Security

Atlassian scrambles to fix zero-day security hole accidentally disclosed on Twitter

Exposed private cert key may also be an issue for IBM Aspera


Updated Twitter security celeb SwiftOnSecurity on Tuesday inadvertently disclosed a zero-day vulnerability affecting enterprise software biz Atlassian, a flaw that may be echoed in IBM's Aspera software.

The SwiftOnSecurity Twitter account revealed that Atlassian provided a domain that resolved to a local server with a common SSL certificate for its Confluence cloud service, to enable the Atlassian Companion app to edit files in a preferred local application and save the files back to Confluence.

Confluence connects to its companion app through the browser using the rather unwieldy domain: https://atlassian-domain-for-localhost-connections-only.com.

The problem with this arrangement is that anyone with sufficient technical knowledge could copy the SSL key and use it to conduct a man-in-the-middle attack that could allow an attacker to redirect app traffic to a malicious site.

Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy confirmed that anyone using the app could be subjected to such an attack.

As Ormandy explained, "you can just grab the private key, and nothing is stopping you resolving this domain to something other than localhost. Therefore, no guarantee that you're talking to a trusted local service and not an attacker."

SwiftOnSecurity reported the issue to Atlassian and obtained CVE-2019-15006 for the bug.

In an email to The Register, Atlassian said it's aware of the issue and is actively working to resolve it. "We have requested that the certificate be revoked, and we're evaluating whether other technical solutions are required to protect our customers," a company spokesperson said.

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In the Twitter discussion, Tim Stone, a moderator for StackApps, observed that IBM's Aspera plugin client uses a similar server scheme, local.connectme.us, for client-server communication.

According to Ormandy, that has the potential to be even worse. "There's a pre-generated CA certificate and a private key, if they add that to the system store, they're effectively disabling SSL," he wrote. "I would consider that *critical*."

There's no indication at the moment that IBM does add that certificate to its system store, according to Stone.

Nonetheless, Ormandy contends the certificate issue with local.connectme.us is real and argues the certificate should be revoked.

The Register asked IBM for comment but we've not heard back. ®

Updated to add

After the story was filed, an IBM spokesperson responded by noting that the tech giant issued a security bulletin for denial of service vulnerability affecting Aspera Connect 3.7 and 3.8 back in June. "We left the local.connectme.us in for backward compatibility while customers continue to upgrade their environments," the spinner explained.

Also, we note, the certificate for local.connectme.us has been revoked.

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AI-designed COVID-19 drug nominated for preclinical trial

Treatment could stop coronavirus from replicating inside body

An oral medication designed by scientists with the help of AI algorithms could one day treat patients with COVID-19 and other types of diseases caused by coronaviruses.

Insilico Medicine, a biotech startup based in New York, announced on Tuesday it had nominated a drug candidate for preclinical trials – the stage before you start testing it on humans.

Today's mRNA vaccines boost the body's immunity to COVID-19 by aiding the generation of antibodies capable of blocking the virus's spike protein, stopping the bio-nasty from infecting cells. The small molecule developed by Insilico, however, is used to treat people already infected, and works by preventing the coronavirus from replicating.

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ServiceNow ordered a year's worth of hardware to avoid supply chain hassles

CTO shares datacenter secrets with The Reg: NVMe, MariaDB, mid-range x86 CPUs, S3-alike, and more

The tech world's pandemic supply chain meltdown drove ServiceNow to place orders for a year worth of datacenter kit in January 2022, believing that doing so was necessary to get the hardware it needed to cope with growing customer workloads.

"Pre-COVID, I could generally get stuff in 45 days," CTO Pat Casey told The Register at ServiceNow's Knowledge 22 conference in Sydney, Australia, today.

Well-publicized coronavirus-related supply challenges caused ServiceNow's lead time for some networking kit to stretch to 160 days, while servers can take 120 days to arrive.

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Who had money on Samsung and Red Hat joining forces on next-gen memory software?

Cloudy server testbed coming, open source code filtering into RHEL promised

Samsung and Red Hat have pledged to work together on developing software to get the best from emerging memory technologies.

The Korean giant points out that a bunch of storage and memory tech – NVMe SSDs, Compute Express Link, the combination of high-bandwidth memory and processing-in-memory, and data fabrics – all need enabling software if they are to work well with the kind of demanding applications they're promised to, well, enable.

The tech is likely to be used in different tiers, while sharing memory across devices is well and truly on the agenda as part of a renewed push for composable infrastructure.

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How Intel can use its Granulate acquisition to maintain cloud dominance

Software-tuning suite could be used to show where and how Xeon trumps rivals, if customers can believe it

Analysis Intel is facing tough competition in the server CPU space, and one way it's trying to stand out — besides trying to make better chips — is its newly acquired Granulate cloud optimization software business that aims to improve application performance and reduce infrastructure costs.

The chipmaker has pitched its most recent software acquisition — which was announced in March and closed earlier this month — as a way to continuously optimize complex and older datacenter workloads for modern CPU cores without needing to make any code changes. This, according to Granulate, can help organizations reduce infrastructure costs by as much as 40-60 percent.

But in a presentation at the Intel Vision event, company representatives hinted at how Granulate's software could help the x86 giant defend its waning dominance in the cloud market.

