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      Breaking Laptop Fingerprint Sensors

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Tuesday, 28 November, 2023 - 21:13

    They’re not that good :

    Security researchers Jesse D’Aguanno and Timo Teräs write that, with varying degrees of reverse-engineering and using some external hardware, they were able to fool the Goodix fingerprint sensor in a Dell Inspiron 15, the Synaptic sensor in a Lenovo ThinkPad T14, and the ELAN sensor in one of Microsoft’s own Surface Pro Type Covers. These are just three laptop models from the wide universe of PCs, but one of these three companies usually does make the fingerprint sensor in every laptop we’ve reviewed in the last few years. It’s likely that most Windows PCs with fingerprint readers will be vulnerable to similar exploits.

    Details .

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      Microsoft Signing Key Stolen by Chinese

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Sunday, 6 August, 2023 - 17:05 · 1 minute

    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 stolen Microsoft Azure account consumer signing key. Congress wants answers . 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.

    News articles .

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      Brute-Forcing a Fingerprint Reader

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Friday, 26 May, 2023 - 18:41 · 1 minute

    It’s neither hard nor expensive :

    Unlike password authentication, which requires a direct match between what is inputted and what’s stored in a database, fingerprint authentication determines a match using a reference threshold. As a result, a successful fingerprint brute-force attack requires only that an inputted image provides an acceptable approximation of an image in the fingerprint database. BrutePrint manipulates the false acceptance rate (FAR) to increase the threshold so fewer approximate images are accepted.

    BrutePrint acts as an adversary in the middle between the fingerprint sensor and the trusted execution environment and exploits vulnerabilities that allow for unlimited guesses.

    In a BrutePrint attack, the adversary removes the back cover of the device and attaches the $15 circuit board that has the fingerprint database loaded in the flash storage. The adversary then must convert the database into a fingerprint dictionary that’s formatted to work with the specific sensor used by the targeted phone. The process uses a neural-style transfer when converting the database into the usable dictionary. This process increases the chances of a match.

    With the fingerprint dictionary in place, the adversary device is now in a position to input each entry into the targeted phone. Normally, a protection known as attempt limiting effectively locks a phone after a set number of failed login attempts are reached. BrutePrint can fully bypass this limit in the eight tested Android models, meaning the adversary device can try an infinite number of guesses. (On the two iPhones, the attack can expand the number of guesses to 15, three times higher than the five permitted.)

    The bypasses result from exploiting what the researchers said are two zero-day vulnerabilities in the smartphone fingerprint authentication framework of virtually all smartphones. The vulnerabilities—­one known as CAMF (cancel-after-match fail) and the other MAL (match-after-lock)—result from logic bugs in the authentication framework. CAMF exploits invalidate the checksum of transmitted fingerprint data, and MAL exploits infer matching results through side-channel attacks.

    Depending on the model, the attack takes between 40 minutes and 14 hours.


    The ability of BrutePrint to successfully hijack fingerprints stored on Android devices but not iPhones is the result of one simple design difference: iOS encrypts the data, and Android does not.

    Other news articles . Research paper .

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      Passkeys may not be for you, but they are safe and easy—here’s why

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Friday, 12 May, 2023 - 20:43

    Passkeys may not be for you, but they are safe and easy—here’s why

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

    My recent feature on passkeys attracted significant interest, and a number of the 1,100+ comments raised questions about how the passkey system actually works and if it can be trusted. In response, I've put together this list of frequently asked questions to dispel a few myths and shed some light on what we know—and don't know—about passkeys.

    Q: I don’t trust Google. Why should I use passkeys?

    A: If you don’t use Google, then Google passkeys aren’t for you. If you don’t use Apple or Microsoft products, the situation is similar. The original article was aimed at the hundreds of millions of people who do use these major platforms (even if grudgingly).

    Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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      Passwordless Google accounts are easier and more secure than passwords. Here’s why.

