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Next Steps Toward More Connection Security

27 Duben, 2017 - 19:17
Posted by Emily Schechter, Chrome Security Team

In January, we began our quest to improve how Chrome communicates the connection security of HTTP pages. Chrome now marks HTTP pages as “Not secure” if they have password or credit card fields. Beginning in October 2017, Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning in two additional situations: when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.

Treatment of HTTP pages in Chrome 62
Our plan
to label HTTP sites as non-secure is taking place in gradual steps, based on increasingly broad criteria. Since the change in Chrome 56, there has been a 23% reduction in the fraction of navigations to HTTP pages with password or credit card forms on desktop, and we’re ready to take the next steps.

Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62 Chrome will show the “Not secure” warning when users type data into HTTP sites.

Treatment of HTTP pages with user-entered data in Chrome 62

When users browse Chrome with Incognito mode, they likely have increased expectations of privacy. However, HTTP browsing is not private to others on the network, so in version 62 Chrome will also warn users when visiting an HTTP page in Incognito mode.

Eventually, we plan to show the “Not secure” warning for all HTTP pages, even outside Incognito mode. We will publish updates as we approach future releases, but don’t wait to get started moving to HTTPS! HTTPS is easier and cheaper than ever before, and it enables both the best performance the web offers and powerful new features that are too sensitive for HTTP. Check out our set-up guides to get started.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

New Research: Keeping fake listings off Google Maps

6 Duben, 2017 - 18:29
Posted by Doug Grundman, Maps Anti-Abuse, and Kurt Thomas, Security & Anti-Abuse Research

Google My Business enables millions of business owners to create listings and share information about their business on Google Maps and Search, making sure everything is up-to-date and accurate for their customers. Unfortunately, some actors attempt to abuse this service to register fake listings in order to defraud legitimate business owners, or to charge exorbitant service fees for services.

Over a year ago, we teamed up with the University of California, San Diego to research the actors behind fake listings, in order to improve our products and keep our users safe. The full report, “Pinning Down Abuse on Google Maps”, will be presented tomorrow at the 2017 International World Wide Web Conference.

Our study shows that fewer than 0.5% of local searches lead to fake listings. We’ve also improved how we verify new businesses, which has reduced the number of fake listings by 70% from its all-time peak back in June 2015.

What is a fake listing?
For over a year, we tracked the bad actors behind fake listings.  Unlike email-based scams selling knock-off products online, local listing scams require physical proximity to potential victims. This fundamentally changes both the scale and types of abuse possible.

Bad actors posing as locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, and other contractors were the most common source of abuse—roughly 2 out of 5 fake listings. The actors operating these fake listings would cycle through non-existent postal addresses and disposable VoIP phone numbers even as their listings were discovered and disabled. The purported addresses for these businesses were irrelevant as the contractors would travel directly to potential victims.

Another 1 in 10 fake listings belonged to real businesses that bad actors had improperly claimed ownership over, such as hotels and restaurants. While making a reservation or ordering a meal was indistinguishable from the real thing, behind the scenes, the bad actors would deceive the actual business into paying referral fees for organic interest.

How does Google My Business verify information?
Google My Business currently verifies the information provided by business owners before making it available to users. For freshly created listings, we physically mail a postcard to the new listings’ address to ensure the location really exists. For businesses changing owners, we make an automated call to the listing’s phone number to verify the change.



Unfortunately, our research showed that these processes can be abused to get fake listings on Google Maps. Fake contractors would request hundreds of postcard verifications to non-existent suites at a single address, such as 123 Main St #456 and 123 Main St #789, or to stores that provided PO boxes. Alternatively, a phishing attack could maliciously repurpose freshly verified business listings by tricking  the legitimate owner into sharing verification information sent either by phone or postcard.

Keeping deceptive businesses out — by the numbers
Leveraging our study’s findings, we’ve made significant changes to how we verify addresses and are even piloting an advanced verification process for locksmiths and plumbers. Improvements we’ve made include prohibiting bulk registrations at most addresses, preventing businesses from relocating impossibly far from their original address without additional verification, and detecting and ignoring intentionally mangled text in address fields designed to confuse our algorithms. We have also adapted our anti-spam machine learning systems to detect data discrepancies common to fake or deceptive listings.

Combined, here’s how these defenses stack up:


  • We detect and disable 85% of fake listings before they even appear on Google Maps.
  • We’ve reduced the number of abusive listings by 70% from its peak back in June 2015.
  • We’ve also reduced the number of impressions to abusive listings by 70%.


As we’ve shown, verifying local information comes with a number of unique anti-abuse challenges. While fake listings may slip through our defenses from time to time, we are constantly improving our systems to better serve both users and business owners.

Kategorie: Hacking & Security

An Investigation of Chrysaor Malware on Android

3 Duben, 2017 - 22:27
Posted by Rich Cannings, Jason Woloz, Neel Mehta, Ken Bodzak, Wentao Chang, Megan Ruthven

Google is constantly working to improve our systems that protect users from Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs). Usually, PHA authors attempt to install their harmful apps on as many devices as possible. However, a few PHA authors spend substantial effort, time, and money to create and install their harmful app on one or a very small number of devices. This is known as a targeted attack.

In this blog post, we describe Chrysaor, a newly discovered family of spyware that was used in a targeted attack on a small number of Android devices, and how investigations like this help Google protect Android users from a variety of threats.

