A bunch of networks, including US Government networks, have been hacked by the Chinese. The hackers used forged authentication tokens to access user email, using a stolenMicrosoft Azure account consumer signing key. Congress wantsanswers. The phrase “negligent security practices” is being tossed about—and with good reason. Master signing keys are not supposed to be left around, waiting to be stolen.
Actually, two things went badly wrong here. The first is that Azure accepted an expired signing key, implying a vulnerability in whatever is supposed to check key validity. The second is that this key was supposed to remain in the the system’s Hardware Security Module—and not be in software. This implies a really serious breach of good security practice. The fact that Microsoft has not been forthcoming about the details of what happened tell me that the details are really bad.
I believe this all traces back to SolarWinds. In addition to Russia inserting malware into a SolarWinds update, China used a different SolarWinds vulnerability to break into networks. We know that Russia accessed Microsoft source code in that attack. I have heard from informed government officials that China used their SolarWinds vulnerability to break into Microsoft and access source code, including Azure’s.
I think we are grossly underestimating the long-term results of the SolarWinds attacks. That backdoored update was downloaded by over 14,000 networks worldwide. Organizations patched their networks, but not before Russia—and others—used the vulnerability to enter those networks. And once someone is in a network, it’s really hard to be sure that you’ve kicked them out.
Sophisticated threat actors are realizing that stealing source code of infrastructure providers, and then combing that code for vulnerabilities, is an excellent way to break into organizations who use those infrastructure providers. Attackers like Russia and China—and presumably the US as well—are prioritizing going after those providers.
This is from Microsoft’s explanation. The China attackers “acquired an inactive MSA consumer signing key and used it to forge authentication tokens for Azure AD enterprise and MSA consumer to access OWA and Outlook.com. All MSA keys active prior to the incident—including the actor-acquired MSA signing key—have been invalidated. Azure AD keys were not impacted. Though the key was intended only for MSA accounts, a validation issue allowed this key to be trusted for signing Azure AD tokens. The actor was able to obtain new access tokens by presenting one previously issued from this API due to a design flaw. This flaw in the GetAccessTokenForResourceAPI has since been fixed to only accept tokens issued from Azure AD or MSA respectively. The actor used these tokens to retrieve mail messages from the OWA API.”
As part of the FTC v. Microsoft hearing, Sony supplied a document from PlayStation chief Jim Ryan that includes redacted details on the margins Sony shares with publishers, its Call of Duty revenues, and even the cost of developing some of its games.
It looks like someone redacted the documents with a black Sharpie but when you scan them in, it’s easy to see some of the redactions. Oops.
I don’t particularly care about the redacted information, but it’s there in the article.
In this detailed article about academic plagiarism are some interesting details about how to do data forensics on Excel files. It really needs the graphics to understand, so see the description at the link.
(And, yes, an author of a paper on dishonesty is being accused of dishonesty. There’s moreevidence.)
Microsoft is currently patching a zero-day Secure-Boot bug.
The BlackLotus bootkit is the first-known real-world malware that can bypass Secure Boot protections, allowing for the execution of malicious code before your PC begins loading Windows and its many security protections. Secure Boot has been enabled by default for over a decade on most Windows PCs sold by companies like Dell, Lenovo, HP, Acer, and others. PCs running Windows 11 must have it enabled to meet the software’s system requirements.
Microsoft says that the vulnerability can be exploited by an attacker with either physical access to a system or administrator rights on a system. It can affect physical PCs and virtual machines with Secure Boot enabled.
That’s important. This is a nasty vulnerability, but it takes some work to exploit it.
The problem with the patch is that it breaks backwards compatibility: “…once the fixes have been enabled, your PC will no longer be able to boot from older bootable media that doesn’t include the fixes.”
Not wanting to suddenly render any users’ systems unbootable, Microsoft will be rolling the update out in phases over the next few months. The initial version of the patch requires substantial user intervention to enable—you first need to install May’s security updates, then use a five-step process to manually apply and verify a pair of “revocation files” that update your system’s hidden EFI boot partition and your registry. These will make it so that older, vulnerable versions of the bootloader will no longer be trusted by PCs.
