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Newly unsealed court documents reveal additional allegations against Andy Rubin

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Newly unsealed documents have revealed a spate of bombshell allegations against Android founder Andy Rubin. BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac has made the documents available as a PDF, and there’s a lot to unpack.

The nearly 40 pages detail a pre-marital agreement made with Rubin’s now-ex-wife, Rie Hirabaru Rubin, three days before their wedding. The documents refer to the agreement as “unconscionable, capping spousal support and stripping Plaintiff of her community property rights under California law without informed consent.”

“This is a family law dispute involving a wife who regrets her decision to execute a prenuptial agreement,” Rubin’s attorney said in a statement to TechCrunch. “It is full of false claims and we look forward to telling our side of the story.”

The Essential Phone and Playground Global founder has largely operated in the background since The New York Times published an explosive story in late-2018 detailing sexual misconduct and massive severance package from his former employer, Google.

The documents go on to allege that her attorney, Stephen Peters, had previously represented Rubin in a prior divorce without her knowledge. This lawsuit seeks to make that prenuptial agreement invalid.

“Plaintiff was not aware of this pre-existing attorney-client relationship or the extent of Peters’ detailed knowledge regarding Rubin’s property and assets which were not fully disclosed at the time,” according to the document, “his detailed knowledge of Rubin’s extravagant payments to women or sex or that Peters was in reality working for the benefit of Rubin, and to the Plaintiff’s detriment.”

Allegations of Rubin’s improprieties echo many of the claims reported in the 2018 Times piece, including, “ownership relationships […] whereby Rubin would pay for their expenses in exchange for offering them to other men.”

Over the last several months, Rubin and his ex-wife have been battling in court regarding whether or not the complaint would remain sealed. In April, a California state judge tentatively concluded that small portions of the complaint could be sealed. In May, the plaintiff argued that much of the material in the complaint had already been reported and that there was a notable public interest in the case. For example, Rubin’s alleged payments to women for sex — in the sum of hundreds of thousands of dollars — has already been reported and is relevant to the plaintiff’s case, she argued.

“Rubin hid these payments from Plaintiff during their marriage by using his individual bank account and routing payments through his wholly owned company Cosmofion LLC,” the plaintiff states in a court filing. “These allegations show, and the evidence at trial will prove, that Rubin was highly motivated to coerce and defraud Plaintiff to enter into an unconscionable Premarital Agreement so that he would be able to conceal and continue to engage in these illicit sexual activities and continue to make payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to these women without being detected by Plaintiff.”

Regarding the parts of the document that remain under seal, the judge ruled they either involve post-marital allegations and/or information that is covered by a stipulated protective order.

Update: Rubin’s lawyer Ellen Stross has offered TechCrunch the following comment on the matter. “This is a family law dispute involving a wife who regrets her decision to execute a prenuptial agreement. It is full of false claims and we look forward to telling our side of the story.”

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Chrome “Feed” is tantalizing, but it’s not the return of Google Reader

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Enlarge / Digging into bleeding-edge Chrome code has made some bloggers hopeful, but Google has been focused on its own feeds for a while now. (credit: Getty Images)

Does Google enjoy teasing and sometimes outright torturing some of its products’ most devoted fans? It can seem that way.

Tucked away inside a recent bleeding-edge Chrome build is a “Following feed” that has some bloggers dreaming of the return of Google Reader. It’s unlikely, but never say never when it comes to Google product decisions.

Chrome added a sidebar for browsing bookmarks and Reading List articles back in March. Over the weekend, the Chrome Story blog noticed a new flag in Gerrit, the unstable testing build of Chrome’s open source counterpart Chromium. Enabling that #following-feed-sidepanel flag (now also available in Chrome’s testing build, Canary) adds another option to the sidebar: Feed.

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1,900 Signal users’ phone numbers exposed by Twilio phishing

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Enlarge / Signal’s security-minded messaging app is dealing with a third-party phishing attempt that exposed a small number of users’ phone numbers.

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A successful phishing attack at SMS services company Twilio may have exposed the phone numbers of roughly 1,900 users of the secure messaging app Signal—but that’s about the extent of the breach, says Signal, noting that no further user data could be accessed.

