Security

Security news roundup: Webcam voyeur gets 90 days

This week's security events include news of a vulnerability in the 64-bit edition of OpenOffice, a privilege escalation flaw in Samba, a virus infection on the International Space Station, and the arrest of yet another webcam voyeur.

This week's security events include news of a vulnerability in the 64-bit edition of OpenOffice, a privilege escalation flaw in Samba, a virus infection on the International Space Station, and the arrest of yet another webcam voyeur.

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Vulnerability found in 64-bit version of OpenOffice

The current version of the OpenOffice has a flaw which will allow an attacker to perform a code injection. Fortunately, it is specific to 64-bit version of the office suite. While the vulnerability has already been remedied in the repositories, the tricky bit here is for users who are using 64-bit binary releases -- as they normally come via Linux distributors, and not from the developers.

On its part, Red Hat has already published new 64-bit versions, though not everyone has done so yet. You can check out the security update from Red Hat, or read about the bug as outlined at the OpenOffice site.

Privilege escalation flaw found in Samba

The Samba development team has released a new version of the open source Samba that resolves a privilege escalation vulnerability. Using the flaw, authenticated users who are logged into the system can potentially edit the group_mapping.ldb file to map any SID to root or to other users or groups. Versions of Samba from 3.2.0 to 3.2.2 are affected by this flaw.

As a temporary workaround, the file permissions to the group_mapping.ldb file can be manually set to 0600. In the meantime, two patches addressing this defect can be found on the Samba security site here. Samba administrators are advised to upgrade to 3.2.3 or apply the patch as soon as possible.

You can read more about this vulnerability here.

Virus infection found on the International Space Station

In a somber reminder that no computer equipment is safe from the scourge of computer malware, a computer virus has been discovered on the International Space Station (ISS). As the ISS has no direct Internet connection, the infection could only come from a newly introduced laptop, or removable media. NASA confirmed the infection late last month.

The virus in this case is the W32.Gammima.AG worm, a fairly rare virus that gathers personal information and first seen in August 2007. Indeed, it has spread to several laptops before it was discovered. Apparently, it wasn't the first time that a virus has been discovered on the ISS either.

Excerpt from heise Security:

However you might wonder why these measures are only now being taken if this, as NASA says, is not the first time it has happened. It appears that the ISS has no unified anti-virus policy in place and that several laptops on-board had no anti-virus software installed. This seems surprising since any virus in a human life critical application, such as in space, can be deadly, but even when found in non-critical systems, a virus on a space station can cost millions of dollars.

Now, what really caught my attention was this statement by NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries. When pressed on whether the infected laptops could be connected to the same network as mission-critical systems, Humphrias responded, "I don't know and even if I did, I wouldn't be able to tell you for IT security reasons." Wow, talk about security by obfuscation.

Yet another webcam voyeur arrested

A peeping tom who videotaped his 19-year-old stepdaughter from a secretly installed webcam located in her bedroom ceiling was sentenced to 90 days in jail. He was apparently discovered after the girl looked through her stepfather's laptop and discovered seven videos of herself in her bedroom. From the vantage point of the videos, she quickly found the Webcam - and took both Webcam and laptop to the police.

Except from Edmonton News:

Court heard the videos showed the young woman playing with her pet, grooming herself and getting dressed and included images of her in various states of undress.

This brings to mind another case earlier last month in which a 47-year-old computer technician was jailed for four years for hacking into a teenage girl’s webcam to spy on her.

Where it can be argued that technology is only an enabler, the availability and affordability of Webcams -- embedded or standalone ones, have resulted in a rash of voyeur cases around the world. Of particular concern is probably the built-in Webcams that can be found in literally every new laptop that is being sold on the market. Perhaps laptop manufacturers can build covers that physically block off these built-in Webcams to allay concerns of trojans opening the way to voyeurs.

Feel free to to discuss the various security events here.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

5 comments
robertbrown
robertbrown

From another article I saw this morning on television (on NBC, about how smart our gadgets are getting), the webcam can be used to identify thieves when they steal the equipment. Are you suggesting we open ourselves to voyeurism when we try to identify who stole our cell phone?

edlutz
edlutz

That is one of many reasons why Windows should never be used in critical systems, specially space cratfs.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Give 'em heck Paul! (hehe.. I couldn't resist pulling the "." off the end of "voyeur"; my edit not Paul's typo.)

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

Regardless of the OS, I'm appalled that there was an admission that some of the laptops had no AV software installed. It's the first order of business that I tell my clients to invest in and those that do not heed my advice are naturally riddled with viruses and malware - such neglect is truly inexcusable and most certainly foolish. I'd fire their IT personnel for not enforcing this most basic step 1 of online security.

paulmah
paulmah

You there. Gave me a heart attack. Thought I made some gross mistake or two in the article! Grr. :) Regards, Paul Mah.

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