A second update will follow in July that won’t enable the patch by default but will make it easier to enable. A third update in “first quarter 2024” will enable the fix by default and render older boot media unbootable on all patched Windows PCs. Microsoft says it is “looking for opportunities to accelerate this schedule,” though it’s unclear what that would entail.
So it’ll be almost a year before this is completely fixed.
The crown jewels for an organization are often data, and the first step in protection should be locating where the most critical information lives. Yet, maintaining a thorough inventory of sensitive data is harder than it seems and generally a massive lift for security teams. To help overcome data security troubles, Microsoft offers their customers data classification and protection tools. One popular option are the sensitivity labels available with Microsoft Purview Information Protection. However, customers need the ability to track sensitive data movement even as it migrates beyond the visibility of Microsoft.
Today, we are excited to announce that Cloudflare One now offers Data Loss Prevention (DLP) detections for Microsoft Purview Information Protection labels. Simply integrate with your Microsoft account, retrieve your labels, and build rules to guide the movement of your labeled data. This extends the power of Microsoft’s labels to any of your corporate traffic in just a few clicks.
Data Classification with Microsoft Labels
Every organization has a wealth of data to manage, from publicly accessible data, like documentation, to internal data, like the launch date of a new product. Then, of course, there is the data requiring the highest levels of protection, such as customer PII. Organizations are responsible for confining data to the proper destinations while still supporting accessibility and productivity, which is no small feat.
Microsoft Purview Information Protection offers sensitivity labels to let you classify your organization’s data. With these labels, Microsoft provides the ability to protect sensitive data, while still enabling productivity and collaboration. Sensitivity labels can be used in a number of Microsoft applications, which includes the ability to apply the labels to Microsoft Office documents. The labels correspond to the sensitivity of the data within the file, such as Public, Confidential, or Highly Confidential.
The labels are embedded in a document’s metadata and are preserved even when it leaves the Microsoft environment, such as a download from OneDrive.
Sync Cloudflare One and Microsoft Information Protection
Cloudflare One, our SASE platform that delivers network-as-a-service (NaaS) with Zero Trust security natively built-in, connects users to enterprise resources, and offers a wide variety of opportunities to secure corporate traffic, including the inspection of data moving across the Microsoft productivity suite. We’ve designed Cloudflare One to act as a single pane of glass for your organization. This means that after you’ve deployed any of our Zero Trust services, whether that be Zero Trust Network Access or Secure Web Gateway, you are clicks, not months, away from deploying Data Loss Prevention, Cloud Access Security Broker, Email Security, and Browser Isolation to enhance your Microsoft security and overall data protection.
Specifically, Cloudflare’s API-driven Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) can scan SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 for misconfigurations, unauthorized user activity, shadow IT, and other data security issues that can occur after a user has successfully logged in.
With this new integration, CASB can now also retrieve Information Protection labels from your Microsoft account. If you have labels configured, upon integration, CASB will automatically populate the labels into a Data Loss Prevention profile.
DLP profiles are the building blocks for applying DLP scanning. They are where you identify the sensitive data you want to protect, such as Microsoft labeled data, credit card numbers, or custom keywords. Your labels are stored as entries within the Microsoft Purview Information Protection Sensitivity Labels profile using the name of your CASB integration. You can also add the labels to custom DLP profiles, of fering more detection flexibility.
Build DLP Rules
You can now extend the power of Microsoft’s labels to protect your data as it moves to other platforms. By building DLP rules, you determine how labeled data can move around and out of your corporate network. Perhaps you don’t want to allow Highly Confidential labels to be downloaded from your OneDrive account, or you don’t want any data more sensitive than Confidential to be uploaded to file sharing sites that you don’t use. All of this can be implemented using DLP and Cloudflare Gateway.
Simply navigate to your Gateway Firewall Policies and start implementing building rules using your DLP profiles:
How to Get Started
To get access to DLP, reach out for a consultation, or contact your account manager.
As CIOs navigate the complexities of stitching together multiple solutions, we are extending our partnership with Microsoft to create one of the best Zero Trust solutions available. Today, we are announcing four new integrations between Azure AD and Cloudflare Zero Trust that reduce risk proactively. These integrated offerings increase automation allowing security teams to focus on threats versus implementation and maintenance.