In a Twitter thread and support document, Signal states that a recent successful (and deeply resourced) phishing attack on Twilio allowed access to the phone numbers linked with 1,900 users. That’s “a very small percentage of Signal’s total users,” Signal writes, and all 1,900 affected users will be notified (via SMS) to re-register their devices. Signal, like many app companies, uses Twilio to send SMS verification codes to users registering their Signal app.

With momentary access to Twilio’s customer support console, attackers could have potentially used the verification codes sent by Twilio to activate Signal on another device and thereby send or receive new Signal messages. Or an attacker could confirm that these 1,900 phone numbers were actually registered to Signal devices.

No other data could be accessed, in large part because of Signal’s design. Message history is stored entirely on user devices. Contact and block lists, profile details, and other user data require a Signal PIN to access. And Signal is asking users to enable registration lock, which prevents Signal access on new devices until the user’s PIN is correctly entered.

“The kind of telecom attack suffered by Twilio is a vulnerability that Signal developed features like registration lock and Signal PINs to protect against,” Signal’s support document reads. The messaging app notes that while Signal doesn’t “have the ability to directly fix the issues affecting the telecom ecosystem,” it will work with Twilio and other providers “to tighten up their security where it matters for our users.”

Signal PINs were introduced in May 2020, in part to de-emphasize the reliance on phone numbers as a primary user ID. This latest incident may provide another nudge to de-couple Signal’s strong security from the SMS ecosystem, where cheap, effective spoofing and broad network hacks remain all too common.

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Update Zoom for Mac now to avoid root-access vulnerability

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Enlarge / A critical vulnerability in Zoom for Mac OS allowed unauthorized users to downgrade Zoom or even gain root access. It has been fixed, and users should update now.

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If you’re using Zoom on a Mac, it’s time for a manual update. The video conferencing software’s latest update fixes an auto-update vulnerability that could have allowed malicious programs to use its elevated installing powers, granting escalated privileges and control of the system.

The vulnerability was first discovered by Patrick Wardle, founder of the Objective-See Foundation, a nonprofit Mac OS security group. Wardle detailed in a talk at Def Con last week how Zoom’s installer asks for a user password when installing or uninstalling, but its auto-update function, enabled by default, doesn’t need one. Wardle found that Zoom’s updater is owned and runs as the root user.

The gist of how Zoom's auto-update utility allows for privilege escalation exploits, from Patrick Wardle's Def Con talk.
Enlarge / The gist of how Zoom’s auto-update utility allows for privilege escalation exploits, from Patrick Wardle’s Def Con talk.

It seemed secure, as only Zoom clients could connect to the privileged daemon, and only packages signed by Zoom could be extracted. The problem is that by simply passing the verification checker the name of the package it was looking for (“Zoom Video ... Certification Authority Apple Root CA.pkg“), this check could be bypassed. That meant malicious actors could force Zoom to downgrade to a buggier, less-secure version or even pass it an entirely different package that could give them root access to the system.

Some of Wardle’s findings had been patched in a prior update, but key root access was still available as of Wardle’s talk on Saturday. Zoom issued a security bulletin the same day, and a patch for version Zoom 5.11.5 (9788) followed soon after. You can download the update directly from Zoom or click on your menu bar options to “Check for updates.” We wouldn’t suggest waiting for an automatic update, for multiple reasons.

Zoom’s software security record is spotty—and at times, downright scary. The company settled with the FTC in 2020 after admitting that it lied for years about offering end-to-end encryption. Wardle previously revealed a Zoom vulnerability that let attackers steal Windows credentials by sending a string of text. Prior to that, Zoom was caught running an entire undocumented web server on Macs, causing Apple to issue its own silent update to kill the server.

Last May, a Zoom vulnerability that enabled a zero-click remote code execution used a similar downgrade and signature-check bypass. Ars’ Dan Goodin noted that his Zoom client didn’t actually update when the fix for that issue arrived, requiring a manual download of an intermediate version first. Hackers can take advantage of exposed Zoom vulnerabilities quickly, Goodin noted, if Zoom users aren’t updated right away. Minus the root access, of course.

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