Each month, we publish a review that covers the most important activities of the last 30 days. This month, we talk about Python 2 EOL, malicious Python libraries, technical previews by Signal, WebAuthn for iOS, and more.
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News of the month
In December 2019, we read the following news:
Python 2 EOL
Python 2 reaches its end of life (EOL) on January 1, 2020. (If you read this on Dec 31, 2019, then this is actually tomorrow.) The EOL date isn’t actually news, but known for more than five years. This means there won’t be any planned security updates for Python 2 in the future. The final version of Python 2 will be 2.7.18 in mid-April 2020.
As a user, check whether any of your applications still require Python 2. If you don’t need Python 2 anymore, remove it from your devices. If some applications still require Python 2, check whether there are any announcements regarding migrating to Python 3. In case of doubt, look for alternatives.
As a developer, immediately consider migrating to Python 3 as the EOL date is known for years, and Python 2 won’t get any planned security updates in the future.
Malicious Python libraries stealing OpenPGP and SSH keys
Once again, people found malicious libraries for Python. The malicious libraries,
jeIlyfish, try to copy SSH and OpenPGP keys to remote IP addresses. This is the third time, the PyPI team intervened to remove typo-squatted malicious Python libraries from the official repository.
As a user, you should always be sure that you actually need certain libraries and remove unused libraries. This is not only true for Python libraries, but for any other source of user-provided content (e.g., custom repositories for F-Droid, Arch AUR, NPM packages).
Signal released two technical previews
This month, Signal published two blog posts:
- Technology Preview: Signal Private Group Systemexternal link
- Technology Preview for secure value recoveryexternal link
Both posts and a related scientific paper describe concepts for a group system and an account recovery system, which rely on servers while being cryptographically secured. Implementing these concepts could help Signal to overcome certain limitations of their client-side account management.
iOS and iPadOS support FIDO-compliant security keys
Finally, iOS and iPadOS 13.3 introduce support for FIDO-compliant security keys. After updating, you should be able to use your security token over Lightning, USB, or NFC for WebAuthn.
Security key-based biometrics or PIN (without the use of username and password) are not supported yet.
Data breaches and leaks
Moreover, there were some data breaches. Have I Been Pwned added information about the following breaches:
- AgusiQ-Torrents.pl (breached in September 2019)
- Zynga (breached in September 2019)
- Factual (breached in March 2017)
Tip of the month
This month’s tip is about pages on our blog that aren’t blog posts. If you only follow us in the Fediverse or via RSS/Atom feeds, you probably don’t know these pages:
- Glossary: Our glossary already contains definitions for more than 130 terms related to information security and data protection.
- Recommendations: This page lists recommendations for different uses cases.
- Terminal tips: Finally, this growing collection lists CLI tools for different use cases.
Other pages are:
- About us: This page contains information about our project “InfoSec Handbook” and frequent contributors.
- Changelog: This page lists big changes that don’t directly affect single articles, but the layout, style or content of our blog. For every single change of our blog posts, you can go to our repository on codeberg.org.
- Contact details: This page lists contact information like our e-mail address, OpenPGP keys, and our accounts on other websites.
- Copyright: This page contains our copyright information.
- RSS/Atom: This page contains all current feeds covering our blog.
- Security and disclosure policy: This is our security and disclosure policy. This page also contains our bug bounty program.
- Series of articles: This central page contains links to our series.
- Support us: This page shows different ways to support our work.
If you miss something or in case of any other ideas, feel free to contact us.
Readers’ questions of the month
Each month, readers send us questions via e-mail, Keybase, Mastodon (Fediverse), Threema, Signal, or via the forum of privacytools.io. In general, we directly reply to questions. However, we would like to list some questions and answers that are interesting for more than only one person:
“Do you have a CPU purchasing guide?”
We don’t provide any recommendations regarding buying CPUs. This information is quickly outdated, and there is likely no perfect CPU for everybody. Buy the CPU that fits your use cases best. If you read about security vulnerabilities in CPUs, keep in mind that most of them aren’t relevant for non-virtualized systems or current attacks are purely theoretical.
“Do you plan to send findings of online assessments tools to organization xyz?”
In general, we contact organizations and even private bloggers if we identify issues with their servers (e.g., vulnerable software, insecure configuration, incomplete privacy policies). We not only include arbitrary findings, but check if the findings are actually relevant. As of December 2019, we sent reports to about 120 different parties.
However, we won’t send any standard findings of online assessments tools to anybody. We already covered limitations of these tools in different articles on our blog. All online assessment tools have a very limited scope and don’t understand the context of their findings. The findings require security professionals looking into it. We could do this, but we are already happily employed. 😉
Not actually a question: “I found a security vulnerability on your website. If you want me to tell you, please pay me a bug bounty first.”
We frequently get e-mails from “security researchers” who claim that they found some security issues on our website. Instead of telling us, they demand their bug bounty first. Most of them neither read our disclosure policy nor provide any details.
We actually pay bug bounties. However, we won’t pay anything in advance. So if you actually found a security vulnerability, stay with our disclosure process. In addition, understand and use OpenPGP. This shouldn’t be a problem for “security researchers”. 😉
Our activities of the month
In December, we published six new articles:
- European GDPR myths – Part 2: In the second post about GDPR myths, we debunk three more myths (obligation to inform customers within 72 hours after a data breach, declaring GDPR violations, and interpreting GDPR Articles). You can also read European GDPR myths – Part 1.
- 3 Don’ts of penetration testing and security assessments: If done wrong, penetration testing results in a list of arbitrary problems that aren’t necessarily related to security. We show three things good penetration testers don’t do in this article.
- Yubico Security Key vs. Nitrokey FIDO2: After already comparing different security tokens offered by Yubico and Nitrokey, we compare the Yubico Security Key and Nitrokey FIDO2.
- The state of the LineageOS-based /e/ ROM in December 2019: In March and August, we checked the state of the /e/ ROM. In this article, we recheck our findings for the last time.
- Using a YubiKey as a second factor for LUKS: We use the challenge-response feature of a YubiKey to add two-factor authentication (2FA) to a device already protected by the Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS).
- Cryptography myths: In our last post in 2019, we debunk three myths regarding cryptography (applying cryptography makes everything secure, applying cryptography makes everything private, AES is secure).
Besides, we changed several things on our blog:
- The release of Hugo 0.60 forced us to get rid of inline HTML in Markdown files. The main reason for this was Hugo’s migration to Goldmark for rendering Markdown files. On the positive side, we introduced absolute file paths. This allowed us to offer another mirror of our blog on codeberg.org.
- Furthermore, we changed styles, content and layout of our blog to comply with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1). Improved accessibility is beneficial for all of our readers.
Follow us on Mastodon:
In 2019, we published 28 new blog posts (excluding monthly reviews), and updated 22 already-existing posts.
This year, we voluntarily spent 298.5 hours (equivalent to 37.5 workdays) writing and updating our blog posts, improving our technical setup, and replying to questions of readers and forum posts. We offer our content for free without any tracking, sponsoring, or advertisements. This way, we remain 100% independent and 100% self-funded.
We wish you a secure new year!
- Python 2 EOL: Python 2.7 Release Scheduleexternal link
- Malicious Python libraries: Two malicious Python libraries caught stealing SSH and GPG keysexternal link
- Our repository on codeberg.orgexternal link
- Mirror of InfoSec Handbook on codeberg.orgexternal link