What is Zero Trust and why is it important?
Zero Trust is an overused term in the industry and creates a lot of confusion. So, let’s break it down. Zero Trust architecture emphasizes the “never trust, always verify” approach. One way to think about it is that in the traditional security perimeter or “castle and moat” model, you have access to all the rooms inside the building (e.g., apps) simply by having access to the main door (e.g., typically a VPN). In the Zero Trust model you would need to obtain access to each locked room (or app) individually rather than only relying on access through the main door. Some key components of the Zero Trust model are identity e.g., Azure AD (who), apps e.g., a SAP instance or a custom app on Azure (applications), policies e.g. Cloudflare Access rules (who can access what application), devices e.g. a laptop managed by Microsoft Intune (the security of the endpoint requesting the access) and other contextual signals.
Zero Trust is even more important today since companies of all sizes are faced with an accelerating digital transformation and an increasingly distributed workforce. Moving away from the castle and moat model, to the Internet becoming your corporate network, requires security checks for every user accessing every resource. As a result, all companies, especially those whose use of Microsoft’s broad cloud portfolio is increasing, are adopting a Zero Trust architecture as an essential part of their cloud journey.
Cloudflare’s Zero Trust platform provides a modern approach to authentication for internal and SaaS applications. Most companies likely have a mix of corporate applications – some that are SaaS and some that are hosted on-premise or on Azure. Cloudflare’s Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) product as part of our Zero Trust platform makes these applications feel like SaaS applications, allowing employees to access them with a simple and consistent flow. Cloudflare Access acts as a unified reverse proxy to enforce access control by making sure every request is authenticated, authorized, and encrypted.
Cloudflare Zero Trust and Microsoft Azure Active Directory
We have thousands of customers using Azure AD and Cloudflare Access as part of their Zero Trust architecture. Our partnership with Microsoft announced last year strengthened security without compromising performance for our joint customers. Cloudflare’s Zero Trust platform integrates with Azure AD, providing a seamless application access experience for your organization’s hybrid workforce.
For on-premise legacy applications, Cloudflare’s participation as Azure AD secure hybrid access partner enabled customers to centrally manage access to their legacy on-premise applications using SSO authentication without incremental development. Joint customers now easily use Cloudflare Access as an additional layer of security with built-in performance in front of their legacy applications.
Recognizing Cloudflare’s innovative approach to Zero Trust and Security solutions, Microsoft awarded us the Security Software Innovator award at the 2022 Microsoft Security Excellence Awards, a prestigious classification in the Microsoft partner community.
But we aren’t done innovating. We listened to our customers’ feedback and to address their pain points are announcing several new integrations.
Microsoft integrations we are announcing today
The four new integrations we are announcing today are:
Azure AD allows administrators to create and enforce policies on both applications and users using Conditional Access. It provides a wide range of parameters that can be used to control user access to applications (e.g. user risk level, sign-in risk level, device platform, location, client apps, etc.). Cloudflare Access now supports Azure AD Conditional Access policies per application. This allows security teams to define their security conditions in Azure AD and enforce them in Cloudflare Access.
For example, customers might have tighter levels of control for an internal payroll application and hence will have specific conditional access policies on Azure AD. However, for a general info type application such as an internal wiki, customers might enforce not as stringent rules on Azure AD conditional access policies. In this case both app groups and relevant Azure AD conditional access policies can be directly plugged into Cloudflare Zero Trust seamlessly without any code changes.
2. SCIM: Autonomously synchronize Azure AD groups between Cloudflare Zero Trust and Azure AD, saving hundreds of hours in the CIO org.
Cloudflare Access policies can use Azure AD to verify a user’s identity and provide information about that user (e.g., first/last name, email, group membership, etc.). These user attributes are not always constant, and can change over time. When a user still retains access to certain sensitive resources when they shouldn’t, it can have serious consequences.
Often when user attributes change, an administrator needs to review and update all access policies that may include the user in question. This makes for a tedious process and an error-prone outcome.
