In the second of our three part blog series as we lead up to Christmas, the Meterian Team shares with you shortcuts to make the most out of what you already have.
A library, component, piece of code is reusable when it can be re-used in different parts of the same or different project with minimal to no need of code modifications.
Scanning for, identifying, and patching open source dependencies in an application’s codebase is known as dependency management. This is a critical part of modern software development since nearly 100% of codebases are made up of open source components. These dependencies can be directly used by your application or indirectly used through transitive relationships. You can imagine the number of connected components if your software codebase has hundreds of modules.
Many vulnerabilities remain, leaving software applications unsecured
Neither software development nor cybersecurity teams can keep up with all the changes and fixes required to keep the code performant and secure. Therefore, knowing how to leverage the right tools to detect and patch in a timely manner can make a difference in preventing a cyber breach spoiling a company’s business and reputation. In a Ponemon study last year:
60% of respondents said their organisations suffered a breach due to an unpatched known vulnerability where the patch was not applied
62% were unaware that their organisations were vulnerable prior to the data breach
52% of respondents said their organisations were at disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities because they use manual processes
Earlier this year another Ponemon report highlighted the need for a programmatic approach to managing vulnerabilities as unpatched known vulnerabilities remain a significant risk: “Over six months, an average of 28% of vulnerabilities remain unmitigated, and organizations have a backlog of 57,555 identified vulnerabilities.” Remember, even just one vulnerability exploited could lead to a cyber breach. Furthermore, 60% of open source programs audited had a vulnerability that’s already been patched.
For this blog, we present the top 3 most popular components found from our survey of 1310 web applications past their “best before” date. Below are recommended substitutions for an alternative or updated component that is vulnerability free so you can #BoostOpenSourceSecurity in your software applications:
jQuery 1.12.4 -> Please update to jQuery 3.5.1
handlebars.js 4.0.11 -> Update handlebars module to version >=4.6.0
1 high level threat: Versions of handlebars prior to 3.0.8 or 4.5.3 are vulnerable to prototype pollution. It is possible to add or modify properties to the Object prototype through a malicious template. This may allow attackers to crash the application or execute Arbitrary Code in specific conditions.1 medium level threat: Affected versions of handlebars are vulnerable to Denial of Service. The package's parser may be forced into an endless loop while processing specially-crafted templates. This may allow attackers to exhaust system resources leading to Denial of Service.. Recommendation: Upgrade to version 4.4.5 or later.
Twitter-bootstrap 3.x.x (3.3.7) -> update to the next safe version 3.4.1
1 high level threat:XSS in data-template, data-content and data-title properties of tooltip/popover1 medium level threat: In Bootstrap before 3.4.0, XSS (cross site scripting)is possible in the affix configuration target property.
Remains of the day
At the end of the day, updating your application’s dependencies is easy if you know what to look out for, when to apply the update, and have an automated workflow to help you do this consistently and at scale. Finding the right combination of open source components to help speed and secure your development is one example of how “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Meterian speeds up the task of keeping your open source dependencies up to date easily and continuously so developers can focus on the main course of innovating securely.
In the spirit of giving this Christmas and to fuel the creative cooks out there (perhaps you or that important person in your life who always makes sure a delicious meal is ready for you at dinner time!), here’s how to use leftover Christmas veg to make two speedy suppers:
Linguine with with cavolo nero and bacon
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
6 slices smoked streaky bacon, cut into 1cm or bite size pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g cavolo nero, hard stalks removed, and roughly chopped (shortcut: blitz the shallots, garlic and cavolo nero leaves in food processor until finely chopped)
75ml double cream (optional)
2 egg yolks
¼ nutmeg, freshly grated
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Tip: No cavolo nero? Don’t get stuck in a rut. Try any slightly bitter green veg, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccolini, gai lan, or rapini. All lend a lovely nutty flavour balanced with the delightful pungence of parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Cook the linguine in a pan of boiling, salted water following the pack instructions. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and cook the bacon for a couple of minutes. Add the shallots and garlic cloves, and finely chopped cavolo nero to stir-fry with the bacon. After 3-4 minutes, take off the heat.
