Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hackers Escape VMware Virtual Machine Isolation at Pwn2Own 2017

By: Sean Michael Kerner | March 20, 2017

Hackers find 51 vulnerabilities, including a series of virtualization hypervisor exploits, earning themselves $823,000 in prizes at Pwn2Own 2017.

Virtualization hypervisor technology is supposed to isolate virtual machines from the underlying operating system. Yet on the final day of the 10th anniversary Pwn2Own hacking challenge on March 17, two teams of security researchers—360 Security and Tencent Security Team Sniper—were each able to escape the security isolation that virtualization is supposed to provide.

The three-day Pwn2Own 2017 event, which was once again held at the CanSecWest Conference in Vancouver, was run by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI), which pays security researchers for responsibly disclosing zero-day vulnerabilities. In total, Trend Micro awarded researchers $823,000 in prize money, with $233,000 awarded on the first day, $340,000 on the second day, and $250,000 on the third and final day of the event.

As was the case with most of the high-level exploits demonstrated at Pwn2Own 2017, the hypervisor exploit put together by 360 Security was not a single vulnerability. Rather, the researchers chained together three different vulnerabilities to exploit their target.

The first flaw used by 360 Security in the hypervisor escape was a memory heap overflow vulnerability in Microsoft's Edge web browser. The browser flaw was accompanied by a type confusion vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows kernel. The Edge and Windows vulnerabilities alone, however, weren't enough to escape the confines of the VMware Workstation hypervisor isolation. The 360 Security researchers also had to include a zero-day uninitialized buffer vulnerability in VMware Workstation to successfully execute the virtual machine escape.

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"They won't say exactly how long the research took them, but the code demonstration needed only 90 seconds," ZDI wrote in a blog post explaining the exploit.

The 360 Security researchers were not the only team that was able to escape the virtualization hypervisor. Tencent Security Team Sniper took direct aim at VMware Workstation and was also able to successfully escape a guest virtual machine to attack the underlying host operating system with an entirely different set of vulnerabilities than what 360 Security demonstrated.

Tencent Security Team Sniper also had three vulnerabilities in its virtualization hypervisor exploit chain. The first vulnerability was a use-after-fee memory vulnerability in the Windows operating system kernel. The second vulnerability in the exploit chain was a VMware Workstation information leakage flaw. Tying them together was an uninitialized buffer vulnerability in VMware Workstation that enabled the Team Sniper researchers to escape from the guest virtual machine to attach the host system. For its efforts, Team Sniper was awarded $100,000.

A Microsoft Edge web browser exploit was the only other flaw successfully demonstrated on the final day of Pwn2Own 2017. Researcher Richard Zhu was able to chain together three vulnerabilities, including a pair of use-after-free flaws in Edge and a buffer overflow in Windows, to earn himself a $55,000 award.

Overall at the three-day event, 51 different security bugs were reported to ZDI across Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Edge, Adobe Reader, Apple Safari, Apple macOS, Ubuntu Linux, Mozilla Firefox and VMware Workstation applications. In contrast, at the Pwn2Own 2016 event (which was only two days), there were 21 vulnerabilities reported to ZDI, with a grand total of $460,000 in prize money awarded.

What Pwn2Own 2017 has demonstrated as an event is that once again, despite the best efforts and intentions of software vendors, zero-day vulnerabilities remain an issue.

Bill Gates has once again topped the list of world’s richest in Forbes magazine

BILL GATESBill Gates has once again topped the list of world’s richest in Forbes magazine

(Image: Reuters)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once again topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s richest billionaires, while US President Donald Trump slipped more than 200 spots, the magazine said Monday. Gates, whose wealth is estimated at $86 billion, led the list for the fourth straight year.
He was followed by Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett among the top 10 billionaires, a group heavily dominated by Americans, many of whom work in the technology sector. Buffett’s wealth was estimated at $75.6 billion. Others in the top 10 included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at number three, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg at number five and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison at number seven.
The global billionaire population jumped 13% from last year to 2,043, the biggest annual increase in the 31 years since the magazine began compiling the list, Forbes said. The US led countries with the most billionaires with 565, a product of the swelling value of the American stock market since Trump’s November 2016 election. China was second with 319 billionaires, and Germany was third with 114.
Trump himself slipped 220 spots on the list to number 544 with an estimated $3.5 billion. Forbes attributed Trump’s drop to sluggishness in the Manhattan real estate market which is responsible for a disproportionate amount of his wealth. “Forty percent of Donald Trump’s fortune is tied up in Trump Tower and eight buildings within one mile of it,” Forbes said. “Lately, the neighborhood has been struggling (relatively speaking).”
Among others in the Forbes top 10, Amancio Ortega of Spanish apparel chain Zara was fourth, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim was sixth, the Koch brothers, Charles and David, were eighth and ninth and former New York City mayor and Bloomberg News founder Michael Bloomberg was 10th. This year it took at least $3.7 billion in wealth to make it onto the list, but only in a tie for 501th place, a group that included Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