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Clearview AI wants its facial-recognition tech in banks, schools, etc

I get knocked down but I get up again, Italy, Canada, UK, ACLU, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter... are never gonna keep me down

Clearview AI is reportedly expanding its facial-recognition services beyond law enforcement to include private industries, such as banking and education, amid mounting pressure from regulators, Big Tech, and privacy campaigners.

The New York-based startup's gigantic database contains more than 20 billion photos scraped from public social media accounts and websites. The database was used to train Clearview's software, which works by performing a face-matching algorithm between input images and ones stored on its database to identify individuals.

These images were downloaded without explicit permission from netizens or companies. Although Clearview has been sent numerous cease and desist letters from Twitter, YouTube, Google, Facebook and more, it continued to collect more images and grow its database. The demands to stop scraping public-facing webpages, however, were not legally binding, unlike the settlement agreement Clearview entered into to end its lawsuit against the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Predator spyware sold with Chrome, Android zero-day exploits to monitor targets

Or so says Google after tracking 30+ vendors peddling surveillance malware

Spyware vendor Cytrox sold zero-day exploits to government-backed snoops who used them to deploy the firm's Predator spyware in at least three campaigns in 2021, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

The Predator campaigns relied on four vulnerabilities in Chrome (CVE-2021-37973, CVE-2021-37976, CVE-2021-38000 and CVE-2021-38003) and one in Android (CVE-2021-1048) to infect devices with the surveillance-ware. 

Based on CitizenLab's analysis of Predator spyware, Google's bug hunters believe that the buyers of these exploits operate in Egypt, Armenia, Greece, Madagascar, Côte d'Ivoire, Serbia, Spain, Indonesia, and possibly other countries.

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If you're using the ctx Python package, bad news: Vandal added info-stealing code

Domain associated with maintainer email expired, taken over in supply-chain attack

The Python Package Index (PyPI), a repository for Python software libraries, has advised Python developers that the ctx package has been compromised.

Any installation of the software in the past ten days should be investigated to determine whether sensitive account identifiers stored in environment variables, such as cloud access keys, have been stolen.

The PyPI administrators estimate that about 27,000 malicious copies of ctx were downloaded from the registry since the rogue versions of ctx first appeared, starting around 19:18 UTC on May 14, 2022.

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DigitalOcean sets sail for serverless seas with Functions feature

Might be something for those who find AWS, Azure, GCP overly complex

DigitalOcean dipped its toes in the serverless seas Tuesday with the launch of a Functions service it's positioning as a developer-friendly alternative to Amazon Web Services Lambda, Microsoft Azure Functions, and Google Cloud Functions.

The platform enables developers to deploy blocks or snippets of code without concern for the underlying infrastructure, hence the name serverless. However, according to DigitalOcean Chief Product Officer Gabe Monroy, most serverless platforms are challenging to use and require developers to rewrite their apps for the new architecture. The ultimate goal being to structure, or restructure, an application into bits of code that only run when events occur, without having to provision servers and stand up and leave running a full stack.

"Competing solutions are not doing a great job at meeting developers where they are with workloads that are already running today," Monroy told The Register.

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Patch now: Zoom chat messages can infect PCs, Macs, phones with malware

Google Project Zero blows lid off bug involving that old chestnut: XML parsing

Zoom has fixed a security flaw in its video-conferencing software that a miscreant could exploit with chat messages to potentially execute malicious code on a victim's device.

The bug, tracked as CVE-2022-22787, received a CVSS severity score of 5.9 out of 10, making it a medium-severity vulnerability. It affects Zoom Client for Meetings running on Android, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows systems before version 5.10.0, and users should download the latest version of the software to protect against this arbitrary remote-code-execution vulnerability.

The upshot is that someone who can send you chat messages could cause your vulnerable Zoom client app to install malicious code, such as malware and spyware, from an arbitrary server. Exploiting this is a bit involved, so crooks may not jump on it, but you should still update your app.

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Google says it would release its photorealistic DALL-E 2 rival – but this AI is too prejudiced for you to use

It has this weird habit of drawing stereotyped White people, team admit

DALL·E 2 may have to cede its throne as the most impressive image-generating AI to Google, which has revealed its own text-to-image model called Imagen.

Like OpenAI's DALL·E 2, Google's system outputs images of stuff based on written prompts from users. Ask it for a vulture flying off with a laptop in its claws and you'll perhaps get just that, all generated on the fly.

A quick glance at Imagen's website shows off some of the pictures it's created (and Google has carefully curated), such as a blue jay perched on a pile of macarons, a robot couple enjoying wine in front of the Eiffel Tower, or Imagen's own name sprouting from a book. According to the team, "human raters exceedingly prefer Imagen over all other models in both image-text alignment and image fidelity," but they would say that, wouldn't they.

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Facebook opens political ad data vaults to researchers

Facebook builds FORT to protect against onslaught of regulation, investigation

Meta's ad transparency tools will soon reveal another treasure trove of data: advertiser targeting choices for political, election-related, and social issue spots.

Meta said it plans to add the targeting data into its Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) environment for academic researchers at the end of May.

The move comes a day after Meta's reputation as a bad data custodian resurfaced with news of a lawsuit filed in Washington DC against CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Yesterday's filing alleges Zuckerberg built a company culture of mishandling data, leading directly to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The suit seeks to hold Zuckerberg responsible for the incident, which saw millions of users' data harvested and used to influence the 2020 US presidential election.

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