Gidley's Gossipings

A blog about not much really

Human Momentum

I’ve been travelling quite a bit recently for work and have been reminded (again) how ‘human factors’ can defeat any attempt to improve security. A good example of this is chip and pin/contactless. Chip and Pin is common and popular in Europe and as a result in Europe I never ‘give’ my card to members of staff for them to process it. This reduces the risk of fraud substantially as staff cannot easily clone/copy cards when they’ve never handled them. Read more →

Man in the middle is easier than you think

I’m often heard saying it’s quite easy to MITM HTTPS (also called SSL/TLS) and decided that maybe I should list all the methods I know of (there are quite a few). The attacker has many options to try and get in the middle between the user and web server/API Pure Technical Approaches Zero Day Vulnerabilities in browsers TLS/SSL Breaks Incorrectly Issued Trusted Certificate Aquire vendor issued ‘trusted’ certificate Social Engineering Approaches Convince user to install MITM certificate Convince user to install software Malicious Browser Extensions Conclusion Pure Technical Approaches The pure technical approaches rely on attacks that don’t require users to make any mistakes and anyone can be vulnerable. Read more →

mitm key

To continue my MITM attacks theme - someone has just release a nice USB key that ransacks your PC - Ars Technica has a good write up. This kind of thing is very dangerous as it’s really easy to get people to put USB keys into computers! I’m currently writing a longer article on the (many) ways to MITM TLS to help explain how easy it is! Read more →

malware and https

I’m often heard worrying about the state of HTTPS and the ease to get users to do things that make it basically not function - but I’ll admit evidence of real world attacks is thin on the ground. There is a systematic reason for the lack of information - if a hacker uses a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) technique to hack HTTPS there is very little evidence left and all thart will happen is the stolen data will turn up in a list at some point in the future. Read more →

Web of distrust

The Register are reporting a browser extension for web of trust has been caught stealing and harvesting browser history. This underlines the risk browser plugins carry - they often can ‘see’ everything you’re browsing on the web and can send that data back to their developers. Most plugins are harmless and do what they say - but there is very little stopping ‘bad actors’ adding malicious code. Another potential risk is a 3rd party ‘buying’ an existing plugin, imagine how many developers would happily sell their plugin for a few thousand dollars, they can then ‘update’ the plugin with malicious code and most users would never note. Read more →

Google not fixing Android Dirty Cow Yet

It’s become fashionable to give security defects ‘cool’ names like Heartbleed, the latest is Linux’s ‘Dirty Cow’. This is quite a major bug as it allows any user/app on a linux device to get ‘root’. Linux has now got a patch, but interestingly Google have delayed the patch for Android by a month. It’s worth thinking a bit about what that ‘could’ mean… Any android app on your phone can now do anything - all those permissions mean nothing to an app using this exploit Google may be able to stop apps doing this getting through the Google App store - but they probably can’t stop them all As a user there is nothing you can do to secure your phone/tablet So all those apps you use on your phone are now vulnerable - even the best software security can only hinder an attacker with ‘root’ permissions on Android. Read more →

Booth eye tracking

Recently I was at a Trade Show (Money 2020 in Las Vegas) and was wondering how effective the booth designs were at getting people’s attention. There seem to be a number of apporaches people try Big Pictures to grab attention Videos on loop explaining stuff ‘Gimmicks’ on the stand Live Talks Text explaining products Slogans explaining mission What’s not clear to me is which of these actually work. Annecdotially you can watch people go buy and see what they look at, and then observe who engages. Read more →

Why is there such a thing as default passwords?

Why in 2016 are people still shipping software and devices with default passwords? The recent IOT/Botnet that broke large chunks of the internet was entirely avoidable if the devices had been shipped without default passwords. This is perfectly within the capability of a device manufactuer - even British Telecom (who have many many issues) have been shipping their devices with randomized passwords printed on a sticker on the device for years. Read more →

Will PSD2 revolutionize banking?

There has been quite a lot of excited commentary about how PSD2 will revolutionize the banking industry, so I thought it was worth a bit of analysis to see what the actual outcome is likely to be. What is it PSD2 is a EU directective aimed at Forcing open API’s on the payments industry to open up competition including ability to deliver cross border direct debit Increasing security of payments/banking by mandating ‘strong authentication’ based on multiple factors Better transparency on charges for payments What are people saying it will mean A number of commentators are crediting PSD2 with opening up the EU banking market to much more competition from non-banks and between banks. Read more →

Google Pixel - Initial Review

I ordered a Google Pixel when they were released as I needed a new personal Android phone and generally the Nexus line has been very good, so I thought I’d try the Pixel. Some initial comments It looks nice, it compares well to my (work) iPhone 6 from a looks point of view The finger print reader is great, so far much more accurate and quick than my iphone one which seems to be getting slower and slower The USB cable ‘port your phone’ thing didn’t work at all with my old Android Phone (A Moto X). Read more →