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Trust of Leaked Certificates Revoked by Microsoft

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The certificates of the four digital certificates leaked last week have been revoked by Microsoft. The certificates were leaked unknowingly by D-Link, reported by Threatpost.

Last week networking gear manufacturer D-Link was in the news for the wrong reason. An embarrassing mistake by the company led to the release of private keys that can be used to sign certificates. The keys were found in D-Link’s open source firmware package.

microsoft-security-vulnerabilityPrivate keys are used to sign certificates for programs. A program that has a legitimate certificate associated with it easily makes its way past the security scanners of any organization. The mistake by D-Link could, therefore, have had serious consequences.

The news was disclosed by a Dutch tech website which reported that private keys used to sign certificates were found in D-Link’s open source firmware packages. This was confirmed by Fox-IT as well. The keys were found in the firmware that is up for downloading for D-Link’s DCS-5020L security camera. Passphrases and other information required signing the certificates was also available in the packages.

In order to make quick amends, Microsoft has said that it has updated its Certificate Trust list by removing trust for the four certificates leaked by D-Link as they could have been used to sign malicious code. Two of the certificates were issued by Symantec which belonged to D-Link and Alpha Networks. The other two were issued by GoDaddy and belonged to TRENDnet and Keebox.

Microsoft, though, said that the client versions of Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 and the Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 RT, Windows RT, as well as Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 have updaters that will automatically revoke the certificates without requiring the user to do so.

Although such a feature is not available for Windows 7, Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, an automatic installer is available for these. Users can either download this installer or install update 2813430.

Fox-IT researcher Yonathan Klijnsma said that the issue had resulted from a small mistake by the person who packaged the source code for publishing. Since the keys were available only in a single version of the firmware, he believes it was a simple mistake of not excluding the folder with the private keys in that particular version.

Yonathan Klijsma said:

I think this was a mistake by whoever packaged the source code for publishing. The code signing certificate was only present in one of the source code packages with a specific version. The version above and below the specific package did not contain the folder in which the code signing certificates resided. A simple mistake of folder exclusion as far as I could see.

The certificate for D-Link was published on February 27 and expired on September 3, which means it was available for around six months. Whether or not it was used to sign malware during that time is yet to be found out.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.




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Cybersecurity

NEM Theft Suggests Hacking Is More Lucrative than Mining

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The NEM Foundation has called off its search for the 523 million NEM tokens that were stolen from the Tokyo-based Coincheck exchange. Although the Foundation lauded the effectiveness of the search, the outcome proves yet again that cryptocurrency hackers are benefiting from the dark web, which provides an effective venue for laundering stolen funds.

Search for Stolen Coins Ends

In a statement published Mar. 19, the NEM Foundation informed its community that it had disabled the tracking mosaic used to monitor the movement of XEM funds tied to the massive heist of Coincheck in January. According to the post, the search ended on Mar. 18.

The statement reads:

“Beginning March 18, the NEM.io Foundation has disabled the tracking mosaic that was put into place to monitor XEM movements from the Coincheck theft. This effort was effective at reducing the hacker’s ability to liquidate stolen XEM and provided law enforcement with actionable information. We don’t plan to release further details due to the sensitive nature of this investigation.”

On. Jan. 26, hackers successfully made off with $530 million worth of XEM tokens, marking the biggest crypto heist on record. The theft propagated a new investigation into existing crypto exchanges by Japan’s Financial Services Authority (FSA). Domestic exchanges also announced plans to form a self-governing body to safeguard against illicit activity.

Hacked reported earlier this month that the Coincheck attackers had already laundered some 40% of the stolen NEM funds, primarily through the dark web. The stolen coins have reportedly made their way into exchanges in Japan, China and Canada.

Crypto Heists: A Growing Phenomenon

While the crypto economy has been highly lucrative for early adopters, cyber criminals have managed to steal huge sums of money. Unlike credit card fraud, the theft of major crypto exchanges has reshaped the digital currency market. This was most evident in 2014, when Mt Gox fell prey to a $480 million attack that eventually led to its demise.

As the Coincheck hack demonstrated, locating stolen funds and identifying perpetrators are extremely difficult. That said, NEM’s efforts to blacklist the tokens probably limited how much money the attackers were able to keep.

This brings us to an important question: is hacking more lucrative than legitimate crypto mining? To answer that question, we’ll begin by providing a rundown of the major crypto heists of the last four years.

Since 2014, hackers have made off with more than $1.3 billion in stolen coins. The biggest losses are as follows:

  • Coincheck: $530 million (2018)
  • Mt Gox: $480 million (2014)
  • Parity Wallet: $155 million (2017)
  • Bitfinex: $65 million (2016)
  • NiceHash: $63 million (2017)
  • DAO: $50 million (2016)
  • Tether: $31 million (2017)

For all of 2017, it is estimated that hackers stole nearly $400 million from ICOs. That’s roughly 10% of the total amount raised for the year.

Mining Profitability

Cryptocurrency mining has spearheaded a multi-billion-dollar industry. The recent crackdown on mining rigs in China means there is a large void in the market that several jurisdictions, including Canada and India, are rushing to fill. During the height of bitcoin’s surge, crypto miners earned roughly $240,000 every ten minutes. Miners now earn roughly half that, based on current price levels.

Of course, this doesn’t factor the cost of electricity, power consumption, hardware, manpower and other fees needed to operate a mining operation. These variables, combined with the unknown trajectory of crypto prices, make profitability a lot harder to gauge.

The yearly decline in profitability is also a critical, albeit elusive variable in pricing the success of a mining operation. This variable is tied to the number of miners that join the network – a figure that is extremely difficult to predict. Against this backdrop, 99bitcoins.com has developed a bitcoin mining calculator that provides simple guidance on whether a certain mining operation is profitable.

