forced entry

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Sep 30, 2020
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The whole pegasus is scary, and it has been in the news recently a lot. However, I just realized that force entry is a 2 year exploit that apple should had already patch.

Besides being interesting, why is it news? Was it just a horror story, or there is something relevant that I missed?

 
Well, quoting from Steve's show notes, it would appear this was something he recently encountered when looking into something related.

My original title for today's podcast was “KingsPawn,” the name that's been given to a powerful
piece of spyware being offered by one of those Israeli spyware purveyors other than the NSO
Group who, as we know, offer their “too well known for comfort” Pegasys spyware to various
governments. But while doing the background legwork for that story I ran across the fascinating
technical details of another earlier piece of Spyware that was used by both this second group
and by Pegasys. I knew that our listeners would find the technical details of this interesting. So I
decided to push our discussion of “KingsPawn” to next week, unless something even more juicy
comes up. But we'll get to it. Today, I want to take us through what Google's Project Zero team
discovered about the so-called “ForcedEntry” exploit that has been successfully deployed by
several malware vendors to gain entry into Apple iPhones.
 
Most people will never update the phone, unless nagged about it, simply because any message saying update will be swiped past and ignored, and Apple is kind of bad in that they need previous updates all done in order when released, and if you skip them the updates have a great risk of breaking something when finally done.
 
What OS are you running, OS1?
probably the hackers don't even bother with such an old system lol You are safe because of antiquity

Most people probably don't update, since android phones depend the carrier to push the updates. Older iphones didn't nag users as much

it would appear this was something he recently encountered when looking into something related.
I saw that, but couldn't find any recent reference for forced entry. So I was wondering why bring it up. Maybe he forgot to say what it was lol
Pretty interesting attack, and terrifying, most systems already patched against it

Think of getting a vt100, no interpreters 🤣
 
Well the VT escape sequences for clearing the screen, scrolling the screen, locating the cursor, etc are all executed by a minimal parser. The thing is, I doubt anyone back then dreamt up an attack that could turn your terminal into a terrorist... but you never know what was overlooked... better not to go explore that cave lest we find a killer wombat. (Now that is a secret reference to the VT340... I'll leave it up to the reader to extract meaning.)
 
killer wombat
lol, had forgotten about wombats. Had it on my hp-41

The early days were optimistic and full of awe for the new possibilities. Doubt many thought of all the headaches we are seeing now. As they say I wouldn't start from here to get there

It is like 9/11 never thought of that as a possibility, but it had happened before, and novels had used it as a ploy. Here is an example (probably better sources, but couldn't resist using a non ssl site lol)
 
I guess it was harder to find info on the VAX wombat than I though, but there is a pic here in the Datatrieve reference.

 
Well the VT escape sequences for clearing the screen, scrolling the screen, locating the cursor, etc are all executed by a minimal parser. The thing is, I doubt anyone back then dreamt up an attack that could turn your terminal into a terrorist... but you never know what was overlooked... better not to go explore that cave lest we find a killer wombat. (Now that is a secret reference to the VT340... I'll leave it up to the reader to extract meaning.)
The wombat was also the official mascot of Datatrieve.
 
I guess it was harder to find info on the VAX wombat than I though, but there is a pic here in the Datatrieve reference.

ahh, wrong kind of animal. I mistook the wombat for the wumpus. That was a nice easter egg

That vt320 was a lot more sophisticated (wow, to think of a terminal as sophisticated) than the vt100, that was basically a dumb terminal. They still keep emulators current! Hadn't need one for ages, https://www.carnationsoftware.com/domains/MacWise/Index.html. Wow, MacWise version 1.0 was originally released January 1, 1996

 
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The whole pegasus is scary, and it has been in the news recently a lot. However, I just realized that force entry is a 2 year exploit that apple should had already patch.
It went right by me, that it was an older exploit, ... even though Steve said as much, until I went digging. And, when I did, the whole thing seemed familiar. I wonder if Steve mentioned it in passing when it was current. In any case, the idea that you can build a "Turing complete" system from an image compressor seems worthy of an SN feature to me. Looking forward to Kingspawn.
(This is off topic) I've been critical of Steve's response to state sanctioned spying. I probably misinterpreted what he's said over the years, but to me it always sounded like "that can't happen here. We have laws. The authorities have to get a warrant--from a judge." To which I would in yell in reply at my computer, "You mean that same judge with the green oxygen tank?" But after listening to this episode and the recent one where Steve talked about the Indian government's shopping for off-brand spyware, I think he gets it now (if he didn't before). Timothy Snyder may be right. Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world. But it'll be OK. I can sleep at night now.
 
we have constraints on it
once it is out, it will be abused. Either by bad actors or the good guys (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States). There will always be those that believe constrains don't apply to them or aren't bounded by (fascists, eminent domain, slave trade, colonialism, etc.).

This weeks episode makes it even more clear that the tools and weaknesses are there. It is only time until someone tries to monetize them. The source site is interesting https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/
 
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