Mix the cream and egg yolks with with the nutmeg, ⅔ of the cheese and some black pepper.
Put the bacon and veg stir fry back on the heat, add a little of the pasta cooking water and simmer down to 2 tbsp.
Drain the cooked pasta, and add the pasta to the pan with the cavolo nero-bacon and cream mixture. Next add the remaining grated parmesan cheese, and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Cod, Chorizo and Potato Stew
Preparation time:10 minutes
Cooking time:30 minutes
110g chorizo, cut into 2cm slices
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can of chopped tomatoes (220-250g)
500ml fish stock
600g frozen cod fillets, defrosted and cut into 3 - 4cm chunks
20g flat leaf parsley, chopped
1. Heat a large pan over a medium heat and cook the chorizo for 2 - 3 minutes, then remove from the pan and set aside. Drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from the pan and use to cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 6 - 8 minutes until soft. Peel potatoes and cut into 3cm chunks. Put the potatoes in the pan with the chorizo and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and fish stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the cooked chorizo. You can freeze the stew at this stage, letting it cool to room temperature first.
3. If cooking from frozen, defrost the stew overnight in the fridge or in a microwave, then reheat. Add the cod to the stew and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes until just cooked. Season and serve immediately, scattered with parsley.
“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
The tools that boost your efficiency when your coding project has a handful developers may need to be very different from the software that keeps your project humming when you have 1,000 or more. We’ve designed Meterian to evolve with your application security tech stack as your software engineering and digital transformation needs evolve. If your open source dependency management system is not humming smoothly with your software development life cycle, or your open source components are decaying and reducing their life time value for the organisation, consider reusing and securing your software components with Meterian. Get in touch today.
Recipes, ingredients and ideas to make your fuel (food and software!) go further.
In this three part blog series as we lead up to Christmas, the Meterian Team will share with you their work and christmas holiday hacks of life. First and foremost, let’s get our coding projects secured so we can have some peace of mind over the holidays.
Five things to do this December and then forgeddaboutituntil 2021
This last step will require you to put in some time and effort. Our customers have done this in minutes to several hours over 2 days. The best part is that once it’s done and you’ve got it running automatically, you can just leave it running and put your feet up. Or perhaps run off and be there for someone else who needs you. Boost your apps’ open source security — Enjoy!
As the extraordinary situation of the COVID-19 crisis continues and more such supervirus incidents will occur, the benefits that IoT can provide will be even in more demand. We are already seeing how IoT plays a significant role in modernising healthcare and disaster prevention, public safety and security, supply chain, and manufacturing and production.
The Good We’ve Seen
In Hong Kong, the government has deployed smart wristbands to monitor city residents quarantined inside their homes. Accelerating the timely discovery of outbreaks, these smart medical devices, powered with internet of things (IoT) technology, play an important role in containment of outbreaks like COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics.
Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, Japan was preparing for Tokyo 2020, the smartest Olympics ever with robotic guides, immersive virtual reality and crowd control directed by artificial intelligence. Getting ready to welcome 11,000 athletes with 4 to 7 million on-site spectators from Japan and all over the world, this would have been a wonderful showcase of IoT tech and applications from a country that is already a technological leader in robotics and consumer electronics. Unfortunately, the event is postponed 12 months, though the Olympic Committee resolves to have the games, it’s not clear how much of IoT tech applications will be used.
As public venues have been opening up in the past several weeks, there is a serious challenge of getting business going and the health and safety of people using the same facilities. How can public toilets be kept safe and clean for everyone to use? A common need at medical centres, restaurants, shopping malls, and any city where visitors would rely on public toilets. One new IoT company on the scene, Inferrix, has a solution for the “COVID Secure Washroom”, as described on their website: Inferrix wireless edge-intelligent sensors on the washroom doors show a red light to alert visitors if the washroom is unsafe to use. Any washroom can be installed in less than 1 hour. We can easily imagine its application to be useful in office spaces near shared kitchen areas or study areas of public or university libraries as well.
