Feeds

University admins lend phishers a hand

Hacked cluster serves up addresses

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.