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Growing support for open security standards in Switzerland

Open security standards are essential for a secure and resilient Internet in Switzerland and protect the privacy of Swiss Internet users. The adoption rate for Internet security standards like DNSSEC, DANE and DMARC in Switzerland is still low compared to the leading countries in Europe, but there is more and more support from the Internet industry, authorities and not for profit organizations in Switzerland.

Why are open security standards so important?

The implementation of open security standards that come out of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), reduce the attack surface of the domain/service owner. But even more important, a growing implementation rate reduces the attack surface of the internet as a whole and makes the life of cyber criminals and state actors more challenging. Open security standards provide different mechanisms to secure our communication on the internet, most important encryption and authentication. Encryption keeps our communication on the internet confidential and prevents third parties from reading our emails and tracking on which web sites users spend their time. Authentication allows us to identify and authenticate our communications partners, it makes sure that we are not on a fake website or send emails or our login credentials to a rogue email server. Continue reading


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The Mai/June 2020 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:

  • The coronavirus: a blessing for some, a curse for others – where is IT security at with contactless payment?
  • You’ve got mail (and malware too) – serious security gap in Apple’s Mail app on iPads and iPhones now closed
  • Everything must go – ‘Shade’ hackers ‘shut down’ and publish hundreds of thousands of decryption keys
  • Swiss users targeted by cybercriminals
  • Elite targets – ETH supercomputers Euler and Leonhard (and more) hacked

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the English report.     »»  Download the German report.


The March/April 2020 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:

  • The coronavirus has company – a pandemic of computer viruses
  • The ten most important rules for working securely from home
  • Online meetings – how secure are Cisco Webex and Zoom?
  • For real? Ransomware gangs develop a ‘code of honour’ in the coronavirus pandemic

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the English report.     »»  Download the German report.


100’000 .ch domain names are secured with DNSSEC!

Imagine you want to visit your online banking website «www.example-bank.ch». Now, instead of getting the correct IP address your computer gets manipulated information and connects you to a website that is owned by a criminal. You wouldn’t notice but disclose your online banking credentials to the attacker.

Luckily, DNSSEC is here to help. The extension of DNS protects you from being misled and helps you reach exactly the address you typed into your browser. A complex cryptographic process makes sure, that you’re always at the right place.

100’000 .ch domain names are signed with DNSSEC

In late December 2019 the .ch zone achieved a milestone with 100’000 DNSSEC secured domains. DNSSEC adds digital signatures to DNS answers and helps to mitigate attacks on DNS name resolution.

The percentage of .ch domain names that are signed is still below 5%, but is rising thanks to a few registrars like Infomaniak, OVH, Firestorm and netzone that sign domain names for their customers by default. The number of DNSSEC signed .ch domain names rose  54% from 1.1.2019 to 1.1.2020.

By January 1st 2020 the .ch zone contained 100’065 domain names that are secured with DNSSEC

Top .ch domain names are just average regarding domain name security

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DNSSEC Usage in Switzerland is on the rise after widespread attacks on the Domain Name System

Attacks on the DNS System

Cyber attacks on the DNS system are not new. Cache poisoning, Domain Hijacking and BGP injections of routes to public DNS resolvers happen regularly, but they usually don’t get much attention as they target the Internet’s core infrastructure and are not directly visible to end users in most cases. This time it was different. The recent widespread DNS hijacking attacks on several Mid East, North African and European and North American governments and infrastructure providers, published by Ciscos Talos showed that DNS attacks are a real threat to cyber security. Netnod, one of the affected infrastructure providers issued a statement, that called, amongst other domain security mechanisms, for the implementation of the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC).

The analysis of these attacks also convinced the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that there is an ongoing and significant risk to key parts of the System (DNS) infrastructure. ICANN issued a call for “Full DNSSEC Deployment to Protect the Internet” across all unsecured domain names.

The question is if  these attacks and the awareness that DNSSEC is an absolute essential base layer protection for domain names had some effects on the Implementation of DNSSEC Switzerland?

More DNSSEC signed domain names

As a ccTLD operator SWITCH publishes the number of DNSSEC signed .ch and .li domain names every month. While the number of signed domain names is still very low at around 3-4% we see a rise in the numbers of signed domain names for two years now.

