One of the most important information related to cyber security pertains to August release of a patch for the Stagefright vulnerability, to which almost all versions of the Android OS from versions 2.2 to version 5.1 are vulnerable. The existence of Stagefright had been made public at the end of July and it is estimated that vulnerable device number in hundreds of millions. The vulnerability enables the attacker to cause arbitrary code execution by sending a specially crafted MMS.
The most important IT security-related news in July has definitely been the affair surrounding a theft of data from the Hacking Team – company, which develops commercial spyware intended for use by police departments and other security agencies. More than 400 GB of stolen data were made public and afterwards analyzed by IT security specialists, leading to discovery of a large number (still growing) of zero-day vulnerabilities which were used in Hacking Team’s products.
Probably the most interesting of security-related news in June has been an announcement by OPM (Office of Personnel Management of United States), organization which is responsible for HR services and administration of US federal employees, about an attack which exposed records for approximately four million current and past employees. The breach has apparently been active for some time before it was discovered using a special IDS called Einstein. Anonymous US officials attributed the attack to China.
May has been at least as rich on cybersecurity incidents and events as any of the previous months of the year. Some of the more important are described in the following text. The VENOM (Virtual Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation) vulnerability may be considered to be a very significant one. VENOM is a vulnerability in the code of a virtual floppy drive which is used by some of the virtualization platforms (QEMU, KVM, Xen).
Researchers from Google’s Project Zero have released information about a new attack based on flipping bits in DDR3 memory. The attack uses approach called Rowhammer which was devised last year by a team from Carnegie Mellon University and Intel Labs. It is based on repeated writing to and reading from a part of memory in a very short time which causes flipping values of bits in adjacent memory (the flipping is made possible by interaction between adjacent memory cells caused by their close proximity).
An international research team has devised attack called FREAK (Factoring attack on RSA Export Keys) with which it is possible to lower the level of encryption used in SSL connections. Attack is based on forcing server and client to use legacy (the vulnerability has been present for a long time) weak cryptographic suites which are still supported by some of the mainstream browsers (Safari and OpenSSL-based Android browser among others) and servers.