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German eID card system vulnerable to online identity spoofing

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Image: Bund.de

Security researchers have found a vulnerability in the backbone of the electronic ID (eID) cards system used by the German state. The vulnerability, when exploited, allows an attacker to trick an online website and spoof the identity of another German citizen when using the eID authentication option.

There are some hurdles that an attacker needs to pass before abusing this vulnerability, but the researchers who found it say their eID spoofing hack is more than doable.

The vulnerability doesn’t reside in the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded in German eID cards, but in the software kit implemented by websites that want to support eID authentication.

The vulnerable component is named the Governikus Autent SDK and is one of the SDKs that German websites, including government portals, have used to add support for eID-based login and registration procedures.

SEC Consult, the German cyber-security firm who discovered the flaw in this SDK, says it already reported the issue to CERT-Bund, (Germany’s Computer Emergency Response Team), who coordinated with Governikus, the vendor, to release a patch –Autent SDK v3.8.1.2– in August this year.

All websites who use the Autent SDK 3.8.1 and earlier are vulnerable to the vulnerability they’ve discovered, SEC Consult said today in a report, advising website owners to update their Autent SDK to the latest version, if they haven’t done so already.

How the vulnerability works

According to the company’s report, the vulnerability resides in the process of how websites deal with the responses they receive from users trying to authenticate via the eID system.

Under normal circumstances, this authentication procedure goes through the following steps:

  • A website sees a user initiating an eID card authentication process and requests a special response from the user.
  • User inserts his eID card into a card reader or places the eID card near a capable mobile phone. User enters his card’s PIN code in the eID client app installed on his PC or smartphone.
  • The eID client app connects to one of the many authorized eID servers to verify the login request and produce a cryptographic verification signature for a response it intends to forward back to the website.
  • The eID client app sends an eID response (the signature and the user’s personal data) to the initial website to complete the eID-based authentication procedure.
  • The website logs the user in or creates a new account if the user is using his electronic card to register on a site.
german-eid-auth-process.png

Image: Bund.de

According to SEC Consult experts, websites using older versions of the Autent SDK accept eID client responses that contain one cryptographic signature, but multiple SAML parameters containing the user’s data.

“The signature is verified against the last occurrence of the parameter, while the SAML response that is processed further, will be taken from the first occurrence,” SEC Consult experts explained.

“To exploit this vulnerability, an attacker requires at least one valid query string signed by the authentication server. It does not matter for which citizen or at which time the signature for the query string has been issued,” they added.

This sounds as an unsurmountable issue… but it actually isn’t. SEC Consult says that multiple eID servers expose logs online [1, 2], and an attacker could just grab an old signed response and insert their spoofed eID data in the middle, like so:

[signature][data of fake user][real user data for signature check]

SEC Consult has published a YouTube video to showcase how an attack exploiting this vulnerability works.

But SEC Consult says this vulnerability doesn’t work against all websites that support eID authentication. Experts say that online portals that have chosen to implement “pseudonyms” (instead of sending the actual user data with each authentication requests) aren’t vulnerable.

Pseudonyms are randomly-looking strings that are used similarly to usernames, stored on both the website and inside the eID card’s RFID chip. Unless attackers are able to guess pseudonyms in a consistent manner, they wouldn’t be able to use this vulnerability to spoof the identity of other users.

Furthermore, because all eID authentication responses are logged, websites can review logs and detect when and if an attacker has ever exploited this vulnerability (by looking at eID responses with multiple repeating parameters). This also means attacks could be detected in real-time, blocking attackers trying to spoof their identity before they log in.

The good news is that SEC Consult privately disclosed this flaw over the summer, and only revealed it to the public today, giving German sites a three months head start to update the vulnerable –and very popular– Autent SDK.

The bad news is that the Autent SDK was used in a demo app that many German websites might have downloaded and used as an example to build their own eID authentication systems, meaning the issue could be quite widespread in the German online space.

Earlier today, ZDNet has put a formal request for comment with the eID group at the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and have inquired if German government portals –the vast majority of the sites using the eID authentication system– have applied the SDK patch, and if there have been any concerted efforts to review the logs of government-managed websites for attacks that might have exploited the above vulnerability.

The issue discovered by SEC Consult is nowhere as problematic as the cryptographic issue discovered in over 750,000 Estonian eID cards in 2017. The Estonian government was forced to replace all affected cards to prevent fraudulent operations on government sites. Some eID cards in Slovakia were also affected but to a lesser degree. Estonia sued Gemalto, the eID card maker, this fall.

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GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

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Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) emerged as a product category in the mid-2010s. At that point, SOAR solutions were very much an automation and orchestration engine based on playbooks and integrations. Since then, the platforms have developed beyond the initial core SOAR capabilities to offer more holistic experiences to security analysts, with the aim of developing SOAR as the main workspace for practitioners.

