Archive for May 11, 2017

UPDATE YOUR FIRMWARE: Asus RT Series Routers Have Flaws That Allow Web Hijack Exploits

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 11, 2017 by itnerd

If you have an Asus RT wireless router, then you might want to look at  CVE-2017-5891. It details that RT-AC and RT-N variants using firmware older than version can get pwned via cross-site request forgery exploit. Meaning that if the user has left the default credentials in place for whatever dumb reason, or if an attacker knows the admin password, a malicious webpage can log into the router when visited by the victim and alter settings. Then the router and by extension the network is effectively pwned. Or at least, that’s what could happen as Nightwatch Cybersecurity who are the people who discovered it explained in a post. The fact is that they were not able to exploit this flaw on a consistent basis. But he fact that is exists is reason enough for concern.

Asus has addressed the some of these issues in a March firmware update, but doesn’t consider one of Nightwatch’s other issues with this firmware which is CVE 2017-5892, to be serious enough to warrant a fix. Also include in the updated firmware are fixes for:

  • CVE-2017-6547, a cross-site scripting bug in the routers’ HTTP daemon.
  • CVE-2017-6549, a session hijack vulnerability in the HTTP daemon.
  • CVE-2017-6548, a remote code execution buffer overflow in the routers’ networkmapcommand.

Thus if you have an RT-AC or a RT-N series Asus router, you should upgrade your firmware ASAP.


Guest Post: NordVPN Has 5 Simple Rules to Stay Safe on Any WiFi Hotspot

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 11, 2017 by itnerd

The travel season is almost here. Free Wi-Fi at cafes, airports, restaurants and city streets is used by almost everyone who’s traveling – but how many people take an extra step to make sure their browsing is not only convenient, but also safe?

Last year, NordVPN (Virtual Private Network) released safety tips for public Wi-Fi, but the number of public Wi-Fi scams only seems to be increasing, showing that people still don’t treat their online security seriously. According to study, 79% of respondents still don’t use a VPN when they go on public Wi-Fi. According to NordVPN’s recent survey,  almost 35% of respondents still didn’t know such obvious rules that, for example, it was dangerous to shop online on a public network.

Most common ways that a hacker can take advantage of an unprotected Wi-Fi spot:

  1. Honeypot Wi-Fi. The most common threat is still a hacker positioning himself as a Wi-Fi hotspot – the so-called honeypot Wi-Fi. When that happens, a Wi-Fi user will be sending their information to a hacker instead to a legitimate Wi-Fi spot – and that could include credit card information, private emails, and any other sensitive information. This technique is very easy for hackers, as Wi-Fi spots rarely require authentication to establish a connection.
  2. Wireless sniffers. Hackers can be using sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network. Wireless sniffers are specifically created for capturing data on wireless networks, but are normally used by IT specialists to monitor the health of a network and diagnose problems. When a sniffer falls into a hacker’s hands, it can be easily used to monitor and decode another person’s private data.
  3. Shoulder surfing. When an Internet user finds themselves in a crowded coffee shop or an airport, there might be data thieves lurking around, who will watch over a shoulder to memorize passwords or credit card information that one enters into their device. Just as it’s important to be careful when entering a PIN number into an ATM machine, it’s important to make sure no one is looking over a shoulder when going online at a public Wi-Fi spot.

How can an Internet user protect themselves when they go online at a public hotspot?

Actually, it’s really simple – just a few easy rules need to be followed – and they will be safe on any public network.

  1. Use a VPN. The best and most effective way for any traveler to protect their data is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN service encrypts all the traffic flow between the Internet and a device thus hiding user’s IP address. Recently, VPNs have become a mainstream tool and quite a few have been remodeled to be very user-friendly. For example, with NordVPN users only have to turn to ON button, and they will be connected. The app (for Windows, Android, Mac or iOS) will then choose the fastest server to connect to. It’s also important to be aware of free VPNs that typically rely on third party advertisers to cover the costs. In addition to protecting one’s online activities, a VPN will also help access banned sites in a different country (such as Facebook in Vietnam or Wikipedia in Turkey).
  2. Use a firewall. It’s important to make sure firewall is turned on before going online, especially on a public Wi-Fi spot.
  3. Disallow automatic wireless network connection. Make sure automatic wireless connection are not turned on, and Wi-Fi is turned off when it’s not being used – this will prevent hackers from automatically connecting to one’s device.
  4. Sharing settings should NOT be Public. To prevent anyone from finding and accessing one’s device, it’s important to make sure System’s Settings are not set to Public sharing.
  5. Be vigilant. It’s always important to know who’s around to avoid shoulder surfing or any other suspicious activities.

Are HP Laptops Spying On You?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 11, 2017 by itnerd

Security firm Modzero has put up a blog post that should concern any company that uses HP laptops in their enterprise. The company says that HP has been shipping audio drivers with built-in keyloggers in some of their laptops since “at least” Christmas 2015.

