Feeds

MySpace profile hack provides early warning to predators

Unplugged 'system error'

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A security issue on MySpace may put a spanner in the works of law-enforcement efforts to track miscreants using the social networking site.

Many MySpace profiles contain code that subscribes visitors to a profile's video channel. Normally this is all well and good, but hackers are able to subvert the feature for filthy purposes, according to Chris Boyd, security research manager at FaceTime Communications.

Hackers have set up dozens of accounts used as a springboard for spamming or attempts to vandalise other profiles.

The feature (used in conjunction with an IP address tracker) might also be employed by predators to keep tabs on anyone who might be tracking their activities, Boyd says. Although MySpace has made attempts to prohibit the use of IP trackers, miscreants have found a way around these blocks.

Crackers "are using every trick in the book they can to know who is watching them," Boyd said.

In particular, the feature could be used by predators to detect if their attempts to groom youngsters have come to the attention of law enforcement, potentially curtailing or frustrating evidence in child abuse investigations.

The tactic has been in play since at least October 2007. MySpace was informed of the issue in late March but is yet to act. According to Boyd, the social networking site has responded to his concerns about the issue by describing it as a "system error".

Pending a fix from MySpace itself, Boyd has posted advice to surfers about how to avoid tracking here, a tip child abuse investigators might well find useful. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.