Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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.
2 of 8

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)

2 of 8
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
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.
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?
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.".

Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World
Download the Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World report to understand how security leaders are maintaining pace with pandemic-related challenges, and where there is room for improvement.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-3830
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-26
btcpayserver is vulnerable to Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ('Cross-site Scripting')
CVE-2021-21742
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-25
There is an information leak vulnerability in the message service app of a ZTE mobile phone. Due to improper parameter settings, attackers could use this vulnerability to obtain some sensitive information of users by accessing specific pages.
CVE-2020-20508
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-24
Shopkit v2.7 contains a reflective cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the /account/register component, which allows attackers to hijack user credentials via a crafted payload in the E-Mail text field.
CVE-2020-20514
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-24
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) in Maccms v10 via admin.php/admin/admin/del/ids/<id>.html allows authenticated attackers to delete all users.
CVE-2016-6555
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-24
OpenNMS version 18.0.1 and prior are vulnerable to a stored XSS issue due to insufficient filtering of SNMP trap supplied data. By creating a malicious SNMP trap, an attacker can store an XSS payload which will trigger when a user of the web UI views the events list page. This issue was fixed in ver...