Feeds

University admins lend phishers a hand

Hacked cluster serves up addresses

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.