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Firefox

Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing 134 134

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.) They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux. (Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Encryption

Cameron Asserts UK Gov't Will Leave No "Safe Space" For Private Communications 253 253

An anonymous reader writes with the story from Ars Technica that UK prime minister David Cameron "has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to 'leave a safe space — a new means of communication — for terrorists to communicate with each other.'" That statement came Monday, as a response to Conservative MP David Bellingham, "who asked [Cameron, on the floor of the House of Commons] whether he agreed that the 'time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?' To which Cameron replied: 'we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.'" This sounds like the UK government is declaring a blustery war on encryption, and it might not need too much war: some companies can be persuaded (or would be eager) to cooperate with the government in handing over all kinds of information. However, the bluster part may leave even the fiercest surveillance mostly show: as Ars writer Glyn Moody asks, what about circumstances "where companies can't hand over keys, or where there is no company involved, as with GnuPG, the open source implementation of the OpenPGP encryption system?" Or Tor?
Security

Angler Exploit Kit Evasion Techniques Keep Cryptowall Thriving 35 35

msm1267 writes: Since the Angler Exploit Kit began pushing the latest version of Cryptowall ransomware, the kit has gone to great lengths to evade detection from IDS and other security technologies. The latest tactic is an almost-daily change to URL patterns used by the kit in HTTP GET requests for the Angler landing page, requests for a Flash exploit, and requests for the Cryptowall 3.0 payload. Traffic patterns as of yesterday are almost unrecognizable compared to those of as recent as three weeks ago.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Passwords Transmitted As Cleartext? 241 241

An anonymous reader writes: My brother recently requested a transcript from his university and was given the option to receive the transcript electronically. When he had problems accessing the document, he called me in to help. What I found was that the transcript company had sent an e-mail with a URL (not a link) to where the document was located. What surprised me was that a second e-mail was also sent containing the password (in cleartext) to access the document.

Not too long ago I had a similar experience when applying for a job online (ironically for an entry-level IT position). I was required to setup an account with a password and an associated e-mail address. While filling out the application, I paused the process to get some information I didn't have on hand and received an e-mail from the company that said I could continue the process by logging on with my account name and password, both shown in cleartext in the message.

In my brother's case, it was an auto-generated password but still problematic. In my case, it showed that the company was storing my account information in cleartext to be able to e-mail it back to me. Needless to say, I e-mailed the head of their IT department explaining why this was unacceptable.

My questions are: How frequently have people run into companies sending sensitive information (like passwords) in cleartext via e-mail? and What would you do if this type of situation happened to you?
United States

Federal Wiretaps Down Slightly, Encryption Impact Decreases 24 24

coondoggie writes: According to the 2014 Wiretap Report, released today by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts a total of a total of 3,554 wiretaps were reported as authorized, with 1,279 authorized by federal judges and 2,275 authorized by state judges. Compared to the applications approved during 2013, the number approved by federal judges decreased 13% in 2014 and the number approved by state judges increased 8%. One state wiretap application was denied in 2014, the report stated.
Security

Amazon's New SSL/TLS Implementation In 6,000 Lines of Code 107 107

bmearns writes: Amazon has announced a new library called "s2n," an open source implementation of SSL/TLS, the cryptographic security protocols behind HTTPS, SSH, SFTP, secure SMTP, and many others. Weighing in at about 6k lines of code, it's just a little more than 1% the size of OpenSSL, which is really good news in terms of security auditing and testing. OpenSSL isn't going away, and Amazon has made clear that they will continue to support it. Notably, s2n does not provide all the additional cryptographic functions that OpenSSL provides in libcrypto, it only provides the SSL/TLS functions. Further more, it implements a relatively small subset of SSL/TLS features compared to OpenSSL.
Encryption

MIT's Bitcoin-Inspired 'Enigma' Lets Computers Mine Encrypted Data 46 46

Guy Zyskind, Oz Nathan, and the MIT Media Lab have developed a system to encrypt data in a way that it can still be shared and used without being decrypted. "To keep track of who owns what data—and where any given data’s pieces have been distributed—Enigma stores that metadata in the bitcoin blockchain, the unforgeable record of messages copied to thousands of computers to prevent counterfeit and fraud in the bitcoin economy." Enigma needs a fairly large base of users to operate securely, so its creators have proposed requiring a fee for anyone who wants data processed in this way. That fee would then be split among the users doing the processing. Those with encrypted datasets on the Enigma network could also sell access to datamining operations without letting the miners see the unencrypted data.
Security