What is Chrysaor?

Chrysaor is spyware believed to be created by NSO Group Technologies, specializing in the creation and sale of software and infrastructure for targeted attacks. Chrysaor is believed to be related to the Pegasus spyware that was first identified on iOS and analyzed by Citizen Lab and Lookout.

Late last year, after receiving a list of suspicious package names from Lookout, we discovered that a few dozen Android devices may have installed an application related to Pegasus, which we named Chrysaor. Although the applications were never available in Google Play, we immediately identified the scope of the problem by using Verify Apps. We gathered information from affected devices, and concurrently, attempted to acquire Chrysaor apps to better understand its impact on users. We’ve contacted the potentially affected users, disabled the applications on affected devices, and implemented changes in Verify Apps to protect all users.

What is the scope of Chrysaor?

Chrysaor was never available in Google Play and had a very low volume of installs outside of Google Play. Among the over 1.4 billion devices protected by Verify Apps, we observed fewer than 3 dozen installs of Chrysaor on victim devices. These devices were located in the following countries:


How we protect you

To protect Android devices and users, Google Play provides a complete set of security services that update outside of platform releases. Users don’t have to install any additional security services to keep their devices safe. In 2016, these services protected over 1.4 billion devices, making Google one of the largest providers of on-device security services in the world:

Additionally, we are providing detailed technical information to help the security industry in our collective work against PHAs.

What do I need to do?

It is extremely unlikely you or someone you know was affected by Chrysaor malware. Through our investigation, we identified less than 3 dozen devices affected by Chrysaor, we have disabled Chrysaor on those devices, and we have notified users of all known affected devices. Additionally, the improvements we made to our protections have been enabled for all users of our security services.

To ensure you are fully protected against PHAs and other threats, we recommend these 5 basic steps:

  • Install apps only from reputable sources: Install apps from a reputable source, such as Google Play. No Chrysaor apps were on Google Play. 
  • Enable a secure lock screen: Pick a PIN, pattern, or password that is easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess. 
  • Update your device: Keep your device up-to-date with the latest security patches. 
  • Verify Apps: Ensure Verify Apps is enabled. 
  • Locate your device: Practice finding your device with Android Device Manager because you are far more likely to lose your device than install a PHA. 
How does Chrysaor work? 

To install Chrysaor, we believe an attacker coaxed specifically targeted individuals to download the malicious software onto their device. Once Chrysaor is installed, a remote operator is able to surveil the victim’s activities on the device and within the vicinity, leveraging microphone, camera, data collection, and logging and tracking application activities on communication apps such as phone and SMS.

One representative sample Chrysaor app that we analyzed was tailored to devices running Jellybean (4.3) or earlier. The following is a review of scope and impact of the Chrysaor app named com.network.android tailored for a Samsung device target, with SHA256 digest:

ade8bef0ac29fa363fc9afd958af0074478aef650adeb0318517b48bd996d5d5 

Upon installation, the app uses known framaroot exploits to escalate privileges and break Android’s application sandbox. If the targeted device is not vulnerable to these exploits, then the app attempts to use a superuser binary pre-positioned at /system/csk to elevate privileges.

After escalating privileges, the app immediately protects itself and starts to collect data, by:

  • Installing itself on the /system partition to persist across factory resets 
  • Removing Samsung’s system update app (com.sec.android.fotaclient) and disabling auto-updates to maintain persistence (sets Settings.System.SOFTWARE_UPDATE_AUTO_UPDATE to 0) 
  • Deleting WAP push messages and changing WAP message settings, possibly for anti-forensic purpose. 
  • Starting content observers and the main task loop to receive remote commands and exfiltrate data.
The app uses six techniques to collect user data:

  • Repeated commands: use alarms to periodically repeat actions on the device to expose data, including gathering location data. 
  • Data collectors: dump all existing content on the device into a queue. Data collectors are used in conjunction with repeated commands to collect user data including, SMS settings, SMS messages, Call logs, Browser History, Calendar, Contacts, Emails, and messages from selected messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Kakoa, Viber, and Skype by making /data/data directories of the apps world readable. 
  • Content observers: use Android’s ContentObserver framework to gather changes in SMS, Calendar, Contacts, Cell info, Email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Kakao, Viber, and Skype. 
  • Screenshots: captures an image of the current screen via the raw frame buffer. 
  • Keylogging: record input events by hooking IPCThreadState::Transact from /system/lib/libbinder.so, and intercepting android::parcel with the interface com.android.internal.view.IInputContext. 
  • RoomTap: silently answers a telephone call and stays connected in the background, allowing the caller to hear conversations within the range of the phone's microphone. If the user unlocks their device, they will see a black screen while the app drops the call, resets call settings and prepares for the user to interact with the device normally. 
Finally, the app can remove itself through three ways:

  • Via a command from the server 
  • Autoremove if the device has not been able to check in to the server after 60 days 
  • Via an antidote file. If /sdcard/MemosForNotes was present on the device, the Chrysaor app removes itself from the device.
Samples uploaded to VirusTotal

To encourage further research in the security community, we’ve uploaded these sample Chrysaor apps to Virus Total.


Additional digests with links to Chrysaor 

As a result of our investigation we have identified these additional Chrysaor-related apps.


Lookout has completed their own independent analysis of the samples we acquired, their report can be viewed here.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security