Feeds

University admins lend phishers a hand

Hacked cluster serves up addresses

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Lax security at Indiana University appears to have played a key role in highly targeted phishing attack last year that hauled in confidential information on as many as 80 account holders of the school's credit union. The finding, gleaned through public records unearthed by a university student, provides an interesting case study in the resourcefulness phishers bring to their trade.

Among those who received the 2006 email purporting to come from officials with the IU Credit Union was Christopher Soghoian, a graduate student of computer security who wanted to know how his email address was targeted even though it had never been used. University officials rebuffed his attempts to learn more about the attack, so he filed a request under Indiana's public records act.

It turns out the perpetrators, who had ties with a machine in China, gained unauthorized access to the university's cluster of computers reserved for research projects, according to university documents. Once in, the attackers rifled through the cluster's /etc/passwd file, which revealed email addresses and other information on as many as 30,000 active users, including Soghoian, despite his never having applied for an account.

The university cluster not only gave up information that proved crucial in carrying out a successful spear phishing attack. It also provided the ideal cover to help the attackers bypass spam filters. It further proved a useful place to stash hacker tools used in other attacks, including ones that targeted account holders of the Florida Commerce Credit Union and the Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, according to Soghoian.

No word yet on whether admins have tightened security on IU's system. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.