I just created a new page, Docs, that, for now, hosts two mind maps. I hope it will be useful, and please let me know any suggestion and criticism so that I can improve them.
One of my relative got hacked.
After a phone conversation with him, I realized that his computer was hacked a few days before. He told me that he saw the mouse moving by itself, but what happened then was not clear to him. Anyway, he did not feel the urge to call me immediately. Needless to say that his knowledge on computers is low.
I immediately started to investigate.
How the computer was hacked
The computer is running Ubuntu . I suspected a vulnerability, but I soon realized that it was much simpler than that: by mistake, a VNC session was left opened!
x11vnc with no authentication and no logging… Damned!
What the attacker did
What he tried first was to create a user to maintain access. But the scammer was probably low tech and soon abandonned.
Here is his sequence in the shell history:
261 adduser -u 0 -o -g 0 -G 0,1,2,3,4,6,10 -M xxxcx 262 useradd -d /home/xxxcx -m nokia00 263 passwd xxxcx
Command #261 failed, because of unproper syntax. I guess he meant useradd, as adduser on Debian/Ubuntu has totally different options. Note that what he was trying to do is create a new root user named xxxcx (with no home directory).
He probably did not realize his mistake, but yet tried this time useradd with fewer options in command #262. This time, he would create the home directory and name the user nokia00… Why not. Alas, the command can’t work as a standard user!
Then, command #263: he tried to change the current password, but again he failed as it is required to know it before updating it…
And that’s it. Pretty lame, isn’t it? He got quickly discouraged and started to use exclusively Firefox.
Sorry but I will be hiding private info and sensitive data that could be used for a legal action.
I got most info from the files cookies.sqlite and places.sqlite.
The guy didn’t loose time, he knew precisely what he wanted and what to do.
- He first visited two websites to localize the computer: ip2location.com and ip-tracker.org. You may think that it is a strange first move, but I will come back on that later as I have a theory.
- Now that he knew in what country he was (country XXX), he started to do online shopping.
It is interesting that his online shopping was all linked to web hosting:
- templates from dreamtemplates.com
- a .net domain name (with however part of the prefix being localized accordingly to the country suffix).
- hosting at netfirms.com and mg1host.com
Note that the criminal used a online payment platform that I never heard about before: 2checkout.com aka 2co.com.
Unfortunately, when I investigated, all cookies were expired so I could not connect to the criminal’s account.
Yet, it still had some valuable info. The most interesting info I found was from a cookie from dreamtemplates.com. I got all the billing info used by the attacker:
- attacker’s gmail address (probably compromised or anonymous)
- Name and address for the billing, that sounded real…
Also, GET parameters in URLs were very interesting.
In some of them, you can guess the amount of the purchase he did. He for sure bought stuff for at least a total of 500$. But it is without counting the stuff that I cannot guess from URLs, so it is probably sensibly much more in reality.
But, even better, some had order ids. Hey, wait! Let’s have a look on the 2co website:
Hmmm… we have the email address and the order number… bingo!
Now, we have at least all info of the credit card owner, certainly the biggest victim in this mess.
That’s it for now. We are still in the process of transmitting the info to the police and alerting the victim.
Here are a few thoughts by the way:
- Logging, always logging! It is a pity that we know literally nothing about the scammer source ip address. All his actions were made from within a VNC session and it leaves no trace. He may have came from another proxy, but who knows… I still have a little hope that under legal request, the Internet provider of my relative will be able to provide some logs.
- Nowadays, it is still difficult to report such a case to the police and to help the victim. The local police is at loss and does not really know what to do. The cyber section is slow to answer, probably crawling under requests (mostly spam stuff?).
- Not every one has a computer specialist among friends or relatives. It must be a terrible experience to see the police coming to you for a fraud one hasn’t committed directly. Few people, even sometimes among IT professionals, understand that.
- The criminal seemed low tech, but very organized at the same time.
Here is my theory: he probably has a precise goal and is not loosing time.
He follows a process: geo-localize the victim or target a country and choose accordingly financial data in his database.
Then, he purchases stuff from a list of items he needs or he is requested.
Finally, if he could not find a way to maintain access in seconds, he leaves. Mission done: this scammer is probably doing it full time, as a professional activity. Lame but efficient for the crime industry.
- The credit card info was accompanied with private info: real name and address. We all know that but it is always shocking to think how it can easily obtained: compromised computer, hacked online shop or database, dishonest employee (e.g. at the hotel), etc.
- The websites will probably be used for more scamming and illegal activities. I am going to monitor the domain I got for a while.
Keep wired for updates.
I came back from the 2012 edition of SSTIC, where despite the concerns, there were still some nice conferences.
Until slides and papers are published, you can find some nice reports (all in French). But the most impressive will remain the challenge: look at the solution! What a hell! Just reading and trying to understand all details in the solution is still challenging!
Big respect for the guys who have the talent of going over so many tricks.