Stanford Starts the 'Secure Internet of Things Project' 76 76

An anonymous reader writes: The internet-of-things is here to stay. Lots of people now have smart lights, smart thermostats, smart appliances, smart fire detectors, and other internet-connect gadgets installed in their houses. The security of those devices has been an obvious and predictable problem since day one. Manufacturers can't be bothered to provide updates to $500 smartphones more than a couple years after they're released; how long do you think they'll be worried about security updates for a $50 thermostat? Security researchers have been vocal about this, and they've found lots of vulnerabilities and exploits before hackers have had a chance to. But the manufacturers have responded in the wrong way.

Instead of developing a more robust approach to device security, they've simply thrown encryption at everything. This makes it temporarily harder for malicious hackers to have their way with the devices, but also shuts out consumers and white-hat researchers from knowing what the devices are doing. Stanford, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan have now started the Secure Internet of Things Project, which aims to promote security and transparency for IoT devices. They hope to unite regulators, researchers, and manufacturers to ensure nascent internet-connected tech is developed in a way that respects customer privacy and choice.
Security

UK Researchers Find IPv6-Related Data Leaks In 11 of 14 VPN Providers 65 65

jan_jes writes: According to researchers at Queen Mary University of London, services used by hundreds of thousands of people in the UK to protect their identity on the web are vulnerable to leaks. The study of 14 popular VPN providers found that 11 of them leaked information about the user because of a vulnerability known as 'IPv6 leakage'. The leakage occurs because network operators are increasingly deploying a new version of the protocol used to run the Internet called IPv6. The study also examined the security of various mobile platforms when using VPNs and found that they were much more secure when using Apple's iOS, but were still vulnerable to leakage when using Google's Android. Similarly Russian researchers have exposed the breakthrough U.S. spying program few months back. The VPNs they tested certainly aren't confined to the UK; thanks to an anonymous submitter, here's the list of services tested: Hide My Ass, IPVanish, Astrill, ExpressVPN, StrongVPN, PureVPN, TorGuard, AirVPN, PrivateInternetAccess, VyprVPN, Tunnelbear, proXPN, Mullvad, and Hotspot Shield Elite.
Windows

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable? 513 513

blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?
Encryption

NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines 64 64

An anonymous reader writes: Encryption weighs heavily on the public consciousness these days, as we've learned that government agencies are keeping an eye on us and a lot of our security tools aren't as foolproof as we've thought. In response to this, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a formal update to its document on how to properly generate a random number — crucial in many types of encryption. The update (as expected) removes a recommendation for the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm. It also adds extra options for CTR_DRBG and points out examples for implementing SP 800-90A generators. The full document (PDF) is available online.
Encryption

Cisco Security Appliances Found To Have Default SSH Keys 112 112

Trailrunner7 writes: Many Cisco security appliances contain default, authorized SSH keys that can allow an attacker to connect to an appliance and take almost any action he chooses. The company said all of its Web Security Virtual Appliances, Email Security Virtual Appliances, and Content Security Management Virtual Appliances are affected by the vulnerability.

This bug is about as serious as they come for enterprises. An attacker who is able to discover the default SSH key would have virtually free reign on vulnerable boxes, which, given Cisco's market share and presence in the enterprise worldwide, is likely a high number. The default key apparently was inserted into the software for support reasons.

"The vulnerability is due to the presence of a default authorized SSH key that is shared across all the installations of WSAv, ESAv, and SMAv. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by obtaining the SSH private key and using it to connect to any WSAv, ESAv, or SMAv. An exploit could allow the attacker to access the system with the privileges of the root user," Cisco said.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Cloud Data Encrypted Without Cross-Platform Pain? 107 107

bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
Operating Systems

Linux 4.1 Kernel Released With EXT4 Encryption, Performance Improvements 116 116

An anonymous reader writes: The Linux 4.1 kernel has been announced and its release brings expanded features for the Linux kernel including EXT4 file-system encryption, open-source GeForce GTX 750 support, performance improvements for Intel Atom / Bay Trail hardware, RAID 5/6 improvements, and other additions.
Encryption

