News & Updates

Enlarge / The Apple logo onstage at WWDC 2016. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple’s big September product presentation is happening on Wednesday—WWDC in June is when we find out about software, but when it comes to the hardware that the company makes most of its money from, September is Apple’s biggest event of the year.

Last year’s event was especially huge and wide-ranging. Apple launched its new tvOS platform, tweaked the hardware and software of the still-new Apple Watch, introduced the iPad Pro and the iPhone 6S series, and provided software updates for everything across all of its product lines. Wednesday will still be a busy day, but relatively speaking it ought to be quieter.

The iPhone

Most rumors still call the next iPhone the “iPhone 7,” but unlike past years it doesn’t sound like the latest model will get a big external redesign. Expect this to look a lot like the current 6 and 6S design, but with tweaked or removed antenna cutouts to give the back of the phone a cleaner look. The new phone will still come in two sizes, one 4.7-inch version and one 5.5-inch version.

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Earlier this week we reviewed the Focus RS, Ford’s hottest hatch and the best performance car to come from the Blue Oval in quite some time. Unlike RS Fords past, the Focus RS wasn’t built to satisfy the homologation requirements of a particular racing series. But it turns out there is a competition version, developed in a partnership between Ford Performance, the UK’s M-Sport, and Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing outfit. Meet the Ford Focus RS RX.

The Focus RS RX competes in the FIA World Rallycross Championship, a series similar to the Red Bull Global Rallycross, although the former is concentrated in Europe as opposed to the US. To find out more about the Focus RS RX, we spoke with Ford Performance Motorsports Supervisor Brian Novak, who happens to be a huge old-school computer nerd and Ars reader.

Ford has been competing in Global Rallycross with a Ford Fiesta—the car we rode in back in July at Red Bull’s round in Washington, DC. But the Focus RS RX is all-new. Novak told us:

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Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at—and let us know what you think.

Everyone of a certain age has their own experience playing The Oregon Trail on a computer as a kid.

Some of us started with the Apple II Oregon Trail, while some of us played later Oregon Trail versions. But we all learned what it meant to “ford a river” and “caulk a wagon.” Some of us played the Oregon Trail Deluxe version on Windows and acted out the scenes of our wagon train passing through what is now Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and, if you were lucky, more western states. Some of us started as bankers and went crazy buying laudanum in the General Store. Some wanted the challenge and started as teachers. Some of us eschewed gameplay when things got dire and spent our time throwing out supplies to make room for everything we brought back from hunting.

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The European Space Agency has found its long-lost Philae lander. After making a rough, bouncing landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, 2014, the spacecraft was unable to deploy its solar panels in a proper configuration to capture enough energy. Its batteries ran out within a few days of landing.

Although scientists have made a few more fleeting contacts with the dying spacecraft since then, Philae’s fate—was it stuck in a ditch, or nudged up against a cliff wall?—has remained largely a mystery.

Until now. The high resolution camera aboard the orbiting Rosetta spacecraft—which has remained near the comet since deploying Philae two years ago—flew within 2.7km of the comet’s surface on September 2, and spied the missing lander. At such a distance from the comet, the resolution of the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera is about 5 cm/pixel, high enough to reveal Philae’s distinctive 1 m-sized body, and two of its three legs.

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Enlarge / Japanese PM Shinzo Abe arrives in China for the G20 summit… just as his country’s awkward Brexit memo lands. (credit: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images)

Prime minister Theresa May said at the weekend that she wanted to take her time to secure the best trade deals for a post-Brexit Britain, and reiterated—in her trademark vague terms—that the so-called Article 50 won’t be triggered this year. But political pressure from governments as far away as Japan continues to mount.

On Sunday, in a bold move, the Japanese government published a 15-page memo (PDF) setting out a number of demands it wants the UK to adhere to, once it leaves the European Union.

It underscored that Britain faces a torrid time of negotiations—not just with member states in the EU, but further afield, too.

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Two security experts from the Rapid 7 firm revealed that tens of thousands of CISCO ASA boxes are still vulnerable to the NSA EXTRABACON exploit.

A few weeks ago the Shadow Brokers hacker group hacked into the arsenal of the NSA-Linked Equation Group leaked online data dumps containing its exploits.

ExtraBacon is one of the exploits included in the NSA arsenal, in August security experts have improved it to hack newer version of CISCO ASA appliance. The Hungary-based security consultancy SilentSignal has focused his analysis on the ExtraBacon exploit revealing that it could be used against the newer models of Cisco’s Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA).

The security firm has demonstrated that the NSA-linked Cisco exploit dubbed ExtraBacon poses a bigger threat than previously thought.

Initially, the ExtraBacon exploit was restricted to versions 8.4.(4) and earlier of the CISCO ASA boxes and has now been expanded to 9.2.(4).

CISCO ASA Software 2

The EXTRABACON tool exploits the CVE-2016-6366 vulnerability to allow an attacker who has already gained a foothold in a targeted network to take full control of a CISCO ASA firewall. The EXTRABACON tool leverages on a flaw that resides in the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) implemented by the ASA software.

“A vulnerability in the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) code of Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to cause a reload of the affected system or to remotely execute code.” states the advisory  published by CISCO.