Linux desktop is in bad shape…
The culprits? Unity and Gnome 3. I am not talking about KDE, as I never felt good with it. I had tried KDE 4 and it did not change my opinion, not to mention that I suffered from several bugs.
Unity? Like many people, I just don’t get it. It is pretty clumsy and feels unachieved. I also suffered from a lot of performance issues like this that are never fixed and make it a pain to use daily.
Gnome 3? Actually, I liked it. It looks nice, is pretty fast and smooth. What I like the most is the workflow. It really makes use of workspaces logical and optimum. But… it did not work for me! Instability, again and again.
You will tell me, that I should have stayed with Gnome 2 or go to XFCE / Openbox / etc. I have used all of them. They have qualities, sure, but we are in 2012 and I want something with more features.
Conclusion: it is sad that after so many years, Linux is not yet ready for the desktop, because some guys decided to break everything again instead of doing incremental enhancements. Why breaking so suddenly things that work? I don’t get it. I felt really fustrated with the feeling that I was at the same point as 5 years ago, dealing with the same kind of bugs. I have long been a Linux advocate and I believed I was right a few years back when I told people it was promising and superior to the competition (Windows XP at the time). Now years have passed, and I started to feel I was lying, or hiding the truth that is Linux Desktop failed and went nowhere.
Yes, I just got tired to fight with the computer to get basic things done. And considering the Linus post and several reactions into the comments, I am not alone in this case.
… so I gave a try to Apple…
I recently got a Mac Book Pro. The main reason is I wanted a very stable workstation to focus on my work. It was hard to admit after so many years using it, but I came to the conclusion that a Linux desktop could not meet this requirement anymore.
So I am going to be with Mac OS Lion for a while (though I am certainly not closing the door to the Linux desktop forever). I have to say that it is a nice OS and it is damned stable. It is good to have something that works out of the box, without any frustration or need to customize things to have something suitable.
And what about the stability of Mac OS? It is very eye candy, but is it stable?
At first, I actually had some serious troubles. It was freezing almost every day, forcing me to a cold reboot. I started to be seriously doubtful concerning the stability of Mac OS, when I found by chance that the freeze occured every time that Sophos Antivirus started an update…
Antivirus and Mac OS…
Wait, what? Antivirus? On Mac OS? I know it will be the reaction of many Mac users. I do also think that it is useless, but for a different reason than most of them.
Of course, I don’t get the “Mac OS is secure” marketing. Actually, it has the less secure kernel around, even though it benefits from a robust Unix architecture.
No, my point is that antivirus all fail anyway. In forensic analysis, we can even not trust an antivirus scan to decide if a machine is sane or not. Instead, we have to use specific tools and memory acquisition to make sure.
It is simply because signature-based detection can always be worked around by malwares. There are hundreds of ways to achieve it successfully: changing binary headers, code obfuscation, encryption, hooking (see rootkits and bootkits).
Ok, antivirus vendors claim that they also offer behavioral detection, sandboxes, etc. Yes, that’s a good move, but they can’t check all of the system activity and again there are many ways to bypass it. So why bother?
I mean, I still think it matters to have an antivirus on Windows. Especially for people who are not too techy. At least, it will detect the most basics threats and throw out alarms. There are thousands of such threats on Windows, and on this point antivirus offer a simple way to defeat them (though awareness and education are certainly more important).
But on Mac Os, and on Linux as well, there are very few threats. Once again, it is not that they are so much secure, but at the time I am writing, it is a fact.
So to summarize:
- very few threats on Mac OS and Linux
- antivirus still massively rely on signature-based detection
You see: if there is nothing much to detect, an antivirus is overhead. It will only eat some resources and fail anyway against coming threats.
Just keeping the system up-to-date is certainly the best thing to do so far.
Well, so why did I set an antivirus? I was actually using it for my forensic analysis on Windows machines. It was a convenient way for me to have a local scanner that I could started on dumped suspicious processes, without having to connect on Viruscan. It used to be convenient when I was traveling without connection, but I can live without it.
About Sophos for Mac OS
So moreover this piece of software was crashing my laptop. The update part seems to be executed with root privileges, and for some reason it locks the system (not only mine, look at the forums). Not to mention that having such a component may offer more room to malicious code to exploit the kernel…
A shame, a pure piece of crap. Now that I removed it, I am enjoying an uptime of about 30 days!
Sophos Antivirus for Mac OS is pure crap, run to remove it if it happens to be on your computer.
Anyway, you don’t need an antivirus on Mac OS. Moreover, it seems that several vendor offer solution that lack of maturity and testing on this platform. So you would actually degrade your system stability and security if you would installed on of these.
And Mac OS is a nice Unix-based desktop alternative to have the work done, even though sadly it is not open-source.
With RSA and Norton having their own solutions, we know have 5 big players in the arena (see Gartner 2011). This is a good proof that the correlation market is growing and that the solutions are getting mature.
Found on Full Disclosure, a weired but troubling connection of two security affairs : the OpenBSD backdoor rumor and the stuxnet worm.