The SCIM (System for Cross-domain Identity Management) specification ensures that user identities across entities using it are always up-to-date. We are excited to announce that joint customers of Azure AD and Cloudflare Access can now enable SCIM user and group provisioning and deprovisioning. It will accomplish the following:
The IdP policy group selectors are now pre-populated with Azure AD groups and will remain in sync. Any changes made to the policy group will instantly reflect in Access without any overhead for administrators.
When a user is deprovisioned on Azure AD, all the user’s access is revoked across Cloudflare Access and Gateway. This ensures that change is made in near real time thereby reducing security risks.
3. Risky user isolation: Helps joint customers add an extra layer of security by isolating high risk users (based on AD signals) such as contractors to browser isolated sessions via Cloudflare’s RBI product.
Azure AD classifies users into low, medium and high risk users based on many data points it analyzes. Users may move from one risk group to another based on their activities. Users can be deemed risky based on many factors such as the nature of their employment i.e. contractors, risky sign-in behavior, credential leaks, etc. While these users are high-risk, there is a low-risk way to provide access to resources/apps while the user is assessed further.
We now support integrating Azure AD groups with Cloudflare Browser Isolation. When a user is classified as high-risk on Azure AD, we use this signal to automatically isolate their traffic with our Azure AD integration. This means a high-risk user can access resources through a secure and isolated browser. If the user were to move from high-risk to low-risk, the user would no longer be subjected to the isolation policy applied to high-risk users.
4. Secure joint Government Cloud customers: Helps Government Cloud customers achieve better security with centralized identity & access management via Azure AD, and an additional layer of security by connecting them to the Cloudflare global network, not having to open them up to the whole Internet.
Via Secure Hybrid Access (SHA) program, Government Cloud (‘GCC’) customers will soon be able to integrate Azure AD with Cloudflare Zero Trust and build rules based on user identity, group membership and Azure AD conditional access policies. Users will authenticate with their Azure AD credentials and connect to Cloudflare Access with just a few simple steps using Cloudflare Tunnel that can expose applications running on Microsoft Azure.
“Digital transformation has created a new security paradigm resulting in organizations accelerating their adoption of Zero Trust. The Cloudflare Zero Trust and Azure Active Directory joint solution has been a growth enabler for Swiss Re by easing Zero Trust deployments across our workforce allowing us to focus on our core business. Together, the joint solution enables us to go beyond SSO to empower our adaptive workforce with frictionless, secure access to applications from anywhere. The joint solution also delivers us a holistic Zero Trust solution that encompasses people, devices, and networks.” – Botond Szakács, Director, Swiss Re
“A cloud-native Zero Trust security model has become an absolute necessity as enterprises continue to adopt a cloud-first strategy. Cloudflare has and Microsoft have jointly developed robust product integrations with Microsoft to help security and IT leaders CIO teams prevent attacks proactively, dynamically control policy and risk, and increase automation in alignment with Zero Trust best practices.” – Joy Chik, President, Identity & Network Access, Microsoft
Try it now
Interested in learning more about how our Zero Trust products integrate with Azure Active Directory? Take a look at this extensive reference architecture that can help you get started on your Zero Trust journey and then add the specific use cases above as required. Also, check out this joint webinar with Microsoft that highlights our joint Zero Trust solution and how you can get started.
We are just getting started. We want to continue innovating and make the Cloudflare Zero Trust and Microsoft Security joint solution to solve your problems. Please give us feedback on what else you would like us to build as you continue using this joint solution.
A critical code-execution vulnerability in Microsoft Windows was patched in September. It seems that researchers just realized how serious it was (and is):
Like EternalBlue, CVE-2022-37958, as the latest vulnerability is tracked, allows attackers to execute malicious code with no authentication required. Also, like EternalBlue, it’s wormable, meaning that a single exploit can trigger a chain reaction of self-replicating follow-on exploits on other vulnerable systems. The wormability of EternalBlue allowed WannaCry and several other attacks to spread across the world in a matter of minutes with no user interaction required.
But unlike EternalBlue, which could be exploited when using only the SMB, or server message block, a protocol for file and printer sharing and similar network activities, this latest vulnerability is present in a much broader range of network protocols, giving attackers more flexibility than they had when exploiting the older vulnerability.