The Not So Good
In a 2019 study of security of IoT devices, data revealed that more than twice the number of vulnerabilities were detected compared to six years earlier. As covered in in our last blog post, cyber attacks from IoT risks have surged 300% and the UK and US are catching up on regulations to ensure companies safeguard devices.
Such attacks can become more sophisticated and more dangerous to individuals using new health technology apps and devices used to provide medication or daily survival needs.
Bringing Tech Out for Good
Connected devices are available using cellular connectivity which are allowing doctors to rely on patients to use connected out-of-the-box devices for special readings to be sent directly to the doctor from the device (temperature, blood pressure, glucose meters). Such technology is not limited to medical practitioners and is already available for anyone. A user created a smart system to monitor his diabetic brother’s blood sugar (glucose) levels using an app, a data logging platform that processed data from his brother’s glucose sensor to make his own healthcare monitoring system.
Security, safety, and data privacy considerations are important aspects of designing, building and maintaining such systems to protect the identity and well-being of the individual. We’d hate to think about incidents where devices give wrong information due to a malicious actor – getting the wrong medication, dosage, or advice could have serious, even lethal consequences. Having IoT devices and apps to create a safer world requires more scrutiny and protective measures designed as part of the solution. As many of these solutions will be designed for one person’s use, customised to their medical needs or specific daily routines, it’s essential they are maintained, updated, and when no longer maintainable that they are properly turned off and disposed of.
Although the transformational journey to an IoT world seems daunting, the capabilities of IoT to bring high-tech care and consultancy out of the clinic and into homes and vulnerable communities across the world presents a thrilling opportunity. Health care and IT experts, technicians, research scientists and security experts are collaborating, as are carers, policy makers and administrators. Altogether, the confluence of tech and human intelligence will continue to evolve and strive to protect all that is worth protecting. COVID-19 and cybercrime are making seismic shifts in worldwide health and safety, threatening our prosperity. Let’s defend the world, use technology for good and build the world we want.
If you are a developer using open source components, check out what we do at meterian.io.
If you are interested in auditing applications for open source risks and vulnerabilities, get in touch via our Contact Us page.
How can we enjoy social gatherings in restaurants or busy spaces again? This is possible with robots, devices, space partitions and humans occupying the same space. With imagination, we will re-create the bustling spaces redefined with IoT technology.
What is IoT?
If you’re new to IoT, see from Wikipedia: “The Internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
Basically, an IoT device is one that has an internet connection, even though normally it wouldn’t. Your smart boiler and smart thermostat are examples of IoT devices. You talk to them using an app on your smartphone. You tell the smart boiler to heat water so you can take a shower, and the smart thermostat to warm up the room to a cosy temperature by the time you arrive home.
In recent months, as the reach and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic increased, adopting IoT solutions started joining the frontline in many countries outside Asia in order to manage the crisis. With the boost in increased use of digital and remote technologies, videoconferencing has become the norm for office meetings, school lessons and exercise classes. These efforts are likely to take a step further with IoT. Many countries have set up temperature measurement systems at the entrance of public places such as airports and train stations. Restaurant managers are also recording the temperature of staff who are preparing food. If this collected data (temperature) could be transferred and analysed in the cloud through an app, it could result in real-time analysis.
To orchestrate such a system requires planning and a clear understanding of what is most valuable to protect and why. There are many benefits and use cases of IoT.
Benefits of IoT
IoT, artificial intelligence, and the analysis of vast amounts of real-time data sets (aka Big Data) can be used to slow down proliferation of pandemics to avoid future global health crises. Such real-time connected intelligence, dubbed “nowcasting”, could be gained from medical devices connecting over the internet. Trend monitoring of wearable devices could analyse population-level influenza trends daily according to a recent study from Scripps Research scientists.
