Feeds

Web 2.0rhea hack mistaken for end of universe

Much aTwitter about nothing

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Fail and You Kids these days. Used to be, when you were mad at your parents or your professors, you'd write an email worm in Visual Basic and spread it around via Outlook clients.

Hacks like that didn't take a lot of talent, but they had some comic value. As a tech person, it's entertaining to watch someone who's not savvy work a machine that they think is "infected with a virus." The more industrious evildoers wrote self-propagating worms that exploited vulnerabilities in common services, like the SQL Slammer worm that slowed internet traffic to a crawl on a Friday night when I was in college. Many of us nerds had to go outside and party instead of playing video games until 4AM. I know of several pregnancies that were a direct result of this vulnerability in Microsoft SQL Server.

Hell, even Hacked by Chinese was funny because it was so prolific.

But this generation's biggest accomplishment thus far is last week's hack on Twitter. After guessing the password to an administrative account with a dictionary attack, one hacker started handing out account credentials. Barack Obama, Britney Spears, Fox News, and several others were compromised, and the evildoers went so far as to post some fake messages to these accounts. Ph33r.

As a result, there's been no shortage of criticism for Twitter. Not having implemented any rate-limiting for login attempts, they kind of had this coming. As a pundit, though, I can tell you that making fun of Twitter's feeble attempt at engineering is pointless. Yes, Twitter failed, but that joke is old. What's far better? The collateral failure of the hackers and the media.

The hero of our story, an anonymous leet haxor, figured out that you could use curl and a text file of words to launch a dictionary attack against a web login form. This technique is far less advanced than the methods of yore: finding improper usage of strcpy and the like, coming up with executable shellcode, and figuring out the function return address memory offset. Back in the day, that shit was hard, so good hacks were generally reserved for people who really knew what they were doing. Incidentally, people who knew what they were doing usually had a plan for what to do after the hack was successful.

What happened to the next iteration of hackers? I blame generational pussification - things like the everybody-is-a-winner attitude and Coldplay are making our children soft. As the Twitter invader proves, it doesn't take much to be a "hacker" these days. Great fuckin' job, Mitnick. Give a kid a good asskicking and make him listen to Frank Zappa. He'll be able to dissect a stack frame.

Perhaps there's some leeway here: Twitter ain't exactly fortified. If you're going to impersonate Twitter users, come up with some better shit than posting “Breaking: Bill O Riley is gay” to the Fox News stream, and at least learn how to spell.

You can impersonate the President-elect of the United States and the best you can do is "get a free gas card"?

You can impersonate Britney Spears, and you tell us how her vagina has razor-sharp teeth? OK, that one was pretty inventive, but overall, fucking fail.

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
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
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.