DNSSEC signed .ch domain names 1.4.2019

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The January/February 2019 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:

  • Company networks at serious risk: recent waves of malspam have been spreading the multifunctional trojan Emotet, targeting Windows devices in particular
  • Phishing, porn, data theft: rogue apps appearing as a new and harmful type of ‘non-sellers’ on Google Play and other app stores
  • Spy Time now also available for Apple devices – Serious security vulnerabilities allow outsiders to eavesdrop on FaceTime conversations and steal passwords from Keychain in MacOS
  • Alexa home alone, nuclear attack via Nest and a new password law in California – what happens when IoT gadgets run amok?

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.

Mobile Malware


Rogue Mobile App

Rogue mobile apps are counterfeit apps designed to mimic trusted brands or apps with non-advertised malicious features. In both cases, the goal is that unaware users install the app in order to steal sensitive information such as credit card data or login credentials.

The common way to install apps is to use the official app store. By default, neither Android nor Apple’s iPhone allow users to install apps from unknown sources. However, this does not mean we can just trust the official app store. SWITCH-CERT has been monitoring Apple’s App Store and Google Play for some time and noticed that many rogue apps are able to sneak into Google Play especially.

Google Play

Attackers are abusing the weak app testing procedure of Google to sneak their rogue apps into Google Play. One can find counterfeit apps of Swiss brands on a regular basis. Typically, the apps reside on Google Play for some time until it is removed because of take down requests from security researchers. Until that happens, unaware users are likely to install such apps and put their data at risk.

The screenshot below shows apps found when searching for Bluewin. During the last months, Bluewin has been a common target for rogue counterfeit apps. The red circle indicates the rogue app.

Play Store result for the search key word “Bluewin”

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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:

  • 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.


Safer Internet

Anna is the director of a small kindergarten in Zurich. To give the kindergarten a home on the Internet, she registered a domain name and put up a website where parents can get up-to-date information about the kindergarten. A friend helped her to install a popular open-source content management system (CMS) for the website, so that she can change the menu every week and perform other updates herself. The parents of the kids were delighted to have access to this information online.

Three months after the website went online, one of the parents called her, telling her that the website was no longer available, and a warning was displayed instead. He also told her that he had a virus on his home PC and had to reinstall his operating system and change all his Internet passwords. When she talked to other parents that day, they told her the same.

What happened? Continue reading


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So Long, and Thanks for All the Domains

While Trojans like Dyre and Dridex are dominating malware-related news, we take the time to have a closer look at Tinba (Tiny Banker, Zusy, Illi), yet another Trojan which targets Windows users. In the first part of this post, we give a short historical review, followed by hints about how to detect (and remove) this threat on an infected system. In the second part, we have a look at a portion of the Trojan’s code which enhances its communication resilience, and how we can leverage these properties for defensive purposes.

Tinba is a fine piece of work, initially purely written in assembly. CSIS discovered it back in May 2012, and it contained WebInject capability and rootkit functionality in a binary of just 20 KB. The source code of Tinba leaked in July 2014, helping bad guys to create their own, extended versions.

Tinba Rootkit ZwQueryDirectoryFile

The source code of Tinba leaked in July 2014. Shown are some preparations to hook ZwQueryDirectoryFile.

Tinba on steroids was discovered in September 2014. Two main features are worth noting: First, each binary comes with a public key to check incoming control messages for authenticity and integrity. Second, there is a domain generation algorithm (DGA), which we will discuss later. In October 2014, Tinba entered Switzerland, mainly to phish for credit card information.

Tinba Inject

Tinba tried to phish credit card information.

Like other commodity Trojans, Tinba checks whether it is running in a virtual machine/sandboxed environment by checking the hard-disk size or looking for user interaction. According to abuse.ch, there was an intense distribution of Tinba in Switzerland early this year. Such spam campaigns can happen again at any time, so it is of use to know how to detect Tinba on an infected system and remove it.

Even though Tinba has the ability to hide directories and files (rootkit functionality), cybercriminals were wondering why they should bother using it. Why not simply hide directories and files with the “hidden” flag, which works for most users? Thus, it is relatively simple for a computer-savvy user to remove this version of Tinba from an infected (see instructions below).

Tinba Directory Hidden

A randomly named directory, which contains the Trojan itself, can be hidden by setting its attributes to “hidden”.

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Protect your network with DNS Firewall

If you run your own mail server, you will quickly find out that 90% of the e-mails you receive are spam. The solution to this problem is e-mail filtering, which rejects or deletes unwanted spam. This solution is generally well accepted, and most users would not want the old days back when your inbox was filled with scams. Those people who want spam can also work around it by disabling spam filtering for their e-mail address or opting to run their own mail server.