Donald Trump has finally given up his old, unsecured Android phone; he’s now on an iPhone

Donald Trump has finally given up his old, unsecured Android phone; he’s now on an iPhone

Getty Images
If nothing else, US President Donald Trump is a prolific tweeter. With over 30,000 tweets to his name, it’s hard to see him as anything less.
So far, Trump’s tweet-machine of choice has been an Android phone, one that he’s held onto even after taking over as the President of the United States (Potus). The problem with using an Android phone as Potus is that Android is not actually a very secure operating system, as far as presidents are concerned at least.
If Trump was using a modern Android phone, chances are that the device would still be relatively secure, but no. Trump being Trump, he’s been using an ancient Samsung Galaxy S3 since the time he took office. That phone hasn’t received software updates in years. Anonymous even published a very simple guide to hacking Trump’s phone.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama used a specially modified iPhone while he was Potus and Trump was expected to do the same. We’re not sure why or how Trump was allowed to use his beloved Tweet machine for so long, but whatever the case, it appears that he’s finally made the switch.
As The Guardian notes, Trump’s Twitter handle has been tweeting from an iPhone app since at least 8 March.
As The Guardian also notes, Trump’s aides do tweet from the President’s handle from time to time as well, but they tend to use iPhones. As such, observers would attribute every tweet made using an Android device to Donald Trump and the rest to his aides. Now that distinction will be less clear.
Of course, it’s also possible that Trump has, as unthinkable as it may sound, relinquished tweeting rights to his aides.

Soon you can get e-tattoos that will help you control your smartphone using your skin

Scientists have developed ultrathin temporary electronic tattoos which can turn skin blemishes and wrinkles into touch-sensitive buttons for controlling your smartphone. Researchers, including those from Saarland University in Germany, used conductive ink to print wires and electrodes on temporary tattoo paper.
The tattoos, called SkinMarks, are thinner than the width of a human hair. These tattoos are transferred onto the skin using water and last a couple of days before rubbing off, ‘New scientist’ reported. “People intuitively know the location of their own bumps and birthmarks, which makes them ideal locations for touch-sensitive buttons”, said Martin Weigel of Saarland University.
“You could adjust your smartphone volume by sliding one finger across a tattoo placed along the side of another finger. Bend the tattooed finger, and the volume slider could become a play and pause button,” researchers said.
Similarly, tattoos on the knuckles could act as four distinct buttons when the hand is making a fist but then function as one long slider when the fingers are extended. “We make use of the elastic properties of the skin, including bending and stretching,” said Juergen Steimle of Saarland University. “By having the tattoos responsive to changes in the skin surface, they incorporate multiple commands at one location,” he added.

European Commission asks Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to comply with EU consumer rules

European Commission asks Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to comply with EU consumer rules
Image Credits: Reuters
Media reports last week indicated that the European Commission was on the verge of making social networks amend their terms of service to comply with European Union (EU) regulations. EU consumer authorities and the European Commission have met with the representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss proposed solutions.
The European Commission has given the companies one month to finalise their proposals, after which the authorities will review them. The companies stand to face enforcement action if the final proposals are not satisfactory.
The companies have agreed to amend unfair terms of service, as well as take measures to protect consumers from frauds and scams that are perpetrated through the social networks. The social networks have been directed to ensure that the users can sue the companies in their respective states of residence, and it is illegal for the terms of service to deprive users of the right to take the companies to court. The social media companies also cannot deprive users of mandatory rights, such as the right to withdraw from an online purchase.
Social media companies cannot totally exclude themselves from the liability of providing adequate performance of the service. Sponsored content has to be easily identifiable as such, and cannot be hidden. The companies cannot change the terms of service without giving a notice period to users to withdraw from the contract if they choose to, and without providing clear reasoning behind the changes. The social media companies cannot have complete discretionary powers on the removal of content.
The social networks have been ordered to establish a direct channel of communication with consumer protection authorities. The channel will be used to alert the social networks of scams and frauds on the networks. The networks are required to pull down such content as and when they become aware of the misleading content.
Misleading discounts, fake promotions, free apps with hidden costs, are some of the kinds of content that the EU wants to protect its users from. Sale of counterfeit products through social networks has also been banned.