As seen during COVID-19 isolation period, this preventive action to stop the virus spread combined with telehealth services lets health care providers advise patients without risking exposure.
Key reasons for implementing IoT projects are summarized in Microsoft Azure’s IoT survey featured in their IoT Signals report, which highlight the top three reasons as improving operations optimization, employee productivity, and safety and security.
During COVID-19 crisis, we have seen that doctors and health care providers can maintain some employees’ productivity while social distancing and relying on the right connected devices and computing systems. Logistics companies, supermarkets and the food supply chain can track the quality and quantity of goods and produce from shore to shop or farm to market with minimal manual effort. Eventually, the click-pick-and-collect journey of groceries delivered by Ocado will be done entirely with robotics.
As with all new technology, great progress comes with risks in uncharted fields.
Since the explosion of the internet of things (IoT) across industries, companies providing products or services in any IoT ecosystem must carefully evaluate and examine possible threats of malicious intent.
In the United States, FBI warned the US private sector in February: “Software supply chain companies are believed to be targeted in order to gain access to the victim’s strategic partners and/or customers, including entities supporting Industrial Control Systems (ICS) for global energy generation, transmission, and distribution.”
In addition to attacks against supply chain software providers, the FBI said the same malware was also deployed in attacks against companies in the healthcare, energy, and financial sectors.
The Most popular supply chain attack is 2017’s NotPetya ransomware attack. Due to a lack of patches to keep software in their Windows computer systems up to date, cyber criminals were able to gain access to computers and install a malware that spread through the networks of organizations like wildfire. Multinational companies, AP Moller-Maersk, Reckitt Benckiser and FedEx, were crippled and they were not even the target of the state-sponsored attack. Just collateral damage, and the estimated loss is $10 billion.
Gavin Ashton recently wrote in his personal blog about his insider view of the NotPetya experience, which cost Maersk $300 million: “you should put up a damn good fight to stop these attacks in the first case. … Staying with the home analogy; Yes, there’s security cameras and wizard cloud-connected ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) devices and all kinds of expensive measures and widgets, but a lot of organisations fail simply on the basics. Lock the damn door.”
The Value Security Adds to Systems
Such risks and misfortunate events are avoidable and can be mitigated.
There is a range of use cases in which security indeed adds value to IoT systems. For example:
Need to prove authentic origin of products such as fresh produce or medications? Eliminate loss by tracking products with encrypted data.
Need to guarantee the integrity of data? Prevent tampering and fraud by ensuring systems have security controls for identification, authentication and authorization.
Prevent cloning/faking/tampering of trackers or meters?
Ensure data of logistics/transport/utility/food services is confidential end-to-end
individual contact tracing. Ensure tracker data is confidential end-to-end
Prevent device/software tampering that could affect pricing and billing
At home and with health care providers,
Safeguard customer privacy by preventing intrusion into home systems
Comply with patient privacy regulations by protecting data at rest (stored on devices/systems) and in motion (when sent from a device over the network to another device/system).
In the IoT ecosystem, it is crucial for organizations to have visibility into all connected devices and systems. As more employees use cloud apps and mobile devices for work, the traditional network security perimeter has lost relevance. This means more attention is needed on endpoint monitoring and protection, which includes not only employees’ devices to perform work, but also devices in the worker’s environment whether at home or at work. At work the environment may be an open plan of office desks, a clinician’s patient room, or on the assembly line of a manufacturing plant. Each environment will have its unique characteristics.
The user/actor in the environment may also vary and the device’s mobility would affect its position and environment. IoT system design must take many of these factors into consideration and use secure-by-design principles to protect the value of the information that is being moved around the ecosystem. There is no panacea to protect all aspects because in the IoT ecosystem the hardware, software, and services are provided by different vendors. Each aspect will need to be secured to be fit for its purpose within the context of its environment and ecosystem. Methods to update and/or remove devices are required to keep up with the pace of business and technological advancements.