Newer features offered by this holistic experience include case management, collaboration, simulations, threat enrichment, and visual correlations. Additionally, SOAR vendors have gradually implemented artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enable their platforms to learn from past events and fine-tune existing processes. This is where evolving threat categorization and autonomous improvement become differentiators in the space. While these two metrics are not critical for a SOAR platform, they may offer advantages in terms of reduced mean time to resolution (MTTR), resilience against employee turnover, and overall flexibility.

We’ve observed a lot of acquisition activity in the SOAR space. This was to be expected considering that, after 2015, a sizable number of pure-play SOAR vendors entered the market. Larger players with a wider security portfolio are acquiring these SOAR-specific vendors in order to enter the automation and orchestration market. We expect to see more SOAR acquisitions as the security tools converge, very likely into next-generation Security Information & Event Management products and services (SIEMs).

SIEM is a great candidate for a central management platform for security activities. It was designed to be a single source of truth, an aggregator of multiple security logs, but has been limited historically in its ability to carry out actions. In the past few years, however, SIEMs have either started developing their own automation and orchestration engines or integrated with third-party SOAR vendors. Through a number of acquisitions and developments, multiple players with wider security portfolios have begun to offer SOAR capabilities natively as part of other security solutions.

Going forward, we expect SOAR solutions to be further integrated into other products. This will include not only SIEM, but also solutions such as Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and IT automation. The number of pure-play SOAR vendors is unlikely to increase, although a handful may remain as fully agnostic solutions that enterprises can leverage in instances when their existing next-generation SIEM platforms do not meet all their use cases. However, for pure-play SOAR vendors to remain competitive, they will need to either expand into other security areas or consistently outperform their integrated counterparts.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

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Very few organizations see disaster recovery (DR) for their IT systems as a business differentiator, so they often prefer to outsource the process and consume it as a service (DRaaS) that’s billed monthly. There are many DRaaS providers with varying backgrounds, whose services are often shaped by that background. Products that started as customer-managed DR applications tend to have the most mature orchestration and automation, but vendors may face challenges transforming their application into a consumable service. Backup as a Service (BaaS) providers typically have great consumption models and off-site data protection, but they might be lacking in rich orchestration for failover. Other DRaaS providers come from IaaS backgrounds, with well-developed, on-demand resource deployment for recovery and often a broader platform with automation capabilities.

Before you invest in a DRaaS solution, you should attempt to be clear on what you see as its value. If your motivation is simply not to operate a recovery site, you probably want a service that uses technology similar to what you’re using at the protected site. If the objective is to spend less effort on DR protection, you will be less concerned about similarity and more with simplicity. And if you want to enable regular and granular testing of application recovery with on-demand resources, advanced failover automation and sandboxing will be vital features.

Be clear as well on the scale of disaster you are protecting against. On-premises recovery will protect against shared component failure in your data center. A DRaaS location in the same city will allow a lower RPO and provide lower latency after failover, but might be affected by the same disaster as your on-premises data center. A more distant DR location would be immune to your local disaster, but what about the rest of your business? It doesn’t help to have operational IT in another city if your only factory is under six feet of water.

DR services are designed to protect enterprise application architectures that are centered on VMs with persistent data and configuration. A lift-and-shift cloud adoption strategy leads to enterprise applications in the cloud, requiring cloud-to-cloud DR that is very similar to DRaaS from on-premises. Keep in mind, however, that cloud-native applications have different DR requirements.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

The post GigaOm Radar for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) appeared first on Gigaom.

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GigaOm Radar for DDoS Protection

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With ransomware getting all the news coverage when it comes to internet threats, it is easy to lose sight of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks even as these attacks become more frequent and aggressive. In fact, the two threats have recently been combined in a DDoS ransom attack, in which a company is hit with a DDoS and then a ransom demanded in exchange for not launching a larger DDoS. Clearly, a solid mechanism for thwarting such attacks is needed, and that is exactly what a good DDoS protection product will include. This will allow users, both staff and customers, to access their applications with no indication that a DDoS attack is underway. To achieve this, the DDoS protection product needs to know about your applications and, most importantly, have the capability to absorb the massive bandwidth generated by botnet attacks.

All the DDoS protection vendors we evaluated have a cloud-service element in their products. The scale-out nature of cloud platforms is the right response to the scale-out nature of DDoS attacks using botnets, thousands of compromised computers, and/or embedded devices. A DDoS protection network that is larger, faster, and more distributed will defend better against larger DDoS attacks.

Two public cloud platforms we review have their own DDoS protection, both providing it for applications running on their public cloud and offering only cloud-based protection. We also look at two content delivery networks (CDNs) that offer only cloud-based protection but also have a large network of locations for distributed protection. Many of the other vendors offer both on-premises and cloud-based services that are integrated to provide unified protection against the various attack vectors that target the network and application layers.

Some of the vendors have been protecting applications since the early days of the commercial internet. These vendors tend to have products with strong on-premises protection and integration with a web application firewall or application delivery capabilities. These companies may not have developed their cloud-based protections as fully as the born-in-the-cloud DDoS vendors.

In the end, you need a DDoS protection platform equal to the DDoS threat that faces your business, keeping in mind that such threats are on the rise.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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