Microsoft fixed CVE-2022-37958 in September during its monthly Patch Tuesday rollout of security fixes. At the time, however, Microsoft researchers believed the vulnerability allowed only the disclosure of potentially sensitive information. As such, Microsoft gave the vulnerability a designation of “important.” In the routine course of analyzing vulnerabilities after they’re patched, Palmiotti discovered it allowed for remote code execution in much the way EternalBlue did. Last week, Microsoft revised the designation to critical and gave it a severity rating of 8.1, the same given to EternalBlue.
Active Directory is dominant in the enterprise world (as well as the public sector). From my observation, the majority of organization rely on Active Directory for their user accounts. While that may be changing in recent years with more advanced and cloud IAM and directory solutions, the landscape in the last two decades is a domination of Microsoft’s Active Directory.
As a result of that dominance, many cyber attacks rely on exploiting some aspects of Active Directory. Whether it would be weaknesses of Kerberos, “pass the ticket”, golden ticket, etc. Standard attacks like password spraying, credential stuffing and other brute forcing also apply, especially if the Exchange web access is enabled. Last, but not least, simply browsing the active directory once authenticated with a compromised account, provides important information for further exploitation (finding other accounts, finding abandoned, but not disabled accounts, finding passwords in description fields, etc).
Basically, having access an authentication endpoint which interfaces the Active Directory allows attackers to gain access and then do lateral movement.
What is the most recommended measures for preventing authentication attacks? Multi-factor authentication. And the sad reality is that Microsoft doesn’t offer native MFA for Active Directory.
Yes, there are things like Microsoft Hello for Business, but that can’t be used in web and email context – it is tied to the Windows machine. And yes, there are third-party options. But they incur additional cost, and are complex to setup and manage. We all know the power of defaults and built-in features in security – it should be readily available and simple in order to have wide adoption.
What Microsoft should have done is introduce standard, TOTP-based MFA and enforce it through native second-factor screens in Windows, Exchange web access, Outlook and others. Yes, that would require Kerberos upgrades, but it is completely feasible. Ideally, it should be enabled by a single click, which would prompt users to enroll their smart phone apps (Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Authy or other) on their next successful login. Of course, there may be users without smartphones, and so the option to not enroll for MFA may be available to certain less-privileged AD groups.
By not doing that, Microsoft exposes all on-premise AD deployments to all sorts of authentication attacks mentioned above. And for me that’s a big sin.
Microsoft would say, of course, that their Azure AD supports many MFA options and is great and modern and secure and everything. And that’s true, if you want to chose to migrate to Azure and use Office365. And pay for subscription vs just the Windows Server license. It’s not a secret that Microsoft’s business model is shifting towards cloud, subscription services. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But leaving on-prem users with no good option for proper MFA across services, including email, is irresponsible.
Today, we are very excited to announce our new integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager (Intune). This integration combines the power of Cloudflare’s expansive network and Zero Trust suite, with Endpoint Manager. Via our existing Intune integration, joint customers can check if a device management profile such as Intune is running on the device or not and grant access accordingly.
With this expanded integration, joint customers can identify, investigate, and remediate threats faster. The integration also includes the latest information from Microsoft Graph API which provides many added, real-time device posture assessments and enables organizations to verify users’ device posture before granting access to internal or external applications.
“In today’s work-from-anywhere business culture, the risk of compromise has substantially increased as employees and their devices are continuously surrounded by a hostile threat environment outside the traditional castle-and-moat model. By expanding our integration with Cloudflare, we are making it easier for joint customers to strengthen their Zero Trust security posture across all endpoints and their entire corporate network.” – Dave Randall, Sr Program Manager, Microsoft Endpoint Manager
Before we get deep into how the integration works, let’s first recap Cloudflare’s Zero Trust Services.
Cloudflare Access and Gateway
Cloudflare Access determines if a user should be allowed access to an application or not. It uses our global network to check every request or connection for identity, device posture, location, multifactor method, and many more attributes to do so. Access also logs every request and connection — providing administrators with high-visibility. The upshot of all of this: it enables customers to deprecate their legacy VPNs.
