China is conducting a massive DDoS attack against GitHub

GitHub.com, a popular code repository, hosts two projects that allow users in China to bypass the Great Firewall of China (GFW) to view the New York Times and GreatFire.org.

This attack is designed to take down GitHub and the GFW projects using a technique called Man-on-the-Side attack. When a user visits a website that is behind the GFW, the firewall itself returns to the user browser attack code that takes part in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against GitHub. The attack code tells the browser to continuously reload the GitHub project URL with the purpose of overloading the server. This process is magnified over millions of times to create what GitHub has called “the largest DDoS attack in github.com’s history”.

As described by Netresec:

In short, this is how this Man-on-the-Side attack is carried out:
1. An innocent user is browsing the internet from outside China.
2. One website the user visits loads a javascript from a server in China, for example the Badiu Analytics script that often is used by web admins to track visitor statistics (much like Google Analytics).
3. The web browser’s request for the Baidu javascript is detected by the Chinese passive infrastructure.
4. A fake response is sent out from within China instead of the actual Baidu Analytics script. This fake response is a malicious javascript that tells the user’s browser to continuously reload two specific pages on GitHub.com.

As stated on Vice.com: “In other words, even people outside China are being weaponized to target things the Chinese government does not like[.]”

Fortunately this latest attempt at Internet censorship can be prevented with encryption. Encrypting web traffic through HTTPS makes it much harder for the GFW to view and manipulate network traffic between client and server. With network traffic encrypted the firewall would not be able to read let alone insert attack code sent back to the client. This option is not foolproof and there are a ways that the GFW can read encrypted traffic, but encrypting all web traffic will go a long way to prevent these types of attacks from nations and criminals alike.

Lets Encrypt https://letsencrypt.org Sponsored by EFF, Cisco, Mozilla, Akamai

More Information about the attack:

Netresec.com China’s Man-on-the-Side Attack on GitHub:

TechDirt.com China’s Great Firewall Turned Around: Why China Wants To Censor Global Internet

EFF.org China Uses Unencrypted Websites to Hijack Browsers in GitHub Attack

ThreatPost: DDOS ATTACK ON GITHUB LINKED TO EARLIER ONE AGAINST GREATFIRE.ORG

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Antivirus works – here are the numbers

Here are the malware and virus statistics for the past month:

The Northeastern offered Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEM) has blocked or deleted over 20 thousand pieces of malware and Trojan viruses from protected OS X and Windows computers. This includes 80 instances of ransomware, malware that makes a computer unusable until the victim pays a ransom. SEM has blocked Fake Adobe Flash updates, fake anti-virus popup alerts, browser and computer exploit kits, generally malicious network activity, and others.

Antivirus along with keeping the operating system and software up-to-date, maintaining an active firewall, and smart email and web browsing habits are all part of a safe computing posture that will help keep the attackers out.

There are at least 80 people at Northeastern this past month who have not been locked out of their data thanks in part to antivirus software.

Symantec Endpoint Protection is available free for the Northeastern community.

Get Symantec Endpoint Protection today!

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Phishing Email – Your New Salary As Adjusted

phishing2015Click image for larger version

The Northeastern Community has received a new phishing email with the subject: “Your New Salary As Adjusted.” The email asks the user to click on a link and enter their myNEU credentials.

This email is a fake. Do NOT click on the link in the email. Delete from your inbox.

If you clicked on this email and entered your credentials you must change your password and password reset challenge question immediately. Please contact the Service Desk for assistance at 617-373-4357.

Northeastern will NEVER ask your to confirm your credentials in an email. This is a sure sign that the email is fraudulent. Please contact the Service Desk if you are unsure if an email from Northeastern is real.

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Changes to Remote Desktop – VPN Access

Starting today, the new standard for remote desktop access goes into effect. Under this standard, all individuals using certain remote desktop applications – such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), PC Anywhere, and Apple Remote Desktop – to connect to Northeastern resources must use the VPN in order for those applications to work properly. A full list of applications is provided below.

At this time, other applications and services are not impacted by the new remote desktop access standard; SSH, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS will continue to be accessible without the new VPN. Please note that the VPN requires a myNEU username and password in order to log in, so individuals who do not have a myNEU username and password (including non-Northeastern researchers and/or contractors) will need to obtain one through a Sponsored Account.

Impact
This new standard only impacts individuals trying to access on-campus computers or servers, from an off-campus location, using one of the remote desktop applications listed below. These individuals must connect to the VPN first, then they may start using those specific remote desktop applications.

