ACLU Facebook Quiz Exposes Privacy Issues in Facebook

While we would normally not recommend you take any of those annoying Facebook Quizes, we found one that has some merit and value.

The ACLU has developed a Facebook Quiz about Facebook privacy.  If you didn’t know…Facebook Quizzes are simply Facebook applications.  So by taking any quiz, the quiz developer has access to any of your potentially private information including…your friends information.

Take the quiz to find out more and support the efforts of the ACLU via this petition to help change Facebook’s policy on applications and what they can access.

Old News: Twitter can be used for Botnet Command & Control

Shocking but true…today a researcher discovered that Twitter has been used for command and control of a botnet which may have been used by Brazilian hackers to steal online banking login information.  Kudos to the researcher, Jose Nazario, who found this.  It was an interesting read to say the least.  The bot would basically look for base64 encoded commands on a Twitter account to download malware via RSS feeds with obfuscated (shortened) URL’s.  Interesting…sounds a lot like Robin Wood’s tool KreiosC2 which was released at DEFCON 17.  I even did this demo showing what else? Base64 encoded commands.  Ironically, I showed off the first version of this code at Notacon 6 back in April of this year.  Keep in mind, KreiosC2 can be used for legitimate tasks like controlling things at home remotely via Twitter.  I highly recommend you read Robin’s detailed write-up on how KreiosC2 functions.

What I find fascinating (like most things in security) is that now that there has been a real confirmed case of using Twitter for botnet C2 (Command & Control) the media seems to be jumping on it and even trying to determine “why it took so long for hackers to take Twitter to the dark side”.  Well, you can’t say we didn’t warn you.

The point that Robin, myself and others were trying to make way back in April was that this is a real threat and the bad guys have probably started to use Twitter for C2 even before Robin put out the code!  We were hoping that by releasing the code Twitter (and others) would see this as perhaps an early warning of things to come and perhaps prepare some defense for it (yes, we know it’s hard to put a defense together for something like this).  Now that we have a confirmed case used for malicious purposes we hope Twitter takes this seriously and can combat future C2 channels used for very bad things.  It always takes something bad to happen to create change…where have you heard that before? :-)

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Another Twitter Scam: Twitviewer

twitviewerOne of the trending topics today on Twitter was “Twitviewer” becuase of a site called Twitviewer[d0t]net which asks visitors to enter in your Twitter user id and password to find out who is “stalking” you.  When you do, you get a sample of people on Twitter that are not even following you as stated in this Mashable post.  The app also sends out a tweet using your credentials stating: “Want to know whos stalking you on twitter!?: hxxp://TwitViewer[d0t]net”.  If you did fall victim to this you better change your password ASAP!  Check out the screenshot of the site before it was taken down…yeah, phishy indeed.

Who knows what the developers of this application were planning (malicious or others).  Regardless, you should never give a third party site (especially ones that look phishy like this one) your Twitter credentials.  In fact, I recommend you only use third party Twitter sites that use OAuth for authenticating you to Twitter.  That way you don’t have to give your credentials to the web site and worry about them being compromised.  Also, look to see what the purpose of the site is before you give the jewels away…if it’s a way to see who’s following you, enter credentials to get millions of followers, etc…then it’s probably a scam or just completely useless.

Think about this.  If the developer of a site like this wanted to they could easily use your captured Twitter credentials and start trying them on other social networks and/or web mail services.  They can then use these credentials for anything else they wanted.  Unfortunatly, most users of these sites use the same password for everything.  Again, this is a reminder to use a password manager if you are one of those that use the same user id/password for everything.  See this article for more information on password managers and social media web sites.

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Social Zombies Invade Las Vegas!

zombieYes, you are reading the title of this post correctly!  Massive Zombie attacks at DefCon this year…bring your shotgun (we are kidding of course, please do not bring firearms to DefCon…you will make the goons very unhappy)!  Seriously though, Kevin Johnson and I will be presenting “Social Zombies: Your Friends Want to Eat Your Brains” at DefCon 17 in Las Vegas on Sunday, August 2nd at 4pm.

