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Security: Intel, Cisco, Apple, FBI

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Security
  • How Much Slower Will My PC Become After Meltdown And Spectre Patches?
  • Intel's Microcode Update for Spectre Exploit Is Now Available in Ubuntu's Repos

    Canonical announced a few moments ago that Intel's latest microcode update for the Spectre security vulnerability is now available from the software repositories of all supported Ubuntu Linux releases.

    After releasing earlier this week new kernel updates to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre security exploits that put billions of devices at risk of attacks by allowing a local, unprivileged attacker to obtain sensitive information from kernel memory, Canonical now released the updated microcode from Intel for supported Intel CPUs.

  • Cisco can now sniff out malware inside encrypted traffic

    Cisco has switched on latent features in its recent routers and switches, plus a cloud service, that together make it possible to detect the fingerprints of malware in encrypted traffic.

    Switchzilla has not made a dent in transport layer security (TLS) to make this possible. Instead, as we reported in July 2016, Cisco researchers found that malware leaves recognisable traces even in encrypted traffic. The company announced its intention to productise that research last year and this week exited trials to make the service – now known as Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA) - available to purchasers of its 4000 Series Integrated Service Routers, the 1000-series Aggregation Services Router and the model 1000V Cloud Services Router 1000V.

    Those devices can’t do the job alone: users need to sign up for Cisco’s StealthWatch service and let traffic from their kit flow to a cloud-based analytics service that inspects traffic and uses self-improving machine learning algorithms to spot dodgy traffic.

  • MacOS High Sierra security bug lets you unlock App Store System Preferences with any random password

    According to the bug report, users can simply open System Preferences, go to App Store settings and check the padlock icon. If it is unlocked, lock it and then try unlocking it using your username and any password.

  • Intel tells select customers not to use its bug fixes

    Processor giant Intel has told some of its customers that the microcode patches it issued to fix the Meltdown and Spectre flaws in its products are buggy and that they should not install them.

  • Canonical reissues Meltdown and Spectre patches for Ubuntu after borkage
  • A Step in the Right Direction: House Passes the Cyber Vulnerability Disclosure Reporting Act

    The House of Representatives passed the “Cyber Vulnerability Disclosure Reporting Act” this week. While the bill is quite limited in scope, EFF applauds its goals and supports its passage in the Senate.

    H.R. 3202 is a short and simple bill, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), that would require the Department of Homeland Security to submit a report to Congress outlining how the government deals with disclosing vulnerabilities. Specifically, the mandated report would comprise two parts. First, a “description of the policies and procedures developed [by DHS] for coordinating cyber vulnerability disclosures,” or in other words, how the government reports flaws in computer hardware and software to the developers. And second, a possibly classified “annex” containing descriptions of specific instances where these policies were used to disclose vulnerabilities in the previous year, leading to mitigation of the vulnerabilities by private actors.

    Perhaps the best thing about this short bill is that it is intended to provide some evidence for the government’s long-standing claims that it discloses a large number of vulnerabilities. To date, such evidence has been exceedingly sparse; for instance, Apple received its first ever vulnerability report from the U.S. government in 2016. Assuming the report and annex work as intended, the public’s confidence in the government’s ability to “play defense” may actually increase.

  • FBI Says Device Encryption Is 'Evil' And A Threat To Public Safety

    The FBI continues its anti-encryption push. It's now expanded past Director Christopher Wray to include statements by other FBI personnel. Not that Chris Wray isn't taking every opportunity he can to portray personal security as a threat to the security of the American public. He still is. But he's no longer the only FBI employee willing to speak up on the issue.

    Wray expanded his anti-encryption rhetoric last week at a cybersecurity conference in New York. In short, encryption is inherently dangerous. And the FBI boss will apparently continue to complain about encryption without offering any solutions.

  • Canonical Says It'll Release New Ubuntu Kernels to Further Mitigate Spectre Bugs

    Canonical's Dean Henrichsmeyer published today an update on the Ubuntu patches for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities and what they plan on doing next to mitigate these critical bugs.

    By now, most of you have probably updated your Ubuntu Linux computers to the new kernel versions Canonical released earlier this week, as well as the new Nvidia proprietary graphics driver and Firefox web browser, both including patches to mitigate the Meltdown and Spectre exploits affecting billions of devices powered by modern processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM.

More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

Kernel: Keeping Control in the Hands of the User and KUnit

  • Keeping Control in the Hands of the User
    Various efforts always are underway to implement Secure Boot and to add features that will allow vendors to lock users out of controlling their own systems. In that scenario, users would look helplessly on while their systems refused to boot any kernels but those controlled by the vendors. The vendors' motivation is clear—if they control the kernel, they can then stream media on that computer without risking copyright infringement by the user. If the vendor doesn't control the system, the user might always have some secret piece of software ready to catch and store any streamed media that could then be shared with others who would not pay the media company for the privilege. Recently, Chen Yu and other developers tried to submit patches to enhance Secure Boot so that when the user hibernated the system, the kernel itself would encrypt its running image. This would appear to be completely unnecessary, since as Pavel Machek pointed out, there is already uswsusp (userspace software suspend), which encrypts the running image before suspending the system. As Pavel said, the only difference was that uswusp ran in userspace and not kernel space.
  • Google Engineer Proposes KUnit As New Linux Kernel Unit Testing Framework
    Google engineer Brendan Higgins sent out an experimental set of 31 patches today introducing KUnit as a new Linux kernel unit testing framework to help preserve and improve the quality of the kernel's code. KUnit is a unit testing framework designed for the Linux kernel and inspired by the well known JUnit as well as Googletest and other existing unit testing frameworks for designing unit tests and related functionality.

DragonFlyBSD Continues Squeezing More Performance Out Of AMD's Threadripper 2990WX

DragonFlyBSD 5.4 should be a really great release if you are a BSD user and have an AMD Threadripper 2 box, particularly the flagship Threadripper 2990WX 32-core / 64-thread processor. The project leader of this long ago fork from FreeBSD, Matthew Dillon, has been quite outspoken about the Threadripper 2990WX since he purchased one earlier this summer. This prolific BSD developer has been praising the performance out of the Threadripper 2990WX since he got the system working on the current DragonFlyBSD 5.3 development builds. Since getting DragonFlyBSD running on the Threadripper 2 hardware in August, he's routinely been making performance tuning optimizations to DragonFly's kernel to benefit the 2990WX given its NUMA design. Read more

Arm Launches Mbed Linux and Extends Pelion IoT Service

Politics and international relations may be fraught with acrimony these days, but the tech world seems a bit friendlier of late. Last week Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network and agreed to grant a royalty-free, unrestricted license of its 60,000-patent portfolio to other OIN members, thereby enabling Android and Linux device manufacturers to avoid exorbitant patent payments. This week, Arm and Intel kept up the happy talk by agreeing to a partnership involving IoT device provisioning. Arm’s recently announced Pelion IoT Platform will align with Intel’s Secure Device Onboard (SDO) provisioning technology to make it easier for IoT vendors and customers to onboard both x86 and Arm-based devices using a common Peleon platform. Arm also announced Pelion related partnerships with myDevices and Arduino (see farther below). Read more