Just as hardware devices come with basic security benefits that can be used and will need to be updated over time, the software of open source components used by IoT devices must also be maintained. Continuous updates are essential. New aspects of information and human security will need to be included. In the context of autonomous vehicles, software must be resilient against both malicious actors as terrorists as well as unauthorised but friendly users, such as a child who could use a smartphone to direct the car to go to school, for example.
80% of data breaches can be prevented with basic actions, such as vulnerability assessments, patching, and proper configurations. Getting basic cyber hygiene right is critical to help prevent cyber attacks. There are always those who destroy unity and stifle positive progress. Cyber criminals unfortunately will continue to innovate with artificial intelligence to increase their attacks at machine speed from anywhere in the world and on a scale comparable to that of a pandemic.
Meterian is a builder of unity and strength with its know-how in software engineering and the open source supply chain. As co-guardians of software, Meterian is proud to work with customers to secure the foundations of its applications by automating the process and cutting 99.7% of the manual work. Automating such software monitoring and updates enables an agile governance of software maintenance that includes scrutiny on its software supply chain’s security, stability and licensing risks. With artificial intelligence and automated processes, ‘adaptive, human-centred, inclusive and sustainable policy-making’ can be applied to navigate the ever-increasing pace of technological change.
Are you a fellow guardian of software? Let’s unite to protect the security of customer data, company IP, and the digital systems of organizations.
If you are a developer using open source components, check out what we do at meterian.io.
If you are interested in auditing applications for open source risks and vulnerabilities, get in touch via our Contact Us page.
Earlier this month, Honda announced it has suffered a cyber attack on its network. It was affecting its operations around the world: their manufacturing plants have shut down, customer service work has been forced to stop, and their internal communication systems were affected. Additionally, systems outside of Japan were affected due to a “virus” that spread through the network. No further details on the root cause of the attack yet, but at Meterian we have done a quick surface scan of their websites honda.com and www.honda.co.uk. Similar issues were found on both. We’ll focus our blog post on Honda UK’s site.
From the summary report above, we see their website’s security scored 0 From the summary report above, we see their website’s security scored 0 out of 100 because it has 19 vulnerabilities, including jquery 1.4.2 which is vulnerable and outdated. Honda.co.uk’s basic cybersecurity hygiene could be improved by making sure to not launch the website with vulnerable and old components — jquery 1.4.2 is from 2010. Similar issues were found after analysing honda.com.
Although we don’t know if these two components’ weaknesses contributed to the hack of Honda’s systems, while investigations are private, we know every software application is part of a company’s digital estate. Altogether, front end systems (like websites and mobile apps) and back end systems (like databases, servers, APIs that store or access a company’s customer data, intellectual property — the real business logic of the services) make up the digital estate. Any security hole is a vulnerable entry point for cyber criminals to exploit and gain unauthorized access to information or systems to cause damage. Last year in 2019, over 40GB of Honda’s data were breached, exposing details about internal systems and devices on their network. Cyber criminals have strategically targeted Honda again.
There are many strategies to build up an organization’s cyber resilience, including cybersecurity cultural awareness among employees and operational and software development best practices. Meterian helps customers reduce the time to detect, mitigate and resolve issues in applications’ software supply chain. These known vulnerabilities are easy to fix with Meterian because:
1. Safe coding practices can be easily adopted into the software development lifecycle
2. Automated controls fit directly into the software development workflow for continuous monitoring
3. Meterian can be set up to run continuously and prevent such vulnerabilities from going live
Most importantly, developers are empowered to recognise and address the issue early with information at their fingertips. As stewards of software, they can automatically cyber-proof their apps with Meterian so the business can run continuously and avert giving unwanted prying eyes unauthorized access to systems and data.
Good practices in cybersecurity can help protect a company’s reputation and growth. As we’ve also seen following the EasyJet hack incident revealed in May, business productivity and customer satisfaction can be adversely affected due to any cyber hack incident. You can read our recent analysis on easyjet.com’s website.