Getting Started with the VPN
To use the VPN, you will need to install the new VPN client software – Palo Alto GlobalProtect. This software is ready and available to the Northeastern community, as detailed in the How To’s link below. A list of operating systems that support the new GlobalProtect VPN client software is available here.

VPN Installation, Set Up & Connection How To’s

Applications That Require The VPN To Function Properly From Off-Campus
• AirDroid
• Apple Remote Desktop
• Avocent
• BeInSync
• Dell Remote Access Card (DRAC)
• DeskShare
• eklogin
• exhelp
• Glide
• Jump Desktop
• klogin
• Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
• Mocha RDP
• Mosh (Mobile Shell)
• Microsoft Hyper-V Virtual Machine Connection
• Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
• PC Anywhere
• PC-over-IP (PCoIP)
• Pocket Controller Pro for Windows
• Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
• Rexec
• vR-services
• Radmin
• RDM+ Remote Desktop
• rlogin
• Remote Shell (rsh)
• ScreenConnect
• Synergy
• TeamViewer (direct IP-IP)
• Telnet
• VNC
• Webot
• webRDP
• X Font Server
• X11
• XDMCP
Questions or concerns? Please contact the ITS Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) or help@neu.edu.

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JAN 26, 2015 Blizzard Public Information Statement MEMA

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency sent out these steps to help stay safe through what is being called a potentially “Historic Blizzard.”

*You can also view the UniversalHub French Toast Alert for the latest storm updates.

MEMA’S TIPS FOR PREPARING FOR THE STORM

FRAMINGHAM, MA – “Before the arrival of the storm this evening, it is important that you take the proper steps to ensure the safety of your family and home,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Kurt Schwartz.

• Ensure your Emergency Kit is stocked with supplies to enable you to survive on your own for at least three to five days. There should be a first-aid kit, essential prescription medicines, non-perishable foods (those that require no refrigeration such as canned goods, dried fruits and nuts), a manual can opener, water (one gallon per person, per day), flashlights and extra batteries along with a portable radio or NOAA Weather Radio, baby-care or pet supplies items, extra blankets, sleeping bags and a fire extinguisher.

• Ensure that your Winter Emergency Car Kit is well stocked to keep you and your vehicle safe.

• This storm has the potential to bring widespread power outages, so take the opportunity to fully charge your cell phone, laptop, and any other devices in advance of a power outage.

• Those along the coast should be aware of potential flooding. Pay close attention to directives from you local public safety officials.

• Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.

• Gas up you automobiles because many local filling stations may also lose their ability to pump gas.

• Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app to your smartphone to receive important weather alerts and messages from MEMA. Easy instructions are available at www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

• Trim dead tree branches and limbs close to your home. Ice, snow and wind can combine to snap limbs that can take down power lines or damage your home.

• Clean gutters. Melting snow and ice can build up if gutters are clogged with debris. When thawing begins, the water can back up under your roof and eaves causing damage to walls and ceilings.

• Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage.

• Ensure that your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are working correctly and have fresh batteries. Check your outside fuel exhaust vents, making sure that they are not obstructed by snow or ice. Never use cooking equipment intended for outside use indoors as a heat source or cooking device

• Have sufficient heating fuel, as regular sources may be cut off. Have the option of emergency heating equipment and fuel (a gas fireplace, wood burning stove or fireplace) so you can safely keep at least one room livable. Be sure the room is well ventilated.

• To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing.

• Know how to safely shut off gas, electric power and water valves.

• If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity, talk to your health care provider about how you can prepare for its use during a power outage. Ensure you have extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices.

• If you have life-support devices that depend on electricity, contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of an emergency. Some utility companies will put you on a “priority reconnection service” list. Talk to your equipment suppliers about your power options and also let the fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.

• Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community if you need it. Register in advance with the local emergency management agency, the local fire department, other government agencies or non-profit groups. Tell them of your individual needs or those of a family member and find out what assistance, help or services can be provided.

• If you use in-home support services, Meals-on-Wheels, Life Alert or other support services, work with them to personalize emergency preparedness plans to meet your needs so you can keep in touch with them during and after an emergency. That contact may be your lifeline to other services in a disaster.

• If you have or may have transportation needs, work with local transportation providers and/or disability services (e.g., Paratransit, Independent Living Centers) to plan ahead for accessible transportation.