Cloudflare Gateway protects users as they connect to the rest of the Internet. Instead of backhauling traffic to a centralized location, users connect to a nearby Cloudflare data center where we apply one or more layers of security, filtering, and logging, before accelerating their traffic to its final destination.
Zero Trust integration with Microsoft Endpoint Manager
Cloudflare’s customers can now build Access and Gateway policies based on the device being managed by Endpoint Manager (Intune) with a compliance policy defined. In conjunction with our Zero Trust client, we are able to leverage the enhanced telemetry that Endpoint Manager (Intune) provides surrounding a user’s device.
Microsoft’s Graph API delivers continuous real-time security posture assessments such as Compliance State across all endpoints in an organization regardless of the location, network or user. Those key additional device posture data enable enforcement of conditional policies based on device health and compliance checks to mitigate risks. These policies are evaluated each time a connection request is made, making the conditional access adaptive to the evolving condition of the device.
With this integration, organizations can build on top of their existing Cloudflare Access and Gateway policies ensuring that a ‘Compliance State’ has been met before a user is granted access. Because these policies work across our entire Zero Trust platform, organizations can use these to build powerful rules invoking Browser Isolation, tenant control, antivirus or any part of their Cloudflare deployment.
How the integration works
Customers using our Zero Trust suite can add Microsoft Intune as a device posture provider in the Cloudflare Zero Trust dashboard under Settings → Devices → Device Posture Providers. The details required from the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center to set up policies on Cloudflare dashboard include: ClientID, Client Secret, and Customer ID.
After creating the Microsoft Endpoint Manager Posture Provider, customers can create specific device posture checks requiring users’ devices to meet certain criteria such as device ‘Compliance State’.
These rules can now be used to create conditional Access and Gateway policies to allow or deny access to applications, networks, or sites. Administrators can choose to block or isolate users or user groups with malicious or insecure devices.
What comes next?
In the coming months, we will be further strengthening our integrations with the Microsoft Graph API by allowing customers to correlate many other fields in the Graph API to enhance our joint customers’ security policies.
If you’re using Cloudflare Zero Trust products today and are interested in using this integration with Microsoft Intune, please visit our documentation to learn about how you can enable it. If you want to learn more or have additional questions, please fill out the form or get in touch with your Cloudflare CSM or AE, and we’ll be happy to help you.
The Open Source Security Foundation announced $10 million in funding from a pool of tech and financial companies, including $5 million from Microsoft and Google, to find vulnerabilities in open source projects:
The “Alpha” side will emphasize vulnerability testing by hand in the most popular open-source projects, developing close working relationships with a handful of the top 200 projects for testing each year. “Omega” will look more at the broader landscape of open source, running automated testing on the top 10,000.
This is an excellent idea. This code ends up in all sorts of critical applications.
Log4j would be a prototypical vulnerability that the Alpha team might look for – an unknown problem in a high-impact project that automated tools would not be able to pick up before a human discovered it. The goal is not to use the personnel engaged with Alpha to replicate dependency analysis, for example.
I received email from two people who told me that Microsoft Edge enabled synching without warning or consent, which means that Microsoft sucked up all of their bookmarks. Of course they can turn synching off, but it’s too late.
Has this happened to anyone else, or was this user error of some sort? If this is real, can some reporter write about it?
(Not that “user error” is a good justification. Any system where making a simple mistake means that you’ve forever lost your privacy isn’t a good one. We see this same situation with sharing contact lists with apps on smartphones. Apps will repeatedly ask, and only need you to accidentally click “okay” once.)
EDITED TO ADD: It’s actually worse than I thought. Edge urges users to store passwords, ID numbers, and even passport numbers, all of which get uploaded to Microsoft by default when synch is enabled.
