05.14.15

Gemini version available ♊︎

VENOM® is Not a Serious Bug, It’s Just a Marketing Campaign From CrowdStrike

Posted in Security at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bugs
Image courtesy of Red Hat, demonstrating lack of correlation between severity and logos/brands

Summary: Many journalists bamboozled into becoming couriers of CrowdStrike, an insecurity firm which tries to market itself using a name and logo for a very old bug

THERE is a disproportionate level of coverage not of Free software but of bugs in Free software. We last wrote about it only days ago

A firm called CrowdStrike (who? Exactly!) is trying to emulate the ‘success’ of previous FUD campaigns. Now is the time to check who’s a real journalist (fact-checking) and who’s just serving PR campaigns like “VENOM”, a shameless FUD campaign from CrowdStrike.

The whole “VENOM” nonsense was covered in a good article titled “VENOM hype and pre-planned marketing campaign panned by experts”. To quote: “On Wednesday, CrowdStrike released details on CVE-2015-3456, also known as Venom. Venom is a vulnerability in the floppy drive emulation code used by many virtualization platforms.

“However, while it’s possible that a large number of systems are impacted by this flaw, it isn’t something that can be passively exploited.

“Several security experts discussed the flaw online, focusing on the marketing and the media attention that it generated – including some over-hyped headlines. Most media organizations were briefed ahead of time about the discovery and gagged by embargo until the Venom website launched, so they had plenty of time to write.

“Many media articles compared Venom to Heartbleed, which is an apples to oranges comparison. If anything, the only commonality is the fact that both flaws had a pre-planned marketing campaign.”

Here comes the “Heartbleed” brand. Yet again. They’re using names that are scary (even all caps, like “GHOST”) because it’s so much easier to sell than “CVE-2015-3456″. Journalists rarely have the technical knowledge to analyse a bug or a flaw, so they assume bugs and logos are indicative of severity.

This patch Tuesday Microsoft revealed 40+ vulnerabilities. Not a single one had a brand name, logo, etc. Here is how IDG covered 46 flaws publicly disclosed by Microsoft just for this Tuesday (Microsoft hides even more flaws). So many flaws were collectively covered in one article and yet there are no logos; none has any branding.

“VENOM” has become the latest example of what we call bugs with branding. This has got to stop because it corrupts journalism and makes the field of computer security almost synonymous with marketing or advertising. CrowdStrike used ALL CAPS (for emphasis rather than acronym) and connotation with poison to market itself, an insecurity firm, after finding a floppy drive bug from over a decade ago. There is a logo too (the first example we found of it), not just branding for this bug, dubbed “VENOM”.

Bug branding (turning number into branding-friendly FUD) seems to have adopted the ALL CAPS convention from “GHOST”, only for extra scare. This FUD has surfaced even in Linux-centric sites, which played along with the marketing campaign. Red Hat [1] and SJVN [2], even Phoronix [3] and Softpedia [4], have covered it by now, despite no focus on security news there.

Branding for bugs leads to stupid headlines that are more poetic than factual and are very light on facts. There is little substance there. This whole recipe (bug+brand name+logo=lots of publicity without much merit) has been repeatedly exploited to give a bad name to FOSS security. A lot of headlines try to connect this to the “Heartbleed” brand. Headlines that we have found so far (links below) include “New Venom bug hits data centers, but it’s hardly Heartbleed”, “Venom bug could allow hackers to take over cloud servers – and experts say it could be worse than Heartbleed”, “New Venom flaw may be worse than Heartbleed, researchers warn”, and “Venom vulnerability more dangerous than Heartbleed, targets most virtual machines”.

Zack Whittaker (former Microsoft staff) covered it like this in the CBS-owned tech tabloid, ZDNet: “Bigger than Heartbleed, ‘Venom’ security vulnerability threatens most datacenters”

Here is that “Heartbleed” brand again. “Please Stop Comparing Every Security Flaw to Heartbleed,” said one good headline from Gizmodo (that’s just how they covered this marketing campaign).

