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Tech News

Blizzard silently patches exploit, gives Googler cold shoulder

Blizzard games – played every month by half a billion netizens, apparently – could be hijacked by malicious websites visited by gamers, according to Googles Project Zero team. Googler Tavis Ormandy spotted the vulnerability in the Blizzard Update Agent, which is installed alongside all Blizzard titles. This particular application allows games to fetch and install upgrades and patches on the fly. The update engine also accepts commands to change settings, perform maintenance, and so on. The code does this by running a JSON RPC HTTP server on port 1120, and uses a customized authentication system to check that whatever is asking it to make changes is authorized to do so. Script code on webpages can talk to the local server using XMLHttpRequest(), yet the mechanism can be bypassed. I do not think this design will work because of an attack called DNS rebinding, Ormandy explained in his advisory. Any website can simply create a dns name that they are authorized to communicate with, and then make it resolve to localhost. To be clear, this means that any website can send privileged commands to the agent. Exploitation would involve using network drives, or setting destination to Downloads and making the browser install dlls, datafiles, etc." Ormandy wrote a proof-of-concept exploit, and found that a successful attack should take about 15 minutes, but could be speeded up by forcing a DNS cache eviction. He warned Blizzard in early December, exchanged messages, and then the biz froze him out. The games maker then silently hacked in a fix to its software: rather than white list its backend update server hostnames, it instead black lists common browsers from talking to the update mechanism. Blizzard were replying to emails, but stopped communicating on December 22nd, Ormandy reported. Blizzard are no longer replying to any enquiries, and it looks like in version 5996 the agent now has been silently patched with a bizarre solution. Their solution appears to be to query the client command line, get the 32-bit FNV-1a string hash of the exe name, and then check if it is in a blacklist. I proposed they whitelist hostnames, but apparently that solution was too elegant and simple. I am not pleased that Blizzard pushed this patch without notifying me, or consulted me on this. Blizzard is taking a similarly silent approach to answering press questions on the topic. We will update as soon as the games giant decides to comment. Ormandy has already said he is checking other big games vendors to see if the problem can be replicated.

PlayStation 4 hackers bring PS2 games to the console

The Nintendo Switch is not the only console that is a popular target for hackers and homebrew enthusiasts – the PlayStation 4 system has been hacked, bringing a flood of pirated software and the chance for tinkerers to play their own PlayStation 2 games on the more modern console. According to Eurogamer, the exploit in the consoles software was discovered earlier this month, but it is limited to consoles running system software 4.05. Given that most people automatically update their consoles and we are now on system software 5.05, it is safe to say there are very few PlayStation 4 consoles out there right now that will be able to actually take advantage of the exploit. However, that has not stopped a sudden flurry of activity in the hacking community. Not long after the release of the exploit, we are seeing Linux support and the creation of a homebrew enabler called PS4HEN. Now, hackers are able to install package files on PS4 consoles, use tools to decrypt games, and then re-package and install them on hacked consoles. Hack happy Such is the popularity of the idea of backwards compatibility, work is also underway on reverse engineering popular PlayStation 2 games so that they can be played on the PlayStation 4. PlayStation 2 emulation is a feature that exists at system-level on the PlayStation 4 console and it offers games which tap into it a resolution and performance boost. it is not been possible until now, however, for users to emulate all of their PlayStation 2 games. Instead they’ve had to rely on the very limited number of titles on the PlayStation Store. With this hack, though, there are now tools which allow users to place their own ISO files into a package which can be installed and operated on exploited consoles. Not every game will operate perfectly using this method, however. But given the clamor for backwards compatibility from PlayStation 4 owners it is unsurprising that it is being thoroughly tested. This and the access to pirated software is, of course, moot for the vast majority of users who are running the latest system software which cannot be exploited with the same method. It is worth bearing in mind that there are inherent risks and downsides when it comes to hacks such as these – running such old system software will mean that you’ll be unable to run more recent releases which have been mastered for later firmware updates; exploiting consoles will naturally void their warranty; and, of course, there’s the damage that piracy can do to the games industry and the people that work in it.

