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Preview: Schneier on Security

Schneier on Security



A blog covering security and security technology.



Updated: 2017-11-17T23:04:19Z

 



Friday Squid Blogging: Peru and Chile Address Squid Overfishing

2017-11-17T23:04:19Z

Peru and Chile have a new plan. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered. Read my blog posting guidelines here....

Peru and Chile have a new plan.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.




New White House Announcement on the Vulnerability Equities Process

2017-11-18T11:10:33Z

The White House has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP). This is the inter-agency process by which the US government decides whether to inform the software vendor of a vulnerability it finds, or keep it secret and use it to eavesdrop on or attack other systems. You can read the new policy or the fact sheet,... The White House has released a new version of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process (VEP). This is the inter-agency process by which the US government decides whether to inform the software vendor of a vulnerability it finds, or keep it secret and use it to eavesdrop on or attack other systems. You can read the new policy or the fact sheet, but the best place to start is Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce's blog post. In considering a way forward, there are some key tenets on which we can build a better process. Improved transparency is critical. The American people should have confidence in the integrity of the process that underpins decision making about discovered vulnerabilities. Since I took my post as Cybersecurity Coordinator, improving the VEP and ensuring its transparency have been key priorities, and we have spent the last few months reviewing our existing policy in order to improve the process and make key details about the VEP available to the public. Through these efforts, we have validated much of the existing process and ensured a rigorous standard that considers many potential equities. The interests of all stakeholders must be fairly represented. At a high level we consider four major groups of equities: defensive equities; intelligence / law enforcement / operational equities; commercial equities; and international partnership equities. Additionally, ordinary people want to know the systems they use are resilient, safe, and sound. These core considerations, which have been incorporated into the VEP Charter, help to standardize the process by which decision makers weigh the benefit to national security and the national interest when deciding whether to disclose or restrict knowledge of a vulnerability. Accountability of the process and those who operate it is important to establish confidence in those served by it. Our public release of the unclassified portions Charter will shed light on aspects of the VEP that were previously shielded from public review, including who participates in the VEP's governing body, known as the Equities Review Board. We make it clear that departments and agencies with protective missions participate in VEP discussions, as well as other departments and agencies that have broader equities, like the Department of State and the Department of Commerce. We also clarify what categories of vulnerabilities are submitted to the process and ensure that any decision not to disclose a vulnerability will be reevaluated regularly. There are still important reasons to keep many of the specific vulnerabilities evaluated in the process classified, but we will release an annual report that provides metrics about the process to further inform the public about the VEP and its outcomes. Our system of government depends on informed and vigorous dialogue to discover and make available the best ideas that our diverse society can generate. This publication of the VEP Charter will likely spark discussion and debate. This discourse is important. I also predict that articles will make breathless claims of "massive stockpiles" of exploits while describing the issue. That simply isn't true. The annual reports and transparency of this effort will reinforce that fact. Mozilla is pleased with the new charter. I am less so; it looks to me like the same old policy with some new transparency measures -- which I'm not sure I trust. The devil is in the details, and we don't know the details -- and it has giant loopholes that pretty much anything can fall through: The United States Government's decision to disclose or restrict vulnerability information could be subject to restrictions by partner agreements and sensitive operations. V[...]



Motherboard Digital Security Guide

2017-11-16T12:53:17Z

This digital security guide by Motherboard is very good. I put alongside EFF's "Surveillance Self-Defense" and John Scott-Railton's "Digital Security Low Hanging Fruit." There's also "Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders." There are too many of these.......

This digital security guide by Motherboard is very good. I put alongside EFF's "Surveillance Self-Defense" and John Scott-Railton's "Digital Security Low Hanging Fruit." There's also "Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders."

There are too many of these....




Apple FaceID Hacked

2017-11-15T12:54:00Z

It only took a week: On Friday, Vietnamese security firm Bkav released a blog post and video showing that -- by all appearances -- they'd cracked FaceID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking. The article points out that the hack hasn't been independently confirmed,...

It only took a week:

On Friday, Vietnamese security firm Bkav released a blog post and video showing that -- by all appearances -- they'd cracked FaceID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking.

The article points out that the hack hasn't been independently confirmed, but I have no doubt it's true.

I don't think this is cause for alarm, though. Authentication will always be a trade-off between security and convenience. FaceID is another biometric option, and a good one. I wouldn't be less likely to use it because of this.

FAQ from the researchers.




Long Article on NSA and the Shadow Brokers

2017-11-14T12:08:05Z

The New York Times just published a long article on the Shadow Brokers and their effects on NSA operations. Summary: it's been an operational disaster, the NSA still doesn't know who did it or how, and NSA morale has suffered considerably. This is me on the Shadow Brokers from last May....

The New York Times just published a long article on the Shadow Brokers and their effects on NSA operations. Summary: it's been an operational disaster, the NSA still doesn't know who did it or how, and NSA morale has suffered considerably.

This is me on the Shadow Brokers from last May.




Google's Data on Login Thefts

2017-11-13T12:11:03Z

This is interesting research and data: With Google accounts as a case-study, we teamed up with the University of California, Berkeley to better understand how hijackers attempt to take over accounts in the wild. From March 2016 to March 2017, we analyzed several black markets to see how hijackers steal passwords and other sensitive data. [...] Our research tracked several...

This is interesting research and data:

With Google accounts as a case-study, we teamed up with the University of California, Berkeley to better understand how hijackers attempt to take over accounts in the wild. From March 2016 to March 2017, we analyzed several black markets to see how hijackers steal passwords and other sensitive data.

[...]

Our research tracked several black markets that traded third-party password breaches, as well as 25,000 blackhat tools used for phishing and keylogging. In total, these sources helped us identify 788,000 credentials stolen via keyloggers, 12 million credentials stolen via phishing, and 3.3 billion credentials exposed by third-party breaches.

The report.




Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Season May Start Earlier Next Year

2017-11-10T22:18:57Z

Squid fisherman in Argentina have asked regulators to start the squid season earlier in 2018. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered. Read my blog posting guidelines here....

Squid fisherman in Argentina have asked regulators to start the squid season earlier in 2018.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.




New Research in Invisible Inks

2017-11-10T12:06:05Z

It's a lot more chemistry than I understand: Invisible inks based on "smart" fluorescent materials have been shining brightly (if only you could see them) in the data-encryption/decryption arena lately.... But some of the materials are costly or difficult to prepare, and many of these inks remain somewhat visible when illuminated with ambient or ultraviolet light. Liang Li and coworkers...

It's a lot more chemistry than I understand:

Invisible inks based on "smart" fluorescent materials have been shining brightly (if only you could see them) in the data-encryption/decryption arena lately.... But some of the materials are costly or difficult to prepare, and many of these inks remain somewhat visible when illuminated with ambient or ultraviolet light. Liang Li and coworkers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University may have come up with a way to get around those problems. The team prepared a colorless solution of an inexpensive lead-based metal-organic framework (MOF) compound and used it in an ink-jet printer to create completely invisible patterns on paper. Then they exposed the paper to a methylammonium bromide decryption solution...revealing the pattern.... They rendered the pattern invisible again by briefly treating the paper with a polar solvent....

Full paper.




Hacking a Fingerprint Biometric

2017-11-09T20:45:07Z

Embedded in this story about infidelity and a mid-flight altercation, there's an interesting security tidbit: The woman had unlocked her husband's phone using his thumb impression when he was sleeping......

Embedded in this story about infidelity and a mid-flight altercation, there's an interesting security tidbit:

The woman had unlocked her husband's phone using his thumb impression when he was sleeping...




Facebook Fingerprinting Photos to Prevent Revenge Porn

2017-11-09T12:23:23Z

This is a pilot project in Australia: Individuals who have shared intimate, nude or sexual images with partners and are worried that the partner (or ex-partner) might distribute them without their consent can use Messenger to send the images to be "hashed." This means that the company converts the image into a unique digital fingerprint that can be used to...

This is a pilot project in Australia:

Individuals who have shared intimate, nude or sexual images with partners and are worried that the partner (or ex-partner) might distribute them without their consent can use Messenger to send the images to be "hashed." This means that the company converts the image into a unique digital fingerprint that can be used to identify and block any attempts to re-upload that same image.

I'm not sure I like this. It doesn't prevent revenge porn in general; it only prevents the same photos being uploaded to Facebook in particular. And it requires the person to send Facebook copies of all their intimate photos.

Facebook will store these images for a short period of time before deleting them to ensure it is enforcing the policy correctly, the company said.

At least there's that.

More articles.

EDITED TO ADD: It's getting worse:

According to a Facebook spokesperson, Facebook workers will have to review full, uncensored versions of nude images first, volunteered by the user, to determine if malicious posts by other users qualify as revenge porn.