The word/brand “Heartbleed” was made up by a Microsoft-connected firm. Watch coverage from Microsoft-friendly sites and you will find headlines like: “Heartbleed, eat your heart out: VENOM vuln poisons countless VMs”

Dan Goodin, a foe of FOSS (from a security angle), brings in the NSA and Bitcoin to add FUD amid this branded bug/buzz. He wrote about the latest branded bug not once but twice (see links below). He is squeezing the most FOSS FUD out of it (opportunism). Kim Komando chose the headline “New bug taking over the Internet”. No sensationalism here? One press release said “Better Business Bureau Says Most Don’t Need to Worry” [about the branded bug], so there is some objectivity out there too, or an effort to calm people down.

Watch carefully how the bug is marketed in the media: Logo with SVG-like transparency; for a bug! Looks like it was prepared by graphics/marketing professionals. Are insecurity firms now liaising with marketing firms to professionally draw SVG logos for bugs? More logos for simple bugs (we found several, but one main logo) are circulating, usually with photos of snakes. See the complete list [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36] as of this morning. How much more of this FUD is going to circulate before journalists realise that they make a mountain out of a molehill?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. VENOM, don’t get bitten.

    CVE-2015-3456 (aka VENOM) is a security flaw in the QEMU’s Floppy Disk Controller (FDC) emulation. It can be exploited by a malicious guest user with access to the FDC I/O ports by issuing specially crafted FDC commands to the controller. It can result in guest controlled execution of arbitrary code in, and with privileges of, the corresponding QEMU process on the host. Worst case scenario this can be guest to host exit with the root privileges.

  2. For Venom security flaw, the fix is in: Patch your VM today

    The QEMU fix itself is now available in source code. Red Hat has been working on the fix since last week.

  3. VENOM Bug In QEMU Escapes VM Security
  4. 11-Year-Old Bug in Virtual Floppy Drive Code Allows Escape from Virtual Machines

    Popular virtualization platforms relying on the virtual Floppy Disk Controller code from QEMU (Quick Emulator) are susceptible to a vulnerability that allows executing code outside the guest machine.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, October 16, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, October 16, 2021



  2. [Meme] First Illegally Banning Strikes, Then Illegally Taking Over Courts

    The vision of Team Battistelli/Campinos is a hostile takeover of the entire patent system, not just patent offices like the EPO; they’d stop at nothing to get there



  3. Portuguese Network of Enablers

    Instead of serving Portuguese people or serving thousands of EPO workers (including many who are Portuguese) the delegation from Portugal served the network of Campinos



  4. In Picture: After Billions Spent on Marketing, With Vista 11 Hype and Vapourware, No Real Gains for Windows

    The very latest figures from Web usage show that it’s hardly even a blip on the radar; Windows continues bleeding to death, not only in servers



  5. [Meme] [Teaser] Double-Dipping Friedrich Rödler

    As we shall see tomorrow night, the EPO regime was supported by a fair share of corrupt officials inside the Administrative Council



  6. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIV: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Portugal

    How illegal “Strike Regulations” and regressive ‘reforms’ at the EPO, empowering Benoît Battistelli to the detriment of the Rule of Law, were ushered in by António Campinos and by Portugal 5 years before Campinos took Battistelli’s seat (and power he had given himself)



  7. Links 16/10/2021: SparkyLinux Turns 10 and Sculpt OS 21.10

    Links for the day



  8. “Facebook Whistleblowers” Aside, It Has Been a Dying Platform for Years, and It's Mentally Perverting the Older Generation

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  9. [Meme] Microsoft Has Always Been About Control Over Others

    Hosting by Microsoft means subjugation or a slavery-like relationship; contrary to the current media narrative, Microsoft has long been censoring LinkedIn for China’s autocratic regime; and over at GitHub, as we shall show for months to come, there’s a war on information, a war on women, and gross violations of the law



