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IBM e-commerce platforms vulnerable to password cracker

Danish hackers teach Big Blue to SUQ.DIQ

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Security for virtualized datacentres

IBM WebSphere and Net.Commerce users have been advised to tighten up cryptographic security after the release on the Internet of a hacking tool that can crack administrator passwords.

Red-faced Big Blue was yesterday forced to rush out a security advisory admitting that a weak encryption methodology might leave users of its ecommerce platforms open to fraud.

Exposure to risk occurs if a site uses a default merchant key in combination with macros that were developed without security in mind. In these cases an easily crackable password is created, which can be broken with a tool called SUQ.DIQ.

The tool was developed by a hackers called xor37h and Darkman of a previously little known Danish group called Smersh.

The hacking tool, which has now been pulled from a US hosted site, relies on a feature of the packages which means passwords are encrypted with a fixed key.

According to Smersh: "IBM Net.Commerce and WebSphere use TripleDES to encrypt the passwords, but instead of encrypting a string with the password as key, IBM encrypts the password using a fixed key. The user can change the default key while installing IBM Net.Commerce and WebSphere in advanced mode. But since it complicates things changing the key, we don't expect this to be a common sight."

In a security advisory, IBM explains how the password cracker works: "When an encrypted shopper or administrator password is obtained and passed through this tool, the decrypted password is returned.

"This allows access to a shopper's or administrator's account," IBM admitted.

If an administrator password is obtained it gives crackers the ability to access confidential data, potentially including credit card records.

Affected sites include those running IBM Net.Commerce and the rebranded WebSphere Commerce Suite version 4.1, or earlier. Users of the current version of WebSphere Commerce Suite, version 5.1, are not believed to be affected.

IBM is advising anybody who suspects they've been infected to change admin passwords and secure macro commands so that strict access checks are enforced. It's also advising users to review Web server access logs and administrator accounts for any signs of tampering. ®

External links

IBM security advisory to users
IBM posting to BugTraq

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