Feeds

Hackers scalp StrongWebmail to claim cash prize

$10,000 for successful schedule snoop

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Ethical hackers are claiming a $10,000 prize for successfully breaking into the webmail account of the chief exec of StrongWebmail after the firm issued a "hack us if you can" challenge.

StrongWebMail runs a callback verification system so that, in theory, even if someone obtains a user's login details they can't read email from the account without also having access to the phone associated with a particular account. Logins into StrongWebMail from previously unused machines need this secondary form of confirmation.

The US start-up was so confident of its claims that its Darren Berkovitz published his account name and password in laying down a $10K challenge to hackers to break into his account and find out his schedule for 26 June. StrongWebMail's features include calendar and to-do lists as well as webmail.

Security researchers Lance James, Aviv Raff and Mike Bailey obtained the information and claimed their prize on Thursday. StrongWebMail confirmed that the data obtained was correct, but are holding off in paying out the prize because they are yet to be convinced the Ruff and co stuck to competition rules. The rules prohibit the use of social engineering trickery (such as tricking or paying an insider to hand over account access).

The group of researchers maintain they played fair and used a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability to access the target account after first registering an account of their own with the service. The trio are withholding details out of concerns the same approach might be used to access other accounts without permission, and in line with competition rules.

James, Raff and Bailey demonstrated their attack on a test account set up with StrongWebMail by IDG. But the compromise was possible only after the NoScript extension on the Firefox browser of the XP machine used in the test was disabled, IDG reports.

Hacking competitions such as the one established by StrongWebMail might make for good publicity but they don't prove much. Even if no one wins a particular challenge it doesn't follow that a system is unhackable - just that it wasn't broken this time around. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.