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SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.

Spend five minutes per week to keep up with the high-level perspective of all the latest security news. New issues are delivered free every Tuesday and Friday.

Volume XII - Issue #2

January 08, 2010

The Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) is now accepting registrations for 2010 Digital Forensics Challenge.
See: www.dc3.mil/challenge



Microsoft and Adobe Will Issue Security Updates on January 12
2010 Date Recognition Problems


Attackers are Actively Exploiting Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat Flaw
Adobe Will Release Silent Update Beta
Year-Change Confounds Some German Payment Cards
US Financial Services ISAC to Hold Cyber Incident Exercise
Software Company Suing Chinese Government Over Alleged Stolen Code in Green Dam
Thieves Attempt to Steal US $3.8 Million From NY School District
FTC Roundtable Will Address Cloud Computing Privacy Issues
Flash Drive Flaw
Convicted Filesharer Seeks Lower Fine

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Microsoft and Adobe Will Issue Security Updates on January 12 (January 7, 2010)

Microsoft plans to release just one security bulletin on Tuesday, January 12. It addresses a remote code execution flaw in Microsoft Windows. The vulnerability is rated critical for Windows 2000 and low for all other supported versions of the operating system. (Support for Windows 2000 officially ended on June 30, 2005, although those with extended support for Windows 2000 will get support until July 13 of this year.) Microsoft still has not issued a fix for a zero-day flaw in the Server Message Block protocol for which it issued an advisory in November. On the same day, Adobe plans to release a patch for a vulnerability in Reader and Acrobat that is already being actively exploited. Adobe will also issue a beta version of an automatic updater for both Adobe and Reader.


2010 Date Recognition Problems (January 5, 2010)

German payment cards are not the only technology to be hit with problems recognizing dates in the new year. (See story below.) Smartphone users running Windows Mobile are getting text messages dated 2016. Symantec's Endpoint Protection manager is labeling signatures dated in the new year as being out-of-date; until the problem is addressed in an update, new malware signatures will be dated 12/31/2009 with increased revision numbers. Other vendors affected include Cisco, SpamAssassin. ISC:


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Attackers are Actively Exploiting Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat Flaw (January 4, 7 & 8, 2010)

Attackers are actively exploiting a critical flaw in Adobe Reader that will not be patched until next week. The flaw can be exploited to crash vulnerable systems and potentially take control of them; it is being exploited for both large scale attacks and targeted attacks. Adobe acknowledged the presence of the vulnerability in mid-December. The attack is being called sophisticated; it is a maliciously crafted PDF file that uses egg-hunting shellcode. Users are urged to disable JavaScript in Adobe Reader and Acrobat until a patch is available.


[Editor's Note (Ullrich): We covered a number of PDF analysis methods in our ISC diaries recently. See
A Symantec representative referred to the last one as an old exploit, but the Symantec AV engine did not detect it at the time of the analysis by Bojan Zdrnja. ]

Adobe Will Release Silent Update Beta (January 6, 2010)

Adobe plans to introduce silent updates to help ensure that more users are running current versions of Reader and Acrobat. The beta version of Adobe Reader with silent update is expected to be available later this month. If the beta works well, future releases will have the feature enabled by default. Users would be able to adjust the settings if they need to. If the January test goes well, Adobe could roll out the automatic updater as soon as April.

[Editor's Note (Ullrich): 2010 will be a big year for Adobe to gain back a lot of lost trust, lets hope that this new update scheme works out well. ]

Year-Change Confounds Some German Payment Cards (January 6 & 7, 2010)

A software glitch pertaining to the change from the year 2009 to 2010 prevented German shoppers from using their payment cards. Older payment cards with magnetic stripes appear to work as usual; it is the newer cards with data stored on microchips that are having trouble recognizing the new year. The problem affects roughly 30 million chip and pin cards. French card manufacturer Gemalto has acknowledged responsibility for the problem and is hoping to find a solution that will not require new cards to be issued. German consumer affairs minister Ilse Aigner said that bank customers should not be liable for any resultant charges. ISC:

[Editor's Note (Schultz): It seems incongruous that the Y2K problem turned out to be miniscule, but the year 2010 changeover is creating significant problems (at least in Germany). The Y2K problem was incredibly overhyped, but very few changeover problems occurred. Perhaps this is why potential 2010 changeover issues have been overlooked by some organizations.

(Ullrich): There appear to be two different reasons why we had so many issues with 2010. First of all the obvious one: Input validation code checked if the year started with '200'. The second one appears to be less obvious. Some systems (like mobile operating systems and it appears some ATM machines) jumped from 2009 straight to 2016. The reason may be that the last two digits are represented in hexadecimal in some places internally in the code. 0x10=16 decimal. ]

US Financial Services ISAC to Hold Cyber Incident Exercise (January 6, 2010)

In February, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) will hold a cyber attack simulation for banks, payment processors and retailers. The various organizations have been invited to participate to test their preparedness for managing a variety of attack scenarios. The results of the exercise will remain confidential.