  10. EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  11. The Reign in Spain

    Discussion about the role of Spain in the EPO‘s autocratic regime which violates the rights of EPO staff, including Spanish workers



  12. [Meme] Spanish Inquisition

    Let it be widely known that Spain played a role in crushing the basic rights of all EPO workers, including hundreds of Spaniards



  13. Why You Shouldn’t Use SteamOS, a Really Incompetent GNU/Linux Distribution With Security Pitfalls (Lutris is a Great Alternative)

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  14. IRC Proceedings: Friday, October 15, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, October 15, 2021



  15. Links 16/10/2021: Xubuntu 21.10 and DearPyGui 1.0.0

    Links for the day



  16. DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  17. Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  18. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XIII: Battistelli's Iberian Facilitators - Spain

    The EPO‘s António Campinos is an ‘Academy’ of overt nepotism; what Benoît Battistelli did mostly in France Campinos does in Spain and Portugal, severely harming the international image of these countries



  19. From Competitive (Top-Level, High-Calibre, Well-Paid) Jobs to 2,000 Euros a Month -- How the EPO is Becoming a Sweatshop by Patent Examiners' Standards

    A longish video about the dreadful situation at the EPO, where staff is being ‘robbed’ and EPO funds get funnelled into some dodgy stock market investments (a clear violation of the institution’s charter)



  20. [Meme] Protecting European Patent Courts From EPO 'Mafia'

    With flagrant disregard for court rulings (or workarounds to dodge actual compliance) it seems clear that today's EPO management is allergic to justice and to judges; European Patents perish at unprecedented levels in national European courts and it should be kept that way



  21. Links 15/10/2021: Pine64's New PinePhone Pro and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Codename

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] GitHub Isn't Free Hosting, It's All About Control by Microsoft

    Deleting GitHub isn’t a political statement but a pragmatic decision, seeing how Microsoft routinely misuses its control over GitHub to manipulate the market



  23. With EPO 'Strike Regulations' Belatedly Ruled Unlawful, EPO Management May be Lowering the Salary Even Further by Introducing Outside 'Temps' or Casual Workers

    Institutional capture by an 'IP' (litigation) Mafia is nearly complete; with illegal so-called (anti) 'Strike Regulations' out the door, they're quickly moving on to another plan, or so it seems on the surface



  24. Links 15/10/2021: 95% of Ransomware Targets Windows

    Links for the day



  25. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, October 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, October 14, 2021



  26. The EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion — Part XII: The French Connection

    The EPO‘s presidency (led by Frenchmen for nearly 15 years out of the past 18 years; Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos are both French despite their somewhat misleading surnames) is extremely unlikely to even be mildly scrutinised by the French delegates because of a web of nepotism and protectionism



  27. [Meme] Another Maladministration Meeting Comes to an End

    Did the EPO‘s overseeing body properly tackle Benoît Battistelli‘s illegal acts, authorised by that very same overseeing body? Don’t hold your breath as António Campinos continues to crack down on staff (maybe ILOAT will rule on it in 2030)



  28. Links 14/10/2021: LibreOffice 7.2.2, Happy Birthday to Jolla, Ubuntu 21.10, Devuan GNU+Linux 4.0, OpenBSD 7.0

    Links for the day



  29. [Teaser] What Miguel de Icaza Really Thinks of the CEO of Microsoft GitHub

    Following the opening of a new series about Microsoft GitHub we drop a little teaser today; we expect dozens of parts to be released in the coming weeks/months as facts are being validated and organised



  30. Splitting the Time to Cover More Leaks and Exposés

    We take stock of Part 11 of the ongoing EPO series (“EPO’s Overseer/Overseen Collusion”) and explain what caused various delays yesterday; we may have to up our pace a little in order to keep up with an influx of leaks and whistleblowers


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts