Discussion:
[Link Posting] Faxploit: Sending Fax Back to the Dark Ages
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Rich
2018-08-14 01:48:24 UTC
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<URL:https://research.checkpoint.com/sending-fax-back-to-the-dark-ages/>
Fax, the brilliant technology that lifted mankind out the dark ages of
mail delivery when only the postal service and carrier pigeons were used
to deliver a physical message from a sender to a receiver.
Technology wise, however, that was a long time ago. Today we are light
years away from those dark days. In its place we have email, chat
messengers, mobile communication channels, web-services, satellites
using quantum messaging and more. So fax today is surely nothing but a
relic that has been cast aside to the museum of old technologies, right?
Wrong. Fax is surprisingly still widely used even today. With over 300
million fax numbers in use, according to a simple Google search, it
seems like we are still far from seeing fax be a thing of the past.
With this in mind, Check Point Research decided to take a deeper look
into this old fashioned form of communication and see if fax, other than
being a loud noisy beeper and a bureaucratic burden, is also a major
network security risk.
Taking Over a Network Using Just a Fax Number
To provide some background, fax today is widely used in all-in-one
printer devices by many industries worldwide. These all-in-one printers
are then connected both to the internal home or corporate networks
through their Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc interfaces. However, in
addition they are also connected to a PSTN phone line in order to
support the fax functionality that they include.
Our research set out to ask what would happen if an attacker, with
merely a phone line at his disposal and equipped with nothing more than
his target`s fax number, was able to attack an all-in-one printer by
sending a malicious fax to it. If the answer was ?yes', then he could
potentially gain complete control over the printer and possibly
infiltrate the rest of the network connected to this printer.
...
RS Wood
2018-08-15 00:45:43 UTC
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Post by Rich
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<URL:https://research.checkpoint.com/sending-fax-back-to-the-dark-ages/>
Fax, the brilliant technology that lifted mankind out the dark ages of
mail delivery when only the postal service and carrier pigeons were used
to deliver a physical message from a sender to a receiver.
Technology wise, however, that was a long time ago. Today we are light
years away from those dark days. In its place we have email, chat
messengers, mobile communication channels, web-services, satellites
using quantum messaging and more. So fax today is surely nothing but a
relic that has been cast aside to the museum of old technologies, right?
Ha, these guys have a good sense of humor. At the end of the doc, they have
their FAQs, and one of them is "can you share more technical information?"
The response is "Yes. Scroll up." The last one is "I need someone to blame"
and the response is "That's not even a question." Another example of the
humor is where they use the vulnerability and hacked device to send out a
message informing the user they've been hacked ... and use a fax to do so.

I was surprised to see how much complicated coding/decoding of TIFF and JPG
formats those machines do. I was not surprised to see they're vulnerable.

Fax is possibly my all time most hated technology. It can't possibly die
soon enough, and yet ... it won't. Die fax, die.
Rich
2018-08-15 10:55:24 UTC
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Post by RS Wood
Post by Rich
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<URL:https://research.checkpoint.com/sending-fax-back-to-the-dark-ages/>
Fax, the brilliant technology that lifted mankind out the dark ages of
mail delivery when only the postal service and carrier pigeons were used
to deliver a physical message from a sender to a receiver.
I was surprised to see how much complicated coding/decoding of TIFF
and JPG formats those machines do.
If you've ever looked at the internals of the TIFF or JPG formats, they
are complicated formats. So the complicated coding/decoding is not
surprising, given the relative complexity of the file formats (neither
is a .ppm file....).
Post by RS Wood
I was not surprised to see they're vulnerable.
Yep. Embedded code is often riddled with bugs. Many stay hidden
because the only interface for most to test the code against is the 10
push-buttons on the case. See for example
http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/toyota-unintended-acceleration-and-big-bowl-%E2%80%9Cspaghetti%E2%80%9D-code
Post by RS Wood
Fax is possibly my all time most hated technology. It can't possibly
die soon enough, and yet ... it won't. Die fax, die.
Yes. But it will likely limp along in one form or another for a very
long time due to it (fax) often being enshrined in statute as the
"secure" (incorrect in today's world, but the statute was written in
e.g. 1977 and has never been updated) method of transmitting documents
from point A to point B without using a Postal Mailing service.

