Feeds

HP invokes DMCA to quash Tru64 bug report

How to win friends and influence people

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Hewlett Packard has threatened to use computer crime laws and the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act to muzzle a group of security researchers who unearthed a flaw in its Tru64 operating system.

The threat comes in a letter to SnoSoft from HP Veep Kent Ferson warning that the security researchers "could be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned for up to five years" for its role in publishing code that demonstrated the vulnerability, CNET's Declan McCullagh reports.

The warning letter from HP bears out the worst fears of the security industry that the DMCA will be used to stifle legitimate research, following on from the controversial prosecution of Russian programmer Dimitry Sklyarov and ElcomSoft.

Earlier this month, a member of SnoSoft posted an advisory on BugTraq about a buffer overflow concerning the su utility on Tru64 Unix systems, exploitation of which could be used to execute arbitrary instructions as root. The researcher, whose hacker handle is Phased and who has a Russian email address, posted links to exploit code explaining he was doing this because he had "got fed up of corporate bullshit".

A patch to guard against the vulnerability has not been released by HP and Phased didn't provide details of any workaround in his advisory, which would have been welcome.

So has HP been sitting on the problem or has Phased acted irresponsibly?

SnoSoft had notified HP about the Tru64 vulnerability some time before its "premature" release, though it's unclear how long HP had to work on the fix from reports so far.

SnoSoft co-founder Kevin Finisterre told CNET that Phased released the exploit code, which was created by another SnoSoft researcher, without permission from the rest of the group.

Kent Ferson, a vice president in HP's Unix systems unit, saw red about the posting and fired off a letter alleging that SnoSoft had breached the DMCA and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act with its disclosure. He requested that SnoSoft help HP in removing details the exploit from Securityfocus.com, and to block further publicising the flaw. Any reluctance by SnoSoft to co-operate would be taken as a sign of bad faith, said Ferson, who warned that it reserved the right to sue SnoSoft for damages caused by its advisory.

Snosoft's Finisterre told the news service that although he wanted to resolve the dispute with HP, he resented been threatened.

"We are like the guys that found out that Firestone tires have issues on Ford explorers," he said. "It's not our fault your Explorer has crap tires. We just pointed it out." ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.