Month: July 2023

Researchers Find ‘Backdoor’ in Encrypted Police and Military Radios

A group of cybersecurity researchers has uncovered what they believe is an intentional backdoor in encrypted radios used by police, military, and critical infrastructure entities around the world. The backdoor may have existed for decades, potentially exposing a wealth of sensitive information transmitted across them, according to the researchers. While the researchers frame their discovery as a backdoor, the organization responsible for maintaining the standard pushes back against that specific term, and says the standard was designed for export controls which determine the strength of encryption. The end result, however, are radios with traffic that can be decrypted using consumer hardware like an ordinary laptop in under a minute. “There’s no other way in which this can function than that this is an intentional backdoor,” Jos Wetzels, one of the researchers from cybersecurity firm Midnight Blue, told Motherboard in a phone call. Do you know about other vulnerabilities in communications networks? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email [email protected]. The research is the first public and in-depth analysis of the TErrestrial Trunked RAdio (TETRA) standard in the more than 20 years the standard has existed. Not all users of TETRA-powered radios use the specific encryption algorithim called TEA1 which is impacted by the backdoor. TEA1 is part of the TETRA standard approved for export to other countries. But the researchers also found other, multiple vulnerabilities across TETRA that could allow historical decryption of communications and deanonymization. TETRA-radio users in general include national police forces and emergency services in Europe; military organizations in Africa; and train operators in North America and critical infrastructure providers elsewhere.  Midnight Blue will be presenting their findings at the upcoming Black Hat cybersecurity conference in August. The details of the talk have been closely under wraps, with the Black Hat website simply describing the briefing as a “Redacted Telecom Talk.” That reason for secrecy was in large part due to the unusually long disclosure process. Wetzels told Motherboard the team has been disclosing these vulnerabilities to impacted parties so they can be fixed for more than a year and a half. That included an initial meeting with Dutch police in January 2022, a meeting with the intelligence community later that month, and then the main bulk of providing information and mitigations being distributed to stakeholders. NLnet Foundation, an organization which funds “those with ideas to fix the internet,” financed the research. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an organization that standardizes technologies across the industry, first created TETRA in 1995. Since then, TETRA has been used in products, including radios, sold by Motorola, Airbus, and more. Crucially, TETRA is not open-source. Instead, it relies on what the researchers describe in their presentation slides as “secret, proprietary cryptography,” meaning it is typically difficult for outside experts to verify how secure the standard really is. The researchers said they worked around this limitation by purchasing a TETRA-powered radio from eBay. In order to then access the cryptographic component of the radio itself, Wetzels said the team found a vulnerability in an interface of the radio. From there, they achieved code execution on the main application processor; they then jumped to the signals processor, which Wetzels described as something equivalent to a wifi or 3G chip, which handles the radio’s signals. On that chip, a secure enclave held the cryptographic ciphers themselves. The team finally found vulnerabilities in that which allowed them to extract the cryptography and perform their analysis. The team then reverse-engineered how TETRA implemented its cryp

Source: Researchers Find ‘Backdoor’ in Encrypted Police and Military Radios

Commentary on the Implementation Plan for the 2023 US National Cybersecurity Strategy

The Atlantic Council released a detailed commentary on the White House’s new “Implementation Plan for the 2023 US National Cybersecurity Strategy.” Lots of interesting bits. So far, at least three trends emerge: First, the plan contains a (somewhat) more concrete list of actions than its parent strategy, with useful delineation of lead and supporting agencies, as well as timelines aplenty. By assigning each action a designated lead and timeline, and by including a new nominal section (6) focused entirely on assessing effectiveness and continued iteration, the ONCD suggests that this is not so much a standalone text as the framework for an annual, crucially iterative policy process. That many of the milestones are still hazy might be less important than the commitment. the administration has made to revisit this plan annually, allowing the ONCD team to leverage their unique combination of topical depth and budgetary review authority. Second, there are clear wins. Open-source software (OSS) and support for energy-sector cybersecurity receive considerable focus, and there is a greater budgetary push on both technology modernization and cybersecurity research. But there are missed opportunities as well. Many of the strategy’s most difficult and revolutionary goals—­holding data stewards accountable through privacy legislation, finally implementing a working digital identity solution, patching gaps in regulatory frameworks for cloud risk, and implementing a regime for software cybersecurity liability—­have been pared down or omitted entirely. There is an unnerving absence of “incentive-shifting-focused” actions, one of the most significant overarching objectives from the initial strategy. This backpedaling may be the result of a new appreciation for a deadlocked Congress and the precarious present for the administrative state, but it falls short of the original strategy’s vision and risks making no progress against its most ambitious goals. Third, many of the implementation plan’s goals have timelines stretching into 2025. The disruption of a transition, be it to a second term for the current administration or the first term of another, will be difficult to manage under the best of circumstances. This leaves still more of the boldest ideas in this plan in jeopardy and raises questions about how best to prioritize, or accelerate, among those listed here.

Source: Commentary on the Implementation Plan for the 2023 US National Cybersecurity Strategy

Linux Tier List

This list was created by Chris Titus. Interesting how he has these grouped.