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Cloud

9/21/2019
09:00 AM

7 Ways VPNs Can Turn from Ally to Threat

VPNs are critical pieces of the security infrastructure, but they can be vulnerable, hackable, and weaponized against you. Here are seven things to be aware of before you ignore your VPN.
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Vulnerable Key-Handling Routines
One of the characteristics all VPNs share is their reliance on encryption keys - the digital strings that allow data to be encrypted on one end of the transaction and decrypted on the other. While encryption keys aren't confined to VPNs, the fact that one end of a VPN is often wandering around in public on a laptop computer makes key-handling a critical feature.
In an example shown at Black Hat USA 2019, researchers Orange Tsai and Meh Chang showed that a vulnerability in a Palo Alto Networks SSL VPN was made much more severe because it exposed a hard-coded password for the encryption key.
Most VPNs are 'black boxes,' whether they come in the form of appliances in the network stack or services accessed by consumers. That opacity is why a vulnerability like a hard-coded key or keys stored insecurely can be so dangerous - there's little (beyond keeping up-to-date with patches) that an organization can do to remediate the vulnerability on its own.
(Image: Tampatra via Adobe Stock)

Vulnerable Key-Handling Routines

One of the characteristics all VPNs share is their reliance on encryption keys the digital strings that allow data to be encrypted on one end of the transaction and decrypted on the other. While encryption keys aren't confined to VPNs, the fact that one end of a VPN is often wandering around in public on a laptop computer makes key-handling a critical feature.

In an example shown at Black Hat USA 2019, researchers Orange Tsai and Meh Chang showed that a vulnerability in a Palo Alto Networks SSL VPN was made much more severe because it exposed a hard-coded password for the encryption key.

Most VPNs are "black boxes," whether they come in the form of appliances in the network stack or services accessed by consumers. That opacity is why a vulnerability like a hard-coded key or keys stored insecurely can be so dangerous there's little (beyond keeping up-to-date with patches) that an organization can do to remediate the vulnerability on its own.

(Image: Tampatra via Adobe Stock)

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Moral_Monster
50%
50%
Moral_Monster,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/22/2019 | 6:47:18 AM
VPN Risks

In most cases I tend to think that the problem is that loose nut behind the keyboard, But each of these are problems that land right in the lap of IT. But is there a site that will give you the straight poop on the different VPN Providers? Until you develop a relationship with your provider the sales weasels will be quick to tell you "Sure we do. Everything is fine.".

repogos
50%
50%
repogos,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/23/2019 | 6:05:28 AM
with all
does with happen with every vpn and for paid one?
rnolan
100%
0%
rnolan,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/30/2019 | 11:52:04 PM
Re: VPN Risks
I'm a bit bemused why most of these services are called VPNs when they are fundamentally just anonymising services (proxys).  A VPN (used to mean) point to "end" point (end to end encryption).  I supose you could call the eco system on the user side of the proxy a private logical network providing some protection from public WiFi etc.  More worrying is the claims made by companies like Nord that using their service protects your data/privacy etc.  It doesn't offer any protection from the proxy to where you are surfing other than hiding your IP address. Obviously if the site you are accessing is a HTTPS/TLS site this will afford some protection but the "VPN" service advertised doesn't.  Moreover, these services provide a perfect man in the middle opportunity and, depending where they are located (i.e. anywhere in the cloud) no regulatory/legal oversight or protection.
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