When visiting a domain name containing a Unicode character that visually resembles an ASCII character, your browser will transform the Unicode characters to Punycode in the address bar to prevent homograph attacks.
For example: the Cyrillic а (codepoint U+0430) totally looks like the Latin a (codepoint U+0061). When visting brаm.us (with the Cyrillic а in place of the Latin a), your browser will transform the URL to xn--brm-7cd.us
Turns out this is not always the case though:
Chrome’s (and Firefox’s) homograph protection mechanism unfortunately fails if every characters is replaced with a similar character from a single foreign language. The domain “аррӏе.com”, registered as “xn--80ak6aa92e.com”, bypasses the filter by only using Cyrillic characters.
TIP: Whenever you’re in doubt when receiving a mail from a “well known party” containing a link, I recommend manually typing the URL into the address bar.
KeySweeper is a stealthy Arduino-based device, camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger, that wirelessly and passively sniffs, decrypts, logs and reports back (over GSM) all keystrokes from any Microsoft wireless keyboards (using proprietary 2.4GHz RF) in the area.
Keystrokes are sent back to the KeySweeper operator over the Internet via an optional GSM chip, or can be stored on a flash chip and delivered wirelessly when a secondary KeySweeper device comes within wireless range of the target KeySweeper. A web based tool allows live keystroke monitoring.
I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.
alpha_auth_check itself is a fairly simple function. It does a few strstr’s and strcmp’s against some pointers in the http_request_t structure, then calls check_login, which actually does the authentication check. It is the final strcmp however, which proves to be the most compelling: This is performing a strcmp between the string pointer at offset 0xD0 inside the http_request_t structure and the string “xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide”; if the strings match, the check_login function call is skipped and alpha_auth_check returns 1 (authentication OK).
“xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide” is “edit by 04882 joel backdoor” spelled backwards. Some guy, that Joel. 🙂
The age of the password has come to an end; we just haven’t realized it yet. And no one has figured out what will take its place. What we can say for sure is this: Access to our data can no longer hinge on secrets—a string of characters, 10 strings of characters, the answers to 50 questions—that only we’re supposed to know. The Internet doesn’t do secrets. Everyone is a few clicks away from knowing everything.
In the article he explicitly lists why I always enter fake answers to my so called security questions:
Your mother’s maiden name is on Ancestry.com, your high school mascot is on Classmates, your birthday is on Facebook, and so is your best friend’s name—even if it takes a few tries.
Mat Honan’s digital life was destroyed: His Google account, Twitter Account, Apple account, … all were gone. Along with that all of his iDevices were remotely wiped by the hackers.
Getting into Amazon let my hackers get into my Apple ID account, which helped them get into Gmail, which gave them access to Twitter.
Information that is vital to one company’s security system can be found with some other company.
The very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the Web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification.
Just put all the pieces together and voila, all is gone in just a matter of minutes:
At 4:52 p.m., a Gmail password recovery e-mail arrived in my .Me mailbox. Two minutes later, another e-mail arrived notifying me that my Google account password had changed.
At 5:02 p.m., they reset my Twitter password. At 5:00 they used iCloud’s “Find My” tool to remotely wipe my iPhone. At 5:01 they remotely wiped my iPad. At 5:05 they remotely wiped my MacBook. Around this same time, they deleted my Google account.