Microsoft is reporting that the same attacker that was behind the SolarWinds breach — the Russian SVR, which Microsoft is calling Nobelium — is continuing with similar supply-chain attacks:
Nobelium has been attempting to replicate the approach it has used in past attacks by targeting organizations integral to the global IT supply chain. This time, it is attacking a different part of the supply chain: resellers and other technology service providers that customize, deploy and manage cloud services and other technologies on behalf of their customers. We believe Nobelium ultimately hopes to piggyback on any direct access that resellers may have to their customers’ IT systems and more easily impersonate an organization’s trusted technology partner to gain access to their downstream customers. We began observing this latest campaign in May 2021 and have been notifying impacted partners and customers while also developing new technical assistance and guidance for the reseller community. Since May, we have notified more than 140 resellers and technology service providers that have been targeted by Nobelium. We continue to investigate, but to date we believe as many as 14 of these resellers and service providers have been compromised. Fortunately, we have discovered this campaign during its early stages, and we are sharing these developments to help cloud service resellers, technology providers, and their customers take timely steps to help ensure Nobelium is not more successful.
This is a really interesting story explaining how to defeat Microsoft’s TPM in 30 minutes — without having to solder anything to the motherboard.
Researchers at the security consultancy Dolos Group, hired to test the security of one client’s network, received a new Lenovo computer preconfigured to use the standard security stack for the organization. They received no test credentials, configuration details, or other information about the machine.
They were not only able to get into the BitLocker-encrypted computer, but then use the computer to get into the corporate network.
It’s the “evil maid attack.” It requires physical access to your computer, but you leave it in your hotel room all the time when you go out to dinner.
Want to dabble in the Internet of Things but don’t know where to start? Well, our friends at Microsoft have developed something fun and free just for you. Here’s Senior Cloud Advocate Jim Bennett to tell you all about their brand new online curriculum for IoT beginners.
IoT — the Internet of Things — is one of the biggest growth areas in technology, and one that, to me, is very exciting. You start with a device like a Raspberry Pi, sprinkle some sensors, dust with code, mix in some cloud services and poof! You have smart cities, self-driving cars, automated farming, robotic supermarkets, or devices that can clean your toilet after you shout at Alexa for the third time.
It feels like every week there is another survey out on what tech skills will be in demand in the next five years, and IoT always appears somewhere near the top. This is why loads of folks are interested in learning all about it.
In my day job at Microsoft, I work a lot with students and lecturers, and I’m often asked for help with content to get started with IoT. Not just how to use whatever cool-named IoT services come from your cloud provider of choice to enable digital whatnots to add customer value via thingamabobs, but real beginner content that goes back to the basics.
This is why a few of us have spent the last few months locked away building IoT for Beginners. It’s a free, open source, 24-lesson university-level IoT curriculum designed for teachers and students, and built by IoT experts, education experts and students.
What will you learn?
The lessons are grouped into projects that you can build with a Raspberry Pi so that you can deep-dive into use cases of IoT, following the journey of food from farm to table.
You’ll build projects as you learn the concepts of IoT devices, sensors, actuators, and the cloud, including:
An automated watering system, controlling a relay via a soil moisture sensor. This starts off running just on your device, then moves to a free MQTT broker to add cloud control. It then moves on again to cloud-based IoT services to add features like security to stop Farmer Giles from hacking your watering system.
A GPS-based vehicle tracker plotting the route taken on a map. You get alerts when a vehicle full of food arrives at a location by using cloud-based mapping services and serverless code.
AI-based fruit quality checking using a camera on your device. You train AI models that can detect if fruit is ripe or not. These start off running in the cloud, then you move them to the edge running directly on your Raspberry Pi.
Smart stock checking so you can see when you need to restack the shelves, again powered by AI services.
A voice-controlled smart timer so you have more devices to shout at when cooking your food! This one uses AI services to understand what you say into your IoT device. It gives spoken feedback and even works in many different languages, translating on the fly.
Two reports this week. The first is from Microsoft, which wrote:
As part of our investigation into this ongoing activity, we also detected information-stealing malware on a machine belonging to one of our customer support agents with access to basic account information for a small number of our customers. The actor used this information in some cases to launch highly-targeted attacks as part of their broader campaign.
The second is from the NSA, CISA, FBI, and the UK’s NCSC, which wrote that the GRU is continuing to conduct brute-force password guessing attacks around the world, and is in some cases successful. From the NSA press release:
Once valid credentials were discovered, the GTsSS combined them with various publicly known vulnerabilities to gain further access into victim networks. This, along with various techniques also detailed in the advisory, allowed the actors to evade defenses and collect and exfiltrate various information in the networks, including mailboxes.
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