• Develop back-up plans for personal assistance services, hospice or other forms of in-home assistance.

• Be a good neighbor. Check in on friends, family, and neighbors, particularly those most susceptible to extreme temperatures and power outages such as seniors and those with access and functional needs.

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector – – individuals, families, non-profits, and businesses – – MEMA ensures the Commonwealth’s ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, coordinating response operations, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover.

For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Also, follow MEMA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA; Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; and YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA. Massachusetts Alerts: to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for additional information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

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Zero-Day Exploit for Latest Version of Flash

UPDATE 1/22/2015: Adobe has released a partial patch for this vulnerability: KrebsonSecurity.com: Flash Patch Targets Zero Day Exploit

Adobe plans to release additional patches next week.

It is recommended that you install both the available update today, and future patches as they are released in the next week.

Adobe Flash Player Website

——–

Security researchers have discovered an new unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player that allows attackers to install malware onto a user’s computer. The malware is currently being used as part of the Angler exploit kit. When a user visits a malicious website the Angler exploit kit uses the vulnerability in Flash to install the Bedep malware. But criminals could use the exploit to install any type of malware.

To protect yourself:

Install and keep up to date your antivirus software. The NU community can get antivirus software for free.
Consider using Google Chrome to browse website that contain Flash and Flash advertisements
Disable Flash in Internet Explorer until a patch has been issued by Adobe
Install the vulnerability patch from Adobe when it becomes available.

Who is vulnerable?

Windows 8.1, IE 11 with Flash version 16.0.0.257
Windows 8, IE10 with Flash version 16.0.0.257
Windows 7, IE6-9, with Flash version 16.0.0.257
Windows XP, IE6 to 8 with Flash 16.0.0.257
Firefox version 35 with Flash version 16.0.0.257

Note: Flash Player versions up to 15.0.0.223 are also vulnerable.

Who is safe?

Google Chrome browser users.

More Information:

EXPLOIT FOR FLASH ZERO DAY APPEARS IN ANGLER EXPLOIT KIT

Unpatched Vulnerability (0day) in Flash Player is being exploited by Angler EK

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Start off 2015 Secure with Free Anti-Virus

computervirus
Welcome New and Returning Students!

The New Year promises an even higher number of virus and malware threats to your Mac and Windows computers. The ResNet Resource Center has a stack of Apples and PCs that are infected with viruses. Long gone are the days when Apple users are immune from viruses and malware. The viruses today attack both Macs and Windows with equal success and damage.

The only way to help protect your computer is to install anti-virus software. Fortunately Northeastern offers Symantec Endpoint Protection (anti-virus) for both Mac and Windows for FREE!

Download Symantec Endpoint Protection FREE today!

Why should you install anti-virus software?

The viruses today are much more dangerous than in the past; and may cause much irreversible damage such as:

  • Stealing your email password and hijacking your account
  • Stealing your social media passwords and hijacking your accounts
  • Stealing your personal information and photos
  • Encrypting and holding all your data hostage
  • Corrupting your operating system, making your computer unusable
  • Hijacking your computer to make it part of an international crime bot-net (not as cool as it sounds)

Wiping the computer and reinstalling the operating system from scratch is often the only way to remove the viruses. Do not be left without a computer or your data. Get FREE anti-virus software to help keep your computer safe and secure.

Contact the Service Desk at x4357 or the ResNet Resource Center for assistance.

Image credit: IntelFreePress, on Flickr

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‘Tis the Season to be…WARY

SecureNU-logo-vsm-xmas

The holiday season is upon us, and you are probably shopping the never-ending sales that have been available since Halloween, especially online. More and more holiday money is being spent online, and this presents hackers and cyber-thieves a unique opportunity to rake in the cash – almost $800 million last year, according to the FBI.

To help protect your money and information, the FBI and other cyber-security watchdogs are highlighting the risks to those who will shop online, and we are taking this opportunity to share our Twelve Tips of Holiday Season Safety.

12. Hark the Herald Angels Sing: “Advertising wondrous things!”
While bargain hunting is great, there are many bogus websites created at this time of year in order to offer amazing bargains on brand-name things. If you see a discount from an unfamiliar online retailer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be tempted.

11. Randolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Another favorite trick of cyber-thieves is to use closely matching URLs to catch people who may mistype the address in their web browser. You were aiming for LLBean.com, but somehow you ended up at LBean.com, and instead of getting your flannel PJs, you now have malware on your computer. So type carefully, and pay attention to the addresses of the sites you’re visiting.