Software Company Suing Chinese Government Over Alleged Stolen Code in Green Dam (January 5 & 6, 2010)

A California software company is seeking US $2.2 billion in recompense for alleged Copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, and conspiracy. Solid Oak Software is suing the Chinese government, two Chinese companies and seven PC manufacturers for US $2.2 billion for allegedly stealing some of the company's code for use in Green Dam Youth Escort Internet filtering software. The complaint alleges that more than 3,000 lines of Solid Oakcode were used in Green Dam. Last year, the Chinese government mandated that every PC sold in the country come equipped with Green Dam either pre-installed or on an accompanying disk. The government later backed off the requirement. The government allegedly distributed more than 56 million copies of Green Dam.



[Editor's Note (Schultz): Solid Oak is fighting a losing cause. Even if this company can prove its allegations in court, this company will almost certainly not collect any money from China. ]

Thieves Attempt to Steal US $3.8 Million From NY School District (January 5 & 6, 2010)

The FBI and New York State Police are investigating an attempt to steal US $3.8 million from the Duanesburg Central School District online bank account. The attempted thefts occurred over several days in December 2009. Authorities were able to recover a majority of the funds, but nearly US $500,000 is still missing. The school district has closed its bank accounts and opened new ones. The attackers attempted to make a total of US $3 million in transfers on two separate days. The fraudulent transactions were not detected until another attempted transfer of US $759,000 was flagged as suspicious.



FTC Roundtable Will Address Cloud Computing Privacy Issues (January 5 & 6, 2010)

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold a roundtable session on January 28 at the University of California, Berkeley to discuss the consumer privacy ramifications of cloud computing. The FTC will also seek input on cloud computing privacy issues from industry stakeholders. The focus on cloud computing comes in response to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Notice of Inquiry seeking information that will help the FCC formulate a National Broadband Plan. The FTC held a roundtable discussion in December that addressed privacy issues associated with online data collection and use and behavioral advertising. A third roundtable discussion will be held later this year. In a separate story, the FCC has asked for a one month extension for submitting its National Broadband Plan; it was originally supposed to be ready on February 17, 2010.



[Editor's Note (Honan): The European Network and Information Security Agency have released an excellent paper of the risks associated with cloud computing. Given that ENISA is a European agency there is a strong focus on privacy in the paper and it is well worth a read

Flash Drive Flaw (January 5, 2010)

Three flash drive manufacturers have issued warnings that a vulnerability in the drives' access control mechanism could allow attackers access to data on what were believed to be secure devices. The memory sticks use 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption and are made by Kingston, SanDisk and Verbatim. The problem lies not in the physical devices themselves, but in the application running on the USB device. ISC:



[Editor's Note (Ullrich): A number of vendors offer recalls and free exchanges. Are you going to return drives with confidential data?]

Convicted Filesharer Seeks Lower Fine (January 4 & 5, 2010)

The Boston University student who was fined US $675,000 for illegally downloading music has asked a judge to reduce the penalty or give him a retrial. Joel Tenenbaum, who was fined US $22,500 for each of 30 songs he was found guilty of downloading in violation of copyright law, says the amount is "grossly excessive."
[Editor's Note (Schultz): A fine of nearly USD 700K for downloading 30 songs is simply not just, even if Tenenbaum is, as the music industry has alleged, a hardcore copyright violator. ]


The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

Eugene Schultz, Ph.D., CISM, CISSP is CTO of Emagined Security and the author/co-author of books on Unix security, Internet security, Windows NT/2000 security, incident response, and intrusion detection and prevention. He was also the co-founder and original project manager of the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC)

John Pescatore is Vice President at Gartner Inc.; he has worked in computer and network security since 1978.

Stephen Northcutt founded the GIAC certification and currently serves as President of the SANS Technology Institute, a post graduate level IT Security College, http://www.sans.edu.

Dr. Johannes Ullrich is Chief Technology Officer of the Internet Storm Center and Dean of the Faculty of the graduate school at the SANS Technology Institute.

Ed Skoudis is co-founder of Inguardians, a security research and consulting firm, and author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker Exploits and Incident Handling course.

Rohit Dhamankar is the Director of Security Research at TippingPoint, where he leads the Digital Vaccine and ThreatLinQ groups. His group develops protection filters to address vulnerabilities, viruses, worms, Trojans, P2P, spyware, and other applications for use in TippingPoint's Intrusion Prevention Systems.

Prof. Howard A. Schmidt is the President of the Information Security Forum (ISF) and author who has served as CSO for Microsoft and eBay and as Vice-Chair of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

Tom Liston is a Senior Security Consultant and Malware Analyst for Inguardians, a handler for the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, and co-author of the book Counter Hack Reloaded.

Dr. Eric Cole is an instructor, author and fellow with The SANS Institute. He has written five books, including Insider Threat and he is a senior Lockheed Martin Fellow.

Ron Dick directed the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) at the FBI and is the incoming President of the InfraGard National Members Alliance - with 22,000 members.

Mason Brown is one of a very small number of people in the information security field who have held a top management position in a Fortune 50 company (Alcoa). He is leading SANS' global initiative to improve application security.

David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology Institute.

Mark Weatherford, CISSP, CISM, is Chief Information Security Officer of the State of California.

Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute

Marcus J. Ranum built the first firewall for the White House and is widely recognized as a security products designer and industry innovator.

Clint Kreitner is the founding President and CEO of The Center for Internet Security.

Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin, Ireland.

David Turley is SANS infrastructure manager and serves as production manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.

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