New press images of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in ‘Black Sky’, ‘Orchid Grey’ and ‘Arctic Silver’ leak

New press images of Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ in ‘Black Sky’, ‘Orchid Grey’ and ‘Arctic Silver’ leak

Image Credit: Reuters
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus leaks are coming out at a constant pace with no signs of slowing down. Latest leaks involve new press images posted by prolific tipster Evan Blass on Twitter. The new photos show how Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will look like in the three colour variants, ‘Black Sky’, ‘Orchid Grey, and Arctic Silver. This is not the first time that we have seen the photos of the upcoming flagship but this is the first time we are seeing images of other colour variants in renders.
According to previous leaks, the standard Galaxy S8 would feature a 5.8-inch screen while the larger smartphone tagged as the Galaxy S8+ would come with a 6.2-inch display. Both displays would feature a WQHD+ resolution of 2,960 x 2,400 pixels and would also come with dual-edge curved displays.
Coming to the batteries, the S8 features a 3,000mAh unit while the bigger S8+ would feature a 3,500mAh unit. Other details are to do with availability. Ming-Chi Kuo has revealed that users in the United States, Japan and China will get the Galaxy S8 smartphones that are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, while the European and Asian markets would get the Exynos 8895 chipset. Higher 6GB RAM versions are expected to only be available in South Korea and China and not in the international variants of the smartphones. The standard versions are to come with 4GB RAM.
Additionally, Samsung is not going in for a dual lens, dual ISP format either. According to Kuo, Samsung thinks that the current day dual-camera ISP design is “immature” so both the S8 and S8+ will arrive with 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front-facing unit. As previously reported, the company may add a rear camera with embedded DRAM that can allow slow-mo recording up to 1000 frames per second.
This is not the first time that a smartphone is equipped with embedded DRAM in the rear camera, as Sony has been using this in their cameras and other products. Sony launched its flagship Sony Xperia XZ Premium with the same embedded DRAM technology giving it the ability to shoot slow motion video up to 960 frames per second.
Last but not the least, Kuo also claims that a new Type-C USB port (not present on the current model) will also allow the smartphone to be used in ‘Desktop Mode’. The Dex feature is supposed to offer a Windows Continuum like experience, that will let the user connect the phone to a display and use a mouse a keyboard emulating a desktop experience.

Apple iPad Pro 2 series to release soon, say reports: Here’s all we know so far

Apple iPad Pro 2 series to release soon, say reports: Here’s all we know so far
Apple generally has an event at the start of spring – somewhere in March to April time frame. MacRumors suggests that an Apple event is on its way, which is going to happen sometime this week. This makes sense too, as last year the iPad Pro 9.7-inch was introduced on 21 March. According to the publication, the rumoured launch comes from reputable supply chain analysts and a possibility of an early April event is also on the cards.
According to a report in Inquisitr, the Apple iPad Pro 2 is set to launch soon, in not one, but four different variants. Online speculations hint at display sizes such as 9.7-inch, 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch for the iPad Pro 2. International media hasn’t received any invite to any Apple event yet, so an exact date is not known. So this may mean that the event is scheduled in April, as there is at least a 10-day gap between the invite-sent date and an Apple event. Inquisitr even hints that the iPad Pro 2 launch could happen via just a press release and not an actual event.
9To5Mac hints that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro 2 model will come with an improved skin with True Tone technology. This technology basically gives the iPad the smarts to automatically adjust its colour temperature based on the surroundings. This variant of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to sport the same Apple A9X chipset as the iPad Air 2.
The Apple iPad Pro 2 with the 10.5-inch display will be something new, as it is a display size that Apple hasn’t sold before. According to 9To5Mac, the 10.5-inch model will have extremely thin bezels, which means that it will have the same footprint as that of the 9.7-inch model, but with a much larger display real estate. It is also expected to come with a virtual Home button. It will also come with an LCD panel and not an OLED panel as was previously rumoured. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is expected to be housing an Apple A10X chipset, which is an improved variant of the A10 chipset seen in the iPhone 7.
The regular upgrade to the iPad Pro in the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch display sizes are expected to sport the same Apple A10X chipset as the 10.5-inch variant. As usual both these models will support the Apple Pencil Stylus as well. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 is most likely going to get the 12MP rear camera as well as True Tone technology which is present in the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro model.
All these are speculations, so we will have to wait till Apple announces actual event dates.

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series unveiled for data centers

Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series unveiled for data centers

Intel has unveiled a fast and responsive solid state drive for data centers. The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X Series is designed to boost scale per server and accelerate applications.
The solid state drive provides industry leading capabilities such as high throughput, low latency, high endurance and a high quality of service. The Optane series of Solid State Drives by Intel offers good performance at low queue depth.
The drives remain responsive even under heavy load, and consistently delivers highly predictable and fast service. The drives will allow data center operators to increase the capacity of the same data centers. The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X expands the reach of cloud computing solutions, and is designed to be used for emerging applications such as artificial intelligence, electronic trading, machine learning and medical scans.
The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X with Intel Memory Drive Technology increases the size of memory pools, or allows a portion of the DRAM to be displaced. The drive is designed to seamlessly integrate into the memory subsystems and presents itself as DRAM to the operating system.
The drives are available immediately to Intel customers in the early ship program. More variants, in terms of capacity and form factors are expected to be available from the second half of 2017.

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