There's also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapmail and
http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html which are an interesting econ.
101 lesson on market forces and pricing (cost of fax machines following
the typical digital device downward curve).
Robert Girault
2018-08-15 14:26:09 UTC
Permalink
Rich <***@example.invalid> writes:

[...]
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
I was not surprised to see they're vulnerable.
Yep. Embedded code is often riddled with bugs. Many stay hidden
because the only interface for most to test the code against is the 10
push-buttons on the case. [See for example https://goo.gl/Eha0Lz]
What is embedded code? From the story above, it seems it's a synonym
for firmware. ``Just because your car has the latest version of the
firmware -- that is what we call embedded software -- [...]''

Is that right?
Rich
2018-08-15 15:37:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert Girault
[...]
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
I was not surprised to see they're vulnerable.
Yep. Embedded code is often riddled with bugs. Many stay hidden
because the only interface for most to test the code against is the 10
push-buttons on the case. [See for example https://goo.gl/Eha0Lz]
What is embedded code? From the story above, it seems it's a synonym
for firmware. ``Just because your car has the latest version of the
firmware -- that is what we call embedded software -- [...]''
Is that right?
Yes, "embedded code" is most often a synonym for "firmware stored in
ROM [1] inside a device"

But, like most things in English, it is not a fully binary true/false
situation.



[1] where ROM may or may not actually be "flash memory so that new
firmware can be installed at some point after manufacture/sales".
Adrian Caspersz
2018-08-15 15:23:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
I was surprised to see how much complicated coding/decoding of TIFF
and JPG formats those machines do.
If you've ever looked at the internals of the TIFF or JPG formats, they
are complicated formats. So the complicated coding/decoding is not
surprising, given the relative complexity of the file formats (neither
is a .ppm file....).
They be complex...

I once worked at a lawyer firm that had a rather large Xerox
scanner/photocopier with a nasty (lawsuit kinda inducing) bug ...

http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_are_switching_written_numbers_when_scanning

Scanned 6's replaced by printed 8's, OCR not guilty....
--
Adrian C
Rich
2018-08-15 15:45:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adrian Caspersz
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
I was surprised to see how much complicated coding/decoding of TIFF
and JPG formats those machines do.
If you've ever looked at the internals of the TIFF or JPG formats, they
are complicated formats. So the complicated coding/decoding is not
surprising, given the relative complexity of the file formats (neither
is a .ppm file....).
They be complex...
I once worked at a lawyer firm that had a rather large Xerox
scanner/photocopier with a nasty (lawsuit kinda inducing) bug ...
http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_are_switching_written_numbers_when_scanning
Scanned 6's replaced by printed 8's, OCR not guilty....
Ah, the overzealous JBIG similar glyph replacement bug. Yes, that was
a nice one. And probably caused a lot of lawyers more than a little
heartburn (what do you mean the copy differs from the origional, that's
not possible!... [1]).


[1] Lacking technicnal knowledge to understand that once it is
digitized, just about any change one could dream up *is possible*.
Nomen Nescio
2018-08-15 15:22:33 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
Fax is possibly my all time most hated technology. It can't possibly
die soon enough, and yet ... it won't. Die fax, die.
Yes. But it will likely limp along in one form or another for a very
long time due to it (fax) often being enshrined in statute as the
"secure" (incorrect in today's world, but the statute was written in
e.g. 1977 and has never been updated) method of transmitting documents
from point A to point B without using a Postal Mailing service.
There's also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapmail and
http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html which are an interesting econ.
101 lesson on market forces and pricing (cost of fax machines following
the typical digital device downward curve).
A signature that appears on a fax is as legal as a signature on paper.
Digital signatures fall short of that legal threshold.
Rich
2018-08-15 15:42:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nomen Nescio
<snip>
Post by Rich
Post by RS Wood
Fax is possibly my all time most hated technology. It can't possibly
die soon enough, and yet ... it won't. Die fax, die.
Yes. But it will likely limp along in one form or another for a very
long time due to it (fax) often being enshrined in statute as the
"secure" (incorrect in today's world, but the statute was written in
e.g. 1977 and has never been updated) method of transmitting documents
from point A to point B without using a Postal Mailing service.
There's also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zapmail and
http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html which are an interesting econ.
101 lesson on market forces and pricing (cost of fax machines following
the typical digital device downward curve).
A signature that appears on a fax is as legal as a signature on paper.
Digital signatures fall short of that legal threshold.
At least in the United States since the year 2000 your second statement
is no longer true. The "Electronic Signatures in Global and National
Commerce Act" [1] gave digital signatures the same legal standing as wet
signatures on paper. Not that much of the contract/legal world noticed
for a good number of years however.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Signatures_in_Global_and_National_Commerce_Act

Whatever info Wikipedia has for other countries is available here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_signatures_and_law
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