Here’s the executive summary:

  • Modzero found that the audio driver package, developed and digitally signed by the audio chip manufacturer Conexant, has been poorly implemented, turning the driver “effectively into keylogging spyware.”
  • The most recent version of this software which is, implements the logging of all keystrokes into the publicly for any user readable file C:\Users\Public\MicTray.log. Now the file is overwritten at each login, but someone who is savvy enough could scoop it up before it gets overwritten which would give them a complete history of what the user was typing.

Modzero has published a full list of laptops known to be affected, which includes a range of HP EliteBook, ProBook and ZBook devices. Those are all corporate class laptops that are widely used in companies everywhere. If you’re the least bit bothered by this, you should check to see if check C:\Windows\System32\MicTray64.exe or C:\Windows\System32\MicTray.exe is on your HP laptop. If you find these files, delete them or rename them.

The good news? There seems to be no evidence that this has been exploited. Not that it really matters because the fact that this exists is pretty bad. It will be interesting to see what HP has to say about this as they haven’t commented as of yet. Stay tuned for their response.

Review: 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on May 11, 2017 by itnerd

If you’re looking for technology in the Mazda CX-5, there’s a lot of it. Some of it which is really different. Let’s start with the safety technology:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring: This system keeps an eye out for cars in your blind spots so that you don’t hit them when changing lanes. It works well as the area of detection was large enough to keep me safe, but not so large that it created false positives.
  • Lane Departure Warning With Lane Keep Assist: If you cross over into another lane, this system will buzz you on either the right or the left side. The buzz really gets your attention I must say. You can also set it to vibrate the steering wheel. However, it has one extra trick, the system will proactively guide the CX-5 back onto its intended path if the system thinks you’re getting out of shape. For what its worth, it was never overly intrusive when it did intervene.
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert: If you back out of a parking space in a busy shopping mall and you have limited visibility to your left and right, you’ll love this system as you will be warned of any cars that cross into your path.
  • Adaptive Front Lighting System and High Beam Control: I wrote about this previously and I have to admit that on some of the back roads that I drive at night, this feature came in handy. I was always able to see what was in front of me clearly. One thing that I really appreciated was the fact that the LED headlights were very bright.
  • Distance Recognition Support System: This feature measures the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead and recommends a comfortable following distance on the Active Driving Display as long as you are above 30 km/h.
  • Radar Based Cruise Control: I really liked this feature as you can set the speed you want and the distance that you want to have between yourself and the car in front of you, and you can pretty much let it slow down and speed up depending on the conditions. It’s very handy on long highway drives. One trick that it has is that it will slow the car down to a dead stop. Though you’ll have to get the CX-5 moving again once traffic starts to move.
  • Smart City Brake Support: Let’s say that you you do not react in time to a car that panic stops in front of you. This Mazda is capable of coming to a stop on it’s own, or slowing down enough to make the impact less severe. You can get more details on this system here.
  • Rear Backup Camera: The camera is a fisheye camera that has an impressive degree of clarity. You can see anything and everything that is behind you when you’re backing up. One thing to note is that the camera is exposed, so it may become a dirt magnet that will affect what you can see.
  • Mazda Active Driving Display: This feature projects vehicle speed, chosen cruise-control speed, information from the navigation system (including turn-by-turn directions, distance and lane guidance) as well as notifications for the blind spot monitoring system, lane departure warning system, and road signs onto the windscreen. All of this information is within the line of sight of the driver, which means you never have to look away from the road. That’s why I consider it to be a piece of safety tech. Once I tweaked the position of the display, I found it to be extremely useful.
  • You get anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution. Plus you get hill launch assist which keeps you from rolling backwards when you’re on a hill.
  • Finally, you get dual front air bags, dual front side air bags and dual side air curtains.

The best piece of technology that is in the Mazda CX-5 is the inclusion of Mazda Connect. The combination of the 7″ touchscreen  and the HMI (Human Machine Interface) Commander Switch gives the driver a easy to learn, easy to use infotainment system. I wrote about it in detail here and this iteration seems to be a bit faster than I have found it to be in the past. Another note is that the screen looks extremely sharp and vibrant. Clearly they’ve upgraded it.

The Mazda CX-5 has a 10 speaker Bose sound system that I have to admit that regardless where in the CX-5 I happened to be sitting, the sound was excellent as the highs and lows were perfect and the audio was well balanced. Phone calls were clear on both ends of the conversation as well. I should note that there is no CD player in the CX-5, but I don’t think you’ll miss it. Speaking of missing, my wife pointed out that there are no backup sensors which give you audio cues of how close you are to an object when you are backing up. I have to admit that she might have a bit of a point there as many of the vehicles that the CX-5 competes against includes this feature.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my final verdict. Watch for it on Friday.