Feeds

University admins lend phishers a hand

Hacked cluster serves up addresses

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.