Spam, scammers and other malicious abuse are not unique to e-mail. One possible approach is to invent a filtering technology for every protocol or service and allow the service owners to block misuse according to their policy. On the other hand, most services on the Internet make use of the Domain Name System (DNS). If you control DNS name resolution for your organisation, you can filter out the bad stuff the same way you filter out spam on e-mail. The difference and the advantage of DNS is that DNS filtering is independent of the service you use.

Back in 2010, ISC and Paul Vixie invented a technology called Response Policy Zones (RPZ) (See CircleID Post Taking back the DNS). While it has always been possible to block certain domain names from being resolved on your DNS resolver, adding host names manually as an authoritative zone does not scale.

(Illustration Christoph Frei)

(Illustration Christoph Frei)

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Drive-by code and Phishing on Swiss websites in 2014

In 2014, about 1,800 Swiss websites were cleaned from drive-by code, compared with 2,700 in 2013, a decline of 33%. At the same time, the number of phishing cases affecting .ch and .li top-level domains rose from only a handful in 2013 to more than 300.

Drive-by code on Swiss websites in 2014

Last year, 35,796 suspicious drive-by URLs in the .ch and .li top-level domains were reported to SWITCH. Security experts from SWITCH-CERT automatically sent requests to these servers and analysed the responses, looking for malicious code injected into the HTML source code. When an expert identified malicious code, the registrar or domain name holder and the web hoster were notified and asked to remove it within one working day. This was done for 1,839 domain names in 2014. In 1,493 (81%) cases, the code was removed by the web hoster or domain holder within one day. For the other 346 domains, the deadline was not met, and the domain name was temporarily suspended to prevent further damage to website visitors. Some 264 (14%) of the infected websites were cleaned of malicious code, with the remaining 82 domain names having to be reactivated after five days, the maximum suspension time by law. A request for identification was sent to the holders of all 82 domains, resulting in an additional 59 (3.2%) of websites being cleaned. A total of 23 (1.3% of all notified) domain names were deleted after 30 days because the domain holder failed to respond to the identification request.

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Compromised .ch and .li websites used for drive-by infections by quarter

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A look at a phishing website

Yesterday we came across a phishing website under .ch where we were able to download the phishing kit. A phishing kit is an archive file which contains all the relevant files for hosting a phishing website. In this case, the archive contained some static HTML, JS and image files for hosting the phishing form, but also a PHP file for sending the data to the perpetrator, and – most interestingly –an .htaccess file. The .htaccess file is a configuration file used by some popular web servers, which allows the user of a website to override a subset of the server’s global configuration for the directory that the file is located in and all its sub-directories.

A phishing website is frequently only accessible from the targeted country. In our case, this was controlled by the .htaccess file which contained a large list of IP address ranges from where it is allowed to access the site. As an incident handler, we often get reports of malicious websites that we cannot verify with IP addresses from Swiss ISPs. An unwary user might think that the phishing website has already been taken down, but that is not the case. The user is just not allowed to access the phishing website from its IP address.

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Swiss economy makes online security its priority

Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world. To make also the Internet a secure place in Switzerland, the Swiss online economy has started the Swiss Internet Security Alliance (SISA). The goal of the alliance is to make Switzerland the “cleanest” Internet country in the world! The organization launched an online security check today which allows internet users to clean and protect their systems.

Offering more security
The founding of the Swiss Internet Security Alliance is a sign of its members’ commitment to making the Internet a secure place in Switzerland. The association brings together expert knowledge from representatives of various sectors and promotes information-sharing amongst competitors.

Overcoming challenges together
The Swiss Internet Security Alliance focuses on its main assets – the knowledge, experience and technical expertise of its members. Its members asut, Centralway, credit suisse, cyscon Schweiz, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hostpoint, Migros Bank, PostFinance, Raiffeisen, Sunrise, Swisscard, Swisscom, SWITCH, UBS, upc cablecom and Viseca have longstanding experience in dealing with online security.  The association is open to other interested parties. More information can be found in the press release:

https://www.switch.ch/about/news/2014/sisa.html

Comprehensive security check
Upon founding the association, the Swiss Internet Security Alliance is launching a security check. The Swiss Security Check provides protection on three levels.

  1. Users with outdated or incorrectly configured software who are therefore subject to a security risk, will find this out within seconds.
  2. If there is suspicion of malware, the malware cleaner helps with the diagnosis and resolution of the problems.
  3. A cyber vaccine completes the protection and keeps electronic pests at bay.

 

The Swiss Security Check is free and can be accessed here:
http://www.swiss-isa.ch

 

Please follow @swiss_isa on Twitter!

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IT-Security-Links #58