Tag Archives: Apple macOS

Responding to the Intel Spoiler Vulnerability

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Updated: 20th March 2019
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TL DR:
The Intel Spoiler vulnerability is not as bad as predicted. Software developers should continue to use safer code development practices.

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After the disclosure earlier this month of this vulnerability Intel have provided further information on how it affects their microprocessors. They have clarified that the Spoiler exploit by itself does not reveal secret data and is not a speculative execution side channel method:

Other good news is that existing mitigations such as KPTI (kernel page table isolation) reduce the risk of leaking data across privilege levels. They again confirmed that side channel safe software development practices such as “ensuring execution time and control flows are identical regardless of secret data” will mitigate classic side channel methods enabled by the Spoiler exploit. Furthermore, they confirmed memory modules which are already mitigated against Rowhammer attacks remain protected against the Spoiler exploit.

Lastly AMD provided formal confirmation that their microprocessors are not vulnerable after preliminary findings suggested they weren’t vulnerable. AMD’s statement is available from this link.

Thank you.

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Original Post:
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Earlier this month a new vulnerability was disclosed in a research paper titled “Spoiler: Speculative load hazards boost Rowhammer and cache attacks”.

TL DR: Mitigating this newly disclosed vulnerability is the job of software developers to work around using safer code development practices. Mitigating this issue in hardware will take longer since current measures cause too much of a performance penalty.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
Using this new method; attackers are likely to find existing cache and memory Rowhammer attacks easier to carry out. In addition, JavaScript (defined) attacks which can take long periods of time may be shortened to mere seconds. The paper contains a cache prime and probe technique to leak sensitive data using JavaScript.

This Spoiler vulnerability can be used by attackers (who MUST have already compromised your system) to extract sensitive information from the systems memory (RAM). An attack does not require elevated privileges.

What CPUs (microprocessors / computer chips) are affected?
This vulnerability affects Intel processors only; first generation Intel Core (from early 2006) and later are affected. ARM and AMD processors are not affected. Any system with an Intel Core processor is affected regardless of the operating they are using namely Linux, Unix, Apple macOS and Windows can be all affected.

How does this vulnerability achieve the above results?
The security researchers who authored the paper found a vulnerability in the memory order buffer that can be used to gradually reveal information about the mappings of physical memory to non-privileged software processes (in other words; applications). This technique also affects virtual machine (VM) and sandboxed (defined) environments.

The technique works by understanding the relationship between virtual and physical memory by timing the speculative load and store operations to these areas while looking out for discrepancies which disclose the memory layout to you. With this information an attacker knows where to focus their efforts.

Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem (memory disambiguation) is the root cause of the vulnerability. When a physical address conflict (the address/area is already in use) occurs, the algorithm leaks the access timings. The algorithm in the researcher’s words works as follows “Our algorithm, fills up the store buffer within the processors with addresses that have the same offset but they are in different virtual pages. Then, we issue a memory load that has the same offset similarly but from a different memory page and measure the time of the load. By iterating over a good number of virtual pages, the timing reveals information about the dependency resolution failures in multiple stages.”

How can this vulnerability be mitigated/patched?
This vulnerability lies within the memory disambiguation algorithm which won’t be trivial to resolve anytime soon. Since this vulnerability is not related to last years Spectre vulnerability; mitigations for that vulnerability don’t help here. Current Spoiler mitigations have too much of performance penalty. At this time, Intel has issued the following statement:

“Intel received notice of this research, and we expect that software can be protected against such issues by employing side channel safe development practices. This includes avoiding control flows that are dependent on the data of interest. We likewise expect that DRAM modules mitigated against Rowhammer style attacks remain protected. Protecting our customers and their data continues to be a critical priority for us and we appreciate the efforts of the security community for their ongoing research.”

The side channel safe development practices are linked to below:

Software Guidance for Security Advisories

Addressing Hardware Vulnerabilities

Thank you.

Apple KeyChain Vulnerability Disclosed

Last week a security researcher publicly disclosed a vulnerability within Apple macOS’ Keychain (Apple’s password management system). The exact proof of concept code has not been released.

TL DR:  This vulnerability is currently unpatched by Apple. Be cautious of the links you click on, email attachments and applications you download/open. Keep your system current with already released updates. Watch for updates from Apple in the near future.

Why should this vulnerability be considered important?
This vulnerability affects all versions of Apple macOS up to the most recent 10.14.3 (Mojave). Apple Keychain is used to store passwords for application, websites and servers. This information is encrypted by default blocking access via other means without your permission.

