search front end that would allow attackers to watch as SMSes with one-time login codes streamed through the service. Read the rest

Facebook's been caught using their customers' 2FA information to spam them with text ads

Just when you thought that Facebook couldn't get any more greasy, they have outdone themselves in a manner that places them well beyond even the most succulent of French Chef finger-kisses: the phone numbers that many folks gave them in order to activate the service's two-factor authentication protection? Zuckerberg and his crew are using it to serve up advertisements to unsuspecting users.

From TechCrunch:

Facebook’s confession follows a story Gizmodo ran a story yesterday, related to research work carried out by academics at two U.S. universities who ran a study in which they say they were able to demonstrate the company uses pieces of personal information that individuals did not explicitly provide it to, nonetheless, target them with ads.

While it’s been — if not clear, then at least evident — for a number of years that Facebook uses contact details of individuals who never personally provided their information for ad targeting purposes (harvesting people’s personal data by other means, such as other users’ mobile phone contact books which the Facebook app uploads), the revelation that numbers provided to Facebook by users in good faith, for the purpose of 2FA, are also, in its view, fair game for ads has not been so explicitly ‘fessed up to before.

The best part of all of this is that, according to TechCrunch, Facebook had the chance to confess to their shitty behavior some time ago when it was revealed that users who submitted a phone number for 2FA purposes were being spammed with texts ads sent to their smartphones. Read the rest

Fraudsters offers thousands to low-waged telco employees for help with SIM Swap scams

SIM Swapping is a powerful form of fraud in which criminals convince the phone company to switch your phone number to a SIM they control; once they have your phone number, they can bypass the SMS-based two-factor authentication protecting your cryptocurrency wallets, social media accounts, and other valuable systems. Read the rest

Your phone company's shitty security is all that's standing between you and total digital destruction

Online services increasingly rely on SMS messages for two-factor authentication, which means on the one hand that it's really hard to rip you off without first somehow stealing your phone number, but on the other hand, once someone diverts your SMS messages, they can plunder everything Read the rest

How hackers can steal your 2FA email account by getting you to sign up for another website

In a paper for IEEE Security, researchers from Cyberpion and Israel's College of Management Academic Studies describe a "Password Reset Man-in-the-Middle Attack" that leverages a bunch of clever insights into how password resets work to steal your email account (and other kinds of accounts), even when it's protected by two-factor authentication. Read the rest

Mobile phone security's been busted for years, and now 2-factor auth is busted too

The SS7 vulnerability has long been understood and publicized: anyone who spends $1000 or so for a mobile data roaming license can use the SS7 protocol to tell your phone company that your phone just showed up on their network and hijack all the traffic destined for your phone, including those handy SMSes used to verify sketchy attempts to log into your bank account and steal all your money. Read the rest

At least twice, Sean Spicer has accidentally tweeted the password to his official White House spokesman Twitter account

Day six! It's also a pretty shitty password. Let's hope he's got 2-factor auth turned on! Also, Trump's still using his insecure personal Android device. Read the rest

What we can learn from 2016: the year of the security breach

Ryan McGeehan, who specializes in helping companies recover from data-breaches, reflects on the worst year of data breaches (so far) and has some sound practical advice on how to reduce your risk and mitigate your losses: some easy wins are to get your staff to use password managers and two-factor authentication for their home computers (since everyone is expected to work in their off-hours, most home computers are an easy way to get into otherwise well-defended networks); and stress-test your network for breach recovery. Read the rest

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