2/17/2008

Secret printer ID codes may breach EU privacy laws

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A little-noticed system that allows printed documents to be tracked by government agents has gotten the attention of the EU Commissioner for Justice Freedom and Security, who says the technology may violate EU human rights guarantees.

The technology is baked in to many popular color laser printers and photocopiers, including those made by Brother, Cannon, Xerox and HP, according to this list compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It embeds almost invisible tracking dots onto documents that uniquely identify the machine that printed them.

The enables the tracking of currency counterfeiters, but the EFF has been warning for years there’s nothing that prevents government spooks from using them for broader types of surveillance. Those concerns have at last found a home with Commissioner Franco Frattini.

Exploiting QuickTime flaws in ‘Second Life’

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Researchers Charlie Miller of Independent Security Evaluators, and Dino Dai Zovi, turned their attention to Second Life during a Saturday morning presentation at ShmooCon, an East Coast computer hacking conference. The researchers didn’t exploit a flaw within Linden Labs’ Second Life, but within QuickTime. They showed how an attacker could make money stealing from innocent Second Life victims.

Miller and Zovi are both experienced with flaws within Apple products. Miller published the first Apple iPhone flaw shortly after its release. At last year’s CanSecWest security conference, Zovi exploited a QuickTime flaw to win a “PWN to Own” hack-a-Mac contest. While Second Life does not install QuickTime, it invites users to install the player if they want to see multimedia files within Second Life.

What Miller and Zovi realized is that while direct communication between an attacker and a victim within Second Life passes through the servers at Linden Labs, multimedia objects are actually stored somewhere else. Hence, an object with a multimedia link could inject malicious code. In this case, researchers exploited a recent flaw within RTSP tunneling.

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