Cyber Arms Intelligence Report for August 23rd

Top news story last week was Intel’s bid to buy McAfee. Though it seems a very good move by Intel, some question how effective building anti-virus into chips will be. According to an article on The Register,  Ron Gula, the chief exec of Tenable Network Security said:

There are a lot of things wrong with today’s anti-virus model such as tracking the sheer number of potential bad types of software. Putting this into hardware may sound promising, but I question how much can be placed into a chip.

If Intel can move the anti-virus agent into hardware, I’d like some assurances that this can be patched when a security vulnerability is found with it. Anti-virus software is very complex and we often run into customers whose agents are one or two patch levels behind and open to attack. Patching hardware or firmware is much harder than patching software.”

This is a very good point. And as anyone who has worked in the field can tell you, most customers do not upgrade their firmware.

The University of Pennsylvania released a study on recovering user passwords by analyzing smudges left on cell phone screens

It looks like a malware infected onboard computer was to blame in the crash of Spanair flight JK 5022. “The airline’s central computer which registered technical problems on planes was infected by Trojans at the time of the fatal crash and this resulted in a failure to raise an alarm over multiple problems with the plane.” Critical systems like this need to be locked down so this never happens again.

On the lighter side, Toshiba claimed to make a breakthrough in hard drive density. The prototype sample can hold up to 2.5 terabits per inch, and they foresee new drives using this technology by 2013.

Some other top stories from around the web:

Agencies work to prevent, counter cyber crime
Hackers downloading classified data, infiltrating defense systems, stealing millions from banks and public companies and disrupting weapons systems are all possible scenarios in today’s technology-driven world. These threats have caused cyber defense to become a top national priority.

ACROS Security: Remote Binary Planting in Apple iTunes for Windows (ASPR #2010-08-18-1)
A “binary planting” vulnerability in Apple iTunes for Windows allows local or remote (even Internet-based) attackers to deploy and execute malicious code on Windows machines in the context of logged-on users.

Owning Virtual Worlds For Fun and Profit
The great thing about this is that instead of an exploit being an email attachment, or malformed web page, the exploit may take a physical presence inside the virtual world.  The exploit may be something that another avatar whispers to you or an object they hand you or it may be a particular place in the virtual world. Unlike most typical computer attacks, your avatar will be able to see and interact with the “exploit”.

Study Reveals 75 Percent of Individuals Use Same Password for Social Networking and Email
According to a week-long study conducted by Internet security company BitDefender, over 250,000 user names, email addresses, and passwords used for social networking sites can easily be found online. The study also revealed that 75 percent of social networking username and password samples collected online were identical to those used for email accounts.

WinMHR: (Re)Introducing the Malware Hash Registry
Microsoft Windows users seeking more certainty about the security and integrity of downloaded files should take a look at a free new offering from Internet security research firm Team Cymru (pronounced kum-ree) that provides a solid backup to anti-virus scans.

Hack Puts Spotlight on Malware’s Long Tail: Parked Domains
The topic of what to do about the millions of parked domains was put back on the front burner this week after Web hosting firm Network Solutions acknowledged, on Monday, that unknown hackers had compromised a popular Web template it offered to customers, placing code in a widget to serve up malicious content from hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions of parked Web domains that the company manages.


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