Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And what are you doing during your working time?

Flo did another trip around Europe and brought sent some pictures to, thanks for that. This time, we clearly see that he was passing by one of the IBM offices. To be more specific, this shot was taken in one of the branches of IBM in London.

The more interesting part of this story is that he got a very good view into the offices and could directly see the computer screens of the employees. Besides the fact, that it might be interesting for someone to see if the employees are productive - and they really are according to those pictures - this shows a tremendous security risk.

From this very public place you can easily spy on the company's data, you could have a look at interesting project files lying on desks or you might get the chance to observe someone typing in a password or important information. 

Some companies might not think about the risk of someone external walking through the company's premises looking for important data on tables or the computer screen. However, not caring about the fact you can easily get an insight into a company from a public place where you can sit down and take photographs all the time, is a different level of risk. IBM should probably rethink their office design.

Monday, July 19, 2010

By-passing Security Gates

In Hagenberg, Upper Austria, there is a security gate that should prevent external people from entering the student village's premises. This picture is taken from Google Maps and shows how easily this security measure can be circumvented.

Actually, there are parking lots near the gate and right near the entrance of the first building there is enough space for a car to bypass the security gate.

I guess, even one little, heavy plant placed on the by-pass road would prevent the people from using this route. Most of the time, people could close security loopholes by spending none or little money. They just need a little help to find their vulnerabilities.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Need any help in finding the key?

This pictures was posted on Hirngulasch's Soup and was discovered and reported by N0rb. It shows a message left by one of the children which says "Mum, the key is on the balcony!!!!".

Unfortunately, we could not find the owner of the picture and therefore we cannot be sue if this is a true story. Nevertheless, it points out an important topic - awareness. It's not just that children are often not aware of risks, we have to face the same problems in companies with unaware employess. Unless they are not trained to focus on specific types of risk, they would never think that actions they carry out could be a security risk for the company.  The solution is simple, talk to the people and talk to your children and explain it to them, they will understand as long as they care about their place of living and working.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Open day at a youth hostel

Flo submitted the following security pitfalls from a youth hostel in Linz, Upper Austria. In the following picture you can see how the building looks from the street.
Taking a look around, he discovered the first issue. There was a back entry which was opened and would make a perfect entry point for an attacker. The entry to the stairs leading to the door, was secured by 1.5m high railings. Without a doubt, an easy to surmount obstacle.

On the back side of the building, or what somewhat could be called a backyard, Flo discovered the next entry point. There was a service entry for a building attached to the youth hostel. 

The entry opened up access to a variety of rooms, not part of the normal housing. Flo did not enter the corridor, as this would have not been allowed in terms of the Austrian legislation. Another point that caught Flo's attention were all the containers and garbage around. Assuming that, like in other hostels already described on this blog, access codes to rooms were set using a specific algorithm, old code numbers could give access to rooms in the hostel and a free night.  

Thanks to Flo, for his contribution to the project.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Getting to know your friends

This privacy issue was reported back in December. It is about Facebook and its friend status. In general, it should not be possible to see information about another unknown person, when this person did not configure his/her page to do so. However, there was this issue, that you could send a friend request to this person, waiting for confirmation.

The issue was, that even without the person accepting the friend request, the "is now friends with" status message of this person was updated. Thus, it was possible to track a person's friends without their permission.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unattended Working Places - Part 2

Another entry in the series of unattended work places. This picture was taken in the e-lab at the campus of the Edith Cowan University in Mt. Lawley, Western Australia.

This notebook was left unattended for about 10 minutes. An attacker prepared for this kind of attacker would need approximately 10 seconds for inserting a USB stick and installing a rootkit. When working in external environments employees should never leave their notebook unattended for more than 5 minutes, depending on the security level of the data stored on it. In some cases there is really no excuse to leave the notebook unattended. When leaving the working place for short periods of time, f.e. getting a coffee, the OS should always be locked to prevent unauthorised access. However, be aware, that there are also attacks possible on locked screens.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Security is no matter of daytime

You might say, "Of course, security has to be applied 24/7", but the obvious is not the standard. An example was given by Sebastian Klipper on his blog "Klipper on Security: Ps(i)2 - Sicherheit in Informationssystemen". Thanks for sharing the content of his post by CC license.

During the night, journalist Tommaso Cerno did a short trip to the airport of Rome and shared his  experience on the web. The problem? There was no security at all. The screening lines and the security areas are freely accessible, doors secured by access codes or code cards are open, homeless people are taking a nap in the interior. Tommaso filmed the his tour through the airport and published it online:

It would be an easy task to smuggle weapons or drugs into the airport during night. The only risk would be that one of the homeless people could find it before the next day and take it away, so Sebastian Klipper.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ever thought about asking for the master key?

Sebastian Klipper, Senior Information Security Consultant, recently wrote on his blog Klipper on Security about an incident he experienced in a hotel. It is quite usual to have safes in hotel rooms to store important documents. It might also be obvious that lots of these safes have master key combinations to open them in case of emergency. But, he was quite surprised as he noticed how easy it was to get the master key and that it was only 3 digits long.

One day when he wanted to open the safe with his 4 digits code, it just responded with the message "BATTERY ERROR!". Hence, he made is way down to the reception, asking for help. The friendly receptionist went upstairs with him to have a look at the safe. After demonstrating the problem, the receptionist positioned right in front of the safe started entering a code and said: 

"Enter, 0, 0, 2, Enter, Enter."

Open! That's it and after the receptionist left, Sebastian Klipper knew the master code. Sometimes the easiest way to circumvent the security system is, ask friendly for help.

Thanks very much to Sebastian Klipper who gave us the rights to publish his story with his pictures on SecurityPitfalls.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Key lesson

Berni sent us the following story from Steyr in Upper Austria. On a visit at the University of Applied Sciences she found an accessible, locked room on one of the floors. The only drawback, somebody left the keys there. 

Now, the question is, how much value does access to this room have? 

First of all, you can steal paper, but that shouldn't leave too much damage to the company. Secondly, an intruder could wait for some important documents printed out. As this room is locked during the day, it could be an interesting place for getting information. Another source of information is the key itself. Even if an attacker can't get much value out of the information in the room, she could try to copy the key or just take notes about the cuts of the key. This can enable the attacker to duplicate it or use in combination with some other keys to rebuild the master key of the university's locks.

So the key lesson of this story: never leave your keys unattended - and never leave it on the doors. :) Thanks to Berni for sending in this story and the pictures. 

Update (7/2/2010): Churchy added another security issue that wasn't mentioned in the blog posting above. An attacker could use the printer's network cable to get access to the network. This could be interesting especially in situations where you just have access to a secured WLAN that is separated from the internal LAN.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Security in Hostels

As we've already seen, there's very little security in hostels. Another example is given by Norb who discovered the next few situations in a hostel in South Korea.

A system that might look pretty secure for a hostel, at first, ...

... is pretty useless, if all authentication credentials are given on a sheet nearby.

But it seems that the owners of the hostel are not aware of possible threats ...
... or they are just very trustful to all the people around. :)