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Malware

Researcher: 90% Of ‘Smart’ TVs Can Be Compromised Remotely

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“So yeah, that internet of broken things security we’ve spent the last few years mercilessly making fun of? It’s significantly worse than anybody imagined. “

So we’ve noted for some time how “smart” TVs, like most internet of things devices, have exposed countless users’ privacy courtesy of some decidedly stupid privacy and security practices. Several times now smart TV manufacturers have been caught storing and transmitting personal user data unencrypted over the internet (including in some instances living room conversations). And in some instances, consumers are forced to eliminate useful features unless they agree to have their viewing and other data collected, stored and monetized via these incredible “advancements” in television technology.

As recent Wikileaks data revealed, the lack of security and privacy standards in this space has proven to be a field day for hackers and intelligence agencies alike.

And new data suggests that these televisions are even more susceptible to attack than previously thought. While the recent Samsung Smart TV vulnerabilities exposed by Wikileaks (aka Weeping Angel) required an in-person delivery of a malicious payload via USB drive, more distant, remote attacks are unsurprisingly also a problem. Rafael Scheel, a security researcher working for Swiss cyber security consulting company Oneconsult, recently revealed that around 90% of smart televisions are vulnerable to a remote attack using rogue DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial) signals.

This attack leans heavily on Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), an industry standard supported by most cable companies and set top manufacturers that helps integrate classic broadcast, IPTV, and broadband delivery systems. Using $50-$150 DVB-T transmitter equipment, an attacker can use this standard to exploit smart dumb television sets on a pretty intimidating scale, argues Scheel:

“By design, any nearby TV will connect to the stronger signal. Since cable providers send their signals from tens or hundreds of miles away, attacks using rogue DVB-T signals could be mounted on nearby houses, a neighborhood, or small city. Furthermore, an attack could be carried out by mounting the DVB-T transmitter on a drone, targeting a specific room in a building, or flying over an entire city.”

Scheel says he has developed two exploits that, when loaded in the TV’s built-in browser, execute malicious code, and provide root access. Once compromised, these devices can be used for everything from DDoS attacks to surveillance. And because these devices are never really designed with consumer-friendly transparency in mind, users never have much of an understanding of what kind of traffic the television is sending and receiving, preventing them from noticing the device is compromised.

Scheel also notes that the uniformity of smart TV OS design (uniformly bad, notes a completely different researcher this week) and the lack of timely updates mean crafting exploits for multiple sets is relatively easy, and firmware updates can often take months or years to arrive. Oh, and did we mention these attacks are largely untraceable?:

“But the best feature of his attack, which makes his discovery extremely dangerous, is the fact that DVB-T, the transmission method for HbbTV commands, is a uni-directional signal, meaning data flows from the attacker to the victim only. This makes the attack traceable only if the attacker is caught transmitting the rogue HbbTV signal in real-time. According to Scheel, an attacker can activate his HbbTV transmitter for one minute, deliver the exploit, and then shut it off for good.”

Ransomware scum build weapon from JavaScript

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Demands $250, steals passwords for good measure

 

New ransomware written entirely in JavaScript has appeared encrypting users files for a US$250 (£172, A$336) ransom and installing a password-stealing application.

Researchers @jameswt_mht and @benkow_ found the ransomware they dubbed RAA.

Bleeping Computer malware man Lawrence Abrams described the ransomware noting it is shipped as a JS file and uses the CryptoJS library for AES encryption.

“RAA is currently being distributed via emails as attachments that pretend to be doc files and have names like mgJaXnwanxlS_doc_.js,” Abrams says.

“When the JS file is opened it will encrypt the computer and then demand a ransom of about US$250 USD to get the files back.

“To make matters worse, it will also extract the embedded password stealing malware called Pony from the JS file and install it onto the onto the victim’s computer.”

The ransomware launches a word document that appears to be corrupted, and serves to distract users while the malware encrypts files.

Microsoft in April warned of a spike in malicious JavaScript email attachments shortly before virus writers behind Locky sent their ransomware in that format.

Trend Micro researchers say Locky and RAA use JavaScript files also as malware downloaders which obtain and install a malware.

“The RAA ransomware is considered unique because it’s rare to see client-side malware written in web-based languages like JavaScript, which are primarily designed to be interpreted by browsers,” they say . “… users are advised to avoid opening attachments with the filenames mentioned above, even if they’re enclosed in a .zip archive.”

No means yet exist for free decryption.

Rule of thumb, do not open attachments unless you are absolutely sure the sender is valid and actually sending you something for which you asked.

We receive many emails with malware attachments from ***known*** users because they are irresponsible and do not secure their passwords or systems with strong passwords and anti-malware software. So even if you recognize the sender, do not assume it is safe.

Google Malvertising App

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Android apps that should be innocuous are pimping smut by way of slack supervision of their advertising networks, with two app authors complaining to The Register that the root of the problem lies with The Chocolate Factory.

The authors of two popular Sydney public transport apps told us Google’s app monetisation service AdMob is failing to catch disallowed advertisements that should be easy to spot for the world-dominating ad-and-click network.

Malvertising is a rising problem because users are turning to ad blockers as a security precaution, both to protect against malware and to keep material they deem inappropriate out of their eyeballs. The latter outcome is made necessary by ads like those below, which The Register has observed in the Arrivo and TripView public transport timetable apps, both of which are likely to pop up on minors’ phones.

If, as it seems to this untutored eye, the ad got past filters by presenting its text as an image with extra space to defeat character recognition, Google deserves its backside kicked through all the letters of its Alphabet. Twice per letter, once per language.