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Monday, 8 May, 2023 - 13:50 · 1 minute

    Passwordless Google accounts are easier and more secure than passwords. Here’s why.

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

    By now, you’ve likely heard that passwordless Google accounts have finally arrived . The replacement for passwords is known as "passkeys."

    There are many misconceptions about passkeys, both in terms of their usability and the security and privacy benefits they offer compared with current authentication methods. That’s not surprising, given that passwords have been in use for the past 60 years, and passkeys are so new. The long and short of it is that with a few minutes of training, passkeys are easier to use than passwords, and in a matter of months—once a dozen or so industry partners finish rolling out the remaining pieces—using passkeys will be easier still. Passkeys are also vastly more secure and privacy-preserving than passwords, for reasons I'll explain later.

    This article provides a primer to get people started with Google's implementation of passkeys and explains the technical underpinnings that make them a much easier and more effective way to protect against account takeovers. A handful of smaller sites—specifically, PayPal, Instacart, Best Buy, Kayak, Robinhood, Shop Pay, and Cardpointers—have rolled out various options for logging in with passkeys, but those choices are more proofs of concept than working solutions. Google is the first major online service to make passkeys available, and its offering is refined and comprehensive enough that I’m recommending people turn them on today.

    Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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      The Security Vulnerabilities of Message Interoperability

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Tuesday, 28 March, 2023 - 18:05

    Jenny Blessing and Ross Anderson have evaluated the security of systems designed to allow the various Internet messaging platforms to interoperate with each other:

    The Digital Markets Act ruled that users on different platforms should be able to exchange messages with each other. This opens up a real Pandora’s box. How will the networks manage keys, authenticate users, and moderate content? How much metadata will have to be shared, and how?

    In our latest paper, One Protocol to Rule Them All? On Securing Interoperable Messaging , we explore the security tensions, the conflicts of interest, the usability traps, and the likely consequences for individual and institutional behaviour.

    Interoperability will vastly increase the attack surface at every level in the stack ­ from the cryptography up through usability to commercial incentives and the opportunities for government interference.

    It’s a good idea in theory, but will likely result in the overall security being the worst of each platform’s security.

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      Fooling a Voice Authentication System with an AI-Generated Voice

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Monday, 27 February, 2023 - 20:49

    A reporter used an AI synthesis of his own voice to fool the voice authentication system for Lloyd’s Bank.

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      When Security Locks You Out of Everything

      news.movim.eu / Schneier · Tuesday, 28 June, 2022 - 16:49 · 1 minute

    Thought experiment story of someone who lost everything in a house fire, and now can’t log into anything:

    But to get into my cloud, I need my password and 2FA. And even if I could convince the cloud provider to bypass that and let me in, the backup is secured with a password which is stored in—you guessed it—my Password Manager.

    I am in cyclic dependency hell. To get my passwords, I need my 2FA. To get my 2FA, I need my passwords.

    It’s a one-in-a-million story, and one that’s hard to take into account in system design.

    This is where we reach the limits of the “Code Is Law” movement.

    In the boring analogue world—I am pretty sure that I’d be able to convince a human that I am who I say I am. And, thus, get access to my accounts. I may have to go to court to force a company to give me access back, but it is possible .

    But when things are secured by an unassailable algorithm—I am out of luck. No amount of pleading will let me without the correct credentials. The company which provides my password manager simply doesn’t have access to my passwords. There is no-one to convince. Code is law.

    Of course, if I can wangle my way past security, an evil-doer could also do so.

    So which is the bigger risk?

    • An impersonator who convinces a service provider that they are me?
    • A malicious insider who works for a service provider?
    • Me permanently losing access to all of my identifiers?

    I don’t know the answer to that.

    Those risks are in the order of most common to least common, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in risk order. They probably are, but then we’re left with no good way to handle someone who has lost all their digital credentials—computer, phone, backup, hardware token, wallet with ID cards—in a catastrophic house fire.

    I want to remind readers that this isn’t a true story. It didn’t actually happen. It’s a thought experiment.