SWITCH Security-Blog

SWITCH-CERT IT-Security Blog


A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Meltdown and Spectre: security meltdown directly from the processor
  • Leaks, fakes and cryptocurrency hacks: business models of a different kind
  • Italianitá in the smartphone – state trojan monitors smartphone users
  • Kaspersky shut out of Lithuania as well
  • Strava leaks – fitness secrets of a different kind

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.


A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Dresscode for apps in the Google Play Store: malicious
  • Quad9 – does it offer a data protection-friendly alternative to Google DNS?
  • Uber’s customer and driver data on a highway to the Dark Net
  • An earful of espionage: when headphones become listening devices

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.


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Breaking security controls using subdomain hijacking

Users obtain a domain name to establish a unique identity on the Internet. Domain names are not only used to serve names and addresses of computers and services but also to store security controls, such as SPF or CAA records. Many of the Internet protocols were designed at a time where built-in security was not a requirement. The IETF continues to standardize protocol extensions to address today’s security needs.

For some protocols security is added with controls stored in your domain names zone file. In order to have the desired effect, the pre-condition is of course that your domain name is secure. In other words, the security of your application that makes use of controls in DNS is only as secure as the security of your domain name.

Hijacking a domain name because of weak credentials at the registrar may get the job done but this is far from stealthy and will likely not last long. In many cases it is sufficient to hijack an abandoned subdomain. Taking over abandoned subdomains may be unnoticed by the owner for a very long period of time making it also very useful for targeted attacks.

Picture 1: update.ft.com has been hijacked and the content from the ft.com front page is mirrored with a fake article about subdomain hijacking. Note: the website is not online anymore, Financial Times has been notified to remove the abandoned record from their zone file. A Certificate Transparency (CT) log proves that a TLS certificate has been issued for this demo site.

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A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Attack of the digital dolphins: hacking Alexa, Siri and their friends via ultrasound
  • The anti-antivirus programme: US government bans agencies from installing Kaspersky software on their computers
  • A hack of ‘epic proportions’ at Equifax
  • Science fiction 4.0 – how to hack a computer with a drop of saliva

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Family business: Petya and its derivatives sweep over half the world as a new wave of ransomware
  • Pay a ransom for your privacy: new «extortionware» exposes its victims
  • Positive use of metadata – Cisco can detect malware activity even in encrypted network traffic
  • Successful strike against the darknet drug and weapons trade – security services bust AlphaBay and Hansa

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


The December 2016 issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our monthly SWITCH Security Report has just been released.

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Power and cybercrime – massive quantities of user data stolen in two recent hacks
  • When supposed security add-ons actually spy on your browsing habits
  • Mirai part II – botnet knocks out 900,000 Telekom routers
  • It’s not all bad news – Avalanche botnet taken down

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


An attachment that wasn’t there

By Slavo Greminger and Oli Schacher

On a daily basis we collect tons of Spam emails, which we analyze for malicious content. Of course, this is not done manually by our thousands of minions, but automated using some Python-fu. Python is a programming language that comes with many libraries, making it easy for us to quickly perform such tasks.

Python’s email library deals with, well, emails. And it does it well. But on October 3rd, we encountered an attachment that wasn’t there – at least according to Python’s email library.

Mal-formatted email

Left: Outlook Web does not show the attachment          Right: Thunderbird does show the attachment

Now how could that happen?

Emails do have a certain structure, which is described nicely in RFC #822, RFC #2822, RFC #5322, RFC #2045, RFC #2046, RFC #2047, RFC #2049, RFC #2231, RFC #4288 and RFC #4289. Even though these RFC’s are clear in their own way, an illustration might help (we focus on multipart emails only) to understand why Python’s email library got fooled.

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