10. We Three Kings … All Use the Same Password
If you create an account at a merchant site, avoid using a username and password combination that you have used elsewhere, even if it is one deemed strong by a site you trust. While your banking site may be secure, small vendor sites are often not, and so are often targeted by criminals. If you have used the same username and password combination for your banking site, you just made someone’s Christmas.

9. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like….
“Your UPS delivery is on its way. Click here to see shipping details.” Actually, if you click here, you might see your computer infected with malware. Emails you receive detailing shipments you don’t recognize are often attempt to infect your computer with malicious code. Don’t trust shipping details links. The legitimate vendor will always email you a tracking number with your shipment notice – copy and paste the number into the shipping company’s webtracking page.

8. It’s the Gift that Keeps on Taking
Gift cards are a great stocking stuffer, because what’s better than being able to choose what you want to buy for the Holidays? But if you want to give that gift, make sure that you only purchase cards directly from the company or from a well-known retailer. Offers and deals online that claim to give you extra value above what is legitimately on the card are often scams, or possible stolen cards with no value.

7. All I Want … is for My Package to be Received
When you order from a legitimate retailer, try to ensure that your delivery will be at a date and time when someone will be home to receive it. You may also be able to submit a direct request to the shipping company to pick it up at one of their facilities (USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL all have the ability to do this online). Incidents of mail theft have quadrupled over the last two years, because knowing the number of deliveries at this time of year, thieves will tour neighborhoods looking for Amazon boxes and other packages left on your doorstep. While you do your shopping online, thieves are doing it at your front door.

6. On the Sixth Day … My True Love Gave to Me…An eCard with a Virus
“Oh look someone sent you an eCard, and it needs to install a new version of FlashViewer.” Most of the time when your computer is compromised, it is because of something that you clicked. Social engineering plays on human desires and social bonds to exploit trust, and ecards are a favorite scam. If you receive holiday ecards or messages from people you do not know, or receive any unexpectedly from people you do know, treat them with suspicion.

5. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel…Public Wifi Just Won’t Play
While a lot of online shopping happens from home, more people than ever will use their mobile devices to price check or even purchase items while out and about. Make sure that your device is not using public wifi when you do anything involving passwords or payment cards unless you are using extra security, such as the Virtual Private Network client for both iOS and Android that is available to all Northeastern faculty and staff. Also don’t let your device automatically connect to unknown wifi, because rogue wifi with familiar names are an easy way for hackers to obtain your information. In the end, to be extra secure if you do want to make a purchase on your mobile device, double check that you are on a known and trusted network, or use your data access.

4. Oh There’s Nobody Home for the Holidays.
Posting on social media that you are at grandma’s house for the holidays, or skiing in Aspen, can be fun to share. However, it also lets people know that your home is empty, and someone might decide to do a little late season shopping while you are gone. Be careful about how many people are aware of your travel plans. Do you really know and trust all the friends or followers that you have on social media?

3. Making a List and Checking it Twice is Sound Advice
Know what you buy and where – make a list of your purchases and check it against your credit card statements when they come, or online when the transactions post. Take the time to ensure that your card isn’t being misused and that you have been charged what you expected to be charged by merchants. The sooner you can detect malicious activity, the easier it is to remedy. It’s also good to make sure you have contact information on file with your credit card companies, so they can contact you if they detect anomalous activity.

2. Blessings Might Come Back to Bite Good King Wenceslas
The holidays are a time for giving, and also, unfortunately, for taking. The number of charity scams increases exponentially during this time of year. If and when you decide to make a charitable donation, check that your donation will be going to the cause you wish it to, and that the highest ratio of your dollar goes to the charity instead of expenses. Use www.charitynavigator.org as a
reputable resource to ensure that your donation finds a good home. And never respond to unsolicited phone calls or door-to-door charity requests from unknown people.

1. It’s a Marshmallow World…Don’t Get Toasted
Many credit card companies offer the ability to create a one-time-use card number through their websites. Use these numbers to protect yourself should your retailer experience a data breach where customer names and card numbers are stolen. Most credit companies do not hold card holders accountable for theft, but doing this reduces the headache you can face in cleaning up the mess. Also, despite what many say about incurring debt at the holidays, avoid using your debit cards – they have less loss protection than credit cards.

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday!

Mark Nardone
CISO

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