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March 17, 2008

Are Your Digital Devices Certified Pre-0wned?

I took part in the L0pht Reunion Panel at the Source Boston conference in Cambridge, MA last Friday. It was a lot of fun to get back together with the "band" and pontificate with no holds barred about the latest security threats, just like we did in the old days.

One of the questions asked of the panel by moderator Michael Fitzgerald (who did a kick-ass job) was, "What scares you the most these days?". My answer was the proliferation of of inexpensive digital devices made in China that we plug into our computers. The malware problem is getting tricky to dodge. First you couldn't open email attachments you weren't expecting. Then you had to worry about surfing even trusted websites with JavaScript turned on, even with the latest patched browsers. Now you have to worry about plugging in the shiny new digital toy you got as a gift. Perhaps its a digital picture frame, digital camera, music player or silly programmable gizmo. Welcome to the age of factory installed malware --the age of devices coming Certified Pre-0wned.

The Associated Press writes:

Recent cases reviewed by The Associated Press include some of the most widely used tech devices: Apple iPods, digital picture frames sold by Target and Best Buy stores and TomTom navigation gear.

In most cases, Chinese factories — where many companies have turned to keep prices low — are the source.

We all know malware is starting to fly under the radar of black list style detection. Low volume malware is flooding the AV labs' capability to build detection for it. The digital picture frame sold at Sam's club was infected with previously unknown malware that stole passwords and turned off AV software.

An additional threat that has been reported is devices have been found infecting the flash memory cards that are often inserted to upload photos. From SANS:

“Recently I found a virus on it called Troj_Agent.SAO, which is what Trend Micro named it.Anytime you plug a removable device into it, it would create two files Autorun.inf and autorun.exe.The exe would place itself in the recyclerrecycler folder and the .inf would place itself on the root of the removable drive as a hidden file.At first I thought this virus came in on one of our employee’s pen drive but after further investigation I discovered that the files that the virus uses were created on the kiosk the day it was shipped out to us.Also our vendor is using this kiosk in some of their stores at the moment and there have been reports that the kiosks have given their customers a virus. “

We are back to the days of the floppy or "sneaker net" attack vector. Do you know who has touched your SD card or USB drive? Don't use it in public. Don't share it with multiple machines. Dan Geer told me he once tossed a USB drive into an audience with the slides for a presentation he just delivered on it. About 10 people passed it around and copied off the slides. It came back with a virus on it. And this was at a security conference.

Veracode Security Solutions


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Chris Wysopal, co-founder and CTO of Veracode, is recognized as an expert and a well-known speaker in the information security field. He has given keynotes at computer security events and has testified on Capitol Hill on the subjects of government computer security and how vulnerabilities are discovered in software. His opinions on Internet security are highly sought after and most major print and media outlets have featured stories on Mr. Wysopal and his work. At Veracode, Mr. Wysopal is responsible for the security analysis capabilities of Veracode technology.

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