Your Every Keystroke Recorded by Over 400 Top Websites.

Some of the webs most popular sites could be tracking your every move, a shocking new study has found. Hundreds of homepages, including Microsoft, Adobe, Wordpress, Godaddy, Spotify, Skype, Samsung and Rotten Tomatoes, use secret code called session replay scripts, to monitor your online activity. Hidden strings of data are used to record everything you do while visiting a page, including what you type and where you move your mouse. This could be used by third parties to reveal everything from credit card details to medical complaints, as well as putting you at risk of identity theft and online scams,  as well as other unwanted behavior. The findings were made as part of Princeton Universitys Web Transparency and Accountability Project, which monitors websites and services to find out what user data companies collect, how they collect it, and what they do with it. Researchers found that 482 of the top 50,000 websites by numbers of visitors use session replay scripts. They are used to record your keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behaviour, along with the entire contents of the pages you visit, and send them to third-party servers.

OnePlus preinstalls app that can be used as a backdoor

With just days left before its final hurrah for the year, OnePlus seems to be involved yet again in a controversy surrounding privacy and security. No, it is not a rehash of last months data collection scandal. This one is potentially more harmful, especially since OnePlus itself may be unaware of its existence until now. The startup apparently left a diagnostic app preinstalled on its smartphones since the OnePlus 3 that, with just some simple nudging, can be used to gain root access to the device, with or without the users knowledge. To be fair to OnePlus, the app in question is not even made by the company. It is, instead, Qualcomms EngineerMode, which the chip maker provides OEMs to test their processors on devices. As one can imagine, it is not meant for consumers use and OnePlus fault is that it did not remove the app before it shipped the OnePlus phones. As a diagnostic app, EngineerMode has a few tricks to gain entry into parts of the file system and OS functionality unavailable to most apps. Curiously, it had the power to run ADB, the Android Debug Bridge tool, as root, which would then allow it to practically do anything. And while access to that is blocked by a password, it did not take too long for skilled developers to figure that out. This means that Qualcomms EngineerMode app, which comes pre-installed in all OnePlus 3, OnePlus 3T, and OnePlus 5 phones running the default OxygenOS, acts as a backdoor that could let anyone gain root access or root the phone fully. Twitter user fs0c131y, who discovered the app, intends to release a proof-of-concept app that will do just that. On the one hand, it does mean that it will be dead simple to root those three OnePlus phones without even having to unlock the bootloader. On the other hand, it is a security nightmare waiting to happen, and users are better off having this closed quickly and using tried and testing, not to mention safer, rooting methods instead.

BankBot Malware Hits Google Play Store Yet Again.

The Google Play Store is unintentionally distributing a particular form of Android banking malware for the third time this year. BankBot first appeared in the official Android marketplace in April this year, was removed, and then was discovered to be have returned in September before being removed again. Now BankBot has appeared in the Google Play store yet again, having somehow bypassed the application vetting and security protocols for a third time. BankBot is designed to steal banking credentials and payment information. It tricks users into handing over their bank details by presenting an overlay window which looks identical to a banks app login page.  The malware is capable of identifying a variety of financial and retail mobile apps on the infected devices and tailors the phishing attack to display a fake version of the banking app the victim uses, if the target bank is recognized by the malware.

Fake WhatsApp Downloaded Over 1 Million Times On Google Play.

You would think that a fake app, especially one that is as popular as WhatsApp, would find it difficult to get passed the safety layers that Google has in place for apps that aim to be listed on the Play Store. But developers have long been able to get malicious apps hosted on the Play Store despite all of its attempts to rid itself of the problem. It does not help its case when someone gets a fake WhatsApp listed, and not only was the app listed, it was also downloaded by over one million unsuspecting users. The app was called Update WhatsApp Messenger, and the apps developer pretended to be the official Facebook-owned service with the developer title WhatsApp Inc. That is the very same title that the real WhatsApp uses on the Play Store.