Walled Garden Fail

Mailbox is a very popular replacement mail app for iOS that apparently auto-executes JavaScript in incoming emails, according to a post by Italian security researcher Michele Spanuolo (@MikiSpag) Jeremiah Grossman summarized it best: “XSS to account takeover.” Think about it – this app auto-executes any JavaScript received via email. Oops. I emphasize that this is not Apple’s Mail app included with iOS – it is a third-party app called Mailbox in Apple’s Apple App Store. Initially, I thought, hey, they’ll fix it soon – they just got a public report on it from Spaguolo’s blog. But Michele has updated the post – @bp_ posted this issue on Twitter in MAY. So they have been sitting on a big hole for months. This is interesting for two reasons: Apple’s App Store code analysis clearly missed it. Then again, should it have even caught it? The vulnerability doesn’t expose anything on the iOS device itself, and doesn’t violate any of the App Store rules. It also demonstrates that walled gardens, while ‘safer’, aren’t actually ‘safe’. There are entire classes of attacks that likely comply with App Store rules. Like Candy Crush, which is ruining marriages and destroying grades throughout the world. Someone needs to stop the insanity. Enterprises should make damn sure employees aren’t using these services without security vetting. Mailbox is only the start – just look at the many calendar enhancement apps out there. All these little startups use full access to your calendar, mail, contacts, reminders, and social networks to provide a more usable calendar. And almost none of them talk about security in any meaningful way. Rich has been doing some analysis here – they all fail. Mailbox is now owned by Dropbox (confirmed by the Dropbox copyright on the bottom-left of So either Dropbox didn’t do much appsec due diligence when they bought Mailbox, or they found and ignored it, and now they are on the hook and in the spotlight. A spokesperson for Mailbox said the patch for the auto-execution vulnerability is inbound by end of Wednesday (today), according to that article. It is interesting to see how software vendors react to such disclosure, but to me the more interesting aspect is the insight into what Apple’s App Store vetting misses… Share:

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Project Communications

A note on project management: One client was quite disappointed with me for not showing progress as I went along and said “Fast iteration is better than delayed perfection,” while another client was mad at me because “you’re trickling again,” – showing progress but not a finished product (a\k\a delayed perfection)… A gentle smack upside the head: ask clients how they prefer to deal with project communications! They know what they want and how they want it, and you’d better RECOGNIZE. Note from Rich: In my consulting days I always tried to feel out the client and put reporting expectations in the proposal. Makes everyone happier. Share:

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LinkedIn Rides the Two-Factor Train

Just last week we mentioned the addition of two-factor authentication at Evernote; then LinkedIn snuck a blog post on Friday, May 31st, telling the world about their new SMS authentication. We are glad to see these popular services upgrading their authentication from password-only to password and SMS. It’s not hacker-proof – there are ways to defeat two-factor – but this is much better than password-only. Here’s the skinny on the setup: Log into the LinkedIn website and on the top right, under your name, you’ll see Settings. Click that, and on the bottom left you’ll see Account. Click that to get a Privacy Controls column to the right of the Account button; at the bottom of that column is a Manage Security Settings link. Click that to go to a new screen: Security Settings. While you’re there, make sure to check the box that says “A secure connection will be used when you are browsing LinkedIn.” Below that you’ll see the new two-factor option. Turn it on, they will ask for a phone number where you can receive an SMS, and they will send an SMS. When you log in you will get a congratulatory email titled “You’ve turned on two-step verification”, which says something like this: Hi Gal, You’ve successfully turned on two-step verification for your LinkedIn account. We’ll send a verification code to phone number ending in XXXX (United States) whenever you sign in from an unrecognized device. Learn more about two-step verification. Thank you, The LinkedIn Team The link in the email takes you to this website, which is their FAQ on two-factor authentication. Note: The warning when you turn on the SMS piece is “Note: Some LinkedIn applications will not be available when you select this option.” If you’re using apps that link to LinkedIn there may be some breakage. I haven’t found any yet in the two apps I integrated. Share:

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Evernote Business Edition Doubles up on Authentication

Joining the strong(er) authentication craze (which we enthusiastically support), along with recent entrants Twitter and Amazon Web Services, Evernote is now including two-factor authentication and access logging for its business edition. Two steps in the right direction for security. I expect to see a growing trend of many more of these types of services including security features like this in their paid versions as a valuable upgrade from their freeware. Share:

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Wendy Nather abandons the CISSP—good riddance

Mood music: Abandono by Amalia Rodrigues… Wendy blogged about not renewing her CISSP. I never had one myself, but as Wendy said it is much less important if you’re not going through the cattle call HR process, which is majorly gebrochen in infosec… but that’s another post. I suppose a CISSP might be useful for people starting out in security, who need to prove that they’ve actually put in a few years at it and know the basics. It’s a handy first sorting mechanism when you’re looking to fill certain levels of positions. But by the time you’re directly recruiting people, you should know why you want them other than the fact that they’re certified. And then the letters aren’t important. My personal career path has always been about proactively sniping for work (AKA consulting – never had a “real job”) and cultivating relationships and recommendations, so the following is especially true, even though I don’t have ‘decades’ of experience: “After decades of being in IT, I no longer want to bother proving how much I know. If someone can’t figure it out by talking to me or reading my writing, then I don’t want their job. If they feel so strongly about that certification that they won’t waive it for me, then they don’t want me either, and that’s okay.” Bingo. Sometimes, with a little time and attention, you can skip the HR cattle calls altogether and talk about what’s actually important to the hiring organization, beyond the HR robo-screening. That said, the CISSP has powerful (some say disproportionate) sway over our industry’s hiring practices. As Rich and Jamie said in our chat room today, the HR process is what it is, and many HR shops bounce you in the first round if you don’t have those five magic letters… So the CISSP has ongoing value to anyone going through open application processes, where HR is doing what they do: blindly screening out the best candidates. End Music: Good Riddance (I Hope You Had The Time Of Your Life) by Green Day Share:

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Some (re)assembly required

Japanese Coast Guard ship (indirectly) sold to North Korea: “The vessel was sold in a state in which information regarding operational patterns of the patrol vessel could have been obtained by some party,” an official told the paper. “We were on low security alert at that time.” That is certainly not the case these days, with heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Japanese coast guard regularly involved in patrols around the disputed Diaoyu (Senkaku) islands. Like hardware, data has a lifecycle. Eventually you will need to dispose of the data and/or the device that stores/processes/transmits it (and these days, all the cloudy services connecting to it…). Embedded systems, from ship navigation system to “quantified self” device such as Fitbit, should be included in data lifecycle analyses when relevant, and treated as appropriate for the sensitivity of the data that could be extracted. As this story shows, sensitivity of data or business processes is not static and changes with political tensions – among other factors: It is important to periodically re-assess policies on information disposal and how sensitive information may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of devices you thought were harmless at the time. …the Coast Guard admitted that there were no policies in place to remove data recording equipment or wipe data before selling decommissioned vessels, meaning the same thing could have happened on other occasions. Oh goodie. Share:

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