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.

Risk

1/27/2009
12:11 AM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Software Piracy Places Everyone At Risk

On Monday, the United States claimed victory in a World Trade Organization case against China for that country's alleged lax stance toward software piracy. What's that have to do with IT security? Plenty, as the recent Downadup outbreak, as well as a number of new Trojans to hit the Mac OS X platform, highlight.

On Monday, the United States claimed victory in a World Trade Organization case against China for that country's alleged lax stance toward software piracy. What's that have to do with IT security? Plenty, as the recent Downadup outbreak, as well as a number of new Trojans to hit the Mac OS X platform, highlight.As we covered in this blog post, the Downadup outbreak has rapidly spread in geographic areas that also correlate to the highest piracy rates. Stolen copies of Windows don't get all of the updates, and those with stolen copies are much more likely to turn off their automatic updates. Pirated users fear Microsoft, or any software vendor for that matter, will be able to detect the software isn't legit -- and shut it down, or perhaps even prosecute. Though overseas prosecution seems highly unlikely.

Some interesting statistics, gathered by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC research, show software piracy rates range from 20% in the United States to more than 90% in poor and emerging countries. They provide a chart of their global piracy estimates here.

It's tough to tell whether the BSA's piracy numbers are inflated, but they're probably close enough to show just how big the software piracy problem currently is. But I'm not concerned so much about the financial loss this brings for software vendors for this post. I want to point out how the piracy problem also is an IT security problem.

Consider the recent pirated/Trojan-horsed version of Apple's latest iWork '09 trial pack. Why anyone would want to download a copied version of freely available trial software is beyond me: but apparently, they do. This Trojan is designed to pilfer usernames and passcodes used to authenticate to the Mac OS. Then, Monday, the news broke that a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4 for Mac also is circulating with a crack application that includes Photoshop serial numbers.

Any user that installs it, thinking they're getting one over on Adobe with a free copy of the high-end version of its Photoshop software -- they're not. The application apparently steals the administrator password when it asks for authentication, and sends them to two IP addresses. If the malware writers successfully use those credentials, it could be the most expensive "free" software application one could download. It seems, based on various security vendor's analysis, that the two Trojans are related.

While it looks like those careless enough to download the cracked Adobe applications would only harm themselves, we just don't know what the attackers have in mind with the affected systems. And those estimated 15 million users who are infected with Downadup are placing all of us at risk. Security researchers are still waiting to see what the creators will do with this massive network of infected systems -- there's nothing to stop the creators from deploying a massive botnet to levy denial-of-service attacks, or send massive amounts of spam. These systems could even be used to seed a massive Internet worm. While we'll probably find out soon enough what the real intentions are, we can be certain that the Downadup outbreak shows just how dangerous software piracy can be for everyone.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
Hacking Yourself: Marie Moe and Pacemaker Security
Gary McGraw Ph.D., Co-founder Berryville Institute of Machine Learning,  9/21/2020
Startup Aims to Map and Track All the IT and Security Things
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15208
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-25
In tensorflow-lite before versions 1.15.4, 2.0.3, 2.1.2, 2.2.1 and 2.3.1, when determining the common dimension size of two tensors, TFLite uses a `DCHECK` which is no-op outside of debug compilation modes. Since the function always returns the dimension of the first tensor, malicious attackers can ...
CVE-2020-15209
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-25
In tensorflow-lite before versions 1.15.4, 2.0.3, 2.1.2, 2.2.1 and 2.3.1, a crafted TFLite model can force a node to have as input a tensor backed by a `nullptr` buffer. This can be achieved by changing a buffer index in the flatbuffer serialization to convert a read-only tensor to a read-write one....
CVE-2020-15210
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-25
In tensorflow-lite before versions 1.15.4, 2.0.3, 2.1.2, 2.2.1 and 2.3.1, if a TFLite saved model uses the same tensor as both input and output of an operator, then, depending on the operator, we can observe a segmentation fault or just memory corruption. We have patched the issue in d58c96946b and ...
CVE-2020-15211
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-25
In TensorFlow Lite before versions 1.15.4, 2.0.3, 2.1.2, 2.2.1 and 2.3.1, saved models in the flatbuffer format use a double indexing scheme: a model has a set of subgraphs, each subgraph has a set of operators and each operator has a set of input/output tensors. The flatbuffer format uses indices f...
CVE-2020-15212
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-25
In TensorFlow Lite before versions 2.2.1 and 2.3.1, models using segment sum can trigger writes outside of bounds of heap allocated buffers by inserting negative elements in the segment ids tensor. Users having access to `segment_ids_data` can alter `output_index` and then write to outside of `outpu...