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With warshipping, hackers ship their exploits directly to their target’s mail room


Why break into a company’s network when you can just walk right in — literally?

Gone could be the days of having to find a zero-day vulnerability in a target’s website, or having to scramble for breached usernames and passwords to break through a company’s login pages. And certainly there will be no need to park outside a building and brute-force the Wi-Fi network password.

Just drop your exploit in the mail and let your friendly postal worker deliver it to your target’s door.

This newly named technique — dubbed “warshipping” — is not a new concept. Just think of the traditional Trojan horse rolling into the city of Troy, or when hackers drove up to TJX stores and stole customer data by breaking into the store’s Wi-Fi network. But security researchers at IBM’s X-Force Red say it’s a novel and effective way for an attacker to gain an initial foothold on a target’s network.

“It uses disposable, low cost and low power computers to remotely perform close-proximity attacks, regardless of the cyber criminal’s location,” wrote Charles Henderson, who heads up the IBM offensive operations unit.

IBMXFR Warship 2

A warshipping device. (Image: IBM/supplied)

The researchers developed a proof-of-concept device — the warship — which has a similar size to a small phone, into a package and dropped it off in the mail. The device, which cost about $100 to build, was equipped with a 3G-enabled modem, allowing it to be remote controlled so long as it had cell service. With its onboard wireless chip, the device would periodically scan for nearby networks — like most laptops do when they’re switched on — to track the location of the device in its parcel.

“Once we see that a warship has arrived at the target destination’s front door, mailroom or loading dock, we are able to remotely control the system and run tools to either passively, or actively, attack the target’s wireless access,” wrote Henderson.

Once the warship locates a Wi-Fi network from the mailroom or the recipient’s desk, it listens for wireless data packets it can use to break into the network. The warship listens for a handshake — the process of authorizing a user to log onto the Wi-Fi network — then sends that scrambled data back over the cellular network back to the attacker’s servers, which has far more processing power to crack the hash into a readable Wi-Fi password.

With access to the Wi-Fi network, the attacker can navigate through the company’s network, seeking out vulnerable systems and exposed data, and steal sensitive data or user passwords.

All of this done could be done covertly without anyone noticing — so long as nobody opens the parcel.

“Warshipping has all the characteristics to become a stealthy, effective insider threat — it’s cheap, disposable, and slides right under a targets’ nose –all while the attacker can be orchestrating their attack from the other side of the country,” said Henderson. “With the volume of packages that flow through a mailroom daily — whether it be supplies, gifts or employees’ personal purchases — and in certain seasons those numbers soar dramatically, no one ever thinks to second guess what a package is doing here.”

The team isn’t releasing proof-of-concept code as to not help attackers, but uses the technique as part of its customer penetration testing services — which help companies discover weak spots in their security posture.

“If we can educate a company about an attack vector like this, it dramatically reduces the likelihood of the success of it by criminals,” Henderson said.

from TechCrunch

A group of tardigrades crashed into the moon in April. The indestructible critters could still be alive.


Scientists are just starting to understand the tardigrade — and it's fascinating

The moon just got a little more crowded.

A horde of microscopic critters called tardigrades were passengers aboard the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, which crashed into the lunar surface nearly four months ago.

But because tardigrates can survive in extreme environments, it’s likely these tiny astronauts are still alive. The tiny organisms can go without water and oxygen for long periods of time in a state of suspended animation called cryptobiosis, in which their bodies dry up and their metabolisms shut down. Place a dehydrated tardigrade in water and it regains its full function in a matter of hours.

"Tardigrades in dry state can survive pressures up to 74,000 times the pressure we experience at sea level, so the [crash] impact should not be a problem for them," evolutionary zoologist Roberto Guidetti told Business Insider. "They can stay dry for decades, potentially centuries."

Beresheet’s lunar crash

Tardigrades are also known as water bears or moss piglets, which are apt nicknames: Under a microscope,  the organisms look like eight-legged potatoes with scrunched up faces and tiny claws.


Dehydrated tardigrades were placed aboard the Beresheet spacecraft by a non-profit company called the Arch Mission Foundation, which aims to develop a kind of backup of Earth.

In keeping with that mission, the company put a "lunar library" — a DVD-like disc containing a digital archive of nearly every English Wikipedia page, along with ebooks and human DNA samples — on Beresheet. Thousands of tardigrades were attached to that library.

Beresheet left Earth on February 22, but as it approached the lunar surface on April 11, a computer glitch caused the spacecraft’s main engine to malfunction, and it crashed into the moon traveling 310 miles per hour.

beresheet moon lander robot mission last photo israeli flag april 11 2019 spaceil

In a recent interview with WIRED, the Arch Mission Foundation‘s founder, Nova Spivack, said his company believes its disk, along with the accompanying tardigrades, survived the crash intact.

"Ironically, our payload may be the only surviving thing from that mission," he said.

That means thousands of tardigrades are now chilling on the moon.

Tiny, indestructible astronauts

The astronaut tardigrades, Guidetti said, are likely alive but not "active" — meaning they’re still in the state of suspended animation. If they were somehow reintroduced to water on the lunar surface, they have the potential to return to an active state, but that would also require oxygen.

Previously, water bears have been shown to survive in the vacuum of space, inside a volcano, and in an Antarctic lake 50 miles underground. They have even returned to normal functioning after being frozen for three decades

Read More: In a lost lake 3,500 feet under the Antarctic Ice, scientists just found the carcasses of tiny creatures

The critters, which can grow up to 1.2 mm (0.05 inches) in length, can withstand temperatures between minus 272 degrees Celsius (-458 degrees Fahrenheit) and 151 degrees Celsius (304 degrees Fahrenheit). They’re also able to survive high levels of radiation and pressure up to six times that of the deepest part of Earth’s oceans.

Some scientists argue that tardigrades could survive catastrophic events like asteroid impacts that would wipe out most of Earth’s other species.


But dried-up tardigrades on the moon probably couldn’t stay alive forever.

"If they are directly exposed to unfiltered solar UV radiation, they will be structurally dead within a few days," ecologist Ingemar Jönsson told Business Insider.

Temperature fluctuations on the moon also pose a problem: "Temperatures around and above 100 degrees Celsius [212 degrees Fahrenheit] will kill the animals quite quickly," Jönsson added.

The tardigrades would have the best chance of survival, he said, if they ended up below the moon’s surface as a result of Beresheet’s crash. It’s unclear whether that’s what really happened, but if so, they’d be sheltered from UV radiation and cosmic radiation, and temperatures would consistently remain sub-zero.

"At such conditions they could probably survive for years," Jönsson said. 

SEE ALSO: 5 animals that could survive the apocalypse

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NOW WATCH: Humans are just starting to understand this nearly invincible creature — and it’s fascinating

from SAI