To see if your own public assets have open source vulnerabilities that anyone could find out about (and exploit to enter your systems), try our webscanner or project scanner.
Easyjet today admitted it was hacked by a “highly sophisticated cyber-attack”. 9 million customer records were compromised, where email addresses and travel details had been stolen. Also 2,208 customers credit card details were stolen.
“Are we surprised? Honestly, we are not.”
Are we surprised? Honestly, we are not. A quick surface scan of the Easyjet website reveals that it is using at least two out of date and vulnerable components: jquery 1.11.2 and angularjs 1.4
Angularjs is another popular web framework used to simplify web development. Version 1.4 of this framework was mainstream in 2015, when we had a nuclear deal with Iran and Barack Obama was at the White House. Sweet. But even if we do really miss those times, you do not necessarily want to use such version of angular because of multiple XSS, DOS and security bypass issues that can easily exploited.
“We can see what’s on the frontend. But what is the situation in the backend systems?”
Do we think that any of those two components can be the culprit of this hack? Well, we do not know. But remember: a system like the EasyJet.com is always composed of a frontend (the website itself) and a backend system, which contains the real business logic of the services (and usually your data).
So, if in the fronted we can see components outdated and vulnerable, what do we think the situation could be on the backend? Well, actually, we think it could be worse. As the frontend is usually easy to change and in fact changes frequently (think about new offers or new branding) the backend is usually a much more stable environment that changes less frequently. So it would be reasonable to expect a similar or worse situation on the backend code, with some outdated and vulnerable components. And this is scary.
“You should always know and assess your risks due to opensource components”
However, this is also something any development team should always actively look into. Making sure that your opensource components are up to date and not vulnerable is a fundamental step in the development process. Meterian can help you do that (actually, it can do that for you and your team). Check out our one minute video that explains how meterian works:
And if at this point you want to learn more, please take a look at these two articles:
Last month a new vulnerability was discovered that affects several versions of http4s, a prominent Scala HTTP library for client and server applications. The vulnerability is of a high severity nature hence it poses substantial risks. Therefore be sure to read on and find out what these risks are and how to safely resolve them.
Http4s allows Scala developers to create native client and server applications while favouring the pure functional side of the programming language.
In versions prior to 0.18.26, 0.20.20 and 0.21.2, the library has been found to be prone to local file inclusion (LFI) vulnerabilities caused by an erroneous URI normalization process that takes place when requests are performed. URI normalization is a very common process. For example, browsers and web crawlers use it to modify and standardise URIs in order to determine whether two syntactically different ones are equivalent.
In vulnerable http4s versions, a malicious request could allow a potential attacker to gain access to resources on the server filesystem. This is known as a local file inclusion attack and it can lead to remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities.
File inclusions are part of every advanced server side scripting language on the web. In addition to keeping web application’s code tidy and maintainable, they are also used to parse files (e.g. configuration files) from the file system to be evaluated in the application’s code. Issues arise when these are not properly implemented, thus making the system vulnerable to exploits.
A typical exploit scenario could be the following. Assume you modularise your app so that required modules are defined in separate files, which are included and interpreted through a function that allows to specify the path to said modules. If the appropriate security checks are not present, the attacker could specify the path to sensitive files (e.g. the passwd file which stores passwords on Unix systems) or even worse, inject malicious code on the server and specify the path to successfully perform arbitrary remote code execution. A relatively trivial way to do so could be by abusing the web app’s upload functionality to upload an image containing this malicious code in its source.
How to fix this issue?
The recommended course is to upgrade:
v0.18.26 (compatible with the 0.18.x series)
v0.20.20 (compatible with the 0.20.x series)
v0.21.2 (compatible with the 0.21.x series)
If you can not perform an upgrade due to compatibility issues, it is advised to temporarily replace FileService.scala, ResourceService.scala and WebjarService.scala in your project with their non-vulnerable versions from the appropriate release series specified above.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Don’t delay! Take remedial actions as specified above now. Integrate your system with Meterian to be informed when similar vulnerabilities arise and eliminate possible threats!
This is really a good question, that many potential prospects are asking us. For most of the time the answer is easy: we can point them to hacks to the likes of Equifax, British Airways, Carphone Warehouse and so on. But what if someone believes they’re already protected?
We are already checking our code!
Yes, some of us already have a SAST solution in place, like SonarCube or Fortify, and we think we are fully protected. Some of us instead use opensource alternatives, like Spotbugs or PMD, and we also feel okay. These tools will continuously scan your developers’ source code and make sure that it’s not including any pattern that could be exploited by a malicious hacker.
On top of that, we have already secure coding in place: we use peer reviews and pair programming, so that all our code is severely scrutinized. We use a set of agreed secure coding practices, we follow detailed checklists, and we have developers trained continuously on these matters. And yes, that’s good!
But not everything is written from scratch…
When developers code, they do not write everything from scratch. Have you ever been surprised at how little time it took a piece to be delivered? Maybe, just once. And you ask how did that happen? Your developers, rightly so, dipped into the big pool of opensource and pulled a component that was able to accelerate their development, providing ready to use building blocks so that they could concentrate only on the business logic.
Those opensource components are so widely used, that in your final packaged product, up to 80% of the code is made of those components. Only a mere 20% is the carefully crafted code by your developers, where your internal practices and existing tools make a difference. But who’s checking the security of those opensource components? Well, it so happens that many people across the world checks them. This allows the components to evolve quickly. When a problem is found, either a bug or a security problem, it’s rapidly fixed and a new version of the component is released. When this becomes a security problem, often the issue is publicly reported in specific mailing lists or newsrooms dedicated to security.
How do you know an opensource component needs to be updated?
The core problem is, how do you know about all this? How does your team become aware that a certain component they use is now vulnerable, and that they need to update to a new version? How do they make sure that the code they do not write, which could account for 80% of your product, is also secure? Do you maintain a team the does these things? A team that painfully scrutinises multiple news sources, makes sure that your application does not contain a vulnerable or out of date component, alerting your developers accordingly?
This is where SCA (Software Composition Analysis) like Meterian enters the scene. These products are a natural complement to tools like SonarQube or PMD, as they check the code your team did not write. Typically running along with your build system, they will prevent your product to go live if a vulnerable component is discovered and will provide your developers the information they need to fix the problem immediately (and, in some occasions automatically). You will be able to secure 80% of the code your development teams produce without investing a fortune, without further head count, and with a minimal integration effort.
So, if you do not have a solution for your opensource components in place, it won’t hurt taking a look at Meterian: it’s an all round affordable system that will give you peace of mind about the code that developers do not write. And, by the way, it also checks component licences, but this is for another blog post 🙂
After traversing the National Vulnerability Database for compelling open source security flaws this past month, we have identified the Ruby gem strong_password version 0.0.7 and mini_magick version 4.9.4 to have extensively critical security issues. Read on and spread the word about them with your application security community!
CVE-2019-13354 Ruby strong_password gem 0.0.7 is untrustworthy.
Vulnerability Score: Critical — 9.8 (CVSS v3.0)
Affected versions: strong_password gem 0.0.6
Amber alert! A major vulnerability was found in the RubyGems repository earlier this month – the strong_password gem 0.0.6 was hijacked, and the compromised version 0.0.7 was found to contain a security flaw, in which a code-execution backdoor has been installed to potentially give third-party attackers the ability to trigger arbitrary code execution (ACE) over the network.
In lay man’s terms, this simply translates to a stealthy backdoor which provides third-party attackers with complete remote access of the server of the Ruby application for which this gem has been installed; opportunistic attackers are then able to send malicious code to the command-and-control servers of the compromised system to execute a range of functions including Denial of Service (DoS) and privilege escalation (e.g. data exfiltration, password dumping).
This open-source security risk was identified by Tute Costa – he was performing a due diligence scanning for anomalies in the library’s changeset of the 25 gems he had upgraded for his Rails app project after realising he could not locate a changelog.md (a file logging all descriptions of changes for each version of an updated gem – think how Microsoft Word or Google Drive saves changes of edits made to documents) for strong_password 0.0.6 gem before it made its upgrade to version 0.0.7. He could not find the code for the updated version 0.0.7 of the strong_password gem and this discrepancy prompted Costa to cross-compare contents of the gem within his rails app with that of the latest copy in Github.
This was where he discovered the updated version 0.0.7 gem does not belong to the original owner of the strong-password gem, but rather a pseudo account. He then dived into the code and figured out that new tweaks to the updated code for version 0.0.7 creates a loop within a new thread which fetches and executes code stored in a pastebin.com, but with an empty exception handler that ignores any error it potentially raises – this gives attackers remote code-execution (RCE) control of the system as it will be able to bypass any error registered.
This strong_password gem is an entropy-based password strength checking installation for Ruby and ActiveModel. The previous version (0.0.6) had 39,955 downloads, whereas the compromised version 0.0.7, published on 25th June, raked in a total of 537 installations within three days before it was eventually yanked down on 28th June. Had this security flaw gone undetected and had these gem users decide to perform a bundle update on their APIs, over 30,000 web applications, libraries, servers, and system utilities could have been exposed to open-source security risks.
CVE-2019-13574 Ruby mini_magick version 4.9.4 has backdoor access to unwanted app server crashers.
Vulnerability Score: Critical — 7.8 High (CVSS v3.0)
Affected versions: mini_magick version 4.9.4
My oh my. Ruby open source gems are not looking too hot for application security this month! Harsh Jaiswal discovered a remote shell execution vulnerability in mini_magick – a Ruby library interface that acts as a buffer between the ImageMagick / GraphicsMagick programs and your Ruby code by providing you with the tools and resources to transform and customize images for Ruby applications that is exploitable when using MiniMagick::Image.open with specially crafted URLs originating from unsanitised user input.
Similar to the aforementioned case of the strong_password gem, the vulnerability within this mini_magick gem allows attackers to perform arbitrary code execution (ACE) on servers; it essentially opens the path to access the image in ib/mini_magick/image.rb in the pre-4.9.4 version of the mini_magick gem. The image.open input (aka path to image) is passed to Kernel.open, which functions to accept the ‘|’ (pipe) character followed by a command. This use of Kernel.open represents a serious security risk as the pipe (‘|’) is a character that allows chain commands in the Linux terminal, which means the result of a single command could have further-reaching consequences. Therefore, when installed on an application, this compromised mini_magick version could open the door to highly risky remote code execution on the hosting server.
This flawed version was downloaded over a million times, suggesting a large potential scale of impact for C2 backdoor attacks. Although a patch has been applied to version 4.9.4 of mini_magick, we believe the expansive list of gems using this flawed version means many developers and organisations might not be aware they have installed mini_magick due to the nature and ubiquity of open source work. Even if these gems do not necessarily use mini_magick in a way that exposes the program to the vulnerability, it is still well-advised to install the updated version of mini_magick 4.9.4 without the erroneous code.
So there you have it! Go right on ahead to perform an update to secure your applications and software programs if they use these Ruby gems – you know it would give you peace of mind!
Alas, these 2 identified vulnerabilities are just two needles in a haystack; open source code can typically make up to 90% of most software programs, and this resulting pervasiveness of open source vulnerabilities means new security flaws are popping up like hotcakes. To better equip for your combat against exploitation by third-party attacks, it would be prudent to conscientiously scan for vulnerabilities in your software.
Knowing is half the battle. The other half is doing. Let Meterian help your dev team stay in the know and on top of the latest updates to secure your apps continuously. Sign up here to download the Meterian client today. You’ll get an instant analysis of your first project for free. See the risks immediately and know which components to remove or upgrade to secure your app.