Other digital currencies provide a potentially more lucrative opportunity to join the mining business. For example, Monero can still be mined with a basic desktop computer. With an average block time of two minutes, users can mine the coin casually using the spare computing power of their home PC.

However, it appears that hackers have already taken over the Monero mining business. There are several recent cases of hackers embedding malware to hijack the computing power of other systems. The Australian government was also a victim of this hacking attempt.

Cryptomining is such a new phenomenon that there are few guidelines in place to ensure trust. Selecting a company to work with an a fair compensation model are two important questions every potential miner needs to consider.

As cryptocurrencies appreciate in value, the allure of cyber crime will continue to grow. As NEM, Mt Gox and other large-scale thefts demonstrate, criminals are succeeding in their quest to compromise online exchanges.

With respect to mining, profitability remains an elusive question, especially with the recent downturn in the market. That said, there are many alternative motivations involved in mining digital currency, including supporting the network, influencing the market and using additional revenues to fund other business operations.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 458 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Cryptocurrencies

Spectre And Meltdown Madness: What It Means For Ethereum

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To anyone who talks in terms of a cryptocurrency bubble, consider the following fun facts. In the short period of a few days following the bombshell announcement of Meltdown and Spectre, crypto prices responded in the following manner:

Bitcoin +18%

ETH +41%

Litecoin +30%

In my view, this is clear evidence of a market that is responding rationally to information coming from responsible sources. To appreciate what all the noise is about you must appreciate what Meltdown and Spectre are and why they present a danger to the big companies providing cloud storage for the corporate world.

Once this is clear, then you will better appreciate why Ether’s 41%+ short-term price spike left the others in the dust. But first lets dig into the Meltdown and Spectre situation.

The Secret Got Out

 On January 3 the secret about a new class of security vulnerabilities leaked out to the public. Not only was this seriously bad news but the leak also gave hackers advanced notice before anyone could begin to fix the twin problems.

The degree of seriousness is in the fact that almost all major microprocessor chips are vulnerable. This opens the door to hackers stealing information from personal as well as cloud services.

Researchers claim that Meltdown can be fixed with a patch. Shortly thereafter about every major player announced their patch. But there are two issues here. Will the patches fully solve they problem?

Casting A Cloud Over The Cloud

When a corporation becomes a cloud customer, even the largest share machines with other customers. This is the basic flaw in the centralized structure of cloud storage. Contrast this with the decentralized structure of blockchain technology and you begin to appreciate the force behind the sudden price spike in cryptocurrencies that we highlighted above.

Even though security tools and protocols are designed to separate customers date, the recently discovered Meltdown and Spectre flaws still leave serious vulnerabilities.

Meltdown, hackers could rent space on a cloud service, just like any other business customer. Once they were on the service, the flaw would allow them to grab information like passwords from other customers.

Secondly, reports on cloud services like Amazon, Google and Microsoft claim that it creates as much as 30% slower computation speeds. That clearly won’t make for happy customers.

Jerky NetFlix

Virtually everyone reviewing the situation believes individual computer users are the least vulnerable. That may be true. Hackers are in the hunt for the biggest prize and that would be the big three cloud companies. But how do you think families are going to react if their Netflix stalls and buffers every few minutes?

In the final analysis, the Meltdown flaw affects virtually every computer chip fabricated by Intel in use today. You are talking about 90% of the Internet and business world. But Meltdown is just one flaw.

Spectre is the other flaw and this one is the more insidious of the two. There is no known fix. Intel, AMD and others have claimed how complex a project it would be for hackers to breech the Spectre vulnerability. That is pretty hollow comfort. After all, hasn’t the FBI security been breeched. Those guys were supposed to be airtight.

Boom Days For Blockchain

In so many ways, last year marked a tipping point in the spread and acceptance of blockchain technology. The uses for Bitcoin are probably best gauged by its record $20,000 price in December. For Ethereum, it may have been marked by the formation of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) in February and rise to over 300 members at year-end.

No sooner has 2018 begun that the Meltdown and Spectre flaws created unexpected excitement for investors in cryptocurrencies. If I were a software salesman out of work, I would be sending my resume to every crypto company offering to peddle their blockchain. It could be the easiest job since selling web design services in 1995.

The Ethereum platform with its smart contracts is not the only crypto capable of addressing this newly uncovered opportunity created by Meltdown and Spectre. You can safely bet this will attract many players and for good reason, today’s blockchain technology is a long way from fast enough for mass adoption. Blockchain security may be a step or two better in it present form than cloud storage, but it has its security issues as well.

Building the Ethereum Moat

 EEA founder Jeremy Millar is clearly a brand ambassador for Ethereum. He believes that CEOs hear the chatter about blockchain and are pre sold not having a clear picture what can be accomplished or the money saved using this technology. The important thing is for IT departments to have a respected brand to attach to their recommendations.

The EEA seeks to connect and inform and through this pioneering process spread the gospel of Ethereum. So far this is beginning to build a brand franchise for Ethereum.

The EEA is the largest blockchain body and is committed to using open-source Ethereum technology for enterprise blockchain solutions. EEA expects to see great advances in these areas in 2018 with Ethereum technologies.

It also helps when Wall Street banks uncover the potential for billions in savings on the trading desks through the applications of the Ethereum platform.

So, if you though the last year held plenty of excitement, the Meltdown and Spectre flaws promise to make this year every bit as much fun.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 82 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Cybersecurity

The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency

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For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.

The Pirates Are At It Again

The Pirate Bay has been caught using software called Coinhive, a JavaScript library that essentially serves as a cryptocurrency miner. It basically connects to visitors’ computers to mine Monero, one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrencies.

The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”

Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.

Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.

CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors  know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.

“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.

The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.

Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally

The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.

Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 458 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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