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AMT Flaw in Intel Chips Allows Attacker to Create a Backdoor

F-Secure researchers have found a way to exploit the security flaw in AMT that allows a local attacker to backdoor almost any corporate laptop in a matter of seconds, even if the BIOS password, TPM Pin, BitLocker and login credentials are in place. Once the system is compromised, the attacker can control it remotely.

"The attack is almost deceptively simple to enact, but it has incredible destructive potential," said Harry Sintonen, F-Secure's senior security consultant. "In practice, it can give a local attacker complete control over an individual's work laptop, despite even the most extensive security measures," Sintonen says.

F-Secure detailed how the exploit may work. All you need to do is reboot the system and enter the boot menu. Typically, you can't go beyond that point as there is BIOS password. That's where AMT comes to the rescue. An attacker can log into Intel's Management Engine BIOS Extension (MEBx), using the default password admin , which is not changed in most cases. An attacker can now change the default password, enable remote access and set AMT's user opt-in to None . Behold, the system is compromised. Now the attacker can gain access to the system, remotely.

Most people would dismiss such flaw as a real threat because it does require "physical" access to the target device. Sintonen said it's not that hard. Once the attackers identify the victim, they approach the victim in a public place like an airport, cafe, or hotel lobby and engage in the "evil maid" scenario. One attacker distracts the target while the other attacker quickly gains access to the laptop. The whole operation can be done in under a minute, said Sintonen.

It may sound like an episode from Mr. Robot , but it's actually not. To mitigate all such risks, organizations should either disable AMT or set a strong password for it.

First Malware for Mac OS in 2018

A security researcher has discovered a new malware targeting Mac OS systems. The stealth malware, dubbed OSX/MaMi, was discovered by security researcher Patrick Wardle. The malware can be used to steal sensitive user information and is undetectable by current antivirus programs.

Wardle believes that MaMi is closely related to the DNS Unlocker malware that targeted Windows systems in 2015.

"OSX/MaMi isn't particular advanced – but does alter infected systems in rather nasty and persistent ways. By installing a new root certificate and hijacking the DNS servers, the attackers can perform a variety of nefarious actions such as man-in-the-middle'ing traffic (perhaps to steal credentials, or inject ads)," wrote Wardle.

He has suggested some steps to ensure that your system is not infected – either reset the DNS server and delete the malicious certificate or simply reinstall Mac OS; I would go with the latter option.

You can also download and install a free and open source firewall, called LuLu, that Wardle has published on GitHub.

Critical Flaw in phpMyAdmin

A security researcher has found a critical flaw in phpMyAdmin that allows an attacker to damage databases. According to The Hacker News , "The vulnerability is a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attack and affects phpMyAdmin versions 4.7.x (prior to 4.7.7)."

The vulnerability was discovered by researcher, Ashutosh Barot. Barot wrote in a blog post, "In this case (phpMyAdmin), a database admin/Developer can be tricked into performing database operations like DROP TABLE using CSRF. It can cause devastating incidents! The vulnerability allows an attacker to send a crafted URL to the victim and if she (authenticated user) clicks it, the victim may perform a DROP TABLE query on her database."

On its advisory page, phpMyAdmin wrote that "by deceiving a user to click on a crafted URL, it is possible to perform harmful database operations such as deleting records, dropping/truncating tables, etc." The phpMyAdmin project has already released a patch and suggests users either apply the patch to the existing installs or upgrade to phpMyAdmin 4.7.7 or newer.

phpMyAdmin is an open source tool for managing MySQL over the web. It supports a wide range of functions, including management of databases, tables, columns, relations, indexes, users, permissions, etc. via the user interface, instead of using a command-line interface. This ease of use has made phpMyAdmin a very popular tool for hosting providers.

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