However; the exploit allows an attacker to access this information from a standard user account (thus not requiring root (defined)(privileged) access) without generating a password prompt. The keychain must first be unlocked but it is when you are logged into the system. The System keychain which contains (among other items) is not affected. Thus, if the attacker can persuade you to run an application of their choice (e.g. substituting an app that looks like an app you regularly download manually); they could obtain your passwords/sensitive information. A YouTube video demonstrating the custom application designed to exploit this is provided below:

https://youtu.be/nYTBZ9iPqsU

How can I protect myself?
Please see the TL DR above. You should also consider manually locking your keychain or setting a keychain specific password (further details below).

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Lock your Keychain:
Open Keychain Access in the Applications: Utilities folder. Select your keychain (usually your user name) in the drawer (click on Show Keychains in the toolbar if it’s not visible). Then choose Edit: Change Settings For Keychain keychain name. Select Lock After 5 Minutes Of Inactivity (or lower according to your preference).

Password Protect Your Keychain:
Open the Keychain Access application, and select your keychain in the drawer. Select Edit: Change Password For Keychain keychain name, and then enter a new password.

With thanks to MacWorld:

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Why did the researcher not disclose this to Apple privately?
The researcher, Linus Henze chose not to privately disclose this to Apple since while Apple have a bug bounty for iOS which is by invite only; they don’t have such a program for macOS. The researcher wishes to highlight this omission. A quote from the researcher is included below (my thanks to Sergiu Gatlan of BleepingComputer.com) for this:

“Please note that even if it looks like I’m doing this just for the money, this is not my motivation at all in this case. My motivation is to get Apple to create a bug bounty program. I think that this is the best for both Apple and Researchers. I really love Apple products and I want to make them more secure. And the best way to make them more secure would be, in my opinion, if Apple creates a bug bounty program (like other big companies already have)”

Separately he is not the only researcher to be criticising Apple’s approach to vulnerability remediation. Ian Beer of Google Project Zero publicly criticised Apple last August for simply fixing vulnerabilities rather than thinking of them in an exploit context namely “Why is this bug here? How is it being used? How did we miss it earlier? What process problems need to be addressed so we could have found [the bug] earlier? Who had access to this code and reviewed it and why, for whatever reason, didn’t they report it?”

Thank you.

Adobe Issues Further Security Updates

Early last week Adobe made available a further un-scheduled emergency security update available for download affecting Creative Cloud Desktop Application version 4.6.0 and earlier. This vulnerability impacts both Apple macOS and Windows systems.

If an attacker were to exploit this they could elevate their privileges (defined). As with the previous security update the vulnerability was responsibly disclosed (defined) to Adobe by Chi Chou of AntFinancial LightYear Labs.

Please follow the steps within this security bulletin to check if the version of Creative Cloud Desktop Application you are using is impacted and if so; follow the steps to install the relevant update.

Thank you.

Adobe Issues Critical Photoshop CC Security Updates

On Wednesday Adobe made available an out of band (un-scheduled) emergency update available for Photoshop CC for both Apple macOS and Windows systems.

Photoshop CC 2018 (versions 19.1.5 and earlier) and Photoshop 2017 (versions 18.1.5 and earlier) are affected by two critical memory corruption vulnerabilities. If an attacker were to exploit these they could achieve remote code execution (defined: the ability for an attacker to remotely carry out any action of their choice on your device). The vulnerabilities were responsibly disclosed (defined) by Kushal Arvind Shah of Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs to Adobe.

Please follow the steps within Adobe’s security bulletin to install the applicable updates as soon as possible if you use these products.

Thank you.

August 2018 Update Summary

Today Microsoft released updates to resolve 63 vulnerabilities (more formally known as CVEs (defined)).

This month also brings a new set of vulnerabilities affecting only Intel CPUs. I detail these more thoroughly in a separate post. However high level details are provided below.

Compared to previous months updates these have a smaller list of known issues (most of which have workarounds). Links to the relevant knowledge base (KB) articles are provided below:

KB4340731

KB4340733

KB4343885

KB4343892

KB4343897

KB4343900

KB4343909

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Adobe also released update for the following products:

Adobe Acrobat and Reader DC (priority 2, 2x CVEs)

Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop (priority 3, 1x CVE)

Adobe Experience Manager (priority 2, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Flash (priority 2, 5x CVEs)

As always if you use any of the above Adobe software, please update it as soon as possible especially in the case of Flash and Acrobat DC/Reader DC. Updates for Google Chrome will be available shortly either via a browser update or their component updater.

Please also review the out of band updates for Photoshop CC and Creative Cloud Desktop and apply them if you use these products.

You can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page:
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US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

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For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below:

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Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected)

Windows Font Library

Malicious LNK File

Microsoft Exchange

Foreshadow (L1TF) Vulnerabilities: Allow information disclosure via speculative execution; are only locally executable (rather than remotely). This vulnerability may allow one virtual machine to improperly access information from another. More details in my dedicated blog post.

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Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Please find below summaries of other notable updates released this month.