“The vulnerability is due to a buffer overflow in the affected code area.  The vulnerability affects all versions of SNMP. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending crafted SNMP packets to the affected system. An exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the system or to cause a reload of the affected system. The attacker must know the SNMP community string to exploit this vulnerability.”

At the end of August CISCO started releasing patches for its ASA software to address the Equation Group’s EXTRABACON exploit included in the NSA data dump leaked online.

Network administrators that manage CISCO ASA 7.2, 8.0, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.6 and 8.7 have to update their installations to version 9.1.7(9) or later. The vulnerability has been fixed in the ASA 9.1, 9.5 and 9.6 with the release of versions 9.1.7(9), 9.5(3) and 9.6.1(11).

Experts estimated that tens of thousands of Cisco ASA firewalls are vulnerable to an authentication bypass exploit.

The bad news

Unfortunately, two security experts from the Rapid 7 firm, Derek Abdine and Bob Rudis, revealed that tens of thousands of ASA appliance are still vulnerable to the EXTRABACON attack judging by the time of the last reboot.

The security duo scanned roughly 50,000 ASA devices that were identified in a previous reconnaissance and analysed the last time reboot times.

Some 10,000 of the 38,000 ASA boxes had rebooted within the 15 days since Cisco released its patch, an information that confirms that roughly 28,000 devices are still vulnerable because they were not patched. The remaining 12,000 devices did not provide the information of the last reboot.

Going deep into the analysis, the researchers discovered that unpatched devices belong to four large US firms, a UK government agency and a financial services company, and a large Japanese telecommunications provider.

Extrabacon still vulnerable organizations

What does it means?

It means that the above organizations are using vulnerable CISCO ASA Boxes if the following condition are matched:

  • the ASA device must have SNMP enabled and an attacker must have the ability to reach the device via UDP SNMP (yes, SNMP can run over TCP though it’s rare to see it working that way) and know the SNMP community string
  • an attacker must also have telnet or SSH access to the devices

Of course, the exploiting of ExtraBacon is not so simple, anyway, it is possible when dealing with persistent attackers.

“This generally makes the EXTRABACON attack something that would occur within an organization’s network, specifically from a network segment that has SNMP and telnet/SSH access to a vulnerable device. So, the world is not ending, the internet is not broken and even if an attacker had the necessary access, they are just as likely to crash a Cisco ASA device as they are to gain command-line access to one by using the exploit.” wrote Abdine and Rudis.

“Even though there’s a high probable loss magnitude from a successful exploit, the threat capability and threat event frequency for attacks would most likely be low in the vast majority of organisations that use these devices to secure their environments.” 

“Having said that, Extra Bacon is a pretty critical vulnerability in a core network security infrastructure device and Cisco patches are generally quick and safe to deploy, so it would be prudent for most organisations to deploy the patch as soon as they can obtain and test it.”

The security duo is warning the above organisations which could not underestimate the risk of exposure to EXTRABACON attacks.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – CISCO ASA, ExtraBacon exploit)

The post NSA EXTRABACON exploit still threatens tens of thousands of CISCO ASA boxes appeared first on Security Affairs.

Source: Security affairs

When Bloom County appeared for the first time in the Rocky Mountain News in December 1980, 13-year-old me immediately took notice. The style and characters were reminiscent of Doonesbury (Bloom County author Berkeley Breathed has acknowledged the influence of Garry Trudeau’s comic), but it was fresh, goofy, and, most of the time, hilarious. Not only was Breathed’s artistic ability obvious even when compressed into a few square inches of newsprint, it also stood out from the likes of B.C., Wizard of ID, Blondie, and other comic-page stalwarts for its sharp and satirical humor. Every character Breathed introduced quickly found a home in Bloom County‘s twisted little world, especially Bill the Cat, who was introduced to satirize Jim Davis’ continuous attempts to pump out Garfield merchandise.

The strip had a great run until Breathed discontinued it in August 1989, much to the disappointment of his millions of fans. Breathed was the first artist to walk away from a popular comic strip while it was still fresh and funny, and perhaps he set an example for Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) and Gary Larson (The Far Side) to follow, as they unexpectedly wrapped up their comics in 1995.

Breathed didn’t completely give up comics, moving on to the short-lived, Sunday-only Outland, which featured an all-new cast, aside from Bill the Cat and Opus the penguin. Outland ended in 1995, and we wouldn’t see any other comics from Breathed until the launch of Opus, which that ran every Sunday from 2003 to 2008. Breathed has been absent from the world of comics since then, but that unexpectedly and happily changed in July 2015 when the first all-new Bloom County comic in over two-and-a-half decades appeared on Facebook.

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Enlarge (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX faces a potentially big payout in the aftermath of last week’s launchpad explosion, after Israeli communications firm Spacecom—which lost one its satellites in the accident—demanded £37 million ($50 million) or a free flight from Elon Musk’s company.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which had been set to deploy an Amos-6 satellite to provide wireless services to sub-Saharan Africa as part of Facebook’s initiative, was destroyed on Thursday as it was prepped for launch. Its payload was worth an estimated £150 million ($200 million), while the rocket itself cost £45 million ($60 million).

Shares in Spacecom, which operates three other satellites, plunged by more than 40 percent in the wake of the explosion. Bosses have also suggested that the firm might pursue £153 million ($205 million) from Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactured the satellite.

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