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Ancient worm runs riot at Infosec

Trade show gives lessons in insecurity

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Infosec may have hosted mass of secure wireless networks last week, but that didn't mean everything was secure.

A quick review of the available wireless networks from Olympia's press office revealed very few open WLAN networks.

However, while exhibiting at the show, security risk firm McAfee was able to detect various networks connections that lacked any encryption, so maybe things weren't as rosy as we first suspected. Using its Network intrusion prevention product IntruShield, McAfee spotted 50,000 instances of attack by the Slammer worm. Slammer was been pumped across some security vendors' own networks, McAfee reports.

You'd expect better from Europe's biggest IT security show. With many open access points available during the show, this attack could have been easily picked up by visitors to the trade show if they did not have the relevant security measures in place.

Greg Day, security consultant at McAfee, thundered: "What’s even more disturbing is the nature of this virus; it is almost archaic in security terms. The Slammer worm has been fixable for ages. In short, there is no excuse for this to have even been present at the show, especially by so-called security companies."

Attacks by SQL Slammer shouldn't be confused with successful infections. Net security services firm MessageLabs, which has a distinguished pedigree in spotting such outbreaks, told us it hadn't seen any problems.

But scans by ancient worms weren't the only potential security pratfall on display on Infosec last week. Penetration testing firm SecureTest found that the complementary communal PC service was far from secure.

SecureTest staff using these networked PCs to check their email discovered that insecure system configurations left users open to attack. It reports that it would have been trivial to download and install a software key logger to pick up keystrokes, disclosing the user name and passwords of anyone who had used the system to check webmail.

To prove the point SecureTest staff keylogged themselves, logging into the SecureTest webmail system. It was then possible to retrieve their log-in credentials. There was no usage policy available for these machines. As a consequence, unknown individuals had been able to disable anti-virus software installed on these machines.

"Given that the Infosec show attracts some from the hacking underworld, it would seem a little irresponsible to offer delegates use of such insecure systems," SecureTest managing director Ken Munro said. "We would strongly recommend that anyone who had used these systems change their webmail passwords, as any user could have had their passwords stolen over the course of the show by another user". ®

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