Thank you.

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Nvidia Geforce Experience Software:
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In late August, Nvidia released a security advisory for their Geforce Experience software for Windows. This update resolves 3 high severity vulnerabilities (as per their CVSS base scores). The necessary updates can be obtained from here.

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VideoLAN VLC:
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On the final day of August, VideoLAN made available VLC 3.0.4. This appears to be a security update for Apple macOS due to the following entries within the releases notes (however it is unclear if this overflow is exploitable by an attacker):

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Text renderer:
* Fix head buffer overflow on macOS with some fonts
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For Linux and Windows this version provides fixes numerous non-security issues. Please update to version 3.0.4 to benefit from these improvements.

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Wireshark 2.4.9 and 2.6.3
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v2.4.9: 3 security advisories

v2.6.3: 3 security advisories

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v2.6.3) or v2.4.9). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

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WinSCP:
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In late August; WinSCP version 5.13.1 was released upgrading it’s embedded OpenSSL version to 1.0.2p (which addresses 2x low severity CVEs (Link1 and Link2).

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OpenSSL
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On the 12 June and 16th April 2018; the OpenSSL Foundation issued 2 updates for OpenSSL to address 2x low severity security vulnerabilities as detailed in these security advisories (Link1 and Link2). To resolve these issues please update your OpenSSL installations to 1.1.0i (released 14th August) or 1.0.2o (released 14th August) (as appropriate).

FTP mirrors to obtain the necessary downloads are available from here.

Downloadable Tarballs (compressed/packaged code made for distribution) are available from here.

It should also be possible to use the package manager of a Linux/Unix operating system to update your OpenSSL installation as mentioned within the section titled “Installing updates for Linux distributions” on the “Protecting Your PC” page of this blog.

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VMware
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VMWare issued two security advisories for the following products during August:

Security advisory 1 (addresses 1 vulnerability of Important severity):

  • VMware Horizon 6
  • VMware Horizon 7
  • VMware Horizon Client for Windows
  • VMware Horizon View Agent
  • VMware Horizon Agents Installer (HAI)

Security advisory 2 (addresses 1 vulnerability of Critical severity):

  • VMware Workstation Pro / Player (Workstation)
  • VMware Fusion Pro, Fusion (Fusion)

If you use the above VMware products, please review the security advisories and apply the necessary updates.

July 2018 Update Summary

Earlier this month, Microsoft made available their usual monthly security updates. This month 53 vulnerabilities more formally known as CVEs (defined) were resolved.

Among these updates are further updates for Spectre NG vulnerabilities (also known as Speculative Store Bypass vulnerabilities) making them available for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 in addition to last month’s updates. The vulnerability known as Lazy Floating Point (FP) was also addressed this month. Finally the Spectre 1.1. and Spectre 1.2 vulnerabilities will be discussed in a separate blog post.

This month’s Microsoft updates have a long list of Known Issues detailed in the knowledge base (KB) articles listed at the abovel ink (due to the length I won’t reproduce it here). At the time of writing some of these issues have begun to be addressed by further updates (Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10) released by Microsoft. Others relating to the .Net Framework should be addressed soon.

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This month also saw Adobe release an update (priority 2) for Adobe Acrobat DC and Reader DC which addresses 104x CVEs alone. The remaining updates made available this month were:

Adobe Connect (priority 2, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Experience Manager (priority 2, 3x CVEs)

Adobe Flash (priority 2, 2x CVEs)

For Flash, updates for Google Chrome (not a separate update but via its component updater), Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer were made available. As always if you use any of the above Adobe software, please update it as soon as possible especially in the case of Flash and Acrobat DC/Reader DC.

As always; you can monitor the availability of security updates for most your software from the following websites (among others) or use one of the utilities presented on this page:
—————
US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) (please see the “Information on Security Updates” heading of the “Protecting Your PC” page):

https://www.us-cert.gov/

A further useful source of update related information is the Calendar of Updates. News/announcements of updates in the categories of General SoftwareSecurity Software and Utilities are available on their website. The news/announcements are very timely and (almost always) contain useful direct download links as well as the changes/improvements made by those updates (where possible).

If you like and use it, please also consider supporting that entirely volunteer run website by donating.

====================
For this month’s Microsoft updates, I will prioritize the order of installation below. A useful list of all CVEs for this month is present here:

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Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (multiple versions of Edge and IE affected with many of the CVEs affecting the Microsoft Scripting Engine))(a previous update from May may need a further non-security fix)

Microsoft PowerShell Editor Services

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Please install the remaining updates at your earliest convenience.

As usual; I would recommend backing up the data on any device for which you are installing updates to prevent data loss in the rare event that any update causes unexpected issues. I have provided further details of updates available for other commonly used applications below.

Please find below summaries of other notable updates released this month.

Thank you.