My part of the talk is focused on security and privacy concerns with social networks, fake accounts, using social networks for penetration testing and the proliferation of bots on social networks.  I will also be talking about a new version of Robin Wood’s fantastic “Twitterbot” (we actually have a new name for the tool which will be announced at DefCon).  I’ll be providing a live demo showing the new and improved features of his tool!  Big shoutout to Robin for all the work he did on this tool!

The other speaker is Kevin Johnson who you may know as the project lead for BASE and SamuraiWTF (Web Testing Framework).  Kevin is also a SANS instructor for Security 542 (Web App Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking).  When he isnt managing projects and teaching he’s most likely abusing “playing with” social networks.  Kevin will be talking about SocialButterfly which is an application that can leverage and exploit various social network API’s.  He will also talk about manipulating social networks (and thier users) with third-party applications.  Remember: please accept any and all “friend requests” from Kevin Johnson! :-)

From our talk abstract:

In Social Zombies: Your Friends want to eat Your Brains, Tom Eston and Kevin Johnson explore the various concerns related to malware delivery through social network sites. Ignoring the FUD and confusion being sowed today, this presentation will examine the risks and then present tools that can be used to exploit these issues.

This presentation begins by discussing how social networks work and the various privacy and security concerns that are caused by the trust mass that is social networks. We use this privacy confusion to exploit members and their companies during our penetration tests.

The presentation then discusses typical botnets and bot programs. Both the delivery of this malware through social networks and the use of these social networks as command and control channels will be examined.

Tom and Kevin next explore the use of browser-based bots and their delivery through custom social network applications and content. This research expands upon previous work by researchers such as Wade Alcorn and GNUCitizen and takes it into new C&C directions.

Finally, the information available through the social network APIs is explored using the bot delivery applications. This allows for complete coverage of the targets and their information.

How did this talk come together?  Kevin and I had some past converations regarding social network bots (mostly from my Notacon 6 talk) and decided that much of our research was similar so it made sense to “combine forces” to work on some of this research together.  Also, by working on bots and socnet bot delivery mechinisms we hope to raise awareness about some of the security and privacy threats that are out there, not just for the users of social networks.  Oh, and we both like Zombies.  See you at DefCon!

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Password Length and Complexity for Social Media Sites

July 1st was “Twittersec” day as coined by @hevnsnt over at I-Hacked.com to designate July 1st as change your Twitter password day. Why? Mostly because July is the “month of Twitter bugs” created by a security researcher in which he will announce a bug in a “3rd party Twitter application” everyday for the month of July to raise awareness on security issues with the Twitter API. Technically, this should be “month of 3rd party” Twitter bugs but whatever. Either way it will raise awareness about some of the security issues of Twitter and 3rd party applications.

ANYWAY, back to my point….I sent out some tweets about changing your Twitter password and now being a good time to use a password manager like Keepass to manage multiple, complex passwords for everything…not just social media sites. One problem though is that each site might have different password length and complexity requirements. This becomes an annoying issue when you choose a randomly generated password like I suggest when using a password manager. You will encounter many sites that have specific requirements and others that do not. Obviously, the longer and more complex the password is the harder it is to crack so I suggest going as long as you can. Sad that there are these limitations on certain sites (blame the site developers) but if you set your random password generator to a very large number (I recommend at least 20 with a mix of everything you can throw at it including white spaces if the site will let you), it’s as good as your going to get.

Keep in mind, some applications even supported by the site (like the Facebook app for BlackBerry and iPhone) might not like passwords over a certain length or even certain special characters…you will know once you use these apps. Also, I mention Keepass as a password manager because you can use it on a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device as well…an iPhone version is being worked on. So here you go…max password lengths for the major social media sites:

Twitter
None. I tried a 500 character password with everything but white spaces and it worked.

Facebook
None. I tried a 1000 character password with everything but white spaces and it worked.

MySpace
10 characters! Wow…really bad. Now I know another reason MySpace sucks.

LinkedIn
16 characters! This is interesting. LinkedIn truncates the password to 16 characters! Even if you put in a password larger then 16 characters it will only use the first 16, you can actually see this when entering in a password. No user notification, no info about this in the ‘help’ section. Sneaky and evil.

YouTube
None. Your account is tied to your Google account so is kind of a pain to change…but I didn’t find any issues with length or complexity.

On another note…I wonder if Twitter and Facebook truncate the passwords at a certain length and don’t tell you? Not sure…but it would be interesting to find out. This is another bad design as a they could easily just hash the entire password (which is a certain manageable length) and the hash is stored in the database not the large character password. Does this mean that sites like MySpace and LinkedIn are storing passwords in clear text? Also, I have run into other sites (non-social network) that actually truncate the password because when you try to login with an overly complex password…you get denied! Then you enter the cycle of doom…resetting your password thinking you fat fingered that password to begin with over and over. :-/

Are social media password limitations working against you?
Finally, just a quick point on this. Social media sites like MySpace and LinkedIn should NEVER have any limitations on password length or complexity. Certain complexity restrictions (like white space or strange characters) I could understand since you would have to use these passwords on mobile devices and other integrated apps. However, there are no technical limitations of just hashing the passwords to a constant length…and we all know storing passwords in a database in clear text is never a good thing.

Shouldn’t these social media sites that you already give your personal information to be trying to protect you the user as best as they can by letting you set a long and complex password? Let’s hope MySpace and LinkedIn get better at this real soon!


Establishing your social media presence with security in mind

If you have been using social media or are curious of the security of this emerging technology you may be interesting reading my recently published article in issue 21 of (IN)SECURE Magazine. In my article I discuss why companies are starting to use social media, the benefits/risks and what information may be posted about your company on social media/networking web sites. I also talk about some cost effective tools your company can use to start your own social media monitoring program (without spending a ton of cash) and how to put in place guidelines for employees regarding the use of social media. Yes, even if you block these sites in the workplace employees are going to use social media/network sites outside of work if you like it or not…you had better get used to it and adapt your policies!

This article started from me actually seeing how much information there is about businesses within social networks. Both good and bad! The information I have found has been extremely valuable when conducting penetration tests. In fact, this information can be so valuable that you may be surprised how easy it is to use this information for social engineering or more…the possibilities are endless. As I pointed out in my article, get together with the business leaders in your marketing and/or public relations group and talk about social media and how to use it with a bit of security and privacy in mind. You might be surprised how receptive they are to the input from a security professional!


Potential dangers of BlackBerry Syncing Applications

Syncing dangers?

Do you have a BlackBerry for work and you have a corporate policy pushed down and managed by your corporate IT team? Depending on how locked down the policy is for your corporate BlackBerry deployment you may be syncing sensitive or confidential data to a public web site.

So I recently installed the Facebook Blackberry Application v1.5 on my BlackBerry and noticed two interesting settings. First, you can sync your Facebook calendar with your BlackBerry calendar. Second, you can sync your Facebook contacts with your BlackBerry contacts. As far as I can tell syncing is only one way…sort of. The Facebook application has a disclaimer when you install the application that says:

Facebook will “periodically send copies of your BlackBerry device Contacts to Facebook Inc. to match and connect with your Facebook Friends.”

So does this mean Facebook has a copy of your corporate contacts? They must somewhere to do the proper sync matching. There is another disclaimer at the bottom of the “setup wizard” that says you allow Facebook to do this interaction per the same way applications have access to your profile data in Facebook. Interesting. Again, not a nightmare situation…but if any of your business contacts are sensitive in nature I would be hesitant to enable this feature. Worse case? I couldn’t think of a worse security nightmare then of all your users automatically sending sensitive calendar entries with proprietary data to Facebook! So yeah, one way is good. For now one way sync is all the Facebook application does but I would be willing to bet that this will change in the future. Be careful with this one.

So lets step this up a bit. What about two way syncing applications like Google Sync? Google Sync will sync your Google Calendar/Contacts with your Blackberry Calendar/Contacts…both ways! This might be a real problem if you make your Google Calendar public or share it with a group of friends. Same goes for your business contacts. You may have just given Google (and possibly the world) all your business calendar entries. Well..we know Google isn’t evil, right? :-/

What can we do about this? As a user…opt out of installing any syncing apps on your corporate BlackBerry for starters. But what about blocking syncing on the device via BES policy? As far as I can tell the only way is to block the application from being installed via policy. This will become problematic when Google/Facebook releases new versions for example. Not sustainable. I’m no BES administrator but there might be other ways to prevent the application from being installed or the syncing from happening but it brings up some interesting discussion. By the way, there are some problems when you have the Facebook application and Google Sync installed at the same time. No thanks.

Something else to think about. How does your company handle BlackBerry deployments? Are they company issued and owned? Or do you allow your users to own them and the company pays for the data plan? All of this would have to be considered before blocking or preventing syncing applications (or any third-party application) from being installed. If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, comment below!


Using 25 random things against you

I have been seeing a bunch of friends on social networks filling out these “25 Random Things About Me” surveys. I just saw another one going around called “44 Odd Things About You” as well. I remember this similar type of activity passed along in email several years ago but now it’s made its way to social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. Here is what the request looks like once you have been “tagged” by one of your friends:

RULES: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

This sounds fun and a good way to network with your friends, however, let me tell you why putting in this information might be a bad idea.

What’s the big deal? This is fun…right?
One of the basic rules everyone should be following when using social networks is that you should consider everything you post as public information. For example, would you write down these 25 random things about you, stick your name on it, make copies and put them in the mailboxes of complete strangers in your neighborhood? Are all of the people you are friends with truly your friends? Will they always be your friends? How is your profile configured? Have you looked at your “Notes” application settings in Facebook? More importantly, do you allow your profile to be searched by search engines? If you posted these 25 random things to your profile and/or wall, you may have inadvertently allowed these things to be found by total strangers. Remember, personal information on social networks always seems to get out even if you do use the correct privacy settings…sometimes through no fault of your own.

Can I haz your password plz?
With these 25 random things about you someone may even be able to use your answers to gain access to your email, other social networks, bank accounts, etc…why? Check out this list of questions that are asked when requesting a “lost password” or “password reset”. Many of these are from online banking and other sensitive web sites and looks similar to…25 random things about you.

Think this doesn’t happen? This type of attack did happen to Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin last year. A hacker was able to reset her Yahoo email account password using information he found on her publicly accessible Wikipedia page. Here is a quote from the Sarah Palin hacker:

“…after the password recovery was re enabled, it took seriously 45 mins on wikipedia and google to find the info, Birthday? 15 seconds on wikipedia, zip code? well she had always been from wasilla, and it only has 2 zip codes (thanks online postal service!)

the second was somewhat harder, the question was where did you meet your spouse? did some research, and apparently she had eloped with mister palin after college, if you look on some of the screenshots that I took…so graciously put on photobucket you will see the google search for palin eloped or some such in one of the tabs.

I found out later though more research that they met at high school, so I did variations of that, high, high school, eventually hit on Wasilla high I promptly changed the password to popcorn and took a cold shower”

This could happen to anyone! So by knowing some of your 25 random things, someone may be able to reset your passwords, impersonate you or even cyberstalk you. My advise? Don’t fill these things out or leave these surveys very general and not too detailed. Email might even be a safer place for this type of information…. Stop and think before you post overly detailed information about your life on social networks..it can all potentially be used against you.


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