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Windows 10 Systems Still Vulnerable To A Three-Month-Old Critical Security Flaw From Microsoft

Windows 10 Critical Exploit Now Confirmed, Months After Microsoft’s Emergency Update. Veteran technology reporter Dave Windey for Forbes and PC Computing reports U.S. Government cybersecurity agency warns malicious cyber actors are targeting Windows 10 systems still vulnerable to a three-month-old critical security flaw.

Cast your mind back to March 10 when the monthly Windows Patch Tuesday security updates were released by Microsoft. That same day, one critical Windows 10 vulnerability was disclosed by mistake; disclosed before a fix had been made available.

CVE-2020-0796, better known today as SMBGhost, was thought so dangerous were it to be weaponized that it merited that rarest of common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) ratings: a “perfect” 10. Microsoft was quick to act. It issued an emergency out of band fix within days.

That’s where the good news ends.

SMBGhost is a fully wormable vulnerability that could enable remote and arbitrary code execution and, ultimately, control of the targeted system if a successful attack was launched. The vulnerability, in Microsoft’s Server Message Block 3.1.1, allows for a maliciously constructed data packet sent to the server to kick off the arbitrary code execution.

Such an attack would require both an unpatched and vulnerable Windows 10 or Windows Server Core machine and, crucially, working and available exploit code. The former should have been sorted by the emergency update being applied automatically, but that assumes every device at risk would have automatic updates enabled.

This is not the case, for a myriad of reasons, and leaves systems and data exposed.

Especially seeing as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has just confirmed that it is aware of “publicly available and functional” proof of concept (PoC) exploit code.

What’s more, the CISA posting warns, “malicious cyber actors are targeting unpatched systems with the new PoC, according to recent open-source reports.”

The CISA has said that it “strongly recommends using a firewall to block SMB ports from the internet,” and that the application of patches and updates for such critical vulnerabilities should be applied as soon as possible.

Microsoft’s security updates addressing SMBGhost in Windows 10 version 1909 and 1903 and Server Core for the same versions, can be found here.

I have reached out to Microsoft for a statement regarding the availability of exploit code and further advice for users and will update this article when I have that. In the meantime, get patching and get blocking.

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Facebook exposed up to 6.8 million users’ private photos to developers in latest data leak

Facebook exposed private photos from up to 6.8 million users to apps that weren’t supposed to see them, the company said today. These apps were authorized to see a limited set of users’ photos, but a bug allowed them to see pictures they weren’t granted access to. These included photos from people’s stories as well as photos that people uploaded but never posted (because Facebook saved a copy anyway).

The exposure occurred between September 12th and September 25th. Facebook toldTechCrunch that it discovered the breach on the 25th; it isn’t clear why the company waited until now to disclose it. (Perhaps it’s because the company was dealing with a separate and substantially larger breach that it also discovered on September 25th.)

Affected users will receive a notificationalerting them that their photos may have been exposed. Facebook also says it’ll be working with developers to delete copies of photos they weren’t supposed to access. In total, up to 1,500 apps from 876 different developers may have inappropriately accessed people’s pictures.

Facebook said the bug had to do with an error related to Facebook Login and its photos API, which allows developers to access Facebook photos within their own apps. All of the impacted users had logged into a third-party app using their Facebook accounts and granted them some degree of access to view their photos.

“We’re sorry this happened,” writes Tomer Bar, engineering director at Facebook. The disclosure comes exactly one day after Facebook opened a pop-up installation in New York to show people how “you can manage your privacy” on the site.

Facebook has been in hot water again and again this year over data breaches and exposures, most notably with Cambridge Analytica. In many cases, the problems haven’t been caused by hackers, but they have stemmed from issues within Facebook itself. The Cambridge Analytica breach happened because of Facebook’s lax oversight of developers and data sharing; today’s issue happened because of another breakdown in communication between Facebook and developers.

Google has already pledged to shut down Google+ over similar issues. Twice this year, the service exposed information inappropriately to developers.

Source:  The Verge Jacob Kastrenakes on 

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Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you’re sure you yelled STOP

All your activity are belong to us

Updated A feature introduced in the April 2018 Update of Windows 10 may have set off a privacy landmine within the bowels of Redmond as users have discovered that their data was still flowing into the intestines of the Windows giant, even with the thing apparently turned off.

In what is likely to be more cock-up than conspiracy, it appears that Microsoft is continuing to collect data on recent user activities even when the user has explicitly said NO, DAMMIT!

First noted in an increasingly shouty thread over on Reddit, the issue is related to Activity History, which is needed to make the much-vaunted and little-used Timeline feature work in Windows 10.

Introduced in what had previously been regarded as one of Microsoft’s flakiest updates – prior to the glory of the October 2018 Update, of course – Timeline allows users to go back through apps as well as websites to get back to what they were doing at a given point.

Use a Microsoft account, and a user can view this over multiple PCs and mobile devices (as long you are signed in with that same Microsoft account). The key setting is that “Send my activity history to Microsoft” check box. Uncheck it and you’d be forgiven for thinking your activity would not be sent Redmondwards. Right?

Activity History

Except, er, the slurping appears to be carrying on unabated.

The Redditors reported that if one takes a look at the Activity History in the Privacy Dashboard lurking within their account, apps and sites are still showing up.

The fellows over at How To Geek have speculated the issue may be something to do with Windows’ default diagnostic setting, which is set to Full and will send back app and history unless changed to Basic. Of course, Windows Insiders have no option but to accept Full, although a bit of slurping is likely to be the least of their problems.

A thread at TenForums has also provided a guide to turning the thing off, ranging from tinkering with Group Policies through to diving headlong into the Registry. Neither are options likely to appeal to users who would expect that clearing the “Send data” box would stop data being sent.

Deliberate slurpage, or a case of poor QAand one team not talking to the other aside, it isn’t a great look for Microsoft and users are muttering about potential legal action. Privacy lawyers will certainly be taking a close look – after all, the gang at Redmond are already under scrutiny for harvesting data and telemetry from lucky users of Windows 10.

Google has been on the receiving end of a sueball for slurping location data from user’s phones and providing an over-complicated way to turn off the “feature”.

It is all a bit of a mess and has left users unsure of what is being collected and when. We have contacted Microsoft to find out how it plans to deal with the situation (ideally before 2018’s privacy bogeyman, GDPR, makes an appearance) and will update if a response is forthcoming. ®

Update 13 December 16.45UTC

Microsoft got in touch to insist it is committed to privacy and transparency, but admitted there is indeed a bit of naming problem, with “Activity History” cropping up in both Windows 10 and the Microsoft Privacy dashboard.

Marisa Rogers, Privacy Officer at the software giant, told us: “We are working to address this naming issue in a future update.”

The slurpage collection is of course for your benefit and Rogers added that users have “controls to manage your data.”


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