Two Years After Snowden Leaks, Encryption Tools Are Gaining Users 69 69

Patrick O'Neill writes: It's not just DuckDuckGo — since the first Snowden articles were published in June 2013, the global public has increasingly adopted privacy tools that use technology like strong encryption to protect themselves from eavesdroppers as they surf the Web and use their phones. The Tor network has doubled in size, Tails has tripled in users, PGP has double the daily adoption rate, Off The Record messaging is more popular than ever before, and SecureDrop is used in some of the world's top newsrooms.
Security

Encryption Would Not Have Protected Secret Federal Data, Says DHS 142 142

HughPickens.com writes: Sean Gallagher reports at Ars Technica that Dr. Andy Ozment, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity in the Department of Homeland Security, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that in the case of the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractors, encryption would "not have helped" because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. Ozment added that because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network. "If the adversary has the credentials of a user on the network, they can access data even if it's encrypted just as the users on the network have to access data," said Ozment. "That did occur in this case. Encryption in this instance would not have protected this data."

The fact that Social Security numbers of millions of current and former federal employees were not encrypted was one of few new details emerged about the data breach and House Oversight member Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) was the one who pulled the SSN encryption answer from the teeth of the panel where others failed. "This is one of those hearings where I think that I will know less coming out of the hearing than I did when I walked in because of the obfuscation and the dancing around we are all doing here. As a matter of fact, I wish that you were as strenuous and hardworking at keeping information out of the hands of hackers as you are in keeping information out of the hands of Congress and federal employees. It's ironic. You are doing a great job stonewalling us, but hackers, not so much."
Security

"Let's Encrypt" Project To Issue First Free Digital Certificates Next Month 97 97

An anonymous reader writes: Let's Encrypt, the project that hopes to increase the use of encryption across websites by issuing free digital certificates, is planning to issue the first ones next month. Backed by the EFF, the Mozilla Foundation, the Linux Foundation, Akamai, IdenTrust, Automattic, and Cisco, Let's Encrypt will provide free-of-charge SSL and TSL certificates to any webmaster interested in implementing HTTPS for their products. The Stack reports: "Let's Encrypt's root certificate will be cross-signed by IdenTrust, a public key CA owned by smartphone government ID card provider HID Global. Website operators are generally hesitant to use SSL/TLS certificates due to their cost. An extended validation (EV) SSL certificates can cost up to $1,000. It is also a complication for operators to set up encryption for larger web services. Let's Encrypt aims to remove these obstacles by eliminating the related costs and automating the entire process."
Security

Samsung Cellphone Keyboard Software Vulnerable To Attack 104 104

Adesso writes: A serious security problem in the default Samsung keyboard installed on many of the company's cellphones has been lurking since December 2014 (CVE-2015-2865). When the phone tries to update the keyboard, it fails to encrypt the executable file. This means attackers on the same network can replace the update file with a malicious one of their own. Affected devices include the Galaxy S6, S5, S4, and S4 mini — roughly 600 million of which are in use. There's no known fix at the moment, aside from avoiding insecure Wi-Fi networks or switching phones. The researcher who presented these findings at the Blackhat security conference says Samsung has provided a patch to carriers, but he can't find out if any of them have applied the patch. The bug is currently still active on the devices he tested.
Encryption

US Lawmakers Demand Federal Encryption Requirements After OPM Hack 91 91

Patrick O'Neill writes: After suffering one of the biggest hacks in federal history at the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. government is sprinting to require a wide range of cybersecurity improvements across agencies in order to better secure troves of sensitive government data against constant cyberattacks. The top priorities are basic but key: Encryption of sensitive data and two-factor authentication required for privileged users. Despite eight years of internal warnings, these measures were not implemented at OPM when hackers breached their systems beginning last year.

The calls for added security measures comes as high-level government officials, particularly FBI director James Comey and NSA director Adm. Mike Rogers, are pushing to require backdoors on encryption software that many experts, like UPenn professor Matt Blaze, say would fundamentally "weaken our infrastructure" because the backdoors would be open to hackers as well.
Communications

Should Edward Snowden Trust Apple To Do the Right Thing? 196 196

Nicola Hahn writes: As American lawmakers run a victory lap after passing the USA Freedom Act of 2015, Edward Snowden has published an op-ed piece which congratulates Washington on its "historic" reform. He also identifies Apple Inc. as a champion of user privacy. Snowden states: "Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private." This sort of talking point encourages the perception that Apple has sided with users in the battle against mass surveillance. But there are those who question Snowden's public endorsement of high-tech monoliths. Given their behavior in the past is it wise to assume that corporate interests have turned over a new leaf and won't secretly collaborate with government spies?