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Oracle:
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Oracle issued updates to resolve a monthly record of 334 vulnerabilities. Further details and installation steps are available here. 8 vulnerabilities affect the Java runtime; all of which are remotely exploitable without an attacker needing to obtain a user’s username and password (their credentials).

If you use any of the Oracle products listed here, please install the appropriate security updates as soon as possible.

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Apple:
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In early July released a group of updates to resolve a large number of vulnerabilities:

Wi-Fi Updates for Boot Camp 6.4.0: Addresses 3x vulnerabilities

Apple iOS 11.4.1: Addresses 22x vulnerabilities

Apple tvOS 11.4.1: Addresses 18x vulnerabilities

Apple watchOS 4.3.2: Addresses 14x vulnerabilities

macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, Security Update 2018-004 Sierra, Security Update 2018-004 El Capitan: Addresses 12x vulnerabilities (also resolves the Intel Lazy FP vulnerability)

Apple Safari 11.1.2: Resolves 16x CVEs

Apple iCloud 7.6 for Windows: Resolves 14x CVEs

Apple iTunes 12.8 for Windows: Resolves 14x CVEs

Please see these links from Apple for advice on backing up your iPhone and iPad. Advice for updating tvOS is available here while the steps for updating the Apple Watch are available here.

As always; further details of these updates are available on Apple’s dedicated security updates page.

For advice on how to install updates for Apple devices, please see the steps detailed at the end of this Sophos blog post as well as this link (from my “Protecting Your PC” page).

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Google Chrome:
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Google released Google Chrome version 68.0.3440.75 to address 42 vulnerabilities. This version also marks all HTTP sites as “not secure.” This Google blog post discusses the change in more detail and this migration guide will be of assistance to website owners in migrating to HTTPS.

Google Chrome updates automatically and will apply the update the next time Chrome is closed and then re-opened. Chrome can also be updated immediately by clicking the Options button (it looks like 3 stacked small horizontal lines, sometimes called a “hamburger” button) in the upper right corner of the window and choosing “About Google Chrome” from the menu. Follow the prompt to Re-launch Chrome for the updates to take effect.

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Wireshark 2.4.8 and 2.6.2
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v2.4.8: 10 security advisories

v2.6.2: 9 security advisories

As per standard process Linux distributions can obtain this update using the operating systems standard package manager (if the latest version is not installed automatically using the package manager you can instead compile the source code (v2.6.2) or v2.4.8). This forum thread and this forum thread may also be helpful to you with installing Wireshark on your Linux based system.

For Mac OS X and Windows, the update is available within the downloads section of the Wireshark website. In addition, a detailed FAQ for Wireshark is available here.

Intel Lazy Floating Point Vulnerability: What you need to know

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Update: 24th July 2018:
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I have updated the list of vendor responses below to include further Red Hat versions and CentOS:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6:
https://access.redhat.com/errata/RHSA-2018:2164

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and 7:
https://access.redhat.com/solutions/3485131

CentOS 6:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-July/022968.html

CentOS 7:
https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2018-June/022923.html

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On Wednesday of last week, a further vulnerability affecting Intel CPUs (defined) was disclosed.

TL;DR: Keep your operating system up to date and you should be fine.

What makes this vulnerability noteworthy?
According to Intel’s security advisory; this is an information disclosure issue. Similar to Spectre/Meltdown the flaw is the result of a performance optimization (used when saving and restoring the current state of applications as a system switches from one application to another). A feature known as Lazy Floating Point (defined) Unit (FPU) is used to save and restore registers (defined) within the CPU used to store floating point numbers (non-integers numbers, namely decimal numbers).

The issue is that these registers may be accessed by another application on the same system. If the registers are storing for example results of performing cryptographic equations for a key you have just created or used to decrypt data, the attacker could use this data to infer what the actual key is. The same applies for any type of data the registers store; that data can be used to infer what the previous contents were via a speculative execution side channel.

This vulnerability has been rated as moderate since it is difficult to exploit via a web browser (in contrast to Spectre) and the updates will be a software update only; no microcode (defined) and/or firmware (defined) updates will be necessary. With exploitation via a web browser being difficult; this vulnerability will likely instead be exploited from the victim system (at attacker will need to have already compromised your system).

How can I protect myself from this vulnerability?
Please note; AMD CPUs are NOT affected by this vulnerability.

The following vendors have responded to this vulnerability with software updates now in progress. Separately Red Hat has completed their updates for Red Hat Linux 5, 6 and 7 (with further applicable updates still in progress).

Other vendors responses are listed below. Thank you:

Amazon Web Services

Apple (currently release notes for an update to macOS to resolve the vulnerability)

DragonFlyBSD

Intel’s Security Advisory

Linux

Microsoft Windows

OpenBSD

Xen Project